{ 1,188 comments… read them below }

  1. Parenthetically*

    Good morning! Little Brackets #2 is two weeks old and MUCH more awake now, and we have our windows open in late December. What’s the best part about your weekend so far?

    1. Lilo*

      I got so many books I am excited about for Christmas. Currently a quarter of the way through The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      Metamour had to run some errands, so he’s picking up breakfast for me and my spouse. I usually handle the food preparation so it’s a nice start to the morning.

    3. loislolane*

      We are bringing our adopted puppy home tomorrow so that will be the shining part of my weekend…I can’t wait to get home after work tomorrow!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I received a copy of a book I didn’t realize was available in the US yet. So I’m starting in on “Mudlark: In Search of London’s Past Along the River Thames”. I’ve been following Lara Maiklem on Facebook for years, and this is a topic i love, in a style that I am already enjoying.
      I’llbe reading it slowly to let myself have the fun longer. Much needed with family in the hospital again.

      1. Edwina*

        Oh my goodness! We discovered about mudlarking a few years ago, when our son was 10 or 11, and we spent a WONDERFUL morning actually mudlarking! It was crazy the kind of things we found–old pieces of 19th century pipes (the kind you smoke, white ceramic pipes), decorative buttons, a decorative knob for a Victorian dresser! The other amazing thing was, down there at the banks of the Thames, and looking up at London, you realized you were standing where people had stood, for hundreds and hundreds of years… the time fell away, you felt like you were time traveling through centuries. It was just the coolest way to spend an early morning (you have to figure out when the tide is low). I do hope you will be able to go to London and try it someday!!!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I totally plan to. I have English ancestry and friends & family there. They know that my next trip will involve purging on a mudlarking license. The license requirement is new–there were too many abuses including people going into archeologically restricted zones and *digging* even near structures.
          If licensing doesn’t solve the issues and has to get still tighter, I’ll at least be timing it to go on a Thames Discovery tour of the foreshore.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Check out Citizan as well (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network) if you’re in the UK and interested in such things.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes! In 2.5-hour increments, but I can’t complain! LB2 is a much faster and more efficient eater than her big brother was at this age, so night wakeups are 30 minutes rather than an hour.

    5. Anon PhD*

      I made french toast for breakfast and then just sat and read my book till I finished it at 2. It was gloriously peaceful and enjoyable :)

    6. AnonEMoose*

      We slept in this morning, and I got to try out the new frying pan DH got me for Christmas (at my request). It is coated in ceramic…NOTHING sticks to it, and because it is ceramic, it does not give off the toxic fumes that traditional non-stick pans do. It also requires much less butter or oil.

    7. AamAdmi*

      I bought an InstaPot and cooked up a feast of curried vegetable dishes. They were a little over done so I will have to adjust the timing when I do them again. I have used a cook top pressure cooker before for chick peas and lentils but pressure cooking vegetables is a new experience.
      I do mass cooking every weekend. The clean up was painful before with so many pots and pans to wash. With the InstaPot it is a breeze. I might start enjoying cooking.

    8. OyHiOh*

      Spending the weekend surrounded by artists supplies. I have two packs of pastels – colors and greyscale, colored pencils, a graphite drawing set, acrylic paints, watercolor paints, brushes, palette knives, drafting kit (I like drawing architechture so angles and protractor are helpful), far more expensive paper than what I normally indulge in . . . .

      Also, we have a Hanukkah tradition of stocking kids up with 3 months worth of art supplies one night. Did that last night so my dragons are*also* spending the day surrounded by watercolors, poster paints, brushes/palette knives, colored pencils, crayons, paper, cheap stretched canvas . . . . .

      We live in a tiny house. I feel like we live in a Crayola factory :P

  2. MommaCat*

    And I’m off for the first of two funerals this week. What are your favorite self-soothing things? My usual go-tos, booze and candy, make me feel worse the next day, so I’d rather use those in moderation. Thanks!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Profanity and hard rock on the radio–both indulged when I’m alone in the car. I also swear in other settings depending on who else is around. This list also used to include chocolate but for various reasons I’m trying hard to eat less of it.

      Oh, I forgot–baked custard, hot tea w/ milk, and plain steamed veggies. Not all mixed together. And taking a walk outside. And hard housework. You’re still broken-hearted but the [whatever] is shiny clean.

      1. fposte*

        Somehow I would not have associated those with you, and I’m delighted to learn this.

        MommaCat, my sympathies. I also like going for a walk, preferably in reasonably attractive surroundings (like, the park rather than the mall); alternatively, watching amusing/soothing YouTube videos, taking a warm bath or shower, limiting physical discomfort as much as possible, and sleeping as much as possible.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Something about that hard pounding music on the car radio, right, Jean? I am glad I am not the only one who sees this.

        But I can go the opposite way and find a sad tune very comforting. It varies according to mood.

        Sometimes I have to check in with people. Not all the time and the people I check in with will differ, also.

        Our rituals/habits can save us. Mundane tasks such as dishes or laundry can give me a sense of continuity that seems GONE otherwise.

        Not all the time, but sometimes reading about someone who clearly has a worse situation than mine helps because when I am feeling bad for them I can move out beyond my own sorrow. And it kind of helps with acceptance, “Okay, this person is gone now. So be it.”

        Nothing works every time. It depends on the personality involved, it depends on our relationship and many, other factors.

      1. MommaCat*

        Thank you. One is from my husband’s side, and one from mine, and they’re both cases where they had been lingering for a long while…but it’s still sad as hell, even when mingled with relief. <3

    2. Princess Deviant*

      Self-care/-soothing things:
      – having a bath, shaving my legs and putting body cream and clean pjs on afterwards. With socks!
      – cup of chamomile tea
      – nap
      – walk in nature for 10 minutes, or just outside if no nature nearby!
      – deep, slow breathing with my hand on the skin on my chest
      – drinking a glass of cold water
      – doing a mindfulness meditation such as a body scan
      – doing some mild stretches.

    3. Laura H.*

      Comfy pjs and a good book with a hot beverage of your choosing, or stroking a pet if you have one- it’s uncanny how our furry friends know when we’re a little down.

    4. Queer Earthling*

      I’m sorry for your loss.

      My favorite self-soothing things are baths, naps, and watching Buzzfeed videos. Basically, things that turn my brain off for a bit.

    5. Ra94*

      I find exercise (of whatever kind or intensity suits you) soothing, because I can switch my brain off during, and afterwards if I still feel crap, at least I did something nice for myself. Yoga is my go-to, since the breathing is really relaxing for me, but it can be anything from lifting weights to a brisk walk.

      1. Jackalope*

        I like dancing best as exercise since it gets me out of my head and gives me physical contract with other humans (I’m very physically affectionate so for me this helps; ymmv). But I’ll echo what Ra94 said: exercise is a big thing because moving my body helps me stop thinking about things and then when bedtime comes I’m more likely to be able to let go and fall asleep since I’ve worn myself out a bit.

        A friend a few years ago also recommended a bath with candles only, no electric lights. When I can manage that, followed by going straight to bed, it also helps me relax enough to sleep. (Can you see that not sleeping is a big part of my grieving process?) I also like making hot cocoa with Baileys; I know you said no alcohol, but even just hot cocoa made with warm milk if you can is helpful. I have a good friend who likes tea instead so if it’s herbal that could also help.

        So sorry you’re dealing with this. Sending you my best Jedi hugs.

    6. LilySparrow*

      For normal situations: Netflix, tea, and hugs.

      For abnormal situations that change my plans for the day (like going to hospitals or funerals) I like to change up my whole routine and go to a museum or see a movie by myself, or go browse a library or bookshop – some kind of low-key quiet exploring.

    7. Noblepower*

      My sympathies, MommaCat. Walks in the great outdoors helped me, and I found it oddly helpful when my Mom and I told each other funny stories about her parents when they passed. It brought up some great memories and it helped me focus on how grateful I was to have them in my life and blunted how sad I was to lose them.

    8. Ginger ale for all*

      I like to go to a restaurant when it isn’t busy and linger over a meal. I also get hot tea and there is something so decadent about it when they bring the China pot of hot water, cup, tea, and lemons with the tiny stirring spoon that makes me so happy. I then tip more than normal to hopefully make the experience good for the wait staff as well.

    9. Bluebell*

      Sorry for your losses, MC. I’m partial to dog on the lap and a cup of herbal tea. Love Pukka brand. Sometimes a sheet mask is nice, and the occasional Epsom salts bath ( eucalyptus or lavender.

    10. NoLongerYoung*

      Hot bath, sleepytime tea in hand, or my latest, watching comedy routines online. I can laugh until I cry. I even watched an old funny movie (I seldom watch things twice, but did this with a friend).

      When I was first trying to recover from loss of my husband, I walked the dog like 4-5 times a day. Just leashed her up and left the house, and walked until the tears stopped and nature had soothed me.

      Self-care is not selfish. Sending you an internet hug.

    11. BethDH*

      Making or planting something. Complexity based on your energy and time available. Even something like finishing a crossword or doing a coloring book page.

    12. Meepmeep*

      So sorry for your loss. My self soothing of choice is usually online forums, cheesy mystery novels, and knitting. Any sort of crafting is helpful, I think.

    13. AnonEMoose*

      I’m so sorry for your losses; two in one week is a lot to deal with. For me, baking is soothing; I like to listen to music while doing so. Usually I bring the proceeds to work for my coworkers to enjoy; then DH and I don’t eat all of it.

      Watching “The Great British Bake-off” is also soothing to watch. That, a hot beverage, and Netflix, usually with a cat snuggled into my lap. Also coloring can be calming, or walks in a nearby park.

    14. MommaCat*

      Thank you all for your tips and condolences. My usual grief go-to is to have a couple drinks or two, let myself have a good cry, and maybe repeat a time or two. Generally that works, but the next funeral is for my mom, so that ain’t cutting it. This funeral went well, so I’ll start trying y’all’s suggestions. Hugs gratefully accepted!

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        My sympathies – I gave advice above but truly, feel for you. two in one week is exceptional stress. (hug)

    15. Catherine*

      Cooking is really soothing for me, particularly making bread. I don’t actually have an oven so I make fry bread on the stovetop these days using my cast-iron pan.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m so sorry.
      For me, it’s walking by water. I grew up near salt water, and something about waves & wind always helped. Beach is beauty even in winter. Now that I live inland, I have learned that lakes and streams help to. Waterfalls are the best. If I’m stuck without nature, snowy fields, rainstorms, and water fountains.

  3. Distracted*

    Staying with my in laws, and my brother in law’s dog keeps barking and barking and barking from overexcited-ness and no effort is being made to stop it. I’ve taken to retreating to the bedroom with noise cancelling headphones.
    I’d have gone home if we hadn’t bought 2 together railway tickets and a new ticket would be £250 just for me.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      The barking alone would bother me as well, but the fact that no effort is being made to stop it? I share your pain so much and yeah, I would be at the point of thinking, “Is 250 pounds really that much money? When compared with my sanity? Or a possible prison sentence?”

      This sounds awful. I am so sorry you are having to go through this. They are not doing it right.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        The barking would make me stabby. Well the no effort to stop it would. Can’t blame the dog.

        I have five relatively quiet cats…except for one when he decides to talk.

        As a child he would just not shut up but he’s mostly …mostly… outgrown his talkativeness.

        That said he’s been following me from room to room all weekend and *talking* while I work.

        I’ve undertaken some “spring cleaning” (yes, I know it’s winter here) and I’m clearing out a bunch of acquired crap…45 (broken down) boxes from Amazon that I will totally make use of some day…recycled finally, washing blankets, jackets, sweaters, etc. and so forth. Just generally de-cluttering and making stuff feel less…crowded I guess

        Talky Kitty feels the need to supervise and apparently direct the operation(s), but at least it’s not non-stop barking!

        1. Distracted*

          Agreed that I can’t blame the dog.

          He’s only a year old and has never been trained. In laws seem to be relying on the fact that he is a good dog, and have never disciplined him.

          First met the dog when he was 7 months old and still bite-y. They made no attempt to rebuke when he nipped at anyone. He went for my hand and I closed my hand to make a loop with my thumb and forefinger that encircled his lower jaw but didn’t exert any pressure on him. I made it verbally clear that I wasn’t going to be a pushover, and let him go. He’s been much more wary/respectful of me than anyone else.

    2. MaggiePi*

      Do they make something like a bark collar that doesn’t attach to the dog but emits a antidog noise when they bark? A dog whistle may do it.

      1. Soft kitty*

        A squirt bottle with water is about as effective as anything. The noise- or citrus-emitting options are usually for when people aren’t around to squirt the dog. So you don’t have to find anything specialized (although many shops don’t have the squirt bottles, yet they may be found near the supplies for indoor plants).

        The squirt bottle can make things worse if the dog is fearful, although in those cases the citrus- or noise- emitting options will also fail (I once cared for a dog who barked a lot, and I left home for a short time and returned to lots of barking and a very strong smell of citrus as she had emptied the entire thing).

        So no guarantees of success, but for the £3 it might be worth looking for a squirt bottle. If the dog is barking protectively at people outdoors, or squirrels, then this may be a good option. The other way might be to put it in a bedroom? I also realize that this isn’t your dog, and shouldn’t be your problem to solve, but at least it would be cheaper than £250

    3. StellaBella*

      My take on this is a bitter different. A tired dog is a happy, quiet dog. Instead of deterring the dog with squirt bottles etc take the dog out for a long (2 hr) walk if you can. You will be amazed at how he quiets down. Repeat – a couple of long walks or visits to the dog park each day are in order for the pup to not feel frustrated and to get his energy out of his system.

      1. CC*

        Yeah, the dog needs something and isn’t getting it :( Your inlaws aren’t helping the dog manage itself, which is the job they signed up for when they adopted it!

      2. Soft kitty*

        I completely agree with this, except that Distracted isn’t the dog’s owner and shouldn’t be spending hours a day fixing someone else’s problem. If Distracted is keen to walk then that would be ideal, but it’s not always an option for someone who is visiting (especially if the dog is hyper and is not good on leash).

      3. Distracted*

        Agreed. Sorry, I had not quite described the situation at the time.

        The first time I walked out, the dog had just returned from a 45 minute walk. My brother in law was playing with the dog, inside, in that manner that so many of us use that hypes the dog up. Stay still, then make quick unexpected movements toward the dog and rub the head or shoulders very quickly, and retreat.

        That was 2 days after I spoke firmly but plainly with my BIL/SIL that by giving the dog treats so that it doesn’t bark while we eat, they had very efficiently trained it to bark while we eat.
        My attempts to stop the dog jumping up on me in the kitchen by raising my voice/speaking harshly have no effect on the dog, I suspect because no one has ever spoken harshly to it before.

        My brother and sister in law have now gone home, leaving my husband and I with my parents in law and the dog. He has calmed down immensely. My in laws are now very vigilant about keeping the dog away from me while we eat, although I suspect that they correctly assume that I am very close to giving the dog a light smack on the nose by way of discipline.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, had dogs of my own for 24 years. This is a lovely dog, but he has never been disciplined. An untrained dog is a dangerous dog, and a dog whose owner refuses to control the dog is a terrifying prospect.

        I understand that the dog is only a year old, but I am now staring down the possibility of spending the rest of the dogs life explaining that I don’t want to be in a house with this untrained dog under threat of destroying the family if I object to it barking uncontrollably for hours at a time.

  4. Mary Connell*

    We don’t tend to watch many movies in the theater, but my husband and I saw the new Little Women movie last night at a community theater. Highly recommended. And I just saw an article showing the places it was filmed – all in Massachusetts. Any other recent high quality, beautifully produced, non-violent movies you’d recommend?

    1. lilsheba*

      Little Women has been remade so many times now it’s like the new A Star Is Born! I read the book years ago but never watched any of the films.

    2. Gertie*

      I finally watched Mary Poppins Returns yesterday. It’s from last year, but it’s on Netflix now. Very nostalgic and cute!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Consider “Abominable”, if you aren’t excluding animation.
      Stellar art, lovely soundtrack, strong female lead, and a sweetly emotional plot.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Knives Out!
      It’s a mansion murder mystery with an absolutely stellar cast. I loved it so so so so much. I would totally go see it again. It’s funny but not in a haw-haw way, more in a very tongue-in-cheek way, and subverts many tropes.

          1. Graciosa*

            Agreed – more Agatha Christie violent if I can put it that way!

            (“Look! There’s a body in the library!”)

    5. Chaordic One*

      This is such a wonderful book, so forward-looking and inspiring for its time. I can understand why it inspired several movies based on it. I really love the 1994 movie with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon and I do sort of think, do we really need another version? I will probably go and see it anyway, just out of curiosity.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I read that Laura Dern is excellent in it, giving a much richer portrayal of Marmee than we’re used to. I’m interested in seeing it for that alone.

        1. Felicia*

          I saw it on Christmas and while Laura Dern is great I don’t think her portrayal of Marmee is much richer than we’re used to or much different at all. However, Florence Pugh’s portrayal of Amy is much richer than we’re used to and she made the character of Amy much more sympathetic and understandable and relatable. And the Amy/Laurie thing more logical. I’d recommend it just for that.

      2. Mary Connell*

        Just read a New Yorker article called “‘Little Women’ and the Marmee Problem.” I don’t think I’ve seen the 1994 version, but if it doesn’t handle the theme of womens’ anger and loss—and not just Jo’s anger—then yes, it was time for a new post-#metoo adaptation.

    6. Ginger ale for all*

      I can’t stop thinking about Last Christmas. I thought it would be a light holiday romance bit it turned into something else. I loved it.

      1. **Spoiler*

        It was sort of like a Hallmark Christmas rom com crossed with “The Sixth Sense.” I have to give it bonus points for originality and going beyond the usual cliches.

        1. Ginger ale for all*

          There is also the question of whether or not it is a religious movie or not; all those ‘look ups’, were they the ‘hey look on the sunny side of life’ or something else?

    7. Worked in IT forever*

      It is probably out of the theatres by now, but I recommend “Yesterday.” It’s just a nice, sometimes funny, feel-good movie about an aspiring singer who is the only person who remembers the Beatles. The premise seemed a bit dumb, and I wasn’t planning to see the movie, but I’m glad I did. I ended up really liking the movie.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I witnessed an awful accident on Christmas eve – a pedestrian in the middle of the road got knocked over. I couldn’t look, but I heard the sound and it was sickening. I still think of it now. I can’t sleep at night. She was thrown quite a way, and there was blood everywhere.

      She was conscious and kept trying to get up on her broken leg. I’m not sue that she wasn’t drunk or just confused from the accident as she had a head injury.

      I was the one who rang for an ambulance and stuff, but I wasn’t coping very well. I kept on repeating oh my god over and over while I was dialling, and some guy shouted at me in what felt like an aggressive way “CALM DOWN”. I guess it was his way of dealing with it also but it just added to the stress and horribleness.

      My brother said if she had her shoes still on (she did) then she’ll probably be ok.
      I rang the hospital later but the doctors couldn’t tell me anything other than she was stable.

      I just hope she’s ok.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I’m so sorry; what a horrible shock. That’s definitely the kind of thing that will take some processing and will stick with you. (Keep in mind the guy unhelpfully yelling “Calm down” was probably processing the shock in his own way. Or else it was the ghost of Michael Winner.)

        If you can talk to a professional, that’s not a bad move; this is really a traumatic thing to witness.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Keep in mind the guy unhelpfully yelling “Calm down” was probably processing the shock in his own way. Or else it was the ghost of Michael Winner

          Ahh yes, that’s right and thank you for the giggle :D

        2. Stephanie*

          I work in a factory currently and you can tell some of the guys are haunted by workplace accidents (I’d say it’s a pretty safe site, but unfortunately, accidents do happen every once in a while).

      2. Disco Janet*

        I’m glad to hear she’s stable. My son’s teacher was killed the day after Christmas in a motorcycle accident – someone ran a stop sign. Her husband died on impact and she was life flighted to the hospital, but they couldn’t save her. Not the same as seeing it of course, but we’re reeling.

      3. Auntie Social*

        The shoe thing is an old wive’s tale—were they tie-ons, slip-ons, did she go over the car or under? there are too many variables. My daughter was hit in a crosswalk and rolled across the hood of a car. We found her shoes across the street the next day. She’s fine. (She was a minor at the time, going for ice cream, hit by a tourist—they settled on our demand letter. You don’t want to take THAT to a jury.)

      4. Not So NewReader*

        So very sorry. These things are just…. awful.

        For me, the yelling guy would still be traumatizing me.
        Our brains tend to replay and replay things like this, yeah it can keep us up nights. My wise friend said what to do is to repeatedly tell yourself, “It’s over. It’s not happening anymore.”

        Another exercise I like to do is make a list of what I am grateful for. So in this case, I’d say I was grateful for a working cell phone. I was grateful for the person who answered my call and so on. Sort of a leave no stone unturned approach in listing off what went okay here. It’s so easy to take this stuff for granted. This brought me to a point where I marvel at the things that happen, “Yep, terrible thing X happened but someone JUST happened to be there so they helped ( good thing Y) happened.”
        It’s about balance. It’s finding that thing that helps to balance out the awfulness.

        If part of you feels differently about life or driving or anything else, I think that is pretty normal too. I think we are supposed to let stuff like this shape our thinking and choices to some degree.

      5. Been There*

        I’m so sorry you’re going through this. If it helps you to know of a similar accident with a happy ending…My daughter was struck by a car when she was seventeen. She also was thrown quite a distance and broke her femur. She had surgery but was released from the hospital after four days and was back at school a few days after that. Her only lasting effect (17 years later) is some wonkiness in her knees.

        I didn’t witness the accident but it took place near our home so I was on site before the paramedics, and I was traumatized by the experience. A couple of weeks after the accident, when I was still not sleeping and was constantly reliving the experience, I had to talk a police supervisor about the accident. He very kindly asked how I was doing, told me that my reaction was common and understandable, and offered to put me in touch with the police chaplain for counseling. For some reason, just the acknowledgement that my reaction was normal, and the fact that someone cared about my emotional state, was enough for me to start recovering.

        Please be gentle with yourself. Do things you enjoy or that bring you comfort. Find someone to talk to about the accident (even if that someone is a hotline volunteer) if your reaction isn’t subsiding.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Thank you so much for your kindness. I am glad that your daughter is well now, and I can only imagine how horrible and traumatic that must have been for both of you! I was expecting a call from the police but when I didn’t get one I thought that they must have enough witnesses – I didn’t realise that they might call weeks after. I think I will write down what I remember just in case.
          All best wishes to you.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Writing down what happened is a very smart thing to do.

            Can you reframe this in your head? Something terrible happened, but you were there to call the ambulance – that was an important thing to do, and you did it. The guy who yelled at you was freaked out by the accident and wasn’t thinking clearly. It’s totally reasonable that you felt scared and traumatized – that seems like a normal reaction. The fact that she was conscious is a good sign, I think (I’m no expert).

            You might be able to use google on the street names to find out what happened to the victim, but just remember, whatever happened, you did the right thing by calling for help, and what you did meant that the victim got help sooner than she might have.

      6. Signal*

        My goodness, that’s awful. I’m sorry you witnessed the accident, and I’m sorry the accident happened.

        I think it’s important to keep in mind that you took positive action by calling 911 (not all people would have had the presence of mind), that people say all kinds of stuff after witnessing violence (intentional or not), and that no reasonable person would judge you for what you said after this shocking experience.

        Just in case you you have trouble letting this go in the long term: I highly recommend therapy. A few sessions really helped me process an experience that had haunted me, and because it was a discrete experience, I could process it in 3 sessions rather than 20.

        I wish you the best.

      7. I'm just here for the comments*

        I’m so sorry you had to experience this! I’ll add in to be kind to yourself for your reaction – even the professionals get affected by the calls they do, and they are trained for it (general PSA: please don’t ask emergency responders what was the worst thing they’ve ever seen – the worst is pretty traumatic and it’s not something you want to hear about). If it helps, you can also try reframing it by saying that you were where you needed to be at the time you needed to be there to help the person who needed you. Or to paraphrase the late, great Mr. Rogers, a bad thing happened but you were a helper. I hope you start feeling better.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          a bad thing happened but you were a helper.

          That’s so lovely, thank you! It does help to frame it this way, look at it in a positive light and remember that I helped.

    2. HannahS*

      I’m so sorry, what an awful thing to witness! One tip I got from a friend who’s a social worker after witnessing a stabbing, is that when you repeat to yourself what happened, follow it all the way to the end. So, when you remember what happened, also remember that you called the ambulance, that they came, that you went home and were safe, that you called the hospital, and that she’s stable and in a safe place.

      You did the right thing! I hope you find peace about it.

      1. Blackcat*

        Yes, this is what I was told to do by the therapist I saw twice to process witnessing and providing aid in a similar situation (solo motorcycle accident–it was an older man on a hot day, and he tipped over while going ~40… it was… nasty). I preemptively sought out therapy since I have previously had PTSD, and having it once makes it more likely to have occurrences with additional trauma, even if the trauma is unrelated.

        For me, what I kept ending the story with was the cops telling me I did a good job. Somehow I was the “manager” of the people who stopped to help, doing what I had been taught in first aid courses. “You! [point to person], call 911!” “You! [point to different person] Grab the flares out of my trunk and put them out up the hill.” “You! Give her your belt!” Fortunately an ER nurse was one of the first people who pulled over, and she did all the hands-on stuff. I made sure other people got what she needed/did what she said (and A+ job to the random Costco employee, who came running out with a cart full of stuff after I sent someone in to get stuff–accident was right in front of a Costco of all places).

        Calling 911 was the right thing to do, and it is okay to be upset in the moment. I am good in the moment of an emergency and break down afterwards. It’s neither good nor bad, just the way I’m wired. Hyper focus DO STUFF in the moment, then having all of the “OMG WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!” panic after.

        Also, in that case, I’m pretty sure the guy didn’t make it. It was bad. But I worked to not think about that, instead focusing on the half dozen people who did their best to help him, and that I did what I could.

        1. AnonAcademic*

          My husband was in a similar accident, thankfully with full gear and so he “only” broke 3 bones. I still think about the people who helped him and called 911 and moved his bike to safety. I hope they are ok and know how grateful I am to them. You did good, you made sure he was as well taken care of as the situation allowed. Thank you.

          1. Blackcat*

            On one hand, the experience was really unnerving.
            On the other hand, there was something really reassuring about how many people stopped their lives, ruined their clothes, etc to help a complete stranger. And besides the nurse, we were all just normal people, not off duty emergency responders. Just… people.
            Bad things do happen, but there are good people in the world who will jump in and help.

        2. Princess Deviant*

          Thank you for sharing that. I would say the same to you – you did what you could to help – so that is helpful to frame it in that way for me too, but funnily enough we don’t always speak to ourselves with the same kindness we would use with a friend!

      2. MaggiePi*

        Awesome advice. I’ve done the same talk through to resolution process with kids but of course forget to do it with myself or other adults.

    3. Everdene*

      I was in a similar sounding RTA years ago. There were people like you who stopped to help, call the emergency services, collect my belongings, phone my emergency contact etc. I never had a chance to thank them so instead can I thank you for what you did in a similar situation. The hospital told me a couple of people called to ask after me, but they weren’t allowed to give out details. Knowing that people not only stopped at the time but then thought about me afterwards was genuinely lovely.

      With a different hat on, sometimes witnessing a trauma is far more difficult than being part of it. (For example I can’t remember the point of inpact. Others will) It is ok that it has affected you. If it continues to affect you it’s ok to ask for help. In the UK Victim Support would be happy to talk with you and offer support, is there a similar organisation where you are?

      Again, thank you for stopping and helping take care of that person. Now it’s time to take care of yourself with the same kindness.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Thank you so much, I’m really very touched by what you have said. I’m very buoyed by all the comments here and am going to do my best to frame it for myself, and if I don’t feel better then I am going to seek professional help. Im in the UK and did not even think of Victim Support – I did not know that they could support witnesses too.
        Thank you! All best wishes to you.

  5. CoveredInBees*

    This is a mental health self-help brag. I just need to put it out there somewhere.

    I am putting the full court press on my post-partum depression and anxiety. We ponied up for a sleep coach so I wasn’t waking every 2 hours. Last night, I slept for 9! I also took my first dose of anti-depressant and in 2 weeks, I have my first session with a therapist who takes my insurance, works nearby, AND specializes in post-partum issues. I’ve talked to friends about it who have been very supportive and when my husband suggested I was just tired and didn’t need any other help, I responded with grace and speed.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Why do husbands say things like this, why.
      I think sometimes it’s because they have linked their lives to us and we scare them when stuff comes up.

      I am glad that you are pushing ahead with several things that are supportive. Sleeping at night is a bfd. I am optimistic for you here.

      1. CoveredInBees*

        He grew up in a family that doesn’t do therapy. To them, therapy is fine for “other people”, but not their family. In his family, you ask his dad what to do and that will fix it. If you don’t ask his dad, he’ll probably tell you anyway. I think also he sees it as his own shortcoming that I need therapy and he can’t solve it.

      1. CoveredInBees*

        I responded, “No. It’s more than that. I know I need this help.” and swiftly changed the subject. I asserted my position without giving room for debate.

    2. Ann O.*

      Sleep coaches are amazing! I feel getting a sleep coach saved my sanity (in a literal, non-hyperbolic sense) during the newborn months. Sleeps make such a difference.

    3. It’s all good*

      Excellent thanks for sharing. Proud of you for taking that step. Hope things continue to improve.

  6. Lost in a limbo*

    Somebody on Twitter the other day asked what people had done in 2019 they were proud/excited about and I realised I could not come up with a good answer. My 2019 has been very ‘meh’. Work’s not great, my home life has been challenging (to the extent that we’re talking separation) and I’m just not very happy, or happy at all, really. I’m already seeing a therapist and do sports regularly but I find that the tiniest of situations overwhelm me/make me upset. I’m tired of the situation, and I’m tired of me. It’s clearly not sustainable so what to do? Any good tips/ideas?

    1. Not A Manager*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. If work isn’t great and home life isn’t great, of course you’re feeling overwhelmed and upset. You’re already working on the big picture. In terms of just addressing that feeling of exhaustion and despair, what’s worked for me as a band-aid kind of thing is finding ONE thing that sparks joy that I can do/look forward to each day. And if joy is too strong a word, then it’s okay if it merely sparks interest or momentary uplift. It could be a hot bath, a food treat, a special book, a phone call to someone supportive, whatever. But the key thing is to talk it up to yourself. Really tell yourself how much you are looking forward to being able to have that one treat later in the day.

      If you can do the same thing with a bigger treat once a week, that’s even better. Brunch out, alone or with a friend. A movie, a museum, a yoga class. I’m not super religious, but sometimes I look forward to just sitting quietly in a place of worship that is familiar and comfortable to me.

      None of this is addressing the larger issues, obviously. It’s just a way to make the days feel less grey.

      1. Lost in a limbo*

        Thanks! That’s really good (and manageable) advice. I’m not good at ‘treating’ myself like that but I’ll try to find some small things to do that make me feel better.

    2. Dan*

      Your 2019 was my 2013. June of that year I separated from my ex, and October of that year I got laid off. Thankfully, payments to the ex were all one-time things, not an ongoing headache. I was only out of a job for two months, and I’m now making pretty much twice what I was making when I was laid off. The bottom sucked, but the rebound has been great.

      I tend to be in the minority on this one, but my honest opinion about the home life is that if you want out and have the means to do it, then bite the bullet. I’m far happier single than I was in a miserable marriage.

      1. Lost in a limbo*

        That sounds like a tough year! I actually agree with you on the marriage, it’s just damn difficult to do when it comes to it – and we also have kids which complicates things. Still, I’m increasingly aware this is MY life too so something does need to change.

    3. MonkeyInTheMiddle*

      This is similar to my year. I hope 2020 is better for you. For me, I see more of trying to figure things out. Not quite sure how it’s going to shake out yet. It is harder with kids in the mix, but I know kids are too perceptive. Working on trying to see a counselor to figure out me.

      1. Lost in a limbo*

        Yes they are! My kids (who are quite young) definitely know all is not well. I hope things work out for you too.

  7. Loose Seal*

    My husband and I are discussing hosting a foreign exchange student. I’d love to hear any information anyone has about this experience, good or bad, whether you were a host or a student, or knew someone who was. Thanks.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      My aunt and uncle hosted three or four foreign exchange students over the years while their kids were still at home. They live in a small town in northern Wisconsin – no stop lights, even – and had students from Sweden and Brazil. (I can’t remember the others.)

      It was great for them. They have stayed in touch with their students and have been to visit them. I think my grandmother (who lived in the same town) even wrote letters to the students after they left. I think they went to the Swedish student’s wedding. The Brazilian has become an international hotel manager and works in places like Hong Kong, so they visited him there! And he came here last summer with his wife and daughter so they could see where he spent a year. (Once you become part of my family, you don’t get out. :) )

      My uncle is a super quiet guy, but my aunt is a total extrovert and loves having people around and loves doing stuff. She is warm and welcoming and I am sure she did everything she could to make the students feel comfortable and to adjust to their new environment. And my cousins are great, too, so that was a big part of it.

    2. Anonymato*

      It’s a great adventure! My family hosted an exchange student with AFS when I was a teen, then I went to another country as an exchange student with them, and then I volunteered for them, so I got to see things from all sides. AFS has really good support whenever needed, and people are doing it for the learning, not for money, so I like that. And if there are any major issues or it’s just not a good match you get help. BTW, all kinds of families are welcome to host (you don’t have to have kids or be married or anything like that).

      It was so much fun to host. I am still in touch with my host brother (the student who stayed with us) 30 years ago, as well as with my host family I stayed with. It was truly great experience to be a host family and to be an exchange student with a welcoming family. It helped me understand the world and myself.

    3. Anni*

      I was an exchange student in the US 20 years ago. The family I stayed with were nice enough, but I’m not sure they were really prepared for en exchange student. The parents worked quite a lot and the daughter wasn’t too happy I was there since she’d wanted her senior year to be hers, and not involve an awkward girl from Europe. I was invited to join the basketball team and a ski club, but the parents didn’t want me to join since they didn’t have time to take me anywhere. The daughter would rather I not join her and her friends in anything. I ended up feeling quite isolated as I was on the shy side, was thrown into a quite different culture, and not sure how to make friends when I couldn’t join any activities and didn’t have anyone to introduce me to anyone/anything.

      If you are serious about hosting an exchange student, make sure you have time to help them get acclimated, take them to activites, maybe introduce them to people if you’re active in your community? It’s not easy to come live with strangers in a country you don’t know, especially if you’re on the shy side. Of course it’s also up to the exchange student, but you as the host family have a lot of influence when it comes to how the experience ends up being. Maybe take a few vacation days to show them around town so they can get somewhat familiar with where things are located in your community? The advantage of now versus 20 years ago is that with skype etc it should be fairly easy for you to get to know each other a bit in advance. I hope you have a great experience if you end up hosting. :)

      1. irene adler*

        Good point.
        I was a member of AFS in high school. One exchange student had to move to another host residence early on. Apparently the first family she stayed with had a lot of drama going on. Not sure of the specifics (spouse cheating? money issues?). It might just have been the dynamics of the family didn’t mesh with the exchange student. Made it very awkward.
        So there was a second family lined up. This worked much better.

        1. Totally anonymous*

          I wish I’d known that was an option. My host family had so little in common with me that they *invited someone else* to stay with them too.
          I wasn’t through that organization.

    4. Etudiante d’échange*

      I was an exchange student and volunteered with YFU, a non-profit organizing high school exchange years all over the world so I’m happy to share my experience. Also, feel free to ask anything.
      Right now I can’t write more because an exchange student friend is visiting (I used to mentor her when she was in my country on her exchange 11 years ago) and we have a lot of catching up to do but I’ll try to be back tomorrow.
      Can I ask what your motivation and expectations are? It’s easier to give advice based on that.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Motivation: We eventually want to be foster parents for children in CPS’ custody but we have never been parents. So we thought if we hosted exchange students for a bit, it would give us an idea if we could adapt to having a kid in the house. The thought being that the exchange student would theoretically have some choice about leaving us if we turn out to be terrible at this. Neither of us have ever been in a situation where anyone in our families hosted students, although I was quite good friends with the exchange students who were at my high school back in the day.

        Expectations: I haven’t even begun to develop an idea around expectations other than, since we would be very new at this, that we would have loads of support from the company that places the students.

        Thanks for your thoughts on this.

        1. Etudiante d'échange*

          I hope you will still see this.
          I have to admit that most of my knowledge on fostering children is limited but I know that it is a very different experience for both the foster parents and the kids than an exchange year. I wouldn’t want to compare them as they have some fundamental differences but it is true that there are skills from being a host family that translate well into being a foster family: eg. communication, patience, ability to look at oneself from an outsider’s perspective, managing expectations – these are all skills that you will learn from this experience and will be useful in other situations. And yes, you might find out that you get on well with teenagers.
          If you are willing to open your home and your heart to a young foreigner who might have very different values, opinions and interests than you and want to learn from them and teach them, I think you are good to go, and with some patience and empathy (and a lot of self-awareness) you can make a wonderful host family. It is important not to approach this experience with only fostering in mind but to be open to the specificities of this very experience (some challenges are similar but the exchange students come with different goals and expectations, eg. learning a new language, having an American high school experience *as seen on TV* or something completely different).
          It’s great actually that you don’t have expectations developed! Of course learning about a new culture and developing a new relationship where the student becomes a family member are valid ones but the less you have a very clear picture of how the exchange year should go, the more you’ll enjoy it, even if it isn’t a typical exchange year.
          As you’re saying, a good organization does support you closely throughout the exchange year (and before and after). I was an exchange student with YFU but I know that AFS also has an amazing support network in the US. Both are based on volunteers and have wonderful communities around the world so I suggest to check first which one is available in your area.
          This answer is a bit all over the place but in I hope it gave you someinsight into what to consider. You still have plenty of time to apply for hosting (student arrive in August usually) but it is a great time to start contacting organizations.
          Good luck with this decision!

    5. LilySparrow*

      A friend of mine from (formerly East) Germany first came to the US as an exchange student on a special program in the late 1980s, just before the Berlin Wall fell.

      They have stayed close all this time, and a couple of years ago her host “dad” officiated her wedding! This was particularly significant, as her own dad is a pastor, and they flew to the States just to get married by host dad. It’s a lovely relationship betweem the two families.

    6. TCO*

      We (married couple in our 30s, no kids) are currently hosting our third exchange student from our third continent. Each one has been a different adventure. It’s fun to learn more about different cultures in a different way than you get through traveling.

      I’d recommend finding a host agency that you can feel really comfortable with. An agency that’s helpful and supportive has made all the difference. The first one we hosted through wasn’t good; our counselor was terrible and really disorganized. Now we host through Rotary and the support system for both students and families is so much bigger.

      Some programs offer short-term hosting for as little as a few weeks, which could be a good way to try it out! For us, the biggest adjustment has been helping our students stay busy and build a social life here. Because we don’t have kids of our own, we don’t have as many activities/friendships that we can just naturally include a student in (though we certainly have some). Many students need time to figure out American friendships (like how do you ask a friend to hang out after school, and what do you do together?) so they might need more social support than some non-exchange kids do.

      I recommend against hosting if you live in a really isolated area/lifestyle. Students are here to explore, be involved in school activities, etc. and they need access to those things. Be prepared to give rides, offer activities, etc. If you live in an area where the student can’t walk/bus/bike around the neighborhood and you like to spend every evening quietly at home, your lifestyle might not be a good fit for hosting. We’ve known student living in rural areas whose families are not active or involved in the community and the students end up bored.

      1. Anonymato*

        I disagree a bit with that, because just hanging with their host family and doing puzzles (or whatever) might be perfect for SOME students.

      2. Loose Seal*

        We live in a university town (So lots of young people) and are only a mile from the bus stop. We would, of course, get the student a bus pass and teach them how the bus system works. Since I don’t have kids, I don’t know what activities there are at the school or if the school is used to having exchange students. If we do decide to move forward with this, I plan to try to have a meeting with the principal or a counselor at the high school prior to hosting and see if I can get an idea of what school life is like in this area.

        I do know that there are teen events at the library and there are all sorts of street events — music mostly but other things as well — all year so I think there would be a lot to do that doesn’t cost much where my student and their school friends could hang out.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Similarly, I’d be curious to hear about it specifically from the perspective of having a host family who (a) is non-traditional (my household is three adults, and while we’re not a poly group, we are frequently mistaken for one) and/or (b) doesn’t have any kids or local friends with kids.

      1. Etudiante d'échange*

        I have a friend who stayed with a single dad with university-aged kids living far away and only visiting for the holidays and it worked out wonderfully. Host family doesn’t mean mom and dad and children (at least with the orgs I know) but this might depend on the local rep who is screening.
        Back when I was in high school one of the bigger orgs was looking for families with 2 parents and more children with some BS arguments about ensuring a full experience. So you can get a sense of what they are open to just by reading their recruitment materials.
        I can imagine that certain sending countries aren’t that receptive to non-traditional families but the org I worked at was very clear on having to accept the norms of the host country.

    8. Lore*

      My parents did it for years, but they mostly had older students—either post-college (20s) doing a business English immersion at a local university, or 19-20 years old doing the immersion to prepare for university in the US. They were closer to some than others, but generally had wonderful experiences. They went to Switzerland for the wedding of one; another still stops by whenever she’s in the US for work; others call randomly. (They stopped doing it right around the time international texting/phone calls became an affordable thing so they’d perhaps be in even better touch.)

      1. Loose Seal*

        This is interesting as my husband has wondered if we could start with an older student. (We are both a bit worried about screwing up a kid’s life, probably like most new “parents”.)

    9. Jackalope*

      I was an exchange student with AFS and my family hosted a few students. I highly recommend it. Most of the people I know had good experiences with it. I’d say make sure you’re able to be flexible (all of our students were very different from each other) and make the students feel welcome. Also, be ready for someone to be in your family business all the time in a way they wouldn’t if they were only there for a week or two. (This wasn’t a bad thing but it’s a thing). When I did it back in the day my high school guidance counselor said that the best organizations he knew for providing support and actually screening prospective families, etc., were AFS and Rotary. I personally liked the AFS model better because they had more of a living in the community model (staying with one family the whole year, being a normal high school student, etc.), whereas Rotary did more of a traveling thing where you stayed with 3-4 different families over the year, traveled around the country while skipping school, etc. I’m not sure if they have remained the same since that was back in the 90s but that would be something to check out as well.

      1. Jackalope*

        Also, I’m still in touch with my host family and have visited them an average of every three years since then. So for me it was very worth it!

      2. TCO*

        We currently host through Rotary, and the students in our area stay with 3 different host families over 10-11 months–but all within the same school attendance area. So while the host families change, students have a stable school life. And the students and host families end up with a really nice support system in their community because so many people are involved in the student’s life. We’ve met great folks and become friendly with the Rotary members and other host families in our neighborhood, which feels like a bonus to us. And the students more easily get a diversity of experiences without looking to one host family to be/do everything the student wants to experience in America.

    10. The Doctor is In*

      My brother and his family have hosted several students over the years and had a good experience EXCEPT for a student from South Korea who was only 16 and spoke very little English. He wanted to spend all his free time Internet chatting with friends back home, and struggled in school. They had great experiences with other students from Russia and Germany and still keep in touch.

      My husband’s coworker and her family hosted a student from Germany last year. They live in a small town/rural area but are involved in a lot of things and took her on a lot of trips.

    11. quikaa*

      Recommend AFS. I have gone abroad as a high schooler and hosted as a high schooler and again when my kids were in high school (as a single mom) with AFS and am currently a volunteer. I like that it is a volunteer-centric organization so you have people doing it because they like the students and the experiences rather than the money. There is paid staff to handle unusual problems (like if a student gets in a car accident as a passenger- no driving, drugs allowed). We provide orientations and monthly support check-ins for families and our students with at least 5 orientations sessions so we can make sure the students are on-track.
      It is some work, especially in the beginning and you want all family members to be on board. Some families really bond with the students (A student we hosted in early 2000’s just came to visit with spouse) and others not as much. However, I have a friend who is a foster mom and that is a completely different experience.

    12. Clarissa*

      I am a retired high school teacher. When I taught there was an exchange student in my class. All sorts of problems arose with the host family because the student got caught smoking pot and drinking several times. I was in a conference with the student’s other teachers and the host family. The host mother was in tears. The exchange student went home.
      Also when I was in high school myself I knew an exchange student who was very into drugs. He never got caught though.

      1. Etudiante d'échange*

        While this can happen, I’d like to mention that this is the exception and not the rule. Also, all responsible organizations have clear rules (eg. the 3Ds: no drinking, no driving, no drugs) and send students home after one incident involving drugs or breaking the law.

  8. Dr. KMnO4*

    My dad and I saw Jumanji: The Next Level last night. It wasn’t as good as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, but it was still a good movie. If you liked the previous one you will probably like this one.

        1. Kuododi*

          If you thought that was funny…you ought to hear Daniel Craig playing the incarcerated demolition expert family member in “Logan Lucky.”. Hearing his version of a “redneck accent” and seeing his multiple tattoos and the out of control hair was worth the price of admission. Hysterical!!!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I just recommended this above. I totally adored it–and him. Everyone in it was outstanding.

    1. Other Meredith*

      I finally went to see Frozen 2 yesterday. I thought it was great. I’m looking forward to Jumanji, but in a free when checked out from the library kind of way.

  9. Ra94*

    Cooking thread! Mainly an excuse for me to brag about my first totally from-scratch lasagna yesterday, including the pasta sheets. It took a good 4 hours of hands-on time and was worth every minute!

    Being Russian, we’re also already prepping and planning for New Year’s dinner- herring in a fur coat is our family favourite. (Layers of salted herring, potato, hard boiled egg, beets, carrots, and onion, dressed with mayo and served as a cold starter).

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      The lasagna sounds delicious – congratulations!

      Great name for the herring dish. Which part of it is considered to be the ‘fur coat’?

      1. Ra94*

        All of the veg around the herring is the ‘fur’, keeping it snug and warm! (A lot of Russian winter traditions are, unsurprisingly, about keeping warm at any cost.)

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The sous-vide has been a great discovery. It turned a bottom round into something tender enough to serve fussy guests. And a supermarket pork tenderloin comes out like a fine ham…just lower salt. If there are leftoversome from tonight’s, I’ll be trying some in a quiche.

      1. Ra94*

        Ooh, sous vide has long been on the list of kitchen gadgets I want but can’t justify yet. Have you found it useful for non-meat dishes, too? I’m trying to eat less meat lately, and I’m not sure getting a device that produces incredible steaks or ham will aid me in that goal.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It made exquisite squid for Thai-style squid salad. No worry about 10 seconds taking your dinner from undercooked to rubber.
          I haven’t tried anything vegetable.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I’ve got lasagna on the menu today – it’s chilly and raining, we’ve finished the turkey leftovers, and we spent yesterday helping friends with a move, so a relaxed day of cooking and nice smells is on the menu.

      New Year’s is up to my husband – we get the traditional Japanese food for the holiday.

  10. Laura H.*

    Ugh. Mountain Cedar reared it’s ugly grad and I’m not happy.

    On the plus side, my gifts to others were well-recieved, and I like the ones I got. I think my favorite one I gifted was the Make Your Own Hotsauce kit I got for my brother. My favorite gift I got is a nice set of pajamas where the pants actually fit my legs. (I’m petite so that’s a rarity- I’m gonna probably buy myself another set of em if mom can hunt down the link.)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I didn’t realize it’s a midwinter pollen–nor did I realize it’s really a juniper. I’m allergic to juniper, so I guess I’ll have to be careful when I travel south!

  11. TiredMom*

    I hope everyone is having a great “in between” weekend! Mine started with parenting woes. How could I have handled this differently? Daughter (21) had a “movie date” last night —she and her long distance girlfriend watch a movie “together.” Our family is Jewish, and our tradition is not to watch television on Shabbat, but she keeps her door closed so we let her do it. At 11 o’clock we were in bed; I heard in the movie where a woman was crying out “please no.” It happened twice at length. After texting her, waiting, and texting again, I opened her door, found her asleep, woke her up, and asked her to turn off the TV. This escalated immediately into a screamfest ( from her) after I said I wouldn’t leave until the TV was off. I apparently ruined her date, and after I left she threw things, broke her drinking glass, and spent the evening in her car. She is still there, but luckily It’s warm out. what should I have done in the moment? Yes, she is in therapy, but hasn’t had any sort of blowup in many months.
    Tl; dr- adult tantrums – what to do?

    1. Laura H.*

      I don’t have any advice on the tantrum, but was this letting her do the movie night on Shabbat a one-time/ not often because usually at school so no issue kind of thing, or is it a regular occurrence?

      If it wasn’t a common thing, I think you should in the future establish rules for this- convey that it’s a privilege, not a right and that if you can hear the tv through said closed door then it’s too loud.

      I’m the late one of my family and I may not go to sleep, but usually am in my room by a certain hour and stay there till morning. I also use devices with headphone capabilities too. My folks never (or rarely) had to enforce this but I’m always open to a nudge that I may be too noisy.

      If this movie night is a regular thing, set the ground rules or review them- and treat her like an adult but still remind her that she is under your authority and needs to respect that position.

      1. Human Embodiment of the 100 Emoji*

        If they’re Shabbat observant, I’m pretty sure pressing any kind of button that turns on/off electricity is forbidden (I’m Jewish but not Shabbat observant, so there may be more nuance to this aspect of it, idk).

          1. moql*

            What counts as working on shabbat can be very complicated, carried, and un-intuitive. Don’t make assumptions about texting vs buttons on a TV unless you know their rabbi and family.

        1. TiredMom*

          We are Jewish and our observance is sort of flex-Conservative. We always eat Shabbat dinner together, and the TV isn’t on downstairs over Shabbat. We go to Saturday services and don’t work or shop. Daughter does though. She got the Tv about 6 months ago and yes we should have gone over rules.

    2. LilySparrow*

      How did you ruin her date if she was asleep?

      I’m not sure if Shabbat rules allow switching things off, but as myself I probably would have just switched it off instead of waking her, and then addressed it in the morning.

      If that’s not feasible, the other thing I might suggest would be to focus on impact rather than compliance. It seems like insisting on compliance escalated the conflict beyond what was necessary.

      The TV being on wasn’t really the problem, since you’d already agreed to have it on. The volume was the problem, because you could hear it in your bedroom.

      So if adjusting the set yourself is not allowed and you have to wake her to do it, then I’d focus on just getting her to turn it down so you can’t hear it in your room, or wear headphones if possible. She’s 21 and has to make her own choices about matters of religion and conscience, but she doesn’t have the right to disrupt yours in your own home. “It’s too loud, please turn it down” is a totally reasonable request that should be no big deal.

      As an adult offspring, these are the shifts that are so tricky – away from authority/parenting, and toward a relationship based on mutual consideration and affection. It’s tricky for everyone.

      However – it sounds like she’s on a hair trigger and not really responding rationally. It’s possible that there was no “right way” to address this that wouldn’t have set her off.

      1. TiredMom*

        I like the headphones idea, thanks! Apparently I ruined the date because her girlfriend hung up her phone when she saw/heard me come into the room.

    3. matcha123*

      I can’t comment on the religious aspect, but I assume you are all living in the US. If you haven’t already talked about each of your roles, then it might be time to talk about them. Since you are following strict? religious practices, you and your daughter should talk about how to respect each other during celebrations. It is your house and you have your rules, but using this incident as an example, say if she’s going to have the TV on the volume needs to be low or she needs to use headphones.
      From the little that’s here, it looks like you guys need to adjust how you see each others’ roles.
      When it comes to tantrums, she’s 21 and living in your house. She shouldn’t be allowed to throw or break things, even if they are how own things. If she wants to do that, she can move out into her own place and pay her own bills.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. She’s an adult so it’s her choices all along the way here whether to practice the faith or not. However, she can turn the tv down.
        I’m not a parent but I am someone’s (adult) kid. From this perspective I can say ultimatums never go well. If you have reached a point of issuing ultimatums the situation was out-of-hand for a bit. I am not clear on if the tv ever got turned off and who turned it off. I am guessing you had to turn it off after she stormed out of the house? This is the problem with ultimatums, we can really get painted into a corner. Try to avoid them entirely.

        But overall, this was way too much reaction to a tv that she wasn’t even looking at. This is your house and your rules. She does not have to believe in the rules, she just has to abide by them. Or, you know, get her own place.
        The rules should be consistent. She should be told about any new rule BEFORE she breaks it. Otherwise it sounds like you are making up rules as you go along.
        I would not worry too much about her being in her car, she put herself there. I’d leave her there. But I think the fact that she got pretty ragey and she spent time in her car probably points toward counseling for you and her together.

        1. TiredMom*

          Thanks NSNR- I was also tired and it’s hard to stay away from ultimatums while also feeling like you aren’t giving in. And all this was after a nice Shabbat dinner , menorah lighting, and present exchange too.

      2. TiredMom*

        Some nice framing here – thanks matcha. Ideally we’d like her to move out soon, but now that there’s a long distance girlfriend there’s lots in play with her current job vs moving to be w girlfriend.

    4. Nom de Plume*

      I have a lot of questions. Like does she have any diagnoses? Does she live in your home full time, or was she visiting for the holidays? (You obviously don’t have to answer them here, but I think the answers are relevant to how to handle these situations moving forward) I think the situations of being back home as a young adult versus living at home with your parents full time as a young adult have their own challenges and are difficult for all to navigate.

      I guess in the moment one thing you could have done differently was not to wake her up and turned the tv off yourself. Then talk about it the next morning. I know from personal experience that being awakened unexpectedly is disorienting at best. I can see how someone who has mental health issues may not react in the most constructive way in that situation. Either way, it sounds like a really tough situation.

      1. TiredMom*

        Thanks NdP – yes, I was posting to hear suggestions about the smaller situation rather than big picture. I didn’t see the remote because her light was off, and should have taken into account the grouchy wake up.

    5. Courageous cat*

      I don’t know honestly, either something is missing here or your daughter might need more help than we would be equipped to advise on – if you didn’t do anything past simply asking her to turn off the tv, then her reaction is outsized in a pretty significant way. Maybe she doesn’t mesh with her therapist or medication or something.

    6. Not A Manager*

      “After texting her, waiting, and texting again, I opened her door, found her asleep, woke her up, and asked her to turn off the TV. This escalated immediately into a screamfest ( from her) after I said I wouldn’t leave until the TV was off.”

      Okay, so. If you were texting on Shabbat, then you were able to turn off the TV on Shabbat. (I think one is allowed to turn OFF a device anyway, but even if that’s not the case, it sounds like you’re not strictly shomer shabbas anyway.) So you could have avoided all of this by turning off the TV instead of waking your daughter. The fact that you woke her suggests that there’s some history here – maybe of her being inconsiderate, or pushing boundaries, or being VERY upset at you touching her stuff or interfering in her experience. But there was no need to wake her, and the fact that you did was an escalation in itself.

      Second, you said you wouldn’t leave until the TV was off. That’s super confrontational and controlling. Maybe that’s warranted, but that’s more of how you deal with a young child than an adult of 21. If an adult won’t do what you tell them to, you can do it yourself (turn the TV off), you can postpone a conversation for another time (“if you won’t turn the TV off, then we’ll need to have different expectations on Shabbat in the future. I’m going back to bed now”), you can capitulate (“that’s extremely inconsiderate and I’m shocked that you’re willing to keep the entire household awake”), but staging a sit-in is a really poor choice.

      It’s great that your daughter is getting assistance. I think you should have assistance also. You need someone to talk to about your own feelings about your challenging daughter and her condition.

      And where is your spouse or co-parent in all of this?

      1. TiredMom*

        Some good language here, NaM- thank you! Spouse was trying to stay out of it as we’ve experienced that 2 on 1 doesn’t work well for our family. And I’ll be seeing my therapist next week- just was interested in throwing this out to the commentariat as there are some good insightful posters here on the weekend.

        1. MatKnifeNinja*

          Would you be open on these “break Shabbat nights, if you could arrange for a hotel room? Prepay it and maybe have the friend share the room?

          It’s uncomfortable for you to have rules like all the rules for Shabbat, and someone in the house goes *meh*. You shouldn’t be fighting her like a 12 year old. She’s a grown women.

          I have an Orthodox friend, and her son became less observant. Girlfriends could not spend the night AT ALL. Didn’t matter that they shared an apartment blah blah blah. Hotel room for one, both or you both had to leave. Want to watch the Tee Vee after dinner, you go to the hotel for that. You don’t wreck Shabbat for everyone else.

          I don’t know how observant you are. Are there Shabbat hotels/motels that aren’t an arm and a leg where you live? You could prearranged so no money/CC are being carried. Then it’s out of sight out of mind.
          Your daughter can have her own level of “observant”, and you not get an ulcer in the process.

          You DD has no right to break your stuff. That’s nonsense, but you are seeing a therapist, so hash it out with them.

      2. TiredMom*

        NaM – thanks for your answer. Actually this is me after therapist- because of holidays I’ll be back w therapist early Jan. But I posted because I’ve often read weekend posts and admire the collective insight. Spouse was in bed b/c parental 2 on 1 doesn’t go over well. I like your capitulation language, and I didn’t see the remote as the lights were off.

      3. Observer*

        You’re technically right, but aside from TM not seeing the remote, it’s reasonable for them to draw a line, whatever it is, and stick to it.

        It’s not like what TM was asking her daughter to do was unreasonable or difficult. Then it would be reasonable to expect them to reassess their consistency with practice. Here? Not so much.

    7. Jdc*

      She’s 21 and you’re telling her you won’t leave her alone until she turns the tv off?? Her reaction was too far but I don’t understand why you treated her like a toddler to begin with.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The TV was at a volume that was disturbing their sleep, the daughter wasn’t even watching it, and if mom is observant orthodox, she can’t work the TV controls without breaking her rules for herself.

        1. Not A Manager*

          The mother was able to text her daughter on Shabbat, so she was able to turn off the TV on Shabbat. Waking her and refusing to leave was a choice.

        2. TiredMom*

          SSC – it wasn’t exactly the noise but it was the disturbing content on the TV that was upsetting me the most – so I wanted to stop that as soon as possible. Even though I myself wouldn’t turn the TV on during Shabbat to watch it, I wouldn’t mind turning it off.

      2. LilySparrow*

        I’m not going to judge on that because if your young adult child has a history of physically lashing out over minor aggravations, you probably can’t trust them to leave it turned off. It’s easy to get stuck in a pattern of treating someone like a toddler if they never progress past toddler behavior.

        Adults who throw things and break property when angry are on a path to committing physical abuse – being a woman doesn’t change that.

        Perhaps spending the night in the car was a good choice for the daughter to moderate herself and prevent direct violence.

        1. Ra94*

          If someone has a history of physically lashing out, I think escalating the situation by a) waking them up just to argue, and b) refusing to leave their space is an even more unwise idea.

          1. LilySparrow*

            I don’t disagree, but that’s a different dynamic than “treating them like a toddler.”

            It’s very, very difficult to come to terms with the idea that the person you love may be seriously unwell.

    8. Thankful for AAM*

      If she is in therapy, it might help the rest of you to check out NAMI, the National alliance for mental illness. It can be very helpful for you in learning how and what limits to set.

      As the others said, it does seem odd that you said you would not leave until she turned it off. It is your home, you can set limits like “11pm is too late at night for you to hear the TV.” And you can do that in a way that is not treating her like a very young child – though she should not be having temper tantrums.

      Parenting an adult with mental health issues is hard, I have one and I wish you tje best!

    9. Dan*

      I don’t understand the religious aspects of this, but I agree with Courageous Cat… this reads to me as a “seek professional guidance” situation that is beyond the help that compassionate strangers on the internet can realistically offer.

    10. Ezera*

      Living at home as an adult is hard, because you’re in this weird limbo of not being a child, but still in that role.

      It sounds like both of you had missteps. You were pretty confrontational, with refusing to leave until it was off (which …I’m sure there’s previous history about why, but just from an outsider’s perspective, that’s how it comes across). She also had an outsider reaction, with the throwing/breaking things and storming out.

      I second the idea of therapy for you as well if it’s possible.

      And could you work on a transition for her to move out? Something with deadlines, so she’s not caught off guard? That would probably fix a lot of these interactions, unless there’s some obvious reason why she’s not able to leave. 21 is young, but a lot of people live on their own at that age.

      1. TiredMom*

        Thanks Ezera – I only lived at home as an adult for a few months and that was many years ago. This is me with therapy so I’m sure it could be worse. Ideally we’d like her to move out soon, but now that there’s a long distance girlfriend there’s lots in play with her current job vs moving to be w girlfriend.

    11. Anono-me*

      Probably being tired, with the extra stress of the holiday and the new girlfriend visiting didn’t help either of you.

      I’m a big believer in smarter living through technology. Can you address the volume issue sometime when you are all calm? Many new TVs have a sound governer feature that let’s you program the maximum volume the tv will play. Most TVs have a few control buttons on the side, so you may want to see of you can locate those in a non stressful moment. You may also want to check to see if the tv has a remote control ap that can be added to your smart phone. (I’m not sure how this fits in with Shabbat, but at least it migh help the rest of the week.)

  12. Anonadog*

    After staying in three different housing situations while visiting my family, it’s become clear to me that my back hurts when sleeping in any bed other than ours at home.

    Our bed at home has a memory foam topper. I’ve seen some “travel” toppers but am not sure they’d cut it or if they’re actually realistic to travel with. Anyone have one of these? Does it work?

    Anyone else have an impossible time sleeping when not at home?

    1. anon24*

      I can’t sleep away from home but it’s more of a familiarity thing than a comfort thing. I’ve learned that if I’m traveling by car I bring a blanket from my bed and sleep with that and it seems to help. If I’m flying I make room for a hoodie in my bag and either use that as my pillow or put it over my pillow . The familiar smell next to my face helps me sleep

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      I can sleep when I’m away from home, but it’s usually not restful. Hotels are just too sterile and unfamiliar for me to get fully comfortable no matter how nice they happen to be.

    3. Reba*

      Yeah, it’s hard for different reasons at our two families’ places. Some things we are able to mitigate, some just have to accept.

      Rather than a travel thing, could you invest (or ask family to share cost) for a topper that stays there? Even an inexpensive one might be better than what they’ve got now.

      I have done this, plus got new pillows for my parents’ house. At my inlaws we just complain afterwards :)

    4. Arts Akimbo*

      I consistently find that if I have earplugs and a night mask or even a dark shirt with which to cover my eyes, I can sleep anywhere, through anything. The sensory deprivation just kind of shuts my brain off. If I don’t have these things, the strange sounds and light patterns of a new place to sleep will keep me watchful and uncomfortably awake.

      Travel toppers are in the you-get-what-you-pay-for category. The expensive ones pack down very small, and are light, comfy, and convenient. The cheaper ones are harder to sleep on, weigh more, and are bulkier. That’s how it seems to me, anyway.

  13. Trixie*

    I paid off my car and am officially out of debt for 2020. Even better, I have an emergency/moving fund ready to go.

    I am renter who loves the idea of owning a home for the fun parts. But, between housing market, single income, and I’m not in love with my current state of residence, it’s hard to get excited about making it happen. It’s not out of the question but I also know I need to focus on retirement savings.

    For those who have had substantial consumer debt, how difficult is it to settle and does is impact one’s credit history? I’ve spent a lot of time watching “debt free” journeys on YouTube and Instagram. So many have no extra money to throw at debt and barely keep up with the minimum payments. Maybe if they knew they could ask about settling, they would have a path forward.

    1. WellRed*

      The thing with settling debt is, you have to have the money to pay the settlement in full. So, if you are barely making minimum payments, a settlement isn’t an option. I had a family loan to do it and had a lawyer do the settlement part (a couple of different cards he negotiated on).

      1. Trixie*

        Sounds like I have the wrong wording then. I was thinking folks could “settle” on a final debt amount and make payments on that amount without additional interest accruing. (Separate altogether from declaring bankruptcy.)

        1. Jdc*

          We settled and made payments. You do have to be prepared to pay something on the spot but we have lowered our debt, payments and or interest rates just by asking. Only upped our credit scores.

          1. Wishing You Well*

            Just a reminder for interested people: always get the settlement IN WRITING before you hand over any money. And never give the creditor your account information; some will empty your entire account regardless of the deal you made. So sayeth Dave Ramsey.
            My very best wishes to everyone for a better 2020!

    2. Chaordic One*

      I wouldn’t give up on the idea of home ownership. Look into first time home ownership programs that might be able to help you with a down payment, or a low-interest mortgage, or even just to help walk you through the application process. I currently live in an area where both rents and housing prices seem to be rising in tandem and the cost of a monthly mortgage payment is the same as rent. I’m hoping to buy a house in the next year or so.

      1. Stephanie*

        Admittedly, I live in Detroit, so there are probably more programs pushing home ownership than elsewhere, but seconding this. There are plenty of programs for first-time homebuyers.

        That being said…I wouldn’t rush into home ownership if you don’t feel ready or aren’t in love with the area. Unless you’re in a really hot market, selling a house is more work than breaking or ending a lease and the break-even (such that it’s cheaper than renting) may take a couple of years. Plus, you need to be mentally ready for dealing with maintenance issues.

        1. Trixie*

          This. I’m not in love with the area but here for family. Maintenance issues are the other enormous concern on a single income. Most places I imagine I could afford would probably not be a in a hot market and would be hard to unload without a loss. While not making a profit, I appreciate the flexibility of renting.

    3. Dan*

      I think one has to be very careful settling debts. If you can negotiate a reduced balance (and definitely a lower interest rate) with the original lender, you should be fine. That’s not a given though, because many places may not negotiate settlements on accounts that are in good standing.

      If you’re negotiating with a debt collector after the debt has already been written off, the damage has already been done, so negotiate away.

      What you absolutely don’t want to do is engage a third-party service. Those guys are shady, and often will tell you to pay them as a middle man. Except they sit on your payments so you get behind, they bank the payments, negotiate a settlement, and make a lump sum payment on your behalf. Except they were wrecking your credit in the mean time, because the original lender was not getting paid for several months.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My friend called up a card company and hammered out an agreement for paying off the debt. One part of that agreement was cutting up the card. She could not add any further purchases to that particular card. Fortunately, she had other cards. I don’t think the spending levels slowed down. But because no new interest was accruing she as eventually able to pay it off.
      The path forward has multiple steps. One of those steps is to break the habits that caused the problem to begin with. My friend is comfy in life, not rich but the bills are paid each month. She still has numerous cards with various amounts. That would keep me awake at night but I guess it does not bother others?

      1. Meepmeep*

        It totally is about habits. We are in debt repayment mode on Wife’s student loans and credit card debt (she came into the marriage with both – I was debt free). She makes good money. But somehow, whenever she ran up a debt, she ignored it – she felt no pressure to pay it off. She made minimum payments and considered herself “financially responsible”. She didn’t even know how much she owed.

        It took a couple of years to truly rework her financial habits. Now the debt is melting away. We didn’t even investigate settling it or doing anything like that – I wanted her to just stop ignoring it and start actually paying it off. Also, we didn’t want to take the hit to our credit rating, since we want to buy a house after the student loans are gone.

      2. Annonno Today*

        People’s relationship with money/spending can be very fraught. Hard to say what might bother one person and not the next.

    5. Graciosa*

      When tax time comes around, remember that forgiveness of debt can be treated as income for U.S. income tax purposes – make sure you mention it to your tax advisor so you get proper treatment of it in your annual return.

  14. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Yesterday YouTube recommended the Russian Figure Skating Championship and I’m hooked. I can’t pick a favorite, they’re all wonderful and talented. Today I’m watching the second part.

    1. Also a fan*

      Aren’t they wonderful???
      US Nationals are coming up in January. Europeans soon after, Worlds are in March, I think (& in Montreal this year.)
      A wonderful resource is RockerSkating (twitter & Instagram) by Jackie Wong. He posts schedules for events, live tweets many via live streaming or in person, & has taught me a lot. His love of skating & skaters comes through with his technical expertise (former judge). Look for the IceTalk podcasts for conversations with & about skaters which he hosts with Nick McCarvel (hope that’s right).

  15. HannahS*

    What surprised you about wedding planning and the wedding industry?

    Here are some things that have been on my mind in the last week:

    1. Gender stuff! Men tend to be almost or completely absent from wedding media. It’s marketed directly to me, and only me. He is there to be a prop in photos, sometimes.

    2. If you move outside of the wedding industrial complex, it is shockingly easy to have a much less expensive wedding. We’ve chosen my fiance’s synagogue for the venue, and a local kosher restaurant for the catering. We’re hosting a 100-person evening wedding with dinner and dancing during peak season of this year, and the two largest expenses of catering and a venue are coming in at less than $3000. Factors: we live in a trendy mid-sized city with a small Jewish community, so not a ton going on. But still!

    1. Jellyfish*

      Seconding your #2. We ordered a cake that was marketed for anniversary parties. It looked exactly like a traditional tiered wedding cake, but cost a quarter of the price.

      The degree to which random acquaintances thought they should have a say in our wedding surprised me too. I expected some family members to have opinions, but all kinds of people have seriously strong emotions about other people’s weddings!

      1. HannahS*

        Oh yeah, seconding your second point. We have people in our lives who’ve been incredibly vocal about the quantity of alcohol they feel is necessary. As a non-drinker, I’m happy for my partner to take the lead on how much alcohol qualifies good hosting, but like, the wedding’s Sunday night and will be done by 10:30 pm. We’re not paying for people to get blasted.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          Please consider what free, unlimited alcohol does to an otherwise lovely wedding. It’s not pretty.
          There’s no sin in having a dry wedding. They do happen and people do survive. If you provide alcohol, do what you can to ensure your guests are sober enough to drive home.
          Best Wishes to you Brides and Grooms!

          1. Jackalope*

            We had a dry wedding and I am very glad still. It’s much cheaper (or was at our venue, anyway), and makes it less likely that people will make stupid life choices.

    2. LilySparrow*

      For #2, I found my wedding dress (a gorgeous Vera Wang ivory column dress with a fishtail hem) as a “bridesmaid” dress in a department store in my hometown.

      Clearance rack. $15. There’s no digits missing. Fifteen dollars.

      The alterations were $12.

      1. Lexin*

        Not a skill that everyone has, but I made my own wedding dress and the bridesmaids’ dress, too – I’m not a size it would be usual to find a dress for in a thrift store and wasn’t even in 1984, when I got married. It was about a quarter the price it would have been if I’d bought it.

    3. willow19*

      I was surprised by how easy it was to plan – there were not a lot of pieces to put together. Dress/tux, food, cake, minister, rings, flowers, DJ, venue. And once all that stuff was contracted, they all did what they were supposed to do, because that’s their business. The DJ brought music. The cake was great. The catered food was hot. And I coud relax!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Definitely number 2 for me. It was disturbing to me that people thought they HAD to do this stuff in order to be married. You can stand in from a JP in your jamies with two witness and still be married. Most of what they sell you is unnecessary.

    5. Interrodroid3000*

      Oh god yes to #1! I started getting emails & newsletters when I signed up for a wedding website, and I still haven’t stopped getting all of that very gendered spam! It’s both infuriating and hilarious.

    6. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      How easy it can be to be a totally hands-off bride, as well as it’s many pros and cons. We are having a very small out of state wedding at a chapel with packages. All I have left to do is book a restaurant for the 8 of us!

    7. Everdene*

      For me it was the gendered stuff and All. The. Opinions. During a hospital visit I had a gaggle of nurses I hadn’t met before asking me about bridesmaids and colour schemes. It took all my self control not to shout “Treat me! That’s why I’m here! Ignore the party next month!” Oak got nothing of the sort. I think him actively contacting vendors helped but it was the opposite of a car showroom, they would ignore him and talk to me as the Official Decision Maker for All Thing Wedding. It was exhausting.

      Family/Friends/random people also had a lot of opinions from what our favours should be (we had none. If ppl noticed they didn’t tell us) to where we should sleep the night before the wedding (our bed! It’s ours, we both love it and we aren’t superstitious that waking up together one more time will ruin our marriage) to whether it’s illegal that I’m not now called ‘Mrs Oak’ (nope!). I’m happy to be married but I hope never to have to do it again.

    8. Jackalope*

      One of the best pieces of wedding advice I got was to have each of us pick one or two things that really mattered to us and spend whatever we felt was necessary with splurging okay, and the go cheap on everything else as much as possible. The only wedding book I read was “A Practical Wedding” by Meg Keene and I didn’t buy any bridal magazines at all (ymmv but I didn’t like them), and that helped make it SO much cheaper. I splurged on food and he splurged on a nice suit (I was a bit smug about the fact that my dress was half the cost of his suit, although he has a suit and tie job so can still wear it) and then we tried to be frugal in other areas. Two surprises for me were a) how many little things there are and how much they add up (everyone doing wedding planning has their moment of falling to pieces and mine was ordering wedding favors…. I know I could have skipped but dang it I wanted them. They weren’t that much but still it felt like a lot!), and b) how many opinions people have about weddings and all sorts of tiny related details. I heard many people talking about their strong opinions on aisle runners and the colors of chairs at the reception. To say nothing of the seating charts.

      I wish you the best of luck in planning and congratulations!

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Re: Gender stuff… I had inherited vintage china & crystal & silverware, and I’d lived on my own and then with my fiance so we didn’t want a lot of the traditional registry stuff.
      We learned that Home Depot did a gift registry and since I (female) am as much a woodworker as my husband and we planned to restore an antique house, we put down for things like a router & miter box to build custom crown molding…and oh the outcry from family & friends on both sides that he was “making me” do that. Nope, that Shop Vac totally saved my marriage because without it I’d have wanted to kill him after any messy project. :)

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        OMG, if someone had given me a miter box or a shop vac, they’d have been the star of the present-givers!

    10. Little Beans*

      Agreed on #1! We especially noticed this on the registry – we initially registered on Zola and my husband couldn’t find anything he wanted to add. You’d think that yard/garage stuff would qualify as appropriate for a wedding registry, but all they had was kitchen/linen/bath stuff.

      Amazing how much people will insist that you have to have things that you really don’t want to have. I held firm on no bouquets or boutonnieres (my bridesmaids and I carried Japanese folding fans and they looked gorgeous, the guys survived without flowers and I’m pretty sure no one noticed) but I caved on favors when my best friend insisted on making them herself.

    11. I'm just here for the comments*

      #2 : I did the wedding invites and programs myself, from card stock bought at Staples and followed the template for a FRACTION of the price of a professional calligrapher (and in my humble opinion it looked just as nice:). Also, skipped having a wedding cake, and spent the money on a dessert buffet. And no wedding favors. What I regret doing is not hiring a professional photographer (we had a family friend do it and while the pictures are beautiful the drama of him breaking the contract and getting an album was not worth it). But what the industry would have you believe you ABSOLUTELY NEED is ridiculous, along with the prices.

      1. Little Beans*

        Yep, we saved a ton of money by designing our own invitations and printing them at Costco, and got our wedding cakes at Whole Foods.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        Ugh, yes, I’m so glad I got married before wedding favors had really caught on. No judgement for people who really love them and want them, but hard judgement to the industry that tries to tell us that we all NEED them. Another black hole to throw your money down!

    12. Arts Akimbo*

      It’s probably a cardinal sin in weddings, but my spouse and I did not hire a band for our reception. Boom box + CDs + venue sound system, and people danced just the same! I guess my surprise wedding planning revelation was that dancy humans will dance to whatever, no need to break the bank.

      In fact, we and our friends were having such a good time dancing that my mom kicked me and spouse out of our own reception at 11 pm– because my other surprise revelation was that people apparently wait to leave until after the bride and groom leave! Who knew? (Yes, I had totally been to other weddings, but I swear I never noticed this was A Thing!)

  16. Jaid*

    Well, I got a new (used car). It’s a 2017 Hyundai Elantra, with 15k miles and an 8 year extended warranty. I was originally looking at a Honda Fit online, but it got sold by the time I called the dealer. Altogether, I think I lucked out with this car.

    One thing, the tire pressure monitor light popped on. The service guy at the dealer took care of the tires yesterday, but the light is still on, so yay?

    1. Hello*

      The light needs to be reset every time the tires are rotated or replaced. Check the manual for directions. it Should be easy to do. Also a extreme change in temperature can make it come on so always check the pressure first.

    2. Selmarie*

      The light in my car will stay on a bit after, as it adjusts. If you’re driving around and it doesn’t go,off after a couple of days, I’d go back, though.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Is it super cold where you are? Was it less cold when it was at the dealer? Colder temps lower the pressure. I live somewhere where temps often fluctuate 30 degrees or more in the course of a day. If the pressure is right on the edge, that can mean at 5am the sensor says pressure is low but by 11am it’s fine.

      1. LilySparrow*

        This happens with mine in spring and fall sometimes.

        Tire pressure is easy to check. The air machine at the gas station has a gauge, or you can pick one up inside for about $2. Your correct pressure is probably listed inside your driver’s door well when you open it. If not there, the manual.

        If one of the tires is low, you can top it off. If it’s just temperature related, don’t worry about it, but you don’t want to drive around on improperly inflated tires, especially if they are uneven.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        We noticed a 5 psi shift here and we are zone 4 for planting. So it’s not super cold but it can get miserable from time to time. When the temp dropped down to below freezing the psi dropped about 5 pounds too.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I have a 2013 Elantra, in my experience the light goes off pretty fast on its own so I would go back, make him check all of them and reset the light if needed.

    5. Jaid*

      Oh, it’s been fairly warm 40 – 50 degrees, so it’s not the temp. The service guy would have to reset the light, there’s no way I can do it myself. I think he said he made the pressure 32 and it should be 36 according to the numbers in the manual, so I don’t understand that bit.

      I’m going to the gas station and put some air in myself and see if that does it.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        Press and hold the reset button until the light blinks three times and then run the car for 20 minutes according to my random google search, but sure, put the right pressure in the tires first.

      2. LilySparrow*

        32 is a pretty standard pressure, he probably just didn’t check that it was supposed to be higher.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My Jetta does have a reset button in the glove box–if it comes BACK on, I go to the shop. The previous model, it was 3 times shutting the car off before the car checked if the light should go off.

    6. anna*

      It’s probably just a coincidence, but I previously had a 2013(?) hyundai elantra and while I loved it, the tire light was always coming on every time I fixed it.

  17. Aurora Leigh*

    We did it! Last week I asked about adding a second dog to the family and we brought Cloud home last Sunday!

    He is settling in well to being a house dog — he loves to sleep on the couch on his back

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Hit submit too soon (because Cloud lol)

      His favorite thing is to sleep on the couch with his legs in the air.

      Pupper the 1st was uncertain at first, but he looks positively joyful now that he realizes he has a friend his own size to rough house with and still gets plenty of lovins and snuggles.

      As a side note, adopting an adult dog is great — they catch on to house training so much faster!

      Thank you all for the tips, they really helped!

    2. Anon Here*

      Congrats on your new friend and family member! I’m glad to hear he’s home and things are going well. My rescued dog sends a high five.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Welcome new dog! There’s a saying going around – I can’t quote exactly, but it takes up to six months for a rescue dog to really settle in and “heal” in some ways. I’ve seen that with both of my girls. They warm up and trust that you are not really leaving, that there is a “coming back” and that life is good. The personality gets stronger. It’s a beautiful thing.

      1. Soft kitty*

        The rule of 3s. Some animals are home the day that they walk in the door, but this is a reasonably good way of thinking about how to integrate a new pet.

        It takes 3 days for a dog/cat to decompress
        It takes 3 weeks for a dog/cat to get used to a routine
        It takes 3 months for a dog/cat to feel that it is home

        With rescue, ‘decompress’ typically means that dogs shouldn’t have unnecessary visitors, should eat a restricted diet (avoid rich foods or too many treats), and should get extra exercise and visits outside (even if they are house-trained) for the first 3 days.

  18. Hazelnut Bunny*

    I need help with something to say to my kid’s grandma. She’s coming this weekend to bring kids their Christmas presents. I’ve kept the relationship between her and my children as their dad(her son) and her haven’t spoken since our split two years ago. (His doing.) She and I get along just fine. I told her this summer I was seeing someone. I am currently pregnant with new guy’s baby. I’m due in less than two months. I have yet to tell her and the last few times I haven’t said anything as I wasnt big and have had a lot of complications. My kid’s dad has known for awhile(he’s not happy). I’m struggling on top of telling her as the new guy up and left at 12 weeks. I haven’t heard from him since, but that’s a whole other dilemma. How do I address the elephant in the room without making it a big deal? What do I even say to her? I’m mortified in general by the turn of events in the last 6 months as I didn’t see any of this coming nor did my family and friends.

    1. fposte*

      Do you know what you *want* to say to her? Or is that part of the problem right there? What about “So, Jane, obviously I have some news; I just wasn’t sure how to break it to you before. The father and I aren’t together, but the kids are looking forward to getting a new baby sibling.”

      And good luck to you, and I’m glad it’s been workable to have her involved with your kids.

      1. valentine*

        She doesn’t need to know the new guy left, but do tell her before she travels. I hope your ex stops weighing you (or the kids!) with his opinions.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, I’d call and break the news before you see each other – if she has an unfiltered reaction, you can hang up the phone, and also the kids won’t hear it.

    2. Marzipan*

      Is there any way of telling her in writing before she comes (even if it’s just a long text), or is it too late for that? When I told my dad I was pregnant I found it easier to do it in writing because I wasn’t quite sure how he was going to take it, for various reasons (single lady egg donor baby is potentially a slightly tough sell, dad-wise). It meant I could just straightforwardly lay out what was happening and then if he needed any time to process it, he wasn’t having to do that in real time with me in the room. (As it turned out he took it *really* well, happily.) So I’d be tempted to send her a message asking the lines of ‘I wanted to let you know before we see each other that I’m pregnant – I didn’t let you know about it before because the pregnancy has had some complications, but it’s quite noticeable at this point’. And then include anything you want to say to guide her a bit as to the broader situation and whether you do or don’t want to talk about that aspect when you see her, so she can take her cues from you (if she is the sort of person who takes cues). Is she someone that kind of approach might work with?

      Wishing you the very best.

    3. LilySparrow*

      If you’re that far along, I’d suggest giving her a heads-up by text so she can adjust her face and not say anything stupid out of surprise. You both get along well, it would be a shame to put her on the spot and create an opportunity for hurt feelings or foot-in-mouth syndrome.

      Something like, “Looking forward to seeing you later. I wanted to let you know I’m expecting, because it will be obvious when you get here. I didn’t say anything earlier because it’s been a tough pregnancy and the situation is complicated. We’re all fine now, and we can talk about it when you get here, but I didn’t want to spring it on you.”

    4. Hazelnut Bunny*

      I honestly didn’t know what to say Fposte. I went ahead and texted her using a combo script from Marzipan and LilySparrow. I was mostly just nervous as her husband was coming with who is traditional and very old school to speak. She was very receptive and reiterated that I’m still family no matter what life brings. Thank you all for your help!

  19. Hamster*

    Here’s a silly I did. Im visiting family and one morning everyone was sleeping in late and I was hungry. So I decided to make an omelette w broccoli and cheese. They had frozen broccoli in the freezer. Whole, giant pieces. Normally I’d thaw it and chop them and add it to the omelette. Instead i ended up just throwing it into the omelette. It turned into a flat omelette w/ giant stalks of broccoli.

    I ended up fishing them out, microwaving it so it can soften and then chopped them. Added back inn to the omelette. And then when I tried to flip it it was still stuck to the pan so it broke and turned into a omelette scramble hybrid.

    I knew better. I’m a good cook. Idk why I flubbed this one lol. Can I blame pregnancy brain for that lol

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m not pregnant, just out of it today. I ran to Target specifically for hair color. Picked up a box with the right number but a different picture and figured it had just been reformulated. Went to the self check out, was trying to scan in the wrong part! I’ve done this all before! The nice worker directed me and I felt dumb. Came home, complained to my husband about the new version and he pointed out it was a different brand. Oy vey.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      A Christmas card I mailed came back for not having the apartment number. I’ve done this more than once now for the same address! The apartment number is in my address book – plain as day! I have since highlighted and circled the apartment number for next time. Sheesh.

  20. Maine*

    Cooking for the In-cook-etent! How did you learn to cook? What tips and tricks made everything seem so simple? Cheap but essential tools? I’ve currently mastered… pasta. My mother is a lovely woman & I do love her dearly, but I don’t stand to inherit a Michelin Star from her, or any family members for that matter. I’d like to figure out a few interesting but not too complex additions. No cooking classes near me really, and adult ed classes would also be out of budget. Also, not big on videos – would much rather just read the info!

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Check out library cookbooks and just start. Joy of Cooking is an oldie but goody. Maybe get books on food science so you know the *why of things. Like why you should make pancakes with room temperature eggs.

      I think I’m a competent cook but I started out literally following recipes until I did things enough times to make substitutions and experiment.

          1. Fikly*

            I love his variants, because it teaches people to understand how recipes can be modified, and that’s often a big hurdle for novice cooks.

        1. university minion*

          Specifically, if you can find it, the first edition of “How to Cook Everything”.
          New cooks tend to run into two or three frustrating factors:
          1) Recipes not turning out. Start with cheap, seasonal ingredients and keep a frozen pizza on standby. You’re going to probably make something that’s pretty inedible from time to time. It’s part of the process. I’ve had some awesomely epic disasters. The corollary is never cook a new recipe for a dinner party.
          2) Chopping/peeling takes too long. If there is one thing I wish I’d taken an actual class on when I first learned to cook, it’s knife skills. If you live in a city that has cooking classes in some supermarkets, chances are that knife skills classes are in their offerings. Take that class, it’s worth every penny!
          3) Being hesitant about heat. I still struggle with this. If the recipe says high heat, they mean it.

          One last remark, specific to Mark Bittman, I automatically double the amount of any spices he indicates in a recipe. It’s my only gripe about How to Cook Everything, which is the grease-stained, cracked-spine book that never leaves my counter.

          1. fposte*

            Honestly, your 1) is why I’m really picky about recommendations and focus on ATK/Bittman/Alt, etc. In the good old days Cook’s Illustrated did cookbook reviews, and it was fascinating how high a failure percentage there was even for the experienced cooks doing the reviews. Christopher Kimball (founder of ATK/Cook’s) has always said “Cooking is hard,” and the ATK approach is being really rigorous about making the work worth it. I value that.

            1. university minion*

              Yep, there are a LOT of really sketchy recipes out there (looking at you, allrecipes.com, along with the “1981 Ladies’ Auxiliary Cookbook from Kneeslap Alabama” in all its various incarnations). It takes a while before you amass enough knowledge to look at a recipe and tell if it’s crap or not.
              I’m too impatient to trust the process of ATK, unless I’m specifically in the mood to tackle one of their recipes. They do always turn out well, and can be good for learning a technique, but as often as not, I only have time/patience to throw something together quickly.
              I think someone mentioned it downthread, but Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” is my #2 referred to cookbook behind the Bittman. It’s surprisingly beginner friendly.

              1. Maine*

                I’m guilty of dashing to allrecipes in a pinch, so sticking to tried & true books is probably a better idea. Good point. Thanks!

              2. Stephanie*

                Lmao, see my comment below about an old Southern Living recipes. I think my mom thought she was a worse cook than she was until she realized a lot of those Southern Living/Country Living/etc recipes were trash.

            2. Stephanie*

              Ugh yeah, my mom had me make this cake recipe from an old Southern Living cookbook. It was super fussy and the cake currently looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa (I was told it tasted good, though). I say this and I’m a fairly competent baker.

      1. Maine*

        I love the point about knowing why – I’m certainly the type that needs a reason to actually follow through on room temperature eggs, so that’s also a great starting point.

        1. BRR*

          I second books from the library (I do ebooks) and would reccomend the food lab for knowing the why. It’s long but very thorough.

        2. Stephanie*

          I think someone already suggested Cook’s Illustrated–they really do go into the science of why you need room temperature eggs. I also like Serious Eats and Kenji Lopez Alt–he also goes into the science of why a recipes does/does not work. I find his recipes need a little more acid for my tastes (like an extra squeeze of lime), but they’re pretty solid.

    2. fposte*

      I love America’s Test Kitchen. There’s a lot of cooking noise, and it can be hard, especially when you’re inexperienced, to find the signal amid it, and they help with that on both the cooking and the buying of cooking equipment. They’ve got a “100 recipes” book focusing on what they call the “true essentials,” and that might be a good place to start.

      I also think it’s nice to have some really uncomplicated cooking/assembling possibilities, and I love Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express for that. (MB is very good in general but this is just great and seasonally focused.)

      1. Parenthetically*

        Unsurprisingly I also love Kitchen Express. It’s one of my top recommendations for folks trying to improve their culinary skills.

      2. Dan*

        What do you think of ATK’s cookbooks vs the website? I bought their “Cooking for Two” book awhile back and was really impressed with the book itself. (It wasn’t “take a 4lb chuck roast, cut it in half, cook one and freeze the other.” I’d like to get more of their stuff, but don’t know how redundant the books vs the website is. Does the website cover what’s in the books, or are they completely separate things?

        1. fposte*

          Well, that was an interesting thing for me to look up. I knew there was a lot of overlap (and sometimes there’s redundancy from book to book), and when I just went and did some spot-checking, every recipe I checked was on the website as well; the website also has the buying guide and technique tips stuff. Sometimes there’s a bit of difference (the sous vide cookbook has a recipe for peri peri chicken that’s piri piri chicken on the website), and the website will have some things before they end up in a book because content goes up with the magazines.

          So now I feel kind of silly for buying the books when I have a subscription to the website, and if you think you’d use the website, I’d say go for that rather than extending your book collection.

          1. Dan*

            One other question — since the website gives me the choice of “digital all access” or that plus the magazines and cooking school, I have to ask… are the magazines worth an extra $5/mo, or is it a case of “use the free trial and see for yourself”?

            1. fposte*

              I have Digital All Access (no cooking school) and I get the print Cook’s Illustrated magazine. For me the paper is a habit and a luxury–I like paging through the new stuff, and I wouldn’t go to the website looking for new material even though I could. If that doesn’t speak to you, skip the paper and you’ll be fine.

            2. Natalie*

              I’m the same as fposte re: the magazine. I will browse the magazine and search the website for specific things I want. The print version also have miscellany like a tips page, weird equipment finds, an ingredient explainer, etc, which is probably all on the website but I never come across it.

              1. fposte*

                I’m also slightly scarred from one (maybe two?) past evolutions of the website where search functions became largely useless. I confess this discussion did make me realize I could probably weed some of my Cook’s Illustrated cookbooks, and that was helpfully timed as I’m trying to do some book weeding this weekend. But there are a few I’m still hanging onto just in case the website turns evil again (New Best Recipe will never leave my shelf).

    3. Recent Grad*

      The good housekeeping illustrated cookbook is a pretty good reference for classic American cooking and baking. My mom and grandmother both have very well used copies. The book explains common cooking techniques and vocabulary pretty well. A lot of cook books assume that you know certain techniques and terms going in. Also get a good chefs knife and paring knife, a sharp knife makes all the difference.

    4. Stephanie*

      I didn’t really learn to cook until I was in my 30’s. I found that a good cookbook was the key for me. Since you say you’d rather read the info than watch videos, look for a book that has recipes that sound good to you, and that has clear, step-by-step instructions. The one that did the trick for me was “Cheap, Fast, Good” by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross. (They also have a “Desperation Dinners” cookbook.) My husband actually got me a replacement copy a couple of years ago because my first copy was literally falling apart from nearly daily use.
      Soups are a very good place to start out if you’re not a confident or experienced cook. They’re pretty forgiving, and nearly impossible to mess up.
      As for essential tools, you really only need a handful of things: a flat, deep-sided frying pan with a lid, a saucepan, a larger soup pot or saucepan, a couple of good sharp knives (you can get by with just a paring knife and a chef’s knife), a cutting board, a can opener, a vegetable peeler and a couple of spatulas and some kind of colander/strainer. I bake a lot, so I use my 13×9 inch Pyrex pan a lot, too.
      Good luck, and keep in mind that cooking is just like lots of other things: you get better at it with practice.

      1. Dan*

        Good cookbooks are key. Getting started, my advice is find one where the recipes have a lot of overlap in ingredients. It will make building the kitchen staples a bit easier. The first book I bought was geared toward first timers, and *every* recipe was completely different. It cost me like $20 to shop for recipe as a result (remember, I was starting my kitchen from scratch.) So I gave up and just went out, because on a per-expenditure basis, going out was cheaper.

        One time my oven went out and it took awhile to get it fixed. I like Asian food, so decided was I was going to get a book on wok cooking. *That* was a great starter cookbook.

        1. Clisby*

          Good cookbooks are key, especially when you’re learning to cook.

          Once you’re an experienced cook, you’ll catch errors in recipes like telling you to make a roux with 4 teaspoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour – NO. And you can probably figure out recipes with poor measurement instructions like “1 medium eggplant.” What the heck does that mean?

          Until you’ve done a fair amount of cooking, though, it really helps to have cookbooks with detailed (and correct) instructions.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman! (There’s also a Vegetarian version and a Basics version)

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Mark Bittman for the win! The Basics is great because there’s photos of all the steps, suggestions for adapting, and the food is delicious and not boring. But all simple enough for a beginner to do on their own.

    6. Grace*

      A lot of the videos I’ve used to learn skills have corresponding websites – for example, both Andrew Rea’s Basics and Binging series have websites with the recipes and skills at basicswithbabish(.)co and bingingwithbabish(.)co, and Bon Appetit has both the magazine and the website.

      I like having the videos to see whether my food looks like theirs, but the recipes at the above sites are pretty easy to follow even if you don’t want the visuals. Basics With Babish is especially good for, well, the basics. Special recommendations are the tools and pantry essentials lists (these are mostly in video form, since he’s talking you through what he has in his kitchen) plus the risotto recipes, the weeknight meals recipes, the tacos, and the fish.

    7. Nervous Nellie*

      There have been nine editions of Joy of Cooking since 1931. The newest one, written by the original author’s great-grandson and his spouse, that just came out last month, is like the others – friendly and chatty, but packed solid with background information for the inexperienced home cook. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Joy recipes will never fail you, and the chapter preambles and recipe introductions will give you the needed basics before proceeding. I think there is no better beginner/foundational cookbook.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I am also a big Joy of Cooking fan! I have an older edition (it was a housewarming present when I moved in with a boyfriend quite a while ago, and the gifter had deliberately bought “the edition with a picture that shows you how to cook a squirrel”, which may not have been the most current available at the time (I have never cooked a squirrel, but I have muttered “I have a recipe for you” when urban squirrels start aggressively bugging me for food)). Due to being an older edition, sometimes it’s missing “obvious” foods that weren’t as common at the time, and it includes entirely more aspic-based options than I am ever going to need, but it was still useful for teaching me quite a bit about how cooking works.

        It wasn’t much help in cooking in that particular relationship (between the broken oven in that apartment and the dysfunction in the relationship, I don’t think it was a problem to be solved by a cookbook, but rather with a book titled more like “The Joy of Packing Up Your Stuff and Getting Separate Places to Live, With Better Landlords and Less Mold This Time”), but later on I kept it by a chair in my apartment and would just open at an arbitrary page and start reading. I found the various “about [type of food]” sections really helpful for understanding the “why” behind recipes so I could learn how to think through cooking something rather than just how to follow recipes exactly. I mostly don’t use specific recipes from it anymore, but will often read through the relevant “about” section and some of the recipes that seem similar to what I’m aiming for while planning meals. (I don’t tend to use written recipes much at all anymore for everyday stuff, just if I’m trying something new or complicated.)

      2. Clisby*

        My copy of Joy of Cooking is from 1964. I still look to it often for basic information, and I’m not an inexperienced cook. I would second it as the best beginner cookbook I’ve seen.

    8. LQ*

      I like recipies online that have comments. I think they can be really helpful if you’re learning to make something because other people will talk about what went right and what went wrong as they did the recipie, what changes they made that did or didn’t work, how they substituted, etc.

      I’d also say learn on things that are cheap. Bread is super cheap. Get cheap flour, yeast, and you’ve got salt at home likely, if not get cheap salt (get expensive salt later for finishing but don’t start with the fanciest ingriedents). And if you screw up a recipie it’s going to have cost you a dollar, maybe. It feels a lot easier to experiement and throw it out if you didn’t spend a ton on the most expensive items. (There can be a case made for learning with the nicest things because they have the most give, but if you’re worried about cost I think you learn more and faster going cheap.)

    9. Sparrow*

      Budget Bytes is my go-to recipe website- it has good ideas of how to combine things together in tasty ways, without lots of fancy ingredients, and it’s simple enough for day-to-day cooking. Also the step by step photos are very helpful

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I’m no gourmet of a cook, mostly I learned the basics from my mom growing up. So, you know, I could always feed myself! (and even roast a turkey for single friends in my 20s) but I cannot say anything was great—just ok.

      Later in life, I’d say I probably learned the most about cooking from watching Alton Brown and his show Good Eats!

      That show really helps anyone who wants to know the “whys” of how to cook most anything BETTER, without being overly fancy. It really inspired me to attempt things I’d never tried, or been scared to try, and just make everyday things that much better.

    11. Parenthetically*

      The most crucial tool is, IMO, a good, balanced, SHARP kitchen knife — used properly (videos are essential for this one). It’s possible to cook well without one, but having and using a good knife well means your prep time can be dramatically diminished, your food will cook more evenly and consistently, and you’re less likely to injure yourself!

      Then I think the question is, how do you want to cook? The steps you take to improve your skills will differ depending on whether your goal is to make occasional blockbuster dinner-party-worthy meals from fancy recipes, or just to cook tasty, nutritious, workmanlike dinners 4 nights a week without having to open 8 cookbooks.

      1. fposte*

        And you can get good knives without spending a mint–Forschner/Victorinox, for instance, makes great knives at a reasonable price, and you don’t have to get a full set of knives (or pans or *anything*) because you’ll probably go back to a couple all the time, like the chef’s knife and the paring knife.

        (Winter break is the annual electric sharpening of the knives; I just did it this morning.)

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes! My favorite knife cost about $40. And I have a whole rant about how wasteful (of both space and money) and pointless knife sets are.

        2. Lora*

          +1. The Chicago Cutlery chef knife I bought in college for $25 gets the most use out of all my knives… mostly because I don’t like to bust out the Good Knives for anything short of a major holiday feast. It gets sharpened with a cheapie Ikea steel and a whetstone from god-knows-where a few times per year.

          Also, since nobody has yet mentioned it: Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. She explains a lot of the principles and logic behind each step and each ingredient so you understand better what you can substitute or change and what you can’t.

      2. Maine*

        Ideally, a bit of both! Typically, I’m just cooking for myself, but occasionally nice dinner in with my S/O, entertaining friends, etc.

    12. Chaordic One*

      I consider myself a good cook. I’m one of those people who just seems to know how to throw things together and they usually work, even if I don’t pay particularly close attention to recipes or if I do a lot of different substitutions for various agreements. (That said, I really do love Martha Stewart as a cook.)

      Practice certainly helps. My take on cooking is that really it is kind of “boring.” I absolutely hate the part where you are waiting around for something to cook or to brown. So often in the past I would get bored and walk away and then, while I was gone, whatever I was cooking would burn. For me, the secret to being a good cook is “being there” and paying attention to the food so that it doesn’t burn and then you can move onto the next step. If you’re lucky you can get into a sort of “zen” state while cooking and waiting for things to cook.

    13. NB*

      You’ve got plenty of recs for excellent cookbooks here, but I’d like to add a website: seriouseats.com. Also, any cookbooks written by Serious Eats contributors (J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Stella Parks, etc.).

      Also, stock your kitchen with affordable but GOOD QUALITY tools. I hate cooking with junky tools. One of my favorite affordable brands is Oxo. Ikea has some decent stuff, too. You need :
      –1 very sharp chef’s knife
      –1 very sharp paring knife
      –1 serrated bread knife (this one might be optional, but we need this in our kitchen)
      –a good cutting board–wood is best
      –at least one silicone scraper (I like the kind that Rachael Ray calls a “spoonula”)
      –a slotted spoon
      –a wooden spoon
      –at least one spatula–I have one metal one for use on stainless steel and cast iron and one silicone for use on nonstick pans
      –pots and pans (exactly what you need will depend on what you expect to cook and for how many people)
      –measuring cups (for both dry and liquid measures) and measuring spoons.
      –whisk–I can’t decide what you need more: balloon whisk or flat whisk. I use both regularly.

      I’d also like to recommend at least one cast iron skillet. It’s life changing. Lodge makes good ones at a reasonable price, and if you take care of it, it will last your whole life.

      There are lots of other items that I can’t live without, but I don’t want to go on and on and on. I’ll stop now.

    14. Bluebell*

      Joy of Cooking is still my bible, though I’ve certainly flirted with Mark Bittman in the past! It’s good to remember that cooking and baking are not the same thing— while you want to start with both by following a recipe, cooking will eventually give you more leeway. You can go a long way with a big sauté pan, a large pot and a Dutch oven (doesn’t have to be Le Creuset). Now is the perfect season for soups and stews in the northern hemisphere — I find them fun to cook and most are pretty freezable.

    15. Stephanie*

      Smitten Kitchen is good—I like her website and cook books. She talks about cooking in a tiny NYC apartment kitchen, so her recipes are all straightforward and she has lots of pictures. Occasionally, she’ll have a spice like Aleppo pepper that may not be the easiest to find at a general grocery store, but most of her recipes are beginner friendly.

      1. Natalie*

        I think she also does a good job of explaining why you should do a specific step, or what you can change/modify/skip. And there are usually good questions and answers in the comments, although you do have to scroll past a lot of “this looks great, I’m definitely going to try this.” Ctrl+f for some word in your question can help.

        Try the “five ingredients or fewer ” “quick” or “weeknight favorites” categories for recipes that are more likely to be beginner friendly.

    16. Maine*

      After a bit of eBay searching I’ve selected a few from Thriftbooks. Mark Bittmans HTCE: the Basics & Kitchen Express, Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary, & Cooks Illustrated Best 30 Min Recipes. Feels like a good starting point, and I’m eager to jump in in a few weeks. Thanks for all the suggestions! Next week, I’ll tackle utensils & pots/pans.

    17. Jackalope*

      My favorite cookbook when I was starting out and still one I go back to a lot is the Better Homes & Gardens one; it has a lot of recipes for basic stuff that other cookbooks often assume you already know. I have a friend who swears by The Joy of Cooking which other people here have also recommended but I haven’t used it so don’t know.

      I first learned how to cook after college helping my housemate who knew (I was her unofficial sous-chef!). That helped me a lot and is part of my recommendation: do you have any friends who like to cook that you could practice with? We had a deal that she would do the heavy lifting, so to speak, and I would chop things and wash dishes. This helped a LOT because I got to watch her and get ideas for what recipes might mean with funny terms. My second recommendation would be to figure out a few things you like to eat and try making those. One of the first things I made once I was no longer with the aforementioned housemate was cinnamon rolls from scratch; it was a far harder recipe than I perhaps should have taken on with my then level of knowledge but I was interested enough to pay attention and therefore make it right. Thinking of 3-5 foods you like and then figuring out how to make them can help you get to a basic level of confidence plus give you a starting repertoire of things you’ll enjoy.

      Other people have given good comments on what basics to have in your kitchen (although let me underline good knives one more time!), but here are some possible basic recipes that aren’t too far beyond pastas: chili, corn chowder, mashed potatoes, and if you have a crockpot I like to toss a full chicken and some veggies (carrots, onions, and potatoes) in for a few hours and for 5 min of prep time get roasted chicken, baked potatoes (with whatever toppings you like), muffins, apple or pumpkin bread, bean or lentil soups. Some as you can see are meals and some are sides or desserts but all of these are recipes I’ve found to have a great deal of flexibility, meaning that if you mess something up you’re probably okay, and don’t involve fancy cooking steps (I mean, they could if you wanted them too but they can be fairly simple). If any of those tickle your fancy then try them.

      (I will also add that most recipes don’t add enough spices for me, so I tend to double the spices at a minimum. Keep that in mind if you think things are turning out bland.)

      Last thought: I find recipes that are all the way from scratch are the most helpful. I hate hate HATE the ones that give you instructions calling for, say, half a package of frozen corn. Let me just tell you that frozen corn comes in multiple sized packages. Just tell me that I need one cup of corn and let me figure out where I’m getting it from.

    18. tuesday, this?*

      if you’re good at following directions, i found the website: cookingforengineers.com pretty fun. I don’t think he adds a lot of content, but the directions are really specific. E.g. cutting and apple: cut it pole to pole.

    19. Hi there*

      I learned to cook as a vegetarian (my favorite cookbook from that time is Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison). When I needed to learn to start cooking fish and poultry for various reasons, I found the Kitchn website and recipes helpful (there is even a Kitchn cooking school series). When I lost my cooking enthusiasm along the way Smitten Kitchen helped me get it back. The recipes there now have a setting that allows you to just see just the comments from people who made the recipe.

    20. Lexin*

      For cooks outside the US (or even in the US who are used to UK weights and measures) you can’t go wrong with Delia Smith. If you follow her recipes exactly, they turn out exactly as the pictures and she has some excellent recipes.

      She also has a “Complete Cookery Course” which starts from how to boil an egg. Highly recommended. Plus she has a book called “One is Fun”, which is, as can be imagined, excellent recipes for one person.

    21. Lemonwhirl*

      Moving to the middle of nowhere so that ordering in or going out weren’t practical and I had to cook every night is what helped me. Don’t pressure yourself – just get a lot of practice.

      Also, picking recipes is its own kind of art, especially if you’re cooking for someone else. I realised pretty quickly that if I picked something my husband wasn’t going to like, the dish was going to be something of a failure even if it turned out pretty well.

      I like Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks – they are very easy to follow and produce some delicious and un-fussy stuff.

    22. Anono-me*

      I also am A Joy of Cooking fan. I strongly endorsed the idea of having good equipment, especially a good meat thermometer.

      I am not a fancy cook. I have a small repertoire of simple recipes that I do well. When I want to try something new, I turn to Joy of Cooking. Good equipment is important in any task, not just cooking. I was given a nice piece of cookware a few years ago and the difference was astounding. I am gradually upgrading everything. The meat thermometer is important, because the internal temperature of meat tells you when the meat is done and eating it won’t send your guests running to the restroom later. This is especially important to a new cooks as it can take awhile to learn how to gauge doneness of meat by texture or color.

      That being said I am usually home, but busy with a million things and don’t have much time to cook.

      Here are two recipes that I use regularly.

      Meat and a jar of sauce*

      1. Put a bunch of meat in a roasting pan.
      2. Dump a jar of good sauce* over it.
      3. Cover the roasting pan with tin foil or the lid.
      4. Throw it in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for four or five hours.
      4 1/2 . Shred the meat with a couple of forks if appropriate. Then throw it all back in the oven for about half an hour.
      6. Serve over rice or noodles.

      *Most grocery stores have tons of prepared sauces and marinades that you can cook with. The Ginger People have some good sauces that go well with chicken or pork. I often do green salsa over chicken breast or red salsa over a pot roast then shred. The ethnic sections in grocery stores usually have some fun sauces. Barbecue sauce over chicken wings is a big hit at our home (cook it for less time).

      Cooking meat ‘slow and low’ is usually best for tougher cheaper cuts of meat.

      Unless it is a cream-based sauce, the meat and sauce portion usually can be frozen and reheated.

      Nuked veggies

      1. Buy prepared or prep vegetables into bite-size pieces.
      2. Rinse vegetables and shake off most of the excess water.
      3. Put vegetables in microwave safe dish and cover with plastic wrap.
      4. Press settings for fresh vegetables on microwave.
      5. WAIT TO TAKE THE PLASTIC WRAP OFF of the bowl until it has cooled off enough that you will not burn yourself from the steam.
      6. Season with butter and a little salt.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      Yes! It’s wonderful for me.
      I had some unpleasant side effects at first which quickly dissipated.
      Now I feel great with it.

      I tried other antidepressants but this one worked for me.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Insomnia and dry mouth with ulcers were the worst effects. I take it in the morning instead, which helps, and the dry mouth is much much better.
          I’ve been on it for about 6 months.

          1. Zoloft*

            I think I’m going to slowly move the time I take it closer to morning. The pharmacist told me to take it at no gh be it can cause drowsiness but I had trouble sleeping

    2. Ugh.*

      I’m on it. I had a raging ache at the bars of my skull my first week on it. It’s helping me manage my anxiety and depression. I’ve Been on it for more than three years.

    3. tangerineRose*

      I had headaches the first week. I switched to prozac because zoloft seemed to be causing some side effect (maybe dry mouth) that might have caused cavities in my teeth (my dentist asked “what changed?”).

    4. sequined histories*

      It made the area under my eyes dry out and look grey and scaly, like the skin of someone who was a thousand years old. This happened within a few and was extremely noticeable and disfiguring. I stopped taking it after a week or two and my skin was normal again a few weeks later.

    5. WS*

      I took it but it did absolutely nothing for me – I didn’t get any side-effects apart from a dry mouth, either. After 6 weeks, my doctor took me off it and tried citalopram instead, which worked. Apparently this is an unusual situation, though, and it does do *something* for most people.

    6. Rain, Rain, Go Away*

      Zoloft has made life so much easier for me! I’ve been on it for about 4 years. I had some side effects in the first couple/few weeks, like a weird occasional zing feeling in my head, dry mouth, and some stomach upset. Very soon there were no side effects at all. I take it in the morning. The temporary side effects were well worth getting rid of the feeling of doom hanging over my head!

    7. Gaia*

      Zoloft was bad for me. But Lexapro has been a godsend. What I’ve learned is that it is so different for everyone and really hard to predict how you’ll react.

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      I took Zoloft for 2 years (post partum) to manage anxiety. Early on, I had nausea, a little diarrhea. Ongoing, a little dizziness, metallic taste, lowered sex drive, weight increase. It was much much much better than the anxiety, so I kept using it until it stopped working as well, upped the dosage, rinse repeat. Switched through 4 other SSRIs over the next two years, then back to Zoloft for another 4 years.

      The worst part was if I missed a day on Zoloft, and again when I finally stopped taking SSRIs – I got this horrible zinging sensation, especially if I turned my head. My prescriber didn’t believe in it, though we did step down over a couple of months. The zinging lasted about six months. When you come off Zoloft, switch to a different SSRI with a longer half-life (like Prozac) for a couple of months, then wean off that one. Do not miss doses on Zoloft; if you tend to be irregular, try Prozac first.

  21. Perstephanie*

    Anyone have any life hacks for a newly broken arm?

    I broke it on Christmas (I am carefully saving my emergency-room paper bracelet dated 12/25/19, because could anything be more totally Badass?) in the most boring way possible — a slip on the ice. Doing MUCH better now but still learning all the things I can’t do (tie my shoes! brush my looooong hair! open a jar of peanut butter!) and how to work around. Has anyone been through this and emerged with good tips? How to dress, wash, do laundry, clean cat litter, type…anything at all? Everything is such an adventure now.

    Thank you and best of New Year’s wishes to all! P.S. — be careful out there. Yeesh.

    1. Sunflower Sea Star*

      SO sorry. I sprained mine this week in a similar way, and am having similar struggles, but without a cast.

      1. Perstephanie*

        Thank you, and sympathy back atcha! Someone needs to invent a “Broken Arm Box” filled with all the products you need plus chocolate and whiskey.

    2. Jaid*

      There’s silicone elastics you can order from Amazon in lieu of shoe laces – No-Tie silicone shoe laces.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      aw, man! I did my husband up a scavenger hunt on our first married Christmas and he was afraid he broke his nose in the pursuit of his new x-box, but he said it was worthwhile. :P (In retrospect, I’m pretty sure he didn’t *actually* break it, but you bet your tail feathers he went to work the next day and told all his coworkers his new wife broke his nose for our first married Christmas :P )

      1. Perstephanie*

        Ha! If you can’t have a warm fuzzy Christmas story, at least you can have a badass one.

        This was my first time under sedation, and it sure was interesting. I went under in about a nanosecond, then woke up into “2001: A Space Odyssey.” I’m told my first words to my boyfriend were, “I can’t find my arm,” followed by “Hey, you’re not a mushroom!”

    4. Ranon*

      For hair, headbands and those claw clips are your best bet for keeping it sort of out of your face. If you have someone in your life who can braid that might help too. From experience I can tell you it’s very very hard to teach someone who’s never had long hair how to do ponytails if you only have one hand.

      Hopefully in a few more days you’ll heal some and you’ll be able to use whatever bits of finger they’ve let poke out of the arm with the cast for at least a little extra assistance, it’s not the same as having full use of both arms but it does help

    5. Bluebell*

      I find that a kind roommate or spouse has been a great help! Seriously though, there are elastic shoelaces but if you can wear boots or slip-ons temporarily that will be helpful. Hair bands are the best for hair, say goodbye to braiding for now. You can open jars by holding between your thighs or feet but that only works if you are alone. There are one handed pepper grinders if that’s important to you. For clothing, my only tip is to put on the bra backwards and slide it around. And congrats on having a great badass story for Christmas!

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      They sell a special plastic sleeve for going over casts (seals with a VERY tight silicone ring) for allowing you to get in the shower. I had one for my ankle cast years ago, and hunted one up online (medical supply stores also have them) when I fell and broke my wrist a couple years ago.

      Get really proficient with the best of your voice-to-text software options. (I didn’t do dragon naturally speaking, I just spoke into the phone and emailed it to myself and copied it into the word documents). It took me over a week for the swelling to go down enough to be casted, and then I had to have hand /arm above heart to keep the swelling down (I did a really good job). So typing was impossible for quite awhile.

      And… ask for help. I had various friends pick up the groceries,come clean, and drive me. (I had my hair washed at the inexpensive hairdressers and then went to dry shampoo, then scarf to get by during the week).

      I also worked from the recliner; there’s a really nice lapboard desk from Levenger (I already had it as a gift) but any board cut wider than the arm width works if needed. (That way I could put the bad arm up on pillows to elevate it and still work).

      And – loose elastic is your friend. VERY loose elastic sweat pants/ pajama pants or night gown. Trying to get your pants and underwear up and down with one arm is very tough. Impossible in skinny jeans, just saying.

      Take your extra vitamins (read up on which ones) and consider arnica or your other favorite herbal items to help the bruising/ swelling. And do your best nutritional support… the healing is using up a lot of nutrients.

      I won’t tell you my “tale of woe” about how I had to cope basically alone, unless asked. LOL. But you can do it, and hold down your (new) job until cleared to drive. ROFLOL.

    7. Lifelong student*

      I broke my elbow on Christmas Day- while on vacation in Rome! Could not lift my arm for two months- could not eat a sloppy burger, wash my hair, wear a pullover, put on jewelry, drive, etc. etc. for weeks. Fortunately my partner stepped in for the most part but it was a real challenge. Good luck!

    8. Jackalope*

      I’ve found from past experiences that frequently when you are using both hands/arms, one is doing the hard work and the other is stabilizing. Try to keep your eyes open for something that you can use for stabilizing wherever you go (something handy and nearby). With a bit of practice you can hold fingernail clippers between your feet to trim your fingernails on the non-broken hand. If you have nice casserole-making friends now would be a good time to ask if they can bring you some. If possible, have them bring the casseroles in single servings so you can freeze them. This is an easier ask right after the accident when everything is new and everyone still has your broken arm on their mind. If you live alone, see if you can hire someone every so often to come clean since cleaning is really hard with a broken arm (harder I’ve heard than with just one arm since then you aren’t trying to favor an injury, just get around having only one hand available). If your dominent hand is the broken one and you are not ambidextrous, take some time to practice writing with your other hand. Even if it doesn’t become beautiful handwriting, you will have obtained some skills while not in front of someone waiting for your signature or whatever. If you are someone who can break tasks down ahead of time, I found it helpful to look at individual tasks and figure out what my normal steps were, which would be hampered by using only one hand, and then trying to problem-solve BEFORE I had my sweatshirt half on/the package partly open/whatever.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Frozen shoulder survivor here. I will confess to going to an every other day shower, and finding a bra comfortable enough to sleep in and just wearing it for those 2 days. Even front clasp bras were still awkward. I also went to Super Cuts once and got them to wash & detangle my hair for me, with only a minimal trim. They got a big tip for getting out the snarls that were developing.
      There are many tools &gadgets on amazon designed for amputees, so if you don’t have someone to help you in a pinch, and if you’ll be in that cast a long time, look them up.
      When you’re out of the cast, find a way to go swimming…for me at least my muscles stretch better when the water takes some of the weight.

    10. Sled dog mama*

      I had to have foot surgery on both feet a few years ago to correct a toe deformity. Totally not the same as breaking an arm, but because I had surgery the week before Christmas my mom gave me a series of hair wash and blow dry appointments for Christmas (I wasn’t allowed to shower for the first two weeks and couldn’t stand in the shower for two months due to healing). This was the best thing ever, it felt so luxurious. I highly recommend it!

    11. Adara*

      I broke my non-dominant hand the week before Thanksgiving this year and I’ve been in a cast since. It comes off in a few hours! I am very sympathetic to what you’re going through.

      My biggest piece of advice is to slow down and accept that it’s going to take a little longer to to everyday tasks. Allowing extra time for everything helped a lot. Plus, not having full use of a limb is exhausting! Additionally, taking good care of the cast will help with general comfort and avoid unpleasantness if you have to keep the same one the entire time. And decorate it if that’s your thing! I doodled little pictures on mine to make me happy.

      A couple things that worked for me: for my hair, I went to the salon a few times for a wash and blow dry. On the days I washed and styled my own hair one handed, I made sure I had extra time and made good use of styling clips to hold hair out of the way. Shoelaces have been hard for me, so I wear slip-ons when I can. Because of the cast, I can’t wear tighter long-sleeved tops. I picked out the ones that do fit over the cast and don’t waste time with the other tops at the moment. For household chores, I focus on what I can do and leave the rest to my husband. He hand washes and rinses dishes, but I can unload the dishwasher and put them away.

      Other than that, it’s probably going to suck, at least for the first two weeks while you’re still getting used to dealing with it. Now that it’s almost over for me, I’m more annoyed and ready for it to be off than anything. So happy today’s the day!

      Good luck! I hope your arm heals well!

  22. CoffeeforLife*

    Best and worst holiday present edition!

    Best: bread proofing basket and calligraphy nibs

    Worst: dying poinsettia. Funniest part is the couple drove back to my home after leaving because they forgot to give it to me. I have a bad enough time keeping healthy plants alive.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      How could I ever forget the year my husband’s parents gave us not only the cast-iron cat but also a photo of themselves? With the option of one of two frames?

      That was the worst present(s).

      Best was when husband said he would never ask me to visit his parents with him again.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        PS Primo (now known as Mr T) and I argued about the cast-iron cat last night. He had been to a White Elephant party and was shocked that there was no Yankee Swap. I explained the differences to him and told him if he would just read AAM he would understand completely.

        And then as an example, I told him that as soon as he is dead, I will take the cast-iron cat to a White Elephant party. But maybe not to a Yankee Swap, as there is nothing useful or desirable about a cast-iron cat.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ll take the cast-iron cat for a doorstop thanks. Bonus if it’s an antique, those are hella expensive especially without refinishing.

      2. Soupspoon McGee*

        If we ever do an AAM white elephant, send me the cast iron cat. I could use it to stabilize the pet gate that leads to the basement so the cat can go down but the dogs can’t.

      3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

        There you are! I was worried when I realized that you hadn’t been on in awhile, but hopeful that you had just changed your name and I had just missed it!

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Oh you guys are wonderful! Yes, I am still here. Now that the estate is (mostly) settled and there is (almost) no drama, there is nothing to write about in the Diary of a Golddigger blog, so I started a new one where I don’t have to be so secret. That is, one my mom can know about. :)

          It’s wisconsin101 (dot) home (dot) blog, but I think you can get there by googling “Texan in Exile” as well.

          And I am laughing that there are still people who want the cast-iron cat!

          1. Anono-me*

            I’m so glad to learn that you are still writing a blog. Did you ever decide to put out a book.

            I love your attitude of ‘I’m going to find something humorous in this but I’m not going to sugarcoat other people’s stuff’.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “Worst”: So, okay. I am not a new-jewelry-every-day person. With the exception of my wedding set (engaged in 2016, married 2017), all of my jewelry is stuff I have been wearing since literally 2012. And it is all very low-key. Like, I texted my bestie and said “My taste in jewelry, one word, go,” and her response was “Understated.” My husband doesn’t even buy me jewelry because I am just not a new-jewelry person.

      So this is the circumstance under which I opened my Christmas gift from a sibling and found a five-inch bejeweled neon pink-and-green peacock, wearing a Santa hat, on a “gold” neck chain. With matching earrings at the three-inch size. (In making lemonade, I took the blingy peacock off the neck chain and put him on an ornament hook so he can go on the tree.) It’s only sort of worst, because as an ornament I love it, but Jiminy Christmas, haha.

      1. LQ*

        I do not have pierced ears. I have never had pierced ears. I have never worn earrings. I am not religious. I have never been religious.

        For I think 4 years in a row an aunt bought me biblically themed earrings.

        Thanks. Drop them in cousin’s (her daughter) bag o gifts.

          1. LQ*

            It is. I get that earings seem like an easy gift. But right next to them is usually a bracelet, just try that.

    3. LilySparrow*

      Best: a beautiful stoneware 6-cup teapot. Gorgeous light blue with a rustic type glaze.

      Worst: my sweet husband got me an aftermarket backup camera for my car. He wants me to be safe and not strain my neck! He listened to me complaining about how the tiny 1970s parking lots around here are all overrun with giant SUVs! He’s been gloating to the children for weeks about how pleased I will be!

      I hate any kind of screens on the dashboard. I have ADHD, and anything flickering in my eyeline distracts me from the road and makes me feel extremely anxious and unsafe – I always think it’s something approaching in my peripheral vision.

      So now it is the Guilt Camera, because I wanted to be happy but all I could get out was, “how do I turn it off?”

      1. ThatGirl*

        I don’t know how the aftermarket ones work but the factory versions only turn on when you’re backing up, maybe see how it works first? If you haven’t already? It definitely shouldn’t be on all the time.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Yeah, he said that at the time. I just choked under the pressure of trying to look happy. And now I feel bad for raining on his parade.

          I really don’t want it at all. My inlaws are always offering to let me drive their fancy cars with backup cameras, and I won’t do it. I just find them disorienting. (He knows this. He’s heard me say so.)

          I’ve been driving over 30 years and have never backed into anything, ever. I don’t want to learn a new set of driving skills for no purpose.

          If I get sone kind of physical issue that prevents me from turning my head and using my mirrors, I probably shouldn’t be driving anyway.

          1. Cat*

            I think they’re more about obstacles you can’t see without them, like small children who walk in front of a driveway without warning.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              Exactly. I got an SUV a couple years ago and it was my first car with real technology. The backup camera took a little getting used to, but now I love it. I love that it tells me if a car, person, carriage, etc. is approaching, since it can be hard to see around all the other giant SUVs. I also love it because it helps me to back out of my curved driveway, which, even after five years, can be a little tricky if I park on the left side. And it’s not on all the time. It only comes on when I put it in reverse.

            2. Fikly*

              Except that you can solve this problem with a car that will detect this situation and hit the brakes for you, but not show you video.

              1. Cat*

                You could but you certainly couldn’t install that aftermarket on a car you already have. So I’m not sure what the relevance of that is. Also I’m also not sure the technology is there yet.

                1. Fikly*

                  The relevance is that if the OP wants the safety, but not the backup camera, that is an option.

                  And the technology is pretty well established. Look at Subarus, for example.

                2. Cat*

                  Yeah I don’t think you can buy one of those without a backup camera. But if the OP wants to spend $30k and try to get the backup camera disabled, sure, that’s an option.

                  But as noted, I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable feeling entirely on that at this point. I think things like a lack of color contrast can throw those systems off right now.

              2. fhqwhgads*

                Backup cameras are mandatory now on new vehicles (I believe since 2018), which I realize might mean for most several years away if they always buy used (I do). The automated braking tends to be a newer feature or higher trim feature other than very recently. In general, it’s easier to get a car with a backup camera and no automatic braking than it would be to get one with parking sensors but not a backup cam. Also the automated braking doesn’t always stop the car in time, even at very slow speeds, if the vehicle and the object are particularly close together. I experienced this firsthand (I was a passenger at the time).

              3. ThatGirl*

                That would require a whole new car, it’s not an aftermarket option, and as has been noted all new cars have backup cameras, even ones with auto braking.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Oh FFS really? I find computer consoles in my dashboard to be badly distracting, and they really mess with my night vision.
                  I had one rental where I had to cover up the display, there was no turning down the intensity.

          2. fposte*

            It’s also possible it could be installed and you could just…switch it off.

            I sympathize, because I too need to be very deliberate about adopting new technology while driving (a new car is going to be a big shock to me, because I’m basically driving a compact Flintstones-mobile) and to take it at my own pace. I actually really like the idea of a backup camera but it would have overwhelmed me as a Christmas gift too.

            1. Lilysparrow*

              I thought more about this afterward, and I think the thing that was really getting under my skin was the randomness of it?

              Like, I’m okay with occasionally getting a completely utilitarian present that has no enjoyment factor or sentimental value. But in that case – why not get something off of our extremely long list of household things that already need replacing, fixing or upgrading? Why go out and get a random piece of tech that I’ve never expressed any interest in (the opposite, in fact)?

              In particular, if he wants to buy me something for the car, why not spend that money on fixing the *giant crack in my windshield* that we never seem to have the spare cash/time to go get done. Wouldn’t that be a better use of the money?

              Or maybe go get it detailed from all the mud he left in it on his last landscaping project (mine is used for hauling because it has the trailer hitch).

              But the pressure’s off now – I told him I wanted to swap it out for something else, and he was a little disappointed but okay with it. I think maybe he really wanted it for himself – but he drives a scooter.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Meh gift that turned into a good one:

      I was given a corded mouse this year, after asking that no one get me anything (of course they all did). I didn’t get what Relative was thinking. I’m guessing it was, “Oh there’s Office Depot, they have computer things, Elizabeth likes computers.” She didn’t know. :\

      No worries, though. She included the receipt, so I took it back and traded it for a trackball mouse like the one I had at Exjob, which I really wanted (and needed anyway— ow, my wrist). The trackball mouse was on sale, and I only had to pay a difference of $6.42. After a slight adjustment, it turned into the perfect gift after all. \0/

    5. GoryDetails*

      This year’s best was probably the “Sam Vimes”-themed tea blend from Adagio Teas! My sister found them and discovered that they offered relatively inexpensive sample-size “Fandom Samplers”, so she hunted down a variety of fandom-blends and got each of the family a different flavor. As I’m a big Discworld fan I loved the Vimes one (which is actually quite tasty, a dark tea with cocoa and some gunpowder tea for that “dank cigar” note); others got blends from the charming “Over the Garden Wall” and the anime “Fullmetal Alchemits”, and much fun was had comparing notes.

      Worst… I’ve been pretty lucky in that regard, with a few didn’t-fit/already-had-one/not-really-my-taste items turning up now and then (usually from more distant connections who didn’t really know me very well).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Whaaaat my husband is a newly minted tea fan and a Discworld nut of old. Thanks :)

    6. Greta*

      Best: Tickets to see Hamilton!!!!!
      Worst: can’t think of any at the moment, but hey, who cares? I’m going to see Hamilton!

    7. Ginger ale for all*

      My worst was a Godiva treats basket. I am a diabetic who has to visit the doctor every two weeks due to various problems. I was diagnosed with type 2 last March and my prescription has changed 5 times.
      My best was an electric toothbrush! I love it.
      My schroedingers cat one is a set of gloves. I recently got a new winter coat that is Crayola green in color. I couldn’t decide what color the mittens, scarf, and hat set should be. I had too many choices so I put the question on my holiday wish list and honestly the brown green color combination never crossed my mind. I was leaning towards either black, white, ivory, pink, or royal blue. So I am going to go with it and see how it goes. I get a new set of gloves, hat, and scarf each year as a treat so I can revisit this next year.

    8. Zephy*

      Best: It’s a tie between the lovely 48-shade watercolor set my boyfriend got me, and the $500 in cash from my grandma. Granny’s cash contribution let me finish the year with 5 figures in savings, which was my money-related goal for 2019.

      Worst: Boyfriend’s mom bought me a consultation with some kind of stylist, and wants to attend the session with me?? The service this lady provides sounds like some combo of color/season typing and the wardrobe evaluation portion of What Not To Wear. I, uh, appreciate the sentiment, but my Anxiety Brain is telling me that she just wanted the privilege of watching someone else berate me for being fat, unstylish, and poor. If I bother to make the appointment (I’m not so sure this lady will have anything to tell me beyond “wear makeup and clothes that fit you,” and if she’s not going to then provide those things to me, I really don’t know what we’re doing here, because if I could afford them I would have them already), I really don’t think I want bf’s mom to be there.

      1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

        Unsolicited advice as a gift – yikes. Is the makeover just for you, or would she get one too? As in, a “gift” she really wanted for herself but bought “for the two of you.”
        That’s my most generous interpretation. :/

      2. Observer*

        If this woman is any good, she could actually helpful. The really good ones give you pointers on the right colors, styles etc. for you. Even the not so good ones would never “berate” you for any of these things or they would never stay in business.

        Some of these folks do not allow anyone who is not the client in the session. If you think you might enjoy this see if consultant has such a policy. Otherwise, keep on forgetting to make that appointment.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Best AND worst… So my husband bought something off my ‘think about it later’ Amazon list, and I found out about it a week before. I specifically told him that after 20+ years he knows I’m a romantic and an electric kettle is neither soft nor sparkly. It turned up under the tree, and then he asked me to make tea for us. Ugh no. Eventually he gave up and told me to open the kettle–he had hidden a box inside from a jeweler I visit like a museum. Earrings to go with my newly short haircut. :) A+ gift… awkward joke presentation.

  23. I have been to London!*

    The London trip was a success. I feel very brave and accomplished. Thank you everyone who chimed in on my anxiety induced repetitive questions. Still jet lagged from after a week return. Is that typical? Seems to be harder coming back to the U.S than going.

    1. Noblepower*

      I have always found it harder to get over jet lag going from East to West than from West to East. Not sure why…

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Interesting, I’ve always been the opposite! I think with East to West, staying awake a little bit longer is easier than West to East and trying to go to bed early.

    2. Grandma Mazur*

      I always found it harder on the way back to the US and friends have said the same. I’ve also heard that allowing a day per hour of time zone shift is necessary to truly be over jetlag. Not sure if that’s true but sounds possible!


      1. AcademiaNut*

        I think most people find going East to West easier – it’s the difference between making yourself stay up later and trying to go to sleep when you’re not ready.

        My personal experience – the first night I sleep like the dead, because I’m so tired. The second night is often the worst – depending on direction I either can’t get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning (going East), or I wake up extra early in the morning (going West). I often find the jetlag coming home harder, because I’m already tired from the trip. I also find that taking an over the counter sleeping pill an hour before I go to sleep helps. It won’t put me to sleep, but it helps me stay asleep for a full night’s rest.

        The days per hour is variable. If it’s one or two time zones, I don’t even count it – it’s still within my normal sleep variation. Beyond that, it usually takes me 3-5 days to adapt, regardless of the time difference. I’ve personally tested 1-5 hours in both directions, 8 and 9 going east, 6,7 and 8 going west, and the full twelve hours. I generally find six hours going east the hardest.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Love love love London!
      I find it harder to arrive in Europe because of the overnight flights. I can never sleep and so arrive over-tired and confused, like pulling an all-nighter

    4. Jenny*

      And were you okay health-wise? You didn’t need to see a GP or go to A&E while you were over here? I know it was a concern in the run up.

      1. I went to London!*

        Very little worries on the health front. Had to take a rescue dose of oral steroids midway but that took care of things. Paced myself and had one stay in bed day due to chronic pain. Back home six drs. appointments between now and Jan. 22. A nerve scan, 2 MRIs, colonoscopy , pain clinic, orthopedic specialist. Whew. Grateful for good health insurance and ability to pay all the copays.
        Even with all of that I am traveling to Italy for business first week in February. Feeling very brave.

          1. I went to London!*

            Bologna. Only for 5 days so I feel pretty confident about the packing etc.Going to put some vacation days on the return home side to deal with the jetlag.

  24. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I finished a paper I needed to write for a course, but not much else on account of spending a week doing the thing that won’t be named in this thread :)

    1. LilySparrow*

      All of my writing has been for work lately. It’s going well, but I’m frustrated because I don’t have enough braining left over to make the words go on my personal projects.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I’m prepping a couple of my papers for publication so that’s what I’m working on at the moment. And then some stuff for work.

  25. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    Not much for me due to doing the thing that won’t be named in this thread (although it could be described as “Tetris with groceries”) but I’m probably getting started on Steins;Gate tonight.

    1. Nicki Name*

      Finished my hard run of Fire Emblem Awakening on Christmas! And then hit the wrong button near the end so now I’ve seen both versions of the ending. (You win in both, just one’s more ominous than the other.)

    2. Gertie*

      Hopping on this thread to ask for recommendations for small games on the phone. In theory, I like matching three games and such, but the variation of Candy crush that I downloaded the other day is just…too easy I guess?

      1. LQ*

        iPhone – not sure if they are on android. These may not be exactly what you’re looking for but I’d recommend them along those lines. No timers on any of these if you’re looking for hard being about speed.

        Valleys Between. It’s super pretty. No timer but a thinking about next steps kind of structural game that I think folks who like matching kinds of candy crush games but without the timer would like.

        OLYM. Starts fairly easy but does get to a harder place once you get far enough along. (Beware this game does something I think no game should ever do, take over and adjust your volume, I hesitate to recommend it because of that.) The micropurchases are fairly easy to ignore.

        Evergarden. Another very pretty game that starts easy but gets to a challenging place. Though never super challenging. It’s lovely enough to be worth a play and the game play is fun you can make it more complex in a way that I enjoy.

      2. Jen RO*

        I played a match three game called My Museum Story…. quite obsessively. I never played Candy Crush, so I can’t compare, but some of the levels were very challenging to me.

      3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

        I really enjoy Merge Dragons! Not so much the special events (so.much.grinding. so.much), but otherwise the game is fun.

    3. Jen RO*

      WoW Classic almost all day, every day. I’m PvPing on my main (resto druid) and leveling two alts (hunter and warrior).

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My Guild Wars 2 character is over level 70. I was helped through the level 80 quest so I have a mount. And my family is letting off steam with it tonight–I had to take a break for a wrist cramp, but no motion sickness.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Board game w/ Mr & Little Jules: Cosmic Encounters
      Card game w/ Gparents Jules & Mr & Little: 10 point pitch (if you play it, hi cousin!)
      On my own: Wizards Unite, Farmville 2, Civilization (the original)

  26. Advice on Medical Bills*

    Has anyone used a medical expense reviewer/negotiator for medical expenses?
    I don’t have insurance and went to the ER last night for a kidney stone attack and I’d guess the bills may add up to many tens of thousands of dollars.

    I’d like someone to review the itemized bills and hopefully negotiate cash settlements with the hospital, doctors and radiologists.

    Any help, advice is truly appreciated!

    1. Parenthetically*

      Such a service is included with my medical-sharing-ministry health coverage and we’ve used it SEVERAL times. It’s been a very simple process each time — for us we just send them the bill with a brief explanation of the issue, and they negotiate the rate down on our behalf. It’s saved us a lot of money and headache.

    2. nep*

      I don’t have any experience or advice. Just best wishes for healing.
      I will be interested in responses here, as I’m without medical insurance right now; I am learning myself how I would have to approach a medical emergency.
      Thanks for raising the issue. All the best.

    3. Anoning cause money*

      Are you in the US? The vast majority of hospitals have financial assistance programs, and the assistance typically starts at levels much higher than federal poverty guidelines.

      As an example, I make 60k annually, household of one, and get 100% financial assistance from a hospital I use. So everything is covered.

      1. Advice on Medical Bills*

        Yes, I’m in the US. I have no income. I’ll check with the hospital regarding financial assistance.
        Where are you located? Is it a county hospital that you use?

        1. Anoning cause money*

          I’m in the nyc metro area. That particular hospital is a private orthopedic hospital. Every hospital has different standards, but while I forget the details, but I believe they all have to offer some kind of assistance program as part of their medicare accredidation.

          Also, this is obviously too late because you already received care, but if this happens again in the future, one catch is that sometimes you only get assistance if you go to a hospital in the same state you live in. Or you have to jump through more hoops, and it’s a pain.

          Check the papers you came home with, they may have given you a sheet about financial assistance. Failing that, it should be on their website.

    4. Rage against the Bling*

      More advice anyone please? I don’t even know where to find a Medical Expense Negotiator. The concession the hospital was willing to make was “Pay it in full on a payment plan (that will take +3 years).”

      I know the insurance I had before and after the bill would have paid much less. State insurance only covers those with children it seems; $647 per 2 weeks take home pay, combined with $815 in rent a month plus utilities, and going into more debt just to buy food… well my husband and I made far too much money to qualify for any aid. We would just have to tighten our belts and consider moving into a less expensive place (which doesn’t exist).

      We are insured and better off now, but I wish I’d had someone who had my best interests at heart (rather than the hospital’s) when I tried to figure out a way.

    5. Lexin*

      Every time I read something like this, my gratitude for the UK’s National Health Service increases. I’m an NHS frequent flyer and I’d be bankrupt if it wasn’t free at the point of use.

      1. Advice on Medical Bills*

        I’m envious of your NHS.

        I had to declare bankruptcy for $23,000 in medical bills in 1989 after my wife got very sick due (extreme abdominal psin) to an undiagnosed allergic reaction to Toradol she was prescribed for joint pain. We were both in college at the time and without health insurance.

        Multiple ER visits, tests, aborted pregnancy and exploratory surgery were inconclusive. She was in the hospital for 20 days.

        Once out of the hospital, she was doing better until she took another Toradol and then WAM! Excruciating abdominal pain returned. I threw the pills in the trash and the spoke to the doctor about this med. He insisted that the med was not related to her symptoms and we never went back to him again.

        I’ve been insured through work all these years, but I had to quit my job due to extreme tinnitus in early 2017. I had medical coverage until 2018 thru COBRA benefits (self pay to extend company health insurance). COBRA expired in February of this year. Too rich for MediCal, can’t get coverage through the Affordable care act.

        Hoping to stay healthy until I can get Medicare at age 65. 4 more years to go.

    6. ...*

      I would recommend reaching out to a patient advocate or social worker at the hospital as well as asking how to applying for financial aid

  27. Washi*

    So over the holidays, I knitted a cute little baby sweater mainly for fun, but with my childhood friend’s 4 month old in mind. As I was doing it though, I remembered that my mom had knitted this friend a baby blanket, which like my sweater, can be machine washed but not put in the dryer. I have seen the blanket since, and it’s definitely gone through the dryer. It’s nbd for the blanket – people can do whatever they want with gifts and now it’s just a smaller, thicker blanket. But now I’m rethinking giving my friend a sweater with similar care instructions (my mom definitely included instructions when she gave it to her.)

    Is there a way to ask if this would be a nice present, or if she realistically is not going to remember not to put it in the dryer? I know stuff happens, people forget, etc, but I would probably just give the sweater to someone else if she knows there’s a 100% chance it’s going to end up in the dryer.

    1. fposte*

      I’ll be interested to see what parents think, but I suspect the vast majority of new parents are desperately flinging stuff from the washer into the dryer and really don’t have the wherewithal to remove individual items for delicate treatment. Rewarding as it is to knit something beautiful and soft for a teeny one, I think low maintenance tends to be a high priority for baby-adjacent stuff.

      That doesn’t mean you have to give it to her, but I’m thinking that it might meet the same fate whoever you gave it to. I’d say you can ask her, but you want to avoid the “I’ll only give you this thing if you handle it the way I want you to” vibe where you’re trying to control your present after it doesn’t belong to you. “I was thinking about knitting a sweater for Sprout, but is something that needs to dry flat and not go into the dryer more trouble than it’s worth for you these days?” If you think you might enjoy doing something when the kid’s a little older, you could add that–“Or should I wait until things are a little more controlled and Sprout might be old enough to enjoy the gift?”

      1. Lilo*

        Yeah, kids at that age go through so many changes of clothes and you are constantly doing laundry. I probably would simply have not used it.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Yeah, if you will be bothered by something getting ruined, do not give it to a child.

        There is only so careful you can be for so long. There is always going to be some element outside the parents’ control – starting with the fact that unless she lives in the 1950s, it isn’t always going to be your friend doing the laundry.

        Beyond ordinary forgetfulness, there’s illness, dogs, destructive siblings or cousins, and stains that just will not come out without harsh treatment.

        Never give presents with a side order of obligation or guilt.

      3. Cat*

        Hah I have a five week old. My dad was over helping and asked if a sweater for her (not hand-knitted) could go into the wash with the other clothes and I said “well, that’s what’s going to happen.” I can’t imagine having the bandwidth to keep track of what needs to be dried separately at this point. But it’s a really nice thought for later!

        1. Cat*

          Also there’s a lot of soft fabrics that can be washed at this point so I think the more delicate stuff currently feels unnecessary.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      When you have a 4mo, it’s unusual to have time to remember that a garment needs special care: that is, if you remember, it makes you unwilling to dress your baby in it. Baby clothes to be worn regularly need to be fairly robust, so clothes needing care are saved for special occasions, which may not come until the clothes are outgrown.

      Which is to say, you’re not wrong to want your hard work taken care of, but that may mean it gets no use. If you think this friend is particularly casual about care instructions (or gifts in general) and you’d prefer to give it to someone else, you should absolutely do that. But maybe your next baby project could be worked in a more forgiving yarn?

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, I think I just need to use acrylic if I do baby stuff in the future.

        My whole family knits and dresses babies/kids in wool we’re used to pulling stuff out before it goes in the dryer, but you’re right that it’s not second nature to other people!

        1. Headachey*

          Or cotton, or superwash wool (which can be machine-washed and dried). Baby things are small & fast! Have fun knitting some more!

          1. Washi*

            So actually both things are superwash merino! But the blanket definitely looked a bit felted. Have you successfully put something like that in the dryer? Does my friend just have a super hot dryer or something?

            1. LilySparrow*

              Lots of people deliberately put baby stuff that’s been spitup or pooed on through the hottest wash & dry cycles to sanitize it.

              Also, if there’s been certain types of infections in the house, this can be recommended to avoid spreading it. One of my girls picked up molluscum contagiosum somewhere (probably from sharing dressup clothes, or possibly sharing towels at a pool party) and doing all the laundry on hot/hot was recommended for anything she touched.

            2. Fellow Traveler*

              Maybe it was washed on hot? I have definitely had wool things felt after a hot wash, even if it didn’t go in the dryer.
              Personally, I’ve always appreciated hand made things that I’ve received for my kids. If I know it can’t be put in the dryer, then I just put it on my baby less and don’t even bother to wash it – I find wool doesn’t need to be washed often. Or if it gets really dirty, I will put it aside and wash it on it’s own- either in the machine or with a 15 min wool soak. I personally don’t find it a big deal- the wool item just sits until I can get to it. But then again, I love wool and have put my kids in it from the beginning so I’m very careful with it. (My husband has shrunk several things, though).
              I say give it to your friend with love and a warning.

            3. Meepmeep*

              Superwash should actually be ok in the dryer. I knit a lot of socks out of that and they always go in the dryer and they’re always fine.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          FWIW I do baby blankets in Stylecraft Special DK which is very robust, comes in a full rainbow of inspiring colours, doesn’t cost a fortune, and is comfortable to work with (not squeaky!). I don’t know how available it is in the US but maybe worth a Google.

        3. NewNameTemporarily*

          The very last baby blanked I crocheted (many years ago) I did was acrylic, and I was so grateful as the little one had a blowout on it. She called me up and asked if it was washable, in tears. (It meant a lot to her, no remaining moms to “grandma” for her).

          I’m a big believer in natural fibers, but…. stuff really happens with babies. If you can’t biz it, sanitize it, and wash it… it’s a single use item for most little ones.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I knitted a wool gift for a friend, but explicitly said, “This is only for pictures, it is not machine-washable, so I don’t care if it only gets worn for like three seconds so long as I at least get to see a picture of baby in it.” (That said, mine was a knitted mermaid tail, because their nursery was ocean-themed, and it wasn’t big enough to fit baby for more than a week after she was born anyway, so there was no way it was going to end up in a “regular wearing” pile.) So maybe go that route, acknowledge that it’s not going to be an everyday thing, and then let (whoever) take the wheel?

      But frankly, giving it to anyone with a baby runs the same risk.

    4. Shananana*

      Other option – buy an appropriate sized doll or stuffed toy and put sweater on it. I had a bunch of cabbage patch doll clothes growing up that were actually really nice baby clothes many of my excited extended family gave my mom when I was born (I was the first baby girl in 20 years). I think I wore each of the one time, but those live on as doll clothes to this day nearly 40 years late.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Yeah, I was going to suggest using it for a doll or a stuffed animal, or giving to someone who would.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Go ahead and give it to someone else.

      I gave an item that I adored to a family member. She left it outside all winter and it became ruined. I started sputtering, “But I gave that to your daughter!”

      Then I realized I was way too invested in Item. When we give something to people it is no longer ours, it becomes theirs. And they can do what they want with it, including trash it.
      This family member went on to trash several more presents and I had to stop the gifting entirely.

      If you are worried about what will become of the gift that is enough to stop the process of giving it to her now. You don’t even have to ask. For me, I had to remind myself that gifts with strings aren’t true gifts anyway.

      1. NewNameTemporarily*

        Yes, I had to stop gifting my nieces. Spent hours picking out the perfect X with the perfect accessories to fit their diverse family unit. Biggest gift ever for me at the time. Not cartoon or commercially themed, very well made, an heirloom level toy set for the generations but sturdy, practical, and beautiful. Well received at the time (I was there). Two months later, the child liked the cheap plastic Disney version at (insert name of chain store) and so it was bought for her because “she liked that one too.” (no child needs two of these things, trust me). Mine went on to (I figured out) a yard sale. The other was broken within a year or less, never made it to the use of the second little one in the family.

        I gave only one other significant gift, and for that (a Pericles pram), I got agreement from the parent that it was RETURNED to me or to the next family member with a baby, once outgrown.

        These days, I give a small stocking stuffer gift the whole family can use (think game) and an Amazon gift card roughly equal to the sum of what they spend on me. Not to be petty, but I can see that those kids have so many toys that they are overflowing 3 toy rooms (not bins – the house is completely full and spilling over, from basement, family room, bedrooms, and living room), and continuously throwing things out, and selling, things they are tired of. I no longer am bothered by it, because I don’t actually know what my gift was. So now…. I figure they are so overwhelmed with materialism that my contribution is best divided – a modest amount to them, the rest to a children’s charity. (I just don’t mention that to them).

    6. Chaordic One*

      For some reason, while reading this, what popped into my head was the image of Morticia Addams, sitting in her wicker chair, contentedly knitting a three-armed sweater.

    7. LibbyG*

      We accidentally shrunk a beautiful hand knit baby sweater when my oldest was a newborn. We put it on a teddy bear which then became an extremely huggable favorite. The baby would have outgrown it in a month or two anyway. So, yeah, it got shrunk but it stayed useful and was well enjoyed.

      1. Washi*

        Ooh this is actually a good point. My concern is less my work being “ruined” and more that a sweater that will definitely be shrunk after one wearing is kind of a bad present. But she has a bazillion stuffed animals so it could always be a teddy sweater!

    8. Observer*

      General rule of thumb – any item of clothes for a toddler or infoant that requires ANY level of special care whether you can’t run it through the washer, it needs ironing or whatever, is just not a good gift 99% of the time. If it’s given as an explicitly one time thing, that’s different (eg a big event and you want the baby to be dressed up). But otherwise? Not happening.

    9. The New Wanderer*

      My MIL’s friend knitted a sweater for each of my kids when they were babies. I barely know her so it was more for the giving than the receiving, but the sweaters were beautiful and we were touched she’d made the effort. I made sure she got a photo each time of the baby wearing the sweater (with matching hats, it was so cute), and then they were packed away since they would not have withstood any regular use or washing. I knit too, I get it, but everything I knitted for my kids or other baby shower gifts was with acrylic and those have really lasted.

      I’m not sure there is a good way to ask without putting your friend on the spot. I’d say to go with your own sense of comfort on this: it’s very likely your friend will appreciate the sweater and the effort you put in, but if it come with care instructions of any kind, it’s not likely to get used. If that’s okay, give the sweater. If you want something to really get used, I’d go for the easiest care option.

  28. Foreign Octopus*

    I’m watching season four of The Expanse at the moment and am loving it. It’s so easy to see the money that Amazon has put into it as the visuals are just amazing. I’m really glad that the show’s getting the acclaim it deserves as I’ve been a fan since the beginning. I just wish that another network had picked up Timeless as I’ve recently finished watching that on Netflix and was disappointed to discover it’s been cancelled.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      The only thing that disappointed me about The Expanse is Amazon’s video player. Its slower to ramp up to full resolution than other sites and I’m missing the skip credits/recap button that Netflix and Disney+ have.

    2. Lilo*

      I had some problems with the fourth book to the point I almost quit reading the series and thought they seriously improved on it, particularly with the non-Ilus plotlines (none of which are in the book), giving Amos and Naomi more to do and making Elvi way better (she is seriously irritating in the book).

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        Yeah, Cibola Burn has been my least favourite book in the series so far and the show did a great job with it. I found the Avasarala plotline pretty boring but the Bobbie and Drummer/Ashford ones were well done. And superficially I like how much more they can swear on Amazon.

      2. Melody Pond*

        My husband has read the books (I have not, but love the show) and he said the same thing – Cibola Burn is his least favorite of the books, but thought that the show improved on it in several areas. And we were both thrilled to see the clear upgrades in production budget.

        How long until season 5, again? :-P

    3. Emily*

      I was so bummed about Timeless as well. Last time the fans managed to uncancel it but not this time. Instead we just got a special to finish it off but it wasn’t that well-written :(

      I’ve been thinking about watching the Expanse. I like sci-fi and I recognize Warren Peace from Sky High

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Do it! Expanse is *great*. I watch it with my husband and tween. Our opinions are split – hubs and I like it more than Mandalorian, but tween prefers Mando.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Just started binge watching last week. I am in the middle of season 2. How did I miss this series, let alone the books?

  29. Marzipan*

    Is there any way of telling her in writing before she comes (even if it’s just a long text), or is it too late for that? When I told my dad I was pregnant I found it easier to do it in writing because I wasn’t quite sure how he was going to take it, for various reasons (single lady egg donor baby is potentially a slightly tough sell, dad-wise). It meant I could just straightforwardly lay out what was happening and then if he needed any time to process it, he wasn’t having to do that in real time with me in the room. (As it turned out he took it *really* well, happily.) So I’d be tempted to send her a message asking the lines of ‘I wanted to let you know before we see each other that I’m pregnant – I didn’t let you know about it before because the pregnancy has had some complications, but it’s quite noticeable at this point’. And then include anything you want to say to guide her a bit as to the broader situation and whether you do or don’t want to talk about that aspect when you see her, so she can take her cues from you (if she is the sort of person who takes cues). Is she someone that kind of approach might work with?

    Wishing you the very best.

  30. WellRed*

    Tipping. Do you tip the person who wheels you around the airport in a wheelchair? How about say, theGreyhound bus driver ( not a charter or tour). We did tip housekeeping, bellhops, valet, servers and tour guides ; )

    1. LGC*

      Can’t answer the first one – second one, I don’t think so (it’s kind of like tipping the pilot in an airplane or a train driver). Besides, last time I took the bus it was a half hour late – the pleasures of taking Bolt Bus from New York to Philadelphia during rush hour, I guess.

      Tipping is weird. My dad insists on tipping Uber drivers in cash. I tip Lyft drivers through the app. My dad insisted on tipping the Wegman’s clerk who helped us wheel our catering order to our car, and she very politely, but kind of frantically refused. I could write an essay about how crazy it is that so much of our economy runs on a “discretionary” payment that’s not really discretionary, but that’s not what you asked for.

      But anyway. I generally only tip my barber, at restaurants, and cab drivers, really. And travel service providers. It’s not that I don’t think other people need to be tipped, it’s just…I’m unsure when it’s appropriate and when it isn’t.

    2. fposte*

      I did the first on one trip and I didn’t even think about tipping; the people wheeling me were moving so fast I’m not sure I could have caught them anyway (apparently they’re spread really thin). Was this your New Orleans trip? I hope you had fun.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Ooh, if you remember, can you sneak in and do a roundup of your favorites? My wonderful father-in-law is going to be there for a few days in the spring and would love recommendations from someone who’s been there recently!

          1. WellRed*

            Honestly I just loved wandering the FQ, soaking up sights and sounds, popping into shops or bars for a drink. Pat O’Briens and Fritzel are two mainstays and very fun.

    3. nep*

      I appreciate this question and the responses.
      I was recently in Denver and was on the airport>hotel shuttle with an airline crew. I was ready with a tip, but I hadn’t the foggiest idea how much to give. It had been a long time since using such a service. Fortunately I was able to see what they were giving him and followed their lead; I was about to tip a lot more.

    4. Creapy Arms*

      I tipped the wheelchair guy at the airport. He asked if I wanted to use the restroom or stop for something to drink. He was very nice.

    5. Thursday Next*

      I think you should—they’re woefully undercompensated. I think I read a WaPo article to that effect in the last year.

    6. Reliquary*

      Absolutely yes, please tip the folks who push wheelchairs in the airport. They are paid terribly, and tips are what keep them in those jobs. My father usually gives each person $10.

    7. noahwynn*

      Yes to the wheelchair assistance at the airport. Most are paid minimum wage and rely on tips. I used to be a gate agent, and I know they always appreciated when people gave them a dollar or two as a tip. Also, in my experience, they pool tips by shift, so you should only need to tip the last person that assisted you if you’re in a larger airport where they hand you off at various points.

  31. matcha123*

    I am fairly certain my next door neighbor goes for a smoke every half hour. And every half hour or so my whole apartment is filled with the smell of cigarette smoke. This summer I couldn’t even open my window to enjoy days with good weather because he was smoking all the time.
    I would call my rental company, but I know they won’t do anything. So, here I am at 1:30am typing this and getting a headache because someone needed to smoke. I absolutely despise smokers and if I could grab this guy and flay all of his skin off, I would. What gives him the right to fill my place with smoke? Why is society so lenient with smokers? If I got drunk and damaged someone’s property I’d be expected to pay. The way this apartment is built, we all have to have fans running 24/7 to keep the apartment from forming a vacuum and making it hard to open the front door. I get smoke smell coming into my bathroom, kitchen and bedroom. grr…

    1. nep*

      Oh, that is horrible. Such a violation of your right to breath clear air.
      The apartment complex should have designated areas–if someone chooses to smoke outside, it should be far enough away from the building so smoke would dissipate. (Is that a thing–those of you who live in apartment complexes?)
      Reckon this guy doesn’t want to smoke in his apartment because…the place would be filled with smoke and the stench of smoke?!

      1. fposte*

        IIRC matcha lives outside of the US (Japan, maybe?) so the policies are likely very different.

        One of the motivating factors for my buying a house was a smoker moving in to the flat beneath me. I totally sympathize.

        1. matcha123*

          Yep, I am!
          I’ve been told it is very hard to evict people, which is good if you are a member of a group that might be discriminated against. On the other hand, there have been countless stories of people who have been victimized by their neighbors for years while the rental companies or police do nothing because they can’t decide which law to use or if the actions even count as illegal/a nuisance.

      2. matcha123*

        Technically smoking is not allowed in the apartments, but most rental companies pretend not to notice smoking that takes place on the balconies since it’s ‘outside.’ Smoke inside would stain the walls and leave a smell, but that worry doesn’t extend to balconies, I guess. When I complained to the management of my former rental, they treated me like I was the one causing trouble. It’s incredibly frustrating because moving won’t necessarily solve the problem.
        Thanks you for your sympathy! *-*

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Oh wow – my current apartment community explicitly banned smoking anywhere on our premises, including our balconies and patios. They have security that patrols 12 hours a day and the property management staff tours each building a couple times a day. If you’re caught smoking on your balcony or patio, our lease says you’ll be fined on the first offense and then possibly evicted on subsequent offenses.

          I don’t know how they enforce any of these things, but I have yet to smell cigarette smoke anywhere near my apartment building since I moved in almost 18 months ago.

      3. Diahann Carroll*

        I’ve only ever lived in apartment communities where smoking is outright banned anywhere on the premises (my current place even spells out in our leases that tenants are not to smoke even across the street in the park we face, which…don’t know how they would enforce that) so I don’t know if that’s a thing, but it should be for complexes that allow smoking. People with respiratory issues and small children shouldn’t have to smell that mess. Plus, cigarette smoke lingers and will be hard to get out of the apartments even after they’ve been cleaned, so the property managers are potentially going to run off new tenants.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Around here smoking is banned in all public parks so the across the street bit might not be something the complex could/would try to enforce, but more a related reminder (you can’t do it here and you can’t do it there either), since at least around here it’s common for people not to realize there is zero smoking allowed in parks, despite signs posted indicating that. It’s not a new law either. But I guess the whole “I’m outside” thing wins in a lot of people’s minds.

    2. anon24*

      Oh I can commiserate. I think I’ve posted this story before, but I left my last apartment because of smokers. They moved in below my apartment 2 weeks after we renewed our year long lease. It was a long year. I was so sick. They sat under my windows and the vent for my heat/ac so it didn’t matter whether I had the windows on or the heat/ac running – my apartment was just filled with smoke all the time. I get migraines that are made worse from smoke and I spent so much time that year in too much pain to get out of bed. They didn’t work and were home chain smoking 24-7. A good portion of that year I had quit my job and was going to school at night and during the day I’d often have to leave and just walk around town for a few hours because I just couldn’t be in my home. It made me so angry that I had to leave MY home because of their actions and I had no legal recourse in the matter. Also, my pets were in the home exposed to that. All day and all night I had to listen to them under my window talking and laughing and smell them smoking. I’d wake up at 3am and they would still be outside yelling and laughing. I am the calmest, one of the most laid back people out there but if I put the things I wanted to do to them on this forum Alison would ban me and I’d probably go to jail ;) One of the more nicer things I wanted to do was yell “oh no, something is burning!” and dump ice water out my window on top of them.

      1. matcha123*

        That sounds awful! I also get sick from the smoke. Maybe I wouldn’t care as much if it were a smell that didn’t leave me feeling terrible. I admit to shouting many things at this person. Where do they think their smoke goes?!

        1. valentine*

          Apologize for yelling? Tell them their smoke fills your place for hours and to please smoke away from the building.

    3. In the same smokey boat*

      I feel your pain and am sending you sympathy! I’ve had the same issue in my apartment (in the U.S.) for the past few months, but not nearly to the extent that you are.

      My building is not considered “non-smoking”, but part of another building on the property is. I asked the leasing office if the smell of smoke tends to travel from one apart to the next while I was going through the original paperwork. They assured me it usually doesn’t. Two months later and my bathroom REEKS of cigarette smoke. Thankfully not all the time, and nowhere else in my apartment, but it’s gross. I don’t want to store anything in the bathroom cabinets because the smell gets trapped in there, so I literally have bags of products in my bedroom and closet. I have a lovely linen closet I can’t store my linens in because it also smells like smoke (right next to bathroom). Even when it doesn’t smell like cigarettes, it still smells stale and musty and gross.

      According to management, a “fan in the roof isn’t working properly” and that’s why I’m smelling smoke. Not sure I’m buying that but alright. That was three weeks ago and I still don’t think the fan’s been fixed.

      I’m not familiar with renter’s rights so I can’t really give you any advice here, but I hope you’re able to get the company to do something about it!

    4. Joanne’s Daughter*

      Have you explained to your neighbor how their smoking is affecting you?
      I used to be a smoker and tried not to disturb non-smokers with my bad habit. I would totally have moved my location to smoke to accommodate you.

      1. tangerineRose*

        This is a great idea. And remember that the smoker might be a kind (but addicted) person who wouldn’t want to bother you – like Alison says, the more you bring that type of cooperative attitude to this type of thing, the more likely the other person will be cooperative. I hate cigarette smoke too and would be going crazy with this, but I think a lot of smokers don’t realize how bad it smells to the rest of us.

      2. matcha123*

        I spoke to them through our balcony divider this summer and told them their smoke was getting into my room, they apologized, but now that it’s colder, I think they don’t care :(

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      That’s awful! I think it would be reasonable to politely remind him again that it really bothers you. When I lived next door to chain smokers, I bought a large Whirlpool Whispure air purifier, basically a giant fan with a big filter. It was expensive and a bit loud and worth every single penny. I ran it 24/7 and it reduced the odor about 80%.

    6. shortlibrarian*

      I’ve heard good things about air purifying machines, but I don’t have any first hand experience. Perhaps having one or more could help your situation?

  32. Bibliovore*

    If one wheelchair person gets me from ticketing/ baggage to my gate, I tip 20 dollars.if they are handing me off. 5 dollars each. From the plane to luggage to car. 20 dollars.

  33. Ugh.*

    I need to vent.

    I’m not naturally organized. I have anxiety and depression. Through trial and error, I’ve learned what works for me, to allow me to do what I need to do and still have time to take care if my well-being.

    I hate it when, for whatever reason, anyone doesn’t do what they need or want to do and expects that I’ll just do it for them. I’m happy to help when I can and feel like it but, when I (always politely) decline, they feel entitled to know why.

    I feel punished for having my act together and taking care of myself.

    1. Wishing You Well*

      I am working on NOT giving reasons why I’m telling someone no. It’s just an opening for an argument.
      “No, I can’t.” can be repeated for as long as necessary.
      Best of Luck and keep taking care of yourself!

      1. Fikly*

        This. Generally speaking, people asking why are never going to be satisfied with any answer. They are only asking why to set an impossible standard.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I tend to agree with you that the organized do get punished because they are leaned on too heavily. The only solace I have ever found is that I need things a certain way to suit ME. And it does make my life easier.

      Do make sure that you are not unnecessarily disclosing that you have x or y or z readily available. Try to be more aware of letting people go through their own learning experiences.

    3. LQ*

      Feel free to skip if you don’t want someone else’s experience sucking up your life. (Which is fine.)
      This is good to read. I’ve been feeling like oh I should do more. This is exactly what that ends up feeling like. I don’t have a big circle of humans and I’ve had luck with just talking through with the ones closest that what they are asking for is expensive, not in cost but energy. I’ve gotten to a good place with most of them. Those who continually push and push just don’t get reasons, don’t get as much grace, that’s fine and a decision they are making.

      But it has come to settle in a nice place with the folks who understand it best closest to me and those who don’t are held at arm’s length. Holding those people at arm’s length helped a LOT with the feeling punished for doing the right stuff. I can have empathy if they aren’t close enough to suck all the life out of me. When they are draining me dry they are also draining my empathy and making it so I can’t help them either. This space is there for a reason.

  34. nep*

    Oh, that’s horrible. Total violation of your right to breath clear air.
    The apartment complex should have designated areas–if someone chooses to smoke outside, it should be far enough away from the building so smoke would dissipate. (Is that a thing–those of you who live in apartment complexes?)
    Reckon this guy doesn’t want to smoke in his apartment because…the place would be filled with smoke and the stench of smoke?!

    1. nep*

      Disregard. Oops. Thought I was making a couple slight changes before posting response to matcha123, and both ended up appearing.

  35. JediSquirrel*

    I am moving. It’s a slow process, because I didn’t hire a van or a company. I just keep loading up my car and going from old apartment to new apartment.

    The new apartment is smaller, doesn’t have a washer and dryer, but has a gym, pool, tennis courts, pickleball courts, and competent management. The old apartment is bigger, has a washer and dryer, needs a lot of upkeep and maintenance, and has incompetent management. I notified them of my new address last week and they said I need to provide 30 days written notice of my move-out date, so they’re billing me until Jan. 23 for rent. I told them in October, but they don’t remember. Alas, a court date is probably in my future over this.

    (Also—and this is weird—the new apartment said no Command Strips. You want to hang something on the wall, just go ahead and put a nail in. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of that.)

    I will just so glad to put 2019 behind me. It was a horrible year in a lot of ways.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Probably because Command Strips are very difficult to remove after a period of time – they’d have to scrape them off the walls, which, depending on the paint finish or the wall material itself, could cause more damage than just spackling a hole.

      As for the washer/dryer situation, is it possible for your building to provide you with one for an additional charge per month? It sounds like you live in a luxury apartment community, and I know the ones I live(d) in, and the one my mother currently resides in, will give tenants who ask for them use of ones they purchase for something like an extra $30 a month. My apartment came with a washer/dryer combo unit and my mom downsized from a house and brought her own units with her and just used their connections, but one of my neighbors who lives in a two bedroom that didn’t come with an in unit washer and dryer asked building management for it after her husband freaked out when using the communal laundry room and found a blonde hair in his clothes (he’s brunette), and the building management team gave them their own units for rent.

      Congrats on your new place! It sounds like your amenities are awesome, so enjoy!

    2. Jdc*

      Command strips suck. They 100% of the time have flat out ripped my drywall off. A nail hole is much easier to handle than fixing drywall. I don’t get how they still exist they are so awful.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Weird, I’ve never had that kind of problem with Command strips. I wonder if it depends on the paint.

        1. Jdc*

          Perhaps but it’s happened to me at every place I’ve lived and I’ve moved a lot for work. I just assumed they suck and gave up on them.

        2. Gatomon*

          Same, I had things hung for over 5 years in my old apartment and got all the strips down with 0 damage. I even had some stuff fall off and didn’t have any damage.

          My new home is COVERED in nail holes and I’m actually pretty salty about it because of all the drywall repair I’ll have to do eventually.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      About the command strips: I used them in the bathroom, and they pulled the paint off when I took them down. It would have been easier, much easier, to patch a nail hole, I assure you.
      Congrats on the new place!

  36. bunniferous*

    Some week!
    Was supposed to host Christmas dinner but had to take husband to ER instead. We are still at hospital and will probably be here till Tuesday. Merry Christmas!

  37. Merci Dee*

    A brief update….

    Dad’s doing well with his physical therapy almost a month after his knee replacement. The doctor and therapists are very happy with his progress on the exercises and his range of motion. Yay.

    Biggest problems are that portions of his leg are still extremely sensitive to the touch and he has problems riding more than 30 to 45 minutes in the SUV because it kills his hip on the surgery side (he still can’t drive the SUV so has to ride in the passenger’s seat, which puts his stiched-up knee against the console/instrument panel. He can drive his pick-up truck with no problems since the surgery was on his left leg).

    He says that the sensitivity in his leg is due to healing in the nerves from the surgery, but that he found that out from online forums because the doctor didn’t mention it until dad asked about it, and that it’s nothing to worry about. Not sure I’d be so hand-wavy and blase about it, but it’s not my leg.

    The doctor mentioned to dad earlier in the year that there’s a possibility of hip surgery in the future, but dad and doctor both hoped that the knee replacement would correct the alignment problems with his hip and negate the need for surgery. Looks like that might not work out the way they hoped. Dad is absolutely fine when he’s walking – no pain at all when he’s up and moving, and he’d walk all day long if he could. It’s sitting for long periods of time that hurt him now.

    But even with the leg sensitivity and the hip pain, he confirms there are improvements. It’s just a couple of things he wasn’t expecting to deal with. Let’s hope they resolve soon, because they’re the only things causing him pain now, and he’s been barking and snipping at my mom when the pain gets bad. I swear, that woman is a saint. I would have conked dad on the head with the first handy heavy object if I had to take care of him. :p

    1. Fikly*

      The nerve sensitivity is totally a thing! Your nerves get super weird after surgery. They almost always calm down eventually, time will vary of course.

      I remember them wiping my foot down between cast changes and I was so sensitive I nearly kicked the poor cast tech.

  38. Texan In Exile*

    Just got a letter in the mail saying, “Your breast imaging exam shows an area that needs further evaluation. This is not uncommon. Most such findings are benign (not cancer).”

    I had my regular annual mammogram on Thursday, Dec 19.

    I got a phone call on Monday, Dec 23, that I needed a follow-up scan. For which the earliest available appointment is January 3. (NB Never ever ever schedule a regular screening test just before Christmas. If you need any kind of follow up, you won’t get it until after the new year. Lesson learned on that one.)

    I checked my chart online and saw the test results.

    The words above? NOT IN THE ONLINE RESULTS. All I saw was detailed technical information about the scan that I sent to a physician friend for more information. (I didn’t send it to my sister, a nurse practitioner, because who sends something about I MIGHT HAVE CANCER to her sister two days before Christmas?)

    All to say – I have spent the past week sick with worry and fear, unable to sleep or eat, wondering if I have cancer. The letter that the hospital sent via the US postal service? That information would have been very useful on Monday Dec 23.

    1. Asenath*

      If it’s any consolation – and I am not a doctor – it really isn’t uncommon to be called back for an extra check on something that showed up on a mammogram, and often, further examination proves that the area in question is completely harmless! It’s happened to me a couple of times. And they probably wouldn’t put that particular wording in the technical descriptions, because a doctor reading those technical descriptions wouldn’t need the wording-for-the-patient. Good luck with your follow-up results – and, I know how hard it is, but try not to panic too much before then!

    2. fposte*

      Sorry, TIE. That’s no fun. However, it is true that this is unlikely to be cancer, just an unphotogenic boob. I had the same thing last year and this year breezed through the mammogram without a second look. Your time to the second scan sounds pretty standard even without the holidays, too.

      I do think medical services are still figuring out best communication practices. I know somebody who had the converse experience to yours–she found out she had cancer from checking the posted scan results online, not from a human. I don’t know what the best way is, but I don’t think it’s that.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      Thank you both! It’s been really stressful and I don’t even know what to think. :( I am terrified to google because there be monsters.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        hi Texan, don’t google. I had the same thing happen this year too, and I would suggest waiting to get a follow up on this. Sometimes pathology needs a second look, or a biopsy, or do the mammogram again. Good to have a second look to be sure. Worrying is something I used to a lot of, and learning to let go and trust and use tools like mindfulness and meditation and therapy. to help, has been a part of my process. I wish you luck and that you are healthy, just needing another test. Once you get the test results, then you can make a plan to deal, or to carry on as normal. If you search on my user name here you can see my journey which may help you – but again – wait til you have more tests and results. Best of luck to you!

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Don’t google. This happened to me too a few years ago, had to come back for an ultrasound, and then had to come back again for a biopsy, by which point I’d convinced myself I definitely had cancer. The biopsy found everything was fine. It’s incredibly common!

      3. Carrotstick21*

        I JUST went through this myself, to find out everything is fine. The waiting is hard but try to remind yourself that the follow ups are common and usually OK. I tried but it was hard; I didn’t really calm down until they said “we have good news.” The good thing is, they usually give you the results right away when you have the follow up. I’ll be thinking of you!

    4. WellRed*

      This happened to me this year, though it was communicated via telephone. I wound up getting biopsies and I am in the clear.

    5. Achoo!*

      Hey, me too! My follow up is around your time. I’m taking comfort from my cousin who is in health care and told me radiologists are very cautious, boobs often look weird for no scary reason, and being called in for a diagnostic mammogram is not uncommon.

    6. A Frayed Knot*

      Hang in there! As you can read, this has happened to many of us. If it is any comfort, the radiologist read the second screening immediately – there was no additional waiting for results. He showed me both scans to explain why the second screening was necessary. Thankfully, it was just dense tissue. I hope you get similar good news!

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Don’t panic. Lots of benign breast issues can require a follow-up.
      The wait is actually a good sign. If they thought you had something urgent, they’d get you in quicker.
      My neighbor found a lump and went ballistic. Turns out most lumps are benign, just like hers was. I feel bad for all the emotions she suffered until she was informed she was fine.
      Sending good thoughts.

    8. Blackcat*

      I know this is really scary, but I have actually pointed people in your situation to a resource I give my students learning stats. Link will follow in a reply.
      Here’s a quote
      “Suppose 0.8% of women who get mammograms have breast cancer. In 90% of women with breast cancer, the mammogram will correctly detect it. (That’s the statistical power of the test. This is an estimate, since it’s hard to tell how many cancers are missed if we don’t know they’re there.) However, among women with no breast cancer at all, about 7% will get a positive reading on the mammogram, leading to further tests and biopsies and so on. If you get a positive mammogram result, what are the chances you have breast cancer?

      Ignoring the chance that you, the reader, are male, the answer is 9%”

      1. Blackcat*

        Since the link will take a while to come through, that’s statisticsdonewrong DOT com, their article on p-values. I really like it!
        And stuff like that is why I am baffled my premed students have to take calculus and not statistics.
        But basically, the vast majority of women who get a result like that on a mammogram have a false positive. It’s also why, frustrating my doctor, I insisted on a repeat PAP after an abnormal one rather than just moving on to the next stage of testing (which is more unpleasant, and I can’t have local anesthetics, so it would have been particularly unpleasant for me). PAPs, like mammograms, have a significant false-positive rate.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Don’t google.

      Women who are 30+, have never had children and have a history of hormonal birth control use are prone to dense breast tissue. This is not a high risk by itself, just makes it harder for them to read the mammo. I fit all three conditions, have a benign growth in one duct and super cystic AND dense breast tissue, so I’ve had mammos and ultrasounds and a biopsy and all that jazz. Had to go through it all again right before Thanksgiving. (The doc did the ultrasound, told me it was all just fine, and I hopped up off the table and went I’M GOING TO DISNEYWORLD! Because I was legit leaving for DW the next morning. Heh.)

      It’s scary the first time, but like they say, it’s usually just needing a different angle.

    10. NB*

      Me too! I was called back for another look. It was so scary, but it turned out to be just fine. My doctor later put it in my chart that I have dense breasts. That way, they just do a more thorough screening the first time so that I don’t get that scary call back.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        This is me, too! I wish they’d put it in my chart. I have to remind them. One time the nurse practitioner pressed down so hard on me during a routine manual breast exam that they were sore for weeks– and so I had the magical combination of dense inflamed tissue that often gives false positives on mammograms.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I am the only woman I know of whose mammogram technician mentioned this flat-out. She said I will probably get called back, don’t panic it happens all the time. She was right and I’m so glad she said something. I wish they all did.

      Don’t Google!

  39. Pharmgirl*

    Any suggestions for a good habit tracker? I’ve used Productive for a few years – I really liked that they had the option for frequencies like “4 times a week.” But they just had a major update, and the only habits that I can now see on my daily view are daily or once weekly ones. I also now have to swipe over several times to see my full daily view (the new update prioritizes time of day), and completing or skipping tasks has changed from a simple swipe to a swipe and click. I’ve been trying Habit List but it’s too simple – there don’t seem to be any stats for how you’re doing.

    So, what habit trackers do you use? What does it have that you like / dislike? Thanks!

    1. cat socks*

      I have one called Habits. It’s very bare bones, but free. I like it because you can add unlimited items. I think you can add reminders, but I haven’t tried that. I just go through at the end of the day and check off what I did.

      There is no account or login info and it’s not web based. If I get a new phone, I think I’d have to download my data to file and re-import it.

      I like it because it’s fairly simple.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I use Streaks. You can do “do this” or “don’t do this” or “spend x minutes doing this”, frequencies that are either x per week (or per day) or every x days. You can set it to remind you if you haven’t done something by a certain time. Some of the options auto-tick, like if my phone’s health app registers that I walked x steps a day the associated streak auto-ticks, or when my water tracker hits goal. It’s not free, but I’ve been happy with it.

    3. LibbyG*

      I’m not sure how well the features align with your needs, but I’ve used Tally and I like the interface.

  40. Courageous cat*

    So I’ve found lately that, at 32, my deodorant is starting to not work very well by the end of the day, even if I switch brands. Like, I genuinely have to shower after work if I want to go out, because I start to smell that much.

    The other day, I forgot my deodorant at work, and panicked but decided to ride out the rest of the day anyway… and I smelled 100% perfectly fine when I got home?????

    This must be caused by Big Deodorant, y’all. I’m perplexed. So now I’ve been googling and people are swearing by using either lemon juice or glycolic acid for deodorant. I’m trying the lemon juice today myself.

    Anyone notice any of this or try lemon juice/AHAs?

    1. mreasy*

      Anti-perspirant did that to me at one point – I used it for a long time before something flipped, and realized I was always damp and smelled bad! I started using natural deodorant only, and it’s not perfect but definitely better than after the anti-perspirant reaction. If you go the natural route, be careful about tea tree oil – some people’s natural body chemistry reacts oddly to it and it causes a bad odor (ask me how I know this, lol).

      1. Parenthetically*

        Almost exactly my experience except I switched to homemade deo (coconut oil, baking soda, cornstarch, essential oils of choice).

        1. Chaordic One*

          I find that I really need an “anti-perspirant,” instead of a mere “deodorant.” There used to be an anti-perspirant that used cornstarch as its main ingredient to absorb perspiration (I think it had baking soda in it, too). But I can’t seem to find it anymore. I hope that you’ll consider doing us the favor of posting your recipe.

          And if anyone has any recommendations for antiperspirants that DO NOT contain various aluminum chemicals that would be appreciated, too!

            1. Natalie*

              Nothing. Aluminum is one of the most abundant elements found on earth and you consume larger quantities of it than you’d find in deodorant. Absent a few specific medical conditions or an allergy, it’s essentially biologically inert.

              However, most “natural” deodorants on the market are aluminum free because it’s popular. Since aluminum salts are primarily an antiperspirant agent, it’s sort of like advertising candy as fat-free.

            2. WS*

              There was a scare in the mid 1980s that using aluminium on your underarms could have a link to breast cancer, and cooking with aluminium cookware could have a link to dementia. Neither turned out to be true, but the story still pops up every now and then.

            3. Chaordic One*

              I find that the various anti-perspirants with forms of aluminum tend to be irritating and they often give me a mild rash, so I’d like to avoid them if possible. However, I do often perspire heavily at times and I feel the need to use one, instead of a mere deodorant.

            4. moql*

              Some people are sensitive to it. You would know immediately if that were you though, if you switched from one to the other.

          1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            If you need an antiperspirant, you may be out of luck. When I last checked, the only antiperspirants on the market were aluminum-based, which means I use a deodorant that does not contain an antiperspirant. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than getting a rash from the aluminum. (There are many worse allergies to have.)

            I use a Tom’s of Maine unscented deodorant, which works well enough, though when I was going to a gym, I absolutely had to make time to shower and apply more deodorant after exercising.

    2. Anon here*

      I might have to try this, I’ve also noticed I’m sweaty and stinky much sooner in the day than I’d like to be despite wearing fairly strong deodorant.

      Personally I’ve never tried natural deodorants, but some people who have say it works better if you do an armpit detox first (basically a mask for your pits).

    3. Ranon*

      My body does really well with citric acid (i.e. lemon juice) as deodorant (although I just use Tom’s of Maine because it’s easy, their main odor control ingredient is citric acid). It took a week or so for my body to really adapt but I’ve found that it does the trick and I don’t have to work to save my clothes from antiperspirant.

      As far as perspiration goes I’ve found growing out my armpit hair really helped control the feelings of dampness

    4. Merci Dee*

      Years ago I tried a salt crystal antiperspirant, and that stuff rocks. It’s easy to use – dampen the crystal with water, rub your pits, then hold up your arms for a couple of seconds until it dries (letting the skin dry after application is the most important part). I was completely free of dampness and odor for at least 24 hours; maybe could have been longer, but morning showers are to me what morning cups of coffee are to others: my primary waker-upper.

      I was really pleased with the results from the salt crystal, but I had to give it up after a couple of months because the salt was irritating my skin. Given my generally sensitive skin, I should have expected this result. But, of course your results may vary.

      1. Stephanie*

        I used the salt crystal when I lived in Phoenix–it worked great until it got super hot out here. Then I had to switch to the super strong spray. But would definitely recommend in more temperate climates.

      2. silverpie*

        I actually started making my own when they discontinued what I used: the salt-crystal stuff in powder form, mixed with cornstarch. Looking to start selling it, in fact, at the suggestion of my pedicurist friend.

        And /contra/ Ranon, I find that the hair makes it feel a lot sweatier.

    5. LQ*

      Sort of the opposite side from others the “all-natural” stuff just did horrible things to my body. I ended up going with a spray-on deodorant that is a pretty heavy-duty 48 hour one that works really well for me and doesn’t make me want to flay my own skin off. The spray part has been the biggest thing. The doctor I spoke with said that it may be due to different bacteria on different parts of my armpits and not spreading them around like a stick is more likely too. Not sure if that’s exactly what’s happening but it’s what’s working for me.

    6. Stephanie*

      I’ve used a baking soda powder paste in a pinch (as in, “Oh crap, I’m out of deodorant and I need to leave for work now and don’t have time to stop at CVS”). Sort of worked for me.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      An RN friend with several chemical sensitivities switched to Toms of Maine roll-on because she narrowed down to specific chemical. I use their unscented stick because their unscented really is.
      Also consider if anything in your diet & wardrobe has changed–I hate my BO if I’ve eaten garlic and worn polyester. And I hate to say this, but I noticed a strange unpleasant smell on my husband shortly before he was told he was pre-diabetic. When his sugars go out of whack, he has an acrid reek. So if that’s an issue in your family, ask your Dr at the next checkup.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Fortunate to have had an all-clear at my physical a month or so ago, so I’m good there. It’s so weird!

    8. Ginger Sheep*

      I haven’t had great experiences with natural deodorant : I tried the salt cristal ones and it really irritated my skin (and also only kinda worked), and my best friend uses a natural mix she makes herself (I know it includes coconut oil and baking soda, but I don’t know what else) and she swears it works wonders, but from the outside I find she has pretty bad body odour by the end of the day. I have no idea if her mix includes lemon/citrus, but I think not?

  41. Anony Venge*

    Anon for reasons. Family member I’ll call Nina was in a happy 5 year relationship with Stu. Lived together, got engaged, marriage ended less than a year since she discovered he was sleeping with many other women, doing coke, bingeing alcohol. He harassed her pregnant sister trying to apologize since Nina was having none of it.

    3 years later, post-divorce, Nina is diagnosed with cancer from the HPV Stu infected her with (she was a virgin till him). Luckily she’s in remission, and had to have an emergency hysterectomy with no egg freezing. Then she almost lost her job benefits due to being out so long getting chemo. She was offered a job by an A-list (think Honor Warren’s mom’s friend) celebrity but since it was only full time not part time she had to turn it down bc weakness post-chemo.

    Stu gave Nina cancer, cheated/used drugs/alcohol, robbed her of her ability to have kids or a fantastic job opportunity.

    Stu? He’s partner of a NYC law firm, new parent to a baby boy, newly married, and gainfully employed.

    How do I get over this feeling of vengeance? I have so much quiet simmering rage toward him.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      This is horrible and your rage is warranted. That said, know that nothing you do to him will hurt him as much as his own actions will. People like him don’t change, and it won’t be long until he effs his own life up, and probably in spectacular fashion. Also, just because someone’s life looks good on the outside doesn’t mean that’s reality – he could be going through it privately and you’d never know. Focus on being there as a support for your loved one and just wait for Stu to self destruct because he will.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah this. Stu is a terrible person, and he will self destruct.

        You or Nina might like this site:

        I don’t know if it helps or not, but last time I was really angry at someone who caused negative things in my life, I had a whole story line going about the person getting fired, etc. It made me feel better thinking about it (it didn’t happen, of course), but you do want to try to not dwell on it too much.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Ugh, all the sympathies.

      I’ve found it helpful when dealing with feelings of futile rage against a Big Bad to find something good to put into the universe. Can you volunteer at a women’s shelter, or donate needed supplies? Can you do a cancer walk or a small fundraiser in Nina’s name or in her honor?

    3. ThatGirl*

      I am so sorry for what your friend has been through.

      I will say that hpv is incredibly common, 80% of the population has it at some point, and men generally don’t even know they have it. Only a few strains contribute to cancer risk. For all of his horribleness, he didn’t knowingly give her cancer.

      1. Fikly*

        But in order to get HPV, he was having unsafe sex, while also having unsafe sex with his partner (who did not know he was having sex with other partners, and thus could not consent to the risk), and could have potentially passed on anything from minor STDs to HIV.

        It’s knowingly endangering her health, even if he didn’t anticipate this particular result. It’s not like he chose to only get HPV.

          1. ThatGirl*

            He’s an asshole of the highest order, but there’s not even a screening test for hpv in men, he would almost certainly not know he had it to pass on.

            1. Fikly*

              Except to get HPV, he was having unsafe sex at some point in his life, and I guarantee this guy did not disclose that to his partner.

              1. ThatGirl*

                I’m not defending this guy but you seem to be missing the point, anyone who’s had sex with anyone could have hpv, he could’ve been in a completely faithful monogamous relationship and still have carried it from a previous partner, and had no idea he was carrying it.

                1. Fikly*

                  Not anyone. Only people who were having unsafe sex. And if you’ve had unsafe sex in the past, you have an obligation to disclose that to new partners before having unsafe sex with them.

                  The point is, he took risks, and then put his new partner at risk, without her consent.

                2. Gaia*

                  Fikly, HPV is incredibly easy to transmit and incredibly hard to detect. It can be transmitted even via safe sex.

              2. Courageous cat*

                Absolutely not, you can get HPV from having perfectly safe sex very easily. Please stop spreading misinformation about STDs – even if it just comes from ignorance, it can be harmful, and things like this do nothing to stop the stigma.

                1. coffee cup*

                  Thank you. This is why those of us who have one end up with anxiety about telling others, because the assumption is that we behave a certain way (not that there’s anything wrong with doing that if all are happy!).

                2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                  And this is why cautious educators refer to “safer” sex; condoms won’t protect from HPV, and there might be some virus that we don’t have a test for because we don’t yet know it exists. (The HIV virus seems to have first entered a human population in the 1920s.)

              3. Jackalope*

                HPV is not prevented by condoms. It is one STD where the only sure way to avoid it is either never having sex or only ever having sex with one other person who only ever has sex with you. Condoms can reduce the risk but it can be spread by means such as hand to genital contact that condoms and other barrier methods can’t protect against. Not to say that this guy wasn’t a complete jerk, but he could have had nothing but safe sex with all of his partners and still contracted HPV.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Not necessarily, he may have had it before they were married. Again, very very common, not in the same class as most STIs, usually causes zero symptoms in men. Look, I’m not saying he’s a good guy, I’m saying he didn’t “give her cancer.”

          1. ThatGirl*

            Just to addend, he did knowingly expose her to potential STIs for sure. But you can’t even screen for HPV in men.

          2. Fikly*

            He did give her cancer. Not knowingly, but he did directly give her HPV which gave her cancer. If he hadn’t exposed her to his STD, she wouldn’t have had cancer from the HPV. You don’t have to know you’re doing something to someone to do it to them.

            1. ThatGirl*

              The knowing part matters, and my point is to both destigmatize hpv and maybe help Anony Venge let go of some anger on that point. Be mad because he cheated and lied, sure. Exposed her to possible STIs, yes. But people with hpv (again, 80% of the population and it often clears on its own) don’t go around intentionally giving people cancer.

              1. Fikly*

                Ignorance of the law is not a defense, so why does not knowing he had a STD excuse him?

                There’s a reason manslaughter is a crime, you know. And why drunk drivers go to jail for killing people.

                I’m not trying to stigmatize HPV. I’m trying to stigmatize exposing your partner to any STD without their consent. Because how do you know that the only STD you are carrying is HPV? Do you really think this guy is the type to get a STD screening?

                1. Gatomon*

                  It’s not a crime to give someone an STD, nor is it a crime to cheat on someone. Equating passing on an STD with manslaughter or a drunk driver killing someone is hyperbolic and detracting from your point, which I hope is that it’s wrong to cheat on someone and not that “unsafe sex*” is wrong.

                  *The only “safe” sex is no sex. Condoms, the best defense I know of against STDs for PIV sex, are not 100% guaranteed even.

                2. Super Awk*

                  It doesn’t even have to be unsafe sex in the way that we tend to think of it. I’ve only ever had safe sex (i.e. used a condom when having heterosexual penetrative or oral sex) and I was diagnosed with HPV. I asked the doctor if I should tell my ex-husband who I was no-contact with, and she said effectively ‘you can, but we don’t test straight men.’ (I still told him) She also could not tell me how I could protect my female sexual partner from contracting this. All this is to highlight for anyone reading this thread that there is a LOT of misinformation and misunderstanding about HPV in particular. The man in this story took, in my opinion, unacceptable risks with peoples’ well-being by not being honest about what he was up to. But getting rightfully angry about that does not excuse us from the responsibility of making sure we are accurate in what we communicate to others, especially when it concerns something that still carries a lot of stigma.

                3. Courageous cat*

                  Your responses in this thread are frankly bad. If you have sex with anyone who’s not a virgin, you’re exposing yourself to the threat of STDs. Period. Full stop. It’s the risk of being human. There are no tests for certain STDs in men either. This is really fearmongering as hell.

                4. coffee cup*

                  Hello, you can receive an STD even if you’re ‘safe’ and think you’ve done all the ‘right’ things. This is something that happens when people have sex with other people. Please stop spreading misinformation.

                  I do feel incredibly sorry for OP’s friend and this is in no way any response to what she’s going through. I do, however, get tired of this belief that only ‘unsafe’ sex leads to STDs.

              2. Super Awk*

                Following on from my other reply – I should have been more clear: I had safe sex in the way that I was taught sex could be made safe. Older and wiser, I realize that risk is a spectrum and no doubt some of my ‘riskier’ practices led to me getting HPV from one of my (very small number of) sexual partners. I was certainly shocked though when I found out: I would not have put myself in an ‘at risk’ category at all. That’s why I want people to think a bit more broadly about this particular STD, because it can have extremely serious consequences.

        2. KoiFeeder*

          HPV infects areas not covered by standard condoms. He could have been practicing perfectly safe sex and still caught the disease.

      2. Observer*

        So? The fact is the he messed her life up. Getting into whether her “meant” to give her HPV is not really the point here.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      When you feel especially vengeful remind yourself that time is on your side. This guy’s life story ain’t over yet. You show just a few years out of his life. I’d bet my last chocolate donut that he’s got a lot more going on and it will come back to haunt him.

      1. Miranda Priestly’s Assistant*

        Yeah. I highly doubt he is going to suddenly settle down now. He is going to continue his shenanigans and it will blow up in his face.