weekend open thread – July 18-19, 2020

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith. A very amusing but penniless family lives in a crumbling castle in 1930s England, but everything changes when two rich American brothers become their new landlords. It’s delightfully written. How had I never read this before? I now love it with all my heart.

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

{ 1,452 comments… read them below }

    1. mystery bookworm*

      Yes, count me among the devotees. It’s a lovely read, I identifed so much with Cassandra when I was in high school.

      Dodie Smith’s other books are good too, although they can be tough to find (except for 101 Dalmatians, naturally)

    2. Doc in a Box*

      I love it too! The movie adaptation from the early 2000s (starring Romola Garai and Rose Byrne as the sisters, and Tara Fitzgerald as their stepmom/Bill Nighy (!!) as dad) is just wonderful.

      1. Jenny*

        It took me way too long to put together that the older brother was the kid from ET grown up.

    3. CTT*

      I need to reread it; it’s been too long! Although the first line and last few pages are permanently etched in my brain.

    4. CJM*

      I just read this book for the first time in my long life, and wow! How did I miss this treasure? I was smitten from page one.

      Not sure where I tripped over enthusiastic suggestions to read it, but I suspect it was here at AAM earlier this year.

    5. OyHiOh*

      I read this book decades ago after it appeared on a Writers Digest list of books with best first sentences.

      I write this sitting in the kitchen sink . . .

      And then because completely enchanted with her father’s writing process from nonsense to literacy. I couldn’t identity with Cassandra (pretty teenage girl coming of age just. . . rang false . . . I was an odd duck. . . ) but her father’s struggle felt true and painfully complex and facinating.

    6. raven_smiles*

      I just finished I Capture the Castle this morning! I don’t know how I made it this far in life without reading it, but I’m so glad I stumbled across it. I’m going to buy the book to keep in my permanent library. It is so good.

    7. Clisby*

      I was just thinking I should read it again! I read it at least twice when I was in high school/college.

    8. I edit everything*

      I love this book! If I have to come up with a single answer to “What’s your favorite book?” This is the one I name. It’s charming and funny and melancholy all at the same time.

      1. I edit everything*

        But the movie version is awful. Just did not capture the feel of the book at all.

    9. previous OP*

      A long time ago I wrote in to AAM about Rose, Cassandra and their manager Topaz, so count me as another fan (and it called out some love in the comments at the time). One of my favourite narrative voices.

    10. shyguy*

      “Hot baths and noble deeds are the best cures for depression”

      Love this book and especially the above quote. (with the caveat that now as an adult, of course, I recognize that also, medication can be very helpful with depression – quote not meant to be taken literally).

  1. Not A Manager*

    Don’t confuse it with We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson, also an excellent book.

  2. RollyPolly*

    I just want to know how Alison got all the cats to stay put for the photo. So gorgeous.

    1. Big fan*

      I know! I am totally analyzing all their facial expressions, like a James Corden bit.

      #1–You woke me up for THIS?

      #2–I’m bored. Get me some kibble.

      #3 —You better not be taking my picture!

      #4–Alison who? I’m sorry, do I know you?

      #5–get off my blanket. I’m not sharing!

      #6–Screw you guys, I see a sunbeam over there!

    2. Lena Carabina*

      They’re absolutely beautiful cats! And it’s adorable that they all get on (or look like they do)!

      1. I take tea*

        Such a lovely picture. Lauries (right?) tail is especially fluffy. I’m so impressed that they are all in one place.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        They love each other! Well, Olive is still a bit wary of Hank because he likes to chase her, but other than that they are very harmonious. Laurie is particularly enamored of Wallace, follows him everywhere, wants to snuggle with him at all times.

        1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

          “Cat Meowmy Alison”! ~ This is purrfection. Would love to hear the stories of each of your kitties sometime! “The Floof Chronicles” – Sort of “This Is Your Life” feline version for each cat; each background, purrsonality, how each joined your family, favorite hobbies lol (“Laurie enjoys sunbeams, temptations treats, making biscuits, and grooming Wallace”). Because, ya know, you have so much free time lol! Seriously though, we would love it, and if you have already done something similar, please share again. Thank Mew!!

    3. Nervous Nellie*

      And I want to know when their album is coming out! It looks like the cover of one of those over the top 80s albums with the band members randomly posed, musing pensively. Alison & the Floofers. Yeah!

    4. Lena Carabina*

      I’ve JUST noticed the 6th cat at the end next to Laurie?!
      What is this cat’s name?

  3. Anon pregnant lady*

    What would be your book recommendations for a first time pregnancy?

    I would also love recommendations for other resources, websites, forums, subreddits etc. (I already know BabyBumps and AskParents on Reddit.) I got What To Expect When You’re Expecting from the library on a whim but it’s a 2008 edition so I wonder if some of the info may be outdated (I do doublecheck some info by googling).

    Also for those who raised bilingual kids, would *love* recs on how to do that in the best way? My partner & I have different native languages and we want our child to learn both.

    I’m in that weird period where I don’t feel comfortable telling anybody (4wk and I read you should tell outsiders after 12wk) besides my partner who knows but I am hungry for more info.

    1. Double A*

      I’d get Expecting Better by Emily Oster. I didn’t actually get it for my first pregnancy but I wish I did: she goes through all the research to suss out how strong it is about specific recommendations. I did buy her follow up, Crib Sheet, which is about babies, as a gift and read through it before I have it to my cousin, so I feel confident recommending the one about pregnancy.

      I got the Mayo Clinic books for my pregnancy. I wanted a just the facts resource.

      1. ellenm*

        I second this! She presented the science behind everything in a way that was interesting and easy to understand. The book really breaks down a lot of the things that we do/people tell us to do that don’t have great reasoning behind them. Cribsheet is great too, there’s a lot of information about the first few days that’s hard to find elsewhere

      2. Ann*

        Thirding this! It reduced my anxiety so much during pregnancy. Expecting Better and the Mayo Clinic pregnancy book were the only two I used.

    2. Enough*

      ‘re bilingual – I don’t think there is necessarily a best. Each of you should just talk to your child in your native language. They will figure it out. Just don’t be surprised when they use both languages at the same time.

      1. Anon pregnant lady*

        My friend who is a linguistics PhD student said the mixing up is normal even between couples who speak two languages and we’ve experienced it too. Like asking a question in language A and then following up with a reason for asking in language B.

      2. Asenath*

        But children often come to a point at which they tend to prefer one language over the other – particularly if that’s the dominant language where they are living and their friends use it, they hear it on TV etc. The parents need to find a way to get over this so that the children don’t end up with poor skills in that language. The parents also need to decide what level they want their children the learn in the language(s). Spoken fluency, OK, the usual each parent uses their own language all the time often works. Great written fluency and the associated history and culture, you might need to arrange some kind of formal instruction and/or supplementary resources like books and TV. Fortunately, you don’t need to go the extent of one family I know who spend a lot of time in a country where one of their languages is the native language, because not everyone can do that! Raising bilingual (or trilingual) children is giving them a great gift.

        And all is not lost if they don’t learn the language as children. We had neighbours growing up who decided to raise their children entirely in English, since they saw that as part of belonging to their new home. Of course, one of their daughters later decided she wanted to learn their language! They were a bit surprised she made such a choice, but helped her learn.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, I think what I call “kitchen table language” is something most children will pick up naturally if the language is consistently used around them – able to understand conversations and chat casually. But in my experience, the language that you don’t go to school in tends to be way weaker/sometimes non-existent for reading and writing skills, unless a lot of effort is made to remedy that. Which can be fine! When I was first learning my second language, there were a couple heritage speakers in my class and they still had a leg up on the rest of us.

          There can be unexpected negatives to the no accent + poor grammar issue though, my mom is conversationally bilingual but never had formal training in the non-English language, and when she travels to her home country, people can be very rude because she sounds like a local illiterate hick. On the other hand, I’m pretty fluent but with a slight accent in my second language (a cousin of my mom’s language) and all people tell me is how talented I am to have learned their language!

        2. Anon pregnant lady*

          Yeah, I was wondering about written fluency. My boyfriend speaks my native language well but has never learned it in class, just life/work/association. So when it comes to writing it, he writes it according to the rules of his own language, which is often incorrect (thankfully his work involves almost no writing so it’s not a problem professionally). Similarly, I’m learning his language mostly by speaking so I am not learning the rules. I wonder if tutoring the kid down the line with the writing (once they learn to read/write in my native language at school) will be the way to go.

      3. Ginger Sheep*

        I was raised bilingual, but speaking my parent’s mother language at home and the country’s language at school and outside the house. Worked well for us (my parents were perfectly bilingual as well). I realise this is not your exact situation, but this is also the approach chosen by some friends of mine : both parents use the husband’s « foreign » language at home, and speak the wife’s « local » language outside ; the kid is still a toddler so a little early to say how it turned out, but he is happy in the local-language daycare he attends. I believe their thinking was that if they spoke both languages at home, the local one would quickly take over the foreign one.

      4. Nita*

        I know the most common approach is that each parent speaks different languages to the child. I can’t really understand how that works, though – do the adults talk to each other in different languages too? So we took a different tack. We spoke mostly our first language at home for the first few years, and left English for when the kids were starting pre-K. They’d picked up bits and pieces of English by then anyway, and caught up in a few months. Even the kid who didn’t talk at all till he was two! I do have to remind them (and myself) to try to speak only one language at a time lol.

        We also accidentally settled in a very immigrant community (thought we’d be here only a short time, but ended up sticking around). So the kids get lots of practice just on the playground/in the store/in afterschool classes, and it doesn’t feel like we’re forcing them to learn a useless second language they can only speak at home.

      5. The Original K.*

        I have a few different friends whose children are bi- or trilingual. Generally, each parent spoke to the child from birth in their native language and if they live in a country where a different language is spoken, they learn that language in school. As the kids get older they settle into a family language. For example, I know a family where one parent’s mother tongue is Farsi, the other’s is Italian, they live in the US, and they primarily speak Italian at home because the Farsi-speaking parent speaks better Italian than the Italian-speaking parent speaks Farsi. They were pretty adamant that the family language would not be English because they really want to make sure the child maintains fluency in the other languages (also, a lot of the family on the Italian side don’t speak English at all). I know another family that lives in Spain and one parent’s mother tongue is English and the other’s is Swedish and the family language is Spanish, although the kids speak all three languages.

    3. Kate*

      Check out the Raising Bilingual/Multilingual Children Group on Facebook. It is an amazing resource.

    4. KoreanMum*

      Converse with your kids in your non English language from when they are babies. Assuming you live in an English speaking country, they will pick it up super quickly as soon as they start day care or school so do not worry at all about their English fluency. I speak Korean and my husband doesn’t, so it was always convenient to just speak English to my kids even when they were babies. When they became toddlers they wouldn’t respond as quickly to Korean so as time passed it became harder and harder to incorporate Korean. Wish I spoke Korean to them since they were born so it became their native language too.

    5. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Congratulations! It’s such an exciting and emotional time. I don’t have book recommendations but what helped me personally were Facebook groups catered to pregnancy with those various issues. So for example, I was a high risk pregnancy due to multiple health issues and prior losses so I was in one general high risk pregnancy group, in addition to ones for those specific conditions. Sometimes I did get information that I hadn’t known before but mostly how it helped me was the moral support and seeing positive outcomes.

    6. Zooey*

      Seconding the rec of Expecting Better.

      I have several family members whose families are bi or trilingual – in the latter cases each parent has a different mother tongue and they live in a country where a third language is spoken. They’ve had the approach that each parent always speaks in their mother tongue when at home. In the bilingual families, they live in the home country of one parent, and in that case both parents speak the language of the other parent when at home, so the kids get as much exposure as possible. The kids were a little bit slower in starting to speak but now are fluent in both languages and switch easily between them (that’s typical – that there’s a slightly extended period of sorting out the other languages – and sometimes people panic and think that they’re hurting their kids by ‘confusing’ them, but it’s temporary).

    7. Np*

      Re bilingualism — I am bilingual but it was a bit different; my parents spoke one language to me, and I was educated from infancy in another language. I was effectively fluent in both by the age of 4. I don’t know if you have this option, but it worked really well for us.

      That said, someone I know brought her kids up bilingual (she and her husband have two different mother tongues and spoke English between them). I think it helped that the second language was both her husband’s language and the majority language of the country they were living in.

      Whatever you do, I think it’s important to be consistent. Someone else I know speaks a different language from his partner, and they speak English between them. They weren’t consistent in terms of who spoke which language to their child, and as a result (at least, I think it was a result of this) the child was very late in speaking and doesn’t speak either language fluently. He needed a speech therapist to
      Of course I appreciate that this is all anecdotal evidence, but the tl;dr of this is to be consistent. And thank you for considering bringing your child up bilingual — I consider it one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me.

      All the best for your pregnancy!

    8. Traveling Teacher*

      I’m doing this; the main thing is: don’t let people tell you you’re doing the wrong thing (assuming you are in the US)!

      Practically, speak your language to your child exclusively. If you communicate in a different language with your partner, then speak that language with your partner only. Your partner should speak their language to your child only.

      You will have to create rules for when other people are around: ours is that we still speak our languages when it’s just us speaking to the children, but we and the children always speak in the main language of the country we are in at the store, to people who come to visit our home, etc.

      Consistency is the key!

      Do not worry at all about fluency in the main language. Your child may well hate learning it at school (too many people minimize this because it seems children pick up language so easily. You will have to support the emotional “being different” aspect and prepare them for it, even if they will begin speaking with native fluency within months at school).

      Ensure that you have more resources than just your speaking style. When you read, read books in your language, sing songs, all entertainment should be in either of the two home languages.

      Good luck! How you begin, if you begin well, will carry you through :) And just keep in mind: you are doing a great thing! Your child will have so many advantages throughout their life because of the language foundations you are building now!

      Most of my sources are professional/academic, as this is what I did for many years (TEFL and TESOL), so my last rec is to make contact with your school district’s TESOL teacher and discuss further resources with them. They will be able to give you advice tailored to your situation, and you can start to evaluate if the school your child will be placed in is really a good fit for their situation.

      1. PX*

        This advice on language is solid. I used to babysit for a family who were raising bilingual kids for a few years, and the parents were extremely good about only talking to the kids in “their” designated language (never heard them slip once), regardless of how the child replied.

        Plus the point about adding resources as well is good. I grew up only hearing people speak my native language, and though I can understand and speak it to a certain extent, reading is pretty difficult and writing is impossible (so many funky accents!). So in addition to things like books and TV, consider more “formal” sources like having them watch the news or read newspapers once they are older. This also helps expand their vocabulary as they can hear words/concepts which may not be discussed in day to day living!

        1. Pensive Athena*

          In addition to speaking her native language at home, my neighbor took her kids for an extended visit to see her family each summer. She bought comic books and magazines for the kids to read and had them write weekly letters to family in her native country so that they learned to read and write in the 2nd language.

      2. Anon pregnant lady*

        Thank you for the encouragement! I just found a study about this via Google and also picked up a book on multilingual kids from the library. Me and partner speak my native language, as he is fluent in it, and we sometimes codeswitch to his native language, because I’ve been learning it ever since we began dating (I’m not fluent in it though I speak it conversationally). School language will be my native language as well, so basically the biggest worry is that the child won’t pick up partner’s language as well as mine. Guess we’ll have to load up on songs and books in that language.

        1. BethDH*

          Find a radio station in the language that is broadcast online and let it play — that will introduce more voices and colloquial speech. I think it’s easy to assume that the language that matters is what’s directed at the kids, but from what I’ve read a big part of the benefit of early languages is just getting the sounds in kids’ ears enough that they mimic them and don’t lose the ability to distinguish and produce the specific sounds and cadences.

    9. Mystery Bookworm*

      I’ve found the work of Alison Gopnik to be very grounding.

      I second the recommendations for Expecting Bettter (and her follow-up, Cribsheet). I also like Janet Lansbury in general for parenting stuff.

      Something we did in my pregnancy that I found very helpful was to bookmark the websites for the NHS, the AMA, and the website for the Australian guidelines (can’t remember it now). Whenever I ran into ambiguity, I would compare the site’s recommendations. If they were all consistent, then I took it as a good indicator that the research was pretty solid (for example, the guidelines on SIDS overlap pretty well) but if they were inconsistent (I seem to recall the advice on caffeine amounts varied a bit) then I would take it as a sign that there wasn’t a clear answer yet.

      Pregnancy/parenting can really bring out people’s anxieties, so they can get very zealous about things. It’s grounding to remember that there’s way more we don’t know than we do.

    10. Kage*

      You have a lot of good pregnancy recommendations already. I highly recommend “ Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five” by Penelope Leach for helping after baby arrives. Pregnancy is pretty short and, for most, not too complicated. Kids are long and super complex, lol. I found this really helpful for what was normal, milestones, etc. I actually inherited my mother’s old copy from the 1980s but it was still really useful. I would assume the updated version would be even more so. Congrats!

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I second this. As a general rule, I found that the books on child development and/or parenting I read while pregnant were more helpful to me than the books on pregnancy.

        Every pregnancy is so different that a lot of the general advice winds up being non-applicable anyways!

      2. Anon pregnant lady*

        I totally get this. It’s so early in my pregnancy I’m pretty much over-focused on the next 9 months and finding it so hard to see beyond that. But because it’s so early days and I’m a voracious reader I’m pretty sure by month four I’ll be done with all the pregnancy lit and ready to move onto something else. For that I’ll bookmark your recommendation, thank you so much!

    11. Ranon*

      For books- Mayo Clinic has a pregnancy book that’s a bunch more comprehensive than Expecting Better- expecting better is more of a goes with than a complete resource. My doctor actually told me not to read What to Expect because it’s so fear mongery, might be best to just ditch it. Google can be helpful but for late night anxiety you’re much better off with a doorstop reference book like Mayo Clinic’s.

      For books for child care, if you’re in the US the AAP has a Birth through 5 book that’s pretty handy (in a leave it on the shelf and look things up when it’s midnight and you shouldn’t be on Google scaring yourself kind of way), as is Baby 411 (very comprehensive guide to poop).

      I mostly listened to podcasts- Longest Shortest Time has some wonderful episodes, highlights include the interview with Ina May Gaskin and an episode called “A Childless Man Gets a C-section” which is absolutely the best resource for what actually happens during a c-section I’ve come across. For getting through the terribleness that is the first trimester I quite like listening to One Bad Mother from the beginning on (the hosts are now well past pregnancy but the episodes from their pregnancies made me feel so seen).

      You can tell people about the pregnancy whenever you want- many choose to wait until 12 weeks because the risk of miscarriage declines as the pregnancy continues, but if you want to tell people, go for it! It may be that should a poor outcome happen you’ll want those people to be part of your support network.

      1. Ranon*

        Oh- also The Birth Partner for whoever might be there for you during the actual birth. Although generally the not pregnant person seems to wait until 8.5 months or so to do any reading (their lives not being so profoundly impacted by the pregnancy part…)

    12. Annie Oakley*

      I can’t recommend sleep training enough! It has increased my sleep quality immensely and definitely makes me a better mama. I didn’t read any specific books (there are many) but I read a lot of articles on various methods and picked one I was comfortable with. The important thing is to start early (like 8 weeks). The older they are, the harder it will be to implement as they are used to rocking, bouncing, car rides, etc. to get to sleep. I started earlier with my second, and there was hardly any crying involved. It is so nice when you’re exhausted to be able to lay baby in bed and they go to sleep on their own. None of my friends have regretted sleep training!

      1. Jenny*

        I sleep trained too. Seriously life saving. I used the Sleep Easy Solution but also played it by war. Visits prolonged crying for my son so I ended up doing “full extinction” or the Weissbluth method.

        1. Carriem*

          Yes. a thousand times yes. There’s a great FB group called ‘Respectful Sleep Training/Learning that is all peer supported and it’s a tremendous resource. Parents and babies deserve sleep!!!

    13. WellRed*

      Since you like advice columns, I recommend Slate’s Care and Feeding parenting column. I don’t even have kids but I love it.

      1. Ann*

        Yes! I also enjoy their weekly parenting advice podcast, Mom & Dad Are Fighting. It tends to be more focused on older kids but they address some toddler things sometimes. Overall, pretty entertaining. I liked the previous set of hosts (Gabe, Carvell, and Rebecca) better than the current ones (Dan, Jamilah, and Elizabeth) but you can still check out the old episodes.

      2. Jenny*

        I’m think Care and Feeding is a really mixed bag. She advocates co sleeping, for instance, which really isn’t safe.

        1. hermit crab*

          They have a handful of different writers! I like a couple of the writers more than the others, but like WellRed I enjoy the column a lot despite not having kids.

        2. blackcat*

          So “cosleeping” means different things to different people. But for a full term, healthy newborn, sleeping on the same bed as a parent does not introduce large amounts of risk IF…
          1) the cosleeping parent uses no medications
          2) there are no pillows or blankets on the bed
          3) the mattress is firm
          4) the infant is a healthy, full term baby.

          If cosleeping dramatically increases the amount of sleep a parent can get, that can reduce the chance of accidental death. I went almost a month with 3 hours of sleep or less a day until my pediatrician coached us on the above. Her stance–and I’m sure it’s right–is that at a certain point, the risk to the infant from sleep deprived parents outweighs that of cosleeping under the above conditions. And sleep deprivation is linked with PPD, which is linked with negative health outcomes for the infant.

          That said, if a newborn *will* sleep in a bassinet/crib, DO IT. Mine 100% would not, no matter how hard we tried. He had to be held. Sleeping in shifts did not work for us. Cosleeping dramatically increased the amount of sleep I got, which made me a better, safer parent for my child.

          Lots of parenting decisions involve some risk. Unless something is wildly negligent (ex: cosleeping while drunk with a giant pile of blankets around the baby), I file it under mind my own business because I don’t know an individual’s circumstances.

          1. Jenny*

            The letter involved in bed sleeping.

            My Dad is a pediatrician and he’s very anti bedsharing because he’s seen the cases and it’s horrifying. He was very clear to us he doesn’t consider it safe at all.

            1. Carriem*

              All babies will sleep in cribs if the parent insists. Imagine a NICU Every single child in a bassinet. I’ve coslept a little but I never recommend it. Sleep train instead. Babies learn where to sleep from us.

              1. blackcat*

                Uniformly, however, the advice is to not sleep train until a minimum of 6 weeks, with lots of advice to wait to 12 or 16 weeks.
                And plenty of infants are like mine–when they’re in the really sleepy newborn time (<2 weeks old), they sleep fine in a bassinet. Mine Would. Not. Sleep. not on a human from weeks 2-12. I was not willing to do sleep training with extensive crying with an infant that young. I tried strategies like Pick Up, Put Down, and Hush-patting that are recommended for very young babies and they did. not work. We eventually did full on sleep training at about 18 weeks old, so I'm not one of those "I'd never let my baby cry." types. But it felt *profoundly* wrong not to hold my <8 week old baby when he cried to be held, and I don't think I'm alone in that.

                As long as people take steps to reduce risks (ex cosleeping but with no pillows/blankets) and people need to do what works for them/their family. I found a lot of advice that was completely black and white to be alienating and it contributed to my PPD. So anything that says "All babies will ____" or "All babies can ___" really raises my hackles. No. There are always outliers, and saying to a parent that it's their fault if their child doesn't sleep can be harmful.

                1. blackcat*

                  Now that I think of it, most of the pictures of babies in NICUs that I’ve seen have been on their sides. And, a fair bit of the time, they’re sedated to some degree, to prevent them from ripping off all of the tubes.

    14. Cambridge Comma*

      My kids are trilingual. Everyone these days seems to do OPOL (one person one language) and it’s worked fine for us. The only issue we had was with other family members who are bilingual and keep switching languages, although they are getting better, so if you have any candidates for that you might want to talk to them about it before the baby comes.
      You also need to work out what your family language will be, if you can speak each other’s languages.

    15. Green Mug*

      Highly recommend Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine. It is an easy read, full of humor, but also true.

    16. Jackalope*

      I had doula training a few years ago and really appreciated the references they gave us for that. My general go-to book for general information is Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, Ann Keppler, Janelle Durham, & April Bolding. It’s a nice straight-forward compilation of information that is readable and non-alarmist (seconding what others have said about not recommending What to Expect When You’re Expecting since it’s so fear-mongering); for example, possible issues are in chapters called, “When pregnancy/childbirth/post-partum gets complicated” (those are 3 separate chapters, not 1 with all the issues slammed together). For me, reading the word “complicated” is much better than something like “goes wrong” in terms of not increasing my anxiety. The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin is also a great book both for your partner and for you to read about things a partner can do to support you.

      As an aside, I obviously have a bias here, but I strongly encourage you to get a doula if that’s at all an option for you. A doula is a support person for you and your partner during labor (someone that’s not a hospital worker or a member of your usual community), and it can make a big difference in how the birth goes. A study based on randomly assigning a certain percentage of women in labor with a first baby a doula vs. not (same location, etc., so trying to factor out characteristics of birth that might make someone choose a doula beforehand), found that having a doula made a big difference. The labor time was decreased on average by a few hours, the number of C-sections was greatly reduced (in one case it was 63% of women without a doula having caesareans vs. 20% of women with a doula having caesareans, which is a HUGE difference, although that was a small study so the numbers could be skewed by the specific participants. Another study with more women involved still had half as many women having unplanned caesareans with a doula as without, though in that study it was 8% vs. 18% so much smaller numbers). Continuing their studies out to 2 months after the baby was born, mothers who had a doula had statistically significant better outcomes – significantly less negative emotions such as anxiety & depression, better relationships with their partners, a more positive bond with their babies, more likely to still be breastfeeding, etc. (Anyone wanting to look up the numbers & studies, I’m getting this from The Doula Book by Marshall Klaus, John Kennell, and Phyllis Klaus.)

      Anyway, that’s probably more than you wanted to know about this topic, so I will get off my soap box and leave you be, but just wanted to put that out there.

      1. D3*

        I second the doula, and also a GOOD childbirth class that aligns with the kind of birth you want. Good classes can be found in or out of hospitals, online, etc. If you want unmedicated birth, choose one focused on that. If you want pain meds, find one that focuses on having a good experience with pain meds.
        Avoid the cheapest, quickest, tries to be all things to all people ones, though.

      2. Natalie*

        ITA on getting a doula, as a satisfied doula customer. Ours wasn’t even able to be there for the birth (pandemic restrictions) and I still found her to be invaluable.

        Interview a few and go with whomever you click the most with. We got our best options through recommendations from friends.

      3. Anon pregnant lady*

        Hey, I live outside of the US so we have a slightly different system here. I’ve read about doulas and have an American friend who is trained as one. Obviously she can’t come to the birth but I will ask her for tips down the line. I think the idea of a doula is amazing for the American system, but over here everybody has midwives – they are an institution and nobody questions having one. So that’s the route I will probably go but I’m open to new ideas so I will do some reading and talk to my friend (and pay for her professional consultation obviously!).

    17. Ann*

      – “Expecting Better” by Emily Oster (as many others have said!)
      – “Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy” for the nuts & bolts
      – “The Longest Shortest Time” podcast that ran for many years (recently ended but old episodes are still great)

      Possibly, in the order I would recommend them:
      – “Alpha Mom” (website/blog) has really good parenting and advice columns mostly aimed at the pregnancy/baby set
      – “Lucies List” (website/blog) is super helpful for researching baby gear and registry items
      – “Mom & Dad Are Fighting” (parenting podcast) is fun, but aimed more at older kids in general
      – “The Double Shift” (podcast for working moms) is interesting if you’re in their demographic
      – “Pregnant Chicken” (website/blog) is lighter reading, but all pregnancy/birth focused
      – “Coffee & Crumbs” (website/blog & podcast) is kind of meh for me but I have friends who love it. I found the podcast kind of vapid and pretty Christianity-focused but the essays on the website can be good. More introspective than informative.
      – “Scary Mommy” (website/blog) can be funny, but in general I found their articles to be too click-baity and anxiety-inducing, so I don’t visit anymore.

      Congratulations on your pregnancy!

      1. Heather*

        Alpha Mom also has a weekly pregnancy calendar that I really loved during my pregnancy (although I read through the whole thing at five weeks and then just skimmed afterwards).

    18. blackcat*

      My midwife (w/ 35 years experience, attached to a teaching hospital, so experienced but not set in her ways) specifically *disrecommended* the what to expect books because they spend a lot of time on things that can go wrong, and she generally finds that increases anxiety more than helping. Googling can do that, too. Expecting Better is a very good book, in part because she is not at all black and white in her recommendations (unless the research is very clear).

      My general tips:
      1) If you are a major puker, please seek treatment, and do not fear the drugs for it. I didn’t get on meds until I had lost ~15lbs and dropped below 100lbs, and it was very, very difficult to recover from that weight loss. It was only when my child was 18 months old, with the help of physical therapy and a personal trainer, that I was able to rebuild the loss muscle mass. The weight loss added complications to my pregnancy. Had I been more effectively treated earlier (and not tried to tough it out), I would likely have lost less weight and had an easier pregnancy overall.
      2) Random stuff will hurt. 99% of the time, it is normal. Round ligament pain sucks, and can start very early, and it’s scary if you don’t know it’s coming.
      3) Do some prep for an unmedicated birth even if you intend to get an epidural or other pain relief. I had a precipitous labor (which can and does happen with a first!) and there was no time for any pain relief.
      4) Related to 3, try to budget for a doula. They may not be able to assist in person much in the age of COVID, but most doulas will do pre and post birth support via phone and text as well, and I found my doula tremendously helpful despite the fact that she barely made it to the birth (see #3, I do not blame her, I nearly birthed in the hospital hallway only 45 minutes after calling my doula, and I actually credit her for getting me into a room in time since the nurses were taking their sweet time).
      5) Research options for pelvic floor physical therapy. I waited too long to get it after birth, and OMG IT WAS LIFE CHANGING. It’s standard in many countries but not in the US. Lots of women just assume that peeing yourself when you cough post-childbearing is normal. It may be common, but it is fixable!

      1. blackcat*

        Oh, and
        6) There are things that you 100% believe right now that you will never do as a parent. You may do them. For me, sleep training was one of those things. I thought it was cruel pre-kid, and afterwards, it was far and away the best choice for me and baby. Also, I was very very against co-sleeping and had drank the Flat on Back On Separate Surface Is The Only Way Kool-Aid. Turns out, some infants WILL NOT SLEEP THAT WAY. I had a very understanding pediatrician who worked with us to develop safer cosleeping practices when my kid was a newborn. Her rational is that profoundly sleep deprived parents are a much greater risk of causing accidental death, and less then ideal sleep situations will full-term, healthy newborns are a lower degree of risk.

        So, in the words of my pediatrician: Listen to your own needs. It is okay to put your needs first. Often that is the only way to be a good parent–you got to take care of you.

        1. Petticoatsandpincushions*

          You know what’s awful, and I felt very betrayed by when I learned it? Babies don’t sleep that way (flat on the back, bare crib, etc.) and that’s ON PURPOSE. The guidelines are partially to eliminate potential breathing obstructions, but also to keep baby from falling into such a deep sleep that their body forgets to breathe. Shallower sleep=safer sleep. We always do the safe sleep guidelines, but I feel like if that had been part of the information from the beginning, I could have been more at peace with his awful sleep in the early days. Instead I just felt like a crappy mom :/ And now I understand why moms and grandmas talk about their kids sleeping through the night at like a week old- babies on their belly are comfy enough to do that!

          1. blackcat*

            Yeah, I mean it’s totally weird that we expect newborns to go from *being in the womb* to a cold, lonely crib. Clearly evolution didn’t develop that system. So it’s not surprising it doesn’t work!

            We had three GLORIOUS weeks of sleep between when my kid learned to roll to his belly (and therefore could sleep that way!) and when the 4 month sleep regression it. He was an early roller, and as soon as he could get to his belly, he’d sleep for 3+ hours stretches, rather than 60-90 minutes.

            The benefits of cosleeping for us was that I nursed him, so he’d wake me, I’d shove a boob in his face, then fall back asleep. It made a HUGE difference in my sleep, and it is also very clearly the way mammals are meant to do things…

      2. Natalie*

        I think labor skills are helpful for any kind of labor, really. Most people have some time laboring at home before they go to the hospital, and they like you to get to a certain point before the epidural if you’re going that way.

      3. Anon pregnant lady*

        Thanks for posting! Your midwife may be right. I just had some fresh strawberries with pancakes yesterday and started feeling guilty about not “eating healthy” according to the What To Expect advice. Then again .. it was fresh strawberries! What was I so worried about? Geez. The book seems very strict and while it does contain some good info, I will take some of it with a grain of salt and supplement with my own research (of approved sources).

        I have an American friend who is a doula. Over here we have a midwife system but I will look into the doula philosophy. And pelvic floor phys.therapy I will ask about.

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, I’d actually ask your friend for advice for a book that has some advice particular to your country. I would not follow US advice. We have a maternal mortality rate 3-10x higher than that of many European countries. We do not do things right!

          Eat what you want, within reason. Like, sure, have some ice cream, but don’t have an entire container. Fruit is fine. I had weeks on end where fruit–mostly grapes–was the only thing I could keep down, and it was helpful because it kept me hydrated.

          Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. Try to mostly eat plants. Nuts are great for pregnancy. If you do end up throwing up a lot (which you may still, 4weeks is before most symptoms set in), you may get the advice from medical professionals to eat *whatever* you can. Literally anything that stays down is considered “healthy” because some calories are better than *no calories at all*

        2. Carriem*

          That book is literally the worst. It’s more appropriate title is… How to feel terrible about yourself all the time. ‘Is this the best bite for my baby?’ I mean really. Yes eat healthy. But you are a person too. I would never recommend it. This will date me (oldest is 17) but my jam was ‘Girlfriend’s Guide to Preganancy’ after WTE…scared the bajeesus out of me.

    19. Mephlye*

      My advice as a kid who had one language inside the home and another outside:
      Once they start having a life in the outside world, they are very likely to stop wanting to talk in the home language that is not the outside language. Two big “don’ts” in my opinion: don’t cave in and start talking in the outside language, and don’t force them to speak in the home language.
      The first one should be obvious: they will stop learning the home language. The second one is because it will taint the relationship – making the kid speak the language when they don’t want to will introduce tension that will tend to negatively colour their feelings about the language and perhaps about the parent that speaks it. The parent who speaks that language should just keep speaking it even if the child’s half of the dialogue is in the outside language, but without any pressure for the child to answer in the same language. This is often harder to do than it seems, because one (the parent) tends to answer back in the language the kid has just spoken in.

    20. blackcat*

      I apparently keep thinking of advice, but there’s one more thing:
      The “wait 12 weeks to tell anyone” guidance is too strict.
      I think a better rule of thumb is “Don’t tell anyone before 12 weeks unless you feel like you could also tell them about a miscarriage.”
      I was very, very ill from 5-12 weeks of pregnancy. Everyone I worked with new by 7 weeks. There was no way to hide it.
      And it was fine! Totally fine! Folks were awesome and supportive, and they would have also been supportive if things had not turned out well.
      I do regret telling my parents early, but that’s because they told the entire world. I was PISSED. At the same time, when I was 8 weeks, I visited them (pre-planned) and there was no way to hide it. If there’s another, they’re not hearing about it until I’m 20+ weeks….

      1. Anon pregnant lady*

        Yep, a big reason besides miscarriage fears is the knowledge that my mom will tell everybody and my dad won’t be able to contain himself and will tell his own family (which is huge). I’m meeting dad in a few weeks but I doubt alcohol will be on offer and I’ve always been round in the tummy so perhaps I can keep a secret..

    21. Pennyworth*

      My grandchildren are bilingual (now teenagers). One parent is from a Spanish speaking country, but the the other is fluent and they decided that their at home language would be Spanish for maximum exposure in an English speaking community. It has worked really well, and the children were able to move easily into Spanish speaking schools when the family moved to Chile for a few years. The only downside I know of was a somewhat limited English vocabulary when they started school, but that didn’t last long.

    22. blackcat*

      I thought of yet another piece of advice:
      Breastfeeding is not always the right choice for a family. There can be a lot of “breast is best” pressure, but the reality is that a happy parent is best, and formula is great. Emily Oster has a great piece at fivethirtyeight of all places about this. I think it’s an excerpt from Crib Sheet, but maybe it’s from expecting better.
      The gist is: the evidence for breastfeeding being better than formula is relatively weak since it’s hard to control for other factors. It likely provides some benefit for young infants, and plenty of people enjoy it. But it’s a source of stress for many, and your child can be perfectly healthy if they’re never breastfed.

      1. Carriem*

        Yes, my goodness. The SHAME I felt when it didn’t work out with my first. He did great on formula, but I was SO disappointed with myself. But then I had my second, BFing worked out fine, and I realized, I was the same good parent to her that I was to her brother. There was no difference. I wasted so much time feeling bad for something that truly didn’t matter to my child.

    23. anon for this one*

      Congrats on your pregnancy and good luck raising your child to be bilingual.
      I’m in Finland, where the official languages are Finnish and Swedish. My husband grew up speaking only Finnish, whereas my mom speaks Finnish and my dad Swedish. I learned both from the cradle. Because Swedish is an official language, my school language was Swedish from kindergarten to university. My mom stayed at home until I started in first grade, so I never went to daycare. When I started school, my dominant language was probably Finnish. In second grade, we moved to a mainly Swedish-speaking area, and my Swedish quickly caught up. I spent a lot of time then interpreting between my Swedish-speaking friends who knew some Finnish and my Finnish-speaking friends who knew almost no Swedish. At that time, I could switch languages without being aware of it just by glancing at one parent or the other.

      So I’m bilingual to the point that I don’t know which language is dominant. We’re also raising our son to be bilingual. Because I speak Finnish with my husband, he hears more of that at home, when he learned to talk he’d answer in Finnish although I spoke Swedish. From daycare onwards, he’s always been in a Swedish educational environment. Now that he’s starting fifth grade in the fall, his dominant language has been Swedish. But he speaks and reads Finnish fluently and from third grade onwards, he’s had instruction in Finnish as a first language as well as Swedish.

      All this to say that raising kids to be bilingual can take a bit of work, but it’s definitely worth it. Learning two languages early on makes learning even more languages later easier. One of my former coursemates from university was bilingual with Swedish the dominant language. She married a Finnish-speaking IT engineer and they went to Silicon Valley because of his job. She’s also working full-time and they’re making good money, so when they had kids, they hired a live-in nanny. She happened to be Mexican and they preferred her to speak her native language to the kids rather than broken English. When the kids went to school, they’d hire Spanish-speaking au pairs to drive the kids to and from school and to extracurriculars, because both were working long hours. So the kids grew up speaking Finnish, Swedish, English and Spanish. They’re fluent in English and Spanish, less so in Finnish and Swedish, because they basically only speak those languages with their parents. Now the kids are in college and very American.

      I have a few coworkers whose parents made a different decision

      1. anon for this one*

        Ooops, I hit submit too early.

        I have a few coworkers whose parents made a different decision and didn’t raise their kids to be bilingual. Some regret it more than others, but most people do recognize that it’s an advantage to learn several languages when you’re a child and your brain is wired for picking up new languages.

        My son watches a lot of English-language gaming videos on YouTube and sometimes I’m amazed at how much English he’s learned just from that.

        1. Anon pregnant lady*

          Thanks for writing about your experience, it’s very helpful. I guess I will de-anon to say I’m also from Finland and my partner is Estonian, so our kid won’t be able to get schooling in Estonian over here. In that sense, Swedish-Finnish bilingual kids are amazingly lucky, in a lot of places there is Swedish schooling available (I actually live next door to a Swedish school in the capital area). But my partner has Estonian friends and even some family members over here so the child will be able to pick up Estonian from those connections. It also helps that our country is used to bilingual people, so that mode of raising kids is accepted and appreciated even. And obviously Estonia is just a ferry ride away so in that sense we are lucky, too.

          1. Traveling Teacher*

            Are you sure? From what I know, Finland provides some bilingual instruction for Estonian, at least in bigger cities–see the link below.

            It’s not 50/50, but it’s more than zero! Additionally, I remember reading about how Finland provides instruction in the child’s other language, by law, if there are 4 or more children who speak that language in the school, but I might be mistaken about that or things might have changed!


    24. Meg*

      I heard about the book “Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy” on a podcast where the author was interviewed. I gifted it to my best friend, and she said it was one of her favorite pregnancy books. It does a deep dive into the science of what’s happening to your body, and a lot of the things we don’t talk about.

      My side feminist rant (which I think aligns with the book but I haven’t read it myself) is that WHY don’t we openly talk about the wild stuff that happens to your body when you’re growing another human?? On a zoom last night a friend casually mentioned how itchy skin can be a pregnancy symptom. Like…you’re just super itchy and there’s nothing to do about it. I had no idea that was a thing!

    25. AnotherSarah*

      Ahhhhh this is my favorite subject at the moment. Lots of folks recommended Emily Oster; I agree and also recommend her mailing list. What to Expect rubbed me the wrong way, for its scare-mongering as well as its tone. I also found it (and my husband found it) deeply obnoxious about men/future fathers (there’s a line in there, for example, about men needing to move their gym clothing out of the hallway as their wives need to get up more in the night to go to the bathroom). You don’t say your partners gender but that may be a big issue for you as well. I would really recommend, partly as an antidote but also on its own merits, The Birth Partner. It’s aimed at people supporting you in birth, but I found it to be the most straightforward guide to birth (and, to an extent, pregnancy).

      I’m nearing the end of my pandemic pregnancy and what I would NOT recommend reading are news articles about the pandemic’s effects on pregnancy/birth/the fetus/babies. Most of them are observational, not randomized, and deal with very small populations. I hope that’s helpful! I’ve really enjoyed reading a lot about pregnancy and birth, and I hope you will find resources that work for you!

  4. Mama*

    I second Expecting Better. I read most of What to Expect But found it anxiety inducing. The AAP has a good book on what to know for the first year.

    We are raising our son bilingual. My husband talks as much as possible in his native language, including a daily bedtime story. However, my son is only ten months so I can’t guarantee this has worked yet!

    1. Anon pregnant lady*

      Some of What to Expect is very US-specific and those bits of info I am disregarding it and relying on local advice from doctors and known healthcare sources. Birth practises can vary country to country and the US healthcare system is nothing like we have here (I won’t get into specifics but I’m in a Nordic welfare state so we get a ton of support and everything but the hospital stay is going to be free).

      Good luck with raising a baby bilingually! I have one friend who spoke their dad’s native tongue only with dad who learned it semi-fluently, later studied it, lived abroad in his native country etc, so it took some extra effort on her part but I think consistency is key. She lived with her mother only so time with dad was always limited, which I believe played a part.

      1. Mama*

        Good luck to you too! Wonderful to give birth in a Nordic country ❤️ I’m sure your hospital probably has classes or other support as well. I read so much on pregnancy
        And birth but in hindsight that part is over quickly. Probably would have read more on breastfeeding or sleeping. But I know it’s hard to take more than one step at a time when you’re pregnant and feeling overwhelmed.

        1. blackcat*

          “but in hindsight that part is over quickly.”

          I LOL-ed at this. I legit spent 4x as much total time *in birth class* as I did *in labor.*

          It definitely helped me feel less scared during a semi-traumatic delivery, but yeah, birth class was 4 weeks x 2 hr per class, and labor was <2 hr. This is an atypical experience, though!

    2. Caroline Bowman*

      It has worked! I have done a bit of work on a fascinating series about baby development from 0-1 and the section on language and learning is just remarkable. Babies learn language from day 1. Literally from day 1. Their neural pathways are 100% open to becoming Norwegian, Chinese, English or anything else from the moment of their birth. If you speak to them regularly in however-many languages you or the other parent knows, they will absolutely learn those languages naturally. One can of course learn any language at any age but the neural pathways for certain sounds and intonations close off somewhat as one gets older and you start becoming shaped by the life you live.

      Even if the child doesn’t really speak much of whichever language or speak it terribly well, when they do get older, they will be able to pick it up extremely rapidly and – amazingly – also other unrelated languages. Being raised bilingual is an absolute gift.

      1. Mama*

        Awesome! Thanks for that info! I have tried to learn my husbands language as an adult and it’s so so hard to make my mouth make those sounds. Hope for sure it comes more naturally to the little guy.

        It probably would be more ideal if my husband only spoke his non English language to the baby but he prefers to speak English mostly, so he does as much as he can.

      2. Nita*

        Probably even before Day 1! I’ve heard that newborns can recognize melodies and language they heard still in the womb, and recognize voices they heard before they were born.

    3. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      I don’t have any book recommendations but everyone on my side of the family (including me) is raising bi- or trilingual kids. There’s lots of steller advice out there but to just pick a few:
      – Speak consistently to the baby in both languages long before the baby is due to start babbling and preferably before they’re born. Babies can recognize familiar languages from the moment they get out.
      – Having lots of different media on hand will help inspire you in the beginning and help keep them interested in the long run.
      – If you have any famiky or friends who speak said languages, try to Zoom or invite them over frequently (when it’s safe!), not to formally teach the child but just to keep the language in the atmosphere.
      – Don’t worry of your child’s speech is delayed, that’s very normal in multiple-language households.
      – Your child will eventually almost certainly prefer to speak one language over the other, so try to be okay with that from now.
      – The more songs you and your partner know in your respective languages, the better. Songs are wonderful for babies in general and even more helpful when there are multiple languages at play. This is often a great way to get grandparents involved when that’s an option.
      – The final and most important thing I would say is if only one of the languages is a minority language where you live, try not to create too much pressure around learning it or by the time they’re three they’ll be actively resisting it.

      Sorry for the essay, I hope it helps. Best of luck! You’re in for an amazing and wild ride.

      1. Anon pregnant lady*

        Thanks, this is cool info. By prefering to speak one language, do you mean later in life (say, age 7+?) or as a child? I just read a study about two siblings whose parents speak the same languages as me & my partner, and the author concluded they codeswitch between the parents and different situations (visiting dad’s family or dad’s friend’s – dad language is used but mom’s family or school – mom’s language is used). And the one language spoken in kindergarten, school and later at work will obviously dominate in that sense.

        I have bilingual friends who feel like one language is their “heart” language, the one they use to communicate their deepest thoughts and feelings while the other can be a sort of “brain” language, which they use more but feel less comfortable expressing intimate emotions with.

        1. TL -*

          In general, most people end up with only one native language – one they speak with native level fluency. (Even people who are raised bilingual.) This tends to be the predominant language of the culture they grew up in – for Americans, English.

          Several of my friends were raised bilingual and all of them ended up being native English speakers – English is just slightly easier for them to communicate in than the other language, the slang is easier, communicating complex or technical ideas is easier.

            1. anon for this one*

              And Finns who grew up speaking both Finnish and Swedish. For some things, I prefer one, for others, another, but I literally can’t say which is my dominant language. I’m also fluent in English. I speak English with an accent, but usually pass as a native speaker in writing.

              Even if one language becomes dominant, the other is still there to be tapped. So if someone moves to an area or a country where their weaker language is dominant, they’ll use it more and it may end up becoming the dominant language.

              1. blackcat*

                I do not personally know any Finns, but I somehow know a ton of Swiss people. :)

                I definitely hear you on languages being able to be tapped. Even though I haven’t regularly used French since I was in school, I pick it back up really fast when I need to. Spanish less so, but I attribute that to properly learning it at a much older age. I had some Spanish exposure my whole life growing up in California, but I didn’t *really* learn it until I spent a year in South America when I was 19. Whereas I spent a fair bit of time in France starting at age 12. Both are definitely “second languages” for me, and I’ve always been envious of folks who are bilingual.

        2. anon for this one*

          Growing up, Finnish was my “heart” language because it was my mom’s language and she was SAHM until I went to school, and Swedish, the language I used at school, was my “brain” language. As an adult, I’ve mostly worked with Finnish as my work language. When I got pregnant, I wanted my son to be bilingual, which meant talking to my bump in Swedish and thinking about my unborn baby in Swedish. With him, my “heart” language is definitely Swedish, although Finnish is my “heart” language with my husband.

          It is possible to switch your “heart” language with some effort, but only if you’re pretty much bilingual already.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I have quite a few friends raising kids multi-lingually (two to four languages). Sometimes the kid will understand one language, but not speak it until they hear people having conversations in it. So, for example, the Dad speaks to the kid in French, and the kid will understand, but not clue into the fact that French is conversational until they hear the Dad and grandparents speaking French together.

      The babbling stage is particularly interesting. One kid had Chinese daycare, but parents that spoke English at home (and no Chinese), and the baby’s babbling had tones in it, like Chinese.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      My father and his siblings were bilingual as children. Grandpa announced, “We are in America now. We will speak English.” Grandma replied, “Ja, Papa,” and spoke only Norwegian within the home. (She spoke English well enough in public.) We suspect coming here was not her idea.
      Sadly, both parents died when the eldest child was still a teenager. The orphanage spoke English exclusively, and they retained only a smattering of Norwegian.

  5. Anon-a-souras*

    Does anyone have a decent grind and brew coffee maker they like? We’ve had a capresso coffee team one since 2003! that needs to be replaced. I already know all the reasons why they’re not ideal – but I’m attached. The amazon reviews are interwoven with coffee grinder and reviews of bad sellers and I can’t make heads or tails of them. My favorite review sites all insist that ‘you must grind your own, from a special space capsule, moments before you brew….”

    The reality – I’m clumsy and will spill grounds at least once a week when dealing with them in the morning.

    1. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

      I don’t have a grind a brew, but (unusually in the UK) I do have a drip coffee maker. I have the Melita, which I’m very happy with – they do a version that is a grind and brew – if it’s as good as the ‘normal’ drip maker, I would recommend it (though, sadly, can’t speak to the exact model).

    2. e271828*

      Looks like Capresso is still making a similar model! Have a look at Whole Latte Love’s website, there are lots of similar models and the reviews etc. are more helpful than Amazon. The small footprint on the Capresso Team is very attractive in a world of countertop-sprawling mini-coffee-shop all-in-ones.

  6. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    Another question for parents:
    So my first foster placement will be a kid of between 9 mos and two yrs. I don’t own a car and use a car sharing service instead. I would like to be able to keep it that way as cars are so expensive and I don’t need it for my commute.
    However, the car sharing service doesn’t have car seats available.
    I know for very small kids (group 0 up to 12 mos. of age) there are walker/car seat combos. Is that the case for group 1’s? So for kids over a week old?
    It would be so convenient to just have the car seat be the walker in terms of getting everything (stuff, walker, kiddo, car seat to the sharing station.


    1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Jikes, obviously I meant, over a year old.

      I want to clarify I am not in the US, but specific recs for brands might still be helpful! And then I would know for sure they exist.

    2. Perpetua*

      I’m not familiar with the term walker in this context, so I’m assuming you’re thinking of a car seat/pram combo, so a car seat that transforms into a pram/stroller, right? Like the Doona?

      If so, I don’t think I’ve seen that for older babies. I believe size is an issue, because by that point, you need a bigger stroller area for them to sit comfortably, and what will work to keep them safe in the car, design-wise, will not be the same as what works in a stroller. :/

      If putting both a car seat and a separate stroller in the car is not an option, have you maybe thought of using a carrier or a wrap to carry the kid when out and about? It’s a different setup than using the stroller to put everything in it, but it can work and it takes up way less space.

    3. Eeniemeenie*

      I bought a BubbleBum which is an inflatable travel booster seat. Check the laws in your area to see if this is allowed for kids that age. But it is compact and inflates quickly.

    4. Caroline Bowman*

      I don’t have useful advice but huge congratulations and best of luck! It’ll be a wild and thrilling (AND SOMETIMES PETRIFYING) journey and I hope it goes brilliantly!

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Thank you so much! I already feel thrilled and petrified and the call hasn’t even come in. They told me to look into day care already (without a start date) and that’s nerve-wracking although I am assured everyone always manages.

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Thank you! Yes, I am doing it by myself – which is scary but the foster care people are fully on board, luckily.

    5. Jules the First*

      I will watch this one with interest, because I was also hoping someone had come up with something, but so far my research has come up empty. Pre-9 months there are options; post-2-years there are options, but that rear-facing-but-not-infant stage seems like a hole in the market. Can you store anything at the car share station?

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Ah, too bad! Let’s hope something comes up. Unfortunately, there is no storage there. Worst case I can always to with kid and car seat and drive by the house to get everything else. But it would be nice to be more comfortable.

    6. Kage*

      This is tough. They don’t really make full travel systems for beyond the infant stage. And how long you can use those vary widely as they are all based on the kid’s weight and height. My tiny 18-month old, for example, could still be in hers; my giant nephew outgrew his before 12-months.

      The bigger question I have is how your car sharing system works and do you need to worry about lugging the seat with you all day? For example, are you renting a car to drive to City X, spending the day touring, and then renting a different car to drive home (so you have to take the seat out/with you)? Or are you renting the car for the day such that you will drive the same car home and could leave it in the car?

      If you want to plan for worst-case that you need to haul it with you, I would look for the smallest, lightest, and simplest convertible seat I could find. We have one called Safety 1st Continuum 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (we’re in the USA) that will last for the kid’s whole car seat/booster life. It’s one piece, not too gigantic, and pretty easy to move between cars. I would then spend more time/money finding a stroller that could help cart the seat around (either one with more storage space or maybe even getting a double). Or a bag pack/bag setup to carry the seat while walking around. Even if you don’t need to haul the car seat with you regularly, I would probably still look for this more for easier storage at home (some seats are big – my friend’s car seat model weighs 60lbs by itself).

      Whatever you choose, I would practice a lot with putting it in/out of a car once you get it before kiddo arrives (both with latches and the belt). It can be tricky at first and you want to be comfortable putting it into any car you get. Once you can master that, it becomes much easier for switching vehicles and you don’t want to be struggling while kiddo runs around unsupervised.

      Congrats + Good luck!

    7. Kage*

      This is tough. They don’t really make full travel systems for beyond the infant stage. And how long you can use those vary widely as they are all based on the kid’s weight and height. My tiny 18-month old, for example, could still be in hers; my giant nephew outgrew his before 12-months.

      The bigger question I have is how your car sharing system works and do you need to worry about lugging the seat with you all day? For example, are you renting a car to drive to City X, spending the day touring, and then renting a different car to drive home (so you have to take the seat out/with you)? Or are you renting the car for the day such that you will drive the same car home and could leave it in the car?

      If you want to plan for worst-case that you need to haul it with you, I would look for the smallest, lightest, and simplest convertible seat I could find. We have one called Safety 1st Continuum 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (we’re in the USA) that will last for the kid’s whole car seat/booster life. It’s one piece, not too gigantic, and pretty easy to move between cars. I would then spend more time/money finding a stroller that could help cart the seat around (either one with more storage space or maybe even getting a double). Or a bag pack/bag setup to carry the seat while walking around. Even if you don’t need to haul the car seat with you regularly, I would probably still look for this more for easier storage at home (some seats are big – my friend’s car seat model weighs 60lbs by itself).

      Whatever you choose, I would practice a lot with putting it in/out of a car once you get it before kiddo arrives (both with latches and the belt). It can be tricky at first and you want to be comfortable putting it into any car you get. Once you can master that, it becomes much easier for switching vehicles and you don’t want to be struggling while kiddo runs around unsupervised.

      Congrats + Good luck!!!

    8. Akcipitrokulo*

      Bucket seats are good for upto a year and come with buggies.

      Do make sure the older one you get is rear-facing! They should rear-face as long as possible (usually til about 4 years).

      1. Traveling Teacher*

        Agreed about rear facing, if possible! If you speak French, Securange has great recommendations and advice about rear facing car seats, but do make sure that you first take into account the biggest risk situation in your country. Here, it is side impacts (lots of roundabouts!), So we got a seat specifically designed to keep kids very safe in that situation.

        Good luck–the fact you are thinking about this and already caring about this means you are off to a great start!

    9. Ranon*

      I don’t know of a product for that tricky spot- my suggestion would be the lightest car seat you can buy and a backpack diaper bag. You buckle the diaper bag into the car seat like a baby, straps out, and then the backpack straps can be used to carry the car seat. It takes a sturdy backpack and a light seat but it works really well!

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Oooooh, that is really clever!! Thank you! At least now I have a plan B :D I already found one car seats that’s only a couple of kgs.

        1. Anon-a-souras*

          Congratulations, that’s fantastic. In what seems like a lifetime ago we did a lot of travel with my son from infancy – 4yo.

          Lightweight car seat in a car seat backpack bag could work. There is also a product in the US called a Lily Gold Sit ‘n Stroll. We used it a lot when flying – didn’t take it ‘off-road’ much but I did loan it to a friend who used it in Paris and she said it was great.

    10. CopperPenny*

      I haven’t tried this, but a carseat travel dolly or carseat cart might be a good option for you. I know people who love them for airport travel. You can strap a convertible carseat to the cart, and strap the kid the carseat and use it basically like a stroller. I’m not sure how it works outside of short term usage, but it sounds like it might work for your needs.

    11. Jules the 3rd*

      Yes, you can get combo walkers (“strollers” in the US) and car seats for kids up to 35lbs (4 – 5 years old). The combo ones are often marketed as “travel systems”. My memory of them is that they come with padding that you can remove as the kids grow. Target has multiple options in the Graco and Evenflo brands.

      I don’t want to do links bcs they make Alison do moderation work, so Google “Mayo Clinic strollers” for a good rundown of options and what to look for in a stroller.

    12. BethDH*

      I haven’t seen them here for that age and we wanted one. The ones available might be very expensive.
      What has worked well for us is getting one of the bags made for putting car seats on planes. They are heavy and durable, and the one we got has backpack straps.
      They are often made to be larger than needed to fit things like bases too, so get the smallest one that fits your seat so it doesn’t hang too far down your back.
      I would also resist the urge to get an umbrella stroller or other super-light one. They aren’t that durable, and it is helpful to have one that you can hang something on or use the storage area underneath without the stroller tipping. Our regular stroller folds with one hand but our umbrella stroller takes a lot more work to fold up. The only exception I would make to that is if you’ll have stairs.

    13. Disco Janet*

      Congrats! That is a tricky situation though – car seat stroller combos only come with infant car seats. Those max out around 30/35 pounds, so they will likely work with a two year old, but there’s a chance it won’t depending on their weight. You are going to want a very easy to install car seat – many of them are quite a pain in the butt. The large majority of car seats are installed incorrectly, and this can lead to serious injuries/car seat failure if an accident were to happen, so you want something that is easy to do properly if you’re going to be re-installing it every day.

      We live in the suburbs, but friends who live in the city have raved about the Doona for public transport. The stroller is actually part of the car seat! Sounds very convenient.

    14. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      At the risk of being the Debbie Downer, I would avoid this option if possible.

      Yes, there exist systems which convert between both functions, BUT they do neither function well, and car seats in particular are worth having as good as possible. The systems in full use tend to be BIG and that’s a PITA for day to day.

      So I’d ponder how often you actually expect to use a car. If it’s infrequent, you may be better able to tolerate carting along a bigger seat (or to afford taking an Uber to the sharing station). If you’re mostly going to be walking or using public transit then you want to optimise your purchase for those options, eg a stroller that folds one-handed when you get on the bus, something that fits into the closet in your narrow hallway, etc, rather than for “car seat fits on it”.

      Another observation is that there is a huge size variation in 9-24m children, and going by manufacturer’s recommendations may not suit a particular child. For example, my youngest child has such a long body that he was too tall for the standard bucket seat by 3m let alone 9m (we got a fixed seat he could rear face in until he was more like 18m), but my neighbour struggled to find a seat suitable for her 30lb 5yo when she was ready to face forward. If you can get a seat that claims to be suitable for 6m to 3y, say, it would be more flexible. In the UK you’d look for a “0+/1” style but I don’t know if you guys use the same stage system.

      Oh and if parenthood has taught me anything, it’s that you must must must be able to drop the stroller to lie-flat with the child in situ, and still be able to get to your stuff in the basket at the same time …

    15. Toddler Parent*

      Welcome to the frustrating world of car seats! I’m in the US, but hopefully this is still helpful… The only car seat I know of (in the US) that clicks into a stroller that works for kids over 12 months is the Chicco Fit2. But even that one is only up to 24 months and a larger child could outgrow it before that. (Most kids outgrow carseats by height first so you can’t just go by weight.) So that’s probably not right for you. So what you should be looking at is what’s called a “convertible” seat. In your situation you want to balance lightweight and small size with easy installation since you’ll be putting it in and out of car share cars. Parents in the US like the Cosco scenera next as a travel seat because it’s really lightweight and fairly easy to install. We have a Britax clicktight seat for our toddler. It’s one of the easiest to install but it’s big and heavy – you can get a wheeled cart thing to use from Britax but it still may be unwieldy. The blog Lucie’s list has a ton of good baby gear recommendations and has a really good explanation of what car seats you need at what ages and some recommendations for various situations. The blog is US based but probably still really helpful.

    16. Thankful for AAM*

      In the US, you can often go to the local fire station to learn how to buckle in a safety seat. Apparently, many of us here do it wrong. Maybe there is an agency or similar there to show you how. That might help with your decision making and planning.

      Also, I am not sure what a walker is (here they are for people who have mobility issues) but I am guessing that it is one of those that goes from pushing like a pram and lifts out and can be buckled into a car without moving the baby. I think those are only for small infants, not for older babies and toddlers.

      Does the agency placing the children have suggestions for you?

    17. J.B.*

      I think that we had a stroller you could snap a little baby seat into and then when kiddo could sit up it was a regular stroller. I prefer the regular stroller for a mobile or soon to be mobile kid anyway.

      Unfortunately rear facing car seats are monstrous, I would keep one in the car during the middle of a trip then return to your home.


    18. blackcat*

      You should be able to research lightweight “convertible” carseats available in your country. You can get a medium-weight stroller, and then use a strap to attach the carseat to the back of the stroller. I generally do this for travel, and it works just fine. I have to carry my bag o kid stuff, but that’s because the Zoe is such a small stroller.
      I have a Cosco Apt carseat and Zoe stroller for this, but again I don’t know what’s available in your country. Trifold strollers (like the Zoe, you can google it and see) are often very easy to take in/out of cars.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing. Also, feel free to ask questions to your fellow writers.
    Not much for me, I’m afraid, on account of starting my summer thing-that-shan’t-be-named-in-this-thread.

    1. hamsterpants*

      What opportunities are there for technical-type writing other than doing it professionally? I loved writing research papers when I was a student but I get basically zero chance to do it as part of my job. I’m not looking for a career change, or even shifting my job duties. I just love the meld of creativity and technical thinking. For background, I’m in STEM.

      1. JobHunter*

        A colleague told me that she was asked by her former boss to be an associate editor for a journal. She got a new perspective on how to design experiments and report results. Maybe you can talk to a colleague and find out how to get involved yourself?

        1. hamsterpants*

          Hi JobHunter, I’m confused by your comment about “colleagues.” I’m not looking to do this professionally.

          1. JobHunter*

            I am also in STEM, and write papers to report my research results. My colleague serves as a volunteer to the journal, and is not compensated for her contribution. I am not sure how many papers she assists with, but it sounds like a only few now and then.

    2. Gina here*

      Awaiting contest results for a flash fiction piece and short story piece I wrote. Celebrating the 30 kudos on AO3. Debating writing one last longfic about a main character couple’s daughter. Suffering from self-doubt as a first-time writer trying to get officially published re: a paranormal romance. Lots of publisher rejections these last 2 weeks (one said they liked my story but disliked my voice—ouch!) but one company asked for a full then second manuscript….no idea where that’s headed…

    3. OTGW*

      I’ve been writing about 200-500 words every now and then in fanfic, kinda as the idea strikes me. I miss the days in high school where I wrote a lot more consistently, but I keep telling myself that those days are not gonna happen over night. But damn, it’s really nice to be in other people’s heads in other worlds.

  8. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this thread is not limited to video games.
    For the people who have (or at least have used) both versions of the Nintendo Switch (standard and Lite): which one do you prefer and why? I’m probably going to get the standard one but still, some opinions can’t hurt.
    As for what I’ve been playing: not a whole lot due to summer thing-that-shan’t-be-named-in-this-thread (although technically I suppose I’m playing real-life Tetris?) but I’m planning on getting a bit further in Ys Origin this weekend.

    1. Hazy Days*

      A friend and I have been having a great time playing collaborative puzzle games as a way to hang out at a distance. We loved TickTock and now we’re playing We Were Here.

    2. Catherine*

      I bought a Switch Lite and love it but regret that I didn’t pay extra for the regular Switch so that I could stream from it.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      So Pokémon Go has become a thing in my house again after over a year. I just turned on the ability to weave Pokemon and have it still track my distance. (I’m reading this on a early am Pokewalk before it’s 90°!)
      I’ve seeing people here talking about trading account information so they could friend up and give gifts. My husband is all about computer security…. We have techies on this page…what’a been Niantic’a record for security in Pokemon? Can posting my account and friend info here let someone else hack into anything else in my system? Thanks.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Huh. System glitched and this sent when I was proofreading. My kingdom for an edit button.

    4. cleo*

      Wingspan! Half my extended family is obsessed with this board game and we’ve had fun playing it via zoom with my parents. We’ve also used tabletopia with my BIL and SIL.

    5. AnonymousNurse*

      Highly recommend paying the extra to get the standard switch. Not only can you multiplayer easier (if that’s your thing) but you can also play on the TV. Sometimes I think Stardew Valley deserves to be played on the big screen. Also I have a friend who had a switch lite and had some joystick problems which could have been fixed for cheaper had she had the standard switch with detachable joy-cons. She ended up having to replace the entire unit, instead of just one joy-con.

    6. Quake Johnson*

      I’m doing Spider-Man PS4…again. ;p

      I probably missed this in past weeks but how did everyone like The Last of Us 2?

      1. Chylleh*

        I finished it last night finally. It was probably the most brutal and depressing game I’ve ever played in terms of its content, and sort of felt like a torture simulator. It’s an absolutely beautiful game with some amazing touches, and am glad to have made it through once, but I don’t think I could play it through again.

    7. Almost Academic*

      My partner just bought Superliminal for the switch and we love it so far. Definitely recommend to fans of puzzle-based games (Portal fans will especially enjoy it / appreciate the multiple nods to them). We have a standard switch, which we definitely prefer since we frequently play collaboratively using our dock and projector combo. Much easier than staring at the tiny screen.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Still exploring text adventure/IF games.

      I really like Emily Short’s work (Bronze, Savoir Faire, Metamorphoses). I also enjoyed Curses! very much.

      So, fairly complex worldbuilding with lots of logic puzzles, but where the game mechanics themselves are not deliberately frustrating (guess-the-verb is a stupid waste of time). And where there is at least one obviously happy/positive possible ending.

      Now I’m a bit stuck for a good next game. I’ve tried a few that were darker or more high-concept like Photopia, Make It Good, and Slouching Toward Bedlam, but they just weren’t fun to me.

      Any recommendations?

    9. Batty Twerp*

      Hubby bought me an oculus quest as an early 40th birthday present about6 weeks into lockdown when it became apparent that I certainly wasn’t going to be able to go to dance class for the foreseeable. So i got Beat Sabre and VR table tennis and a game based on that game show where you have to make your body fit holes in a moving wall. So I’m getting my exercise!
      But I’ve also been playing more casual games – the one I’ve just finished is Down The Rabbit Hole which is wonderfully immersive (although the Cheshire Cat smile appear in the darkness when you turn round freaked me out a little!
      Any other VR-ers here?

    10. DarthVelma*

      Well, we never did quite make it to Magic last weekend…and it looks like we’re not doing it this weekend either. We got distracted. :-)

      Friday night was Gloomhaven again. I made it to level 5 and we finally got the city up to level 2. Go Team! We’re starting to fight bigger and tougher monsters and it’s starting to get much more mentally intense, but still really fun. And you feel like you really accomplished something when you win.

      Yesterday we switched over to video games. We played Killing Floor 2 with some of our old Fortnite squadmates. I’m a zombie killing robot who really likes fire. There’s a little bit of leveling and perks and stuff, but mostly you just drop in and kill Zeds. It’s really intense, but so ridiculous that you can’t get too upset when you die. There’s a Santa’s Workshop map you can select and it was hilarious. Don’t want to spoil much, but I’m still feeling bad about killing gingerbread zombies. *snort*

      Don’t know if we’ll play much today. I think we’re making hot sauce and homemade pickles.

    11. Laura H.*

      Re your Switch Question:

      I have the normal Switch but was considering the Lite before I bought. I’m glad I went with the regular Switch for 2 reasons:

      1. I got it immediately vs having to wait (was about this time last year so the Lite wasn’t out yet)

      2. I’ve found that I prefer it as a tv console rather than a handheld (but it’s nice to have that option should my tv go on the fritz or brother needs the one I’m using for some reason, or other scenarios)

      Consider what you want it for. Both are pretty travel friendly but the regular can do the tv thing and some games are better with multiple controllers with one system (Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and Mario Party come to mind.)

      Downside could be you have to charge your controllers, but the joy cons slide into the regular Switch as a set. My brother has 2 sets of joy cons that he alternates while I have a wireless single controller that uses 2 AA Batteries in addition to the initial set of joy cons.

      Consider how you’d use it. I’d also maybe ask around your friend group for that sort of info too.

      Ask if you can um test drive a friend’s Switch (if you’re both ok with it and if circumstances permit.)

  9. Eeniemeenie*

    If your child is invited to a birthday party, is it rude to ask to bring your other child?

    At my daughter’s birthday party last year her friend’s parents brought their non-invited younger child without notice. I ended up making an extra drive to buy another meal for this child I wasn’t expecting. At this year’s party the same parents asked if their younger child could come as well, without even offering to pay (it seems pretty standard to offer to pay for the non invited kid if bringing siblings). This year we’re hiring a small party room with some games and I don’t particularly want a +1 kid. I’m extra annoyed because of covid job loss where we’re carefully watching our budget every week.

    1. Hazy Days*

      Yes, you can tell them that either they have to pay for the extra or that they can’t bring uninvited children – whichever suits you.
      Obviously phrase it tactfully (‘so sorry we can’t have little Frieda this year, but we hope Flora can still come’) but stick to your guns.

    2. Jaxom of Ruth*

      You can say no, but you may lose the invited kid as well. I’ve only asked when my choices were two kids or no kids. There have been times where my partner was unable to watch the other child and I have no other options. My kids are young enough that drop off parties are not available.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        See, if that’s the case, then call up and ask, prefacing it with, “This is a huge favor and if you can’t do it, please say no!”

    3. MistOrMister*

      I think it’s incredibly rude. Same as if you went to a dinner party and just showed up with or asked go bring along another guest. However, if your only complaint is the extra cost, then I would simply tell the parents that you have budgeted for X kids and they would need to pay for the uninvited child (although I think this would have Miss Manners clutching her pearls).

      One thing to keep in mind, these parents could be the sort that don’t let the older child do things if the younger can’t go as well. Obviously this is not your problem, but it’s possible that the older child has invitations rescinded when people don’t want to also host their sibling, which would be hurtful. It might be doing a kindnes to just take the younger child as well, if possible. Of course, this is pure speculation and might not be the case at all!

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Kind of like the time I sent a wedding invite to a family of four, and they sent the RSVP card back with reservations for five? I am not mad about it, but I was a little taken aback. It wasn’t like it was someone’s longtime partner, either; it was my second cousin’s new boyfriend, and they were like 18 at the time, so it didn’t even last. I had to pay almost $60 extra for another meal!

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I honestly don’t even remember. Everyone was incredibly generous, so I’m sure they did. And we had a good time. I was just a bit taken aback. I’m just a “hick from the sticks,” as they say, but I still wouldn’t presume that I could show up to an event with an extra person. Maybe a free outing in the park, but not something that would cost my host extra money.

        1. Sc@rlettNZ*

          At least they RSVP’d. At my friend’s wedding her cousins turned up with their two children who hadn’t been invited (nor had anyone elses as it was a child-free wedding). This was a formal, sit-down affair and squeezing in two extra guests wasn’t exactly easy to do.

      2. Senor Montoya*

        Those parents are terrible (I knew parents like that when my child was small), but I would NOT be responsible for watching an additional child, especially a younger child.

        We always did birthday parties at home so it wasn’t a cost issue — there was plenty of food, I always had a couple extra goody bags ready (5 year old boys will drop stuff in the toilet…) — my husband and I were managing the invited kids, taking care of food prep, etc. Especially since part of every party was, go outside with Mr Dad and run around in the yard while Ms. Mom starts cleaning up the inside disaster.

    4. valentine*

      It’s rude to ask if they’re using you as free child care. Are the kids young enough all the parents stay, too?

      I can see where you want to keep it to one age group, and invitees only! So, tell them you made an exception last time, but will be sticking to invitees. (You can always make a different exception down the road. You don’t need to treat everyone the same.) And, if some rudester tries to fob a kid off on you, smile away while telling them no, that won’t be possible. Hold your ground. Don’t give reasons. Say you’ll email them later about it.

      I hope this couple will let the older kid have their own experiences.

    5. Akcipitrokulo*

      I’m with not necessarily rude to ask as long as you make it very clear that “no” is ok, and offer to pay any extra. Like “Hi – I realise this may not be possible, and that’s absolutely ok, but would (sibling) be able to come?”

      I’ve had parents ask that of me and usually it’s been fine – when it was at swimming pool and couldn’t acomodate it, I just said sorry, we can’t.

      1. Eeniemeenie*

        If asked in that way I likely would have been fine with the sibling attending. But it was just “can Other Child come too”. I guess I’m more annoyed with the impolite way she made this request.

        1. Alice*

          From the first post I thought they didn’t ask, they just surprised you. But maybe I misunderstood and they did ask? Personally I don’t see what’s rude about asking in advance, even without the “you’re not obligated to say yes because it’s a huge imposition” persiflage. IMO the only thing that would make it rude would be to ask after the extra child had already been brought to the party.

      2. WellRed*

        And then hope that all 15 kids you have invited don’t also all have siblings that parents ask to have included.

    6. Doc in a Box*

      You might also check with the place you’re hiring from — many indoor businesses (at least in the US) have limitations on the number of people who can be present at any given time.

      1. Eeniemeenie*

        Ooh. I’m in a country where covid risk is low right now. But of course that would be a major factor if in the US. I don’t know you but hope you are safe!

    7. Eeniemeenie*

      I’ve thought about it and realise it’s not actually the presence of an extra kid that bugs me, but the parents’ lack of consideration. In the past I had parents bring younger kids along but paid for the sibling themselves; and generally to larger venues where they supervise the other child- ie having the other kid does not incur even the slightest additional responsibility or inconvenience on host parents.

      But in this case the parents gave no consideration to us incurring extra costs, ignored the fact it was a small party with close friends only, and didn’t mention if they would be staying or expecting me to supervise. I didn’t like that and did not feel particularly welcoming or hospitable to this other child afterwards. So I’ve said no (politely) and am glad the sibling isn’t coming.

      1. Alice*

        Honestly this sounds like a happy ending. They asked, you answered politely, the extra kid isn’t coming and the invited kid is coming. No problems here :) happy birthday!

    8. PhyllisB*

      If anyone finds a good answer to this question, please let me know!! I dealt with this with my kids and now my grand-kids.
      I had a skating party for my grandson and one of the mothers showed up with not only all of the sibs, but three children she was baby-sitting for!! Now she did offer to pay for the extras, but really?? Luckily, we had a number of kids not show up so the numbers were fine. But I thought that was awfully nervy. Especially when she asked if I had goodie bags for the teenage kids, too. There again, I did because I had invited three teenage girls close to our family who were not able to come, but it irritated me to give them these bags I had made up special for these girls.

      1. PhyllisB*

        The other side to this coin is: how do you know if it’s okay to bring extra child? Same grandson got invited to a swim party at a campground. Only his name on invite. My younger granddaughter begged to go because she was good friends with this child’s cousin, but I said no because she wasn’t invited. Now if we had been close friends, I just would have called the mother and asked and offered to pay the extra fee. But we were cordial to one another but not close. Anyway, we got there, and every single person asked me why I didn’t bring Granddaughter. I said well, her name wasn’t on the invitation.

        1. Venus*

          I think it’s always reasonable to ask, although don’t do it last minute and if there is a cost then offer to pay your part. If there are limited numbers, like a party room with a max of 10 kids, then you could tell them that they can give the answer later when everyone has RSVP’d. I think the most important is to be kind about it, and be willing to accept a refusal.

          In thinking about it, I might only ask if the sibling knows others at the party. In your case they knew Granddaughter, so it would be reasonable to ask, whereas if the sibling knows no one including the birthday child then that could be awkward for the hosts.

          I also acknowledge that these conventions depend on local culture.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Granddaughter is not a sibling of grandson; she’s a cousin. If she had been a sibling I probably would have asked if she could come.
            This was a family from our church and they know all the grands very well because they all lived with us at the time, but I still didn’t feel it was right to bring her along when she was not specifically invited. I understand limits and having to pay for extra kids, ect.

    9. Nita*

      It really depends. If we know the entire family, there’s pretty much an assumption that we invite all the siblings, and that if they invite us it’s all of ours. If it’s someone one of the kids knows from school, the assumption is that siblings are not invited. I’ve never heard of the invited family paying the difference – here, it’s more common that they’re told the party has limited room and they just can’t bring siblings, period.

    10. Senor Montoya*

      It’s rude to ask and it’s even ruder to bring the other child without letting you know.

      Put on the invite, “So sorry, but we don’t have room for siblings, just [Name]! Thank you for understanding!”

      And then cross your fingers. Someone is going to ignore it…

    11. Jessi*

      A someone who had hosted a bunch of kids parties I feel like the correct way to do this is to go
      “Sorry we don’t have any childcare for other sibling so we won’t be able to make it “ and then the host can go – oh we have sibling is welcome, or sorry we could only do invited kids this year hope to see invited kid another time

    12. MatKnifeNinja*

      It’s gross, and parents use it as free babysitting.

      We had one family dump off sib girl and 3 brothers, then came back late from a mani-ped, and going out to eat with boyfriend. The girl was the only one invited, and the three boys were uncontrollable monsters at the venue.

      After that, all invites were done outside of school, so I wasn’t required to invite everyone in the class.

      Sorry the girl (who my niece wasn’t that close with) wasn’t invited next year, but her brothers all had behavioral issues and the mom unit was grifting trash.

      You do the whole class invite one year, then you learn who to send invites outside of school the next.

      1. Old Woman in Purple*

        I was so glad my daughter had a late-summer birthday; no obligation to invite the whole class! The 3 or 4 kids she got together with regularly over the summer were invited to her party, along with a couple family friends & a couple local cousins.

    13. RagingADHD*

      It’s not rude to ask. You can say no.

      In our circle, it was sometimes assumed by the host that the other sibling was welcome, and sometimes not. So asking for clarification is just the normal thing to do.

    14. ...*

      If they ask politely, I don’t think that’s rude all. Also depends on how well behaved the child is.

    15. allathian*

      I’m just glad that my 11-year-old has grown out of birthday parties! He has a couple of good friends who are always welcome at our house. The biggest party we had was his 7th, when we invited all the boys in his class to our house. The class rule was invite everybody or less than half, but not everybody except one or two. Most kids only invited classmates of the same gender, some invited their best friends of the opposite gender as well. For his 8th and 9th birthday parties we went to an indoor amusement park and a 3D game arena respectively. For his 10th, he just wanted to invite one friend to go with him to the 3D gaming place and we went for a pizza afterwards, and for his 11th in May, we didn’t do anything because of COVID. He’s fine with that. For his 8th birthday one parent brought a sibling, but the party fee included a discount ticket for each guest to attend at another time, the sibling used the invited kid’s discount ticket and the parent stayed there to help supervise the kids, so it was a win-win! And there was enough party food for the sibling to get a share, too. No goodie bag, but that wasn’t a problem for the sibling or the parent.

    16. The Rat-Catcher*

      This is probably dependent on your area. I’m the US Midwest and it’s understood that if a child is invited, siblings will attend and hosts will often ask “Where is (other child)?” if they are missing. Parties at facilities also tend to be priced in tiers (0-25 kids, $x, then 25-50 kids, $y. etc) so it’s unlikely that one child affects the cost of the party at all.

  10. Anonymousness*

    It’s going to be 9,000° this weekend and coming week. I use my AC sparingly and am trying to cut way back on sugar intake, but clearly will need cold beverages. Suggestions for unsweetened beverages? I don’t like milk at all. I drink loads of water, or seltzer with some lemon or lime juice and will make some iced tea. There don’t seem to be a whole lot of sugar free beverage options though.

    1. Catherine*

      Not totally sugar free but I like to dilute a little bit of fruit vinegar in my water. Pomegranate is especially good.

      1. Anonymousness*

        Never heard of fruit vinegar, but I will look it up. I don’t mind a wee bit of sugar. Just trying to avoid it in big doses, but it seemed easier to say sugar free. Thank you!

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I made blackberry vinegar last year (look up “shrub” recipes) and it’s actually quite tasty though not at all sugar free. I also like to make fruit, green, or mint tea as iced tea and usually drink it unsweetened.

      3. CTT*

        There’s a restaurant near me that does drinking vinegars mixed with soda water. It’s not for me, but my nephews and BIL loooove it (also apparently mixes well with vodka, if you want to make a cocktail out of it!)

        1. I take tea*

          I like apple cider vinegar in my water (maybe a tsp / glass), but pomegranate is good too!

    2. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      Yuck, I sympathize, it’s the same where I am. Cold hibiscus tea is one of the best things in the world, and it can be sweetened or unsweetened as you like. And you definitely don’t drink it with milk! Just make it the night before and stick it in the fridge. The brands where you get the whole, dried petals rather than shredded are most delicious.
      I also have recently come around to cold infused water (I’m blankingon the actual word). Stick some mint leaves, lemon slices, and blueberries in some water and rest in the fridge overnight. It’s purple and refreshing.

      1. Trixie*

        Yes! I fell in love with hibiscus ice tea while living in AZ and now by loose leaf in bulk online. The tart flavor is refreshing enough I don’t need to sweeten.

        1. Auntie Social*

          I fell in love with it in Egypt. I was refreshed so quickly, faster than soda or plain water.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Iced barley tea – it’s a Japanese drink. You buy what is basically toasted barley (sometimes in a teabag, sometimes loose) and and make tea with it. It’s calorie and caffeine free, and has a light, slightly nutty flavour.

      I also like a combination of mint and green tea for iced tea, and have a collection of cocktail bitters for my soda water. A few dashes of something like Fee’s Brothers grapefruit bitters give you a lightly flavoured sparkling water.

    4. PX*

      You could go down the route of heavily diluted fruit cordials for flavour; not fully sugar free but nowhere near as much as a soda or pre-packaged drink. I’ve also been known to do this with crappy wine. Dilute it way down so you get some flavour but essentially has very little alcohol or sugar content per portion.

      I’ve also seen tea infusions available (ie herbal tea in a tea bag that you can let brew/chill) so that might be an option. Personally I’ve been doing a lot of just throwing fruit/cucumber in my water for flavour as well. Watermelon is good for this.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      I already have a big pitcher of water with sliced cucumbers and mint chilling in the fridge, along with unsweetened iced tea. We don’t have air conditioning at all, so I’ll probably spend the next few days looking for a shady spot in the yard.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If artificial sweeteners are an option – I drink Crystal Light peach mango green tea by the gallon, it seems. They also have a raspberry green tea version. (You mentioned both sugar free and unsweetened, so I wasn’t sure.)

      Otherwise, you could try other types of green, white or red teas cold – they’re all lighter than the traditional iced tea, which I think is usually black tea. Arnold Palmers maybe – half tea half lemonade?

    7. 00ff00Claire*

      Spindrift brand drinks are similar to seltzer and lemon / lime juice. They only have fruit juice added, so they are definitely not sweet. They have just a little sugar, but it’s probably similar to what you would get squeezing lemon into a water. They have several different flavors, but I find the blackberry and cranberry lime especially good, I think because you expect those flavors to be tangy. I like them instead of La croix and it’s imitators, which just taste too artificial for me.

    8. fancy drinks*

      My new favorite drink is cucumber, lime, mint with seltzer. It’s super refreshing and feels fancy. The recipe was in the NYTimes. I’ve had it with plain water too and it’s still refreshing but less fancy.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We recently started putting drops of candy-maker flavor extracts into water. One brand you can find at Major craft stores is Lorann. Do be aware that extracta and emulsions behave very differently– most importantly, emotions settle out, so you must shake them every time.

    10. Recent Grad*

      I like to keep iced hibiscus tea in my fridge in the summer. It’s tart, refreshing and a beautiful red color. It looks and tastes a lot like juice but without any sugar.

    11. Watermelon slushies!*

      Watermelon chunks & ice in the blender. Sprig of mint in the glass with it. Just be sure to stop the blender while you still have some solid bits of melon, don’t purée it.

    12. Washi*

      You already mentioned iced tea, but I like to make my own iced chai soy milk lattes, heavily featuring fresh ginger. Cinnamon gives the illusion of some sweetness without actually adding sugar!

    13. Ali G*

      Agua fresca! Any melon will work. Just blend it with a bit of citrus, strain, and add water to your dilution preference.

    14. GoryDetails*

      I’ll second the recommendations for shrub and for agua fresca – lots of variations there. Switchel is another vinegar-based variant, one I’ve enjoyed: it’s derived from old haymakers’ recipes, with vinegar, molasses, and ginger as flavorings. You can vary the ratio of the switchel to water so that it’s just a hint or is quite strong, depending on your preference.

      On a trip to Quebec a couple of years ago (remember when we could cross borders safely? Sigh…), the hotel had a big cooler of cucumber-water in the lobby, something I’d never had before. It was marvelously refreshing, not sweet at all but so crisp and bright…

    15. Nervous Nellie*

      With iced teas, I like to think outside the box and make iced herbal teas. Rooibos tea with a twist of lemon is heavenly. The variety of unusual herbal teas has really bloomed in the last several years. I bet you can find one that delights you.

    16. lapgiraffe*

      I keep a variety of bitters to add to seltzer, favorites include yuzu and bergamot from miracle mile bitters co, urban moonshine organic bitters, anything from San Francisco butters collection, I tend to buy them from Vena’s Fizz Shop in Portland ME but I imagine the internet is our friend here. It’s just dashes of it so the alcohol is a non factor, but it’s refreshing without being sweet, and you can get more herbal flavors happening that differentiate from lemons and limes (though add them! Its more than the sum of its parts.

      With a touch more alcohol, hahaha, I’ve become a kombucha drinker. You’ll need to check the labels cause some are barely sweet and some are like sodas, I’ve become partial to Health-Ade brand.

      Lastly, look up switchel! Super easy to make, some people make a syrup that makes it even easier, but if you make your own your obviously are in control of the sugar.

      1. Bluebell*

        Yes- here to second adding bitters to plain seltzer. I have grapefruit, orange and angostura right now. I also like to add 1T of grapefruit or lime juice for flavor, and sometimes fresh mint.

    17. Me*

      I’ve really been into mint and cucumber water recently. I have a lot of mint growing so there’s that, but basically take a handful of mint leaves (rinsed) and a small peeled, thinly sliced cucumber and put them in a quart jar. Use a muddler to squish them down a bit then add some water and squish some more. Fill jar all the way and store in fridge overnight.

      Very refreshing taste.

    18. Trixie*

      This is a big reason why I like using a SodeStream. I can have carbonated water plain or with fresh fruit or fruit juices. I haven’t experimented much with recipes but I know there are a ton of options unexplored. That cold carbonation also helps wean me off too much soda.

    19. Jackalope*

      Oh my goodness, that was the wrong comment to post here! Forgive the childbirth-related comments (Alison, if you see this feel free to delete my other post on this thread since it was obviously meant for the above thread!).

      The comment I MEANT to include here: My favorite nonsweetened drink is made by brewing Tazo herbal tea varieties Sweet Cinnamon Spice and Refreshmint together. I’ll make my tea at 6:40 a.m. or so and then let it steep for an hour or more until I remember it and start drinking. You can let it steep for a long time rather than taking the bags out in 5 min like with most teas. By the time I finish it at around 9:00 or so it’s cold and I think it tastes better that way than warm; not sure how much of that is that the cold makes the flavors come out differently vs. that it’s been steeping for over 2 hours by that point, but you can try it! You could always make some up the night before you want to drink it, let it sit around steeping for a few hours while you do your thing, and then toss it in the fridge overnight.

      Also, one mixed drink that may not appeal to you because it has some sugar, but others in this thread may like it: ginger beer mixed with fruit juice (my favorites are apple juice/cider or cherry juice, but pineapple juice also worked).

    20. Merci Dee*

      I like to use the water flavoring drops (Crystal Light, Kool Aid, even store brands), or the flavoring packets to add some flavor to my water. Those typically have artificial sweeteners, so they’re zero calories per serving. I like the liquid drops better than the powder packets because I can more easily control the intensity of the flavor in my water. I always have several varieties on hand so that I can switch up the flavor.

    21. Elf*

      Celestial Seasonings raspberry zinger tea. Put 5 teabags in a pitcher of cold water in the fridge overnight. Done.

      I am a person who wants most of my beverages super sweet, but that one is always good for me, and has no sugar OR artificial sweeteners.

      Putting slices of cucumber in a pitcher of water in the fridge is also surprisingly amazing.

    22. RagingADHD*

      We love flavored fizzy water. Some of them are sweetened, many are not. Many chains now have their own house brands equivalent to LeCroix.

    23. Alex*

      I like the “stur” brand of water flavor drops. They are stevia-based and all natural. That is assuming the unsweetened preference is because of your wish to avoid sugar, not because you don’t like sweetness, as they are sweet.

    24. Observer*

      In general, there are a lot of really nice herbal teas that you can make that don’t need to be sweetened. Just be aware that a lot of them are actually tea with something else. Which is not a terrible thing, but if tea does not agree with you , or you need to keep your caffeine intake low, keep an eye on them.

  11. Fan account*

    How intrusive is Instagram?

    I’ve been thinking about creating an Instagram account strictly for fangirling stuff. I have an email account that I use only for fan stuff, completely separate and without any info connected to my personal account. This is the email I will use to sign up, but I only have one cellphone and have to use that.

    Even if I don’t allow Instagram to sync my contacts, will it still creep into my non fan account? For example, will Instagram recommend my fan account to my people in my personal contact list?

    Any stories? Tips to make the account as private and unconnected as possible to my real identity?

    1. PX*

      Instagram is pretty good about not connecting to your phone contacts from what I recall (actual Facebook and weirdly enough LinkedIn were the worst for this). I just checked the settings on mine, and I’ve set it so it doesnt have permission to access anything on my phone other than the storage (which it kind of needs to work) so you can have it pretty locked down with no issues.

      In the app itself, the algorithms seem heavily based on who you follow in the app itself. It will recommend connections based on who you end up following on Instagram, so as long as you dont follow/connect with anyone you know “in real life” its highly unlikely that other people will see you show up as a recommendation.

      Otherwise go through the privacy settings and adjust them fully when you first join, set your account to private and you should be good to go. Happy fangirling!

    2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Instagram is owned by Facebook, so don’t have any expectations about privacy.

    3. Ginger Sheep*

      I have a « hobby » account and a « life stuff » account on Instagram that I keep completely separated, with different email addresses etc, but connect to both from my iPad and phone. I have never seen any crossover in the content/recommandations/suggested contacts between the two accounts (I.e. my hobby account is exclusively cookie decorating stuff, and I follow over 800 cookies accounts. Not once has my « life » account suggested cookie-related content to me.) One caveat however: I am not on Facebook at all, so it might help keeping things separated.

    4. InstaFan*

      Don’t sync instagram to your contacts. You don’t need to and frankly, your contacts will probably just post things that annoy you. I love instagram but I only follow places/topics that interest me.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I have multiple accounts I manage for work, haven’t noticed any issues with crossover. Then again, I wouldn’t have any way of knowing if followers of one account had the other, apparently unrelated, business pop up in their suggestions.

      If your fangirl account isn’t readily identifiable as you, why would anyone care if they get it as a suggestion? They’d most likely ignore it as random, or some distant six-degrees connection, wouldn’t they?

    6. Unicornucopia*

      I was in a related situation, and you can set it so that your account won’t be recommended to anyone at all if that helps with your peace of mind. That may not be what you want but otherwise I think keeping the emails separate would be enough.

    7. Le Corbustier*

      Nope nope nope, wouldn’t do it. I have a personal account and a separate hobby account, one connected purely to my phone number and one connected purely to my email but I use both on my cell phone. No crossover in account info, followers or accounts I follow on them and hobby account is private. I haven’t noticed crossover in recommendations in my end BUT…I had my hobby account recommended to a friend on her Instagram even though it has no association with her account whatsoever, she is only connected to me through my personal account. Resulted in a phone call from her asking if the account that popped up on her recommended contacts was me or if I got hacked. If your hobby is private in any way I wouldn’t do it.

  12. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

    I like to check out ebooks from my library and read them on my phone, but I find that I easily get distracted by the internet and don’t actually read the book! I’ve been pondering buying a dedicated ebook reader (probably used off eBay) that has more limited internet, so that I can install the appropriate library app to check out books but don’t then find myself on Twitter. I’d prefer to be able to transfer things via WiFi rather than having to plug it in to the computer.

    Any recommendations?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I have the Kobo forma which I really like. I find it much easier on the eyes than a backlit screen, but it also has a front lighting system for reading in low light situations. It’s the larger of the various models, but is still light enough to hold in one hand while reading on the bus, and the battery life is fantastic. It comes with Overdrive pre-installed, for library use. Wifi is pretty standard for any but the oldest eReaders.

      The two main players for dedicated readers are the Kobo and the Kindle. The Kindle is compatible with Amazon (mobi, azw), and the Kobo with the Kobo store (epubs). The Kobo is much more useful for libraries, as they usually deal with epubs. Both can handle the free books downloaded from project Gutenberg.

    2. Mystery Bookworm*

      Also like my Kobo. And I really love having a dedicated e-reader, I find it way more relaxing!

    3. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      I have a Kobo and am happy with it! I chose it because it was budget-friendly, but there isn’t really anything I “miss” about it. It has Wi-Fi and you can purchase books from the Kobo store; they upload directly.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      How does your library, format wise? Mine does 99% kindle books, like they literally send me to Amazon to download it, so my dedicated reader is a kindle fire that I got from Amazon for $40.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        The library does both epub and Kindle formats. I also sometimes like to put PDF files to read on my phone, how would something like the kobo handle that?

      2. MysteryFan*

        It’s Kindle Paperwhite for me. In addition to the plethora of free/cheap books that are accessible thru Amazon
        Prime, most libraries have their Ebook library in Kindle format (as well as other formats such as EPub).

        The screen is backlit, but in a very diffuse and easy on the eyes light. Not to be confused with a Kindle Fire, which is more like an iPad/EReader combo. The screen on a Kindle Fire is backlit like a computer or phone.

    5. Pharmgirl*

      I have the kindle paper white and love it! It’s a good size, and most if my local library books are kindle so it works. The battery is great, and I really do feel like I’m reading a paper back book.

    6. Valancy Snaith*

      I have a Kobo Clara that I really love. Lightweight even with a case, easy to manage, and very straightforward to navigate. I bought one for my 72-year-old dad for Christmas last year and he was able to download books from the library onto it in seconds and he was very impressed with how quick and easy it was for him to do so. I definitely read more using it!

    7. cleo*

      I have a Kindle Fire – it’s a tablet, not a dedicated ebook book reader – I prefer a backlit screen to the e-ink readers I’ve tried.

      Even though it’s a tablet, I find my kindle fire much less distracting than my phone. I deliberately didn’t install any social medial apps like Facebook and I only use it for reading. You can add apps but it’s limited to a sub set of Android apps. Of the apps my library system uses, Overdrive and Hoopla are available but Libby isn’t.

    8. Senor Montoya*

      I use LIBBY on my ipad. Works great.

      This app can also send the books to your kindle, or to a kindle app on another device.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        2nd Libby. I have used it thru the app and thru my Kindle Voyager. I also have access to a statewide network of ePubs thru Libby that I can’t get directly from my library.

        OP, my kindle is wifi and just refreshes my new borrows when I sent them to my device. There is nothing but books on it, not like the Kindle Fire tablet which you might find as distracting as what you are doing now.

    9. MsChanandlerBong*

      I absolutely love my Kindle Paperwhite. I paid extra for the backlit edition so that I can read in bed without disturbing my husband. It stores tons of books, it’s easy to read (it’s not like looking at a screen, so it doesn’t bother my eyes like staring at a computer or tablet does), and it only has an experimental browser, so there’s almost no way to get distracted by the internet. The main drawback of it is that sometimes I can’t buy books directly from it; I have to log in to Amazon on my computer or smartphone, buy a book, and then send it to the Paperwhite. I don’t know why that is–seems odd that they’d have it set up so that people can’t make impulse purchases right from the device. But it’s not such a big flaw that I am unhappy with my purchase. One other pet peeve is that when you search for books in a series, it shows you a list of books with the full titles, but it cuts them off after a certain number of characters. So if the series isn’t displayed in order, which I find is true a lot of the time, you have to click on each title until you find the most recent one (or the first one if you’re looking to start a series from the beginning) because the series number is cut off. Again, it’s annoying, but not a dealbreaker.

    10. Ronda*

      I think all the ebook readers are pretty much same…. some small differences, but not really big ones (also differences between models over the years as they added and removed a few features) If you get a really old model, transfering by wifi might be one of those missing features.

      I use kindle. It seems libraries are now offering multiple formats of the book, so you should be able to use any reader you like. originally they didnt offer kindle formats, but that changed many years ago. I am an amazon user, so kindle book system is the best choice for me.

      If you like to read any of the comicbook type of books, you might be happier with a tablet that will allow color.

      If you enjoy reading on your phone and that is the preferred size…. just get an old phone with no phone/ internet connection to use for reading and dont add other stuff to it.
      The kindles have also gotten lighter over the years, so older models will be heavier (probably true with other brands too)

    11. Jenny*

      I have an early generation Kindle (it’s seriously ten years old) and I love it. My husband has the paperwhite, which he loves, but I will say I prefer my old school one. If you can find a well treated one used, I would say go for it. Comboed with Libby it is amazing.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve had both a Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Fire and liked both. The Fire is more like a true tablet and it’s good to take on trips. The Paperwhite was more of a dedicated reader. I like a “book” feel and have a cover for it that opens like a book.

    13. Thankful for AAM*

      I help people with ebooks for a living (public library).

      Overall the ereaders and tablets are pretty similar, it is just a matter of personal preferences. Like you get distracted by other apps, others care most about the light or the weight.

      A couple of things people did not mention so far in this thread:
      -Battery life. I love the long battery life on a kindle paperwhite, I think it might have the longest of all devices but dont know much about the kobo.
      -Apps/getting free library books. Google a device and the name of the apps/ebook systems your library uses to make sure they will work together. They should all download online to most devices. But the apps your library uses might not work with a Kobo (overdrive recently did add kobo support). Kobo will not work with Libby, the newer version of the overdrive app. And to get books on a kindle paperwhite requires putting the app on your phone to borrow items but there is an extra step – it sends you to Amazon to get the kindle version of the item, then the app will send the item to your kindle.
      -Weight. The kindle paperlight is very light.

      I personally find the kindle fire hard to read on bc of the light and the way it looks and feels.

      I love my kindle paperwhite for its battery life, light, and light weight. I don’t bother with a cover bc that makes it bulkier and harder to carry. I’m pretty hard on it and it is fine.

      I work in an affluent area but have never had anyone come in with a Kobo so I don’t have anything to add about that.

      I hope this helps!

    14. Stephanie*

      I have a Kindle Paperwhite. I was resistant, but it’s been pretty good as a dedicated e-reader. It’s backlit, but in a diffuse way.

    15. PhyllisB*

      I’m old school and prefer real books. My kids have tried for years to get me an e-reader and I have resisted. Having said that, I noticed my phone has a Kindle app on it and I’ve been thinking about trying it out. Does anyone on here use the app on their phone and do you like it?
      On a related note, I’ve seen on Amazon all these e-books you can get for free. Are they really free? How can they afford to give all these books away?

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        @Phyllis B
        The free Amazon books on kindle are, in my experience, self published, not very good, and/or not popular books.

        The best free option to trying ebooks and eaudiobooks (excellent on a phone, by the way) is free items from your local library.

        It would be easier to read the books in the app your library uses, Libby, Hoopla, Cloud library, etc. You could do the extra step and have some of them moved to the kindle app, but that just adds a confusing step to the process.

        You should be able to call your public library and they can walk you through the process they give you free access to.

  13. Hotdog not dog*

    Well, I’m happy to report that my garden has nearly reached “jungle mode”! It’s never looked more lush or been this productive. I’ve also never had the kind of time to devote to tending it than I do thanks to the lockdown, so I suppose there’s the tiny bit of silver lining in that. I’m currently up to my eyebrows in zucchini, but tomatoes are coming next! Can’t wait!

    1. Venus*

      Nice! We finally had some rain this week so I am hopeful my tomato plants will grow bigger. The raspberries were delicious and my garlic will soon be ready for picking.

    2. Anonymath*

      We’re at the time of year where it’s too hot for much of anything to grow except okra and peppers. I’d be happy to trade you okra for your zucchini! Passion fruit have finally stopped dropping, we ended up with over 600 of them. The papaya trees are about 4 feet tall and taking over their side of the side yard from the volunteer tomatoes. The new orange tree we bought has settled in and retained some of its fruit. Everything else is waiting till it cools off to get back to being productive.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We will be having our first zucchini and yellow squash today. happily I picked up 2 heirloom tomato plants because of all the seeds I started, nothing is big enough to have flowers yet even. Next year if I start my own seeds, I will be using 2 grow lights per shelf, and I won’t use those stupid little peat pots. I think the roots got damaged when I moved them out of the peat pots.
      The tomatoes are the only thing that the rose papers have not been eating to shreds. My poor dahlias made it through the winter but have not thrived. I have 3 hanging on by a thread…only one big enough to have flowers. Two bug-eaten flowers. :( Similar results with the geraniums. Except for the huge one in the pot…that’s still fun.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m not a gardener, but I thought the point of the little peat pots is that you just plant them with the starting-plant still in, rather than taking the started plant out of them? or am I thinking of something else?

      2. Me*

        Don’t use the peat pots. Too hard to get good root development.

        I start seeds in trays on a rolling metal rack (like 7-shelf rack from Lowe’s). I use 2 LED shop fixtures per shelf.

        I up-pot into 32 oz cottage cheese and yogurt containers with slots cut out along the bottom (water from bottom). Tomatoes get up-potted again into gallon black nursery pots.

        Squash doesn’t get up-potted. Start seed, get a bit of growth and then plant in garden within two weeks of sprouting. Just take care to not jostle roots when planting. Plant on a cool morning, shade plant first day or two depending on heat. Only water squash in mornings to avoid disease.

    4. Lena Carabina starter gardener*

      I have made a start on the back yard. I am doing a bit at a time because the soil is really clay-ey, and the dandelions have super taken root. I’m not sure I’m going to completely eliminate them – they’re like mini trees. If you know how to get rid of dandelions, I’m all ears!

      One of the roses that I bought and planted in the front strip of garden a wek ago ended up looking half dead, so I took it back and planted a fuchsia in its place. The other rose has flowered one glorious pastel yellow rose, which looks stunning. And I managed to do a bit of weeding on the front too, to maintain it!
      I’ll post a picture of the rose in a reply.

      I’m pretty impressed with myself ;)
      Now I just have to get some quotes for the back yard and see what I can do there.
      Any recommendations for plants in clay-type soil?

    5. KaciHall*

      I didn’t weed my garden for a well and realized that all of the weeds/grass I’d been pulling up were actually corn! I did not plant corn. We just bought this house so I guess the previous owner had corn planted out there – or a squirrel feeder!

      My tomato plants are growing excellently, though. The peppers aren’t doing as well in my garden, though I have hot peppers in containers in the front yard that are doing excellently!

      1. Me*

        Have you hit the peppers with some fertilizer? My in ground peppers need a side-dressing of dry fertilizer every few weeks. And that’s with tons of compost and mulch on them. They’re fairly heavy feeders.

  14. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    A few days ago, I suddenly started getting spam calls, texts and voicemails intended for someone named “Lucretia.” Needless to say, I am not Lucretia, and the solicitations I’m getting are for everything from credit-score-boosting products to weight-loss pills to seedy chat rooms. I’m getting about 15 unwanted calls and texts per day, sometimes several per hour. Aaugh!

    I tried researching how to stop this, and I’m already doing everything suggested:

    (1) Blocking the calls — ineffective, as they just call and text from different numbers. Also, blocking the calls doesn’t stop the voicemails from coming through.

    (2) Adding my number to “Do Not Call” registry — already done years ago. But if this “Lucretia” person actually exists, and they signed up voluntarily for something malicious using my number, does “Do Not Call” even apply?

    (3) Investigating how my service provider can help — I haven’t found any help that my provider (Spectrum) offers on this issue.

    (4) Changing settings on my phone — I discovered that my “Caller ID and spam protection” (on my Samsung smartphone) was set to “Off,” and I turned it “On.” That did improve things, but just a little.

    What am I missing? This also happened to my wife, and she says there’s nothing I can do but if I reject and block all the calls, it should run its course in about a month. Is that the best answer? 

    Thanks for any help!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      We had a huge pocket of spammers here. I noticed that when I stopped answering the phone, the frequency dropped off a lot.
      Years ago, I heard that the word “Hello” triggers the bot/recording. Since then I have made sure my out going message on the answering machine/voice mail does not start with hello. Not sure how true this one is any more.

      I think that phone service vendors are going to have to do more and more to block spam because the phones are getting to be almost useless.

      I do google some numbers and I can see from the sites reporting spammers that sometimes certain numbers are targeting a particular area atm.

    2. CJM*

      I’m sorry. That sounds maddening.

      You’re taking all the steps I’ve taken to manage an increasing number of spam calls. I took an additional step that’s helping. For me it’s the alerts that annoy me the most. So I turned them on only for numbers in my contacts list. All other numbers — unknown numbers — are silent. I figure that anyone I want to hear from who’s not in my contacts list can leave a voicemail message.

      That doesn’t solve your problem of unwanted voicemail messages you have to check, but for me it’s been a big help. I have fewer annoying interruptions and a small sense of control. Spammers no longer bother me as I nap on the couch. My mother, unfortunately, still does.

      I don’t remember exactly how I set this up. I think I turned alerts off globally in my phone’s options, and then I turned them on for all of my contacts — something like that. Or maybe there was an option to set alerts for contacts only. I didn’t set up each contact’s alert individually, but I would have to get some relief. I remember using Google to help me figure out how to do it on my particular model.

      Another thing that’s helped is to not dismiss spam calls. When I see an unknown number ring through (I may see it, but now I don’t hear it!), I don’t touch my phone. Spammers seem less likely to leave voicemails if I don’t dismiss their calls. Or maybe that’s just coincidence.

      I hope that helps. Good luck to us all! With elections coming, I think this will worsen.

      1. CJM*

        I just checked, and it looks like I visited the settings for my phone app and set the ringtone to “none.” Then I visited each of my top dozen contacts to assign ringtones. If other contacts call and leave me messages, I can decide if I want to set them up to have ringtones too (or let them just continue to leave me voicemails).

    3. Generic Name*

      I have this same problem, but it’s only political campaigns. I’m not sure if she intentionally provided a fake number or if it was by mistake. She has a fairly unique first name, and I managed to find her address via voter info. I have half a mind to knock on her door and tell her to stop using my number. I won’t of course. I just nicely tell the person contacting me the number is incorrect And to remove it from their list. My husband gets calls for someone named Michelle Kopernickle, who apparently has money problems. He’s gotten calls for years.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        My husband has gotten calls for years for a man named Greg — Greg skips out on rent, doesn’t pay his child support, and also occasionally gives out the number to his one night stands. We haven’t had calls for Greg for about a year now though. Not sure why! (Our theory is prison lol)

    4. Not A Manager*

      My phone has a setting to ignore any calls that aren’t from known numbers. They’re not blocked and can leave a message, so if it’s legit someone can still reach me. That reduces the annoyance of spam calls quite a bit.

      Before the update that enabled that feature, I would literally ignore any call from an unknown number. That was more of a pain because I’d have to grab my phone and reject the alert to stop it from ringing, but it was a decent workaround to actually answering all those bot calls.

      My theory is if a stranger really wants to reach me, they can leave a message.

      1. CJM*

        I have an older cell phone and looked for that setting (“ignore any calls that aren’t from known numbers”), but unfortunately it isn’t available to me. (How I wish I had it! I’d consider a new cell phone just to get that.) For others who don’t have that option, the steps I mentioned above work pretty well.

        I totally agree with you: Anyone who wants to leave a message — even my aunt who calls once a decade — still can. But only my closest family members and friends are allowed my immediate attention.

        1. Wander*

          I don’t know how old your phone is, but if you can download apps, there’s ones that do that. My spouse (with an 8 year old phone) uses one that sends any calls from a non-contact directly to voicemail. The phone will still ring for anyone on the contact list, but otherwise it’s silent.

    5. Red Sky*

      I’ve heard that the NoMoRobo app is good for cutting down on those types of calls and texts, but haven’t tried it myself yet.

    6. Senor Montoya*

      I don’t listen to any voicemail that is from an unrecognized number, I just delete it. If it shows up more than once, I take the time to block it before deleting.

      You have to keep up w your contact list — I deleted some voicemail from my new PT til I added her in. Ooops!

      I;m annoyed that I have to spend the time deleting and blocking…

    7. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Thanks for the responses. It sounds like there’s nothing I can do to make the actual calls stop. I’m kind of upset (at the situation, not you folks commenting!) because the number I got when I switched providers years ago belonged to a woman that seemed to have 300 ex-boyfriends. After years of blocking calls, it finally, eventually, all rolled to a stop. And now this one person gives out the wrong number to the wrong party, and I’m back to square one. Frustrating.

      1. Auntie Social*

        I tell callers that they’ve reached the Chem Lab at Nearby University (we have several colleges in town). Now that school is not in session I may become a City Water Dept or something. The caller is anxious to get off since it’s not a good number.

        1. Stephanie*

          I get a decent amount of spam calls on my work phone. Usually saying it’s a business line gets them to hang up super quickly.

        2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

          It’s funny, I was told in the past that answering the phone and engaging the caller validates that they have a real person and makes the spam many times worse. Is that not the case? Would I be better off answering the calls?

    8. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      I use Nomorobo for my house phone but do not want to spend the $$ for the cell phone. Since I use my cell phone for business, I can’t not pick up the phone. I answer, use the prompt to talk to the spammer and put the phone down. In the background, I hear, Hello, Hello, is anybody there and usually produce a smug smile while I continue with whatever I was doing.

    9. Thankful for AAM*

      There are lots of apps, many free, that block robocalls. They will even use AI to keep the caller talking, it can be pretty funny. A friend uses these apps and shares the recordings.

    10. lasslisa*

      The same thing started happening to me (but with a different name) around the same time. All texts, though. I thought someone had given a fake phone number and happened on mine, but then I realized they were all scams and not actual alerts.

      Just one after another of different “The state has unclaimed money for you! *Scam link*” and “your warranty is about to expire! Click here to renew it *scam link*”.

      I’ve been marking them spam as they come in, it’s not like the numbers are real so it doesn’t actually help to block them but I think maybe it’s helping the spam protection feature get better at diverting stuff with links from unknown numbers? The frequency is going down, anyway. I’ve made a point of not replying STOP since I figure that’s just a way for them to know it’s a live number.

    11. Wired Wolf*

      I was getting a similar pile of stuff like that, it started with an apparent errant text notifying someone named Darlene that her CBD order was on the way (complete with ‘delivery tracking’ link, thanks but no) and snowballed from there. My call-blocking caught most of it, but it still doesn’t recognize some numbers.

      If your number is on the Do Not Call list then you can report any robocalls/spam; doesn’t mater how they got your number.

  15. nep*

    I wouldn’t want to live without my oils:
    black seed
    What oils do you use regularly? What do you love about them?

    1. Lena Carabina*

      Weleda almond oil. I have oily skin with really dry eyes and this is the only oil I can use that doesn’t give me spots or wreck my skin. I love it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Peppermint. Don’t come between me and my peppermint. I love the consistent results in lowering pain levels. I love how I can use it in the middle of the night and sleep with low or no pain for the rest of the night.

      You know what I loved-loved was black currant seed oil for my dry skin. omg. It came in a capsule, so I ingested as opposed to using topically. With in days, I saw a difference in my skin. It’s spendy though, so I don’t indulge too often and I try to get other less expensive things to work.

      I use an arnica cream for when I go to work, because not everyone loves peppermint. The arnica works great also.

      1. nep*

        Yessss peppermint oil to take the edge off paint in an instant. I’ve got it with me in my bag at all times, another bottle at my desk at home. So grateful for it.
        Never tried black currant seed oil…Only read a bit about it. I should give it a go.

        1. nep*

          (Also love to put peppermint oil around my nose and eyes just to let it flow…blowing the nose and wiping tears for the following few minutes.)

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        Wait, what? Peppermint oil relieves pain? You had me at “sleep with low or no pain”. How does that work? I am a chronic pain endurer (I hate the word ‘sufferer’), and would need it for my neck, one knee and my hands. Does it stain? Where do you get it? So many questions.

        1. nep*

          I get mine at the health food store. Make sure it’s 100% pure peppermint oil.
          Have you tried arnica or castor oil for your pain? I’ve also had great results with those two. But depending on the type of pain, there is something magical in the way peppermint oil instantly takes the edge off. I hope you’ll have good results with one of these.

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            nep, thanks! I will investigate. I took arnica homepathic tablets back in the 80s but never found them to be that useful. I like the idea of ‘magical’ – I will play with the peppermint oil and see how it works. Thanks again! :)

            1. nep*

              I find that arnica is best when there is muscle soreness from exercise or some physical work your body’s not used to–that kind of sore muscles as opposed to chronic pain.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              It’s funny that you should mention that about arnica. I tried a topical years ago and I yawned. It seemed to do nothing. I tried again within the last 10 years and threw away the Bengay. It could be I found a different brand of arnica. It could be that I wasn’t assessing the source of my pain correctly. Not sure. But the topical works fine for me now. I think that is odd….

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I don’t know how it works, but it feels cold like Bengay feels cold. I just put a few drops on my index finger and rub it on my neck or back where ever it hurts.
          Some times the pain is pretty intense, so I never feel the coolness. However the pain goes down and I can sleep. Note that it does not loosen tight muscles, it just helps the pain to dial back. I do find that if I am less upset over pain the muscles in the pain area will relax a tad.

          Go to a health food store and ask, they will help you. It’s worth buying a well-known and trusted brand. Some of the cheaper brands may be inconsistent in their quality.

          I don’t care for peppermint oil on my hand because I tend to sleep with my hand under my pillow so this puts the peppermint near my eyes. Then I get uncomfortable. For my hands, wrists, elbows I would use arnica at night. You can get arnica cream at the health food store also.

          I don’t see either one staining anything and there have been nights where I almost did my whole back with the peppermint or the arnica. So no stains on the night clothes and no stains on the sheets.

          Peppermint oil is also nice for certain types of headaches. I put it on the back of my neck, again to be away from my eyes.

          If you are interested in other natural pain stuff, I have had great luck with turmeric specifically Gaia brand. I used that when I had 7 teeth pulled over 7 appointments. I did take OTC ibuprofen on the day of the removal but after that I just went with the turmeric. The doc said it was on a par with Motrin 800s. And he said he kept a bottle in the house to use as others would use ibuprofen. So that is what I do now.
          I also have a TENS unit that works well on pain. So if you have not looked into that you might find it interesting. My husband originally had it because his PT recommended it.

      3. NoLongerYoung*

        I hadn’t heard of black current seed oil, either… I just searched and it looks like external pops up first. How do you know you have a reliable vendor?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Price kind of telegraphs what might be going on.

          But usually practicioners (Chiros and other folks) know, but so do health food store employees. Basically what to look for a company with a reputation for consistency. It’s normal for plants to have growing seasons and it’s normal for some harvest times to be better nutritionally than other harvest times. So a good company makes sure that their quality remains the same no matter what.

          I quickly checked to see if Gaia Herbs has it, but I could not find that they did. I know the docs like this Gaia brand. I see Solaray makes it. I have used their willow bark and I have been satisfied with the willow bark, but I don’t know about their over all reputation.

          I bought mine directly from a practicioner and that brand is not available OTC. ugh.

    3. nep*

      I also love oil pulling with coconut oil. If I’ve got any kind of irritation with a tooth or in the mouth, this will calm it immediately. And the mouth just feels so clean and wonderful when I do it consistently.

      1. I take tea*

        Jojoba oil for my skin. When I tried it first I thought it would feel oily, but it just moisturizes properly. I can’t stand lotion on my face any more. I have tried coconut oil as well, but I have a problem with smelling like a candy bar :-) Coconut is good for dryness in the nether regions, though.

        Rapeseed/Canola oil for cooking. It’s quite versatile and doesn’t taste of anything much. Healthier than sunflower oil, as well.

    4. Nervous Nellie*

      Hiya nep! I read your question as culinary oils and was going to mention toasted walnut oil (great with lemons over an arugula salad, but anyway….), but once again you have introduced a mindblowing idea to me. Peppermint oil for pain? I had no idea. Thank you, thank you, thank you. :)

      1. nep*

        Both culinary and body…both. I use oils all day long.
        Yes–peppermint oil is amazing. I hope it works well for you. Arnica oil is miraculous for muscle aches also. Let us know how peppermint oil works for you.

      1. nep*

        I completely forgot tea tree oil in my list. Great stuff.
        (Also a great natural ant repellent.)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Tea tree oil on burns. omg.

        So I had a tray of chicken in the oven. I went to pull the tray out and lost by grip but not entirely lost my grip. I followed the tray down to the hot oven door and slammed my bare arm into the hot oven door.
        oh crud.

        I got out my tea tree oil. I had never tried it on burns before. It stung, fortunately I had ice handy and I grabbed that ice. The stinging stopped in a few minutes, but I had to keep the ice on it. Later I realized that the stinging seemed necessary for the healing that followed.

        The burn was probably around 2 inches in diameter. It never blistered up, it never oozed and I never got a scar. After the initial treatment I treated the burn by wiping it with tea tree and icing it each day. Oddly it did not sting these times.
        I had to see a doc about something else, so I asked him to assess my burn and how it was healing up. He kept saying, “OMG, that is clean. Holy crap that is CLEAN.” He said to just stay the course.
        No scar ever formed. And I had read this over and over, people are less apt to get scars with tea tree.

        Yep. I am now a believer.

        1. blue wall*

          Tea tree essential oil? Did you put it directly on to the burn?
          I burnt my arm on the oven maybe 7 weeks ago now and the would is still healing.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yes, I used a little gauze pad to dab it on very gently. If I am feeling cautious I’d put the tea tree on a gauze pad then put the pad on the wound.

            I used just a little at first so I could see how things went. And I had that ice pack beside me. It did sting, so I grabbed the ice. I had something between the ice and the pad so the wound did not get wet.
            Later I did feel a drawing sensation, but I could not see anything. Oddly, I was not upset by the feeling, rather I felt relief, like knowing that it would heal in a bit.

            There are also books about using tea tree as first aid, if you’d like to see more.

          2. Batgirl*

            Although tea tree is an oil you can use undiluted, and I do; be wary if its your first time using it. While peppermint is mother’s milk to me it’s a horrible allergen to my friend which lands her in the hospital. Even in toothpaste format. Start slow with diluted amounts in base oils as patch tests.

        2. Batgirl*

          I’ve always used lavender over tea tree, though tea tree will do. I would use it after a dousing of cold water or ice on the skin.
          It was my mother’s method and we kept lavender and tea tree in the kitchen, so I didn’t know what it was like to *not* do that on burns.
          One time I burned both arms with a wide oven tray and decided to just try it on my left, using only water on the right. Wow the right burn itched and stung for ages.
          I’m more likely to go for an aloe leaf now though. They’re great frozen.

      3. Batgirl*

        I like to mix it with peppermint. Mustard powder on its own makes a good reviving footbath too.

    5. Batgirl*

      Coconut oil mixed with dead sea salt in the shower has pretty much eliminated my really painful psoriasis.
      I use argan oil on my hair after being amazed at what it did for my coarseness and frizz on a trip to the hammam in Morocco.
      I’ve always used sweet almond oil on my skin, my mother’s trick.
      I also never go anywhere without my trinity; peppermint, lavender and tea tree. Mix lavender and tea tree together for temple headaches, use peppermint for digestion soreness, tea tree on a cold sore or to inhale for the sniffles.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Can you elaborate on this psoriasis eliminating option? I have a patch on my leg that is really noticeable and the medicated creams don’t do much about it, but it’s a small enough patch and mild enough that my doc and I don’t want to get into the heavier-duty systemic treatments, so I’ve mostly been “treating” it with glares and extra-moisturizing lotion.

        1. Batgirl*

          I literally just mix plain dead sea salt (westlab) with some melted (grocery store) coconut oil and use it as a scrub. To whatver consistency you like. Some people dry scrub with just the salt (I assume you’ve heard about the psoriasis benefits of visiting the dead sea). Mine was super painful raw psoriasis so I went for the oiled option (Which was still painful but isn’t now it’s just the occasional patch. The salt feels like beneficial scritchy scratching!). This is daily in the shower and I could rave about my skin now. I mostly don’t need top up moisturiser but when I do, I rub on some coconut oil or pure aloe vera gel. The prescription creams were so useless. They usually had an irritant in the inci list – I can’t use SLS even when its a rinsible soap and it was in most creams. Why?!
          My psoriasis was super bad so I also did an exclusion diet and discovered gluten kicks it off . Some people find it’s nightshades.

  16. Coconut oil*

    For some unknown reason, I ordered 2 containers of coconut oil in my grocery shopping, which is something I was just kind of going to try. But now, I really want to use it up. It doesn’t seem that I could just use it in place of olive oil. Any tips on how or where to use it or any good recipes that use coconut oil?

    1. nep*

      I have one jar in the bathroom and another in the kitchen. It’s divine for the skin. In the kitchen, I use it when I roast potato wedges. I also mix some into store-bought lentil soup, along with pepper and turmeric. Coconut oil gives a nice flavor when used in place of other oils for cooking (if you like the flavor, anyway).

      1. Lena Carabina*

        And because it goes hard when it’s at room temp or cold, or liquid when it’s warm it’ll make a difference to the recipe you use it in, which is why you can’t substitute the usual oils for it which are liquid at room temp and heated.

        1. nep*

          Yes, it’s cool how the jar of coconut oil changes with the weather–clear liquid to white solid depending on temps.

    2. Catherine*

      It makes an excellent hair mask!

      I also like to melt a chunk in a bowl and add sugar to make a really nice sugar scrub for lips, knees, elbows, etc.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If the jar is crazy big even with all these ideas, and you’re flush just not wanting to be wasteful, consider a food bank. Cooking oils and non-European ingredients can both be rare.

    4. Purt’s Peas*

      Use it for some curries. Stella Parks has some great brand-recreation recipes that use coconut oil, like her Hostess cupcakes recipe, which is really good.

    5. Sunflower*

      I like to make Cauliflower Fried rice with lots of veggies and cococnut oil. Gives it a good flavor.

    6. HBJ*

      I use it interchangeably with olive oil, with the exception of not using it for savory foods. This depends on the type you got. If yours is fairly refined, it won’t taste coconuty, but if it’s less refined, it will. I use it in baked goods all the time, and it can add a nice very subtle additional flavor to breads and pancakes and such.

    7. Jackalope*

      I use it for quick-rise breads: apple bread, pumpkin bread, cranberry bread, etc. in place of the regular vegetable oil they tend to recommend. It gives it a coconut flavor and a slightly different texture that I like.

      1. San Juan Worm*

        I use coconut oil in homemade granola:
        Heat 1/3 c maple syrup, 1/3 c brown or coconut sugar; 4 tsp almond extract;
        ½ c coconut oil. Pour over 5c rolled oats, 1c sliced almonds and 1c sunflower seeds. Use a spatula to press onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Once cool, break up and add freeze-dried blueberries and chopped crystallized ginger. Serve with yogurt. (One batch gets me at least enough for 45 weekday breakfasts.)

    8. RagingADHD*

      Great for frying, or for brushing on things to oven-bake. You get a really crispy finish.

      Ive also used in baking to replace butter or shortening in pastry, greasing tins, etc. You have to work with it quickly because of the low melting point, but it’s tasty.

    9. Fellow Traveler*

      I use coconut oil as the oil for granola bars (Smitten Kitchen recipe) or for granola (Cookie and Kate recipe. I also use it for cooking in Indian food instead of ghee sometimes.

    10. Stephanie*

      Good for popcorn or as a hair deep conditioner (my hair gets dry and always needs moisture). Can also be good for vegan baking.

    11. Parenthetically*

      I use coconut oil for cooking almost everywhere I don’t want the flavor of olive oil!

    12. Duvie*

      I never cook with it (husband hates the flavour) but it’s great for dry skin and for removing makeup.

  17. Recent Grad*

    Coconut oil is very greasy and has a very distinct flavor so be careful cooking with it. I can always taste when coconut oil has been used which can honestly be pretty gross (I love coconut but not with all foods/flavors). If you are also able to strongly taste it be careful, there are some recipes out there that will just end up being an inedible waste of ingredients.

  18. Millicent*

    I bought a Subaru Impreza yesterday. I am having buyer’s remorse! Are there any Subaru owners out there who can encourage me? How are the maintenance costs, longevity, reliability? I did research and test drive a few different car makes, but the dealership didn’t have the color I wanted and that may be partially coloring (haha) my experience now.

    1. nep*

      Why do you have buyer’s remorse? I don’t own a Subaru, but I’ve never heard a Subaru owner say anything bad about them–only good. Reliable and durable as all get out, if maintained well. They are always highly recommended from what I hear.

      1. Millicent*

        I’m just not loving it. It’s kind of a boring looking car, I can’t get the seats adjusted right, and cars have come a long way since my last new car a decade ago! The operating manuals alone are three inches thick, and the dashboard displays are overwhelming.

        So I think it’s a combination of just change, which is hard, and not being able to get the color I wanted. And the money.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Aww, I hope you can take each thing and just go one step at a time to sort it all. Perhaps someone would help you orient to the car?

          I am not laughing here, I’m serious. My friend bought a high tech car and the dealership would not let her drive it until she had training from them. This is where cars are going, we need training to drive a vehicle. BTW, my friend is a techie. She is absolutely no stranger to technology at all, so this must have been SOP for the dealership.

          I got a new-to-me vehicle a while ago. Another friend became concerned when I did not just run and jump right into it and drive it all over. (I don’t like to waste gas.) He said, “Com’ on, we are going to take the dog for a ride.” And out we went. Years later, the same friend could not find the emergency flashers on it and could not figure out what the O/D light was and how to make it “go away”.

          It looks to me like this is where we are going with cars. We’ll need a doctorate in technology to drive one.

          I hope I can add my voice of encouragement that you probably have a good and safe car. Perhaps you can find YouTube videos that answer some of your concerns. Friends of mine that absolutely HAVE to get to work/meetings/etc have Subarus. I’d have one if there was a dealership near by to repair it. The car place I have used for decades does not work on Subs and I am not wanting to go elsewhere.

          I remember learning to use a computer decades ago. The teacher said to read the screen. But do it in an organized manner. start at the very top and go down, similar to reading a book or a newspaper.
          Perhaps you can just sit with the engine running and “read” your dashboard in an organized manner to see what everything is.

        2. Ranon*

          Subaru’s electronic dashboards are terrible, and I say this as someone who quite likes driving them. We got the lower trim with the plain knobs when we bought ours because the higher end one in the model year we bought was dreadful.

        3. Ellie Mayhem*

          I drove a Subaru Outback for a few days and really liked it; it was too small for my needs but they are great vehicles. That being said, don’t keep it if you don’t love it. Most dealerships give you a three-day window to return a purchase. Cars are too expensive to have to settle if you don’t need to, in my opinion.

          1. Isabel Archer*

            Just wanted to note for the OP that installment contracts are governed by the laws of the state in which you bought the vehicle. Any sort of return policy (such as the “three-day window” mentioned above, or what is sometimes called a “cooling off period”) comes from those laws, and is not up to the dealership. Whether your state allows returns should be printed somewhere on the contract. I live in NJ, and have worked for both a dealership and an auto lender, and our installment contracts clearly state that there is no cooling off period. Once you sign, you can’t back out. So check your contract to see if it’s even possible for you to return the car. All of that being said, the dealer *may* have some discretion to cancel the contract, as long as you switch to a different car, but that’s very different from being legally obligated to allow *you* to cancel the contract. Good luck!

            1. Ellie Mayhem*

              I had no idea it wasn’t at the dealer’s discretion. Thank you for the information!

              1. Isabel Archer*

                My pleasure! Lots of people believe this, so considered it a public service announcement. :-) And I didn’t want the OP to go back to the Subaru dealer thinking this was true without checking his/her contract first.

        4. nep*

          I hear you. Makes sense. Hope you’ll come to love it and be happy with your purchase. May you get a lot of good years out of it.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      I bought a Crosstrek a year ago (my first Subaru) and I loooove it. It’s a beautiful orange color and I just love the way it drives. I had never even thought about a Subaru before buying this car but now I’m so glad I got it. They have a ton of safety features, all wheel drive, hold their value and are fun to drive. So I think you made a great decision :)

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I’m going to switch to the Crosstrek when I have to retire my Outback. I borrowed one from my dealer last year and loved it.

      2. nep*

        I LOVE the look of the Crosstrek. Just love it. I stare whenever I see one. The orange Crosstrek is great. That is one car that looks great in that color.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m on my second Outback in 20 years, and my next car will be a Subaru too. The last couple of times I’ve had to use a dealer car it’s definitely been an adjustment. Things are so different in the new cars, and I didn’t feel entirely comfortable. It takes a while to get used to all the new bells and whistles. For the seat adjustment, it is tricky to get right, especially since you can adjust multiple ways – back/forward, up/down and tilt. I hope that a little more time getting used to your new car does the trick.

    4. GoryDetails*

      I’m a bit prejudiced, as I’m on my second Subaru now, but I like ’em. My first was a 2000 Impreza Outback Sport, the one with the rather racy side-panels; I loved the look, and found that the size, handling, and overall feel was perfect for me. Pretty much drove that car into the ground! Got a new Impreza in 2017, and wound up with technology shock: it took me a while to get used to the dashboard displays and all the other changes. But now I adore the backup camera (though I always look for myself as well), the wireless sound capabilities (audiobooks!), and other features. The car’s pretty high on the safety scale for vehicles of its size, and I’ve been happy with Subaru service and reliability over the years. (Got something like 170,000 miles on my old one before the side panels rusted out!)

      That said, I agree that the newer model is more boring to look at than the old Outback Sport, and I noticed that there’s less ground clearance, which is a bit of a headache on rough roads – not that I do a lot of unpaved-road driving these days, but it was nice to have the option to drive over snowplow ridges!

      I don’t know if that helps you, but I would suggest giving it a little time; once you’re used to the new features you may be more comfortable with the car.

    5. Lindsay*

      I loooove my Subaru. It’s a super reliable car – I have a Legacy and then I used to have another Legacy and then before that I drove a Legacy station wagon. I love how it can drive through almost anything and be fine. I live in Maine and drive to work early in the morning in icy conditions and I always pass people who are stuck/slid off the road and I’m still chugging along.

      1. Millicent*

        Haha, I actually moved to Maine three years ago! Maybe that’s part of my anxiety – now that I’ve bought a Subaru, I’m officially a Mainer, but I’m not sure I’m ready to be one.

        1. Lindsay*

          I’m not really a Mainer either – I lived in Connecticut my whole life up until two years ago! But I had the Subaru in Connecticut for years first.

    6. SpellingBee*

      We’re on our third Subaru in just over 21 years and we love them. First was a Legacy station wagon, then 2 Foresters in a row. Reliability has been great and I adore the Eyesight feature on our latest one (a 2016). It provides emergency braking and also adaptive cruise control, which if you do any highway driving is the best thing ever. I like the slightly larger cargo capacity of the Forester for carrying plants and gardening supplies, but we looked at the Impreza and the Crosstrek as well and considered them seriously when we bought our current Forester. Adjusting to a new car can be tough but I think you’ll really like it once you do.

      1. Belle*

        We also have a Forester and LOVE it. Have had no issues with it and it does amazing in the winter time. We also like how easy it was to install a baby car seat in the back. Bought ours in 2014 and still in great shape.

        1. Fish Microwaver*

          I have recently bought a Forester, having never owned a Subaru. It’s a great car, has good fuel economy, drives well, feels safe and has plenty of room. It’s true the owner manual is hefty and it takes a while to get used to the car, and for it to get used to you but I really enjoy it.

    7. Generic Name*

      I adore my crosstrek. I have one minor complaint about it, and it’s that it’s a bit underpowered. But that said, it doesn’t really bother me; I’m not a lead foot and I’m not willing to sacrifice gas mileage to be able to merge more quickly. I feel like I can go anywhere in that thing. It was important to me as a single woman (at the time) to not worry about getting stranded, and it always got me through. I’ve only had it for 3 years give or take, but I’ve only had oil changes and it’s never broken down or had repairs. (Unlike my ex husbands Pontiac G whatever that had the alternator replaced 3 times)

    8. LibbyG*

      I had a 2003 Impreza sedan that I LOVED. Good, solid car. Drove it for many years.

      I hear you about all of the new controls. We got a 2020 car that I don’t drive regularly, so I’m always perpetually annoyed that I don’t like all the various settings and don’t know how to quickly change them to my preferences. Maybe you need to set aside an hour or so to sit there with the owners manual and learn your car.

    9. Nicole76*

      I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling remorse. It took me 2-3 years of looking at vehicles (on and off) before replacing my VW Jetta with a Subaru Crosstrek, but I’m really happy with my decision.

      When I bought my Jetta, I wasn’t able to get the color I wanted (silver) without being willing to order a car and wait three months. It was May at the time and the A/C in my older vehicle was broken, so I settled for what was called Atlantic Blue instead. Luckily I grew to love the color, but decided I would not settle on my next car.

      Unfortunately for me, when I stumbled upon Subaru in early 2017, I wanted the Quartz Blue Pearl Crosstrek with black cloth, a combo that was only available with a manual transmission in the 2017 models that were still being sold at the time. There was no way I wanted an ivory interior, and I wasn’t sold on any of the other exterior colors, so I decided to put my search on hold. I’m glad I did because when the 2018 models came out later that year, not only were the body styles upgraded, and thus looked even better than the 2017 models, but the Quartz Blue Pearl was available with a grey cloth interior which was much more appealing to me (and would keep the interior cooler than black anyway). My Jetta had a black interior, and while I really like how black interiors look, it got awfully hot inside that car. Anyway, that’s all to say I completely understand the feeling of not getting the color you want, particularly if you’re like me and hold onto cars for 15-20 years. You definitely should get what you want, even if that doesn’t end up being a Subaru in the end.

      That being said, Subarus are great cars, and way more affordable than I thought before getting mine, so perhaps you would be much happier returning the vehicle and ordering one in the color you really wanted, even if that means waiting a few months to get it. That’s assuming you’ll be able to adjust to whatever other things about the vehicle you’re just not feeling at the moment. It took my quite awhile to get used to the way the Crosstrek drives, and I suspect that might be the same for the Impreza as well, due to the CVT (continuously variable transmission).

      Now that I think about it, maybe you would like a Crosstrek better based on your reply to nep. It’s the same frame as the Impreza, but it sits up a little higher and has a more attractive exterior, thus it’s a little less boring looking than the Impreza.

    10. Bluebell*

      We’ve had two Legacies- bought them both used, and kept them until over 100k miles. Now we have an Impreza. It’s been fairly trouble free, and we bought it new and splurged to get a moon roof. In a perfect world we’d want a little higher clearance, but overall we are quite happy with it. We ended up with our second choice color (white) because the indigo was a 4-6 week wait.

    11. Deanna Troi*

      They are amazing in the snow!! I am on my third one – they are the only cars I’ve purchased in my adult life. When I first started dating my husband, the snow plow had plowed a big ridge in front of my driveway. He was going to shovel it out, but I just drove through it like it wasn’t even there. He was shocked. He had a Jeep and they are 100 times better both in the snow and off-road than the Jeep was. Any time anyone tells that a Jeep is the best off road, I always tell them they’ve obviously never driven a Subaru.

    12. valentine*

      Call your sales rep (or someone you like there) and see if they can have someone work with you to get comfy with the tech.

      And ask what it would take to get the color you want. Do they have it anywhere in the country?

      What’s their return policy?

    13. Lonely Aussie*

      I’m a Subaru outback owner, absolutely love mine. It’s fun, responsive and an awesome car to drive. I need all wheel drive too. Sometimes they can be more expensive to repair (my 2002 outback has very little room under the hood, so tricky to get at parts) don’t skimp on the servicing, do it as often as Subaru recommends and find a mechanic who specialises in them, even if it’s not through the dealer. It might just be my small city in rural Australia but I did go through two mechanics before my current one because they weren’t used to working on them. Your miles may vary.
      They’ll look after you if you look after them and they seem to go forever.


      I have a Subaru Baja and have been looking at the Impreza and Crosstrek as a replacement. I cannot kill this car and I have tried. I am up to 205K miles. Basically the only reason I am looking is due to rust on the frame.

      That said, if you cant get the seat adjusted to the right position, it may not be the car for you. :(

  19. Anon for this*

    (Slight body TMI coming up.) I could use some advice for really oily facial skin, especially since I am clueless about skin care and am having a hard time making moisturizers work. I basically want to be able to put in minimal effort.

    I’m a cis woman in my thirties. I have PCOS, and used to have bad facial acne all the time, but that has finally faded in recent years, and my skin looks much better, thank heavens. However, it still pretty much drips oil, and I’m fed up with this. (I’ve never worn makeup, and – if it matters – I don’t know how to describe skin tone but I’m somewhere between my parents. One is super-white and the other’s a more olive-y mix of European and Middle Eastern.)

    I used to wash my face twice a day, but a dermatologist told me I was probably over-washing it and causing massive overproduction of oil, so I cut back to a couple of times a week. Unfortunately, that made me feel gross all the time and there was soon a huge buildup of dead skin everywhere. I’ve since compromised and now wash my face about twice every three days. There is still so much oil that my face itches in the middle of the night, every night, especially around my nose, and now every single one of my pillowcases gets badly stained within 6-8 months (in the spots where I put the sides of my face, not where I put my hair), which I’m finding a bit humiliating.

    I did recently buy a moisturizer that’s supposed to help with really oily skin, but unfortunately I also have a small number of weird and specific sensory sensitivity issues. One is that the feeling of gooey things like creams and ointments against my skin basically makes me want to throw up. This has been true as long as I can remember; I switched to spray-on/stick sunscreen as soon as I was old enough to make my own choices about that, and the memory of normal sunscreen still makes me shudder. (I can definitely deal with toners that are mostly water/alcohol and dry quickly, but the ones I’ve tried don’t seem to be helping.)

    Would appreciate some advice from people who know much more about this sort of thing than I do. Thanks!

    1. Lena Carabina*

      Fellow oily-skinned person here!
      Im 46 and it’s taken me years of trial and error to finally get what works for me.

      I wash every day using a mild face wash; full disclosure I’m vegan but I do use Holland and Barrett Manuka Honey wash and scrub because it’s the only thing that seems to help my skin.
      I don’t use anything designed for any particular skin type, especially oily skin, because I find it strips my skin out and makes it feel terrible.

      I use aloe vera gel someone’s with a drop of tea tree oil or sometimes without as a moisturiser in the day (and I stay out of the sun because tea tree oil can be like a bleach on the skin) and at night I use Weleda almond oil. Anything else is far far too greasy and gives me worse acne.

      When I have a bout of spots, salicylic acid products usually do the trick to clear it up pretty quickly.

    2. Lena Carabina*

      Oh and I know you’re asking about skin care products from the inside, but what I’ve found has helped me is looking at what I put into my body too, so lots of veg, a variety of grains, plenty of water, easy on the processed sugar, low salt, exercise, regular sleep, etc etc. That’s all helped my skin.

      1. Trixie*

        I was thinking about diet too. Certain dietary habits may help or worsen the situation. (Or it could be just genetics.) When I eat more greens and veggies plus Omega 3/6 foods, my skin looks and feels so much better. Otherwise, larger pores (can’t really change those) that secrete more oil. (Make up doesn’t help but can make it worse.)

        1. Lena Carabina*

          Yes to the Omega 3 & 6 . I take an algae-derived supplement of DHA/EPA (where the fish get their omega 3 from) and have noticed an improvement in my skin from it.

    3. CJM*

      I have semi-oily skin and don’t wear makeup either (never have — nor moisturizer). I’m a hippie when it comes to girly stuff: I do my own thing and aim for minimal effort. Especially now that I’m mostly home during the pandemic and not showering as often as I used to, I wash my face whenever it feels gross. That’s usually at bedtime and first thing in the morning, but I’ll also give it a light, quick wash midday if it’s bothering me.

      I hope it’s okay to chime in even though my skin isn’t super oily. But it sounds like you’ve traded one problem for another: over-washing or feeling gross. Washing once or twice a day with a gentle soap and water — and a washcloth to give a light but not vigorous scrub — sounds fine to me as a middle ground. It definitely works for me.

    4. Whiskey on the rocks*

      There are some very skilled aestheticians who can give you tailored advice, although I’d see if you can get recommendations locally as there are definitely those who just push products. For myself, I wash my face daily, but find a cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin. I use Neutrogena naturals with tara seed that I find comfortable. A light moisturizer will help keep your skin from overcompensating with oil production. I like derma-e. I exfoliate twice a week; if you do that choose something gentle and not too scrubby. You may also be interested in oil cleansing. It sounds counter intuitive but you use oil to remove oil. I did it for awhile and liked it a lot. The Crunchy Betty website has detailed info and oil suggestions.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. Being literally uncomfortable in your skin is the worst.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I had very good lucky with Paula’s Choice products, and the advice on the website. I found their liquid exfoliants to be really helpful with clogged pores/dead skin buildup; they are thin liquids, not creamy. I found the moisturizer to be light as well, but it may be too heavy for your sensitivity. There is a whole line on paulaschoice dot com for oil control. I think they have starter kits and travel sizes so you aren’t committed to a big bottle, and their return policy is pretty good too.

      1. Anon for this*

        Paula’s Choice is excellent and customer service will absolutely help with creating you a routine. Plus you can return anything, used, that didn’t work for you.

    6. WellRed*

      I think you should wash everyday. I used to in the am and at bedtime, now just at bedtime. If nothing else, you want to wash away the day’s detritus. Also, seconding recommendations to use a light moisturizer. I love Neutrogena’s hydrogel lotion. It’s light and refreshing, but there are plenty of similar products.

      1. Syls*

        +1000 for the Neutrogena Hydro stuff!!! I just got the Hydro Boost and I love it so much! The skin on my face feels super soft and so far my random acne hasn’t been effected negatively at all.

    7. Dancing Otter*

      Rinse your face without soap as often as you like. Use a soft facecloth, not anything too rough. This won’t be as drying as soap, but will help with dead skin and oil buildup. You can also blot the oil with tissue between washings.
      If following that doctor’s advice isn’t helping, maybe it was the wrong advice.

      1. CJM*

        “If following that doctor’s advice isn’t helping, maybe it was the wrong advice.”

        Love that! And I agree.

      2. Ethyl*

        “Use a soft facecloth, not anything too rough.”

        OP could also try out the “makeup eraser” cloth. No soap needed, does a gentle exfoliation and gets the ick off. It feels kinda funny to me but it works great and doesn’t dry out my skin. I only have a tiny one I got in my Play box (rip play), but a full size one would be much more convenient!

      3. Overeducated*

        This is what i do. I learned in my 20s that my skin liked water better than the various products I was using to try to balance it out. I don’t moisturize, just use a very light sunscreen when I remember. But I am also in my 30s and cannot guarantee that this approach will result in skin aging well.

      4. XYZ*

        This is going to sound weird, but for face blotting I’ve used the blue shop towels (sold like a roll of paper towels but thicker and more absorbent) found in auto shops and part stores. Way cheaper than the tiny cosmetic ones and worked better on my PMS induced oil factory face, too.

      5. Parenthetically*

        Was just going to say this. I find if I wash with a deep-cleansing charcoal soap at night, then just do water and a gentle scrub with a soft cloth in the morning, I have better luck.

    8. Qwerty*

      I’ve had decent luck with diluted apple cider vinegar as a face toner. I’m oily in the summer and dry in the winter, so it seems to be a helpful balancing act on both sides. I use it after I wash my face at night before going to bed.

    9. Aealias*

      I also have oily skin that gets angry about being washed. I’ve had success with a straight water or gentle cleanser wash every time I wash my hair (every 3 days or so), and I follow up with a gel moisturizer (Nivea and Garnier both make great light gel moisturizers) every time I wash my face. The moisturizer seems to keep my skin from freaking out and overproducing, but the gel doesn’t feel as heavy and yucky as a typical cream.
      I do occasionally do a washcloth and water “wash” when my face just feels gross, but it’s really key to follow up with the moisturizer immediately, so my skin doesn’t feel dry and have a freak out.

    10. Melody Pond*

      Another oily-skinned person here. Search for videos/instructions on “oil cleansing” – it made a huge difference for me. Instead of trying to continuously remove the excess oil, use a “healthy” oil for your skin to dissolve and remove some of the excess oil your own body is producing.

      I use jojoba oil (which I guess is technically a wax, not an oil?) to wash my face, and OMG my skin got so much happier after a couple weeks of doing this (especially when used after the occasional sugar scrub). I still tend towards oily skin, but it’s way less excessive.

      1. Sunset Maple*

        I second oil cleansing. I am an extreme combo skin person–cheeks so dry they flake and get ruddy, T-zone so oily it drips. I have delved into Korean skin care and absolutely love oil cleansing, particularly the Hada Labo Gokujyun Cleansing Oil. I use it as the first step in a double cleansing routine when I’m extra cruddy (or wearing strong SPF) but it also melts away easily in the shower and can be used alone.

    11. ...*

      Get a new dermatologist! Its completely normal to wash your face daily. You don’t want to wash 5x a day, but most people wash morning and night. Just wash 1 once a day. It sounds like a really problem, so I would go to a new derm.

    12. Batgirl*

      What?! There’s nothing wrong with washing your face daily. Yes, you can overstrip your face, encouraging oil production, but that’s usually down to using something that’s as super foamy as dishsoap or bathroom cleaner. Switch it to a nice low foam gel or moisturizing balm (body shop chamomile is good) and swipe it all off with a nice hot flannel (This is washcloth in American I think?). Toner water sprays will add some moisture, as will light facial oils like almond. Putting oil on your skin and not cleaning it till it squeaks will calm down the over production.
      Check out Caroline Hirons blog. This is a common issue for her clients.

    13. Johanna*

      I really like DHC deep cleansing oil. Surprisingly the oil makes my skin less oily and there’s no greasy feeling after washing. If I use products that are harsh I just get skin that’s oily and dry at the same time.

    14. Baked beans for breakfast*

      I have very oily skin too. I double cleanse every evening–my daily sunblock contains zinc and I find it builds up if I don’t wash. I also have acne, so use things that treat it, which might not be necessary for you. I think, however, washing every day is not a bad idea. I use a washcloth once a week to do a light exfoliation. And I still use a moisturizer–just the target daily stuff with no SPF for sensitive skin.

      Does your derm know your face is itching? I’m wondering if you have a fungal infection.

    15. Gamer Girl*

      Go to a different dermatologist! I finally got advice that worked for me from a dermatologist who suggested to only wash my face but not moisturize. Most other ones had suggested various types of moisturizer, but this one said, “If moisturizer doesn’t work for you, just stop using it for two months and see what happens. You probably just don’t need it! No product is one-size fits all.”

      There was an “extinction burst” of oil production for about 2-3 weeks, where it got worse and I almost gave up. But then, the oil production settled down, and my face has been far less oily ever since.

      If your skin is anything like mine, you produce so much oil naturally that moisturizing is completely unnecessary and is triggering problems.

      Be careful following advice about using oil on your face. A pharmacist recommended it to me last year–big mistake! (I only need moisturizer when I’m pregnant during the winter). If you have larger pores, you will get blocked pores if you use oil. It’s basically a recipe for disaster. I’m still trying to get rid of all the new blackheads that it caused me. Proceed with caution if you decide to try that out!

    16. Juneybug*

      OMG, if I didn’t wash my face twice a day, my skin would be a greasy mess!!
      Here is what I do for my oily skin (I am 55 cis female with fair skin and have had oily skin my whole life) –
      AM – Wash with Neutrogena Oil-Free Facial Cleanser using a light touch with a washcloth (About $7.00 on Amazon or Walmart). I let it sit on my skin for a few minutes while I brush my teeth before I rinse my face.
      Apply Mario Badescu Oil Free Moisturizer ($18.00 on Amazon and lasts me 3 – 4 months).
      For me, I use Loreal or Goldfaden MD Bright Eye eye cream. But when I was younger (and oilier), I didn’t bother.
      Apply Bare Minerals bare skin foundation (which seems to keep the oil down) ($30 on Amazon or BareMinerals and lasts 6 – 8 months).
      During the day, I lightly blot with paper. Or apply face powder with a brush (any brand will do). I rarely use pressed powder as it seems to sit heavy on my face.
      PM – Wash with Neutrogena Oil-Free Facial Cleanser using a light touch with a washcloth.
      Two to three times a week, I use a facial scrub (light touch). Any oil-free brand will do.
      Apply eye cream.
      I don’t apply face lotion or cream at night. At first my skin felt either dry/tight or oily but now it’s normal (took about two weeks to stabilize).
      Weekly – I use a clay mask to help clean out pores and reduce oil. I use Queen Helene Mint Julep clay mask ($7.00 on Amazon).
      Last thing – I wash my pillow case every few days. That also seems to help.
      I have had drs tell me not to wash my face in the morning, use cream cleaners, not wear makeup, so on… but honestly, my skin works best when I don’t listen to them and figured it out on my own.
      Hope this helps!

  20. anon4this1*

    How do you protect yourself from someone jn your personal life trying to get information about you?

    There’s a guy who I met through a friend that I seems to be low key keeping tabs on me. He said some sketchy things so I ended up blocking his email and his phone number. But then his wife texted me multiple times because he was worried about me. Now I found out yesterday from our mutual friend that he’s been asking here where I’m in the state I’m moving to (I’m moving in two weekz) and contacting colleges in the state asking if i attend there!

    I’m a lot younger than him. I’m 26 and he’s 38 and his wife is 40. I already changed my number again and didn’t give it to any mutual friends we have so that he can’t try to get them to give it to him. I blocked his email address but don’t feel up to changing my email address. I dont have any social media besides snapchat so I blocked him and our mutual friend on there and I may delete the whole account since I don’t know if its worth beung on the grid at all.

    I was going to contact my new college and apartment building to ask about security there, is that a good idea? Am I overreacting? I just feel really concerned about him and his wife asking about me so much. We were only casual friends for two months

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d be a bit creeped out too. It can’t hurt to ask the new apartment about building security. They should have some policy in place for keeping out unwanted visitors, and if they don’t have one, your question might encourage them to start one.

    2. Lena Carabina*

      Nah you’ve got to do what you want to feel safe, and your instincts are telling you to steer clear of him. That isn’t overreacting at all.
      It’s up to you if you want to delete your Snapchat. I personally am not on anything because I hate social media, and I have an extremely unique name so I’m easily identifiable (to the extent that when I’m dating I use a different name online, for example).

      Tell your friend bit to give absolutely no info out about you.

      Keep a record of everything that’s going on, and if he tries to contact you directly, go to the police with that info for further advice.

    3. Washi*

      Just to clarify, at any point did you tell this guy that he is making you uncomfortable and not to contact you? And did you tell mutual friends not to give out your contact information or info to this guy?

      1. Washi*

        (This guy definitely sounds weird, just asking because I think The Gift of Fear recommends very clearly informing the person ONE time not to contact you.)

        1. Juneybug*

          The book Gift of Fear is one of the best books I have ever read! It really does empower you to listen to your alarm system instead of doubting your concerns.

      2. Venus*

        I agree with this comment. The guy is definitely creepy, but have you ever pushed back, preferably via your friend (so you can avoid him)?

        “Now I found out yesterday from our mutual friend that he’s been asking her where I’m in the state I’m moving to”
        The friend should have immediately responded to him that this is not an appropriate question to be asking of someone they only briefly met, and that they don’t want to provide more info or the creep should stop asking and leave you alone.

        I think it should be obvious to the creeper that he should stop, but he may have started a fucked-up feedback loop of “this person seems to be in distress, I should help them” without realizing that he’s the source of the distress. Be clear with him.

      3. anon4this1*

        Yes multiple times. Then his wife started texting me. One of our other friends asked him to leave me alone also.

        1. Morticia*

          I would call her out on this. That’s a very strange thing for her to do. It’s not normal to be your husband’s flying monkey when he’s stalking a much younger woman. Are you even sure it actually is his wife, and not him under an assumed phone number?

      4. anon4this1*

        Also i didnt answer your second question but our mutual friends aren’t giving out information about me except one girl who I think likes him more than me which is why i changed my number again last night and didn’t give it to any of our mutual friends. This is a friend group who im not super close to making it so i have less control over their actions if that makes sense.

        1. Generic Name*

          Well, you don’t have any control over others actions. This friend group who is siding with him over you and feeding him information about your life is putting you in danger and you need to cut off all contact with them and block them as well.

          1. anon4this1*

            Thank you, yes I did. None of them have my new number and all are blocked on snapchat. I dont have all of their emails but if i start getting email, I’ll block them too. I dont think the group will bug me though since they seemed low key baffled by the guys behavior w the exception of one girl.

    4. Millicent*

      You’re not overreacting. As a complete stranger to this situation, I was really alarmed at reading “he’s been…contacting colleges in the state asking if i attend there!” That is totally bizarre. Let me say it again: THAT IS BIZARRE and creepy. It is not within the range of normal “concerned about my friend” behavior, and that’s even if the friend had known you for years. This guy barely knows you.

      I wish I had suggestions for what to do. I don’t know if going to the police station in the town you live in now or the town you’re moving to is a possibility – if it is, you could broach it more as if you’re asking them for advice. There isn’t anything they can act on right now, but asking them for advice may be useful for you and it will also serve as them getting a record of it in case something does happen in the future.

      I do agree you should contact your college and apartment security. This is not an overreaction at all. You are right to be concerned.

      1. WellRed*

        Right? This is straight up stalking at this point. OP, if this is a friend group you aren’t super close to, might be time to cut ties with the rest of them too?

      2. Kathenus*

        I agree with talking to the police, either go to the station or call the non-emergency number and ask how you can talk to someone about the situation. They may have more advice, and at the least it’ll be a record so written trail of your concerns with this couple, which may be helpful in the future if it continues or escalates. Completely creepy and inappropriate, definitely continue to take your concerns seriously.

      3. MissGirl*

        This is such a horrible escalation it’s definitely beyond creepy. Is having a lawyer draw up cease and desist worthwhile or will that make things worse?

        1. anon4this1*

          I dont think that will help at this point. I could be wrong but im hoping since him and none of the group will have new information or contact w me from today on, then hopefully he will lose interest. I am moving 3 days away driving time in less than 2 weeks. So hopefully he will be busy with his life here and will leave me alone.

          1. ..Kat..*

            When I had a stalker, I rented a box at one of those mail box places, and used that as my address for all my mail. Then I moved, and only forwarded mail to the mail box place. I think that threw him off the scent.

            Also, if I had this as a current problem, I would get a couple of google phone numbers. One for good friends, one for work, one for close family, and one for when I have to give a number (such as to a repair person). Then link them to my phone. Then I could unlink as necessary.

            My stalker was able to get my new addresses from my university. I had already graduated, and the university (like many) paid some service to always get my new address (as if I were a happy alumnus who would donate to my alma mater who was keeping my stalker updated on my address!).

            Make sure you tell all family and friends not to give out your phone number or address to anyone.

            Good luck.

    5. CJM*

      Whoa. That would creep me out too. I’d trust my gut and not worry about overreacting. Carolyn Hax often recommends a book called The Gift of Fear. I haven’t read it, but I think the general message is to pay attention when someone creeps you out like this.

      I don’t have direct experience with this situation or much advice, but I’d consider contacting the police or a lawyer for an official warning to stop bothering you. Maybe a single direct message to him and his wife of “leave me alone and stop asking around about me, or I’ll contact authorities” would help, but I’m not sure.

      I support you and wish you well.

    6. Eeniemeenie*

      If you feel unsafe, do not question if you’re overreacting. Absolutely no one is entitled to anyone else’s company. Like, let’s say your name is Jan and your best friend of 20 years suddenly decided she won’t associate with anyone whose name starts with J. As ridiculous as this is, it would still be inappropriate for you to follow your friend around and insist they spend time with you when they don’t want to. ANY person who doesn’t respect your request to cease contact is a walking red flag.

      That said, what you are describing is absolutely not a normal situation and you have every reason to feel anxious. What he’s doing is creepy as hell. Please seek advice from local police or lawyer.

    7. sswj*

      A couple of thoughts –

      Are you positive he/they have contacted colleges? That sounds like it might be the rumor mill working overtime and if so I wouldn’t worry too much. In this day and age of privacy I can’t imagine a college saying whether or not a specific person is enrolled and/or staying there. But it certainly couldn’t hurt to let them know you have some stalker activity going on and not to divulge anything to anyone without contacting you first.

      Have you actually said to these people “Please stop contacting me and checking up on me. I am fine and would rather be left alone.” (Or words to that effect, and that blunt)? If not, do it. Don’t hint, don’t worry about hurting feelings. They have stepped way over the line and deserve to be told so.

      Creepy stuff, I hope your measures have squashed it all completely!

      1. anon4this1*

        He told our friend he contacted the colleges and he also started mentioning the names of the dean and professors of my department to her. Could he be lying? Absolutely. But its stll strange to me that he would even say that he’s contacting colleges in my new state to find me. Just the fact that he’s saying that is weird to me whether or not its true, if that makes sense.

        And i told him he was scaring me and to leave me alone about a month ago and then I stopped having contact w him which us when his wife started texting me.

        1. sswj*

          That is INCREDIBLY creepy, and yes you absolutely should have a serious chat with TPTB at your school.
          I would also document everything if you still have the texts, or make notes of dates and what was said as far as you remember. If they continue to follow you, keep records. I’m not sure at this point if it’s at a police level, but you could look up the stalking laws in your state(s) and get a feel for what you need to do.

          ICK! So sorry you have this to deal with.

        2. WellRed*

          I know it’s a pain, but I think it’s time to get a new number. And yes, even if he’s lying about contacting the colleges, what a bizarre thing to say he’s doing.

        3. blackcat*

          This is super creepy.
          Colleges should not be giving out information on you. There’s a law against that. Do contact student services at your college and explain you have a stalker and need to be fully “unlisted” in all directories. They should know how to deal with this. If they don’t help, ask for the Title IX coordinator.

        4. Clisby*

          It’s possible he’s contacting people at your department – usually it’s not hard to find email addresses for department heads/faculty members. I find it hard to believe that they’d give out information about you, though.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I had an ex-friend who was being creepy and trying to worm his way back into my life after I cut him off, I was really trying not to discuss it with most people, but when he leaned on that and specifically tried to involve mutual friends in his nonsense (he tried to get a couple of different friends to bring him to my Thanksgiving party “as a surprise, because we hadn’t seen each other in a while” – luckily, they all knew me well enough to know that if they showed up with a surprise guest, none of them were being allowed in or probably ever invited back, so they contacted me first – he also tried to get my housemate to give him the admin username/pw to my router, claiming that I’d asked him to do some maintenance on it), I specifically told those mutual friends what was going on. Basically “I’ve been trying to keep this on the down-low so’s not to share personal business with the world or to slag him to people who still are his friends, but since he dragged you in, here’s the deal: I’ve cut him off for reasons I’d rather not disclose, and he’s not taking no-contact for an answer and being really kinda skeezy about it. I’m sorry you got pulled in, but please respect that I want no involvement with him ever again and I don’t want him knowing anything about me or my life anymore if I can help it.”

      In my case, the guy was a former roommate and we’d been very good friends for a long time, and I was ADAMANT about not making it a big public division or laying the personal issues out, so most of our mutual friends were really surprised to find that I’d cut him loose. (I did not ghost him; we’d discussed the issues a dozen times in many formats, mostly in saved writing such as emails, texts or Facebook messenger, but to this day he believes I never told him anything was wrong and swears up and down I ghosted him for no reason he can think of.) But in your case, I think there’s also room for “We only knew each other for a couple months, and it’s really kind of weirding me out that he’s going to this length to try to track me down, so I’d appreciate it if you’d keep my info to yourself, not pass along messages from him or tell me how he’s doing, and basically just let me keep avoiding him as best I can.”

      1. anon4this1*

        I’m sorry that happened to you with yoyr past friend.

        Yes the people who we have mutual friends know – not because I originally told them but because he started saying weird things about me and some of them got concerned. Since I’m not super close to the group, honestly I plan on leaving them behind when I move. Most of them are fine and are respecting my wishes not to tell him things but he’s trying to pump them for info about me (according to them) and one girl is more on his side. As in she says he’s harmless and wouldn’t hurt a friend.

        The reason I got concerned about him in the beginning is because we all had a group chat on snapchat and about a month ago he posted this long rant about being disrespected by a dmv worker so he made a fake profile on Facebook and was trying to get information about her. Everyone in the group freaked out and thought that was creepy of him and we all told him so but he said he wouldn’t do anything unless she was a bad person. I thought that was weird enough that I told him i was concerned and not to individually contact me anymore. So then his wife started texting me on his behalf. Thats the first time I changed my number. Then yesterday I found out he told the group that he’s been trying to find out what college I’m attending so he can visit. I dont actually think he will visit as my new school and state is 3 days away by car. Also he thought the school i was going to was a similar name but it was a different state school. I changed my number for a 2nd time and didn’t give it to any of our mutual friends this time and i blocked them all on snapchat. Luckily I don’t have Facebook or anything so he can’t try to fake friend me or mine info off of my social media since I have none.

        I have no idea why hes so interested in me and why his wife is so supportive of tbe interest. But frankly I don’t care and plan on leaving the whole group behind since I’m moving out of state and its just not worth it to me w all this going on to keep in touch.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          OH YACK. NO. No no no, for sure, leave this group behind, that’s awful. Good thoughts :(

        2. WellRed*

          I posted further up about changing your number, but you already have twice. So sorry this guy (and his weirdo Patsy of a wife) is doing this.

            1. anon4this1*

              His wife called me and talked to me on the phone after I answered thinking it was someone else. So I believe the texts could have been her.

        3. tangerineRose*

          This whole thing is horrifying. Very creepy, very scary. I might consider talking to the police and asking for advice and including what he’s doing about the DMV person.

        4. Juneybug*

          Few thoughts –
          The “friend” who says he’s harmless – she doesn’t get to dictate your level of comfort and security.
          The “friend” does not get to decide who is a “bad person” based on being upset with someone who he meet once and then try to find out info to harm them.
          It’s up to you about calling DMV to report the stalking of a state employee.
          Please don’t doubt yourself and build a support team of experts to help you with this situation –
          Talk to law enforcement about possible steps to protect yourself, what do you need to build a document trail, etc.
          Reach out to stalking support groups and websites for more info on what to do next.
          Read or listen to books on stalking and ways to protect yourself.
          I wish you safe journey and protection!

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Ok, let’s call this what it is: he’s stalking you. Yes, its creepy and whatnot, but this guy is stalking you and his wife is helping. Recognizing what’s going on may help. Anyone who gives them information about you is not safe. So that loose friend group? Either they get on board, or drop them like hot rocks.

      You are not overreacting. You are not crazy. You are being stalked.

      1. anon4this1*

        Okay thank you to you and everyone else! I think I was second guessing myself because someone I like as a casual friend has been on the ‘hes a nice guy so don’t worry about it’ team.

        I already changed my number last night and none of that group have it. Basically only my parents, little brother, pastor and best friend have my number now. And I’m cutting off that group for good as I’ve blocked them all on snapchat and if they email me ill just ignore it and block them there too now.

        I sent an email to my college advisor and my apartmeny building about the situation and asked them not to give out information about me to anyone and explained the situation. I also asked if there’s any specific group on campus i need to speak to such as security. I dont have any proof because this all happened in snapchat and no one took screenshots because it tells the other person when you screenshot anything. If I start getting weird friend requests on there, I’ll delete my account. And I guess if my email starts getting weird message, I’ll create a new address.

        I’m hoping this guy just gets bored when I move since he won’t have new info about me since I stopped being friends with all of them and won’t be around in person.

        1. tangerineRose*

          He’s clearly shown from his actions he’s NOT a nice guy. He might be good at impersonating a nice guy though.

          For snapchat, if stuff happens in the future, could you use a camera to take photos of it?

        2. knead me seymour*

          Yes, this is very alarming. Unfortunately if you have a relatively unique name or are involved in any activities he knows about, you might need to take steps to minimize your online presence to make it harder for him to identify you and track you online. I’m sorry you have to do all of this, and hopefully he isn’t too persistent.

        3. Venus*

          It might be best to screenshot in snapchat, if it comes up again with you or a friend. You should have a record, and it might be helpful that he knows you are keeping a record of his creepiness.

        4. Batgirl*

          Your casual friend is being rather too casual. Very dismissive of your instincts.
          This would have me reaching for my copy of Gift of Fear to refresh my stalker how-tos.

    10. Generic Name*

      You are not overreacting. I’d be more specific than simply asking about security. I think you can tell your college and your apartment that you have a stalker and you need to know what provisions are in place to keep people safe in those circumstances. See if you can get photos of him/wife and their car(s) in case they ask.

      Universities often have free self defense classes for women that I recommend you take advantage of. They go over not only fending off an attacker, but they also cover situational awareness and hone security.

      I’d also call campus police and the local police department to see if they can give you any further tips. Call the non-emergency number, of course. Don’t be afraid to explain the whole situation. I’ve been having problems with my exhusband for years, and for a long time I stopped short of talking about all of the crazy things he did to various professionals because it was just so crazy and I hated thinking about it. But it didn’t help me and only served to protect him.

      1. anon4this1*

        oh okay ill look into all of that thank you! I already know self defense luckily from a class I took in my community center.

        Should i contact the police in my new town or the police in my current town? (Sorry if this is a dumb question) I already reached out to campus about talking to security there.

        I dont have photos but I have the guy and his wife’s name, address, email address, birthdays and phone numbers. (I attended a BBQ at his house a while back before we were friends and I had the address in my gps)

        1. Generic Name*

          I feel like it can’t hurt to contact both. Especially if you haven’t moved yet and feel unsafe.

          1. Granger Chase*

            Seconding this. I would contact the non-emergency lines for the police in your current town and where you’re moving to. And on-campus police for your college if they’re separate (I’ve found they don’t always communicate well with the local PD if they aren’t linked together).

            I don’t say this to scare you, but if this person and/or the mutual friends know what date you are supposed to be moving (and if any of them know your current address), I would strongly suggest moving on a different day than planned if possible. If you discussed any plans for places you are staying on the way to new state (if you’re driving), I would recommend trying to find different spots to stop and/or even slightly different routes to take if you believe this person would try to follow you on your way to college.

            Many colleges have centers or programs for those who have survived situations of domestic/relationship violence, and while this is a different situation, they might have a website with advice on how to handle stalking, as that is unfortunately a common side effect of someone escaping a threatening relationship. It would also not hurt to give them a call, as many of these centers have employees or volunteers trained to assist with recommendations for safety or how to document occurrences of stalking behavior in order to report to the police. They also can talk to you about how to lock down additional information through your college about your living situation, class schedule, work schedule, extracurriculars, etc.

            Good luck, and please keep us updated! Hopefully you can get rid of this creepy couple. It is not normal for people to behave this way, and you are not wrong to be protecting yourself from them.

        2. Rick Tq*

          If things continue consider purchasing a pistol and getting training, both basic shooting training and specialized self-defence training so you know the laws on self defense in your new state. If this guy is as persistent as he seems even a Protective Order won’t stop him or his wife from pursuing you.,

          I don’t say this lightly, but paper orders only work if he is willing to cooperate, and if he shows up at your door the police can’t get there in time.

          Good luck, protect yourself, and stay safe.

          1. TexasRose*

            I second this suggestion of: don’t get a gun unless you also get the training on how to use it and store it safely; training on how to use a gun for self defense; what the local laws are; and what it means emotionally and morally to get a weapon that literally allows you to choose to continue your own life, even at the cost of an attacker’s life.

            If you DO get a gun, do NOT advertise this fact.
            You may also want to get a cheap cell phone to keep in the gun safe. Be sure it’s charged up, and that the cell provider connects directly to the 911 center correctly in your local area.

            However, nothing I’ve read indicates any physical threat so far, just creepy behavior that has your shoulders up around your ears, and I hope that moving takes care of your problems. (Most stalkers, like most predators in general, are somewhat lazy.)

            Good luck!

    11. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I would bet that he was texting as if he were his wife, although I don’t know how you could confirm this without actually talking to her (which I would assume you don’t want to do).

      1. anon4this1*

        She called me so I think the texts were her like they said. Like I answered the phone and we had a convo where I asked them to leave me alone and she just said that he was worried about me and talking to him really helped his depression and I was such a good friend to them. That was a month ago and after that I changed my number for the first time.

        1. Batgirl*

          “talking to him really helped his depression and I was such a good friend to them”
          You’re not going to give him a pass on his stalking of others, and yourself ’cause he has depression. Fuck’s sake. The nerve.

          1. valentine*

            she just said that he was worried about me and talking to him really helped his depression and I was such a good friend to them.
            This is extremely weird. My original thought was he told her some wild story about you being mentally ill. It sounds like you weren’t even friends (Was she on the Snapchat with you?), so, the klaxon is blaring here.

            The document you sent your school: Add the texts and as close as you can get to a verbatim transcript of the phone call(s), including with your former friends. Screenshotting Snapchat will be an escalation. You can decide if you want to risk it. It would help to have the date/details of the DMV stuff because that can be verified. Stop using that Snapchat account. Leave it active as evidence. Give your advisor and* security his name, social media handles, contact info, and photos so they can ban him from the property.

            * Never leave this with just one person; the more you control and the less you have to trust someone else’s judgment, the better. There will be someone at your school who will violate security protocols because they fall for talk of emergency/surprise (especially around, say, a wedding proposal).

            Don’t assume he’ll stop. If what he said about the DMV worker is true, he thinks you’re a bad person deserving of stalking. He may think he’s on a Quest and, when he ambushes you at school, you’ll see the light and act out the screenplay he has running in his mind.

            Hire a lawyer (not sure what kind) to navigate this with you, someone who has investigators and will go to the station to report this with you and be a witness to the reaction (they don’t take you seriously, or care less because you’re moving). Maybe they can recommend/work with someone in your new state. Always have your lawyer present when interacting with law enforcement (who will resist and try to get you alone).

          2. TexasRose*

            TW (trigger warnings) for abuse details:

            Let me help you with a translation of the wife’s script: “I’m married to a serial abuser, and I’ve been groomed to be his helper, to entice other victims because I no longer have enough self-respect for him to get his jollies by destroying it.” Similarly, the friend has also been groomed to be a procurer – because, let’s face it, that what “friend” is attempting to do – bring another birdie home for the tomcat to play with.

            Good work that you have taken good steps to protect yourself, and you have done your due diligence of telling them clearly to leave you alone. (In most cases, it’s comforting when you’re doubting your own sanity, during those nights when it’s hard to sleep, that you can reassure yourself that yes, you were clear enough that any reasonable, boundary-abiding person would have heard you when you said “leave me alone.” [And, yes, that convoluted sentence is one I wrapped around myself decades ago, when I was stalked; at midnight; when I was doubting my sanity.]

            You did nothing wrong other than going about your life. The best revenge is to continue going about your life, and to live well.

            I second a suggestion to call the non-emergency line for the cops* where you are living at the moment, and ask if they want you to make a report: not that you want them to do anything, but because you want them to have creep on their radar / in their files as a creep. Also, ask if they have any suggestions for additional steps to protect yourself. If the cops don’t want to take a report, write something up with all creep’s details, and leave it with the obvious person (parents, pastor – you know your life best).

            *It has been my experience that cops in larger metropolitan areas, especially ones with a large sports, writing, music, or movie [any public celebrity] scene, are much more likely to help deal with stalkers; they’ve had more experience.

            Once you move, since you’re moving out of state (three days right? even Texas isn’t that big), be sure to talk with campus security about leaving an old stalker behind. They might be able to tell you what the local laws and resources are. Give a head’s up to your apartment complex or landlord, your utility companies to lock down your information, to your department head and department secretary, to your new job (owner and supervisor).

            Be sure to talk with the campus counselor’s office; they might have some resources to help with this type of situation, including support groups for stalking victims.

            In the short term, you might want to pop over to CaptainAwkward dot com and check out some of her old posts about stalkers; I found her good sense and good writing to be very helpful.

            Good luck, and may all your future excitement be academic!

            Good luck on your move, and may your

            1. Batgirl*

              That was my read too. He’s manipulated the friend with the same methods as the wife.

        2. Batgirl*

          That’s un.be.lie.vable she asked you to put up with the cold shivers he gives you from being stalked because… depression. She is out there.

    12. Wehaf*

      I strongly recommend reading “The Gift of Fear” – it was written by a security consultant with expertise in stalking, and lays out what actions are good to take in what situations, and what aren’t (sometimes things which seem to make sense actually put you at more risk).

    13. Ali*

      I think you are doing everything right! You are not overreacting, and all the steps you’ve taken to protect your privacy and let people know what’s going on seem right on to me. So sorry you have to deal with this creepy stalker, but you seem to be doing it very well.

    14. Wishing You Well*

      If you’d like expert advice (in the U.S.), I recommend calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Yeah, I know, it sounds extreme BUT these people have the expertise and experience on what steps work at the beginning of this kind of problem and what doesn’t. They can evaluate what you’re dealing with. It’s an 800 number and they could be a big help.
      I hope you consider calling.
      I’m sending my very best wishes to you.

    15. anon4this1*

      UPDATE: Thank you everyone for the advice. I very much appreciate it.

      Since I already changed my number last night and no one from the group or him have it, I decided the main action I could do today is write out a detailed email about the situation, dates, times, and what happened to my school. I sent it to my advisor, my transfer advisor who has been very helpful, and the title x people since it says that they deal with stalking. I also said in the email that I need to be unlisted in the school directory and also if there’s a dean’s list, I can’t have my name online like my last school did.

      I will consider talking to the police (non emergency line) and the domestic violence line. Thank you for the suggestion. I’m not really up for doing either of those things today tbh. I think I will wait until Monday and see what the school says. This school has been amazing in every other aspect of transferring, pandemic planning, and moving to their state so I think they will get back to me on Monday considering how serious the situation is and the fact that I put multiple people on the email.

      I have taken self defense classes and read the book the gift of fear a little while ago. I actually read the book at the end of last year because people on here mention it so much! I will consider rereading the book when I feel more up to it. I won’t be able to take screenshots on snapchat since none of them are friends with me on there since I blocked them all and him. But if I get weird friend requests (which I won’t accept of course) or strange emails, I will screenshot and save them. I also saved his full name, her full names, their numbers, his email address, and his house address (I was invited to a bbq at his house a while back before we were friends which is why I had his address in my gps). I will also not hesitant to delete my snapchat account or change my email address if need be. The only people I’m friends with on snapchat is my boyfriend, little brother, mom and my close friend now so I’m not too concerned about it however if I start getting strange friend requests on there, I will delete it. I am more concerned about him finding out which school I go to and messing with either my school or my college email address (since that seems like it would be hard to change.)

      Thank you all for the advice and I will talk to the police but just not today because I feel majorly burnt out after last night changing my number. (Also hopefully there is no spelling mistakes in this comment since I wrote it on my computer instead). Thank you all <3

      1. Generic Name*

        You’re doing awesome! Hugs if you want them. I’m sure you realize this, but what he’s doing is super shitty and unfair, and you don’t deserve it.

      2. Lisanthus*

        First off, major kudos to you for all that you’ve done so far. Moving and transferring schools during a pandemic is bad enough without having to cope with a stalker couple on top of it.

        One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that if they continue this stalking, one or both of these creeps may specifically pose as your parent(s) to try and worm out information from your new college. Especially if the guy went so far as to look up faculty on school websites so he could mention their names to another friend. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that someone that creepy would try to get hold of an unsuspecting faculty member, department assistant, etc. and pretend they’re a worried parent. Or other administrative offices.

        Speaking of which, if you’re receiving financial aid be sure to tell your financial aid office what’s going on and give them all the details you have on the creeps. Back in the dinosaur age when I was a university administrator, there were specific financial aid office security protocols for situations like these. If they aren’t helpful, go to the Title IX coordinator and academic affairs staff to light a fire under them.

        When you talk to the campus police, I’d bring up the possibility of them posing as your parents in order to access your information or get onto campus and ask for advice about that scenario. Ditto for the local police.

        I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Hang in there.

        1. anon4this1*

          Yes, that is why I reached out to the college to ask them not to give information to anyone asking about me even people who claim to know me or to be someone like my parents. I am 26 though and paying all the bills myself plus I was told that they can’t give out information because of that thing about education privacy. I will make sure to reiterate that point though when I talk to whomever on Monday as that’s a good point.

          About the financial aid though, what should I be telling them? I guess I just don’t understand what their office would have to do with this so if you have more information I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you.

          1. Lisanthus*

            You’re right, FERPA (the information privacy law governing both K-12 and postsecondary students) forbids most information being given out. If you fill out a FERPA directory opt-out form then you can opt out of having even your directory information published anywhere by the institution. It sounds like you’ve started to take that step already, which is great; your advisor should be able to tell you what specific form/process you need to go through to take care of that directory opt-out. Schools do things differently so I don’t want to say “Do X.”

            College employees are well aware of FERPA and the legal consequences of violating it. But it’s better to proactively cover your bases with someone this sketchy who sounds like they’re good at conning people. Telling your advisor and others “I’m worried these people might try to get around FERPA, like by posing as my parents, to find out information on me” will send all sorts of warning signals to them because FERPA is the magic acronym. :-)

            If you’re not receiving financial aid and paying all tuition and fees out of your own pocket, then talking to the financial aid office is more of a precaution. You’d want to say something like “Hey, here’s the situation. I don’t expect you all to do anything, but I’m alerting offices across campus just in case one of these people calls around campus claiming to be my parent to try and find information about me.” If you’re receiving financial aid, then they can advise you on how best to handle your dealings with them. (I had a case once where we had to arrange for the student to come in personally and only meet with certain administrators, along with taking other security measures.)

            Again, you’re doing everything right. It sucks that these creeps are inflicting this behavior on you and I’m so sorry.

            1. anon4this1*

              I’m getting a grant but no loans and paying everything else out of pocket.

              I will use the phrase “I’m worried these people might try to get around FERPA, like by posing as my parents, to find out information on me” because that’s really smart. I also will look for that form. Thank you very much.

              I started reading the gift of fear again tonight (forgot that book was so interesting) and I also set up 2 step log in thing on my email address and snapchat account so if anyone ever tried to log into my email or account, it will text me a code so you would need my phone to log in.

            2. anon4this1*

              I forwarded the email I originally wrote to the title x department and my advisor also to the head of the department and I added your line about FERPA. I think that should help hopefully because the head of the department will be aware now too. Thank you!

              1. Lisanthus*

                Quite welcome. Schools are legally required to make you aware of your rights under FERPA at least once a year, FYI. And since you’re getting a grant then the financial aid office can take additional precautions because they have information on file about you.

                Sadly, you won’t be the first student who’s had this sort of problem. I second the advice upthread about making as many campus offices aware of these people as possible while you’re making your transition as a proactive security measure.

                Best of luck with your move and your studies.

      3. Quandong*

        I can only imagine how draining this has been for you, on top of actually moving and the stress of that process.

        Congratulations on the steps you’ve taken so far. If you do want more detailed suggestions I remember some extremely good lists of steps in this thread:

        I recall several very experienced posters giving advice. Best wishes for keeping yourself safe, and for the next phase of your studies.

        1. anon4this1*

          I will read all the comments on that thread tomorrow. Thank you very much. Much appreciated yours and everyone’s help and support.

  21. Dear liza dear liza*

    I got my first Subaru Impreza in 2001, ran it into the ground, and am on Subaru #2. If you live in a snowy area, the AWD is a big benefit. Otherwise, the reliability is a huge advantage. In both cars, things wore out, but nothing ever needed a repair! Well, actually, I had a transmission issue and
    I was super grumpy when I had to pay for that. About a year later, Subaru sent a letter about known transmission issues. I sent in my invoice and Subaru paid back every penny to me.

    I plan to get Subaru #3 when this one dies, but I’m just under 200K miles and it’s chugging along without any problems.

    Now I have to go knock on wood, lol.

    Enjoy your Impreza!

    1. Millicent*

      Thank you so much – I’m going to keep rereading your response when my doubts come up, lol.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      I’m glad to read this! I’m looking to replace my lemon of a CR-V next year and I specifically wanted something with AWD because winters here are long and awful, and I’ve only ever heard good things about Subarus. They are for sure on my short list.

  22. Small Things Considered*

    weird question–

    when you’re feeding other people (in this case, an informal ‘meal train’ for friends and neighbors out of work because of covid), obv. you need to take their dietary requirements into account, but what do you do when that becomes prohibitively expensive?

    my group of friends/neighbors has been trying in our own small way to pull together, people who are still employed and have money and/or have time making food for those who either are having financial issues due to Covid or who aren’t but simply don’t have time to cook (because they’re working full time from home while wrangling children or other dependents or etc.). I’m not the organizer, but I help to coordinate both people in need of help and volunteers to make sure needs are met, and I also cook.

    since none of us are rolling in cash, the foodstuffs tends to be things like lasagna, quinoa pilaf, saag paneer and rice, brisket and potato salad, chicken noodle soup, etc. etc., things that are filling but relatively cheap, since we’re paying out of pocket for ingredients. (it’s also not an official nonprofit, so no tax write-offs for anything, tho the local foodbank does sometimes give us surpluses of things like potatoes/onions/rice.) we offer 4-5 meals (mostly dinners, some breakfasts and lunches) per household per week. we ask people about their allergies/dietary restrictions, though as this is a bunch of people making food in their own homes we make it clear that we can’t guarantee no cross-contamination and can’t guarantee things like ‘made in a Kosher kitchen.’ (again, think meal train, not food nonprofit)

    but one person recently signed up whose dietary restrictions are no grain, no legume, no dairy. at first we were like, ok, so, she gets the sweet potatoes and brisket, or the roasted acorn squash with chicken, or we’ll give her the salmon with spinach but since that’s not really enough calories for a meal, we’ll supplement by giving her a side of waldorf salad.

    didn’t work. by ‘no grain/legume’ she meant ‘no high-carb items’ including white potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes, peas, corn, or fruit. “high-nutrient” vegetables, meats, and fats only. her example of her normal diet was a 12-oz portion of salmon, chicken, or steak plus a large portion of fresh salad or sauteed vegetables, plus a high-fat item like a nondairy high-fat sauce or a whole avocado or a bunch of nuts. she does eat eggs, but obv. sending her three dozen hard boiled eggs and a crate of broccoli would be a passive-aggressive asshole move.

    so, what to do? it also feels like an asshole move to say “sorry your diet is too hard” when for all I know it’s a medical necessity (I did not ask and am not going to since it seems needlessly invasive), but we can’t afford to supply 3-4 meals per week of (I assume?) keto. OTOH, I did the cost calculations and one meal for her would be three meals for people who eat lasagna or five meals for people who eat saag paneer and rice.

    1. Small Things Considered*

      if it matters, it’s a sizable friends/neighbors group. we have 35 families (ranging from 1 to 7 people per family) signed up as needing food (with that number going up every week, sadly), and around 15 people making meals. some of the people making meals are richer in time than money, hence the popularity of things like ‘lentils and rice.’ we have as yet had no difficulty handling general food concerns like vegetarian/vegan, no peanuts/tree nuts, tomato allergy, etc.

    2. Washi*

      It sounds like these are not allergies or religious food restrictions but preferences. And you’re not a restaurant and don’t have the resources to be a restaurant!

      I think perhaps when people are referred to your resource, that you make it clear that not only can you not ensure super strict cross contamination, but also that these are the type of meals you will be able to receive, and that there is no customized order option.

      To this lady, I might say that you are can accommodate her allergies, but that X and Y meals are what is available and you are not able to change that. I wouldn’t give too many reasons, just focus on “this is what is available, is that something that will work for you?”

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      Well, it doesn’t sound like this is a formal organization, so I don’t think there would be anything wrong with saying (diplomatically) “I know you are in need, but we aren’t able to accommodate your dietary needs in the way you request without a severe impact to our budget, because our volunteers are paying for this almost entirely out of pocket. We could certainly provide you with one meal per week that fits your needs [or however many meals you can afford], or we could provide you with X number of meals that would include [whatever other vegetables or foods that would make sense], but I’m afraid that’s the best we can do for you.”

      It’s very, very, very kind of you and your friends and neighbours to be helping to feed people who have been severely impacted by all of this, but this woman may not be aware that her expensive diet is being funded by you guys directly. It isn’t fair to you guys or to other people you might be helping to feed. Maybe the organizer could be the one to speak up?

    4. sswj*

      I think I would tell her that your small outfit is not equipped for that level of restriction, but that you would be happy to help out by at least providing a portion of her meals. That way you could provide some veggies and brisket, and just leave out the starches. It would be up to her to fill in the gaps. This is still a superbly generous thing to do – the whole setup gives me the warm fuzzies! And I’ll send a giant Thank You on her behalf, since I suspect you may get a sniff and an eyeroll from that quarter, and not much more.

    5. Ali G*

      I would politely tell her that due to financial restrictions (make sure she knows that these are community members donating all the money/food – you get no outside assistance) you cannot fully accommodate her diet. She is welcome to the portions of the items she can eat, but you cannot give her full portions because you don’t have access to the quantity of food to accommodate everyone.
      For the other more reasonable accommodations, could you assign certain foods to certain houses? Like someone makes all the gluten free stuff, someone else does no accommodations, etc. Or would that be too complicated?

      1. Small Things Considered*

        thanks, this is very helpful!

        the other food considerations have actually not been a problem at all. we’re never going to guarantee a lack of cross-contamination or etc., for a whole variety of reasons, but everyone I’ve worked with has been conscientious of what ingredients are in what. <3

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Tell her that you have allowed dollar amounts per person per week. Ask her if she would prefer veggies or protein and ask her if she has a preference as to which days she gets the servings. Just say “We want to provide something that is meaningful to you, but we cannot go over budget.”

      I am almost “as bad” as she is. However, I will eat a bit more than what you have listed here. I know my food costs money and I won’t let others buy my food for me because of this. Over the years I have worked into this so I can do it in a more cost effective manner. But, familiarity! I did not just wake up one morning and start doing this, it took me years to get to where I am now.

      As an aside: Twelve ounces of protein??!! Holy crap. If I ate 8 ounces in one sitting, I usually regretted it later on so I don’t do that. Five or six ounces is usually more than plenty. My dog, the bottomless pit, maxes out at 7 ounces. More than that is just to much food for him.

      You might want to consider giving her gift cards rather than trying to actually get the food. I cook like this so I do understand all the hoops you have jumped through to get as far as you have.

      1. Small Things Considered*

        So! everyone else has given me enormously useful advice (as have you) but I have to reply to yours first because now I feel less totally bonkers–because I love me some steak, and my husband has a big appetite, and yet when we make or order steak 12 oz or more is definitely at the point where we’re like ‘let’s share it.’ I was questioning myself re: whether 12 oz of steak/chicken/salmon was a lot, and am gratified that to at least someone else it’s a lot. :D

        (Husband and I split any piece of meat over about 10 oz, but it’s because I have a tiny appetite, so I’m a bad judge.)

        1. WellRed*

          Well, a serving of a protein is typically about 3 oz per dietary standards (adjust for individual needs and body size), so 12 oz is a lot. For me, it’s 4 meals worth (tiny appetite, also).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I can remember in my 20s and 30s getting an 8 oz steak in a restaurant. Even back then it was just too much food. Now that much steak is impossible for me.

        3. Nacho*

          My dinners are usually ~6-8 ounces of meat and another half a cup of rice, so it’s not super out of line to think that somebody could eat 12 ounces of meat if that’s all they’re eating.

        4. Batgirl*

          When you’re not eating carbs you stop craving them for fullness and get hungrier for other things instead.

        5. Cedrus Libani*

          I’m on keto, and though I’m 6′ tall and also trying to stay at my current weight, 12 oz of meat is a lot. My normal dinner is 8 oz meat plus a reasonably heavy side (veggies sauteed in oil, salad with dressing, etc).

    7. Not A Manager*

      One complicating factor seems to be that this is a communal effort, so it might be hard for you to determine what other people are comfortable with cost-wise or effort-wise. If this is a “top down” group where someone is the clear organizer and rule-maker, then that person can tell her that there’s a limit of $x/week that can be budgeted to one person, and she can have one or two full meals for the week, or she can have five servings of protein but she’ll need to fill in the rest herself. (Or whatever makes sense.)

      If this is more of a group consensus thing, then I think you might raise hackles if you try to place limits on your own. In that case, I think sending an email to everyone saying, “we have a person with x requirements that are difficult for some of us to meet consistently, does anyone else cook this way, is any one person interested in committing to these particular meals” might be a good first step.

    8. Koala dreams*

      The kindest thing is to tell them that it’s out of your budget as soon as possible, so they can look after other solutions for getting food. As a omnivore, your idea of eggs and broccoli sounds good too, I might do that some day even though I’m not unemployed (I’ll sprinkle some nuts on top, and not eat a dozen of them obviously), and you can ask if they would be interested in supplements to meals like that, even though you can’t provide full meals.

      Your food train sounds great, and it makes my day brighter to know about it. Thanks for sharing!

    9. Amerdale*

      You say the meals are for people who have financial problems and/or not the time to cook. In which group does this woman fall? If she just can’t cook because of time restraints, I’d approach her and tell her that her restricitions are simply not doable given that you all pay for the meals yourself but if she were willing to pay for the ingredients, you and your group could cook her meals.
      Unfortunately that doesn’t work if she has financial problems. In that case I’d just tell her the truth. You are not a charity, you are just some people trying to help, but this is not doable for you.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, call me a cynic, but this sounds like a really high-class diet to me, and maybe her budget is more the beans and rice range right now but is expecting folks to just cover that for her? Like can she not eat canned tuna or tilapia? Did she say it has to be salmon in particular and no other (more affordable) fish? I’m giving this lady some serious side-eye. I mean, it’s really nice of folks to customize the offerings, but maybe it’s time to say, here’s this week’s menu, check yes or no.

    10. Coco*

      I’m in agreement with a lot of the commenters.

      I’d be inclined to tell her: We are a volunteer community with no outside funding. We budget $x per person per meal (or whatever the calculation is). We can provide you with $x worth of high protein low carb food.

      And stick with it. It may be very little food and not worth your or her time in preparing/ delivering/ picking it up so you may need to revisit. But you and your group are being kind, generous, and fair.

    11. Senor Montoya*

      You say, “I;m so sorry! We are just people cooking at home and we can only offer these dishes (include a list of ingredients for each). We hope you will be able to find something that works for you!”

      You’re not a restaurant (one of my mom’s favorite sayings) or a nutritional service. You offer what you can, and if it does not work for someone, they will have to find some other way to get their food.

    12. Nacho*

      The cheapest thing I can think of would be chicken breasts/Pork Chops/very low quality beef, all of which should be ~$4/pound. That might be a little bit more expensive than you’re used to, but not super unreasonable, and balanced out by being very easy/quick to cook. You might have to level with her and let her know that, because of her dietary needs, you can’t afford to make fancy meals for her and you’re going to have to stick to cheap, simple things, and probably not going to have a lot of variety.

      I definitely wouldn’t give her salmon or steak though, that’s not fair to you or to the other people you’re helping.

    13. ...*

      I would just start making a standard menu and people can pick from it what they want. Perhaps its medical, some people do keto for medical reasons, or perhaps that’s just what she chooses. But I think its wholly unreasonable to expect a free meal train thats done purely out of kindness to give you 12 oz portion of salmon (!?!??!) for 1 person. 12 ounces of salmon is enough for 3 people for a meal.

    14. HBJ*

      I agree with the others. I would say we can give you a partial meal 4-5 times a week or we can give you a full meal 1-2 times a week. Your restrictions unfortunately cost 3-5 times what we are spending on other meals, so we can’t afford to give you a full meal 4-5 times a week.

      When a person is requesting or if they are not requesting but are accepting meal train meals, they need to list as few restrictions as possible. It should be kept to allergies and serious sensitivities. And requesting expensive foods like steak, salmon and avocado is out of line. I’ve seen meal trains where people listed “no casseroles.” Casseroles are basically 90% of what people make for meal trains because they’re easy to transport and typically easy to make and inexpensive. That’s just rude, and she didn’t have a lot of people sign up. I wonder why?

    15. Touched by kindness*

      I mostly want to say this is such an incredibly kind thing your group is doing.

      Another option for the person’s request is to see if there is an established non-profit that would have more bandwidth to cover their needs. Where I am for example, there is a non-profit that will feed you if you are sick/can’t go out to get food for medical reasons. There are more traditional food bank/kitchens places. There is City Meals if the person is over 60. Religious groups might have groups that help feed others in similar ways as your group. Some involve more paperwork than others, but they are also perhaps more able to deal with more specific needs. The fact that your group is stepping up also allows these non-profits more room to accommodate other people (who presumably might have made use of the non-profits’ services otherwise) so I don’t think it’s a passing the buck. You are allowed to set a boundary on what you offer.

      1. Venus*

        I know of someone who has a lot of health restrictions to their diet, but they would also find a way to make it work if they were getting a very generous donation from someone else. Fish like salmon and tuna comes in cans, beef roasts with cheap cuts can be tender if done right, and chicken is relatively cheap if bought as an entire bird. I buy a full small chicken for $7 and it cooks in the InstantPot within an hour, then I put it in the oven for a quick browning. That’s 2-3 lbs of meat, so enough for 3-5 meals.

        It’s possible that this is a medical problem, but that’s different from being an entitled jerk. The OP did say that those items are what the person ate previously, so maybe there can be a conversation about how to change the meals to make them more manageable for volunteers. “her example of her normal diet was a 12-oz portion of salmon” doesn’t necessarily mean that she will now only eat a 12-oz portion of salmon. But if the OP has that convo and she only wants that steak or salmon… then it has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with not truly appreciating her neighbours.

    16. Lady Heather*

      To be honest, I don’t think hard-boiled eggs with broccoli is outlandish. It’s free food that meets their dietary requirements.

      As someone who can’t eat gluten, I’m well accustomed to meals consisting of less – like there being a nice buffet for the group and stale(ish) rice crackers for me.

      And seriously, she lost all my sympathy at salmon. SALMON?? It might be different where you are but here, 10 kg chicken is the same price as 1 kg salmon. !!!

      It is *free food for people in need*. Do not ask for, mention, expect, hint at or even *think* of salmon.

      1. Lady Heather*

        Add unsalted peanuts for fat.
        (At least, that’s the cheap ‘nut’ around here.)

  23. Not So NewReader*

    Medi-gap insurance.

    I know most people here probably don’t have/need medi-gap insurance yet, but I am willing to bet that some of you are very familiar because of the older folks in your family.

    My friend has a medi-gap plan that she is NOT happy with. Personally, I tend to think these plans are about the same. But she probably won’t be happy until she finds a new plan. I am not sure if the complaints are justifiable or not so I will avoid using the name of the company and just say that it is well known insurance name for seniors beginning with the letter H.

    My question is do you guys know of a medi-gap insurance that you/your family member ARE happy with? I’d also appreciate insight as to WHY you like it.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. LuisainDallas*

      I am 78 and have had a Medicare supplemental policy with Blue Cross Blue Shield for many, many years. I am very satisfied with it. Between it and Medicare I almost never have any out-of-pocket medical expenses. And, a few years ago I spent a week in the hospital (appendicitis). As you can image, the bill for that stay was hideous, but I paid nothing. So, I can recommend Blue Cross.

      1. Faith*

        My parents also have blue cross blue shield and it has worked really well so far for them.

    2. OtterB*

      Following this. My husband turns 65 in November and I have been ignoring all the mail but need to pay attention and figure this out. I would also appreciate any recommendations for information explaining medicare options from sources that are not trying to sell me a policy.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And won’t it be nice if they did not change things all the time…. that would really help with the learning curve.

      2. Le Sigh*

        My mom has a Mutual of Omaha Part G plan. It became incredibly useful when she had a several serious medical problems that landed her in the hospital for extended periods of time. Basically, whatever Medicare A/B didn’t cover, this plan did.

        For example: Medicare often goes from 100% coverage to 80% after X number of days in the hospital or a rehab facility. If they’re in the ICU, getting rehab, etc., that 20% can be incredibly costly. Part G covers it, for the most part.

        There are still gaps and huge problems with Medicare plans overall, but I’ve been glad my mom opted to get it. Her health has been up and down, so it was a good investment. It’s not cheap, but it’s saved us a lot of money.

      3. NoLongerYoung*

        OtterB, a friend of mine thought he had all month, i.e. by the end of the month of his 65th birthday, and apparently – there are some timing rules. Don’t ignore the mail too long!

    3. fposte*

      There’s a useful page on medicare dot gov called “How to compare Medigap policies” that’ll help identify what configurations are available (and it also notes that three states follow a different protocol).

      Not to complicate things, but she’s definitely looking for Medigap and not Medicare Advantage? My retirement package covers some of the costs for Medicare Advantage so most people here go for Medicare Advantage.

    4. Anon-a-souras*

      My parents use AARP’s plan and speak very highly of it. My mom spent time in the hospital after a fall last year and my dad said the coverage worked well.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      Is it the company or the coverage? There are different types of supplemental insurance plans under Medicare rules. Just as Medicare itself has part A and part B, there are supplements D through (maybe) H. Each one has different provisions, limits and costs. Some cover eye exams and others not, for one example.

      Unless she chooses an extraordinarily poorly managed insurer, the plan generally makes a lot more difference than the company.

      There are insurance specialists who help people navigate this, incidentally. They don’t cost anything to the individual. I found mine from a presentation at a local library, and I’m really glad I did.

      1. San Juan Worm*

        If you search for your community’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), you can get connected with a counselor to help you compare plans and determine what your needs are. They are trained professionals who are impartial because the program is federally funded and operates under federal guidelines — they don’t sell or promote any product or service. Their services are always free! They also can help investigate summary notice billing concerns or fraud.

      2. I edit everything*

        Seconding all of this. My mom just switched from a Medicare Advantage plan to Medicare + Supplement, so we’ve been through it recently.

        Medicare + supplement is better than Medicare Advantage, from our experience. Much less hassling from the insurance company, better coverage (depending on the plan, of course). You pay more for the plan, but less when you have big bills.

    6. Doctor is In*

      I just enrolled for Medicare and supplement, and part D. I did research on my own, then got a recommendation for an insurance agent from my pharmacist. The agents can look at your situation and recommend plans. Got all set up quickly and easily.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Thank you, all. I took a bunch of notes on what you guys said here and I am ready to look into this with her. I so appreciate your help!

    8. blaise zamboni*

      Most plans probably are the same. I will say that if your friend’s plan has a second word that starts with N in their name, I work with their parent company in my job (health plan compliance) and I…don’t like them. I’m not sure how their benefits compare, but from an administrative standpoint they are disorganized and sort of a nightmare to work with. That said, I only work with their Medicare Advantage plans, not the supplemental plans, so maybe that’s handled differently.

      I would specifically recommend against BC/BS if you can avoid them, because both branches have histories of trying to weasel out of actually paying the claims that are their responsibility. Blue Shield in particular is really shady IMO, but they’re owned by the same parent company so I trust both of them about as far as I can throw them. I know that’s not everyone’s experience of them but it makes me leery anyway.

      I helped my mom navigate moving into Medicare. She has UHC and likes them well enough, and I haven’t heard complaints or had any particularly negative experiences with them. Cigna and Aetna are both pretty solid too, in my experience. I can’t speak to the latter two, but I know my mom enjoys her UHC insurance because she gets a certain amount of free medicine/medical supplies that she can choose from a catalog every year.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If we’re naming names, Anthem is pretty shady and well-known for trying to weasel out of paying for things. (Example: Their policy is to only look at the first diagnosis listed when determining medical necessity, so if two line items have different medical necessity requirements, one will automatically be denied on the first go-round and the facility will have to spend the time and effort writing an appeal, even if the medical necessity code for both is actually already on the claim.)

        1. Old and Don’t Care*

          Is this relevant to Medigap claims? If Medicare approves a claim and pays as primary, Anthem can decline to pay the secondary portion? I didn’t know Medigap plans could do that.

    9. Auntie Social*

      I did my own research and went with Cigna, as there were far fewer negative news articles about them about policy, far less litigation, fewer complaints with state Insurance commissioners. I found an lovely, well informed agent who answered my questions for as long as I wanted and was the only one who didn’t try to “package” me. Jennifer Westover is her name, (737) 214-5087, she will answer your questions (and saved me money, too) til the cows come home. She reps many things, not just Cigna.

      1. fposte*

        FWIW, insurance agents are licensed by state. She can’t sell to any other state unless she’s licensed to, and it would be uncommon for her to be licensed in all 50.

  24. Grim*

    We have a big orange tree in our backyard and I’d like juicer recommendations.

    Seems like the juicer on Better Call Saul kicks butt, but I don’t know the make or model.


    1. NoLongerYoung*

      I have a cuisinart juicer. But for a tree full of lemons and/ or oranges, I got a juicer attachment for my actual big cuisinart food processor. (The motor on that thing will never die). I do not recommend the Braun (some years ago) – I burnt it out in short order.

  25. Virtual ball*

    Has anyone attended?

    A museum I bought a membership to is having a virtual ball. Their regular non-pandemic era in person balls were always too $$ for me to attend (about $150 per person / $300 for spouse and me for the cheapest ticket up to thousands )

    This year the cheapest ticket is $45 and I could attend alone (I could attend alone for the in person one too but spouse would prob want to come as well) so this is prob the most affordable this will ever be.

    Are these virtual events worth the money? Assuming you like the museum and want to support it I suppose it is for a good cause, but if the charitable aspect was taken out would you do it again?

    What have your experiences been for these types of events?


    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think they have pros and cons. I like being able to get one ticket for two people. I like the option to be near my own bathroom. I like to have a cocktail and not worry about driving. Or parking! But… I also like mingling and I like dressing up and I like going out. However, I really just like supporting the cause if I can, so that’s worth it for me. You get a little extra content, a little behind the scenes. I wouldn’t pay for the “whole table” ticket if it’s virtual, but I would do it.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I think “worth” is going to be really tricky to define in this context. It’s almost certainly going to be underwhelming compared to the in-person events, but museums are having these things basically so they don’t go under and can try in whatever way they can to approximate the revenue they normally would’ve with the in-person event. So it might be better to frame it in your mind as “do I want to give them an extra $45 for a chance at a maybe entertaining thing?” than if the event itself is worth $45.

  26. Casey*

    Does anyone have one of those lamps that’s meant to mimic the sun? I’m moving back to my parent’s house in a month and my room only has one small-ish window for light. (I spent most of my time at you-know-what in the basement with no sunlight, so I don’t know why this room bothers me, but it does!)
    If you have/had one: did you like it? did you use it for just for short periods of time like the literature says? should I just get a bunch of lamps to make the space brighter in general?

    1. Ali G*

      I have SAD and use one in the winter when I can’t get sunlight during the day. It does help. A colleague of mine started using one because she lives in a basement with very little light and she said it helped. In my case I used it for 30 minutes mid-day. I’m not sure you would want to leave it on all day. It can mess with your sleep more if you over use it.

    2. Disco Janet*

      I have one. They’re ridiculously bright (like, hurt your eyes if you’re looking in their general direction bright), so I definitely only use it for short periods of time. I would also get a bunch of regular lamps just to make the space brighter.

    3. Koala dreams*

      We used to have one at the office. It’s very bright. I’d recommend use it for a limited time at a time, maybe an hour or two? It’s great for when you feel sleepy or when your eyes get tired. I’d also recommend you to get some more lights for the room so that you can have nice lightning depending on what you need. A ceiling lamp for general brightness, a reading lamp for reading, a floor lamp for watching tv/listening to music, maybe a decorative light (or a few for different seasons). A night lamp perhaps.

    4. mreasy*

      I have one and use it for about half the year. It helps a lot, but it’s definitely a therapeutic item, not for use as room lighting. In general I find a well-lit room helps with my SAD, so that’s something to think about as well.

    5. Wehaf*

      I have have several from Verilux; they have both therapy lights (very bright, intended to be used for up to hour or so per day) and regular lights. I have some of each, and I do recommend them.

      Whether you go for a full-spcctrum light or not, if the lighting in the room bothers you, you should do something about it. In general I recommend a combination of direct and indirect lighting, and suggest thinking about how warm you want the light to be at different times of day. Paint can make a huge difference, too; have you thought about painting the room and ceiling?

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Use regular lamps and position them for your needs. A big mirror on the wall opposite your window will make your space lighter and feel bigger. Try some fairy lights for fun!
      I have used a SAD light for years in accordance with its instructions. Now I have (admittedly minor) skin and eye damage from it. If you get a SAD light, use it for the minimum time and maximum distance. I no longer use mine.
      Basements bother me, too. I hope you can do some things to make it more pleasant for you!

    7. Miki*

      I use one in the winter and also when I’m working night shifts. It’s a REALLY bright light with a pretty harsh quality, and you’re not supposed to look directly at it—it should be a certain distance from your face and angled down above you in order to hit the right photoreceptors along the bottom of your retina.

      It definitely works on that sunlight-deprivation feeling and gives me more energy and wakefulness, as well as helping with regulate sleep. But I wouldn’t use it for room lighting! For that, I’d use normal lamps with whatever light bulbs make it feel sunny and cheery to me.

  27. Eeniemeenie*

    I got contacted by the police recently after a random driver claimed that I rear ended their vehicle and drove off. According to them this incident happened on my street so it seems like an accident occurred while I was driving by and the other driver wrongfully identified my number plate.

    I emailed explaining it wasn’t me but sitting here stressed out because how do I prove I *didn’t* do something? I am hopeful there is CCTV footage available but it’s not a busy area so there might not be.

    Anyone familiar in this area? What can I do here?

    1. Ali G*

      If you deny it and there is no proof there isn’t anything they can do to you. This is why most states in the US (if you are here) require you to have uninsured driver insurance in addition to liability insurance. My car was hit a run a few years ago and I had to file the claim under my uninsured driver policy for insurance (and report it to the police) to cover it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Actually, most states don’t require it. Last I knew, somewhere around 20 did, though it’s been a couple of years since my insurance class so that may be a skitch out of date. But I’ve never lived in a state that did, any rate.

    2. Coco*

      Oh this sucks. Sorry to hear

      Is there damage to your vehicle? The other vehicle? If the other vehicle sustained damage there should be some trace evidence From the vehicle that did the hitting? Like paint from bumper , plastic from lights, etc

      Hope there are traffic cams that will prove you innocent.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Doorbell cams?

      There should be some damage on your car if their car has any amount of damage. Take pics of your car?

      You say it seems like you were driving by…. can you firm this statement up some how? Were you indeed driving by is that possible? I am wondering why there is doubt in that statement and it’s not a firm statement. Did you loan your car to someone who drove by at that time?

      Cell phone pings are an interesting animal. Did you have your cell on you? They don’t need your cell phone itself to find the pings, just the number.

    4. Anon for this*

      This happened to my parents… and the caller wasn’t the police. Hope you confirmed the officers were legit? Start there if you haven’t.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Nice catch! Bingo.

        It seems that their insurance company should be contacting OP’s insurance company.

    5. Choggy*

      Something here does not seem right. Did the police email you about this? What did they say you needed to do? I would think if you were not involved, there would be no damage to your vehicle so that would be the proof. Was the vehicle make/model described or only the license plate number provided?

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Call your insurance agent and tell them you’re being falsely accused of causing an accident. Your agent should have experience and advice in handling such false claims.
      Photo the front of your car as proof you didn’t hit anything.
      If “the police” call again, ask for their name and number for verification. Ask for the file number of the complaint.
      Sorry. I hope this goes away soon.

    7. Miki*

      Be careful! There are scams like this. They will give you a name, a badge number, a case number, all kinds of things to make it seem legit. They can be very convincing. They might even use a real officer’s identity! If anyone starts to pressure you to meet, to pay a “fine,” that’s a big red flag.

      Don’t call the potential scammers back at the number they call you on or any numbers they provide. Confirm that this is real first – look up the phone number for the police department they are claiming to be from, ask for that officer, or if they’re real but unavailable, ask to confirm that someone really has filed this complaint against you.

    1. fposte*

      I saw last night that he died. When Elijah Cummings died last fall I thought about how hard it was going to be when we lost John Lewis, and it was.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thank you for this reminder to consider what positive things can be done in his memory. And in memory of Elijah Cummings.

      We have lost two great public servants. Hopefully among us are other developing public servants who have not yet attained the same well-deserved level of public recognition. Things are horrible in many places but the current generation of young people gives me hope.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      We have lost giants in the civil rights movement this week – in addition to John Lewis, C.T. Vivian also passed away on Friday. May they both rest in power.

  28. Dipstick's Mother*

    The short version: I feel complicit in my son’s stringing along of his girlfriend. I know some people who post here are women in their twenties – how would you feel if your BF’s mother had been easing off the the communication with you? Can I just decline seeing them when she’s in town? I don’t want to hurt her – If she were my daughter or niece I would tell her she’s ignoring some important red flags in her relationship. But as HIS mother, she’ll probably just think I don’t like her. I think she’s great – for someone else.

    The longer version: My son is 31 and has said he would be happy with or without marriage and family. If he does get married and become a father, he wants one child. GF is 25 and wants marriage and and three children. They have been together two years, and he does not want to commit to marriage because he is waiting for some maturation around things like her attachment to her family and her money handling skills. There are also minor things he just kind of tolerates about her, such as her excessive interest and use of social media, and certain things he finds shallow. In my view she has some fine qualities (she is bright, thoughtful and family-oriented) and he certainly is not perfect, but they are wholly mismatched in some very important ways. (Money and children are huge)

    My son and I talk about every two weeks – we’ve never been the talk everyday types. He lives in NYC and I live about four hours north. So it’s not like we talk about his relationship all the time, but when we do, invariably he will say something uncomplimentary about her. Sometimes it is said in a tolerant way (just stating a fact about something I know he dislikes) and other times it is framed as a complaint. I tell him to break up with her since they’ll never get married; He says “how do you know?” and my response is that a 31 year-old man who has been with someone for two years should not be looking for changes in her to determine marriageability. When he says “Not all dating needs to lead to marriage” I say “No, it does not – unless you’re dating someone who has made it clear they want marriage and family, and they want it with you.” Apparently she’s already said things like “I’m not going to wait around forever.” Deep down I do not believe my son will want to marry her and her debt; he has lived very frugally in order to manage his school debt, and I don’t think that ultimately he will want to take hers on since she has not done the same.

    This all used to simply annoy me and make me sad that I’d raised such a dipstick, but the pandemic has added another level. My son’s roommate left town and my son could have had GF move in with him and ride this out together, but he didn’t want to. Then when NYC shut down, he took an hour subway ride to go see her. (He later told me he knew he’d get “yelled at” so he just went). Since then they spend weekends together at his place, and she goes back to her family’s home afterwards. Stupid. This week my son is in my town staying at his father’s home because his father is paying him to do work on the house. (Both son and GF lost jobs in the pandemic.) He took a bus here (more stupid) and will be staying for three weeks. Then yesterday he tells me that GF is coming for the weekend, and is taking a train. (Stupid again.) They normally stay at my house when in town, but due to my vulnerabilities, they are staying with his father.

    I really let into my son for letting her come here (“she wanted to!”). She is risking her health and more spread just because she is too insecure to be apart from him for three weeks. I am mad at him for not being more self aware and stringing her along, and doing things like letting her travel here when their relationship does not have legs. And I am mad at her for being so dense that she does not see the writing on the wall. When your 31 year-old BF would rather live alone than have you ride out the pandemic with him, and when you’ve been together two years and there are things he wants to change about you, move on! You deserve better! I have asked him straight out if he’d be devastated the way she would if they broke up, and he said no. It’s probably worth mentioning that my son broke up with his first serious GF seven years ago because he knew they would not get married for some reasons that are true about this relationship as well. (Money, lack of independence from family, etc.) I find myself asking WTF happened to that very mature 24 year-old.

    I have felt the last few times they visited that I was allowing her to get comfortable making inroads into his family, which makes me complicit in his dipstick-i-ness, but now I am feeling that even more. I am not sure what to do when she inevitably reaches out to me while here this weekend to have some kind of socially distanced meal together outdoors. I really just don’t want to be in touch with her at all anymore – partly because I am kind of disgusted with both of them, but also because I don’t want to contribute to her feeling she’s close to his family. My son is stringing her along, but that doesn’t mean I have to. Wouldn’t it be kinder for me not to?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If the relationship was making either of them unhappy enough to get out of it, they would. Trust me, I’ve been telling my brother (who lives with me) for five months that this is the perfect time to break up with the girlfriend he doesn’t actually seem to even like, because he hasn’t seen her since February, but I keep getting things like “I don’t mind dating her when I only have to see her once every six months!” Which I don’t get from his end, and one of my (many) issues with her is that she’s dumb enough that she doesn’t see the writing on the wall either, but whatever, it’s not my relationship and not my problem.

      So whether your son and his girlfriend want to stay in a relationship that isn’t going to work out long-term is not even a little bit your business – make like Elsa and let it go. But for your end — no, you certainly don’t have to make any effort to stay in contact with her or make arrangements to see her or whatever. If she reaches out to you with an invitation, you can respond that no, that’s not working with your current safety plan, or you can ignore it for a couple hours and “Oh, sorry, just got this – other things going on this afternoon, but you guys have fun.” I mean, I only MET my mother-in-law once during the entire time my husband and I were dating, cohabitating, engaged, so there’s certainly no obligation that you should be good buddies with anyone he dates if you don’t want to. (She passed away right after our wedding.)

    2. Come On Eileen*

      I guess my best advice is – enjoy your moments with her if you enjoy her as a person, knowing full well she might not be around forever. Don’t try to predict the future too much or base your actions on what if. I split up with my boyfriend last August after 2.5 years together. We got along great, I really loved his family, but we had big life picture items where we knew we weren’t compatible in a forever sort of way. When we did finally split up, it was hard – both because I missed him and because I really loved his family members. But that’s just life. It’s hard and messy and you form attachments that don’t always last. I miss them still, they’re great people. But I’m glad they didn’t treat me any differently or disengage with me. That would have hurt quite a bit.

      1. Dipstick's Mother*

        I’m sorry about your break-up; that sounds so hard. Thank you for weighing in, and being hurtful to her is what I’m worried about so I appreciate your response.

    3. The German Chick*

      You sound too invested in this relationship. Do the right thing and be friendly, warm and polite while keeping pandemic-appropriate social distance. Anything else may just drive them further apart from you, not from each other.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am answering as someone’s kid, because that is my life experience. I don’t have parenting experience.

      Please step back. Seriously. Take a deep breath and step back from all this. They are adults leading adult lives. My heart broke each time I saw the word “stupid” written here. I have been on the receiving end of this and I know how much it hurts. You are saying he does not respect himself, but it looks like you don’t really respect him either. And it seems that you might not respect his GF either.

      Please find ways to put distance between yourself and the problems you mention here. As it stands now you are actually pushing him toward her, not away from her. I suspect if you want the relationship to end, you should go neutral or bland on the whole discussion. Become disinterested.

      FWIW, I think your only obligation to her is to treat her with the same level of respect that you treat everyone. That is all you owe her. I feel really bad for your son where you say she can do better than him and should move on. Daughters have their first learning experiences about men from their fathers. Likewise with sons and mothers. Your son is having some learning experiences about women from watching you here. Are you showing him what you actually want him to learn? Are you sure that he is not having unintended learning experiences?

      Please start by deciding not to call your son names anymore and see where that takes you.

      1. Dipstick's Mother*

        I’m sorry someone called you names. I am not a name-caller, and I’m not sure where you got that impression. I can refer to a choice my son made as “stupid” here, or say here that he’s being a dipstick without saying those things to his face. I think your whole response is colored by the fact that someone called you names. Sorry that was done to you.

        1. Ramona Q*

          You also called his girlfriend “dense.” Name-calling doesn’t burst into being only when you are saying it to someone’s face. You are absolutely calling two people names in this space, when, as other folks have written, you should disentangle yourself from your over-investment in their adult choices.

          1. Dipstick's Mother*

            I’m sorry, but someone who is of the opinion that my posting GF is “being dense” is the same as my calling her dense to her face, does not hold a lot of sway with me.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            Wait, that’s not name-calling. That’s just using an adjective. I do think this poster should be disentangled from the son’s relationships but from this comment it sounds like your definition of name-calling may actually just be “describing anyone with terms that have negative connotations” and that’s not the same thing. It kind of undermines what would be a valid point about actual name-calling.

            1. Dipstick's Mother*

              For me, it undermines any point about my needing to “disentangle” from my son’s relationship. I am far from tangled (which has been spelled out in a lot of other responses here so I won’t do that here) but I really can’t see myself having a conversation about it with someone who classifies any negative statement as “name-calling”. We’re just coming from places that are too far apart, so why would I try?

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      So, as someone who’s not too far in age from your son – you are WAYYY to into this. Please find something else to occupy your time and attention. Your role is to be warm and pleasant and inviting to each and every single one of your son’s partners, regardless if you like them (exception for abuse). That’s it. Your son is an adult, your job is done. If you screwed up raising him, it’s too late to do anything about it.

      1. Aza*

        Yeah. This was my reaction too. The OP knows probably too much info about this relationship and is seeking too much involvement. Time to step back and be pleasant to the girlfriend but not worry about signals- the signals, the relationship, all of it are the son and girlfriend’s purview.

      2. Uranus Wars*

        I see this issue with my brother and mom too, my brother is 29. He is married and she is way involved…but it sounds like this son and my brother both share too much as well!

        I do think, tho, as someone who lived with someone for 7 years (and didn’t get the commitment I wanted) you should treat her as if she were any other girlfriend as long as they are together. I loved my partner’s family, but losing them is part of any relationship. And, honestly, if they have been traveling on public transportation as much as you say that in itself is a reason to not see them.

        I would also add that by not having her move in your son IS showing some maturity. Depending on how long this lasts, and again as someone who lived with someone for 7 years, moving in is a BIG STEP (reasons don’t matter) and it may really lead the GF to think things are moving and marriage is around the corner when it is really not.

    6. I Say This Respectfully*

      I can understand your frustration from seeing a potential trainwreck a mile a way and you wish you had every power to stop it from hurting two people you know. I get it.

      I’m trying to figure out how to say this nicely. I have written several versions because your post hit a nerve but I don’t want Alison to flag my post.

      Please stop what you are doing. This is none of your business, and please don’t say it has become your business because your son has called you and complained about her. Unless there is abuse going on between them, you should let these two adults handle their relationship. And yes, they may want to visit you, and I believe you should treat his girlfriend as best as you can. Don’t ice her out. Don’t be rude. As for outdoor meals in this pandemic, you can use excuses like you’re uncomfortable with the pandemic or that it is too hot out right now. But do not be rude. If your attitude has changed towards her since the last time she has seen you, guaranteed she’ll sense it. She might ask your son about your changed attitude and he’ll make an excuse for you. She might overlook it for the time being, but then if other things start to go south and you’re involved with any of it, she’ll believe you to be in cahoots with him about the break up for however long it would have taken.

      And then that’s where the “Mama’s Boy” label will come about for him. Actually, with your post here, I already have him there. He might be financially and physically independent from you, but he isn’t emotionally (and yet you seem to criticize her for not being independent from her family). I’m not saying he shouldn’t love you as a parent, but if he is running to you and you’re becoming too invested in his relationships, then you’re becoming the third wheel. If he gives you the power now – if he hasn’t already with the first one – to interfere one way or another, then you’ll feel more comfortable with the next one too. Let’s say though she marries your son, how invested into their marriage will you be? Will you be judging them? Will you criticize their parenting skills if they do have a child?

      I unfortunately dated a “Mama’s Boy” and that didn’t go down well. The mother very heavily influenced her son, and they both admitted as to how she drove other women he dated away, including a former fiance. Don’t let him give you that power, and try to be Switzerland.

      1. Dipstick's Mother*

        Thanks, and for what it’s worth I was not planning to ice her out. Yes, I am miffed at the two of them now for being irresponsible Covid-wise, but I would never be rude to her. I truly like her and I feel bad for her in all of this.

        I know you took a long time to type this out, and I blame myself here since I must have miscommunication about my son, but my son is the antithesis of a Mama’s Boy! He is aloof to a fault (that is among the “not perfect” things I mentioned in my OP. And did you see where he said he would not be devastated if the relationship ended? That’s part of his aloofness.) I have often joked that raising him was more like having a cat than raising a kid, and people laugh but it’s true. From the time he was a toddler, he was fiercely independent – did not even want to be hugged or comforted if he hurt himself. His coming to me with his relationship complaints is a new thing, as he really never came to me with any problems in life at all. Honestly, maybe that’s part of my latching on to this as a thing to be concerned about.

        Before I got to your last paragraph, I could tell you’d been involved with a Mama’s Boy. I must have made it seem like my son has been coming to me his whole life, and about every woman he’s dated. Far from it. But your post did make me think that part of my investment here is that he’s talking to me NOW.

    7. Koala dreams*

      As a woman somewhat older than your son’s girlfriend: I don’t think parents should tell their children what to do in their relationships (to break up, to get married, to move in together). You need to back up and let them decide. If they want a long distance relationship, that’s their choice, and they’ll find out if they like it or not eventually. It seems like your son has got stuck in a bad habit of complaining every time he speaks to you, and I think it’s fine for you to say that you can’t be a listening ear for his venting about his girlfriend anymore, and that you don’t have the emotional bandwith for that. In my experience it’s a common problem with people who like to complain about their partner/spouse. They don’t realize that their constant venting makes it look like they are unhappy with the relationship. Weird, but it is what it is.

      As for the meal, it sounds like both the son and the girlfriend is doing more trips than you are comfortable with considering the pandemic. My advice would be to stick to short skype/zoom coffee meetings, and not meet up in person.

    8. Aza*

      I would also stop having such in depth conversations with your son about his relationship. It’s hard if he brings it up, but I’d change the topic and offer non-committal comments. Be politely uninteresting about it.

    9. Washi*

      “This all used to simply annoy me and make me sad that I’d raised such a dipstick.”

      I’m wondering if this is the real issue – that you feel like you’ve failed as a parent for your kid to act like this. Are you maybe getting emotionally overinvolved because it feels like his choices are a reflection on you and if you fix his behavior, you can feel like a good parent again? You seem to feel a lot of responsibility to fix what seems like a fairly common relationship issue, and I would do some reflection on why that is, and whether it’s more about your feelings than about your son and his GF.

      1. Dipstick's Mother*

        Oh, I make no bones about the fact that I am invested because it’s hard to see him being “a bad person”. But I don’t think of it as a reflection on me, or I want to fix it so I can be a good parent again. I just want him to behave better!

        1. Alex*

          I don’t think he is being a “bad person.” He is in a relationship that he’s not ready to get out of, for whatever reason. If she wanted to get married to him right now, she could tell him, and they could work that out together–by breaking up, by getting married, or by deciding that they are going to continue on together while not being on the same page about that. It’s not your role to decide that they should pee or get off the pot. They will pee or get off the pot when they are ready.

          Now, it is just your job to be kind to guests of your son. Your kindness speaks for itself, regardless of where their relationship ends up. You aren’t helping leading anyone on by being kind to this girl.

          1. Washi*

            Yes, this is part of what I mean – I don’t see anything so bad happening! Half my friends at this point have been in a relationship where one person wants more of a commitment than the other, often for way longer than two years. I’m sure it’s frustrating to watch, but the language used is just really…intense.

            Just be a normal amount of nice to the GF and don’t say things like “can’t wait for you two to have kids” and you’ll be fine.

          2. Dipstick's Mother*

            Of course it’s not my role to decide. Parents remain invested in the choices their adult children make that impact their long term happiness, whether they let on that they’re invested or not. But not because it’s their role to decide – it’s clearly not!

            On the question of whether or not he’s a “bad person”, I understand what you’re saying, but if he knows deep down he’ll never marry her, and she’s made it clear that’s what she wants (she has) then he kind of sucks. He’s not just a person who doesn’t want to end the relationship for whatever reason.

    10. Generic Name*

      To put it bluntly, you need to butt out of your adult son’s life. If you don’t like him complaining about her to you, please say so. You are well within your rights to say, “Son, I love you, and I want you to be happy. I’ve already given you my thoughts on this, so I’d like you to stop bringing up your relationship to me”. Or whatever. But you can’t make your grown son and his adult girlfriend end their relationship. It’s their life, and they get to make their own mistakes.

      1. Dipstick's Mother*

        Telling him to stop talking about it is a good idea. I actually had a similar convo with my mother who could not stop complaining about her building’s management, but wouldn’t do anything about it. I finally said “I am not the audience for this if you won’t do anything about it. Don’t talk to me about this anymore.” Well, I said it more nicely that that, but it it worked!

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, I think you can tell him that you just don’t want to hear about his relationship anymore unless he genuinely wants advice. You can say you’re frustrated by his complaining and it’s coloring your opinion of him (true!). You want to have good opinions about your son! It’ll be 100% better if you just don’t hear about it.

    11. Anon for this*

      Whoa, everyone piling on here! LW, for what it’s worth, I don’t think you are being intrusive and I appreciate you thinking about this girl’s feelings-though I don’t think ‘freezing her out’ would be the right way to handle it at all.

      Regarding the ‘butt out of your son’s life’ comments – I get the impression that most of what you say here is your private thoughts, only some of which are shared with your son. Moreover, he talks to you about his relationship, which means that some back and forth on the subject is both allowed and expected. If he made it clear to you that he didn’t want to discuss it, it would be a different story.

      And, frankly, you have a point. He is sort of stringing her along. I’m glad you’ve pointed this out to him!

      BUT – relationships are about timing as much as they are about values, needs and compatibility. Your son is 31 and the gf is only 26! She is very, very young and has plenty of time to meet someone else and have kids, if that’s what she decides she wants. I very much doubt that she would let your son string her along until age 45 and she’s missed her window for bio children. Who knows, if they make it to the point where your son is 35 and she’s 30, maybe your son will feel ready, she’ll have resolved some issues, whatever, and maybe they will get married. But I really think this is a situation where time will tell.

      In the meantime, I think you be totally normal around this who girl you like, tell your son what you think without harping on it, and be vigilant you don’t catch Covid from these careless people!

      1. Dipstick's Mother*

        Yes, most of what I laid out here are my private thoughts. Thanks for picking up on this. I also think that it’s just a general pitfall of describing a situation in one long post that actually has been thought about and/or discussed in real time over a period of months. Things can seem more intense and concentrated than they are. And I also solicited opinions from an age bracket that may not see this kind of investment from their own parents, but in my view (see my last post below) most just hide it better! There is no switch to turn off to stop being invested in choices your kids make that will impact their happiness. Just ask my 88 year-old mother!

        Your point about timing is well-taken, and it could all work out as you say a few years from now. I will try to remind myself of this when I worry that if they do not become more compatible they likely to consider staying together the path of least resistance!

    12. The outtakes*

      Speaking as a 28 year old woman – you are way too invested here. If I was her, I’d find your level of involvement creepy and unhealthy, and it would be a major red flag. Literally none of this is any of your business, besides whether you have a meal with them. If you want to go to lunch/dinner, go. Other than that, please find yourself sonething else to fixate on. This isn’t helpful, healthy or normal.

      1. Dipstick's Mother*

        Please read my last comment below. My level of investment is not what you seem to think it is, but even the level it’s at is more “normal” than you probably realize.

    13. Square Root of Minus One*

      I’m your son’s age, I speak to my mom a lot more often and still she doesn’t have as clear an insight into my relationship as you think you have into your son’s. I hope you’re considering you might be projecting and assuming a bit.
      Either way, you being distant with her won’t change anything – beyond how highly your son and his GF think of you, that is. If my BF’s mother acted coldly toward me, I’d just think how rude, and certainly not see it as kind.
      Hold your hand ready for her to take if needed, don’t grab her arm. And please don’t operate under the assumption you know better than them. That’ll push them away from you, not from each other.

    14. Dipstick's Mother*

      I appreciate the responses, thanks everyone.

      One thing I forgot before I posted is that adults and young adults who have relationships with their parents often don’t realize that their parents have opinions about their life choices that they don’t share with them. To those of you in this category, know that your parents very much have opinions and are invested in your choices. Often those opinions are not shared because parents of adults know opinions might be unwelcome, or that you’d rather hear from your friends than from us, or that our simply having opinions unintentionally sends the message we still think of you as children. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have those opinions, don’t share our concerns with each other, our peers, or as in this case, strangers on the internet! You don’t stop being invested as a parent because your child grows up – you just learn to temper your remarks if you want to have an adult relationship with your adult child. Today I wrote a concentrated amount about opinions shared with my son a handful of times over a period of months when he’s raised the topic. But – probably just like many of your parents – I think about this stuff more than that. This is normal for parents of adults, trust me.

      All that said, the real irony here is that my son’s GF thinks it’s strange and potentially problematic that he and I can go weeks without talking (she talks to her mother between 1 and 3 times a day when she’s NOT living at home) but the commentariat seems to skew that I’m overly involved!

      1. Ethyl*

        I mean, I think it’s worth examining why just about everyone who responded thinks you are overinvested in your adult son’s adult relationship with another adult. I don’t think you will, though, because you seem really resistant to what everyone is saying.

        1. Dipstick's Mother*

          I mean, have you read all the responses? Mine and those of others? I mean, it seems not.

          1. Ethyl*

            So you don’t actually want advice then, just a bunch of people telling you you’re right? This may be the wrong place for that.

            1. Dipstick's Mother*

              Again, read the other comments and my replies to them. I can’t see engaging with someone who clearly has not done that. Or who starts a post, sentence or paragraph with “I mean …” You are begging not to be taken seriously. Thankfully most people were more thoughtful than this, both positive and negative.

              Not that I was looking for a bunch of people telling me I’m right, but “this may be the wrong place for that”?! Come on, you can find that here every day of the week, multiple posts a day!

              1. Quandong*

                Wow. I agree with Ethyl and she has made valid points which I recommend you reflect on in future.

                It’s regrettable that you are pushing back about advice or comments you don’t like, to the point you make judgemental statements about people based on their use of grammar. I think you will find many thoughtful posters opt out after seeing how you are reacting.

                Good luck with this approach.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I start sentences with “I mean” all the time. So do plenty of thoughtful people. It’s not a reason not to take someone seriously.

                Please do not ask for advice here and then be combative when people offer it to you. I am closing this subthread.

      2. ...*

        You’re maybe mentally over involved in thinking about it perhaps. It sounds like they aren’t a match. When it reaches a breaking point their relationship will end and they’ll both probably move on. Just sounds like it doesn’t really jive for them. Many of us have been there.

      3. I Say This Respectfully*

        Thank you for your reply.

        Yes I understand that parents have opinions about their children, no matter the age or the issue at hand. My father, for example, is keeping quiet yet is uneasy about me living with my boyfriend. I semi-moved in with him during this pandemic, and my father was always of the mindset that people don’t move in with each other until they are married (that was a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude from him). I can appreciate where you are coming from.

        However, from your answer here, I sense a little bit of defensiveness. And that’s okay. We can understand that you have your own private thoughts, but I think those private thoughts will bubble to the surface through your words and actions. They kind of already are since you took the time and energy to write this. For whatever reason, I believe you have something against this girlfriend, and no matter what she does, it won’t be good enough for your son. You keep attacking how she is with her family. So what? There can be a valid reason or maybe she does have an unhealthy relationship with her own family. And just like you judging her and her family, she is judging yours with the whole “well she says it is strange and potentially problematic that he and I can go weeks without talking.” Are you in a contest for who has the more “normal” relationship with family communication? That reminds me of how my ex’s mother tried to “compete” with my father via me as to who had the worse case of cancer!!

        It is very clear you are coming on here to see who will validate your concerns. I’m in agreement that this relationship isn’t going to last, and I hate to say that about two people I do not know. I would never want someone to say it about me. But my reasons for it are not the same as yours. I think their relationship is quickly growing a third wheel – you. I hope I’m wrong.

        And really, I would be upset if you were my mother. You can’t even give your son a fake name on here. You have to call him Dipstick?

        1. Dipstick's Mother*

          OK, your last line made me laugh but you are right. I am concerned that he is being a crappy boyfriend and partner which is where that came from, but I could have seen how it would come across. I appreciate your pointing that out.

          Some of what you have written has merit, but maybe not for the reasons you think. For example, when I point out how frequently she talks to her mother it’s because I know her dependence on her family is a problem for HIM – one that he has brought up to me, and one that contributed to the end of another relationship. So it’s not a matter of her not being good enough in my eyes, but it’s hard to hear this from him and know that she’s not doing anything wrong and it just points to an incompatibility. Me? I’d gladly talk to my son more often, but that’s not who he is. Quality over quantity.

          There’s no reason to be concerned about me being a third wheel; as I told you, he’s aloof to fault. You’ve made some valid points, but your I think your previous experience with an interfering mother is coloring your view here. I know it’s easy to read a whole wall of words in my OP and think that I go to bed at night having talked to him about this, and wake up in the morning and start texting him about it, but it really is just what I said: We talk every few weeks and it comes up on occasional calls. So a handful of times. It’s on my mind now due to their visit.

          Your point about validation is well-taken, though. I guess it would have been nice to hear from women her age that she really won’t wait around much longer. Do I want better for her? Yes – I like her. But I definitely don’t want my son to be a person who is callously keeping someone from pursuing the life she says she wants. (And let me just preemptively say for others who might be reading this, I know I have no role and I don’t get to decide!)

          1. Epsilon Delta*

            I am your son’s age. When I was in my mid-twenties I had been dating a guy for several years. I very much wanted to get married, he was not so sure even though he wanted a long term/lifelong relationship. I ended up telling him that if he did not propose by such-and-such date, I would propose to him (implication being, either we are getting married or we are breaking up). He proposed, and we have been married for three years now.

            So yes, I do think that younger women are able to be assertive about this, or at least clear on the trade off they are making. I have watched my friends go through similar situations with their boyfriends, but I don’t think any were as direct as me. One ended up married to the guy, the other is not but decided she would rather continue dating him even if marriage is not in their future.

            To your initial question, I have always had a warm relationship with my boyfriends’ mothers and really appreciated that relationship, even when the relationship was clearly coming to an end. I still miss one mom in particular, but she was not a factor in my deciding to break up or not with her son! :)

      4. Koala dreams*

        If you don’t speak that often, it’s even weirder that you think you know better than your son what he and his girlfriend should do. It’s not about the amount of conversations, it’s about the content. Most people are unhappy if they get told that they should break up, even if those people are in the middle of a divorce, let alone if they aren’t. You also seem weirdly judgemental about the distance relationship. I can understand that you are sad that your son doesn’t aspire to marriage, setting up a home and having children, but you can’t put that grief on your son’s shoulders. It’s not bad to want different things in life.

      5. alex b*

        I’m not sure why everybody’s piled on with this “over invested” narrative. Your concerns are legitimate and private, and it sounds like you’re not butting in but rather ruminating.

        I agree with the advice from the commenter “Anon for this” at 12:00pm: I would tell your son clearly what you think but don’t harp on it or tolerate his complaining, and be safe regarding the virus because they’ve been really selfish and, yes, stupid to travel to, from, and around NYC unnecessarily in the past months. I live in NYC; every single day there were advisories not to do that.

        How to treat the girlfriend, which appeared to be the focus of your question… I think I’d go for distancing yourself. If she attaches to you as a kind of maternal figure, it’s going to hurt her even more when this relationship goes south. It seems like you realize that. I would definitely not ostracize her or say anything to her about the State of the Relationship, but I might just be distant and unavailable for bonding. Friendly but not overly so.

        IMO you are coming across like a normal parent with healthy boundaries. You love your adult son but are disappointed, as an observer, with some of his poor behavior. You want both parties in the relationship to fare well. Hopefully Dipstick will shape up his act in whatever way he feels is right. He’s lucky he has a mom who cares but lets him live his own life.

        1. Dipstick's Mother*

          Honestly, I think the “over-invested” comments are coming from people who just don’t realize how common it is for parents to have opinions on their adult children’s relationships and other life choices. Perhaps they have parents who are keeping those opinions to themselves (which I do, too, unless I’m engaged in conversation about it) so they erroneously believe that no one is “over-invested” in their choices. I am trying to speak in general terms here because not everyone has living parents and not everyone has a relationship with their parents, but it’s quite normal for parents to continue to have strong opinions long after their kids are adults. It doesn’t mean we disclose them or think we have a role or get to decide things for our kids, but wanting to see them make good choices and be good citizens of the world is only natural. So yes – I wasn’t expecting the “over-invested” narrative, but I think I get where it comes from.

          I agree with you, and with others who said I should stop providing an audience for my son to air these complaints. As for the GF, she is so close with her mother I don’t think she’d attach to me as maternal, but I don’t want to be regarded as mother-in-law either. I think no overtures is the way to go and just be polite when attention comes my way. Ostracizing her was not on my mind, and I cannot imagine any State of the Relationship conversations either.

          Thanks for weighing in and for the gut check!

          1. Ethyl*

            I don’t think it’s normal to be spending so much time and energy thinking about your adult son and his adult relationship with another adult. Full stop.

            And that’s without getting into all the nastiness in your OP.

            1. Dipstick's Mother*

              Ethyl, how much time and energy am I spending on this? You may need to use your thumb to scroll.

      6. anon for this*

        During my last relationship (ages 24 through 27) I knew my parents had opinions, because they’re my parents and they watched me grow up; I’ve seen them talk about their adult kids’ lives, and I expect them to be discussing it constantly. I had to plead with them for upfront honesty before they shared their views on my relationship, though; they said they were reluctant to meddle. I think all this was appropriate.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Seriously. There are three people in this world that my mother doesn’t like, and I married two of them – but I didn’t know that until after I also divorced them, because I was a grownup and capable of making my own choices without her input. (I did tell her from now on to tell me if she doesn’t like someone I’m involved with, but she desperately adores my current husband, so I think we’re safe.)

    15. RagingADHD*

      I’m closer to your age than your son’s (though I had my kids late, so they’re still young).

      There is an art to listening to someone’s troubles or feelings, without doing damage to your own relationship. You can have opinions, but don’t get too set in them. You have to allow the other person to change and breathe.

      I think you have a very fixed idea of your son, and you’re predicting his future based on this idea.

      But you already have evidence those ideas don’t match up with who your son is – like you said, “what happened to that 24 year old?”

      He got older. He changed. His priorities and plans changed.

      You have to let that happen. He obviously uses his talks with you to process his feelings. You have to let that stuff blow away in the wind – he seems to forget about it immediately, because when you bring it up, he doesn’t know what you’re talking about.

      Just be nice and courteous to this woman. That’s all. He might wind up marrying her, or he might not. He might propose and get turned down. You can’t possibly know, so don’t base your actions on hypotheticals.

      Let go of who your son was in the past, and what you think he might do in the future, and be gracious to both of these young folks right now.

    16. Venus*

      If he’s honest with her about what he wants then he’s not stringing her along. They are enjoying each others’ company for a while. I have known some couples who had serious differences and eventually broke up, while others made it work (including kids – those couples tend to decide that they would rather be childless and together). None regret their time together, because they were honest from the start.

    17. Analyst Editor*

      Your son should man up and break up with her, rather than waiting another two years for her to do it, just because he feels comfortable and hates drama.
      You are absolutely right that he is stringing her along; if he loved her and brought her into the family, you would need to butt out on your issues with her; but he doesn’t, and is wasting her own valuable time to get married and have children, even if he doesn’t value good own time in this respect.

      1. Analyst Editor*

        And I’m that respect, yeah don’t nag your son, but he is being a dipstick.

    18. Batgirl*

      I think it’s too frustrating for you to hear about your son’s relationship because you’re more far sighted than him. I agree with you that a lukewarm and distant relationship is going nowhere promising.
      But he’s not a bad guy because he doesn’t have your experience and insight. She’s not desperate because she lacks experience. They both think adding time may help. They’re not done with the wait and see. Only this experience will get them to the answer. You can’t tell them or say you’ve already been there. I would decide to be nice to her while she is experiencing this and I would stop having fruitless, annoying conversations about it with him.

    19. Ronda*

      I have a friend who is having a similar situation with her son.

      She asked him to stop telling her complaints about his girlfriend because it leads to her having bad feelings about his girlfriend. (my friend is one of the nicest people I know, but she doesnt like it when her son is unhappy)

      I suggest that you ask him to do that for you.

      If you can’t get him to stop….. maybe start doing the thing where you ask him what he thinks he should do to help resolve that complaint.

      And try to treat her as if his complaints have no merit. She doesnt sound like the issue here… his complaining sounds like the issue.

    20. eeniemeenie*

      If this was my kid I can see myself similarly venting with my friends the way you have done. We *all* have experienced frustration about a family member’s life choices, even decisions that don’t directly affect us. Simply having that judgment doesn’t make you “over invested.”

      That said, it’s better for your own peace of mind to accept your son’s relationship choices. Based on your post I can see there are glaring red flags in this relationship. You say she’s already warned him she won’t wait around forever- she’s already picked up on his reluctance about marrying her. I guarantee she’s picked up on his dislike of certain aspects of her character. But she has chosen to stay; and so has he. Even if this is a mistake on their part, it’s still their mistake to make.

      What you are describing is not egregious behaviour requiring your active disapproval or distancing from the relationship (e.g., if he were already secretly married with five kids). This fits more under the category of “immature decision making that’s not particularly considerate or kind” on his part. Equally, she is also demonstrating immaturity by staying with a lukewarm boyfriend who won’t commit. You’re not responsible for changing their minds or getting either of them to make better adult decisions – although of course it’s frustrating for you to sit and watch as someone with more life experience. So I don’t see you are being “complicit” with your son’s poor relationship choices by maintaining contact with her or welcoming her into your home.

      This doesn’t mean you *have* to keep in regular contact with your son’s girlfriend, of course – all you should be doing is treat her respectfully when she’s in your presence. If you don’t want to invest your emotional energy in a relationship you predict will end at some point; that’s valid.

    21. sswj*

      You mention somewhere in this thread that your son is aloof. As an aloof and pretty private person myself I would be driven to absolute silence if I though my mother was analyzing my relationship, and her role in it, to this extent.

      My suggestion is you treat the GF as you would if anyone introduced their friend to you. Be polite, be kind. If you really do connect then open up and be friendly. But treat her as her own person and not as Son’s Girlfriend. Their relationship and where it goes is between them until and unless they directly ask for your input or opinions.

      Their relationship is their own work, not yours.

    22. Anon for this*

      I recommend reading up on setting boundaries and letting adults make their own decisions. The best parents of adult children only give their opinion even directly asked.

  29. Ali G*

    What’s cooking everyone?
    I’m cooking up a storm this weekend since we are going out of town in 11 days, so no more grocery shopping until we get back, and I want to use up all our fresh stuff before we go.
    Breakfast today is leftover salmon and veggie frittata. This should feed us breakfast/lunch during the week too.
    Dinner tonight will be ranch steak with salad and potatoes.
    Tomorrow night will be roast chicken and some sort of veg.
    Nothing too exciting but easy and createdsleftovers for quick fill ins during the week.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am going to make butter this afternoon, and probably then soda bread with the resulting buttermilk. :)

    2. GoryDetails*

      It’s going to be hot today, so I have a sesame cucumber salad on the menu for later. (Also a watermelon, for dessert.)

    3. Trixie*

      I have a brand new Ninja grill/air fryer I will be using. I was looking at air fryers (Phillips) but liked this model which my mom purchased. The grilled items taste great and air fryer function is super powerful. Thinking of some marinades for grilled chicken and veggies for salads, grilled corn, and some frozen fish.

      I’m also using my Vitamix for smoothies. May try some frozen spinach instead of fresh which is hard to use before it wilts. Another recipe was sweetened with one or dates plus rich from cashews, thinking I would like that with cardamom.

    4. KristinaL*

      Does baking count? I’m thinking about making brownies, adding oatmeal and maybe chocolate chips.

      1. Amity*

        Yes it does. Those sound delicious!

        I’m going to put a turkey tenderloin in the slow cooker, and baste it with herbed butter (garlic, paprika, maybe some thyme, salt, and pepper). It’s excellent as a main dish or sliced up for sandwiches.

    5. Square Root of Minus One*

      Jarred tomato sauce for this winter. I ordered earlier this week about 10 pounds of 2nd-choice tomatoes (you know, the weirdly shaped or damaged ones that don’t retail) and now I’m peeling the second round (I don’t have a pot big enough to cook it all at once)
      I think it will be all this weekend because my back is starting to hurt ^^

      1. Ali G*

        Do you mind sharing where you got those tomatoes? I would love to do something like that!

        1. saf*

          I get tomatoes like that from my local farm market. Almost all the farmers who have tomatoes offer deals like that.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My husband has mastered fried dough. I will not be losing weight any time soon.

    7. Nacho*

      I am a very lazy cook, so I pretty much always toss some meat and a simmer sauce in my slow cooker and let it sit for 8 hours. That usually lasts me 6-7 days or so with rice.

    8. I edit everything*

      I have a quart of blueberries to do something with. But I don’t really want to turn on the oven for cobbler or cake. It’s ridiculously hot, and we don’t have AC.

      1. Ali G*

        Maybe ice cream? The Kitchn had a post recently about all the ways to make ice cream without a machine.

      2. Batgirl*

        I love blueberries on overnight oats with Greek yohurt; its a cool ready made breakfast. If I have nice blueberries I’ll freeze them for future breakfasts as they defrost nicely overnight.

    9. Jaid*

      I got some chicken breasts and ground pork, so I’m hoping to at least make Soy Glazed Chicken Breast from the Woks of Life site. I definitely plan on making my multi-grain/pulses breakfast dish and have the grains soaking right now.

      The things I made last weekend worked out wonderfully for freezing and reheating for meals at work, so I hope to keep on doing that.

      1. Parenthetically*

        LOVE a savory dutch baby! We did one with caramelized onions, shards of very sharp aged cheddar, and little nests of thinly sliced ham. So good!

    10. NRG*

      It’s way too hot here to cook. I’m having chilled things from the refrigerator, such as a chicken sandwich from chicken cooked a few days ago. Also frozen yogurt which is regular store bought yogurt put in the freezer.

    11. Chylleh*

      Making chicken enchilada soup Sunday. I found an amazing recipe online that only takes 30 minutes or so to make. You just dump everything into the pot until the chicken is cooked through. Add some cheddar and cream cheese, stir until it is blended through, and you’re done. We have made some alterations to the original recipe, like adding sour cream and less cream cheese with the dairy at the end. We also cook rice with it to make it last even longer. So good.

    12. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Its rainy and cool here today so I wanted to take care of a few things on the stove.
      – Cooking up the dried chickpeas soaking from yesterday, to freeze and have on hand
      – Lentil cottage pie for dinner
      – Making up granola with all the odds and ends of nuts and seeds I have laying around in the cupboard so that gets tidied up

      I may also bake up a batch of donuts, we will see.

    13. Ali G*

      Fun Fact: If you have your airfryer on the wrong setting and accidentally blacken the skin of a russet potato when you cook it, it tastes like coffee! Dinner was interesting last night…

    14. Slinky*

      I’ve got (yet another) loaf of sourdough started to bake tomorrow. Later, I’m going to make celery-potato soup. We’re going to toast some leftover rolls and melt brie on them for a side. Later this week, I’m making slow-cooker lamb chili and braised chicken with olive and salami. We’re on day 2 of a 14 day quarantine, so all meals are planned in advance to avoid leaving the house.

    15. Parenthetically*

      I made creamed chicken and biscuits yesterday — pure comfort food.

      This week we’re doing chicken and black bean burritos, a big crunchy salad and midwest goulash (no relation to the actual goulash), a thai-esque noodle salad with peanut sauce, a pumpkin/caramelized onion/whatever greens from the garden/goat cheese pasta thing, and fish and chips.

      But the coup of the weekend prep has been these glorious cookies, which I highly recommend seeking out mixed nut butter for (I got ours at Costco — it’s almond, cashew, pumpkin seed, flaxseed, and chia seed):

      200g brown sugar
      115 g unsalted butter, softened
      125 g mixed nut butter
      1 large egg
      ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
      180 g all-purpose flour
      ½ teaspoon baking soda
      ½ teaspoon salt
      2 tablespoons sugar, or more as needed for coating the cookies

      1. Beat the brown sugar, butter, and nut butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and stir just until combined. Cover and refrigerate until firm.

      2. Heat the oven to 350F/175c. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, coat each ball in sugar, and transfer to a baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Press flat in an x with a fork. Bake until the cookies are almost firm and their edges are just golden brown, about 10 minutes.

  30. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Thank you to everyone who gave me special need kitten advice last week. You will probably be happy to know that I still have the kit and she is doing fine. Her trouble with walking was do to injury, not wobbly kitten syndrome, and she is healing nicely. She is still stiff and a bit wobbly, but it doesn’t seem to slow her down much. She is playing, eating and using the litter box well.

    1. nep*

      Oh, that is wonderful news. So happy for you and for kitty. Thanks for loving her and for the update.

      1. Deanna Troi*

        She’s adorable and I love it when dogs and cats are so sweet with each other! Your pupper is the best!

  31. Come On Eileen*

    There was a letter earlier this week from a person whose employer asked them to go to a drug screening. Several of the replies came from people who said things like “I’m petrified and haven’t left my house since March/April except to … check mail, take a walk, etc.” I found this so interesting and wanted to ask about it in the weekend open thread, since “petrified” and “not leaving the house” sound so extreme to me. I understand that COVID is very real, I wear a mask, I do my best to limit my exposure to strangers, I’m not going to bars or big parties or anything like that. I’m being thoughtful and careful. But I’m still living my life, because I have to and because I want to. Which means I do my grocery shopping. I go to my gym, which is holding classes outside. I visit my parents. I will spend time safely with friends who have the same risk tolerance as me. I go to the laundromat and Target and the bakery and get take out. My office is closed so I work from home, and maybe that’s part of what drives my approach to this — I really need and crave connection with other people, and am OK with measuring the risk involved. I’m curious to know what your mindset and approach to the pandemic is right now, as we are months into it — are you still really scared and staying home? Are you venturing out? Are you back to living life the same way? There’s obviously no right or wrong answer, I’m curious how your risk tolerance is driving how much you are out and about in the world right now.

    1. anon4this1*

      I’m concerned but not petrified. I stayed home literally 24/7 just doing online classes from March 14th up until the beginning of May. Then I stayed home except for walking the dog from the beginning of May up until the beginning of June. I likely would have stayed home longer but im moving so I had to go to a different state to find an apartment. When I was at the other state, I only ordered take out and I didnt spend time with anyone. I isolated for two weeks since coming back. Now since I’m moving in less than two weeks, I have been seeing friends to say goodbye. We go for walks outdoors and wear masks when we do.

      I have not been visiting my relatives (parents and brother are out of state for me) or going to the gym or out to eat. I basically only grocery shop, walk the dog, plan my move and stay outdoors when with people. However im actually fine with this. Its super beautiful where I’m currently living so I’m trying to soak in the summer before the move.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Most of my excursions are to pick up takeout. I alternate weeks between grocery delivery and going in myself. I’m not hanging out with friends in person, outside of my husband and brother (both of whom live with me). My husband is going to go next weekend to a gathering of some friends that, based on their Facebook pictures, have not been socially distancing in a manner that I’m comfortable with, so he’ll be living closed in his home office for a couple weeks after that, because I fully expect that he’ll be too close to people, in a small enclosed space, probably none of them with masks on, and probably all of them doing some drinking which will further reduce safe behaviors, but he’s decided that seeing friends he hasn’t seen in six months is worth the self-quarantine, and he’s an adult so that’s his decision. (I’m not bothered by this, I sleep better when he sleeps in his office anyway because he snores and steals the covers :) )

      On the other hand, I worked from home and am generally a super homebody even before this, so I didn’t particularly go out and socialize before. For me the big big issue is that I’ve lost three vacations and a convention due to closures, and that’s driving me bonkers – usually I need a good touristy vacation every 3 months or so to clear my brain, and my last one was at the end of January. I have one scheduled for October, but who knows whether that will be a viable option at that point even.

    3. Lindsay*

      Where I live is not a hotspot, but I am going out with a mask. I have to go to work 5 days a week where I’m exposed to a lot of people, so going to Target isn’t going to make much of a difference either way. I mostly get takeout and have not hung out with any friends or anything. I have not eaten in a restaurant in five months. I keep my distance from others as best I can.

    4. Ranon*

      Well, my area is at “barely not running out of ICU beds” levels of cases so… not feeling great about the risk reward math on extra exposure right now! Groceries every two weeks, curbside takeout once a week, curbside library every few weeks, and daily walks outside in my neighborhood where everyone takes the 6 foot rec and rounds up to “across the street” is working fine for us right now.

    5. Ali G*

      I’m similar to you. I’m in an area that I think handled/is handling it pretty well. Although, as things are opening up we are learning that there are clearly unsafe things to do. I will not dine in or go to a bar, even though I “can”. We have been doing grocery pickup, food delivery, etc. the whole time and will continue to do so. We’ve gone to the liquor store (obvs) and Home Depot. We wear masks when we go out. We are working from home at least until September, but my husband has to go in to his office from time to time, but they are taking precautions so I am not worried.
      We see friends, like you, who are doing it “right” in our mind and are comfortable seeing (typically outdoors, socially distant).
      We are actually going to my parents beach house for a week to see family. Parents will have been there a month, and my sister and her kids will have been there about 10 days by the time we get there. We will stay home and only go to the beach where we can keep our distance from other beach goers. We will probably stay home and not seek anyone out for 2 weeks when we get back to be sure (I’ll do a contactless grocery pickup with a mask).
      The only thing that I have been really bothered by is the stress of going out now. Things I used to enjoy, like grocery shopping or going to the farmer’s market is now stressful to me, and I miss that. As cooking is one of my hobbies, it’s stymied my creativity, which is sad to me. But I’ll survive :)

    6. WellRed*

      I’m living my life, too, masked when I go to the grocery store or what have you. Working from home, not visiting friends though I have eaten a few times in restaurants now they have re-opened with cautions in place. We are in a very low COVID area or I wouldn’t. I think being afraid to literally take a walk outside is extreme and unhealthy but maybe I’d feel differently if I lived in a hotspot.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m probably similar to you, but I also adjust based on what COVID numbers are in my area.

      For the people who say they’re petrified and not leaving the house, etc, I think there’s various situations. One possibility is that they’re exaggerating how restrictive they’re being, intentionally or not. They could be exaggerating the emotional side but are taking not-unreasonable precautions based on the case load, risk factors, etc. Or they could have actually been tipped over into mental illness or worsened mental illness. As well as the spectrum between and around all of these.

      1. Esme*

        One situation you didn’t mention is those of us at higher risk due to physical health problems.

      2. Ramona Q*

        You also didn’t mention the amount of risk and/or death happening in their community. Living in a hotspot is very different than living in a non-hotspot.

      3. WS*

        Or they could be my mum who is in her 70s and has asthma all her life which has tipped over into bronchiectasis. If she catches COVID she is unlikely to survive. She and my dad have been completely isolated and there’s not a huge number of cases in their city compared to most countries. They’re not petrified, but they’re very careful.

    8. cat socks*

      I’ve been grocery shopping and volunteering once a week at the animal shelter, always masked. Masks are now required in most cities in my area. I’ve stopped by my parent’s house to drop off groceries for them and I’ve had a meal in their home a couple of times. Thankfully I’m not high risk so I feel okay going out and doing these activities.

      I’ve gotten carryout food, but I don’t feel comfortable dining out in a restaurant yet.

      My brother-in-law has stopped by our house a few times, but he just walks around back to the deck.

      I’ve found that my life post-covid isn’t that much different than before other than working from home full time. I’ve definitely been feeling more alone and isolated.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I live alone and do not have endless resources to just order things and have them shipped to me. I have my own home and a dog that I am responsible for also. Additionally there are several people I have been checking on. They are telling me that they are glad that I do.

      I can’t tell you what I would do in a hot spot or how differently I would act. I can tell you that I kept working and I kept going to the grocery store and gas station. Now that we are more open, I am still limiting my activities in the same way I have been. So this is kind of surreal because I went out when it was not a thing and now I am still avoiding groups although others around me have no issue. On the surface I appear not to be going with the flow that well even though I have a bunch of masks and sanitizer.

      I guess I would call it cautious practicality and even as the situation loosens up I am still being cautious and still being practical. I have to do some things. But I do not take unnecessary trips or put myself in concentrated groups. For example, I grocery shop early, after the senior hour, but before everyone else gets there.

      I think my biggest upset is thinking of what others are going through and my heart aches for people. We are not a hot spot here. And because we are so rural if we ever became a hot spot that would be because there were even bigger problems going on.

    10. Esme*

      I’m clinically vulnerable. I get food shopping delivered. There isn’t anything I want to do that’s worth it right now.

    11. OtterB*

      I’m 62 and diabetic, so I’m cautious but not petrified. I’m also pretty much of a homebody anyway. I am 100% wfh now, with no end in sight, and I’m mostly okay with that. My husband has an essential job and is now a mix of wfh and going in when he needs to get his hands on equipment or supervise a contractor doing something. My daughter with intellectual disabilities lives with us. Her job is on a cleaning crew at the public library and she was off from mid-March to mid-June. When the library staff went back to work a few weeks ago so did she; our libraries are still doing only curbside pickup so not many people are in the building. My main concession there is that I am driving her to and from work instead of her taking public transit, and I don’t see changing that soon. Her work group used to have social activities after work (bowling, a walking club, out to lunch, etc.) but those are canceled for the forseeable future.

      All of us wear masks whenever we’re out of the house and not in our car, except my husband doesn’t wear one while he’s running. We wash hands thoroughly when we come back.

      Since mid-March I haven’t been inside anywhere but the grocery store, the drugstore, one doctor visit for me (needed blood drawn; the followup was a telehealth visit), one for my daughter, and a dentist and two endodontist visits for my daughter, who needed a root canal. I have loosened up a little; the first month or so I tried really hard not to make more than one grocery trip a week. I’m more flexible now about, darn, we’re out of yogurt, I’m going to run in and get some. I’m also getting carryout food several times a week, probably more days a week than I did originally.

      Our church has reopened with limitations, but I’m still watching livestream mass and not ready to return in person, though I miss it.

      The outside connection I miss most is my women’s chorus, but since group singing is a high-risk activity we don’t know when we’ll get together again.

      A few weeks ago my husband started meeting some running friends again on Saturday mornings for a run, then picking up coffee and a bagel and chatting afterward. They are wearing masks into the coffee shop and eating outside, and social distancing.

      1. OtterB*

        Forgot, someone below mentioned a haircut. I did take my daughter for a haircut before she went back to work; she and the stylist were masked the whole time. And I have an appointment for a haircut for myself tomorrow. I have a big virtual work event next week. Probably I’ll just be hanging around in the background on zoom and no one will see me anyway but I don’t feel right being so scruffy for it. If cases were still rising in my area I’d skip it but they are dropping or at worst stabilizing.

    12. Nicole76*

      I’m currently unemployed so I spend the majority of my time inside other than walking the dog. Husband works from home half the week and has to go into an office the other half, but there aren’t a lot of people in the building and they stay distanced. He and one other person wears a mask, but a few do not (his company isn’t requiring it and they don’t work with the public).

      We go out at non-peak time for groceries and home improvement items and get take out 1-2 times a week, usually on the weekends. Neither of us feel comfortable eating inside a restaurant, and sitting outside in the heat is not appealing.

      We always wear our masks, wash our hands, and sanitize items purchased from the store. We haven’t socialized in person since this all began and have no plans to do so in the immediate future.

    13. MissGirl*

      I’m at your level. I’m still living my life with added protections. My friends and I go hiking but drive separately. One thing I haven’t done is travel. That just doesn’t sound fun right now.

    14. Nita*

      We were petrified in March. I wore a mask to go into the hallway to take out the garbage. It was really, really bad here and we had good reason to be scared. I can see that level of fear making sense in areas that are seeing rising cases now, especially in big cities where you cannot stay away from people no matter where you go.

      1. Suburbanite in Blue State*

        So many of the tenants in my building refuse to wear masks that I definitely believe in masks and hand sanitizer for going to the trash chute or laundry room. I have more than once refused to get in the elevator with someone not wearing a mask.

        I had to go to doctors twice (blood work, shots, eye tests) and the lawyer and village hall (selling property). Everyone was being very careful: village hall actually had someone on door duty, checking masks.

        At 67, with high blood pressure and breathing issues, I am simply not going inside grocery stores, though I miss browsing. I’ve been to a few small shops, everyone masked and social distancing — actually, only once was there another shopper at the same time. I felt very nervous the one time I went to Costco; otherwise I’ve been strictly curbside pickup for Target, Mariano’s, Meijer’s and the library. The Post Office was a nightmare, but when was it not? I really want a “Back the F@ck Off” shirt.

        I don’t mind driving places, getting curbside pickup or drive-through food, but we won’t be eating in a restaurant yet awhile. I definitely miss my monthly brunch bunch and quilting bees, but I’d miss breathing more.

    15. Can I get a Wahoo?*

      Today I had my first non grocery store outing in 5 months–a haircut where I was the first person in the salon and they took my temperature first thing. Otherwise, I’ve only been grocery shopping every 1.5 weeks and seeing friends I trust at the local park. I don’t go anywhere without a mask, even taking a walk outside. I am not high risk, but I don’t trust that others are being as responsible as I am to risk even a Target run (lord do I miss Target though!)

    16. tangerineRose*

      Some people are in high risk groups, so I get why they’d be scared.

      I rarely go into stores; when I do, I bring hand sanitizer and wear a mask and change clothes when I get home. I usually get curbside takeout. I’ve seem my family, but we met outside and socially distanced. I social distance with neighbors. There’s a LOT of stuff I’m not doing now that I used to do.

    17. Morag*

      I go out, wearing a mask, to get groceries or to take a socially distanced walk with a friend once a week. That’s it. I’m in Scotland, where we’re on day ten of no CoVid related deaths, but I’m still being super careful. So are my friends and family.

      If I was in the US I’d be petrified. Here I’m merely anxious. But either way, I wouldn’t consider going out any more than I am.

    18. Senor Montoya*

      I’ve been in the house and out for doctor and PT appts (and a brief stint in the hospital) for the last two months. That’s an injury issue…

      Before that, I had not been inside a store since the end of March. Groceries: order online, curbside pickup. Hardware store, same. I went to the farmers market weekly but I went right when they opened (very early) and it is set up for maximum social distancing, vendors wear gloves and masks,etc. I took walks around the neighborhood. I stopped in at my office every so often and chatted with coworkers out on the street, a couple carlengths apart. I picked up takeout if the restaurant offered curbside. I did not attend any outside-socially-distanced parties. Basically, until I had to go the hospital my risk was near zero. Every place I have to go now is scrupulous about masks. PT is not distant so my risk is up with that activity.

      My spouse plays tennis and does outside socializing with friends, proper distancing etc. So he’s pretty low risk too.

      If I were able bodied right now, I’d be doing what I did before. Much as I would love to get my hair cut, go to the gym, hang with friends — I love not being sick, permanently disabled, or dead so much more.

      I feel very fortunate that I *can* keep myself safe, and that (when I am once again able to get out and about) I live in a safe and pleasant neighborhood I can walk and bike in.

    19. Pippa K*

      I’m in an area where the cases are still relatively few but starting to rise quickly. We run errands like grocery shopping and Target, masked, but we don’t eat in restaurants and you wouldn’t get me into a gym at gunpoint. That’s where our risk tolerance has settled for now, but circumstances could shift it, of course. God, I miss normal life – especially travel.

    20. Aurora Leigh*

      We’re low risk so we have done in store grocery shopping every 2-3 weeks. We felt we should have the pickup timeslots for people that really need them. We went to Home Depot for gardening stuff. We get pizza from the local place. I had to go back to work June 1st and he has had to go to work throughout (makes sense for his job. Not so much for mine.) We wear masks at work and in stores. We’ve been more cautious than most of our coworkers as we’re in a rural area and there have not been a lot of cases. Numbers are headed back up though. We have seen some local family outdoors, but no hugging and staying 6ft apart. In outdoor areas we have been more lax with masks.

      That said, we’re quarantined this weekend as we’re waiting for my husband’s COVID test results to come back. Not sure he has it, but he has something with flu like symptoms. It sucks because so many people around us refuse to mask even though our state requires it.

    21. lazy intellectual*

      The only thing I really started doing was visiting a couple of friends one-on-one – mostly outdoors and every two weeks. We are all pretty isolated otherwise – WFH, grocery deliveries, only working out at home, etc. and plan on continuing to do so. None of us are going to restaurants, salons, or beaches or anything like that. And of course, we take mask-wearing protocol very seriously. Unfortunately in the US, I think COVID is here to stay until 2021 at the very least, and 100% isolation for single people not living with partners is not super sustainable.

    22. Teacher’s Wife*

      I live in a hotspot. I ate in two sit-down restaurants before our governor opened everything too soon, and the numbers shot up. It’s super hot here, so I try to limit my trips to Target and Costco (I try to hit both in the same day). I mask up even though it wears me out. We cook a lot and get takeout on occasion. I am high risk about three times over so I’ve been pretty cautious. Our son, daughter-in-law, and their kids are part of our extended bubble, along with DIL parents and my brother-in-law. My husband resigned from his teaching position yesterday, as he will be 65 next month. I don’t think he will be the last to do so.

    23. Koala dreams*

      I couldn’t manage not leaving the house for months, considering how I live. (Living situation, finances, health problems and so on.) It’s great if people manage, I guess, but I’m not going to stress out about not being able to. Life is stressful enough anyway. I did manage to order some stuff from places that deliver directly from their warehouses without a store in between, so I feel that’s a win.

      It’s sad to hear about people being petrified to venture outside. I mean, there’s a difference between avoiding public transport because you know it’s the right thing to do, and avoiding it because you are petrified. Life is not back to as it were, and might not get there for a long way, but there’s a big difference between “before times” and “being petrified all the time”. I try to not give after for the fear, because I have a history of mental health issues and I know how bad it is for me.

    24. Square Root of Minus One*

      I live in a foreign country that is nowhere close to the US’ situation, but I’m mostly staying in now because I hate wearing masks.
      Really, I do. I don’t want single-use (zero waste), washable ones are hard to come by, expensive, and uncomfortable. Single-use is even more expensive…
      Also, I don’t like the atmosphere outside. People are either tense or openly not-caring, you have to think about disinfecting all the time… It’s electric, it eats at me. Only at home can I truly forget Covid is there.

    25. Alex*

      I’m the same as you. I wear a mask, I wash my hands, I go to the grocery store and any other store that I want to buy something from. I’ve done some other activities where I have worn a mask and mostly stayed 6 feet from people. I don’t attend keggers. But then again, I didn’t ever attend keggers.

      I live alone, and frequently spend time with my closest local friend, in my house, not socially distanced from each other. She has one or two other people in her life from whom she is not socially distanced. When our area was in a surge of cases, we didn’t do this, but as stuff has opened up a little, we felt that it was OK to see one or two people.

      And even during the surge, I didn’t really feel scared, more like, I wanted to do the right thing and follow the recommendations for the good of the community. That said, my parents want me to come visit them, and they are elderly with numerous health problems that put them at extremely high risk. I don’t think my current level of tolerance is appropriate for their needs, and have refused to see them. (They are extremely angry about that. Oh well.)

    26. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      It’s interesting reading everyone’s perspectives. We are in a state that’s done well with reducing cases and a phased re-opening, so I’m definitely much less panicky than back in March/April/May. I’m still wfh, husband is on a leave to help with our daughter, who is high-risk and disabled. In the last month or so, we’ve started shopping for groceries at stores that follow strict protocol, gotten one haircut each at a friend’s salon, ordered out for pizza, and done outdoor socially distanced visits with our adult children and parents. We’ve also had several dr’s appointments that were necessary to be in person. We have vacation planned at the beach next month in another low-cases state but plan to stay mostly in our cottage and do early morning/late afternoon walks on the beach and no dining out. My husband cancelled a long-awaited cross-country trip to a National Park.
      Things we still won’t do now or in the foreseeable future: restaurant dining of any kind, outdoor activities where there might be large groups (even if socially distanced), having people in our home or going into the homes of others, any non-essential shopping (but boy do I miss my Saturday Target strolls!), going to the gym, traveling anywhere we might need public restrooms (I bought a portable camp toilet in March. Everyone laughed at me. Now they all think I’m a genius lol!). We haven’t made any decisions about school programs for our daughter this fall, although we did let her do a socially distanced walk with a friend for the first time.
      We also watch the data pretty closely and would go back to more strict quarantining if they go up.

    27. ...*

      I think I’m doing similar to you.

      Things I do: Outdoor workouts, outdoor gatherings with friends (smaller groups/distancing), outdoor bbq with small group of friends and family (6 people was last time) dog walks to the park, take out meals, haircut/color (salon fully masked and temp checks), have eaten at 1 patio dinner (masks required inside, temp checks to enter), will be doing a nail salon in 2 weeks (limited capacity, masks required), target/walgreens/grocery shopping, pet store (all of these are masks required)

      Things I am not doing: Indoor dining, indoor bars, hanging at friends houses inside, indoor yoga classes (my studio is doing classes with limited sizes and masks required I am on the fence here, yoga is extremely important to me), traveling with people outside my household beyond a short car ride, facials (and I’m so sad about this but I dont feel comfortable breathing unmasked onto the facialist

      Hope that helps provide you with some insight!

      1. ...*

        I guess I should reference that im in a state that does not have low cases nor a spike. We’ve had a slow burn of steady cases. Also that while we were shelter in place for 2.5 months, we totally followed the rules, and I wasn’t doing any of the above stuff, at all, and we didn’t even grocery shop together (me and my fiancé) to try to limit people in stores

    28. knead me seymour*

      I think it’s really hard to make comparisons because the situation varies a lot depending on where you live, your health, your job, and other variables. I’m very fortunate to live in an area with excellent public health leadership, so I’m pretty comfortable basing my decisions on the official recommendations, although I am more cautious than the average person in my area, I think. I have a couple of friends who I see (while keeping our distance) and I go for walks and bike rides, but I don’t have any interest in going to restaurants or to the movies, even those are open for us now.

    29. fhqwhgads*

      So until about two weeks ago, locally a lot of the stuff you describe doing would be against local regulations. We were asked to literally only go out for necessities like food or healthcare. No gyms, not even outside. Local authorities begging people not to visit with those outside their households unless everyone is masked and at a distance and outside, but really they were beginning people not to try to gather in distanced ways anyway, since there have been repeated outbreaks from at-someone’s-house gatherings that the participants intended to be distanced and masked, but really weren’t, because eating and people being bad at guesstimating distances.
      Anyway, point is, whether I’m “petrified” or not (and I’ll admit I kind of am because I am multiple kinds of high-risk), I don’t need to go out more than every three weeks. Things I would’ve gone to Target for in the past I can have delivered, or do a contactless curbside pickup. Ditto groceries. I’ve gotten takeout twice in four months. I really am trying to limit my contact points as much as possible. It’s the only thing I can do, not only for me, but for others.
      It also sounds like my tolerance for not going out is a lot higher than yours. I’ve worked from home for a decade so that’s not a reduction in my human contact. I’ve also found that on the rare occasions I do go out, even if I felt pretty secure in the risk level when I started, every time I’ve ended up seeing so many people so clearly not taking this at all seriously that by the time I’m done with whatever errand my anxiety about being out is WAY higher than when I left the house, which then makes it easier for me to not go out again soon because at that point I genuinely don’t want to.

    30. Gatomon*

      I’m lowering my outside contact again since cases are spiking horribly locally. I’m not super concerned for my own health but I am worried about spreading the virus myself and what is to come in August and onward.

      Work refuses to rollback to full WFH, and coworkers are making bad decisions, so I’m pretty upset about that since that’s my biggest risk right now since I live alone. Otherwise, I’m starting to use grocery pickup and ordering online whenever I can now that capacity seems to have increased – I wanted to leave that option open for those at higher risk before. I never started going back to bars or restaurants, mostly all I’ve done is meet a friend in the park for walks.

      I’m introverted and have a lot of indoor hobbies for health reasons, so this isn’t super hard for me. I really feel for anyone struggling through this right now though. There was a point in March where I was barely functioning with the anxiety until I was able to get a grip on it. Now I just move between sadness and numbness.

      1. CJM*

        “Now I just move between sadness and numbness.”

        Well said, and I’m sorry. I struggle with that too. It’s been the most challenging state of the world for me to grapple with in all of my 60+ years.

    31. hermit crab*

      We have been staying home except: taking a lot of walks (very occasionally with a friend), making quick trips to the grocery store/pharmacy/hardware store/farmers market, getting takeout or similar curbside pickup type stuff, and going to medical appointments. We’re also both pollworkers and worked the polls in person during our two recent state/local elections (we got tested after that). And we foster dogs, so sometimes we need to go out or see people for that. Everything outside the house is with masks, except I don’t always wear a mask when I take a walk alone since I’m confident I can always stay 10+ ft away from other people.

      But, my wife is going back to work in person at the end of the month, and I’m not sure how/if I will change my behavior because of that. My main concern is accidentally exposing other people rather than my own safety.

    32. Mags*

      I am pretty cautious. I walk the dog, I get ‘click and collect’ groceries, and make the occasional visit to the butchers over the road when I want to top up the freezer. I’ve also cancelled a number of events that I was hoping to go to for work, or had them cancelled for me. In my case I’m in ‘at risk’ group because I have asthma. I also have family members in the same category.

      Plus, I know people who’ve had the coronavirus (luckily none of them were hospitalized) and I had SARS years ago. So I’ve good examples to base my strong desire not to get this disease on. I spent over a YEAR with a brutal cough after SARS, got pneumonia, and the damage to my lungs is why I am asthmatic now. My friends have said that being sick with coronavirus was awful.

      So I try and live my life, but I’ve had to curtail it because the risk just isn’t worth it for me right now.

    33. KittyCardigans*

      I work at a school, so I’m usually home in the summers. Because of that, even though my state’s cases are rising, I feel a lot more normal since the school year ended. The biggest change for me has been a reduction in errands and in lingering—I go to the grocery store and the post office and Ace Hardware, etc., but I bundle errands together, get in and out quickly, and go a lot less frequently overall. My husband and I have seen some friends for socially-distanced backyard gatherings, and we’re in a bubble with my youngest brother (he’s furloughed and has been helping us with home renovations). My risk tolerance is actually a little higher than my husband’s, but I’m okay following his lead on this. Plus, I want to be seen as being appropriately responsible by other people in my social group.

      By far the riskiest thing we’ve done is visit my parents to attend a relative’s funeral. We wore masks but half the attendees did not, and there was not much social distancing. I don’t regret going, but we decided we had to quarantine afterward—the 2 weeks are up this Tuesday. I’m grateful we had that ability. My mother had to go right back to work in retail the next day.

      I dread the start of the school year. I know it will completely destroy my current “life’s a little off but mostly we’re living it” vibe, and I expect to feel like I have to lower my risk tolerance outside school to balance out the inherent risks of working around so many other people.

    34. Old and Don’t Care*

      I’m pretty much like you, I think. I’ve avoided some shopping I need to do, and I haven’t figured out how to limit my grocery shopping but I try to. I meet friends for exercise and coffee outside. I don’t like crowds anyway.

      Even considering all the things I do, I’m still at home alone most of the time. It only takes an hour or two a day, generally, to maintain my physical and mental health. It would be a rare day that I’m not in my apartment 20 hours.

      Rather than “hotspot or not” what influences me is crowds. Things have gotten worse in my county, and I don’t like it, but I still feel safe because I can find outdoor places that are not crowded, at all. And grocery stores (with the exception of Fresh Market where they seem to set up the aisles so people bump into each other as much as possible) are not too bad. Going to Walgreens in New York City is stressful even pre-pandemic. Going to Walgreens in, say, Kentucky is much different.

    35. Tris Prior*

      I live in a big crowded city that isn’t doing HORRIBLY compared to say FL, TX, etc., but cases are rising and it’s just generally really, really hard to keep 6′ away from people even taking a walk. I’m pretty scared, I admit. I’ve seen too many people who were young(er than me) and healthy really have bad outcomes. I’m lucky that I can WFH, partner got laid off so he’s home too.

      Things I have done: Grocery shopping in person once, at Aldi, it was miserable as it’s a small store and there’s nowhere to line up for checkout except down the aisles so if you need something you either wait in the line or squeeeeeze past someone not even close to 6′ apart. We get takeout a couple times a month. I have a community garden plot and have been walking there and back as often as it needs watering. I’ve been to the liquor store a couple times but no one was masked or distancing so now I go to a wine shop that has no-contact pickup. I’ve been in Walgreens a couple times since March for essentials. Went to the garden center once for absolute needs and only after my delivery was cancelled last minute. Our farmer’s market does online ordering and in person pickup so I’ve done that a couple times. Pickup orders at Starbucks, at the one that’s just a walkup window with no need to be indoors. I went to the dentist twice for important but not emergency work (debated that a LOT but I have a history of minor dental issues suddenly getting really bad and did not want another surgery), and the cat had to go to the vet for an injury, for which we had to rent a zipcar and sanitized the hell out of it first as we don’t have a car.

      Things I won’t do: get on public transport or in a rideshare (this SUCKS, see above, no car, I walk a lot now), pretty much all stores, gym, in person dining indoors or out, visit friends or family, bars, volunteering at the cat shelter I volunteered at (which, they haven’t reopened to volunteers but may soon). I think I’m done trying to grocery shop in person; mask compliance is poor and our city stores are just too small. None of this is worth it to me.

      Thing I would be willing to take the risk to do, if it were allowed: Go to the beach. We have a very short beach-weather season and the lake is pretty essential to my mental health. Our beach is large and outdoors, bars are small and indoors, yet the latter is allowed and the former is not, which I don’t really get, but, whatever.

      1. Alex*

        re: beach vs. bars. I suspect business owners lobbied hard to be open, whereas people don’t make money off of people walking on the beach.

    36. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I never have been all that frightened, but I am concerned, particularly since my government seems to be doing a terrible job of handling the problem. Since I’m not working at the moment and my husband is working from home we have the luxury of staying in most of the time. Since March I go to the grocery store once a week, occasionally to other shops in my neighbourhood. The only time I’ve been further afield was to drive down to our former second home to move out of it.

      In truth I don’t have a lot of friends and spend a lot of time by myself anyway, so this experience hasn’t changed my life all that much. Normally I would go out to the pub or socialize with colleagues at work much more frequently but I often have gaps between contracts where I don’t do much with others anyway.

    37. Stephanie*

      Concerned, but not petrified. I was in a hot spot toward the beginning of lockdown, so I pretty much just limited myself to essential errands. Grocery delivery sort of wasn’t an option since there are very few large grocery stores nearby. I can work remotely and am not in a high risk group.

      My state started easing restrictions last month, so I do limited outdoor interactions with friends I trust (where we all drive separately). I wear masks when I go out (my state also mandates them). I live alone, so the amount of alone time was starting to get to me. I look at it as measured risk at this point.

      Definitely not comfortable flying or going to a gym.

    38. NRG*

      I’m staying in for the most part because everyone is on edge, which puts me on edge. I have a fair amount of risk tolerance for the virus itself, but am wary of tense people, and conflict over mask wearing. I wear a mask and have little issue with it. I feel pretty safe handling objects in stores. I am staying at home as much as possible because I have fairly pronounced hermit tendencies. Also it is very hot outside. The one daily issue for me is that I don’t live alone, and the people in my house are starting to really get to me (see hermit tendencies).

    39. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I’m not petrified, but I’m limiting in-person interactions with anyone except my husband and girlfriend, because I can. That’s both practical–I can afford to have my groceries delivered, and my work was freelancing from home even pre-pandemic–and psychological: I miss busy streets and interesting neighborhoods, but as long as I can get outside regularly I’m okay.

      The incremental benefit of me postponing a haircut is small, but it might be greater than zero, so I’m doing it. (The salon is safe, I think, but that’s one less person riding the buses to get there.) There’s so little I can contribute right now, and this is at least something.

    40. Diahann Carroll*

      Since you quoted me, I’ll respond. Yes, I am in fact petrified of this virus because I have various chronic illnesses that could leave me open to catching this virus very easily and not recovering from it. I’m also the daughter of a diabetic and if I get sick, my mother would not be able to come and help me (I live alone) because she too will most likely not recover from this virus if she catches it and it would devastate her to watch me fighting for my life without her being able to do a thing about it.

      I’m also black, and this virus has hit my people in my city much harder than anyone else. And since the medical establishment is notoriously racist and lax about providing proper medical care to people who look like me, if I become infected with this virus and end up hospitalized, I already know I’m not going to get good care and will be one of the ones left to die on a vent.

      So no, I have not left my apartment other than to get my mail and packages from my building’s lobby. People in my city don’t give a f*^# about this virus and most still are not wearing masks outside even though it’s required now by our mayor’s recent order. The one place I left the house to go to recently was my new dentist, and on my way back, someone unmasked decided he was going to try to walk very quickly up behind me and cough without said mask on like we’re not in the middle of an effing pandemic! Luckily, I didn’t turn around because of how the wind was blowing and I was walking way too fast for him to keep up (and I only saw him after I crossed the street and looked back), but seriously, this is the ignorant, disgusting, selfish ass behavior I’m trying to avoid.

      And just as an FYI, the tone of your questions were snarky to the point that I don’t believe you were just genuinely curious about people’s individual risk management decisions (emphasis on the word “individual” here) in the wake of a pandemic. The fact that you even felt the need to ask this question at all leads me to believe you did so with the intention of getting a bunch of people together to low-key mock people who are being very conservative about their movements in these new and crazy times. If that wasn’t your intention, then you can go and read the thousands of articles online from people that detail their battles with COVID-19 to get insight as to why certain people don’t feel safe leaving their homes, accept that many people are unwell and would likely be apart of the death count should they catch the virus in the first place and so are avoiding being in situations that could lead to that ending, and mind the business that pays you.

    41. Clisby*

      I’m not petrified and also, generally, not leaving the house. This might sound odd to people who live in more temperate climates, but I’m in Charleston, SC. I wouldn’t be leaving the house unless absolutely necessary anyway during June-September, because it’s so unbearably hot here. In a way, this makes it a little less stressful, because it’s my normal way of dealing with summer.

      I cannot remember the last time I went out to a store except for grocery shopping. I’m not visiting with anybody except my husband and son, who live here (this is not a complaint – I love having them here, except that they use way too many paper towels.) If my parents were still alive and nearby, I would visit with them if they wanted, but that’s not the case. I haven’t seen my grad-school daughter since Christmas, and I’ll be lucky if I can see her by this Christmas.

      I’m just crossing my fingers that the hurricanes can pass us by this year.

    42. Sylvan*

      I’m pretty similar to you. I’m not going to the gym (it’s closed) or seeing friends; I’ve seen relatives once this spring and once this summer. I’ll be thrilled to go back to the office the moment it’s safe to do that.

      Honestly, I had a bad time mental health wise in March and April. I was terrified then, both because of COVID and because that is literally what my mental illness does. I had my medication adjusted. I’m feeling much more in control of how I react to what’s going on.

    43. Lora*

      I have worked with the nasty pathogens in the past, and am bitterly amused that the same people who will lose their s**t over, say, anthrax or plague (for which we have effective vaccines and treatment) are “hey it’s just a bad flu!” about Covid. I live in a state that was slow to shut down but is currently holding steady around 200 new cases and 20 deaths per day.

      I wear mask, outer layer of clothes I can toss in the wash, shoes that never go further than the foyer until they’ve been cleaned when I go out. Clothes are washed with detergent and dried outside on the clothesline where they get plenty of sanitizing UV light. I have anti-viral detergent based wipes in addition to sanitizer that I use when I get home from wherever.

      I work from home, and started working from home a few weeks sooner than everyone else as most of my current job is actually at an overseas site – which I cannot physically get to now, and will not see for at least another year or two. Normally I’d have made at least three trips to the site this year.

      I can afford to get nearly everything delivered and mostly do unless it’s pretty urgent (e.g. broken plumbing needs a hardware store part). I have several masks, different weight washable jackets. There are only a few stores I feel comfortable going to at all, and that’s because they started insisting on masks and gloves very early in the pandemic, have zero problem refusing service or kicking out anyone who doesn’t comply, and made an extra effort to find sources for toilet paper and disinfectant even if that wasn’t their usual inventory. I still only go out about once a week and arrange as much as possible for curbside pickup.

      I have to go to medical treatments and was in a hospital for a while, but the hospital was exquisitely careful about infection control. My medical providers have been comparatively careful (though not *objectively* careful) about screening and PPE for entering their facilities. So it wasn’t as bad as I feared, but I think they also had a lot of work to do in March and April getting set up properly – the hospital still doesn’t really have their personnel flows set up properly to be unidirectional and it’s easy to walk in a side entrance and skip the screening.

      I have a couple of friends with whom I sit socially distant on a patio or deck outdoors about every other week for drinks, and also have a big backyard and pool myself – I think this makes a huge difference, being able to go play outside with the dogs or garden in the privacy of my own yard. Plenty of sunshine and nature, and it’s not like I have zero options for socializing in a safe way. I keep in touch with people online and a good portion of my work week is Zoom meetings, so I don’t feel very isolated. The big thing seems to be having a yard, though – my friends in the city seem to be feeling the stress of being cooped up more.

      I will not be returning to the gym, art museums, nightclubs etc until there is an effective vaccine. I do not believe the first vaccines to hit the market will be the most effective or safest (that is my opinion as a professional vaccine manufacturer). There are two I think may be good quality and I will be volunteering for the Phase 3 studies if possible. That means I am not going to the usual places or going out of the house without PPE and social distancing for the next few years. Anyone who thinks we can have a good quality vaccine faster than 2-3 years is just flat out lying through their teeth, sorry. It sucks for me too, I used to love dance and hot yoga, but I am not risking my health for it when I can go swimming, biking and do youtube workouts at home.

    44. Thankful for AAM*

      I’m in Florida and have stayed home except the grocery store, work, and emergency dental visits. I’m not petrified or scared, I just know that masks reduce your risk, and not by enough for me.

      I’m also very salty that I have to work at work when 100% of my job can be done from home but my employer will not allow it.

    45. Emily*

      I would say I’m being fairly cautious.

      My partner and I have both been working from home since sometime in March. (Thankfully, we can both do that.) We shop for groceries once every two weeks. We’ve seen a few friends, but only in fairly low-risk ways (6 or fewer people total, outdoors, 6+ feet apart, face coverings used when not eating or drinking). I’ve had a few not-strictly-necessary outings, but they’re generally either very short store visits during off hours (the post office, the craft store to pick up an online order) or outdoors and masked (the farmer’s market, berry picking). I do run outside pretty regularly (~5 times a week), unmasked but with a buff that I can pull up if needed. Aside from when I’m running, I wear a mask whenever I venture out of my apartment and into public.

      There are a lot of things – going to the gym, eating at a restaurant, spending time with others indoors – that I probably won’t be comfortable with for a while.

    46. Cautious in Chicago*

      I have some health conditions that would make catching the virus likely to be fatal to me, I am in my late 50s, and I live in a major city in the US that has been hard-hit by the pandemic. I do not have a car, and I have not taken public transportation; I have only used ride-share services. And I have been working from home since March 13, and I will be doing so through the end of the year at the very least, and perhaps even longer.

      Since that day, I have only left my home four or five times for groceries, and twice to meet friends in a park (where we wore masks and maintained proper social distance). I get many of my meals delivered, in part because I am working so much I have little time to cook, but also because I am glad to be able to support local restaurants (of which there are very many needing support).

      I would not characterize myself as “petrified,” because who can live in constant terror? But I am deeply concerned, and I am extremely careful about the choices I make.

    47. allathian*

      I’m fortunate in that we’re having very few cases. In a country of 5.5 million people, we currently have one person in ICU with COVID. The number of new cases per day has been rising since restaurants reopened in July, but slowly, between 5 and 20 new cases per day.

      We went to the movies last week, the theater was only about 20 percent full and we were the only people on our row, there were at least 5 empty rows in front of us and another couple empty rows behind us. We’ve been to sit-down restaurants with limited seating and eaten takeout, but no buffets yet. We’ve visited with my parents and in-laws. Mainly outdoors, but last week we met indoors for the first time. We have a big dining-room table so social distancing was possible.

      Masks aren’t mandatory and most people aren’t using them. For exercise, I’ve been either walking or riding my bike almost every day since WFH started.

      The biggest precaution I’ve taken is that I haven’t used public transit since early March, when I swiched to WFH.

      Tomorrow I’m going to an in-person job interview, but I feel confident that we’re going to take the appropriate precautions, as in no handshakes and social distancing and plenty of opportunities for washing hands.

  32. WellRed*

    Any car people have any advice? My check engine light has been on for, oh, at least a year. The car (a 2010 dodge caliber) runs fine, so I’m not overly concerned. I had some other work done this week. If I had wanted them to investigate the check engine line, it would have cost $125. That seems high to me? Any idea why the light might be on? I’m having to do other expensive work on my 10-year-old car in order to get it stickered. I’d actually like a new car rather than shelling out for a bunch of pricy repairs but pandemic. Also, can’t easily trade it in without sticker. Sigh.

    1. Come On Eileen*

      I’d call a few places and see if you can find out why the indicator light is on for free or at least for a lower cost. There are definitely places that will investigate and only charge you if they perform the repair.

      1. Clisby*

        Asolutely! The check engine light can come on for all kinds of reasons, ranging from “this could not possibly be more trivial” to “get that car in for repairs right now.”

        The last time it happened with my Kia Soul, I twice took it to my regular mechanic, who reset it (I don’t know how to do this, but they did, and they didn’t charge me for it). The next time, they said, “You know, sometimes this particular code for the check engine light is because there’s a faulty seal on the gas cap – we can get a new one and replace it for about $25. That might not be the reason, but it’s pretty cheap.” I’m pretty cheap, so I bet on the $25 new gas cap and haven’t had the problem since.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      My library actually has one those tools (the name is escaping me right now) that you blog into your car and will give you the code for why a warning light is on. Then you can Google the code and get an idea of what is going on before you go to the mechanic.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You can also borrow a tool at some of these automotive chain places. I think Napa did it for me the last time.

        I had a small evap leak. Yeah, try finding a pin hole, good luck. But I could not pass inspection without getting that check engine light turned off. I got an extension on my inspection due date and eventually they found it. It was around the gas tank filler thing.

        1. WellRed*

          “I could not pass inspection without getting that check engine light turned off.”
          This is what I’m worried about, though it passed last year and I’m pretty sure the light was on then.

    3. No fan of Chaos*

      When my engine light came on I went to my local car parts store and they put their detector on it for free. They gave me a printout also. It turns out that my rear tail light was defective and I replaced it for $125.00.

      1. WellRed*

        I actually have a defective tail light! It burns out all the time and needs to be replaced!

    4. Nervous Nellie*

      If you are in the US, check out the websites of any of your local automotive supply stores (like Schuck’s, O’Reillys, etc). Some of those shops offer free check engine diagnostic visits. I have done that with my ancient VW. I have never paid for check engine exams.

    5. university minion*

      Go to Advanced Auto, ask them to read the codes. Write down what they say, go home and google it. It’s usually no big deal.

    6. Trixie*

      My Subaru Outback had chronic issues with this. Eventually, I usually found a local mechanic wherever I lived to help me pass emissions. Inevitably, the CEL returned just after passing. The diagnostic although kicked out the same generic, non-specific code. The car itself was perfect but the system kept flagging in error.

    7. Anono-me*

      Most of the big car chain stores will run diagnostics fo you for free and fine you the code to look up yourself. (Be aware that sometimes this will turn off the light until the triggering event occurs again.) You can write down the codes, but I have found it easier to just snap pictures with my phone.

      Also, for the repeatedly burning out tail light, your light assembly might be letting in dust or water. Anything on the glass of your lightbulb will cause it to burn out super fast. (That is why you have to wear gloves when changing tail and head lights.) It could also be a problem with your wiring harness, maybe the wire is broken inside the insulation or something.

      When I had a taillight problem, I looked at the car repair book to see what replacing the entire taillight would take and decided that it was within my skill set. I was able find a listing service for salvage auto parts from yards all over the country. I found a place that had a pair of matching taillights for my vehicle that still had the entire wiring harness (Sometimes the wires are cut by whoever is doing the partout.) Parts, shipping and my labor ment that I had a new set of taillights for about $50 and an hour of my time. It was just a matter of unscrewing the screws holding the taillight assembly in place, unplugging the old harness, plugging the new one and screwing everything back together.

      I bought a pair of taillights because, my car came with expensive aftermarket taillights and while I was willing to spend a little money buy a second factory taillight to have everything match, I was not willing to shell out way more for one aftermarket. Also, I put in all new lightbulbs when I did this, because lightbulbs are cheap and I am lazy.

    8. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      There are many reasons why a check engine light might come on, but if your mechanic is asking $125 just to read the codes, unfortunately that’s the sign of an unscrupulous mechanic. It costs literally nothing except the cost of three minutes of a technician’s time for a shop to read a code, except the one-time cost of their code reader (and those things can now be bought on Amazon for far less than $125).

      Most of the time, for me, the check engine light was triggered by a failed oxygen sensor. The car will run well enough — you might eventually get a rough idle and/or a small loss of power or gas mileage — but you might not pass your state emissions test. Once it came on because I failed to screw the gas cap back on fully. Good luck. But don’t pay the $125.

    9. Stephanie*

      Yeah, $125 to run a diagnostic scan is extortion. Any of the chain auto parts stores will lend you an on-board diagnostic (OBD) scanner for free that will generate a code as to why your check engine light is on. There’s a plug (usually under the steering wheel) for the scanner. You can Google the code — it just be something general like “emissions”, but that can at least get you in the right direction. The check engine light can be on for…almost anything. Could be minor like loose gas cap or something more serious like misfiring cylinders. Usually if it’s steady (or not bright red instead of yellow/orange), it’s not something major, but you may have worse performance or poor fuel economy.

      I work at a car company, so somewhat biased (as people buying cars keeps me employed), but if you have the money and are in the market, all OEMs are trying to sell cars right now with somewhat more generous loan terms, social distancing, online sales, etc. But fixing the car could be totally cost effective depending on the issue.

  33. Lena Carabina*

    What are you doing this weekend to self-care?
    How arw ypu looking after yourself physically as well as mentally?
    Got any tips for exercising after a sprain?

    I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself. I badly sprained my ankle and damaged my knee this week, undoing all the good work I’d been making with my physio.
    I think I got covid-19 again (although I tested negative actually and I’m feeling ok, just tired and a bit breathless), and this morning I just sliced the top of my finger on a veg peeler (not as bad as Alison’s injury though – how is that going Alison?)

    So I’m basically just going to stay in bed and drink lots of water, watch Goliath and Absentia, read a bit, and then try to do some physio exercises later.

    I’m isolating and I managed to get a grocery delivery for tomorrow so I’m doing ok. Now that the test was negative I’m not panicking so much.

    1. Lena Carabina*

      No matter how many times I check what I’ve written, I always notice typos AFTER hitting ‘submit’. :(

    2. Koala dreams*

      I’m watching nature programs on youtube, stitching, cooking some food and doing light household chores. I have a cold so I can’t do a lot of things but I can’t stay in bed either, then I can’t sleep at night which is worse. If I feel up to it I’ll bake something.

      1. Lena Carabina*

        What are you going to bake? I am kind of obsessed at the moment with Meera Sodha’s miso brownies which taste like salted caramel chocolate, and I just bought Isa Does It by Isa Chandra-Moskowitz so I am looking forward to baking from there.
        Oh and I made the pandan waffles from Sasha Gill’s Jackfruit and Blue Ginger, except I used rapeseed oil and vanilla essence instead of coconut oil and pandan essence, and I topped them with lemon juice and agave syrup instead of nut butter. But still really good – I like the addition of whisked aquafaba, it makes them crispier.

        1. Koala dreams*

          Buns with jam and butter filling. I haven’t done it before so it’ll be interesting!

      2. Lena Carabina*

        I wrote a reply but I think it got stuck in moderation. Anyway, I asked what you’re baking.
        And I hope you feel better soon!

    3. Trixie*

      That sounds frustrating, after your physio. Give yourself time to heal and you’ll be back at it before long.

      My self-care will include small projects as I putter around home. Fixing up a couple frames pieces with new or replacement Plexiglas, instilling bamboo blinds on my small porch for privacy, maybe sort through some junk drawers/boxes. I find this relaxing when there’s no pressure or urgency to get it done.

      Physically, I plan to resume my semi-daily evening walks with my podcasts. (Phoebe Reads a Mystery, NPR Lifekit, Planet Money). I was thrilled to see a neighborhood park was landscaped and now includes some stairs so I can add some stair climbing movements to my walks. It’s the small wins!

      1. Lena Carabina*

        Thanks! I had a nap this afternoon instead of doing all the things I planned – eh never mind :-) Outdoor stairs sound good! It is the small wins indeed.

    4. ...*

      I sliced my finger with a serrated knife this week but it seemed to heal quickly. It sounds like you need rest!

    5. allathian*

      On Saturday we went for a bike ride with the family (30 minutes) and on Sunday, we took a walk in a recreational park. They’re “wilder” than municipal parks, but have trails maintained specifically for exercise. The trail we walked is used for ski tracks in winter. During the walk, we only saw a couple of people, but lots of insects… We also saw lots of baby frogs just out of the tadpole stage, some of them had the remnants of a tail. There were so many that you had to watch your step to avoid stepping on them. I also saw a slowworm (legless lizard) for the second time in my life.

  34. Damn it, Hardison!*

    I’m looking for advice about dealing with an annuity and tax issues – who should I talk to?

    My father has not been withdrawing the minimum require from his annuity since he turned 70. He really needs to get it straightened out, as he’s going to be paying some pretty stiff penalties. I know he needs to talk whoever administers his annuity. He’s very concerned about the impact will have on his taxes, since he’s going to have to take a large withdrawal to get caught up. Should he consult a CPA, a tax attorney, or someone else? Thanks for any advice!

    1. Auntie Social*

      I’d contact a good CPA. Bite the bullet on the penalties. Your CPA can make you a withdrawal schedule so there are no more mistakes.

    2. fposte*

      Sounds like this product might be held in an IRA. While it depends on how long this has been going on, the IRS is often pretty forgiving on RMD failures; you submit the relevant form and an explanation along with all the money owed. It’s common enough that a CPA who prepares taxes should be familiar with the process.

      If you can convince him to automate RMDs and have a percentage withheld for taxes when they come out in future, that’s likely to be the simplest plan.

      1. No I won’t do your taxes*

        This year, they’re not penalizing, as I understand it. (Noticed while researching another matter.) Prior years, yeah, bite the bullet and get it straightened out once and for all.
        An Enrolled Agent is another possibility. Not all CPAs are tax experts. (I *am* a CPA, and I loathe doing taxes.) You really don’t need a tax lawyer for something like this, unless you want to combine some estate planning in the same visit.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, good point on the not penalizing; for that matter, they’re not requiring the RMD in the first place this year, so that’ll mean less for him to have to remove to catch up.

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        Thank you, everyone! Glad to know I was in the ballpark of what to do. My father definitely needs to get this taken care of, and now I can research CPAs in the area (Bristol, TN if anyone has a recommendation).

    3. AppleStan*

      Damn it, Hardison! – I am only here to comment on and compliment your user name. It warms my cockles that you love that show enough to use it. Almost makes me want to drink “Thief Juice…tastes like bad guys.”

  35. AvonLady Barksdale*