weekend open thread – August 29-30, 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: The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune. A caseworker in charge of magical children travels to an island to investigate an orphanage that’s home to six seemingly dangerous magical kids. It’s so good — very Harry Potter-esque, but possibly even better. It’s one of my new favorites, and I love it so much.

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

{ 1,355 comments… read them below }

  1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    House remodeling questions.

    We are going to be redoing our kitchen/adjacent guest bath and master bathroom. All told, should take about 2 months maybe a little longer.

    Question 1. Should we cancel our biweekly cleaning lady? With COVID-19 we paid her not to come for 2 months but she’s been back. Been working for us for 4 years. Definitely not her only clients. Not sure she would want to work with construction people around due to COVID-19 risk and not much for her to do without kitchen/bathroom. Feel a little guilty dismissing her for the time when we could afford to pay her not to come. What would you do?

    Question 2. Won’t have a kitchen or main floor bathroom/water access. Will have basement and upstairs bathrooms to access for water and for cleaning up purposes. Could setup temporary kitchen (without water) in living room. Would you live in the house (I’m gone for work during the day when construction is on but husband WFH) or stay at an Extended Stay for $2000/month? We can afford it but does increase our costs.

    1. Barbara Eyiuche*

      Can your husband get far enough away from the noise that he will be able to work from home while construction is going on? If yes, I would just stay in the house. If not, could he find a coworking space to use during the day? I just think having to move out for two months would be annoying and I would try to avoid it.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        His home office is in the attic so would be reasonable except he will have to fill/setup coffee in 2nd floor bathroom.

        1. Female-type Person*

          We are remodeling our master bath right now and I work from home. This week was demo week. It is much louder to be UNDER the noise than to be at the same level, happily, I’m on the same level at the opposite end of the house, but it isn’t great and I believe the worst is over. But when I went downstairs and the noise was on top of me, wow. If you can move out, move out. Living in a construction zone is very stressful and very inconvenient and you end up eating garbage. Everything is filthy in your whole house, there is no keeping it contained. It isn’t like you can go on vacation, lol, so spring for extended stay with kitchen facilities and take your instant pot. Speaking of filth, yes, have your cleaning lady come in and do what she can or it will be GRIM beyond belief when you move back in.

        2. Observer*

          If that’s the only issue, I would buy bottled water, to be honest. Moving is an expensive proposition, even beyond the cost of the actual apartment / hotel you would have to pay for. And the disruption can be extensive.

          1. Stormfeather*

            Yeah, bottled water was my thought as well. Maybe he could set up something that would be more handy even when the construction is over – a water dispenser next to a cart with a coffee pot and/or electric kettle, and a variety of coffees/teas/other beverage of choice one one of the shelves. Sounds much better long term than having to go down to even the kitchen every time his mug runs out!

            1. Stormfeather*

              Of course, this was before I scrolled down further and saw the extra things like the lead paint + baby.

    2. Finland*

      When I got my bathroom remodeled, my house was an absolute disaster. It was only the one room, but I barely had use of the rest of the house. You have to think about where you’re going to store all the furniture in the rooms that are being renovated and how you’re going to maneuver about with dust, clutter, destruction, tools and materials in your home for 2 1/2 months. Construction workers are not the most intuitive when it comes to picking up after themselves and they also tend to leave tracks of paint, dust, etc., behind if they’re not carefully watched. In addition, the workers will move the furniture in other rooms to create a path through your home for ease of access. You’ll have to move around a lot more than you expect. I think the cleaning lady would just add to the confusion and would be overwhelmed at the prospect of cleaning after all of that. I would advise staying elsewhere, doing daily check-ins, and paying your cleaning lady to not come. After all the construction is done, your cleaning lady can come back, although she might have to have a few helpers.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        That is a thought. Kitchen and bath don’t have furniture per se but ours is a 1920s home so the demo likely needs to be behind barriers due to lead paint hazard. We also have a nonmobile infant.

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          Clarified to add our baby will be in daycare regardless so not at home when the construction is ongoing. But we will have bottles to wash in the bathroom later.

          1. Observer*

            Forget washing bottles. Unless you have some way of magically purifying the air, there will probably be lead in the air when kiddo comes home. Keep in mind that what would be a reasonable level for you as adults is NOT ok for an infant.

            Lead abatement STINKS. When we had to renovate an apartment, we would up doing a total gut because the cost of abatement, done right, was going to bring the cost up so high that the difference between the gut and the renovation is about 10% – and that assumes that we wouldn’t run into anything major unexpected. When (more than one) contractor explained to us what needs to be done, and why (I talked to my family doctor about that part of it, as well as doing my own research) it became clear that the contractors were not gouging us.

            Construction crews work with N95 masks for a reason.

        2. TechWorker*

          If there is a kid in the mix and you can afford it MOVE OUT. We did months of construction and it’s hard enough without kids (nothing felt that clean for a long time despite spending a lot of time cleaning).

          Also think about what you might do if one of your gets sick whilst the building work is ongoing – I had both a migraine and separately a stomach bug during our 6 month building work. When you just want to stay in bed and have easy bathroom access but the house is loud and full of people… I had to beg friends to let me hang out in their house for the day.

          1. TechWorker*

            (This applies even if you will still have the upstairs bathroom I think because they will presumably occasionally need to turn the water off at the mains.)

            If you do stay, you could budget in say, a couple of nights in a hotel when it will be at its worst, I think this saved us :p also you can get dust sheets with a zip in that you tape into doorways, which are a godsend for if you still need access to the messy areas.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            My sister’s family ended up with an AirBnB for the two weeks they were ripping out walls. There was some potential for asbestos exposure, so they had to be out of the house for that period, and it made things much nicer. They also got two weeks of a proper kitchen as a break.

            If there’s a lead paint risk, I wouldn’t want a baby in the same house when they’re ripping stuff out – lead exposure is nasty stuff, and when you’re renovating dust gets *everywhere*.

        3. Llellayena*

          Lead paint possibilities and an infant? Move out. Lead paint dust can get everywhere and is extremely bad for an infant to be exposed to the paint dust. The infant shouldn’t enter the house until the work is done and the house cleaned and aired out.

          For the cleaning person, I’d say cancel cleaning during construction but tell her you’ll hire her for a deep clean and back to regular cleanings once the construction is over. The cost of the deep clean might make up for some of the canceled cleanings AND will get the lead dust out and make it safe for the infant again. Win/win.

          1. Observer*

            Also, for her to be working in the house when the demolition is going on is not really safe for her.

    3. Sarra N. Dipity*

      answer to question 1: Ask her! See if she’s comfortable coming during the remodel. Maybe there’s other work you could use help with other than kitchen/bathroom?

      answer to question 2: I’d live in the house. I have done my own kitchen remodel (without contractors – my spouse and I handled it all ourselves), and it was a PITA but staying on one’s own bedroom is a huge benefit. No extended stay mattress is going to be the same shape as my body :D

    4. valentine*

      I would have to be desperate to swap kitchen/bathroom activities. I’d be happy elsewhere and let the workers have the space. Maybe that increases the hours they can work per day?

    5. Not Australian*

      Is there some less expensive alternative for getting you out (or partially out) of the house to a cleaner environment? I know a lot of people, for example, move into an RV/caravan while they’re having work done – even with small children. Many just buy a second-hand caravan at the start of the project and sell it when it’s over, which is probably a better use of the money than paying rent somewhere.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Until I read about the infant I would have said to stay in the house. But with a baby I absolutely would not – especially with the risk of lead dust. Get yourselves set up somewhere where you’ll be comfortable.

    7. legalchef*

      With a baby I would definitely move out. You don’t want baby around the dust and debris. Plus with covid it will be safer for all of you to be elsewhere.

      As for your cleaning person, maybe cancel her for those couple weeks but make it clear you will hire her for extra deep cleaning work when the construction is done?

    8. Kage*

      So if I understand this correctly, they’ll be working in at least 2 (maybe 3) distinct, unconnected rooms and on at least 2 different levels? If it was one area that you could physically close off with a door, I would say you could stay. We personally renovated our first floor bath by ourselves while our youngest was 9 months. But that was only really possible as we could lock off the guest room door so that one connected room got messy While nothing else really did. And we were super diligent about heavy cleaning at the end of each day/weekend.

      Since your work isn’t able to be physically closed off from the rest of your house and/off if it’s spread out throughout your house, I would definitely move out. For example, they won’t be able to work in your Master Bath with the Master Bath door closed. Meaning your Master Bedroom is part of the construction zone. It’s be one thing if they could close off a door creating one single dirty/dusty zone, but with multiple rooms that they’re moving between, the dust is going to get EVERYWHERE. Construction crews aren’t typically the greatest at cleaning up every night (especially if they only get partway through a particularly messy job and know they’re going to make more mess the next day). They’ll also regularly move between the spaces and so you should expect your furniture/stuff in the other rooms to be rearranged/moved to be out of their way such that you won’t have use of it. And everything will have a serious dust coating (and not just from demo; taping new drywall and tiling are two tasks which generate a lot of dust everywhere).

      I’d also warn you to plan for it to take longer due to unexpected surprises. We bought our house and hired a contractor/started a renovation of our kitchen and upstairs bath about 3 months before we had to move out of our apartment. Was told the whole thing should take 8 weeks. Well we moved in with no kitchen cabinets installed. The whole thing took almost 14 weeks by the end. Unexpected things will pop up (material delivery delays, inspector delays, failed inspections with new things to correct, unexpected problems behind the walls, etc.).

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I had work done here for just over two years. It was me and one other person so while we moved right along, because it was just the two of us and things took TIME. omg.

      Basically there are two points in the project where dust is the highest: when they demo and when they spackle (because they have to sand the spackle for the sheetrock).

      You could consider staying with friends a couple nights while these two activities are happening. This gives you a middle of the road solution, because leaving your house entirely is not easy at all. And you do want routine check -ins with the contractors. Seeing your house every day is WISE. My friend uses the 3 coat method for spackling, which meant a 24 hour dry time in between each coat. So we figured on 3 days of sanding spackle. The demos went much quicker that was usually just one day from start to finish for each room.

      I ended up replacing almost everything, the old sheetrock was removed and I got rid of the trims and put in new trims. This helped with the lead paint question as it greatly reduced the sanding/handling/etc. Not a magic wand answer but something to consider as you go along. There’s a lot of toxic materials involved in redoing, taking extra steps to get fresh air in or spending time outside is a good idea.

      I felt I had to clean up right away before all the stuff went through the entire house. And the dust covered everything. sigh. I’d be cleaning at 9 pm just because. (We did put up barriers but stuff got tracked around on our shoes and clothes.)

      For clean ups, I’d seriously recommend getting a wet-dry vac. You do not want to use your good vac on this crap, it will ruin it. Even if your household vac is something you don’t care about this stuff is just too rough on the household vacs. I found a small wet-dry vac, Shop Vac brand, 6 gallon size at a tag sale. I picked up accessories for it at Lowe’s. Money well spent, I still use it to save my good vac from getting too beat up. And it does a good job with wet spills also.

      Where I am going here is ask your cleaner if they want to help with this. They may say no. However, do know that it is a lot of work cleaning up. I am not a neat freak and I felt compelled to clean up and pick up every evening. You and the cleaner will both appreciate having that heavy duty vac, it will make a difference. After seeing this, I would definitely offer a cleaner extra money to help. It’s heavy work and they will have to work at a time when the contractors are not working.

      You may want to consider putting air purifiers in your bedrooms, too. Even a little purifier would give you some level of benefit.

      One interesting thought I had is these outdoor camping sinks that I see around. It’s a little table with a built in sink. The sink has a faucet and handles as you would expect. You hook the sink to your garden hose. This would give you a working sink on ground level.
      Conversely, you could tell the contractors to only remove one sink at a time. I found that the sinks were only inoperable for a very short time.

      I stayed in my house the entire time. We used fans A LOT to help with dust and other pollution. I was constantly using a wet mop, too.

      For both my kitchen and bath I ended up emptying my cupboards. The dust gets in everywhere. So while I had very little furniture to remove from these rooms I had box after box of stuff from the cupboards. The non-essentials I was able to store in my guest room. I couldn’t have guests so tying up that room with clutter was not a problem. I did end up living out of cardboard boxes with some stuff.

      The contractors may need places to store stuff. The insulation here filled my dining room alone (two pick up truck loads). Fortunately the dining room table breaks down easily, we stacked that off to the side and then stacked the chairs, to make the insulation fit. Other materials where here, there, and everywhere. We had a tent outside for a work area and a place to put things if it rained.

      Not to be a negative nancy, but I think it is wise to figure on extra time. They are saying two months, plan on three. This is because materials are on back order; Joe the sheetrocker is sick and out for a couple days; the inspector can’t come until next week; the kitchen fan does not fit the allotted space and so on. Construction work can be very stressful. If you pad your time and calculate in unforeseen expenses (I add 20% but I have never needed the full amount), you can help yourself reduce your stress. I can remember days where everything came to a screeching halt because we could not find a specific type of screw, half a day and five stores later, we found it. Decide not to let this stuff rattle you too much because it’s really unavoidable and be prepared with a plan for the needs of your family.

      This IS worth it, you will enjoy it for many years. Good luck!

    10. Ranon*

      With the kiddo in the mix, move out, if you can at all manage it, particularly if your husband is sensitive to noise while working. Construction sites are loud and not particularly pleasant or healthy to live in.

      And if they haven’t sourced everything that’s going in the remodel already, I’d assume it’s going to be a lot closer to four months than 2- supply chains are pretty rough still and you’re doing a big remodel on an old house which is practically guaranteed to have something unexpected going on with it.

      As for your cleaning lady, I’d ask her- unless your contractor is really good with dust control there may be plenty for her to do outside of the rooms being worked on. I would try to schedule her for when the construction isn’t happening, to keep everyone’s exposure down and make her work feel a little more productive. An alternative is to pause and then pay extra for a deep clean at the end.

    11. Bluebell*

      Our family had our kitchen redone last year and it took most of two months. Our house has only one bathroom, we had our young adult living with us, and I was not working full time, but in and out of the house. Our cleaner came during that time, and told us they were really impressed about how the contractors had blocked off everything. However with what you are describing, plus the baby, I’d probably move out. And definitely book for longer – projects always take longer! Good luck with it!

    12. Ron McDon*

      Q2 – when our kitchen was being redone, we set up an old worktop in the dining room with a kettle and microwave on top and fridge/freezer underneath.

      It was like that for a month or more (husband was doing the kitchen at weekends and evenings after work) – it was doable, but as someone who cooks from scratch every evening, I really struggled with it!

      If your lifestyle is such that you eat out/pre-prepared food/takeaways more often than not you’d probably be fine; if you love to cook or have young children to cater for it’s a bit more difficult.

      I just got very bored with eating only hot things that could be microwaved or boiled!

      $2,000 is a lot of money to spend out if you don’t need to – particularly bearing in mind renovations always seem to take longer and cost more than quoted. I’d say stay at home and save your money, but it depends how you feel about not being able to use your kitchen for a while.

      Good luck!

    13. Too old for this*

      Yeah for you for paying her during time off because of covid. Absolutely, positively, without question pay her to not come or to come in and clean the construction dust as much as possible. You can afford it and she needs a steady income. Life as a cleaning lady is hard enough. You say you feel guilty asking her not to come, listen to that voice, it’s your conscience telling you do to the right thing.

    14. Caroline Bowman*

      I would definitely, if at all possible, stay elsewhere. I know it’s planned to take 2 months but these things very often extend. Living and working in dirt, noise and constant interruptions would get wearing after about the 2nd day. If it were me, I’d budget to stay elsewhere for at least a month, when the worst of it was happening.

      With your cleaning lady, I would explain the situation and ask if you can pause her for the duration. If you paid her to not work and you are clear she has other clients, then it’s quite reasonable to, with proper warning, temporarily end the arrangement.

    15. Pomona Sprout*

      If I were in your place, I’d definitely prefer the extended stay option. Yes, it would be an additional cost, but you say you can afford it, and to me, it sounds like it would be worth it. As the saying goes, there are some things you can’t put a price tag on.

      It’s not ideal as some have pointed out, but neither is staying in the house with the noise, the dust and dirt (demo, especially, is messy, and the mess is not 100% confined to the demo “zone” and ends up in places you’d never expect). Add that to the bathroom challenges and having NO kitchen at all (!) and I’d be out of there as fast as my chubby little legs could carry me unless I had absolutely no other option.

      That said, it’s an individual decision with no right or wrong answer except what will work best for you and hubby. I know what I would choose, but ymmv. Whatever you decide, best of luck with your decision and with the renovation .

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        I wrote the above before reading all the comments, which turned out to be a big mistake, because I did not know about the lead or that there was a baby in the mix. Now that I am more fully informed, my advice has changed from “do what you feel comfortable with” to “get the hell out, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.”

        Even without the lead, living with all the noise, inconvenience, dust, dirt, strangers constantly in and out of the house, etc., for at least 2 months and probably more would be much harder to manage and much more stressful with an infant. Add in even the smallest possibility of your child being exposed to lead dust and what you have is a big fat NOPE. I presume there may be measures that can be taken to minimize the risk. I’m not well enough informed to know what those would be are or how effective they are, but I do now that nothing is ever foolproof and I would not be comfortable with any amount of risk where my kiddo is concerned.

        The good news is that you’ve said you can afford to pay to stay elsewhere. Sure, you’d rather avoid that extra expense (who wouldn’t feel that way), but you have the best reason in the world to give yourself permission to spend the extra money: your child’s health and well-being. :-)

  2. zandt*

    Recommendations for books about Egyptian mythology? I’m looking for something along the lines of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. TIA!

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Wallis Budge’s books are generally considered the starting point, though he’s dry as the desert. This list looks quite good (edited to not make Alison moderate it):

      https://norse-mythology [dot] org/10-best-egyptian-mythology-books/

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      French author Christian Jacq has been translated into English. Well-written light fiction, you learn a lot (well I did, not knowing anything more than what we were taught in school)

    3. Rainy*

      Barbara Mertz, who was both an Egyptologist and a fantastic novelist, has two non-fiction books on ancient Egypt, which have both been in print since they were first published (a nice feat which tells you how good they are). Red Land, Black Land and Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs are those books.

      She also, under one of her two fiction pseuds, wrote a celebrated and award-winning series of mysteries about an Egyptologist, the Amelia Peabody books, and several of her other books deal with Egypt, but a great deal more with things like libraries, antiquities, literature, and feminism. I love everything she wrote (except, alas, the Peabody books which I find obnoxious as all hell, but I am DECIDEDLY in the minority there, as most people love the Peabody stuff and find everything else lacking, mostly for insufficient amounts of Amelia).

      1. Anony vas Normandy*

        I also love her non-Amelia books! Now I’ve got a craving to re-read Houses of Stone.

    4. Torrance*

      I’m a big fan of Geraldine Pinch’s Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, & Traditions of Ancient Egypt.

  3. Anony-Mouse*

    I’m reading The Extraordinaries, also by TJ Klune and loving it. So happy to hear good things about the first book, I will check that out after!

    1. Anony-Mouse*

      Be aware though, that while I like it, the main character’s dad is a cop and so there is some glorifying of cops in the book. This makes sense to me given that it’s his dad. But, it is something to be aware of.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      So it turns out that Amazon is good for something – I just read the first few pages of the Cerulean Sea and was immediately hooked, and then emailed my closest independent bookstore to order. Thank you, Alison! (I also have a request in at my office to get 5 office copies of your AAM book, by the way! I think it will function as a kind of HR department all on its own. :)

      1. Emma*

        I actually just read this book this past week and it really is a great read. It’s the kind of book about choosing your own destiny that really hits close to home right now when everything feels so out of control.

    3. Hi there*

      I read The House in the Cerulean Sea last week and really liked it once I got past the description of where the protagonist works.

  4. N So Cal*

    Sr. Pet Post – Pupper had a minor surgery yesterday. She’s doing okay with it but was SO out of it earlier today.

    Wish I could be able to communicate directly so she could tell me her frustration and I could better assure her everything is going to be okay.

    How did your senior pets handle surgery? What made things better and what to avoid?

    1. Mid*

      This was several years ago. My dog needed some fairly intense surgeries. The vet recommended CBD for her, along with more traditional pain and anti-inflammation medications. She also got a lot of doggy ice cream (peanut butter, plain yogurt, banana, and some other ingredients, blended together and frozen in little paper cups (like the kind you use at the dentist for mouthwash.) Then she could just lay still and lick something delicious instead of trying to walk around all the time.

      Also, if relevant, they make inflatable donut neck pillow things that serve the same purpose as a cone, but don’t block the dog’s vision and aren’t as heavy. If you can get one of those, If recomend it! Plus it looks adorable to see a dog with what is essentially a travel pillow around them.

    2. Not Australian*

      Senior cat had a large tumour removed about seven or eight years ago and we honestly thought we were going to lose him then. He was very grumpy about the ‘blue bandage’ on his paw (where they’d had the drip during the surgery) but once he got rid of that – he knew it wasn’t part of him and it shouldn’t be there, so he just shook and shook his leg until it fell off by itself – he was much calmer. Even put up with the cone of shame without complaining, although feeding him was a challenge!

      IMHO if you are calm and optimistic and treat it all as being perfectly natural your pet is likely to read your mood and match it. Just go for lots of affection and a tranquil atmosphere (where possible).

      Senior cat crossed the rainbow bridge some three years ago; we had much more time with him after the surgery than we’d ever expected, and every minute of it was wonderful.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My Elder Statesdog hasn’t had to have any surgeries, knock wood, but I definitely feel you on wishing I could explain things to her. Mine isn’t allowed upstairs anymore, because she’s unsteady on her pins and has vision issues that make going up and down the stairs a major hazard for her; she fell a couple times and scared the bejesus out of both herself and me, but she still wants to go up so she stands at the gate and makes sad faces. Poor thing.

    4. Long drives*

      When my dog was recovering, something that proved extremely useful was documenting every meal, outing, medication dispensing, with notes of any concern or comments on mood. It helped my spouse and I keep track if one of us had done something, but it also really captured progress and identified for the vet where more work was needed.

    5. Trixie*

      If she just had the surgery yesterday, she will probably be more responsive in a day or two. When a beloved senior cat was sick or post surgery and on pretty strong meds, he just felt crummy and slept a lot. Thankfully, once he recovered and his appetite was back, you could tell he was feeling better.

      If you can keep water/food near her, that may help restrict or limit her movement until she’s ready. Maybe her favorite treats to get some calories in her system again. Hope she feels better soon!

      1. Squeakrad*

        All these points. It may take longer for her to stop being so groggy but that’s really normal. We fed our cat turkey and chicken baby food while she was recovering and she really enjoyed that.

    6. Stephanie*

      Coincidentally, our 10 year old greyhound had 7 teeth removed yesterday, including both upper canine teeth. He was a bit woozy yesterday, but we fed him a very small meal at dinnertime (per the vet’s orders) and then another meal later on when he seemed to want to eat. His face is swollen from the canine removal, but he’s pretty much back to normal now.
      We let the other two dogs sniff and fuss around him as much as they wanted to yesterday after he came home, and let him rest and just acted like everything was pretty much normal. If you’re anxious, they can feel it, and they will in turn be anxious. I’ve seen a couple of recommendations for the inflatable neck things instead of the cone of shame. Just FYI, if your dog has a long neck, it may not work. I bought one for one of our greyhounds a few years ago and had to take it back because she used it as an oh-so-convenient chin rest that made it even easier to lazily lick at her stitches.

      1. N So Cal*

        Happy to report that things are much better…..now. Last night was not much sleep. But it seems getting back into meals and the extra time has helped out. Wishing for some sleep tonight.

        Also-we have doggy pjs that cover the surgery spot. No cone of shame here!

        Hoping your pet recovers quickly!

        1. Stephanie*

          Thank you! He’s doing better now than yesterday, so it’s looking good.
          Hope you got some sleep and you doggo had a better night last night.

  5. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Learning crochet update: I completed my first scarf! Photo here:

    https://imgur.com/a/8u2iiAw

    I did that one with single crochet, front loop only. I’ve now started a second scarf and for this one I’m using half double stitches, back loop only. I am finding this one much harder! It might be because I’m using darker colored yarn so the stitches are harder to see, or maybe it’s because it’s a different stitch, but I keep accidentally increasing or decreasing my rows and have had to rip out a ton of rows to redo them. I can’t figure out why it’s been so much harder to get the stitch count right with this one. It’s far more frustrating than the first! But it’s coming along, and generally I’m feeling very pro-crochet.

    I’m also going to try a dishcloth using Dishie yarn this weekend. Googling hasn’t answered this for me: How much yarn (in yards or weight) would you expect to use for a single large-ish dishcloth? I had assumed that I’d only need a single skein of Dishie, but now I’m second-guessing that. (It’s a 100 gram skein, 190 yards.)

    1. Anonbeth*

      For the rogue decreases, is it possible that you’re not pulling the yarn through all the loops of the half double crochet stitch before starting the next stitch? That would combine that stitch with the next one, if so. For the increases, maybe muscle memory from the first scarf is causing you to do some stitches through the front loop, in addition to the sts through the back loop?

      190 yards should be enough to make 2 square wash cloths around 9″ square, with some left over (depending on the density of the stitch and how tightly you crochet, etc). So you could likely get a single cloth of 12-13″ square. I’ll reply to this comment with some example patterns to give you an idea of yardage and size.

      If you’re feeling adventurous, you can use the traditional method for ekeing out every last bit of yarn, and make the dishcloth diagonally! This method works if you have a sensitive kitchen scale. Start with a row of just about 3 stitches, and increase one stitch at the beginning of each row. When you’ve used up half your yarn (or a little less, for safety), stop increasing and switch to decreasing one stitch at the beginning of each row. Voila. (The one stitch per row ratio works well for single crochet; if you’re using a taller stitch like double crochet, maybe two stitches per row (one beginning and one end).)

        1. Crafty Crafter*

          I learned how to knit making dishcloths, and have cranked out dozens over the years, both knit and crochet. My mom and sister love them (Christmas presents in the bag!) and they are a great way to try out a new stitch combo.

          I’ve never had a dishcloth take more than one skein of cotton yarn. Depending on the size, you may be able to get two from one skein.

          I’ve done the Yarnspirations one-it’s a nice easy pattern, makes a handsome scarf as well. The Ravelry one is basically Alison’s scarf, sc through the back loop, crocheted corner to corner. The second one is new to me, but I like the stitch combo, filing it for a future blanket.

          Great selections-thanks!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is helpful, thank you! I think what’s happening is that I’m having trouble telling where the last stitch of the row should be because for some reason all the stitches at the end of the the previous row have become tiny and tight by the time I get to them. So it’s hard to see where the final one of the row should go, and I either do too few or too many. I’ve solved it by counting at the end of every row, but I would like to be able to tell by sight!

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          You could try using a stitch marker (a paperclip or even some yarn in a different colour will do fine) to mark those last stitches.

          1. Tortally HareBrained*

            Stitch markers (the actual product or Bobby pins, safety pin, paper clip, etc) is how I do this on some patterns if I don’t want to count. Some yarn/stitches just aren’t easily visible and so this helps mark it.

        2. Crafty Crafter*

          Yay on the completed scarf!

          I would suspect the row beginning/ends to be the culprit if the number of stitches per row is increasing or decreasing. It would be easy to tell if we could watch you, but since we can’t, maybe this will help.

          *Are you chaining 2 at the beginning of each row? For sc you chain 1, for hdc you chain 2, for dc you chain 3. Just checking, in case that little, but important, detail got overlooked.
          * If the last stitch in the rows (chain beginning the previous row) is too tight and you’re definitely doing a chain 2, try loosening up the chain. There should be air between the hook and the base of the chain stitch.
          *Which way are you turning your scarf at the end of the row? Generally speaking, either is fine, as long as you are consistent. But personally, I chain then turn counterclockwise precisely because it makes that last stitch easier to see. You end up looking at the front of the chain stitch, not the back. If you’re not rotating in the same direction every time, just being consistent might do the trick, as it will always look the same. If you are already being consistent, try rotating the other way to see if that helps.
          *You’ll be able to recognize that last stitch with practice. Go ahead and use a marker (mark the second chain stitch) but when you get to it in the next row, give it a good eyeball. It will definitely look different than the rest.

          Also: I would not hook through only the back loop of the chain. It’s a great look for the hdc, but if you do it on a chain, you’re only grabbing one strand of yarn and it will leave a gap. So I would do the back-loop-only on the hdc stitches, but go through both strands on the chain.

          Good luck!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Thank you! I am chaining 2 at the beginning of each row but I will try loosening up the chain and see if that helps! I’m turning counterclockwise, but I have actually been taking my hook out of the yarn after I turn and then repositioning the hook and the yarn in a way that makes the loop feel straighter — should I not be doing that?

            Also, I had no idea that I shouldn’t be doing back loop only on the chain! I will go through both stitches there and see if it helps.

            1. Crafty Crafter*

              I would advise just leaving the hook in when you turn. It’s definitely more efficient. Most crocheters just keep everything as-is; don’t drop the yarn or hook. I nestle the hook in my palm and hold it steady with my pinky. This frees up my first finger and thumb in both hands to turn the scarf. Keeping the yarn threaded through your fingers (however you hold it) automatically puts it into the correct position to take the next stitch. As with everything else, it make take some time for that to feel comfortable. It’s very common for new crocheters to want to “reset” at the beginning of each row.

              If you are taking your hook out, be sure to put it back in the correctly. This is one of them things about crochet where I would say there is a right and a wrong. When you re-insert the hook, make sure the loop is back to front, just as it is in a regular stitch. “New” yarn, the end leading to the skein, is always at the front of the hook, not the back. It can definitely make that stitch hard to find on the way back if the stitch was backwards.

              This is really minor, but I like to understand crochet, not just do it mechanically. If you keep your hook in the loop and yarn on your hand, when you turn the piece counterclockwise, the yarn goes to the back of your piece to the left of the chain. If you turn clockwise, it goes via the right of the chain. Either is fine (consistency caveat), but that’s what determines what the chain loop looks like when you finish the next row. If you take your hook out, it’s not the direction you turn the piece that matters, but the way you move the yarn around the chain.

              Re: how to manage stitching that last stitch in the chain. There truly is no right or wrong. It’s 100% about what you think looks best. So I’d never say don’t do the back loop only on the chain, but I will say to try a row or two grabbing both loops and see which you prefer.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Oh my goodness, this has helped so much! Just making the chain stitches looser and turning it the way you described has already improved things.

                When you say to grab both loops on the last stitch in the chain, I’m finding it trickier. We’re talking about the last stitch in a row before I turn, right?

                1. Crafty Crafter*

                  Kinda hard to describe, but let’s give it a shot. If you look at the top of a completed row with the last stitch on the left (before turning), you can see the teardrop “eyes” that are the individual stitches. The first one is actually the second chain in the chain 2. Count from the left to double check and identify the exact right one.

                  In a standard stitch, you insert your hook below both halves of the stitch, so while your hook is inserted, there are two strands of yarn on top of it. When you go through the back (or front) loop only, you have one strand on top of the hook.

                  “Grab” was a poor word choice. I should have just said that on that last stitch, insert your hook under both sides of the loop, so you have 2 strands of yarn on the hook. That’s really just a standard stitch.

                  I’ll look for a good video, but many YouTubers do a pretty poor job of angling the work so you can see it.

                2. Crafty Crafter*

                  Oh, and when you get to to end of the row, try tilting it so you can see the top of the row. Because that last stitch is the chain, not an hdc, from the previous row, it’s angled away from you. It’s easier to see from the top than looking at it straight on.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Yay, congrats! Do the kitties like to hunt the yarn? I found (when knitting) that I had to keep the ball of yarn secure. If it started to move, the cats would realize their natural enemy was nearby.

  6. Tea and Sympathy*

    Elderly mother and cat problems – exacerbated by covid.

    My mother is 95, has moderate dementia (so she knows us, but has about a 10 minute memory), and is in an assisted living facility. My 2 siblings and I have not been able to go in since March. Sibs go and visit through a window and we call, but it is not enough to maintain her emotional health – especially since she now always forgets to put her hearing aids in. In the past few weeks 5 staff have tested positive for covid, but no residents, though they have been testing regularly. My sister noticed that my mother had been wearing the same clothes for 6 days,, and could tell that they hadn’t been doing physical therapy for a broken finger. So we are concerned about the level of care that she is receiving. Now her cat, which we believe is the only thing keeping her from giving up, has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. We haven’t discussed all the treatment options with the vet yet (so any advice there welcome), but all would seem to involve more monitoring than my mother is capable of.

    So now we are trying to figure out alternative arrangements. For example 1) my sister is thinking about building an extension onto her house, so she could move my mother there (but my sister is over 70 herself, and not in great health), or 2) I could move from the country I live in back to the US and rent an apartment for my mother and me (I have great health care here and none in the US, plus I am happy with my life here, but would move for my mother).

    Does anyone have any other ideas? Anything we’re missing? Any available resources we could check into, like having a private nurse visit daily or something? I don’t even know where to start looking or what sort of things may be available.

    She is in Kansas, if that matters. And I know that most of us are wrestling with covid-related issues, and just trying to get through the best we can. I’m sorry this was so long – and thanks if you made it this far.

    1. Tea and Sympathy*

      Just to add- she is very sweet, but her dementia makes her hard to care for at home, and super-human patience is needed.
      The assisted living place says that they are hoping that outdoor, masked, socially distanced visits will be allowed soon. But since they have stopped all activities and have not come up with any work-around ideas in the last 6 months, we are not counting on this actually happening.

    2. Scc@rlettNZ*

      Sorry to hear about your mother. I’m not in the US, but here in New Zealand it is common to treat hypothyroidism in cats with radioactive iodine in exactly the same way that humans are treated. (In the city I live in, the local hospital actually gives the leftover iodine from human patients to the vet surgery that treats the cats).

      The cat has the treatment and stays at the vet for a few days afterwards. In something like 95% of cases no further treatment is required. It might be worth exploring this option with a local vet.

    3. Cats cats cats*

      My vet told me the radioactive iodine treatment is the gold standard treatment for hyperthyroidism and it’s what I chose for my cat.

      We did have to try the regular treatments out first, to see how the cat would be with a lower thyroid (ie does it negatively affect their kidneys too much when you lower the thyroid – hyperthyroidism can be masking kidney issues), and I think it also helps the vets decide on the amount of iodine treatment that is needed…

      So we had to do that for a while regardless and have more bloodtests, and then they said she could have the iodine treatment. She wasn’t tolerating the regular treatment well as she doesn’t like taking pills and the stuff you put on their ears wasn’t lowering her levels enough.

      The iodine treatment was a godsend for my cat and she’s so much healthier now, without having to take medicine for life. It’s expensive, but she was needing so many bloodtests (at $250 a pop!!!) that between that and the medicine I would have quickly spent more on that lifelong treatment then I did on the one-time iodine treatment, which is longer term (potentially permanent) and guaranteed by the clinic that administered it; they will retreat her at no further cost if she needs it. I don’t know if all clinics do that and I may have paid more upfront because of that. But given the trouble we were having regulating her thyroid with medicine, I wouldn’t be shocked if she does need a re-treatment one day.

      You do have to isolate the cat after, which is probably difficult in a car home. So since you have to first try out the regular medicine to get an idea of the cats behaviour and kidney levels post-permanent treatment, and then after the permanent treatment you need to isolate… moving your mom in sounds like a lovely idea. My mom used to visit my grandma (who had dementia) every day, and it should would have been easier to do if she’d lived with us. It probably would have cost the same to hire private nurses/care aides for a few hours each day as what we were paying for the nursing home’s dementia ward.

    4. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Radical Idea: Can you move your mother to you?
      I ask because I also live in a country with better healthcare than the US, and moving my parents to me would be a better alternative to me moving to them, should they get sick enough to need it. That would be a lot of paperwork for us, and maybe wouldn’t work with your mother, but it’s just a thought.

      1. WellRed*

        I can think of few things worse for a 95 year old with dementia than moving them to another country. Especially during a pandemic and with certain borders still closed.

    5. WellRed*

      I’m not sure what the solution is, but gently, your mom is 95, she has some dementia. I don’t think your sister she embark on adding an addition just to house your mom. I don’t think you should uproot your life. Is it possible to come for a couple of months and see how she’s doing? I’m not clear on the type of facility but I doubt an outside nurse would be allowed, especially during Covid. As to the cat, I agree with other comments. It’s a relatively simple fix.

      1. WellRed*

        Sorry forgot to add: have you talked to the facility director about things like her clothes and her finger? I’d start there. There’s probably also an area agency on aging that may be able to point you toward resources.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yes, that is very concerning and your first line of response is to be a “squeaky wheel” advocating for your mom right now.

          Getting extra help to come in will have a better and quicker impact than trying to move her anywhere else.

    6. Venus*

      You would not be happy having her live with you at this stage of her health. I would strongly recommend hiring someone. The home may have a list of approved hired helpers. Typically I would look around for more options, but with Covid it is better to find someone who is already there. You can also maybe hire staff to spend an hour daily or a few days a week or weekly, just with your mother. This is totally a thing that is done in care homes, and there should be quite a few options. I know someone who has long-distance family in a care home, and hired someone to visit them weekly just to check in, and it’s for a couple hours weekly so they watch a sports game together. You could hire someone to medicate the cat! It likely would not work if they came in from outside, but care homes have a range of staff and asking someone specific to do it before or after shift might be possible.

      Note that there are possible restrictions in some places, so they may refuse, but it is a totally reasonable request.

    7. Not A Manager*

      Assisted living facilities frequently contract with or coordinate with outside staffing companies for extra help with residents who need it. I think your first step should be to ask about hiring someone to assist her.

      While the ideal situation would be for you to vet and hire one or two regular attendants, if you’re working with an agency you likely will get a rotating roster. You can probably expect them to supervise simple routines like meds (for mom and cat), activities of daily living, and straightforward exercises like walking or squeezing a ball. They won’t get very fine-grained. But I’d start there.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I second this. I worked somewhere that offered senior fitness programming and we often got seniors from the nearby assisted living place with their personal attendant. The attendants were really nice people who did great work. Some of them would even go way above and beyond and get in the pool with their client to help them take fitness classes! They were the nicest.

    8. Jen Erik*

      I’d just say, having looked after my own mum, there is an inevitable trajectory to the disease, and caring for the person at home is very difficult. It does depend, of course, on how many people are available, and what resources you have to buy in help – but I’d really think through the practicalities. I’m just remembering the point at which my mum would wake brightly, 5 or 6 times a night, thank me for the lovely visit, and talk about going home now. I looked after her through the week, with 5 hours of state-provided help, and my husband and children did the weekend.
      With the best will in the world, I couldn’t have done it for long.

      My neighbour’s mum, who was diagnosed at the same time as mine, forgot how to walk and kept falling. Again a big, close, well-resourced family with medical expertise, but they couldn’t keep her at home.
      I suppose what I’m thinking is that both options 1) and 2) sound like they’ll take a bit of time to implement, and might only be very temporary solutions. I don’t mean to be negative, and I know the drive to do whatever it takes – but for most people I know, a nursing home has been the eventual answer, although I’m not in the US, so I don’t know how it works there.

      I hope the cat recovers well – if it’s any help at all, my mum towards the end of her life had unexpectedly muted emotional reactions to some things, and I hope if your mum can’t look after the cat any more that she isn’t as distressed as you fear she might be.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Devils advocate (I work in an ICU so not trying to be insensitive): do you have to do anything? Your mother is likely close to the end of her life and her memory trouble may make any emotional upset temporary. PT and new clothes may not make much of a difference at this point in her life and her disease. If she is reasonably cared for, you could just accept that she doesn’t have much time left rather than everyone uproot themselves or spend a lot of money (your sister) for something that will be used for a few months.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I actually tend to agree. With the older folks in dementia what seems helpful can actually turn out to be cruel. Things get turned upside down from our normal standards in regard to thinking about care for dementia patients.

        For example, routine exercise can be such an upset for them that it becomes more important that they not get upset and the exercise becomes less important. Many things go this way and it could partially explain why she has the same clothes on. It was better to leave her in those clothes than to upset her with changing them.

        Caring for a person with dementia is a 24/7 job. This is why care givers end up in the ER. It’s also been noted that some care givers push themselves so hard that they end up passing away. I know first hand that it is almost impossible to work and give care for a dementia patient. You either have to hire someone to stay with them OR you have to give up the job. Even for them to be alone for an hour can be a form of cruelty as they just cannot cope with even the basics in their environment. If you think about social rules/thinking regarding child care, this makes sense. Protecting vulnerable people requires an in-person presence at all times. My mother would throw away important things that we needed. She also had a knack for breaking things apart. One time she took the kitchen sink sprayer thing and broke it into 17 pieces. Yes, I counted the pieces. This was the tip of the iceberg. She never slept at night. My father would have to stay awake all the time to watch her. She had a habit of wandering, of course, she never checked for cars when she crossed a street. Wait. I haven’t even gotten to the incredible anger and incredible rages. (My father ended up almost dying from his massive heart attack.)

        So far, we (society) only have the solution of keeping them safe from further harm. And that becomes the new guideline for their care to protect them from additional injury. I don’t recommend moving mom in with you. You should put on your own oxygen mask first so that you stay well enough to continue visiting mom and continue checking on her. You are of more value this way.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Clean clothes is a signal that they are also monitoring for more serious problems, like pressure sores. I could see 2 – 3 days, but a week is a lot.

        I agree that adding an extension or moving back to the US are Big Deals, but: TnS, how hard would it be to move to KS for a year or two and then move back to your current country? What is the cost of you moving back vs hiring a supplemental aide?

        Sympathy, this is hard stuff.

      3. Eeeek*

        While it’s unlikely she’ll live a ton longer, my grandma is 104 and still kickin. I think my gma who had dementia died at like 99 or 100? And she had dementia for years and years. I think talking to the staff is step one since she could be there a while longer and you at least want decent care while she’s there

      4. Courageous cat*

        Yeah… for the most part, I’m inclined to agree. I think some of this could/should be fixed, but none of it really needs either of you to uproot your entire lives in some way for it.

    10. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I wouldn’t normally recommend this, but since your mom has moderate dementia, I think the replacement pet gambit would be ok. Find a nice cat the same size and color as hers, swap them out secretly, and then the sick cat can live with someone who can take good care of it.

      It would take a lot of leg work and rely on mom not being sharp enough to notice the substitution, so I’m not sure it’s logistically feasible, but it is an idea.

    11. cat socks*

      I’m sorry to hear about your Mom. For the cat with hyperthyroidism, that can be treated with a pill twice a day until thyroid levels are normal.

      My kitty had a fairly serious heart condition in addition to hyperthyroidism so the radioactive therapy was not an option for him.

    12. Fish Microwaver*

      I’m sorry you are going through this. It’s hard to watch a loved one deteriorate and be unable to do much.
      It sounds like your mother needs a higher level of care than assisted living can provide. Does the facility have a nursing home where residents can move to when their needs are greater than assisted living can provide? I agree with other posters who recommend speaking with the Director of the facility. A conversation with your mom’s doctor might help too. I hope you can find a solution that meets your family’s needs.

    13. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      My mother cared for her husband at home for years as he was living with, and dying of, dementia, and even with a paid carer coming in twelve hours a day, and by the end carers there all the time, it was very hard on her. And the reason she did that was that she thought, and I think his doctors thought, that staying in the home he knew, with his familiar furniture and so on, would be good for him mentally.

      Moving your mother into your sister’s home, or a new home you bought or rented, wouldn’t have that advantage.

      And one of my aunts told me, repeatedly, “your mother is a saint.”

    14. WS*

      I would strongly recommend against taking your mother out of the aged care facility – it will be a huge trauma to her and also very difficult for non-professionals to give her adequate care. The nursing home staff are going to be run off their feet right now dealing with all the COVID precautions and all the disruption to the residents that this causes (and the disruption that the stressed-out residents cause). It doesn’t surprise me that her clothes are not being changed, but that’s also a sign that she’s not being properly monitored for health issues. The best thing you can do is to get her more personal attention where she already lives – talk to the nursing home about hiring extra care for your mother, because they almost certainly have an agency that handles this.

      Treatment for hyperthyroid in cats can be done with radiation on-site at the vet clinic, so you could talk to her vet about that.

    15. Anono-me*

      In my experience, assisted living facilities don’t help with personal care such as dressing or physical therapy. But many do offer those Services as add-ons. $$.

      I suspect the least stressful solution for everyone, especially your mother, would be to hire aides to assist your mother in the morning and in the evening. Social Security may help with paying for this. But even if you have to pay out-of-pocket, I suspect it will still be cost-effective compared to an addition to a home or to moving from another country.

      Something to keep in mind: if her dementia increases, the assisted living facility may ask your mother to transfer to a nursing home or a Dementia Care Facility due to the risk of injury due to confusion. Also an increased amount of dementia would make caring for your mother at home by either you or your sister much more difficult.

    16. Caroline Bowman*

      Before doing anything else, have a very frank discussion with the facility. Of course it’s been really difficult for everyone and some understanding and patience is warranted, but your mother is being neglected by the people handsomely remunerated for providing her care. It’s unacceptable and though unpleasant, must be addressed immediately.

      If you’re able to come and visit for a month or even two and make it your mission to get this resolved (and deal with the cat as well – it sounds like there are decent treatment options), that would be infinitely preferable to leaving the home you are very happy in OR your sister having to take over the care of an elderly lady with serious dementia for an indeterminate period.

      My sincere best wishes that this can be worked out for all concerned, it’s so tough and of course you want the best for your mom.

    17. Tea and Sympathy*

      I’m sorry that I’m late in coming back to this, but thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful replies. I was especially upset when I wrote this, and the care in your comments was a balm.

      Your replies were a reminder that this is a problem with no good solution. We haven’t wanted to move her, because, as many of you pointed out, that’s never good for dementia patients. But then as this goes on, we panic, and forget that there might not be a solution.

      Also, some of you mentioned how hard it is to care for a dementia patient. We do know that, but my mother is very sweet and has a positive outlook. Her dementia has progressed very slowly and although she can’t remember anything for very long, she is present in the moment. Your replies were a reminder to take a moment to be grateful for that.

      I laughed at the suggestion that we replace the cat. We know my mother loves her children, but the cat holds a special place in her heart, and we are sure the cat’s is the last face she will forget.

      We have talked to the head nurse about her care, but I liked the suggestion to call and speak to the director about hiring someone to come in and check up on her and the cat. We will try that.

      Thank you, again.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Emergent Wallace may be my single favorite cat pic Aliso has ever posted. Up until now I had assumed that cats and their hiding spaces were like quantum physics–one place or the other and never in between.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have seen this on my own bookshelves. I did not think my cat could get up there. Boy, was I wrong.

        I do agree this is The Best Photo yet.

        1. Lcsa99*

          Our cat does this too and usually will knock down his pick of the day. Either than or start meowing at as randomly from behind the books. We aren’t quite sure if its “look at me! I’m so clever,” or “now what?”

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Yes, I’m going to assume there’s a kitty-sized secret passage behind the bookshelf! Otherwise I have no ideas how he got there!

      1. allathian*

        One of my parents’ cats was a great jumper when he was young. He’d jump from the floor to the desk, and from the desk to the curtain track. It had a sort of cowling in front of it so he wasn’t resting only on the rail. For as long as he was able to jump that distance, it was his favorite spot in the house. He could also open doors by jumping at the door handle and hanging on, letting his weight and the momentum of his jump open the door.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I just noticed Chronicles of Narnia on the shelf above. Coincidence? I wouldn’t put it past a cat.

  7. Wilhelmina Harker*

    How does one get over a crush? I asked out a guy who I see occasionally through one of my hobbies but he declined. He was polite about it but I found out a few days later that he asked out another person who also does our hobby and they are dating. He nicely told me he wasn’t looking to date at the moment but I realize now he had a crush on her and vice versa. I think it will also be hard because I was jealous of her appearance and weight before this. Our hobby is large enough that I only see either of them sporadically. But that doesn’t mean my crush automatically went away. Gah, I do wish I could just turn these feelings off because I don’t have any plans to interfere now that he has a girlfriend.

    1. Selma Morton*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this.
      One thing that helps is, well, time. Eventually your attraction to him will fade. You can speed this up if you distance yourself from him. Not seeing him and being reminded of him declining you makes it easier to forget, especially if you find new experiences elsewhere so there’s something else to fill that void.
      It doesn’t have to be activities with other people, although it can certainly help to be surrounded by great people. (Mostly virtually these days.)
      You should also give yourself permission to be sad over this. It sucks, and you need time to get over it.
      That is how it works, and recognizing this is the first step.
      If you have a trusted friend, it’s good to talk about it. Or write down your feelings, your disappointmement and write it out. Then put the papers or files away. It will be fun to reread them in a while when the feelings will be gone.
      This one’s a tactic that has helped me but others may find it strange: I become slightly obsessed with a celebrity crush and research the hell out of them.
      Collect pictures, read interviews, listen to podcasts, watch films, download albums, borrow books from the library. I put my feelings into being a super fan. My crush shifts towards this person, and then eventually I get tired of this/them (and also find out things that make me like them less). This has really worked for me and have learnt many fun facts about some famous people but I always felt ‘safe’ emotionally because I knew that this crush is unattainable, and it’s to fill my heart until it heals.

      1. Mid*

        I also find that trying to find annoying flaws in a crush helps get over it faster. It’s easy to see someone as perfect when you’re in that headspace, but they definitely have an annoying habit or two. (For example, I realized a crush of mine posts WAY TOO MUCH on social media. I’m talking over 100 posts a DAY. Crush pretty much squashed right then and there.)

    2. valentine*

      Given the jealousy, you might investigate the source and remove it at the root. Focusing on yourself will diminish the crush’s importance.

    3. Anonosaurus*

      You did a super brave thing – you asked for what you wanted! I’m so sorry it didn’t work out as you had hoped. But as someone who has rarely had the courage, I salute you.

      Figuring out why you feel jealous of the girlfriend might be a useful side effect of this experience.

      Otherwise, I think it’s a combination of allowing the sadness, eating lots of ice cream (or whatever comfort activity you are into), letting time do it’s work, starving the crush by not thinking about him and hoping he will change his mind (the hardest bit IMHO), and being open to meeting new people.

    4. Anon for this*

      It sounds like he wasn’t interested in you, but why are weight and appearance the only culprits? Perhaps he didn’t mesh with your personality or liked her company for some reason that has nothing to do with you. I think working on building your confidence and attractiveness (not necessarily physical) would be a good goal.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Ya know, asking someone out takes strength. We are really putting ourselves out there, really putting ourselves at risk. Give yourself an A+ for courage. It’s really easy to list off all the things wrong with ourselves. My suggestion is to try to think about what is RIGHT with you. Courage is number one. I got you started on this list. Keep going.

    6. Solar*

      Don’t try to get over your crush. It’s like an intrusive thought – the more you fight it, the more it’s going to keep popping up.

      Do the things in your life that you enjoy (including your hobby) and that make you feel close to your loved ones. When the crush comes to mind, tell yourself “Okay, it’s fine to have that feeling. Now I’m going to go to .” It’s just there. You don’t have to judge it or fight it. You can just move on. The thought will occur to you less and less over time.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I’ve had this approach work for many different types of unhealthy focus, like worries or self-criticism.

        I use a sort of mantra, “…and the sky is blue.”

        I’m acknowledging the thought, but classifying it as something which is boring and irrelevant. The brain soon stops serving up boring, irrelevant content.

    7. annakarina1*

      I agree with others that it was really strong and brave of you to ask him out. The crush will fade over time, and you will stop caring without realizing it.

      I wasn’t brave enough to ask out my crush, so it just stayed unrequited. I think what helped me to get over it was that when I last talked to him last year, he just looked like an ordinary guy to me, not the thing I had built up in my head, and thought “Why was I so intimidated by this?” It helps more when seeing the person as just regular and not romanticizing them, and even seeing their flaws, which doesn’t diminish them, but takes away the idealized feelings. Being busy with my hobbies also helped, as I had a busy life and interests outside of thinking of a crush, as well as bonding with other people.

    8. Rainy*

      In general “not right now” always means “not with you”, which sucks but it’s better to just accept that soft nos are real nos.

      I always found that the best thing is to distract myself: actively work to meet new people to date, throw myself into my hobbies or work or school, and spend intentional time with friends. And give it some time–time generally is the best doctor for these things.

      The other thing is that sometimes when I have a crush on someone, it is less about the person and more about what they bring to my life. Those are sometimes the ones that don’t go away on their own, but are the easiest to get over once I realize what was really going on all along. I wasn’t infatuated with the person so much as something they brought to my life, and if I can find ways to do that thing myself, the crush goes away pretty readily, because it was never primarily about them.

    9. lazy intellectual*

      I have been in a similar situation. UGH.

      Honestly, it just takes time. It helps to know that lots – LOTS – of people have been in a similar position as you. I was surprised but also somewhat comforted to know that even the most beautiful people on earth have had unrequited crushes. It’s just a fact of life.

      Meanwhile, continue with your life as much as possible and do all the things you enjoy. Go on other dates. I also find that watching shows or movies with characters in a similar situation to me makes me feel better, because it visually depicts what I described above. But that could just be me.

    10. Batgirl*

      I’m completely in awe of your bravery! Personally the only thing that helps me over a crush is removal of the thing that crushed me. It might be removing rewarding conversation, it might be not putting myself in a situation where I can see them being awesome, I might need complete physical distance. Being really nice to yourself with all your favourite things is also a winner.

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

      I’m so sorry!! I know how you feel, the few times I tried asking out my crush at that time I was rejected. =( His response sounded polite.
      I’d try to avoid them for now. Don’t feel guilty if you ever see them together and feel jealous, it’s normal. Give yourself time to heal.

  8. Lena Clare*

    Alison, your house is so beautiful!

    Readers, what home improvements/DIY projects are you up to?

    I hate DIY with a passion, but can’t afford to pay others to do all of it so needs must. I’m having the back yard repaved and then I’m planning on wire-brushing the walls, covering them with a sort of polyfilla-type base then painting them, putting in hooks for external lighting round the square bit, then in the spring, planting the garden.

    I’m also going to sand and stain edge of the stairs and get a runner carpet up there. Oh and I’m going to paddy someone to tile the very small square in the porch.

    The trouble I have is that I tend to be all or nothing, so get it done NOW and do all of it… and it doesn’t work like that!

    In the back alley, the neighbours and I are trying to cut all the weeds down to make it a nice community space. The weather recently has meant that the weeds are growing like triffids!

    Any tips for making these jobs easier are much appreciated, and share your home projects.

    1. Mid*

      Even though I’m a renter, I’m pretty much always DIYing something in my apartment. I’m slowly making a cat castle to top my bookshelf, and turning an old armoire into a reptile case (I have a few pet snakes, among other things.)

    2. Not Australian*

      We’re busy ‘terracing’ our garden. We didn’t realise when we bought the house how much of a slope there was, and when we did we took the major decision to divide it up and have steps down in the middle. When our holiday plans had to be put on hold due to Covid we were able to use the money to get a guy with a backhoe in to do the first part of the job; he roughly piled soil from the bottom half of the garden into the top half, and then we took over and started to build a gabion wall. [Wire cages which you fill with stones; I mention this because my best friend looked at me blankly when I used the word!] We’re doing the gabion-filling ourselves, which means we go and buy bags of stone and one by one we’re filling the cages – done half of them so far. It’s very hard physical work (we have a combined age of over 130) but we can take it in small stages and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper this way. The insides of houses have never been a problem for us but we’re only moderate gardeners at best; this is our way of reducing the challenge to manageable proportions!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We’re getting a roll-off dumpster in next month to get rid of a bunch of junk. Projects between now and then are a deep reorganization of the garage so we can remove the furniture that the stripper nail-gunned to the garage wall* and ripping the gross and loose carpet off the basement stairs and making sure they’re at least safe in the meantime by sanding them smooth and putting down some temporary runner or treads. (Fully refinishing them, and my husband’s plan of building a garage workbench, will come after Dumpster Week though.)

      *I bought my house from a literal stripper who did a lot of seriously bad, yet somehow surprisingly sturdy, DIY projects. When I redid my kitchen in year 3 of owning my house we discovered that the cabinets were not mounted to studs, just with three times as many screws as should have been necessary all willy nilly into the drywall. The furniture nail gunned to the garage wall is literally not resting on the floor, but hovering six inches above. Most of the things that go wrong with parts of my house are met with a cry of “God bless the stripper.)

      1. knitter*

        We’re renovating our house right now and have also found a number of surprises. I had always suspected that the renovation done by a previous owner in the 90s wasn’t great, but now have confirmation. The back door had no nails. The front window had all the nails. The bathroom tub isn’t vented and the bathroom fan blows are IN not out.

        Though I can tell the family member who always goes off about the structural issues in my house (no idea where she got this idea other than the fact the house is over 100 years old) that there are in fact no structural issues. (luckily the 90s owner didn’t mess with the bones of the house)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          She straight up glued the master bathroom vanity to the tiled wall with tile cement, yep. We had to get a dude with a sawzall to get the microwave hood down, we never did figure out how she put that up in the first place. And don’t even get me started on the sump pump. Or the six gardens worth of landscaping pavers and edgers that she just buried in my front yard when she started over. :-P

          1. knitter*

            OMG those pavers would send me over the edge. I’m just picturing the clink of my shovel each time I found one. I doubt I would have gotten very far with digging them up with all the swearing I would have been doing.

      2. Generic Name*

        Okay, I just gotta give the woman props for earning enough as a stripper to buy a house. :)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          She was incorporated. Two weeks after I moved in, I stood in my driveway for two solid minutes staring at a letter from the state department of revenue addressed to My Tits LLC going “what is even my LIFE.”

          1. Anon for Right Now, aka Jean (just Jean)*

            Thank you for this comment because it gave me a much-needed LOL!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It super is, when I’m not elbows deep in a battery backup pump … that she positioned on top of the floater for the main pump so it can’t actually go all the way up … god bless the stripper.

    4. WellRed*

      I don’t have any tips but look forward to hearing more about this community space project as it progresses.

    5. Overeducated*

      We’re closing on our first house next week so there will be a decent amount of DIY! There are a LOT of little things, mostly of the repair variety, to keep us busy. In the longer term I’m excited about repainting the interior (theoretically better to do before moving, but we have no childcare help due to COVID so i don’t think that’s logistically possible), considering built in bookshelves (or the Ikea hack), and finishing the attic (possibly some DIY components).

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This was the vacation to scrape&paint. I almost wish I’d thought ahead to how exhausted my hands and arms would be and taken two shorter vacations to provide recovery time…but then I remember that I’ve been relaxing in between and that’s worth oodles of lost efficiency.
      Protect plans are helpful for keeping yourself from over extending. And thinking through logical sequence. Like putting the final coat of paint on the ceiling & walls before installing the carpet.

      1. Lena Clare*

        That sounds like what I’ve got planned. Thank you for the tips.
        My friend always used to say “how do you eat an elephant? – In bite-size chunks!” So planning on bits at a time makes sense.

    7. Parenthetically*

      Oof, we are needing to replace a bunch of flooring — we want to do it before we move next year, to freshen it up for sale, but I was just diagnosed with a severe dust mite allergy that’s causing my asthma to flare pretty dangerously, so we need to replace with solid surfaces in the bedroom, which is going to require some negotiations with our condo association.

      We can do it, it’s just going to be a massive pain, and I’m not looking forward to it.

      (Re: your garden, don’t forget that autumn is the time to plant bulbs!)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Wait what does the condo association have to do with the INTERIOR of your home?

        1. Filosofickle*

          Many condos/apartments have rules requiring carpet or covering hard flooring with rugs, because walking on hard surfaces creates tons of noise for the people downstairs. It’s actually a good thing IMO.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, exactly what Filosofickle said — we have rules about hard surface flooring on upper-floor condos, which is fair enough. We’re leaning towards LVT anyway, but with a soundproofing underlayment it should be almost as quiet as carpet.

          1. Dancing Otter*

            Rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpet are good with dust/mold/dust mite allergies, because they can be taken up for cleaning. My parents had a service provider who came and got them, without the octogenarians having to move the furniture, and put them back after cleaning.

    8. ThatGirl*

      We finally got around to replacing our 25 year old toilets this summer and it’s a small but needed improvement. I’ve also been on an organizing tear, cleaning surfaces thoroughly and better organizing the kitchen. The world is chaos, I’m bringing order to my kitchen.

    9. knitter*

      We’re doing a full renovation to make our home handicap accessible for my child. I actually like DIY/construction but as we are living so far away from the project (only way we could afford to move out), I haven’t been able to do anything.

      Once the contractor finishes, we’re going to do the backyard (or as it is known currently-mud pit) ourselves. Hopefully that includes a patio, a vegetable garden and a sensory garden. We’ve been growing veggies for years and are very much looking forward to an upgrading our raised beds now that we are more experienced (well and a backhoe took out our old ones…). There is no way we could do any planting this fall, so we’re planning on prepping spaces with weed fabric so that unwanted stuff doesn’t grow in.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Just a thought…hide a few crocus bulbs in random places in the lawn. They are usually done by the time lawns are ready to mow. No worry about disturbing them in the spring when you decide to dig in the beds. And they’re not squirrel candy like tulips.

    10. Ali G*

      We started out strong with a lot of COVID projects, but we petered out once all the low-hanging fruit was done. But I am going to re-paint a bathroom and our laundry room, which includes stenciling a patter on the ugly orange tile floor. So that should be fun.
      We are also researching lighting for the yard. I think we are going to do plug-in string lights, but we haven’t decided yet.

      1. All Monkeys are French*

        I got plug-in string lights for my walkway and patio and I love them. I recommend getting a light sensor for them. Mine go on at dusk and turn off a set number of hours afterwards, which I can adjust or override with a remote.

        1. No fan of Chaos*

          If you need advice on a diy project, go to the hardware store in the morning and ask a old guy clerk in the department. They are usually retired and working part time for the health insurance. Got my best tips from them.

    11. voluptuousfire*

      My dad passed in May and most of it is de-cluttering the house. I did some of that this weekend–I donated 10 bags of clothing to a local church that does pick ups.

      I have a 4 day labor day weekend so I’m hoping to:

      1. Get my new Purple mattress set up and haul the old one down to be tossed for the next garbage collection.
      2. Clear out the back porch that’s the subconscious of the house (aka where everything you don’t want to deal with is) and shred 13 years of utility bills.
      3. Get my new storage shelves (so excited!) set up so I have organized space for things on the back porch.
      4. Mop back porch floor because I dont even know the last time that was done, if ever.
      5. Organize the clothes I have on my bedroom floor for keep and wash or donate. I havent progressed past my teenage years with clothing storage. :)

  9. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I have very few large tomatoes, yet a pile of cherry ones grew this year. I also dug up a few potatoes! It has been a bad year due to the drought but at least I enjoyed it and am getting something.

    1. Lena Clare*

      It’s going well!
      It’s funny because a couple of regular workmen who call to do jobs at my house have both expressed surprise at the front garden and said it looks nice. I’m not doing it for other people obviously, I did it for me, but I’m pleased that they’ve noticed!

      Couple of questions re my red robin tree:
      It has green fly and is covered in ants, how to get rid without bug killer?
      It’s been in a pot for yonks, will I be able to plant out in the ground or do you think it’s pot-bound by now? If so will I be able to repot it into something bigger?

      1. Zooey*

        The ants and the greenfly are probably connected – ants will ‘farm’ greenfly and it’s a pain because they keep bringing them back even if you clear them. You can get ‘fruit tree grease’ which you put on the trunk to stop ants crawling up. Then you can remove the greenfly with warm soapy water (if it’s not too big) and you have a better chance of keeping them off. (I don’t actually know what a red robin tree is though so apologies if it’s a shape where the grease isn’t going to work.)

        1. Lena Clare*

          That’s really interesting thank you. I will get the grease, hopefully that’ll sort it. I’ve been removing the green fly with soapy water, but they keep coming back, except now I know the ants keep bringing them back. Ants’re farmers hey? That’s kind of cool!

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I am a beginner gardener. I have a raised veggie planter box that I moved to a new location bc of work we are having done in the old location. Not only am I a noob, but we have iguana, so many iguana! I tried growing veggies a few years ago but they ate everything the night b4 I was going to cut my first greens!

      I am researching powdered coyote urine as a repellent but I also have planted mint and basil. I experimented a bit last time and they stayed away from those. So lots of pesto and mojitos in my future, I hope!

      1. knitter*

        While we don’t have iguana, a very bold groundhog took out our first garden. Then a skunk (or maybe several) moved in the next year to the groundhog’s empty den. Aphids (?) took out our brussels sprouts and kale. We don’t grow brussels sprouts anymore but now use neem oil and marigolds for the kale.

        No suggestions for the iguana–only hope you’ll eventually live in harmony with your backyard wildlife. Though to be honest, the only living thing I’m excited to see in my garden is earthworms.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I almost hate to say this but… I’ve eaten iguana.
        Like dandelions & lionfish, if you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em. (I acknowledge that catching them in a neighborhood could be tricky.)

    3. Kathenus*

      I’m a brown to black thumb person, great with animals, not so much with plants. But I have a large pollinator garden in my backyard that is up to about 8′ tall in some areas. And out there I also have a compost pile that appears to be growing some large melon plant with a melon just starting to grown on it. Looks like a watermelon but I can’t for the life of me remember tossing watermelon out there, but I could have and forgotten I guess. Betting the outdoor critters will get to it once it ripens before me though.

    4. MinotJ*

      Sad story. I had to rip out all of my Brussels sprouts (6 plants) to save my kale and collards. The sprouts were a fun experiment this year since we’ve never grown them – and I never intended to eat them due to parental cooking methods that turned me off sprouts for life. But they got hit hard by cabbage moths, which I thought I could deal with, but then the aphids!

      By the end, I had used more spray (bt and neem) on the sprouts than I had on the rest of the garden combined. And still, brushing past them or spraying them made a cloud of moths come up, and the flies were disgusting (eating aphid sap or dead aphids?) My partner cares more about the kale and collards and wasn’t really in the mood to eat bug-infested tiny produce, and there was no way I’d ever share this disaster with anybody else. So I ripped it out. Half a raised bed on a failed experiment that we’ll never try again.

      1. knitter*

        I just commented above about a similar experience with brussels. And also, cutting the brussels off the stalk is super time consuming, so that is one of the few veggies we buy from the store when our garden is growing.
        Marigolds also helped with aphids on kale. I barely any neem oil once we started marigolds.

        1. MinotJ*

          Ha! My post got eaten and I had to rewrite a few times, so I promise I wasn’t ignoring yours. I appreciate the marigold advice – my partner bought seeds but I refused to plant them because I didn’t believe it worked (and also I’m not fond of them; they make me feel “poor”).

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Try looking up up marigold landscaping to feel better about a flower your partner likes. They’re all over vineyards, and in many a glorious formal garden.
            I went to Uncle Google and found marigold beds at the Hampton Court flower show, the courtyard garden at Waddeston Manor, England, and then sidetracked myself with salad ideas. (The petals are edible.)
            They’re sturdy…but oh the variety!
            And there’s nothing so decadent as flowers that give enough blossoms you can bring them inside without damaging your garden.

    5. Ali G*

      My peppers are going crazy. I should be making hot sauce next weekend! The rain has been insane. We haven’t had to water anything in 6 weeks (except the stuff in pots that are covered by the porch).

    6. Parenthetically*

      We lost a couple of cucumbers amongst the leaves and found them much later, ENORMOUS. A ladder and two adults were required to get them out from the inside of the frame!

            1. Parenthetically*

              Yeah, the peel and seeds are going away and then we’ll see if it’s sweet enough to shred for a raita. We eat a lot of food from cuisines that have cucumbery-yogurty sauces on the side so if that works we’ll definitely be able to use it all!

              1. allathian*

                Tzatziki? Anyway, I’m glad you’ll be able to use the overgrown cucumbers. When I was a kid, my dad grew zucchini, and he always let most of them grow too big, until the seeds were loose and the inside was almost as wooden as in a Jack O’Lantern pumpkin that’s meant to be carved rather than eaten. The biggest were the size of an adult man’s thigh.

    7. Blue Eagle*

      My garden is both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating because I started Roma tomatoes from seeds from a tomato I purchased from the grocery store in early April and they were finally ready to start picking last week (and they are delicious!). Frustrating because something is gnawing on the Celebrity tomatoes – – this is the first year that I’ve lost tomatoes like this. They gnaw out about 1/8th of a tomato, but in any event the tomato is ruined and they don’t bother coming back for the rest of the tomato, they just start gnawing on another tomato. I’ve lost about 15 tomatoes so far (and five last night). Chicken wire has been unavailable for the entire summer so this morning I wrapped the garden in plastic. Not sure how that will work though, and I’ll definitely need to find some chicken wire before next summer.

      1. MinotJ*

        I’m having a similar tomato situation. It seems so gross! I just imagine a nasty disease- ridden squirrel licking every tomato on the plant before deciding to nibble THAT one.

      2. retirement is all it's cracked up to be*

        Chipmunks are doing that to mine. I have to pick them at the first hint of color and ripen them on the windowsill inside. Grrrrrrrr.

    8. knitter*

      No garden this year, which makes us very sad. This is usually when we would be harvesting tomatoes and making gallons of sauce.

      We’re doing a renovation to make our house handicap accessible and the yard is a mess. But we are so excited to upgrading our garden next year now using the knowledge we’ve developed. We’re also going to add some fruit trees and a wildflower/pollinator garden to our front yard (so we don’t have to mow!).

    9. Nita*

      Pretty good! Lots of tomatoes, and I picked the biggest squash I’ve ever seen. Too bad I didn’t think to weigh it, but it was pretty massive. We’re finally getting lots of rain, and the hot snap seems to have ended, so I’ll be planting the fall crops soon. The backyard is a total loss this year, though – some kind of sinkhole opened up, and the repairs took out all my plantings (not that most of them were growing anyway…)

    10. Portia*

      I have an althea (Rose of Sharon) shrub that has never done well since I planted it in early summer. It has full sun, but it’s spindly with very few leaves, and buds that shrivel or produce sick-looking flowers. I think it’s getting enough water, but it never perks up even after deep watering or a good rain.

      I’m debating whether I should a) leave it where it is and see if it improves once the heat of the summer passes b) move it across the yard and plant it next to another althea that is doing fine (they are different varieties and were planted at different times) or c) dig it up and put it in a big pot so I can move it around to different levels of sun, and see if it starts leafing out more. I would kind of like to get it out of that spot, since it’s a prominent place in the garden and it’s not a very inviting sight, but I don’t want to transplant it if it’ll kill it. What would you do?

      1. Dancing Otter*

        I’d check the soil pH for starters.
        Were there evergreens there previously, because they poison the soil for anything else?
        Soil amendment and fertilizer can make a world of difference.

        1. Portia*

          Thanks, I’ll look into that! No evergreens there before, and everything around it is growing fine.

  10. WoodswomanWrites and California wildfire thread*

    After last weekend’s posts, I’m wondering how others in Northern California are doing with the fires.

    I mentioned last week that a friend had lost her home in the fires. A bunch of us contributed to a gift card and some treats that one person delivered to her. She’s settled at a good place temporarily while she figures out her next steps. Some friends who were evacuated in the Santa Cruz Mountains fire have been allowed to return, and thankfully their communities were spared. Others I know have been in evacuation warning zone for more than week, taking things day by day.

    My asthma was initially controlled by meds, herbs, and air filters, a combination that has served me well in the past. But the intensity and duration of these fires resulted in my breathing going downhill. Since I’m lucky enough to be able to work remotely anywhere, I shared with those at work that I was leaving, and headed to a hotel on the North Coast for clean air and some time with redwoods for a few days. It’s been glorious and my lungs have recovered. I’m not thrilled about heading back home this weekend.

    Long-term, I’m going to have to figure out something sustainable. The smoke isn’t going to disappear anytime soon and I don’t have a fortune to spend on hotels.

    1. Grim*

      I’m with you regarding the smoke. I’ve been staying inside for 10 days straight and fortunately have AC. Smoke still creeping inside though little gaps, but the worst has been sore throat off and on. Breathing a bit constricted.
      Enjoyed the fresh air due to the wind direction changes on Wednesday/Thursday. It was so great to get out and walk and see blue ski for a change. Sleeping in the cool air overnight was so nice; left most of the windows open. Smoke came back and now hibernating inside once again.
      I pray you can find a long term solution so you can breathe and stay healthy.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Thank you. I might have to invest in a portable air conditioner. I’d rather not because my rental apartment is already small and a new clunky appliance wouldn’t fit conveniently anywhere. The building is very old and the windows don’t seal well, which is part of the problem, and despite repeated requests to have that fixed, it hasn’t happened.

        I actually spent some time a couple days ago scanning affordable furnished rentals in the area I’ve temporarily retreated to to get away from the smoke. There were a few simple places scattered among the fancy vacation places with big views and beach access in the event that turns out to be the only option. I’m talking with my doctor on Monday about what she suggests.

        Some good news is that I’ve received permission to access the air-conditioned building for that place we don’t discuss on weekends whenever I need to go there instead of being remote from home. There’s barely anyone and it can be done safely. In the immediate term, that’s going to really help while I figure out a more long-term strategy.

    2. PollyQ*

      I’m still not in any danger from the fires, nor do I expect to be given the geography. (mid-peninsula city) We had a couple of good air days mid-week that got my hopes up, but yesterday & today have been pretty awful. Fortunately, the air filter I’d ordered arrived, so I set it up and it seems to be helping. The % containment on the fires keeps going up, so that’s great. However, it’s obviously that it’ll take at least another week before they’re completely out, but then we’re still only in the beginning of fire season.

      IDK. I’m a tremendous weather baby — I hate snowy icy winters and hot humid summers, so that limits where I’d want to move within the US. But living with 2-3 months of wildfires and miserable air quality every year doesn’t seem particularly livable either.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’m glad your air filters are helping. I don’t know how I’d manage without mine. I even purchased one specifically designed for the car because my asthma is increasingly reactive as time goes on.

        So good to hear about the increased containment. I learned today that the North Bay region where I have multiple friends was removed from the evacuation warning list related to the Woodward Fires at Point Reyes. They’ve had to be ready to evacuate anytime. I’m relieved that their community is safe.

        I’m seeing your comment about putting the fires out. I’m not sure which ones you’re referencing–there are way too many!–but for much of the fire zones, containment is all we’re going to get until the winter rains, whenever they may be. I’m sad that this is the best outcome we’re looking at rather than putting them out entirely. Months more of smoke, even if diminished from the level we’re at now, is disheartening. Climate change is tough.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      A friend of mine lost his home in the fire too. I contributed to a gift card. I ordered him some books to be sent to a relative’s house but of course now they seem to be lost in the mail (it’s been over a week). I don’t know what to do from a distance. Normally I’d go over to him and hug him so hard, but…. The good news is that he’s got a free place to stay from some nice strangers who were willing to loan their house while it’s on the market. So mostly I am just doing check-in texts. He puts on a stoic face so I am just trying to distract him with funny stuff, more or less.

      I’m seriously debating risking my health to go see him, because this is just TOO BAD to leave someone alone like this. I’m okay other than having gone to medical appointments in the last 2 weeks, but he’s out and about with people every day due to work and plus fire stuff, so it’s …. well, you know. I feel so bad for him and I really want to do whatever I can and it all feels so useless.

      My friend in Santa Cruz is okay, but she’s 70 and has 3 fire refugees in her house and it’s not big enough to social distance really….. I’m trying not to think about this too hard.
      I don’t go out except for one day to go to the dentist, so I haven’t been exposed to the air. I’m told it’s better these days.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        That sounds really hard. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend who lost his house. What a kindness that people who didn’t know him provided him a place to stay. It must be hard to be so far away. The COVID situation on top of the fires is just too much. Can 2020 be over already?

    4. Double A*

      The air quality where I am is finally improving, but I dropped $600 on air purifiers last week and just got 2 of them delivered and running yesterday. I am hoping air purifiers will be a somewhat long term solution as I can’t and don’t want to move. We just stared letting my daughter go outside a little after a week inside. I’m feeling better having an air purifier in her room now at least.

      I think with climate change you have to pick your poison. More fire out west, more floods and wind to the east and south. You can’t run away from it.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’m sure your air filters will come in handy again. I’ve had mine since 2017 and use them every year now. While I’m eventually planning to move northward near the coast in far northern California, Oregon, or Washington that’s years away. I’m committed to being here for my mom in her 90s, and for my job because it will be some years before I’ll be able to afford to retire.

        You’re spot on about climate change. It’s not like it’s an isolated phenomenon we can get away from by relocating. It just manifests differently based on geography.

      2. PollyQ*

        I think with climate change you have to pick your poison. More fire out west, more floods and wind to the east and south. You can’t run away from it.

        Excellent, albeit depressing, point.

  11. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing.
    I havent’ gotten much done myself, unfortunately, but still chugging along.

    1. river*

      I’ve just started my second draft, and already I’ve changed quite a few things. They’re all improvements I hope, but I worry that I’m veering away from the intended ending, so I’m trying to keep myself on track, without stifling my creativity too much. I don’t get much alone time anymore, with everyone at home all the time. I keep putting off my writing sessions until I have a bit more time, which always turns out to be a mistake, because I forget the flavour of the scene I was going to write. To combat this, I spent today collecting inspiring images and sticking them in a notebook with notes to help me remember my scene plans. It feels like more work, but I think it will pay off long term.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, I definitely find having a notebook with me at all times helps (or you could use your phone for that purpose). I basically write in it every time I think “eh, I’ll remember that later” because spoiler alert: you never remember it later.

    2. midnightcat*

      I‘ve got an idea for a novel that I’m seriously excited about – I’m plotting and building characters at the moment. I did wonder whether to do NaNo but I’m not sure how helpful I’d find it – anything involving a community is just going to be a distraction for me frankly.

      At the moment I just need to figure out how names might work (it’s set in the future).

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        From what I gather you don’t particularly have to participate in the community aspect of it, there’s plenty of people who don’t and plenty of people who set their own lower word count goal. Maybe one of the people here who actually do NaNoWriMo can elaborate on that.

        1. midnightcat*

          Oh I’d still want to do the full word count. I just figure it might be more of a distraction than anything.

          But I’m hoping that, by telling myself I can only plan and not write in case I want to do NaNo, I might find I’m dying to get stuck in.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            You don’t have to officially sign up for it if you don’t want to; you can just use the concept to make yourself work on your chosen project. I used it to get moving on Book 2 in 2018 but I didn’t finish it until Christmas.

            I’m so slow, lol. I’m only now revising.

            1. midnightcat*

              Thanks for the info! I’ve joined the website but there’s zero going on in my area so I’m confused about how to pick a group anyway.

    3. Laura H.*

      I’m on a weird kick that I’m not complaining about, but those always seem to take my chapters directions that I don’t anticipate them going. But it’s looking like I’ll get some cute domesticity out of it from a character who can’t get it canonically. Brb, dying of cute/domesticity suits him and it so shouldn’t.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I always feel a little sad going past this…writing has become a 4-letter word starting with w that we discuss on Fridays.
      Not that I ever expected to earn a living with poetry and short stories, but I am regretting I haven’t even done copy-editing for so long.
      Goals.

    5. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      The great news is that my second novel is complete. Now I’m just debating myself on the best way to share it with the world. Am I selling myself short by going immediately to self-publishing versus taking a shot at the traditional route (auditioning for an agent and then having them sell it to a publishing house)?

      Ideally, I’d love to see my novel published the “glamorous” way. But in an absolute best-case scenario, if I go the traditional route, by the time I find an agent willing to represent me (which I wasn’t successful in doing the first time), they sell the novel to a publishing house, and it goes on their schedule to publish, it will take years for it to hit the shelves/show up wherever ebooks show up. And that’s if it happens at all, which there’s probably a <1% chance of happening. (I didn't get past the "sell it to an agent" phase the first time.) I'm worried that by the time I manage to sell people on the novel and it's released, there might not be much of a world to release it to, given everything going on (pandemics, increasingly extreme weather, increasingly extreme politics, etc.) Is this the wrong attitude to have?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        No. People will still read. And we don’t have any idea how the future will be so keep making art.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        People turned to all kinds of art during lockdown, so you’re safe in that regard.
        Honestly, one of the big things to keep in mind regarding independent publishing is that you will also be 100% responsible for all of your marketing, which may or may not be your thing. Traditional publishing handles all that for you but also takes a bigger cut of the profits. Not to mention if you are any kind of minority (IE not a straight white male) you might also have a more difficult path in traditional publishing.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I produced a paperback for the collection. But I accidentally deleted my proof order. I had to wait until it went live to get an author copy. The digital proof looked fine and it went through the review process without getting kicked back, so I assume it’s all good. Guess we’ll find out when it gets here!

      I’ve also made some good progress with revising Book 2. Struggling a bit with structure; I wanted to do a parallel thing in two sections that intersect, but I’m not sure that will work.

    7. Aerin*

      I’m struggling with this action sequence because it’s so clear to me when I visualize it, but trying to explain what’s going on in a cramped space, while also trying to explain how the magic works, is challenging. And in thinking through it up to this point I’d sort of glossed over a couple of details, so I’ve reached the part where I have to actually pin those down. I think I’ve got the trickiest beats out of the way, hoping the rest of it goes smoother.

  12. Analyst Editor*

    I posted really late last week, so I wanted to try again.
    I’m looking at school options for my kids, and wondered about the co-op model. I’m not 100% sold yet. I like the idea for a preschool, where I don’t really care about academics. But for actual school I do care about 1) academics and 2) the additional unifying social experiences of being in school – sports, clubs, etc.

    So if any of you tried it, what is your experience with cooperative schools, whether for elementary grades or middle school or even high school?

    Thank you!

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      I’m not really familiar with the cooperative model you’re describing, but I was homeschooled grades 1-12 (and went on graduate college summa cum laude). We did a co-op for Spanish with a few other families since 1 parent was fluent and had majored in Spanish in college. We didn’t have any other co-ops in our area, but my understanding is they would operate similarly — a parent with specialized knowledge teaching a particular subject.

    2. Observer*

      The actual model can work VERY well, or very, very poorly. It depends on what the other parents value, how well the group is organized etc. If you get a group with similar ideas about academics and a few people who are good at organizing stuff, you could wind up with a very good experience. And a coop can often give you a better social experience that a regular school. Again, that’s not a given but it does work that way for a lot of families.

  13. Mid*

    Has anyone done a First Time Homebuyer Grant? Not the loans, but specifically a grant that is meant to assist you with a down payment? What was your application process like? What were the terms of the grant?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Mine was rolled in with the rest of my mortgage paperwork; I think it was only a couple extra pages. It was written up as a second mortgage with payments of $0, and as long as I stayed consistently current on my main mortgage for two years the “secondary” one from the grant was fully forgiven at the end of the two years. I don’t think I ever thought about it again after my mortgage paperwork to be honest, it definitely wasn’t something I had to do any extra work for or pay further attention to.

    2. lifesempossible*

      Not sure if you’ll see this, but figured I would chime in.

      I qualified for a first-time homebuyer grant. The bank did all the paperwork for me. (I had an awesome agent/lender!) Mine was a program from HUD and disbursed through a regional bank network. It is specifically for low-income households. I believe it was something like you couldn’t earn over the 65th percentile for the county’s median income.

      Mine is a five-year clause. If I sell before five years, I will end up repaying a prorated amount of the grant. The grant was applicable toward downpayment, closing costs, and bank fees. This grant program has funds available in January and then once it runs out, it runs out. You have to reserve your funds and then secure purchase of your home within two months before the reservation expires. I bought a family home, so I already had the other logistics figured out.

      When I was mortgage shopping, only one bank had this grant opportunity. It seems that some banks have particular trade-offs, of course. Ultimately, I chose this one because I wanted the grant program (versus a loan) and the lender made it extremely easy.

  14. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I’m doing ring fit adventure which is…kinda kicking my ass sometimes. I do love how the villain isn’t some fat character representing laziness but a buff dragon who seems to have had body issues and internalised some very toxic fitness culture as a result? That’s the vibe I’m getting, anyway.
    As for my adventures in Divinity: Original Sin…I found the spider queen. Turns out “kill it with fire” is a very bad idea (for the record: poison + fire = explosion).

    1. Mid*

      I’m still playing Stardew Valley. So much Stardew. I love it though, and the simplicity is helping with anxiety.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Ah yes, Stardew is such a great comfort game. Sometimes you just want to plant your pixel parsnips and not care about anything.
        It also gets updated regularly with new content (and a better guinea pig enclosure) so even if you’re like me and drop off for a while, there’ll be plenty of new content when you return, which I adore.

        1. Mid*

          Yes! And the community of players is so kind and helpful. I love it. I’m doing a second play-through, where I’m caring less about the game goals and more about having fun, exploring things slowly, and making a pretty farm. It’s lovely.

      2. Smol Book Wizard*

        Oh, I love stardew! I am currently on my second play-through, this time on the monster farm, and this time with my player character getting married.
        For someone whose love language (cliched I know, but true) is partly “gifts,” Stardew makes me feel so SEEN.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Also, can I just sat how much I loathe how childish Epic is being? “Waaaaah we got called out on our lack of patch notes and wanting to go around our agreement with Apple waaaaaaah”. Tim, finish eating your cookie and go play on the swing set a bit.

      1. Mid*

        Bahahaha is is very accurate. I think a lot of adults should have a snack and a nap before talking about business issues!

      2. Torrance*

        On one of the gaming forums I frequent, someone pointed out the fact that there really is no one to root for in this situation. Epic might have had a valid argument against Apple if they themselves weren’t also engaging in anti-competitive behaviour with the EGS & their ‘exclusives’. My biggest fear is that Apple will cave & this will all be for naught; there is finally someone willing to stand up to Sweeney and I’m living for it.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Honestly, Epic having that video ready so quickly and being able to set up that #FreeFortnite cup so quickly kinda makes me think this whole thing started with the patch notes issue and now Epic is trying to make it about money – kinda like that McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit but now it’s two massive companies duking it out, one of whom has an army of children who will believe anything they say. Do they have a point when saying 30% is a lot? sure, but let’s not pretend Epic actually cares about ethics. They’re a massive company, the whole “ethics” thing is a marketing ploy at this point.
          Frankly, if they did care about ethics, they wouldn’t be using literal children in the way they do.

    3. DarthVelma*

      Still thoroughly enjoying Elder Scrolls Online. We finished up everything in Northern Elsweyr and, because I couldn’t bear moving away from the Khajiit, we’ve moved on to Southern Elsweyr. More Khajiit. More NPCs with awesome attitude and humor.

      And we’re temporary “allies” with a dragon. Who wants us to go find another dragon that owes him a favor. To help fight a bunch of other dragons. I do not think this is going to be as simple as advertised.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        I just started playing ESO this past week and I love it! I’ve been eying it for years but didn’t want to start it while I was in law school. Now that I’m done, my husband purchased the base game for me for my birthday! The expansions are coming soon, but I wanted to make sure that I actually liked playing before shelling out additional money on it.

    4. Stephanie*

      We had a family game night this week, and our son (he’s almost 19) chose the game. We went old school and dragged out the Wii. We played golf, bowling and tennis, and I finally coerced everyone into playing Just Dance. It was lots of fun–so much so that my kids went out and bought extra controllers for my son’s Switch and an unlimited Just Dance download so that we could do it again, with better song choices. It was no surprise at all that my daughter kicked all of our butts at Just Dance, she was a competitive-level dancer as a kid until she was 15 (she’s now almost 22)–think Dance Moms without the toxicity and drama.

    5. Nessun*

      Working on a new toon for my GW2 account, getting the new underwater mount, and geeking out over the teaser trailer for the third xpac. I love expacs, it’s like the shiny newness of an unexplored game but the comfort of toons you already know are going along with you.

    6. Torrance*

      With the next World of Warcraft expansion finally having a release date (10/26), I’ve been trying to get my characters levelled and things sorted before it drops. I thought we’d have more time. T_T

      Though I’ve been distracted this week by the new Dragon Age 4 stuff that was released at Gamescom. The clip of Gareth David-Lloyd in the studio is currently living rent-free in my head, in a good way. At least all the speculation prompted by the concept art will keep the fandom occupied for a few more months.

    7. NeonDreams*

      I played a bit of Kingdom Hearts 3 last night for a couple hours. I like exploring the first level because Hercules is one of my favorite movies of all time. But I find the combat controls a little difficult to maneuver.

      Another Disney oriented game I’m addicted to is Sorcerer’s Arena on my phone. It’s a fighting game where teams of characters face off again each other.

    8. General Organa*

      I wanted to thank everyone for their recommendations and encouragement last weekend on my question about wanting to get into gaming as an adult! This past week I played through A Short Hike and absolutely loved it — it had enough of a story/exploration to keep me curious but the controls weren’t too difficult, and it was very soothing. Thanks again :-)

    9. MCL*

      We’re playing Divinity 2 after spending well over a year or two (intermittant play) on the Divinity: Original Sin game. We love playing split screen coop fantasy dungeon crawlers together on the couch, but it’s a bit hard to find those nowadays. Neither of us has any desire to do any online coops (we play so we don’t have to engage with others!) The Divinity series is scratching that itch. (Also: the Baldur’s Gate games, LotR: War in the North, Star Wars Battlefront splitscreen coop). I wish there were more dual player games.

    10. Nynaeve*

      Today I’ll be playing some Jackbox Games with family and friends. I have some vacation time over the next few weeks, so I’m looking forward to breaking out some of the games I bought in the Steam sale but haven’t played (or finished) yet.

    11. Lucien Nova*

      I’ve been thoroughly devoured (yet again) by Final Fantasy XIV – got back into it in March after a two year hiatus, plowed straight through to the end of Shadowbringers and was all over the recent patch when it dropped. Now I remember why I played this game in the first place; the story just keeps getting better and better!

      (I’ve also taken up tanking, which I swore I would never do…I blame Gunbreaker, it is a most appealing class.)

  15. Mid*

    How do you know if your cat would be happy with another cat in the house?

    My cat is a rescue. She was in the shelter for the first three months of her life, and didn’t come with any siblings. In the shelter, she was kept alone, until I adopted her, and she’s been my only cat since. She’s only about a year and a half old now, so she’s not too old. But, when I had a friend’s cats stay in my apartment for a night due to an emergency, my cat was livid and stressed out. I feel like it’s not a fair assessment of her reaction to other cats, because the intruders were highly stressed and she didn’t get to actually really meet them and interact. But still, it worries me. I don’t have a very big apartment, so it would be hard for the cats to give eachother space while they adjust.

    1. Asenath*

      The only way I know is to try it out first. Mostly, when I’ve introduced cats, it’s gone well, with a little hissing and spitting initially. Once, it was terrible – and I didn’t want to let either cat go since I had no one who would be able to adopt an adult cat. They eventually settled into a kind of a truce, but when one of them died, the other seemed so much happier!

      It can take weeks for cats to adjust to a new situation, too. The first time I did it, I got terribly anxious about their progress, and asked a vet about it when I brought one of them in for shots. She said I should quit trying to referee their fights and let them work out their problems themselves, which worked that time.

      Maybe you could foster for a while with the understanding the cat can go back if it doesn’t work? I get so attached to them so quickly that would be hard for me, and in any case, I didn’t have a foster arrangement in the worst situation, and knew that if I sent the newer cat back where I got her, she’d enter a very competitive adoption situation at a great disadvantage since she was an adult and not a cute kitten.

      1. Anxious Cat Servant*

        I’ve heard so much advice about how letting cats fight it out only causes more problems, etc, but for my grumpy old man cat it’s really the only thing that’s worked. He’s a huge softy and would only hurt another cat if they gave him no choice (he managed to take a notch out of our late black cat’s ear but I’m certain black cat deserved that scar) but he’s grumpy and will make a whole show of hissing and swatting without claws. Usually the other cat figures out how far they can push him and then life’s peaceful.

        Someday I might get a cat that’s normal and who can be put though the normal cat-introduction steps and have it work but for now I’m stuck with my weirdos.

        1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

          Yup. It’s taken…over a year now, but our grumpy girl has *finally* started to open up to the (no longer a) kitten. We couldn’t separate them (largely because our grumpy girl is…insane and if doors are closed, she will not eat/sleep/do anything but cry until it’s opened) so they had to figure it out!

      2. Mid*

        Thank you! I’ve done fostering before (and currently have a foster snake lol) so I think I would probably be okay, especially if the newcomer makes my current cat miserable.

    2. sswj*

      In a small apartment in can be challenging, but it can be done.

      I would look for either a very young kitten, or an older and very chill cat. Very young kittens don’t come to a new place radiating OMG!!! stress vibes, and they are easily reprimanded by older cats without getting snippy about it. On the other hand, they can be hell on wheels – er – paws when they get comfortable, so that’s a factor. If your cat likes to play that’d be great for both, but if she’s shy and not rowdy then that could be an issue.

      An adult cat with a really laid-back personality would work too, it’s just going to take a bit to find the right one.

      Whatever you end up with, you need to find a way to contain the newcomer for a couple of weeks where they can smell but not see each other. I’ve used a dog crate covered with a sheet very successfully for this when I didn’t have a room I could lock them into. Put the crate in a not-too-busy area, and keep it covered in a sheet. They can smell each other and hear each other but not see. Especially if you get an older cat and not a kitten, it allows the new one to feel safe and reduces the stress all around. You can gradually inch up a corner of the sheet so they can peek at first, but each get out of sight if they feel overwhelmed.

      After several days you can lock your cat in a room or another crate and let the new one roam. Let New Kid explore and sniff, and leave his own scent around. It can also help to periodically put New Kid somewhere else for a few minutes, and let your girl go in the holding crate for a good sniff around.

      Eventually take the sheet off the crate, but give New Kid a box or curtained area they can hide in and get out of sight if they need to. Let them meet through the crate, and your girl can investigate and get away if she feels she needs to. Watch and see what she thinks, she’ll let you know!

      When you do let New Kid out to roam, do it for short periods and supervised, especially if you get a real kitten. See how things go. There should be some posturing and swearing, that’s to be expected. If you have treats (Temptations are like kitty crack) you can hand those out as they get to know each other – make the whole thing more positive.

      I would still crate New Kid for a while when you have to be away for any length of time, but eventually they’ll get used to each other and you can put the crate away. Not all cats like having a friend, but most really do once they get used to the idea.

      Good luck, and happy cat-hunting!

      1. Mid*

        Thank you!

        I keep going back and forth on kitten vs older cat. Older cat will be more hit or miss, but a kitten is A LOT of energy, and I’m not home that much (which is why I want to get my cat a friend–when I adopted her originally, I wasn’t working as many hours a week (35 vs my current 50ish) and then working from home full time for a few months and now being back in the office seems to have made her a little sad.)

        1. What the What*

          I think it’s best to get cats around the same age. They are at the same energy level that way, and also the same social stage. Kittens can be challenging for an older sibling because of excess energy, but then be challenging again at 1 year old because they start challenging hierarchy/territory/boundaries a lot more as they reach adulthood.

          Another cat at around 1.5 years is probably the best fit for your cat. Talking from experience and from research. I did a lot of reading about kitty cat socializing when my own cats were having issues.

    3. merope*

      The other replies give good advice about cat-cat interactions, so I’ll talk about why I thought my cat wanted another cat. Cat 1 came from a shelter where the cats were kept in individual cages, and as far as I knew, was never in a multi-cat household.

      What I noticed about her is that she wanted to play chase games with me, frequently, which suggested that she would like a playmate. She was also very calm and curious. I cat-sat for a friend for a month and my cat was quite interested in the newcomer, and that eventually led me to adopt another cat (I joke that the 2nd cat is “her” cat). So, I would consider your current cat’s general disposition as you think about adding another member to your family.

    4. Trixie*

      It can be totally be done, even with a small space. It’s not surprising your cat was stressed by a stranger kitty just showing up due to an emergency. Ideally, you might let your cat hunker down in the bathroom or other for a bit while letting a new kitty explore and become familiar with surroundings. There’s almost always an adjustment phase, but having two cats is so nice for company even if they don’t play together. If your at is a year and half, a playmate/companion is a lot of fun. Especially if you’re not working remotely or expect that to change when you return to working away from home.

      I also liked having a younger kitty and more mature kitty, good balance. My “younger” cat is now 17 years old and I haven’t looked a bringing in a second cat but do think about.

    5. cat socks*

      You could try fostering for a shelter or rescue. Do introductions slowly. I have some books from cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett and she had lots of good tips for introducing new cats. I think all the info is on her site too.

      The general idea is to take it slow. Start with swapping smells. Let them both have a treat while separated by a door, short visual interactions, etc. It may be a slow process depending on the personalities of the cats.

    6. Jackalope*

      Starting with a kitten younger than four months would be best if you can swing it. And echoing the giving them space. The book The Car Whisperer has a really good section on introducing new cats to each other gradually (note that I don’t agree with everything in that book but that section is a good one).

    7. Anon cat person*

      To echo one of the earlier posters, it really depends on the cat you have. I’ve been on the other end of this (an unhappy ending) and it was the worst.

      My spouse and I got two cats as kittens. They were friends. At four months, the boy died. The girl was a single cat for two months, and I had never seen her happier than when she had ALL the attention and could be the center of attention. She liked to be sandwiched between us and cradled like a baby.

      We wanted her to have a friend, so we got another female kitten, maybe three months younger than the first. For five years they were friends, although the older one did occasionally push the younger one around.

      Then we moved, and after a few months in the new place suddenly they were fighting like wild animals. Could not be in the same room without biting, hissing, spraying-urine fighting. It wasn’t a territory problem; our new place was actually bigger. We wondered if the sight or scent of a neighbor dog caused one cat to transfer a stress reaction onto the other cat.

      We kept them apart in the same apartment for six years. Inevitably one would get out and the fighting would happen. We saw behaviorists, tried occasional same-room crating to get them reacquainted. Nothing helped. After years of living together apart, the older cat transferred her stress about the other cat onto my husband and me and she attacked us. Multiple times. It’s a longer story involving more behaviorist appointments, but in the end we had to give up the older cat. At the age of 10. We were really worried about placing a senior cat for adoption. It was horrible and we still miss her. She was meant to be a single cat (or probably would have been fine if her original buddy had lived), and we didn’t know it.

      I’m not suggesting this will happen, only that it can, and that knowing your particular cat will serve you well.

    8. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Apparently you can do make very gentle introductions: first let Cat1 smell something the Cat2 sat on, then let Cat1 smell Cat2 on you. Have Cat2 come round and explore the living room while Cat1 is shut away in another room. When Cat2 moves in, he must first stay in a room away from Cat1. Once they have realised that there’s another cat somewhere else in the home, have them eat, either side of the door where Cat2 is staying. Hearing the other partake of the same food is supposedly a bonding experience. Then gradually you let Cat2 out and after a while you let them meet.

      I wanted to do this to introduce my dog but we sensed that lockdown was coming and the young girl who had the dog and needed to get rid of him begged me to take him before we got locked down. Lockdown was announced literally the day after we took him.
      It went badly because we had to rush it, and because my cat is basically anti-social and also pretty old and frail now, she hides in the bedroom all the time and I’ve been feeling bad about it ever since while also really enjoying having the dog.
      Any suggestions for how to gently improve things most welcome

    9. What the What*

      The big struggle that you have to overcome is that she was alone for the first three months. In my experience, cats who are from bigger litters of kittens will adjust better to other cats. Their formative weeks were spent in big kitten piles, fighting, wrestling, sharing food and space.

      Cats from smaller litters or with no siblings get used to being alone, having their own space and not having to share.

      My experience is that most cats will come to a truce regardless. If you have two loners, they will leave each other alone, define their territories and work around eachother – each respecting eachother’s boundaries. The problem is when you have one “introvert” cat and one “extrovert” cat. Because then extrovert cat will bother introvert cat, never understanding why they can’t fight, wrestle, play, share food and space… because that’s what extrovert cat thinks is normal. This can take years to get to the uneasy truce phase, and introvert cat will never love extrovert cat and will always prefer it if extrovert cat disappears and never comes back.

    10. voluptuousfire*

      I’m pondering this myself. I adopted a cat 3 months ago and I think she’d like a companion. My cat is pretty laid back but seems fairly happy to keep to herself. She has the entire downstairs of the house and seems pretty happy about it. She’ll come out for attention and food and to play, but otherwise she’s an independent lady. She’s about 3.

      The rescue I adopted her from has a 1.5 year old black cat that is super cute and seems pretty friendly. My friend who runs the rescue is fostering him and I haven’t heard about him not getting along with her 3 resident cats. If I didn’t have my cat, I would have adopted him in a second because I want a male black cat. I think they’d like each other but I’m hesistant to move forward since she and I are still getting to know each other. I don’t want to wreck that.

  16. Elisabeth N*

    Question about wedding makeup – I’m getting married next year. I’ve worn makeup twice in my life [when I turned 16 my mom took me to get it professionally done so I could see what it was like and once when was 21 and I decided to try makeup again] I don’t own any. I’ve gathered that this is abnormal and people seem to think I’m out of my mind. My fiancé won’t be wearing any but no one is saying he needs to. Did any bride here go makeup free on their wedding day? Pros? Cons? Any regrets?

    *I don’t care if others wear makeup. I actually think lots of the looks are cool and artistic. I don’t think I’m special or anything, I just don’t like it on myself.

    1. LadyGrey*

      This might not be exactly relevant, but just in case it is helpful, my feelings on makeup are similar to yours – it’s great for folks who like it but not something I like on me. I don’t wear any makeup at all and when I was planning my wedding I thought about this a lot.

      I had only ever had one good makeup experience – when I was in my best friend’s wedding, and the makeup artist took one look at me, said “you don’t like wearing makeup, do you? We’ll just do a few very subtle and natural things so you are comfortable and look like yourself on a great hair day.” I don’t remember exactly what she did but it was very minimal and respectful of my preferences. And I looked great in the photos.

      This experience gave me the confidence to know I could be in control of this aspect of my wedding. Ultimately I did decide to have some makeup but I hired somebody with that perspective and was very clear on what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I was really happy with that choice, for me, and also that was my last time wearing makeup, LOL.

      You will be perfect on your wedding day whatever you decide, and makeup is definitely not necessary! I almost skipped it and I would have been happy with that too. But in case you do decide you want to add a little makeup in, know that you can do it in a way that works for you.

      1. Generic Name*

        That’s awesome! What a talented makeup artist. Every time I’ve had my makeup done professionally, I’ve regretted it. I thought I looked clownish and I’ve washed it off at the first opportunity. When my sister got married, I said no to the professional makeup and just did my own.

      2. MysteryFan*

        I was a photographer’s assistant and worked many weddings. I definitely would urge the LW to do the “just a little bit” method. Photos are different than real life, when your personality animates your appearance as you talk and move. Photos capture just one moment, and a little bit of emphasis to your natural look will make a big difference in the photo results. A makeup artist that understands that you want Just a Little emphasis on your natural look would be worth the cost. Perhaps have him/her do a trial run, just to make sure they are on the same page as you are.

    2. Kiwi with laser beams*

      “I don’t think I’m special or anything”
      As a fellow non makeup wearing woman, I would hope that given the general high maturity level of AAM’s commentariat and good moderation by Alison, nobody was going to make comments of that nature. I’ve seen that kind of thing elsewhere but I have higher hopes for this site.

      I’ve never been married myself, but what leaps out at me is that this is something that is of absolutely no inconvenience to others whatsoever, so if you don’t like it on yourself, I say go ahead and don’t wear it!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I had to read this twice. I think you mean that no one is going to make comments at OP about her own personal choice.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Agree—I’ve seen both sides play out in other circles where women consider themselves far superior because they choose not to wear makeup, alongside the general mentality that women who wear any makeup are lacking self esteem. I 100% don’t get that vibe from OP though and I I’d never expect that kind of haughtiness from this group.

        for OP- I think for any event where there will be professional photography, makeup will enhance anyone’s appearance. The beauty of it now is that anything goes, you can be goth, full glam, natural glam or bare faced. Look around for makeup artists in your area who understand what you’re going for.

    3. Effie*

      I did makeup for some of the women in a close friend’s wedding party, and they loved it. There was a specific woman who sounds like you, and if you’d like I’d be happy to share the products that I used so you could purchase them and test on yourself if you want (and return, if you hate – just buy from Nordstrom or Sephora). We did a very natural, light look, so she basically just looked fresh and awake all day, even when she was exhausted at 11pm. I’m also not a professional makeup artist so almost everything that I do is with fingers (I sanitized my products with isopropyl alcohol and had her use her own fingers so she felt more comfortable), so it’s super easy to apply and practice at home. Let me know <3

      1. Effie*

        also, it is perfectly VALID to not want or like makeup on yourself. I just wanted to suggest since the woman I’m referring to said the same thing, and I asked if she just wanted to look awake, and explained exactly what everything would do before I asked her to put it on, and showed her exactly what to do. She ended up loving it and saying that it was amazing how awake she looked. Having makeup, even light makeup, on may also make you look more awake/fresh in your photos. Absolutely no pressure, just wanted to offer.

    4. Mid*

      The only concern I would have would be looking washed out in photos, but a good photographer and good lighting should make that a non-issue.

      1. Angelinha*

        I feel like people always say this about weddings in particular, but why don’t men look washed out? Or are most men wearing some makeup on their wedding day?

        1. Mid*

          I believe it’s generally due to men having a more prominent bone structure and “harsher” lines in their face, as well as societal expectations. And I did say a good photographer shouldn’t have any issues.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Because all the other women in the pictures probably will be wearing makeup, whereas none of the men will.

          1. CatsAway*

            But women and men take pictures together? So why will only the women without makeup look washed out?

            1. allathian*

              Because the “washed-out” look is standard for men but not for women. Very few men wear makeup, and those who do stand out even more than women who don’t. It’s about managing expectations. That said, there’s a lot a good professional photographer can do with Photoshop and lighting, so it really shouldn’t be an issue.

              I very rarely wear makeup these days, I can’t even remember when I did more than use a bit of foundation cream and mascara. On ordinary working days, even when I was at the office, I rarely even use that much. Our wedding photograph was a snapshot taken by an assistant of the officiant at the city hall where we got married. There are some group photos from our reception that were taken using a digital camera with a timer so all of us could fit in the picture, ours was a tiny wedding with only parents and siblings as guests.

      2. CatsAway*

        Then she’ll look as washed out as any of the men in the wedding party? I really don’t get this line of logic.

    5. Laura H.*

      Talk with your makeup person.

      I’m like you. But I’ve put myself in much more makeup savvy hands when I’ve wanted it for formal occasions. And it’s turned out lovely. They talked me through what they were doing, and as simple as that is, it’s so helpful and helped ease the anxiety I felt at the prospect.

      Your makeup person is there to help you shine and help you feel comfortable with their work.

    6. sswj*

      I didn’t wear any, and I still don’t own or wear anything more than occasional concealer. I just don’t like the feel of it, and I’m too lazy to learn to do it well. It doesn’t interest me at all.

    7. Loopy*

      I almost never wear make up but I will say I was more open to it for my wedding. My only concern was having it help my features be clear in photos, particularly large group ones. But I recognized that was a personal choice because photos were important to me.

      I ended up doing a trial and splurging for a good makeup artist who I knew could make me look natural but also show up in photos with any input from me since I knew nothing and had no opinions beyond that basic premise. I have zero ideas about what colors or looks and so it was much less stressful to just let her decide based on my very general idea.

      I couldn’t tell if you’ve already decided against it, but if you are still on the fence, I’d suggest splurging for a trial where you can specifically get what you’d be willing to consider, such a a very very natural look or feel. And if you don’t want it stand firm! People will probably mention the photo reasoning a lot unfortunately but if you’d regret it, I wouldn’t let anyone decide for you!

    8. Lcsa99*

      I don’t think buying any products for one day is the answer. If you don’t put makeup on regularly,e it likely won’t look nice just because you aren’t used to doing it.

      I would look for a makeup artist and get a trial. Look for pictures of their work so you can find someone who is capable of subtle makeup, and reviews from people similar to you. Then go for a test run and just see how it looks before deciding. It won’t lock you in to anything just getting a trial run but its possible your feelings have changed since you last tried. The key is getting someone that can do subtle makeup. No glamor shots or bright pink cheekbones.

      Your wedding is supposed to be a special day so while it doesn’t have to be makeup, you do deserve to have something that makes you feel extra special and beautiful.

      1. nep*

        The magic is when we can feel extra special and beautiful without help from anything on the outside.

        1. RagingADHD*

          And some people like to do things to make an occasion feel special, because it is different and out of the ordinary.

          Just like wearing special clothes or jewelry and eating special food.

          Wanting to decorate yourself for a special occasion has nothing to do with self esteem. It is another way to celebrate, and people who enjoy it don’t deserve to have digs thrown at them.

        2. TG*

          There’s also magic with doing special abs beautiful on the outside too, if that’s your thing.

        3. Oddy*

          This is such a weird, judgy comment. Women are already damned if we do, damned if we don’t when it comes to everything about our appearance. Do you really think its helpful to make a woman feel bad about wearing makeup to her own wedding?

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I haven’t worn any makeup since an unfortunate dollar store green mascara incident when I was fourteen (and I’ll be 40 this winter), including at any of my weddings, graduations, other people’s weddings, or other major life events, and nobody has ever batted an eyelash that I know of.

    10. nep*

      Makeup not necessary. For whom or what would you be putting it on for your wedding?
      Be fresh, bare, natural, beautiful you–that’s what I would say.

    11. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

      I pretty much never wear makeup, but I was in my early twenties when I got married, and my parents, who were graciously paying for everything, had very strong opinions and expectations on how everything was supposed to look. Mostly, I didn’t mind- it felt ridiculous to push back when they were paying for the whole thing, and most of what they wanted was fine. When I broached the idea of going make-up free to my mom, she freaked and said I HAD to wear makeup because of the photos. I had my sister-in-law do some light natural-looking stuff, and it was fine (and definitely worth saving an argument with my parents). I don’t regret it per se, but I also don’t think it specifically added to my appearance, and if I were to get married at this point in my life (when I’d likely insist to plan and pay for it myself), I would have pushed back and gone make-up free. Do whatever makes you comfortable, unless you have a good reason (like someone bankrolling the whole thing if you’re willing to make a few concessions)!

    12. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You definitely don’t have to do makeup. If you wanted to consider a subtle look for the photos, many makeup artists will do a free or cheap test run so you can try it out.

    13. HannahS*

      I’m similar. I was considering wearing, like, tinted lip balm or something for my wedding, and then the pandemic happened and we ran out and got married before restrictions tightened to the point where we couldn’t. So, white dress, no makeup, hair that looks exactly how it normally looks. We have photos (cell phone photos, mostly), and when I see them, I see that I look like myself. My husband also looks like himself. It’s us in fancy clothes. I regret a number of things about my wedding–that my parents couldn’t be there, that we couldn’t celebrate with our families and friends–but the makeup part is not something I’ve spent a single second thinking about since.

    14. Thankful for AAM*

      I also don’t wear makeup ever. I’m pretty sure I got blush and maybe pink eye shadow for my wedding and someone helped me put them on.

      I see several commented that they asked for a natural look from a makeup person and were happy. I’ve had “natural” looks from makeup people a few times in my life at parties or weddings and they were all waaaay too much makeup for me and I did not look like me. So I think the best advice is to have the makeup done ahead of time so you can try it. Plan to take photos the day of the sample makeup (friends with phones is good enough). Have a lunch with friends or do engagement style photos at your favorite place – fun things you might want to commemorate and maybe include in your wedding prep memories.

      My point is, get the makeup done and live in it for a day and take photos so you can see if you are happy with it.

      And congrats on getting married!

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I meant to add that my essentially no makeup look was no big deal at my wedding or in the photos and is not something I have ever thought about since.

      2. Natalie*

        Definitely do a trial run. I don’t wear makeup but I had a light natural look done for my wedding and the trial was crucial. The makeup artist did each half of my face differently so I could compare some different looks, and we also talked about choosing products that would feel natural and not be super finicky or require touch ups. We did make some changes as we talked through the options and what I wanted, so I’m glad I was able to do that on a random Saturday.

    15. Emily*

      I think it’s fine if you decide not to wear makeup – your preferences are more important than anyone else’s gendered expectations. You can consider if you’d like a small amount of natural-looking makeup for photography reasons, but it’s okay if you think about it and decide that you aren’t interested.

      (For the record, I am not married yet but think that this is what I’d do – either no makeup or very minimal makeup. I don’t have a problem with makeup on others, but I feel weird when my face doesn’t look like my face.)

    16. Purt’s Peas*

      Yup, wore no makeup. Thank god, because I actually felt like myself and I can recognize myself in my photos.

      You’ll get a lot of pressure to wear makeup and assumption that you’re wearing makeup. The assumption is just part of the wedding industry—the preponderance of brides will wear makeup—and the pressure is telling you that you’ll want to look fresh, tireless, and more like yourself.

      Imo makeup is irrelevant except for these factors: 1. do you want to do this extra thing on your wedding day, 2. do you want it, 3. will you be ok going against the pressure to wear it? These were my considerations, anyway, and I decided nahhhh. I looked pretty fabulous anyway and wore a big princess dress.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yes, absolutely — if you never wear makeup, then the photos won’t look like you! You could see what a makeup artist could do etc but if you don’t wear it and don’t care, it seems unnecessary.

        1. Purt's Peas*

          Yeah, plus, I confess I avoided (and avoid) makeup almost out of obstinacy because of the pressure to put it on. I had to be pretty intensely vigilant and obstinate throughout the preparation process, though, to make choices that would make me feel good and not have my self-esteem shredded by such a happy occasion. Genuinely really difficult and nearly failed, but I’m glad I neither felt like crap about how I looked nor submitted myself to an utter makeover.

    17. ThatGirl*

      So, I do wear makeup, but not a lot, when I got married at 26 I basically wore a light coat of powder foundation, a little concealer and light mascara and lip gloss. Contrasted with a “freebie” Mary Kay tryout that made me look ridiculous, just caked on. I think whatever helps you feel the most confident and beautiful is the right choice. But do think about photos and any shine you want to keep down and take that into consideration.

    18. Jen Erik*

      I had a make-up trial, and really liked the very subtle makeup, but on the day someone different did the makeup and it was a bit more definite and left me feeling unlike myself. I don’t really like the photos. (But this was in prehistoric times, so there weren’t all the many, many photographs there are today.)
      And I’ve a friend, who never has worn make-up, but she did push the boat out on her wedding day, and put a little vaseline on her lips…

    19. Elizabeth Bennett*

      In a previous life I was an actor and now I do a lot of public speaking. I only wear makeup when I need people to be able to see my facial expressions (so when I’m filming or speaking to a crowd). Some makeup is about highlighing your features so people at a distance can see you better or so your face doesn’t wash out on camera. So, I think of it as a functional tool rather than about “beauty” (whatever that is). I don’t wear makeup to day-to-day meetings, etc. I think whether you wear makeup depends on how you perceive of your wedding: if it’s an intimate time between you and your spouse (just with other people there)…no makeup; if you’re more thinking of the ceremony almost as a performance, then makeup might function to help your guests see your face as you get married. Both are equally legitimate ways to approach a wedding (and performance doesn’t mean fake, just recognizes it’s an event with a lot of people watching). Also, so much makeup makes my face itch, so I have to be very careful what I wear. If you don’t wear makeup, I definitely would try it out weeks before the wedding. And I’ve done makeup for a cousin’s wedding who never ever wears it but she wanted it for photos/ceremony, and we did colors that matched her skin tone, lips, etc, just turned up a notch or two and it looked natural, she looked like herself in photos, and she never wore it again. If you have a friend that is good with makeup, they would probably help you, if it’s hard to find a makeup artist you trust. And 100% if makeup feels not good on you, or you don’t like the way it looks, don’t wear it.

    20. Generic Name*

      I used to wear some makeup, but now I wear nothing or just mascara. In the months before my wedding, I was trying to decide if/how much makeup I wanted to wear, so I did a lot of browsing on Pinterest for “wedding makeup looks”. I saw some photos of brides who wore no makeup (they were in a montage of different looks linked on Pinterest). So I’d bet if you search for something like “no makeup wedding” or something you’ll see that you are by far not the only bride not wearing makeup on her wedding day. :)

      For me I ultimately decided to wear light makeup (I found some foundation that didn’t feel gross on my skin) and I like how it turned out. I don’t really look “made up”. I think the main con of not wearing makeup is how your skin normally looks in photos, if that’s important to you. Are you prone to redness or blemishes? Makeup does help with that, but I’ve also found that putting on foundation strips all the color on your face, so then you have to put some of it back on with blush, and then eyeshadow, and then since you’re doing your eyes, you might as well put in some eyeliner….. lol makeup is a slippery slope.

    21. RagingADHD*

      As long as you like the way you look, (and if you’re paying for photos, you like how you look in photos), then there’s no need.

      One of my bridesmaids doesn’t wear makeup IRL, and was sweetly going to try for the wedding, but I told her not to bother. I didn’t want photos of someone I didn’t recognize!

      If you are getting photos or video done, I’d just advise you to get some test shots at the venue or in similar lighting- even just with a phone. Sometimes a little powder, mascara, and lip color helps you look more natural on camera, where you might lose your features if you were barefaced.

      But if pics aren’t important to you, or you’re happy with the tests, then don’t worry about it.

      Weddings make you a lightning rod for other people’s opinions and insecurities. Useful advice will be practical (like have snacks and water handy in case you forget to eat).

      Whenever people make remarks that start with “I can’t believe you are/aren’t going to…” or “But you just HAVE to…” that’s just information about their own preconceived notions. Feel free to ignore it.

    22. JKP*

      I generally wear makeup to work every day and enjoy getting fancy and wearing makeup to go out somewhere special. I have NEVER liked the makeup that was professionally done on me and washed it off as soon as I got home. So your past experience with makeup might be how it was done and less the makeup itself.

      You might enjoy having some makeup on your wedding day, without having all the makeup. Using makeup should be about highlighting the features you like about yourself, so that’s what pops in the photos and what other people notice most. For example, I have very long but very blond lashes. Just wearing mascara and no other makeup really makes my eyes look so much better.

      So you could go no makeup, or you could go partial makeup. Think about if there’s any makeup that might make you feel like you on your best day.

    23. Traffic_Spiral*

      Frankly in this day and age you can basically photoshop the makeup on after (get rid of shine, highlight the eyes and lips, etc.) so if you have a professional photographer don’t bother to do it for the photos. However, if it helps you feel a little extra-special on a special day, go for it. I’d say definitely don’t wear mascara if you’re not used to it because you’ll probably rub your eyes and smear it everywhere.

    24. Potatoes gonna potate*

      to answer the last part of the post questions – I actually regret that my makeup wasn’t heavier. I’ve been wearing makeup since 16 (I’m 35 now) and I love it. I got married in 2007, and the market for south Asian wedding makeup was still a bit lacking.
      the general preferred look at the time was subtle and soft. I’ve done heavier looks on random work days now.

      Anyways everyone loved it but I didn’t like it. I felt like (and still do) that I can look like myself any day, if I’m paying $$$ I want to look full glam. Thankfully the market is more saturated now so there’s more to choose from.

    25. nm*

      I say if you don’t like makeup then don’t wear it to your wedding! Yes, it’s unusual statistically. But it’s *your* wedding!

      Makeup or not, be sure to try out the full look at Least once before the big day, so you have a chance to adjust anything you feel needs adjusting!

    26. Esmeralda*

      I wore lipstick and a bit of blush.
      I was happy, so I looked good and so did the photos.

      If you don’t like wearing it, no need to wear it for your wedding.

      No one is going to notice or care that you did/didn’t wear makeup. Anyone who does, F em. Haha, maybe don’t say that! Say: “Hmm, I’ll think about it!” Make no promises, don’t get into a discussion or argument or defending yourself. On your wedding day, do/don’t wear makeup. Too late then for anyone to make you do what you don’t want to do!

    27. Eeeek*

      You may not like how you look in pictures without it would be my only thought. But you certainly don’t have to wear it! I mean if your fiancé is a man that’s why no one suggested he wear it. I get the point you’re making but if you don’t want to wear makeup, just don’t.

    28. CatsAway*

      If you don’t want to then don’t. I don’t like makeup so I don’t wear it. I was the only female member of my sisters wedding part who didn’t wear makeup and, despite what a commenter on another site told me, my natural face didn’t ruin all of her photos.

    29. PollyQ*

      Be yourself! There’s nothing wrong or “abnormal” or, god help us, “out of your mind” about not wearing makeup at any time, including at your own wedding. If you don’t want to wear makeup, then you don’t have to, and anyone who says otherwise can be safely ignored.

    30. Jackalope*

      Echoing what everyone else said about a) do whatever you want and it will be fine and b) if you do decide to go for it, make sure you do a trial run. I had planned for most of my life not to wear makeup at my wedding, and then suddenly the week beforehand I decided I wanted some. Two of my best friends had offered to do my makeup if I wanted it (in a no-pressure way), so we got a couple of things and it was so low-pressure and easy. One of said friends is now my housemate so I just asked her and she said the biggest thing was a mattefying (sp?) sunscreen that wasn’t makeup but made my skin look a bit softer. They also did a bit around my eyes so you could see them a bit better in pics and a tiny bit of blush since I tend to wash out. (For the record I don’t think my husband wore any but he would have been more comfortable with it than me since he’s done a certain amount of acting). I personally would have hated having a professional do it but two good friends who know me well and are both good at this sort of thing was perfect. BUT I was fine going either way. I’m glad I made the choice I did but it wasn’t a big deal and I would have been glad without it.

    31. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      You can hire a make-up artist who’ll give you a totally natural look while making sure your skin doesn’t look shiny in photos, and covering up any unsightly blemishes that might break out in the days before the wedding. Then if you don’t like it you can always wash it off, but it’s worth a try for the photos.

    32. Observer*

      If you don’t like makeup that’s fine. If you think that you might sometimes look better and want to look a bit different, but still YOU for a special occasion like your wedding, then makeup is something worth looking at.

      If you do decide that you want a “dressed up” look for your wedding, you should look for a makeup artist that will accommodate what you are looking for. It’s important to find someone who respects and understands what YOU want to look like and is able to accomplish that – or tell you that they can’t.

      My first experience with a makeup artist was not a disaster, but if that has been my primary experience with makeup I would never have used makeup again. It looked officially good, but everyone joked around that they didn’t know who I was. It was a look that was TOTALLY not me. Nothing since then has been quite as bad, but a lot of makeup folks do have a bit of a problem working with a person’s preferred style and look. It’s generally not deliberate, but still annoying.

      Interestingly enough my most surprisingly good experience was at a makeup counter, for my daughter. She’d gone somewhere else and we were both underwhelmed by the job. Not terrible, but just not impressive. Too much work and expense for minimal positive effect, plus less than optimal color choices. I was a bit worried about sensitive skin, so I took her to a Clinique counter, and the person there did a phenomenal job. It didn’t need a ton of product, and it really looked good on her. It was HER, just a bit more “best foot forward”. And she showed us what she would add for a more “dressed up” occasion.

      The bottom line is that not wearing makeup for your wedding is probably untypical, but that doesn’t matter – presumably your fiance knows that you don’t do makeup, and his is the only opinion that you should even think about. (Before anyone jumps down my throat, I’m not saying that he has the right to demand it or that the OP “needs” to wear it if he wants, but just that when you are marrying someone, their opinion on matters relating to the wedding matter in ways that no one else’s does.)

      *IF* you decide to go that route, find someone who has the technical ability and who also has the sense and sensitivity to understand what you would be after.

    33. Aerin*

      I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis, but if I’m going to be photographed I’ll usually wear at least eyeliner and maybe foundation if I’m feeling splotchy. Recently I’ve found some good lipstains (which I prefer because I don’t like the waxy feel of lipstick) so I might add that on as well.

      Doing engagement photos or some other trial with your photographer would be a good idea. You can go without makeup and see how the photos turn out, which should help you figure out how you want to proceed. You might maybe see that you want to emphasize one feature, like bringing out your eyes, but are fine with everything else.

      If you are gonna do makeup, I’d definitely hire someone to do it for you. They’ll have the supplies and the experience so you don’t have to worry about lacking either. Personally, I had the person who did hair for my whole wedding party also do my makeup, and she was great. I actually went back to her for my hair and makeup when we did a black-tie dinner for our 5th anniversary.

  17. ThePear8*

    I went through my first breakup today. It was amicable, I think we both realized we just weren’t right for each other’s needs and we ended it in good terms and agreed to stay friends. But that doesn’t make it any less hard – I feel so polarizing between all the hurt leading up to ending this relationship and the relief that it’s over and I can focus on myself. I know I’ll be ok, I’ll get through it, it’s just so hard right now. Any good advice/stories for handling a breakup? Or for pulling back from being a partner to just being a friend?

    1. AGD*

      It’s like undergoing surgery. It feels so weird and wrong and awkward – but the more time passes, the clearer it becomes that it would have been worse not to do it. I was dealing with the same mixed sense of liberation and continuing disbelief that things had ever gotten so bad at the end of the relationship stage, so well understood.

      Personal hobbies, adventures, interests, and quirks you haven’t been able to lay attention to in a while are all suddenly options! What are some things you weren’t able to do much with your ex and now miss? Paying a ton of attention to those is something that helped me.

      I found that my ex and I didn’t talk much for the first 6-8 months after our breakup and then were pretty timid at first about trying out being friends. But we eventually found new routines and stuck to them. It’s been years and years now and we are still close friends; our relationship is a funny little thing that happened a long time ago! A few times early on we had to be very straightforward and honest with each other about boundaries. (What can and can’t be joked about? With a lot less interest in touching each other, where do we stop now?) But it can absolutely be done. :) Wishing you all the best in healing and navigating a new friendship.

    2. Mystery Bookworm*

      YMMV but I have not found a way to transition from romantic partners to friends that doesn’t involve a fairly significant break. For me, that has to include social media.

      Things that have helped me in the past:
      – finding some engaging entertainment that’s not focused on romance
      – taking up a new hobby or planning a trip
      – seeking out other breakup stories

    3. Treebeardette*

      I’m sorry you’re going through that. I found breakups hard because you flip flop back and forth that they aren’t good to be with but you’re an adult and could have made it work. It’s just as easy to think about the flaws of the other person as it is to think about the good memories.
      I learned that I was happy because I wasn’t alone. I was under because the other person didn’t support in the ways I needed. My needs are just as important as his. I deserve a loving and fulfilling relationship. Treat yourself like you would a friend. When you cry, tell yourself it’s ok to cry. When you are laying in bed all day, take yourself to get some ice cream..

    4. allathian*

      It’s possible to go from a romantic relationship to a friendship, but rarely without a significant break with little or no contact in between the breakup and the friendship. It’s really tough to try and be friends as long as you’re still sad about the breakup. When both of you can embrace the end of the relationship as something necessary and good, that’s when you can be friends. One problem is that it may take longer for one of you to get to this point than the other. Perhaps you can be friends again when both of you are dating other people.

      Sometimes people want to be friends after a breakup because the idea of never talking to their former partner again feels impossibly hard. But very, very few people actually manage to remain friends with their exes, so it may not be on the cards. This doesn’t mean that exes necessarily hate each other either. I think amicable acquaintances is something to aim for in most cases. I hope you’ll think long and hard about exactly why you want to stay friends with your ex. Just because your ex wants to stay friends, doesn’t mean you have to want the same thing.

      Admittedly it’s anecdotal, but the only people in my social circle who have remained friends after a breakup were people who drifted apart slowly and fell out of love but without any emotional turmoil. The sexual chemistry was gone but a warm companionship remained and so they stayed friends.

    5. Aza*

      I personally haven’t been able to maintain friendships after breakup. The one time I tried it turned into a friends with benefits situation and wasn’t healthy. I needed a clean break, and when I eventually did that it was much better.

    6. Dan*

      I think “friends with ex’s” is overrated, but then again, I’m sure it depends on the two people involved. When both of my prior relationships ended, it was time to move on, and I felt no real need to “stay connected.” TBH, one didn’t take it well, and was pretty relentless about trying to “stay in touch.” She even went so far as to say, “If I would have known we wouldn’t remain friends after the breakup, I never would have dated you in the first place.” WTF? But ok.

  18. Nail Biter Anon*

    Looking for strategies to stop biting my nails. I know it’s unsanitary and gross (and COVID-19), and I don’t bite my nails in public, but once I’m home I end up biting them off. Please share what worked for you! I know it’s unhygienic but please be kind, I have been trying to stop for years now and nothing seems to work :(

    The times I have managed to let them grow, they’ve been really weak and broke off easily, which led to me biting them off again. At this point I’m worried I’ve permanently damaged my nails. Is there anything I can do to improve my nail health or is it too late for me? Thank you for reading, I really appreciate any responses.

    1. Catherine*

      I swear by Healthy Hoof to grow them back stronger.

      To be honest I haven’t entirely kicked the biting habit but I have trained myself to restrict it to times when I am filing my nails anyway so 1) I’m at home where no one can see me and 2) I’m going to fix those ragged bits literally immediately. I have at least managed to train myself not to bite the whites down past halfway so once I file my nails smooth no one can see my shame.

      Basically, I’ve learned to treat it like tweezing my eyebrows. It only happens when I’m alone and I keep stepping back to make sure I’m not overdoing it.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Always keep a nail file on you and file your nails instead of biting them. Then they might be short but at least they’ll be trim and neat.

    2. Kind of embarrassed*

      One thing that helps me is keeping nail clippers accessible at all times. I have some in my desk (at home!), some in the bathroom, and it’s a small house. Whenever I go to bite the nail I just cut it. My nail biting was kind of self-sustaining in that of something was jagged, I’d bite to fix it, leaving it jagged again.

      I also just keep my nails trimmed short. And I paint them—I’m less likely to bite a painted nail.

      I have not totally beaten my cuticle biting habit so I cannot offer advice on that aspect.

      Oh god I’m realizing I have a kind of (very?) gross answer too. After I trim the nail with nail clippers, I’ll often chew on the cut-off nail indefinitely. Like the little sliver piece. I hadn’t really considered it until just now but that’s probably the number one thing that helps and I’m guessing most people don’t do this. (Sorry to all the non–nail biters reading this!)

      1. Lcsa99*

        I think coronavirus is likely to help too. I’ve learned its a lot harder to chew my pens while wearing a mask.

      2. ex-nail biter*

        You are not alone! I also chew cut-off bits of nail (it is a bit grim now I think about it though). Painting my nails was what stopped me biting.

    3. Another nail biter*

      I so understand how hard this is. I’ve had success for a while but then revert. I was doing fine in the beginning weeks of COVID but as time went on, I started biting again when I’m alone. I’m following this thread for suggestions, too and thank you for bringing it up.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I think you are not a nail biter! My nail biting and cuticle picking laugh in the face of bitter or any other bad tasting attempts to stop me!

    4. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I’m not a nail biter but my sister is, and she once tried to stop using one of those foul tasting nail polish like things. Big downside is if you eat anything like crisps or pralines (or anything you eat with your hands) it gets on that as well, which is why my sister stopped using it (and still bites her nails). So if you go that route, keep that in mind. Maybe if you know how to use chopsticks you can get around this.

        1. Zephy*

          Same! I was gifted a set of travel chopsticks (similar to a travel toothbrush, each stick has a cover that converts to a handle) and they live in my purse for exactly this kind of situation.

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Not gonna lie, Cheetos is part of the reason I learned how to eat with chopsticks. Now I don’t have to meticulously wipe down my hands before touching a keyboard/controller!

    5. Still*

      If you’re able to catch yourself just before / right after you’ve started to bite, it might be worth asking yourself what the trigger is and what “reward” are you getting from the biting. For example, I used to bite my cuticles when I was stressed out or bored. So sometimes I’d be able to catch myself and do something else instead: stretch, do some squats, go make a cup of tea, brush my hair, put on some hand cream, empty the dishwasher… Just some small physical action that would provide the distraction I needed. Try to see what triggers the behaviour and if there’s something else you can do that will scratch the itch or distract you. And good luck!

      1. river*

        I found I would bite my nails most when I was reading or watching tv. I did it mindlessly, so it was hard to stop myself in the moment. I realised it was the chewing that I found stress-relieving (chewing releases endorphins), and so I provided myself with replacement things to chew, like chewing gum (One time it was even the corner of my handkerchief when I was at a movie and ran out of chewing gum) It worked, but it took time, about a year. I did slip up now and then. I also promised myself a reward of a fancy ring.

        The other thing to realise is that your nails will definitely be damaged at first. Mine were weak and broke easily. It’s too soon to grow them to any length. It took two years for mine to heal. During this time, try wearing clear nail polish to add a layer of protection. (not nail hardener! It makes them too brittle!)
        I bought myself a gorgeous ring, and I was no longer shy of people seeing my hands. I’ve never gone back, my nails are like steel, and to this day it’s an achievement I’m proud of.

    6. Lcsa99*

      It sounds weird but keeping my nails trimmed has helped. If I let them get too long they break but if I clip them and file them frequently they grow stronger and stay nice.

      You can also get frequent manicures but thats a lot more expensive than just keeping them clipped and filed. The manicure makes them a lot thicker and harder to bite.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Still fighting it. Things that help me, in the order discovered:
      -Wearing nail polish (at least until the first chip happens, I have to fix it asap or it backfires.)
      -Wearing gloves (Habit from marching band, so I bought myself a pair of cheap white gloves when Covid hit)
      -Physical labor & otherwise being covered in something I wouldn’t want to eat (gardening, painting projects, building things, camping, making yeast bread…the effect keeps up even after I clean off the mess. Doing dishes doesn’t help. Making cookies turns me into CookieDough Monster instead. Oops.)
      -Moisturizer frequently (My fave is Intensive Care Advanced Repair, fragrance free, by Vaseline)
      -Having someone point it out to me when I’m doing it (but my husband stopped because I get pissed off at myself and he felt like it was directed at him.)
      -Not skipping my ADD meds.
      -Forcing myself to throw away every piece I nibble off in a basket immediately every time, no matter how small. (TMI alert…nothing is breaking the habit like spending time with a small sharp shred in my mouth when I’m unable to get to a basket. Destroys the prehistoric satisfaction of the nibbling itself.)
      Good luck!

      1. Deborah Hendrix*

        My nails were a mess. I started with manicures twice a month. That helps to clear up the cuticle problems while the nails grow. One thing to consider is that you probably don’t really know how to care for your nails. The manicures helped me to understand the maintenance involved. Also, it takes some getting used to having nails. I also found, at first, even a sliver of nail felt like it was super long and I had to get used to it. I also didn’t like it when dirt got under them so a nail brush was needed. I don’t like colored polish on my hands but found a clear coat or nail strengthened helped immensely at first. I didn’t want to mar it with bites nor did I pick at it. It gave a nice sheen.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      You might want to look into two things. One is nutrition. The other is “how is life?”.

      Nails need calcium to grow. You also might look at vitamin D to help with calcuim absorption. If you are putting stuff on your nails (polish/fake nails/etc) stop. Nails need air to be healthy.

      My next one is kind of odd and may have nothing to do with you at all, so bear with me. I read an article that nail biting can be correlated to girls/women who privately believe that their mothers are (were) not taking care of them.
      I stopped biting my nails when I moved out. I just stopped. It was like I forgot about biting my nails. I have to chuckle now. When ever I met with my mother’s family, all my nails would break off once I set a date for a trip to visit. Now that is a huge level of stress right there. I had trained my brain to ignore my high levels of stress. We can do that, but the stress comes out in other ways.

      I read this article and a light bulb went on. This is how I just suddenly stopped biting my nails. It never made any sense before. Do you have aspects of your life that you are trying to ignore your stress levels?

    9. TPS reporter*

      Also life long nail biter. I finally success this year with bitter nail polish. Also something about being at home more has helped me with stress. Think about what triggers the biting. For me it’s stress. So I’ve also tried (because believe it’s not easy and sometimes I just bite through the bitter stuff) a breathing exercise. When I get the urge to bite, in my mind the only thing that will alleviate the anxiety is biting. But if I do mindful breathing, three second breath in hold for three then release, I relieve the tension another way.
      It is a journey and you may fail sometimes but don’t let that discourage you.

    10. Ange*

      I used to bite my nails. It was a combination of things that helped me stop:
      keeping them short
      wearing nail polish (when I worked in a job where I could)
      starting a job where I couldn’t bite them (healthcare)
      getting an infection around the cuticle (which the nurse who drained it told me was partly due to biting my nails)
      replacing nail biting with a different habit

      Also after my nails fell off when I had chemo, I appreciate them so much more now and really want to take care of them.

    11. Reba*

      Just addressing the nail strength question: Healthy hoof is good, the Nail Tek repair products are quite good*, and a glass nail file to keep everything smooth and nice is wonderful. I keep my nails very short by preference (they don’t have to grow long to look good!). Foods that are rich in biotin would also help nails and hair.

      I don’t have a nail thing, but I do have a skin thing, so I feel for you and I know it’s hard to change.

      *please research these as I’m sure some of them have ingredients you don’t want near your mouth

    12. Nails*

      – Bandaids cut in half lengthwise on really tempting areas
      – Nail growth/strengthener products
      – cuticle cream/hand lotion (I find slippery cuticles far less tempting to pick/bite)
      – Fidget toys/rings were a bigger help than I expected
      – multiple nail clippers/files near areas where I sit and pick (TV, computer)
      – Learning to recognize the urge to pick/bite then allowing myself to sit with the discomfort or use a proper tool like nail clippers
      – r/calmhands on reddit for similar support

      Good luck!

    13. Trixie*

      Completely random but I’ve noticed my nail biting goes into high gear when I’m hyped up caffeine. If I ease up on caffeine, I’m much less prone to do this. Also, it’s very much a habit for me when I’m bored or not being mindful of what I’m doing.

    14. Aealias*

      I second keeping nail clippers/a nail fail on hand to deal with ragged edges immediately. Also, MAYBE nail polish, if you can find one that feels ick to you.

      I had the greatest success with stick-on fake nails, ridiculously. They feel TERRIBLE to my teeth, and made me very conscious of when I was chewing. A couple of months of that reset the habit, and then I used a nail file to keep the edges smooth and avoid starting up again.

    15. Cedrus Libani*

      I am a life-long nail biter. It’s easy to quit, I’ve done it a hundred times…

      Keep your nails scrupulously tidy, so there’s no poky bits to bite. Trim them as short as you can, so they won’t break and won’t get in the way. Even if you do mean to grow them out, wait a bit first. I’ve found that nails with cleanly trimmed ends are much stronger than nails with gnawed-on raggedy edges.

      Put something on your nails that provides a signal to stop. I’ve used the glue-on false nails to help give a boost, because you really can’t chew with them on, but they do weaken the nail. Also I find even the “ultra short” length to be annoyingly long, as I’ve spent my life with gnawed-on stubby nails and therefore I type with the tips of my fingers rather than the pads. I’ve used the bitter stuff too, but it gets in everything – the food I’m cooking, my eyes, etc. My preference is to use something that provides a bit of texture, like glittery nail polish or nail stickers, to remind myself (at the moment texture meets lip) that I’d set an intention not to do that.

    16. MinotJ*

      This is going to be the least helpful suggestion ever, but it might give you a laugh. I decided when I was really young that I had to stop biting my fingernails. So I let myself bite my toenails instead. I knew it was gross, even at the time! I remember hiding in my bedroom to do it. But it worked. I also stopped biting my toenails after a while, probably because it freaking hurts to walk on damaged nails. But now my adult fingernails are great and my toenails are absolute trash – and I can’t tell anybody the truth about why.

    17. Synonymous*

      Honestly, the only thing that worked for me was coming to the realization that I really hate having anything longer than really short nails. The day I notice they’re getting long (for me), I clip them short again (so I just see a little bit of white). If I let them go a day or two past the annoying me stage, I know I’d start biting them again.

    18. Smol Book Wizard*

      This may be going further than you would like, but I am autistic and have no shame to chew on things: one of those reusable silicone straws are nicely munchy for gentle nibbling when I am thinking about something else, or chewing gum, of course. I am a recovered hair chewer (from my younger days) and think I have only replaced it with licking my teeth over and over again.
      Additionally, if it’s the input on your fingertips that you like, finding a little nail brush and brushing them when you are wanting to chew might help. I’ve been doing that to help with skin-picking urges.

  19. Jennifer Juniper*

    I just got approved yesterday for Social Security Disability. We’ve been waiting for five years. After two hearings, my lawyer called told me the good news. Now I can buy my wife a new bookcase and computer desk.

    1. Grim*

      Congrats! Took my wife about the same time. Finally getting health insurance for her was the true blessing. Used the money for a down payment on our home.
      Wife doing ok these days, but chronic back pain for decades just sucks.

    2. Laura H.*

      That’s wonderful. I’m sorry it took so long. I got approved relatively quick when I applied, but all the paperwork, good lord. Would not want to do that again…

      Glad your hard work finally paid off.

    3. knitter*

      Congrats! I’m so thankful for programs like it–my daughter is disabled (though still little) and the existence of programs that can help her be independent when she is older is such a relief.

    4. fposte*

      Oh, congratulations! That is a long journey; I’m glad it finally got where it needed to go.

    5. PollyQ*

      Congrats! I’ve always heard that getting SSD was an incredible slog, so I guess your case proves it. Glad you’re finally getting the support you deserve.

  20. beancat*

    My manga for the Shonen Jump Tezuka contest is due on the 31st at 11 pm (12 pm September 1st JST), and I admit I’m kind of freaking out.. I’m very close to finishing, but it’s still a bit of a crunch time this weekend.

    I’m stressed and scared I won’t make it after all these months of work, and if I stumble here I think I’d be devastated. But when I get like this I sometimes withdraw or don’t finish out of some sort of flawed, deep seated self-protection attempt. (“If I don’t finish nobody can judge me and I can’t really lose because I didn’t actually enter!”) How do you keep powering through at the end of a big project?

    1. Loopy*

      This may not be the type of tactic you’re looking for but I tell people about it so I feel I have to finish. It’s a way of being held accountable because I know they’ll ask about it later on, but also it can help revive my excitement about it especially when people are interested!!

      1. beancat*

        I’ve talked to some folks about it and they’re all excited for me too! That has definitely helped me throughout :)

      1. beancat*

        This made me break out into a huge grin. That’s exactly what it feels like! Thank you so much :)

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      WOOOO! You can do it! One more push and you’ll have done it! :)

      I’ve been lurking, reading your posts this whole time, and I’m really rooting for you. Keep up the good work!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Something that was counter-intuitive to me and I resisted… take breaks. Regular ones, soon enough that you’re still excited enough to keep them short. For 10-15 minutes, do something for your body. Hydrate, stretch, walk around the block, take a shower, eat something healthy.
      Have a way to take notes with you so you can capture the ideas that start coming when you’re recharged…and still take the 10 minutes away from your workspace.
      I find I can go longeest if I take 10 on the hour. (Might be because I grew up in a house with a chiming clock?)

      1. beancat*

        This is a good point! Yesterday I had a spare half hour where I could have started a page before work…but I decided to spend the time playing with my kittens instead. It was such a nice break :)

  21. Loopy*

    I’m trying to be more active, so on a semi impulse I went and got a Fitbit Charge 4. I do tend to feel motivated by tracking and goals but right now lingering back issues mean I am wary of doing more than walking.

    Still, are there any fit bit users out there? What are your favorite parts/things to use it for? And more importantly do you find the various readings accurate? I’m always side eyeing calories burn counts….

    And lastly, I don’t think many RL friends use them, are there ways to find friends online? I just want more of an interactive experience.

    Sidenote: thanks for all the maaatress advice a few weeks back. Still paralyzed on making that decision :/

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      (On the mattress: We had just gotten the Cocoon a couple days previous when you asked, and you said my situation was similar to yours. A few weeks later, the Cocoon still seems to be working well for everybody!)

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks for the update! It’s an important factor to know if it holds up after a few weeks for sure!

    2. Pam*

      I like the reminders to move each hour- it let’s you set hours where you try to get 250 steps per hour. I find it hard to move now that I am WFH.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      I like the heart rate tracker, even though it’s not suuuper accurate—I have a tendency to do either Nothing workouts…or push myself too hard and feel physically awful and discouraged. Having the heart rate tracker tell me when I’m in an effective but bearable zone has really helped me with that, and the external feedback has helped my shitty proprioception calibrate my internal sense of too easy/too hard.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ll have to keep that in mind because I can see myself overdoing it. Right now my heart rate is depressing since I’m doing nothing near cardio yet!

    4. beancat*

      I have a charge 3 and like the relaxation mode, which encourages you to focus on breathing. I find it nice for a moment where I need to be mindful or get my heart to stop racing! (Anxiety = sometimes when I’m stressed it gets to 116 bpm sitting :S) I like that it tells you where you started versus where you ended; it makes me feel like there was progress.

    5. CatCat*

      I like the sleep tracking, step tracking, reminders to move, and heart rate monitor. I’ve managed to improve my cardio score from “poor to fair” to “average to good” over the past couple of years.

        1. Miss Dove*

          In the app, click on your current heart rate. It gives you your heart rate graph for the day. At the top of the screen, there’s a graph of your resting heart rate over time. If you swipe right to left on that, it tells you your cardio score.

    6. Oxford Comma*

      I’m a solo fitbit user now. I had to adjust my stride because it wasn’t counting miles correctly. I don’t really look at the calories part. I aim to walk 10k steps a day and have at least 30 active minutes.

      My guess is that there are more people than you think who use a fitbit and you can do various challenges. So many steps over the weekend, etc.

      1. Loopy*

        I think I’ll have to find my focus too. I am realizing I am woefully short on active minutes!

    7. Trixie*

      Along these lines, I am attempting evening walks with audiobooks on my iPod. Recently discovered Phoebe Reads a Chapter and currently enjoying Dracula. This is just a nice break and also an easy way to stay engaged for 20-60 minutes, depending on the day.

    8. Cedrus Libani*

      On the accuracy, IMO it doesn’t matter, as long as there’s a consistent relationship between how active you were and whatever number is reported. The calorie counts feel less consistent than the step count. The calorie count seems to overvalue focused, workout-like boosts of activity, while undervaluing moderate exertion over a longer period (e.g. going to the store for something big and heavy, with all the assorted wrangling required to get it home). Meanwhile, the step counts line up with what I perceive as the day’s effort. Not certain that isn’t in my head, but yeah, I mostly ignore the calories.

    9. Phoenix from the ashes*

      For me, the calorie count seems to be spot on, but it dramatically undercounts my steps. I find the sleep tracking really useful.

      1. Loopy*

        Do you compare it to anything to find it accurate? I have nothing else to go by! I do like the sleep tracking as well.

        1. Miss Dove*

          If you have a track where you know the distance, you can compare what the Fitbit says the distance/steps are to what you know they are. If you have a school nearby, they might have a track. We have a walking track at the local senior center that has the distance written on it.

  22. Teatime is Goodtime*

    I’m looking for ideas for long-term productivity strategies. What do you do to help yourself get through a long project?

    I feel like I have short-term pretty well covered–pomodoro method, etc., but I have a pile of longer-term hobby projects that I’m feeling frustrated with. I know I am completely capable of finishing them as I have finished others like them in the past, but I’m waffling between feeling frustrated that I’m not making fast progress and daunted by how much is left to do. One complicating factor is that I have a toddler, so free time is not exactly consistent or abundant. That is to say, my problem may just be unrealistic expectations of myself and my time! Still, I want to see if I can improve both my feelings and my output without stressing myself out too much.

    A couple of months ago, I read about someone who painted a small thing every single day for 100 days. I liked the idea of 100 day projects and so I decided to try to adapt it to fit my situation. I don’t always have useful amounts of free time every single day, but what if I decided to focus on one of those projects for 100 days, and see if that helps? So far it’s been ok: I’m about a third of the way through my first round and have made some noticeable progress. However, I feel like I’m getting a bit bored and want to do something else. On the other hand, I haven’t been jumping from one project to the next and getting nothing done on any of them… so maybe it’s working?

    If anyone is curious I can talk about my projects, and I always love to hear about what you are doing! Any ideas welcome. :)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am notorious for putting projects aside and getting back to them eventually. Maybe. (I come by it honestly. I got the quilt my mom was making me for my sixteenth birthday when I was 23.)

      Right now I’m knitting on a scarf I started like, four years ago and it’s had multiple breaks of months where I didn’t touch it. (It’s a small-yarn scarf that’s double knitted and all elaborate color work.) I picked it up again a couple weeks ago after 15 months’ hiatus and am hoping to finish it before I put it down again. :-P but if I don’t, I don’t. It’ll be there. Along with the blanket panel I started eight years ago. And the sweaters I started six and four years ago. And I have a travel project – usually I travel 6-8 times a year, and only work on that project while traveling, but this year has forced hiatus on that one too.

      2021 might be a Year of Finishing, perhaps. Undecided. :)

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      I would love to hear you talk about your projects!

      I will say: as restorative as I find creativity and the arts, it all requires time and energy. Discipline comes in, I think, if you *have* the time and you’re wasting it on twitter; but before discipline comes resources.

      You wouldn’t be expected to sculpt every day if you had ample time but no clay. It would be hard to sculpt if you had to make do with dried up scraps of clay. You’ve got a toddler—your “time and energy” resource is hard to come by.

      So the number one thing for productivity here is forgive yourself!!!!! The number two thing is that your time and attention are a precious resource right now, so what can you do to either give yourself more, or shift to projects that require less? Projects that require less may be actively fun, or may be pre-broken-up into small snippets of manageable work.

      Number three thing is…hell yeah, it sounds like you have indeed found something that works for now!! So (number one thing) forgive yourself for previously jumping around projects, and keep doing what works!

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I’ve got far too many projects! But here goes:
        Sewing:
        -We bought a wonderful rocking chair in a style that is hard to find where I am. The only problem is that it has the ugliest yellow cushion color. I wanted to see if I could re-cover it with something removable and washable. (Have I mentioned that I have a toddler?)
        -Lots of little household projects, e.g. shortening curtains, repairing a button here or there and so on.
        -Toddler clothes! I bought an overlock machine and I have sewn some pants. I’d like to sew more, and maybe even try something more complicated.
        -Clothes for me! I want to try to sew my own t-shirts and PJ pants with the aforementioned overlock. Someday, maybe I will try something more complicated.
        -I also have a quilt project that has been running for years now. I’m doing it in the english paper piecing style, which is new to me. So far I’ve been quite, ahem, slow. Glacial. Some might even say progress has been non-existent. The original idea was to pick up a project that I could work on in little pieces here or there, even take traveling with me. So far that seems like it will be true, but it requires some preparation and some testing out of methods and so on.

        Writing:
        -I have several projects going at various stages of needs-work. One I have shelved because it needs a giant overhaul, another is waiting for help from an editor friend and a third is in its infancy. I’m trying to establish a good pattern of writing regularly for that last project, but that has been hard to do consistently.

        Baking:
        -This one doesn’t have long term projects per se, but I do have goals at the back of my mind that require time and effort to research and think about. For example, I want to have a go at sour dough at some point, and futz with some more focaccia bread topping combinations, and I wanted to bake madelines and that chocolate tart again…

        Cross stitch:
        -I have so many dreams and no time. This has truly fallen by the wayside.

        Languages:
        -Learning French is also not happening right now. I also once had dreams of learning some Latin on my own, so much so that I picked up some materials but never started. My husband has been learning beginning Italian, so I might consider putting my efforts there so we can learn together.

        Sport:
        -Running! I’m doing really well with this. I often manage to go running three times a week now, which is great progress for me. I posted a few weeks ago about finally being able to run 3km after being stuck at 2.5 for a long time. That seems to have been a breaking point since I’ve been adding more and more distance since then. I think the last run I did was 5.5! So proud of myself.

        100 day project:
        I decided to focus on sewing for my first round of 100 days. I picked up 10 yards of some extremly-on-sale jersey fabric to cover the rocking chair with the ugly yellow cushions…just to see if I could do it on my own! And so far it’s going really well: I’ve covered everything at least once to the point that it looks good enough, but I’m stumbling a little bit on the ends and the details. For example, the foot rest shouldn’t have extra fabric dangling down off the cushion at the bottom, but how do I get it to tuck nicely and stay up?

        The burner fabric I bought is grey with big white polka-dots. It’s nice enough, but I underestimated just how polka-dotty it would be on the chair. It’s … a lot. But! It is still better than the ugly, faded yellow. The point is that I proved I could do it, so now I can buy nicer fabric with less guilt. Unfortunately, I’m starting to get antsy and want to go do something else. I’m trying to get myself to just finish the darn thing at least once before moving on.

        The rocking chair is in my toddler’s room, so I can’t work on it when he is asleep. So during that time I picked up the quilt project again and have been experimenting my way through some basting and new piecing methods. I haven’t gotten very far. I’m doing a lot wrong. But I’m still making progress, and I hope to have something to do with my hands in those odds-and-ends times that crop up in my life.

        Talking about all of this is making me want to have a craft group again! I miss stitch-and-bitch sessions. :)

        1. Purt's Peas*

          Nice! That’s a hell of a list. It all sounds like a blast but yeah, I’m not surprised you’re having trouble finishing craft projects!

          I have so many times been like “boy I’d love to try some embroidery or cross stitch” and then BZZT did like 5 stitches and no more. I think I may dislike it… :D

        2. allathian*

          Yikes! I know people have varying ambition and energy levels, but I feel tired just reading your list, and I don’t have a toddler. I do remember how exhausted I was when my son was that age, though. There’s no way I would have got anything done beyond the stuff that absolutely had to be done in the house. My husband does at least as much housework as I do and he’s our main cook, but when our son was 2, most of his time off work was spent supervising the building of our current house, so most of the chores were mine to deal with, and that’s fair.

          It is okay to just not do anything useful or productive when you have a few minutes to yourself and are parenting a toddler.

        3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I don’t have nearly that many projects, nor do I have a toddler. I’m exhausted just reading it all!
          My project this summer was to finish the curtains and cushions for our holiday home. Just two sets of curtains still need hemming, and all the others are ready to hang today – going home tomorrow!
          I also have a pair of short that just need the press stud button mended, and a pair of trousers that need buttons and bottom hemming, not much headway there. Not to mention the jacket I’ve been working on for years and that I might not fit into now since I was much thinner when I started on it. I started on it after throwing out the jacket I’d made that I was too thin for once I’d finished it.
          But that will all be put to one side because I now have to make my bridesmaid dress for my BFF’s wedding. It’ll be a quiet affair because Covid but still I want to look my best for her special day.

    3. knitter*

      Also the parent of littles. I’m finally starting the 4th of 5 panels for my 6 year olds “baby” blanket. Which will be too small when I finish. So I’m thinking about adding rows to the sewn together panels. And I realized that one of the skeins of yarn isn’t spun as tightly as the one I started with so one of the panels is much longer than the others. It all feels so complicated that I don’t pick up my knitting needles. I have finished a number of other projects (including a baby blanket for my best friend and a king-sized coverlet for my brother and sister in law). I think I’m primarily annoyed with the pattern I chose for my son’s blanket (lots of cabling).

      Honestly the best thing I’ve done for my projects is to take a couple of hours on the weekends while my husband plays with the kids. Pre-covid, I’d also take art classes so I’d be out of the house. I try to do daily work, but I’ve found that isn’t realistic for me.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This felt familiar. I’m also stuck at the ‘it’s tough to learn something new’ stage …I got enough skeins balled and I knit a swatch, and I’m stumped. So many people have given me advice (including here) but I’m staring at the screen and wishing I could have someone walk me through this.

        1. Teatime is Goodtime*

          Oh I so know how this feels! I just want someone to sit next to me and tell me what to do for the first few rounds…

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      I’m experimenting with letting myself put away a project I’ve gotten bored with and put in some time on a different one. As long asI’m doing something, some project will move forward. Eventually I’ll finish. Otherwise I tell myself I can’t do the project I really want to do until I finish the project I’m “on”, and instead I procrastinate and Do Nothing. I’ve decided that strategy is not working.

  23. Lifelong student*

    I am looking for clarity about posting comments and replies. It seems that when I post my comments often either never appear or appear a significant time later. Are postings all moderated- or uploaded in batches rather in real time? Sometimes the submit button does not seem to work.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Comments with links go through moderation, and I think there might be some kind of automod feature for people who have posted less than x times?

      I also find that I have to refresh the page to see new comments, and sometimes I have to refresh before the submit button works, so that may be a factor for you as well.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Alison does it flag us if we comment a number of times in a row? If I’m on the PC, I type fast and it seems that can be when things with no trigger words go into moderation.

    2. Millicent*

      Comments with links in them go through moderation, so there is a delay between when the poster submits them and when they appear on the site. However, I believe they will appear with their original submitted timestamp, rather than the time they were approved by Alison.

      I’ve noticed lately that some comments which do not have links in them appear long after their submission time, and I’m not sure what’s up with them. Maybe comments with certain words go into moderation also.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, there’s a list of words that will trigger moderation (ones especially associated with inflammatory posts — for example, “snowflake” and other insults), plus the filter sometimes just makes its own mystifying decisions (probably based on an algorithm of some kind).

        1. ThatGirl*

          I have noticed one particular word always seems to send my comments to moderation and it’s not even a potential insult, but if I remember I use a synonym.

        2. Jackalope*

          I totally had one of those recently that made me laugh. Imagine a word like the one Alison used here, only I was using it in its proper, non-derogatory sense, say talking about white, flaky rain falling from the sky, but of course the filter didn’t know the difference and stopped it anyway.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I wondered if length was a factor; not long ago a couple of my posts took a while to appear, while others popped up right away, and it was the longer ones that were delayed. Could have been keywords in my walls-of-text, I suppose, but perhaps length is a factor as well… [Now that I know to be patient it isn’t an issue, just adding it to the discussion!]

    4. Observer*

      Weird stuff happens. I few days ago, my posts juts stopped appearing. To the point hat I posted in the tech support portion. I saw Allison’s response in my email AFTER my posts suddenly started appearing again.

  24. Moving Soon!*

    I just found out I got new position (thanks to interview and resume help from AAM!) which will require me to relocate from the NE to TX.
    I will have relo help from my company, but is there anything to consider or that I should do in preparation? Or questions to ask when I speak to the relo company?

    1. Ali G*

      Long distance relocation can be tricky. The company will likely be moving more than just your stuff, so be prepared to not have your stuff for a bit when you get there. You’ll also want to ask them how much they do – do they pack and ship or just put your stuff on the truck? That will inform how much you need to do ahead of time.
      Good luck!

    2. AG*

      Is this a position with your current company or a new company? This isn’t really related to the actual move, but just be aware of whatever contract is in place with the relocation- you typically have to stay 1-2 years or pay it back. That’s burned me before, so figured I’d mention. :-)

      1. Moving Soon!*

        Thank you! It’s with my current company. And there is, in fact, a 1-year minimum that I have to stay.

    3. Caterpie*

      My family has moved a handful of times involving relocation from the company, and something has been lost/damaged each time. I think with moving that much stuff out of a house, into a truck, out of a truck, and into another house, it is just kind of bound to happen. Luckily it was never anything ‘precious’ – a bunch of beloved stuffed animals were lost forever in one move, and I think our lawn care stuff ended up on the other side of the country during another.

      Anyway, what I’m getting at, is that you might want to handle the stuff yourself that is irreplaceable or something you can’t deal without for a while.

  25. 2020*

    This year has just been such a mess. Every time I think it has stabilized and there’s a new normal , it just kicks you in the bum again. Sitting here crying over the death of Chadwick Boseman. I didn’t know him; never met him. Watched maybe 4 of his movies. But somehow can’t stop the tears.

    This year has to get better soon, right?

    1. Laura H.*

      Losses hurt, sometimes lack of proximity doesn’t change that. It’s okay to grieve over people you’ve never met.

      I don’t know when it will get better. But at least you weren’t currently sharing your name with a bad hurricane. That is weird.

      All the air hugs if you want em.

    2. annakarina1*

      I’m sad too that he died, it just sounds so unfair. My roommate is a huge fan of Black Panther, and is just done with this year.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The straw that broke the camel’s back.
      When bad things come in waves, our snapping points can be unpredictable.
      For me this week I hit that point with the Big Basin fire, because I used to live a couple of hours away and it’s on the ‘vaccine vacation’ wishlist that my daughter & I have been making.
      I fear I’m nearing the totally numb point.

    4. Magdalena*

      [hugs]
      I’ve also cried this morning upon hearing of his death. I never knew he was ill. He was such a gentle, humble person. Yes, it just feels like another blow upon what had already happened this year. Ever since last winter’s Australian fires it’s just blow upon blow. May he rest in peace.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      It’s odd how some people can just have something about them that resonates with us so deeply. I have noticed I had a deep sense of sadness over what seems to be random people. But looking a bit deeper there is something about the person that I identified with very closely.

      Cry. Grieve it out. Tears set off a chemical reaction in the brain that help the brain to be healthy. We can waste a bunch of time saying, “why am I crying?” or we can cut to the chase and deal with the pain. The older I get the quicker I cut to the crying part. Sometimes things hurt and that is enough reason right there.

    6. Jennifer Juniper*

      Have you been screened for depression? Nonstop crying can be a symptom. My PCP diagnosed me with moderate depression at the beginning of May.

      Being depressed is perfectly understandable, especially now. But it can be treated.

    7. allathian*

      This was sad news. Black Panther’s one of my favorite superhero movies, not least because one of the languages they speak is Xhosa, Nelson Mandela’s first language.

    8. Long drives*

      It’s tragic. Saeed Jones had a great tweet: Grieving beloved celebrities is often a pressure release valve for interpersonal mourning we’ve denied ourselves.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I can relate to this, too. For sure 2020 has been a really rough year with so much grief, pain, and suffering.

    9. Chylleh*

      So saddened to hear that yesterday. He was filming so many movies while ill. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like, but I’m so glad he had the support and love of what sounds like an amazing family.

    10. NeonDreams*

      I’m super sad about it, too. Many people saw something beautiful in the art he created and formed a connection with it. He used his notoriety to uplift others. He is the personification of living your life to the fullest. Definitely one of the good ones and will be missed.

    11. Diahann Carroll*

      Sitting here crying over the death of Chadwick Boseman.

      I’m right there with you. This dude was one of the most humble, unproblematic actors working today who never had an unkind thing to say about anyone to my knowledge (and no one has had an unkind thing to say about him, either). To die so young and to have fought for so long with cancer while going out there and making sure to keep others entertained and happy – I mean, I couldn’t do it; it’s incredible.

      I’m sad for him and the loss of his life and for what seems like a chapter unfinished; I’m sad for his family and friends who won’t ever get to see him smile or laugh again. (And I know what that feels like since my uncle just passed in May and that’s what hurts me the most.)

      I’m also sad for all of the black kids, and adults, who looked up to him and were so PROUD to see a superhero that looked like them on the big screen for the first time ever. He fought to have T’Challa speak with an African accent (the head of Marvel wanted him to use his regular speaking voice, which – no. Wakanda is a fictional African country, so he should sound African, not American), and he made sure that this movie was unapologetically Black to honor our ancestors and all the legends who came before him. Chadwick was a beautiful spirit with an immense gift, and I hope his battle inspires others to keep pushing no matter what trials and tribulations they may be experiencing. We all have a purpose and his is now done, so I’m going to try to stop being sad now and just be grateful that we had him for as long as we did.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Big MCU nerd, I loved Black Panther and everything it stood for, I loved him, and yes I cried my eyes out. :(

      Yes, things WILL get better, although it may take a while.

    13. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I was saying that in 2016 because Bowie.
      Now I’m just like, I’m not saying Bowie was holding the entire fabric of the universe together but (gestures broadly at everything), ever the trend setter he was..
      It gets better. I found solace on a fan website.

    14. Thursday Next*

      So many of us have seen our endurance stretched to the breaking point. Sometimes having a reason to grieve gives us a release. And it is a tragedy that someone, who by all accounts was a wonderful person, whose art touched so many people, died so young.

      I don’t know if 2020 will get better. I do know that there are things we can all do to make things better, if only in a small way. Maybe sending a “thinking of you” text to a friend, or donating to a food bank, or watching an episode of Mr. Rogers. I hope you find something that can lift you up.

  26. HannahS*

    Help me with recipes! I’m planning an imaginary dinner party for my family (won’t happen for a while, obviously) and I’m thinking of how to accommodate everyone’s restrictions. They are as follows:
    1. We keep kosher: no shellfish, no pork, no mixing of dairy and meat
    2. One person is a vegetarian
    3. One person is a pescetarian.
    4. One person cannot tolerate beans/lentils, or too much dairy (pizza is ok, mac ‘n cheese isn’t)
    5. A few people won’t eat spicy food, and there are strong divisions around cumin and cilantro (some love, others won’t touch)
    So…what can I feed people? I’m happy to make a couple different dishes, but I want it to be a cohesive meal. Not everyone has to be able to eat everything, but there has to be a meal in there for everyone. Thoughts?

    1. Laura H.*

      Is a lentil soup an option? Or a veggie soup/veg minestrone?

      What about spaghetti? Simple and you can do meat and non-meat sauces/ possibly a bunch of different sauces that satisfy those different needs?

      I’m just throwing stuff to the wall and seeing if anything sticks.

    2. Moving Soon!*

      I think having a fish dish without cumin, would take care of 3, 4 and 5. Think a white fish in a tomato sauce of some kind (something like a puttanesca inspired sauce). Then have some pasta with pesto (take care of everybody) and have some roasted eggplant and other veggies as sides.
      This will be a cohesive Italian meal :).

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sounds like a good time for build your own tacos. Beans and grilled cod both make a good protein. Make the basic food with neutral spicing, and put chop cilantro hot sauces, and cumin on a separate sideboard.
      And an extra lot of lettuce allows anyone avoiding carbs to go from taCo to fancy salad.

      1. HannahS*

        Ohhh fish tacos! That’s so great. I love build-your-own tacos; it’s my go-to for my friends. Between me keeping kosher and my one friend being Coptic Orthodox (and therefore not eating dairy for parts of the year but I never know when) it works a treat. But the beans were always the impediment! Fish is a great alternate protein.

      2. Ali G*

        I love build your own taco bars for meals with a lot of restrictions. I like sauteed mushrooms and peppers for the veggie folks. And since you keep everything separate everyone can control what they eat. I also have gluten intolerant folks, so corn taco shells work for everyone!

    4. Overeducated*

      Hahaha I hosted a Passover dinner with similar restrictions once and it was not easy! I think our menu involved salmon, potatoes (ours were scalloped so the lactose intolerant person just ate matzoh or something, but my roommate REALLY wanted to make them), multiple vegan vegetable sides (e.g. green beans, a big salad with fruit and nuts), and a frittata with caramelized onions or something.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh my gosh, we have seders with all these restrictions! My parents solve it by making and serving a million things (vegetable soup w matzah balls, hardboiled egg and salad, then potatoes, brisket, salmon, ratatouille, quinoa, and then fruit and one thousand desserts). It is A LOT of work. I’m like, well, I’m definitely not doing that if we’re just having people over to chill, you know?

        1. Overeducated*

          Yes. It’s a LOT! This was one of my first major hosting experiences in my early 20s so it was a huge challenge – I had never cooked with the kosher, vegetarian, no dairy, no legumes or quinoa restrictions all at once before (the guest list was basically “all our Jewish friends from first year of grad school”), so it was a huge challenge and super memorable. Sounds like you are familiar with those menu options but have some easier/more flexible ideas in the comments!

    5. CopperPenny*

      Baked potato bar! Bake a bunch of potatoes and have different toppings for everyone to add themselves. You can cover everything that way.

      Vegetarian or vegan lasagna would also be an option. We had that for dinner tonight. (no recipe since it was a post baby delivery) that was really good. I would do a salad and roasted veg with it.

    6. legalchef*

      Pasta, salad, and bread – you can do a big pasta primavera, either with garlic and olive oil or a pink sauce, a salad with pickled veg, and either garlic knots or breadsticks made from pizza dough

      Taco bar – grilled/sautéed peppers, onions, portobellos, rice and beans, salsas, guac, etc etc etc. you can even do some fish for fish tacos for those who are inclined (or you could do some grilled meat for tacos, if you forgo cheese and sour cream)

      1. legalchef*

        Also a chili bar (w veg chili)

        Smitten kitchen has a really good recipe for mushroom bourginion

        You could do a brunch for dinner – baked French toast, egg strata, etc

    7. Kate*

      Maybe it’s because I am used to keeping kosher, but this combo doesn’t seem that complicated to me!

      Meat main (depending on your mood, you could go beef, or maybe something like a Chicken Marbella); mushroom- or quinoa-stuffed mushrooms for the vegetarians (and anyone who wants an extra veg).
      Some kind of potato for a side— mashed potatoes with a mushroom gravy would be delish, or pretty much any sweet potato recipe from Ottolenghi (the sweet potatoes with red onion and tahini come to mind)
      Some kind of a green veg — huge green salad, roasted asparagus, a big bowl of book chop with ginger and/or garlic.
      Poached pears for dessert (I do mine in the slow cooker)

      1. HannahS*

        Ooh, those sweet potatoes sounds amazing. See, quinoa stuffed mushrooms is a great idea, and solves my problem! My issue is that I want everyone to have a protein. Personally, I eat vegetarian food in non-kosher homes, and while I’m always grateful for veg options, I do sometimes wish I had a protein–often I’m eating, like, vegetables and rice. It’s fine! But when my family come, I want the vegetarian and pescetarian to have a protein but I also want to serve meat or fish sometimes (but not both because I’m not made of money). Quinoa fits the bill!

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think with those restrictions I’d go either taco bar or baked potato bar, personally. (Probably the potato bar – I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around meat tacos without cheese, but that’s just me, because my tacos at a taco bar are basically only meat and cheese :) )

      Do kosher rules allow you to have both meat and cheese on the table as long as you only eat one or the other, or do you have to pick one or the other to even be available?

      1. HannahS*

        It’s one or the other in a single meal. Baked potato bar is a great idea! I remember the first time I had baked beans in a potato…life changing!

        1. Parenthetically*

          Hot-smoked salmon or trout or whitefish would be AWESOME in a dairy meal with baked potato! Sharp cheddar, sour cream, flaky smoky fish? YUM.

          1. allathian*

            Thanks for the info. I honestly didn’t know that fish doesn’t count as meat in kosher rules. I’m always happy to learn more about restrictions like this.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          A good hearty bean chili is a good option too – so good on baked potatoes, but also doable as a stand alone dish for someone who isn’t feeling the potato part! :)

    9. curly sue*

      We’re kosher here, and our usual go-tos for big dinner parties with lots of restrictions are variations on the ‘make your own’ types of meals.

      Our favourite is a fajita party, using a fajita seasoning mix because it’s easier. We’ll put out: refried beans, the chicken-peppers-onions cooked filling with seasoning as per the fajita mix instructions, slices of avocado, soy-based pareve fake sour cream, lettuce, diced tomatoes, salsas at various heat points, guacamole, and various tortillas and tortilla bowl type things that my kids love. There’s also a great veggie ground round (Yves ground round) that can be sauteed up to act as a “beef” filling, and they have a “Mexican”-seasoned flavour. We tend to use that one for taco nights, so we can use real cheese and sour cream.

      1. Egg Lover*

        What about an egg based dish? You could do a frittata, and serve it with bread, green salad and fruit.

    10. Aza*

      I would do something where people can choose topping options, like hummus bowls from Budget Bytes or tacos. Because those are a lot of restrictions!

    11. Veggie Heaven*

      Lots of great ideas here, especially the make-your-own whatevers if it’s informal. I’d just like to point out, though, that although some people do eat meat and some people do eat fish, neither of those groups HAVE to be served those items. As a vegetarian, I get weary of “you can just have a salad” or “just make a meal out of the side dishes,” or, worst of all “just pick the chicken off the salad.” I truly appreciate it when people don’t “just” me when selecting a restaurant. I’m sure groups 2 and 3 will appreciate the thought you’re putting into the meal.

      I would be more concerned about the “can’t” people and plan around that. And I’d look for menu options that can serve everyone. You also don’t have to cater to different people’s preferences around spicy. Keep it in the mild to medium range, and if you want to, provide a spicy sauce or chutney. Same with cheese. Keep the dish light on cheese, but offer extra so cheese people can add more to their plate.

      If you do something where ground beef is key (thinking tacos here), and you want the vegetarians/pescatarians an option, there are faux meat products that are quite good. Ask your veggie friends if they have a recommendation for a specific brand/product.

      But then, I hate to cook, so the idea of separate menus for different people makes me shudder. Good luck to you! I’m sure whatever you choose will be delish!

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I would suggest checking with the vegetarians before serving up meat substitutes. Some veggies miss meat and love to pretend they’re eating it, others, like myself, cannot eat anything that remotely resembles meat. I couldn’t eat a tofu sausage in a Buddhist vegan restaurant, where I totally trusted the chef not to use meat, just because I was used to that shape containing meat.

    12. Aly_b*

      Vegetarian fancy flatbread? You can do like roasted red pepper, caramelized onion, fresh basil, and tomato or something. Maybe like a balsamic reduction on top. If the meat eaters really want it you could offer grilled chicken as an optional additional topping.

    13. Green great dragon*

      Both Indian and Chinese are low on dairy and they don’t have to be hot if you don’t want them to be. Could do 1 meat & 1 non-meat main, then shared rice/breads and loads of veggie starters. Can tofu or similar be eaten by everyone here if you want to do a single main dish? Put some chilli flakes or chopped chilli on the table for anyone that likes it hot.

    14. legalchef*

      Oooh! Middle eastern/falafel buffet- falafels, pita, tahini, hummus, baba, Israeli salad, pickles, couscous, garlic toum, etc etc etc etc etc

    15. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      A big family & friends favorite is Greek tortellini salad https://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/greek-tortellini-pasta-salad/

      I get asked for this all the time. I always double it, even for just my family, because we eat it for dinner then its lunch for the next week.
      I make the dressing in a big mason jar and add about half, then more later. Extra gets used on reg salads.
      I use more tomatoes and less cucumber.
      If making a LOT, do two double batches – any more is a pain to mix and doesn’t turn out as well.

    16. heckofabecca*

      I keep kosher, I don’t like beans/lentils much, and I can’t eat spicy foods/cilantro/cumin, BUT I also don’t eat a bunch of foods (bell peppers, raw tomatoes, most spices…). My best friends are vegetarians. and they’re chiming in! So I’m going to throw a bunch of ideas at you :D

      ITALIAN STYLE, Dairy or Pescatarian
      – breads & spreads (bruschetta, caponata)
      – cheese plate
      – fritto misto (Italian fried vegetables)
      – Caprese salad, with one pre-plated without cheese
      – Pasta, of course! Cauliflower alfredo (recipe from Detoxinista) is vegan, creamy, amazing, and quite easy to make. (Alternatively, if you’re into doing more work, make your own ravioli! beet, squash, etc)
      – If you want, you can make any of the many Italian fish dishes—Sicilian cod, Italian-style baked haddock.
      – Roasted veggies are always a good thing in my book!
      – Is tiramisu easy to make??? No idea.

      AUTUMNAL MENU (Dairy)
      – veggies and crackers with dips (babaganoush, hummus, etc)
      – mushroom barley soup
      – autumnal salad: greens, carrot strips, chopped avocado, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds. Goat cheese on the side (or just some in, since no one is vegan)
      – STUFFED SUGAR PUMPKIN. However, these recipes tend to be quite cheesy. So another option: stuffed butternut squashes/acorn squash/etc. There’s a great quinoa-stuffed squash recipe from Well Plated. Some could be made with regular stuffing and cheese, which is amazing, or just stuff good things inside and enjoy.
      – Apple pie, roasted figs, vanilla ice cream (some dairy-free) for dessert

      I’m dreaming a bit of a tea party myself. :) Enjoy your planning!!

    17. Fellow Traveler*

      I’ve done a huge batch of Asian noodles (either jap chae or stir fry vegetable udon) with dumplings and smashed cucumber salad.
      it’s not super fancy, but it is really tasty and goes over well.

    18. JustEm*

      Spanish tortilla (eggs and potatoes, maybe onion, most recipes are vegetarian and dairy-free), a big green salad, and maybe a roasted veggie or a quinoa salad if that doesn’t seem like enough food would be able to be eaten by everyone on your list I believe?
      Or do a pilaf with basmati, nuts, onions etc, and serve with grilled or broiled veggies, tofu, and fish or kebabs if you like. Can make baba ganoush to go with it.

      Both are based on very recent meals I made where I realized they’d be very adaptable to multiple dietary restrictions. :)

  27. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Does anyone have an electric hot-plate that can do a good fried egg? We cook outside during ‘air conditioner season’ and the propane grill&stove are not under cover like the table for the coffeemaker and airfryer. Technically the grill is…but FormerOwners(TM) didn’t build the cover far enough out to keep the COOKS dry in the rain!

    1. Ranon*

      My parents are really happy with their 1 burner induction plate- bonus that when it’s hot out it won’t keep radiating heat at you when you’re done with it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If you could ask the brand I’d appreciate it. Anything to circumvent my analysis paralysis!

  28. nep*

    Crystallized ginger. Do you eat it? Do you use crystallized ginger in recipes?
    It’s one sugary thing I will get from time to time. I eat it alone or sometimes with nuts (prefer the slices to the chunks), and use it in bars I make.
    I reckon the sugar obliterates the many benefits of the ginger…?
    (I do eat plain ginger too, so I’m getting the benefit sans all the sugar.)

      1. nep*

        Ooh that sounds good.
        Speaking of molasses, I used to take a spoonful once in a while for iron. The second I put it in my mouth I would think simultaneously: This is divine and How or why in the world am I consuming this it’s so awful. Raw molasses is odd that way.

        1. pancakes*

          I take a spoonful of it now & then too and know just what you mean!

          I don’t often have crystallized ginger around but there’s a recipe for triple ginger muffins I’ve made a few times that calls for it — crystallized, fresh, and ground. I think it was an iteration of a Marion Cunningham recipe that now calls for only fresh & unpeeled ginger? I should try it again.

          I used to live near an Ivorian restaurant that sold an incredibly delicious & potent ginger juice. I miss stopping in for one on my way to work!

      2. Reba*

        Oh yeah, I do a ginger cookie with fresh, powder and crystallized ginger. Spicy!

        I occasionally make ginger syrup that is amazing in drinks (nep, you will have had ginger juice in West Africa, it’s not that but that’s the inspiration). And then you sorta have crystallized shredded ginger left over from the syrup making.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        I would love to try your recipe if you would be willing to share. Ginger, lemon and shortbread are all my favorites and the combination sounds scrumptious!

        1. Teatime is Goodtime*

          Oh gosh, it’s nothing complicated–just your basic shortbread cookie recipe with some chopped candied ginger and lemon peel/juice in it. To be honest, I’d probably have to google it myself! :) Just look up “Ginger Lemon Shortbread” and you’ll find something for sure.

    1. DarthVelma*

      I have a recipe for peach and ginger pie that uses it. It’s fabulous.

      I’ve also seen a recipe for blackberry ginger pie that I really want to try some time.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Peach and ginger pie??? Do you share this recipe? Asking on behalf of the recipients of my baking experiments.

        1. DarthVelma*

          Here you go:

          Ginger-Peach Pie
          Ingredients:
          • 1/2-3/4 cup sugar
          • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
          • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
          • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
          • 6 cups thinly sliced peeled peaches or frozen unsweetened peach slices
          • Pastry for Double-Crust pie (use your favorite homemade recipe or the store-bought – whatever works for you)
          • Milk
          • Sugar

          Directions:
          1. In a large mixing bowl combine the 1/2-3/4 cup sugar, flour, crystallized ginger and mace.
          2. Add fresh or frozen peaches. Toss gently till peaches are coated. (If using frozen peaches, let stand for 15-30 minutes, or till peaches are partially thawed but still icy.)
          3. Prepare pastry as directed
          4. Line a 9-inch pie plate with half of the pastry.
          5. Stir peach mixture; transfer to pastry-lined pie plate.
          6. Trim pastry even with rim. Cut slits in top crust. Place crust on filling. Trim, seal and crimp edge of pastry. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil.
          7. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 25 minutes for fresh peaches (50 minutes for frozen peaches). Remove foil and bake for 20-25 minutes more for fresh peaches (20-30 minutes for frozen peaches), or till top is golden. Cool on a rack.

    2. Red haired runner*

      Crystallized ginger is one of my favorite treats! I eat it alone or chopped up and mixed into baked goods. My mom makes a great sweet potato bread with crystallized ginger.

        1. nep*

          I will say, one nice thing about moving away from the super hot weather is wanting to use the oven again. I’ve even been holding back from roasting potatoes (one of my favourite meals) because I don’t like using the oven in the heat. Oatmeal, too–oatmeal is a zillion times more pleasant in the cooler temps.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        My family has a gingerbread (it’s more like a cake than a classic gingerbread) that is a Christmas standard as well! Ours is dark and full of molasses, how is yours? I highly recommend eating it with lemon curd.

        I usually crystalize the ginger myself, since it is so expensive around here, and like to use the sugar dribbles to sweeten tea. Especially since there is cream in the fridge at Christmas time.

        1. Oxford Comma*

          I make the gingerbread cake from Epicurious and it too is a proper cake. I usually make mine with lemon curd too (homemade).

          I have never crystallized ginger. Is it hard?

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Very, very similar! Mine has a second egg, buttermilk instead of water, just fresh ginger, a teaspoon of baking soda instead of half b.s. half b.p., and a 1/4 t. each nutmeg and cloves instead of the cinnamon.

            Crystalized ginger is not too complicated, but I have messed it up a few times. I didn’t cook it long enough once, and carmelized the sugar a different time. Which is good too, but not quite the same thing. I follow Alton Brown’s candied ginger recipe. But ginger and sugar are cheap things to mess up, so I’d recommend giving it a go. (Fair warning, you end up with a lot of crystalized ginger. )

    3. lazy intellectual*

      I love ginger but crystallized ginger is wayy too sweet. However, I’m interested to see how people use it in recipes.

    4. RosenGilMom*

      I chop it into little pieces (frequently with the kitchen scissors) and stir it into my morning oatmeal.

    5. Pippa K*

      My beloved old dog adored crystallised ginger as a treat. When he was being treated for cancer, it seemed to help his tummy and was one of the foods that would still make his eyes light up when we offered it to him.

  29. Bibliovore*

    I have been on breeders lists for a Wheaten Terrier for years. This is not a debate on rescue dogs. I have a Bijon old lady foster fail with a multitude of issues and PTSD. She has finite time on this earth.
    I am asthmatic and this is one of the few warm blooded pets I can have.
    High risk for Covid. Home since March. will be WFH this year.
    So- I got an email there is a puppy with my name on it 13 hour drive away.
    The breeder insists on meeting me in person. I totally understand.
    A. Drive 13 hours (not good in a car- hip and back pain
    B. Fly two hours rent a car for an hour drive, get dog, return same day.
    C. Try to convince the breeder to accept a surrogate- fly my niece for the pick up. Got language?
    D. Be a grown up and pass and hope that there will be a puppy in the future.

    1. Treebeardette*

      What was your original plan for picking up the dog? Most airlines don’t allow animals unless can it can sit under the seat quietly. It also costs extra.

      1. Rainy*

        You can ship animals in the delicate cargo hold, and that’s how a lot of people get adult dogs home across large distances. It’s a flat fee where seats fluctuate, so it’s sometimes more, sometimes less, but traveling with a pet under the seat is also an extra fee that doesn’t get cheaper.

        1. pancakes*

          The number of dogs that die flying in cargo isn’t small enough for me to think it’s a good idea. I’m trying to find more up to date US DOT stats, but in the meantime have found articles from 2017 indicating that 136 dogs died on flights in the preceding 5 years.

        2. Bibliovore*

          No. We wouldn’t ship in the cargo and my airline doesn’t permit it. We are lucky that we can throw as much money as we want at this situation. (as the song goes, Money can’t by happiness, but it can buy me a boat) We also understand that this is a privileged situation in any moment in time but we also give generously to more than a few social justice, equity in education, and arts causes. I say this because family have been in our face about said non-existent dog.

          1. Eeeek*

            You do not need to justify spending money on the dog you want that fits you. I detests dog shakers. If it were me I would fly there and drive back with the dog. You could stop and spend the night at a dog friendly hotel if your pain got too bad. If you’ve been waiting years I would not give up the opportunity to get your dog.

    2. AG*

      I would go with Option B if that won’t aggravate your back/hips too much. It’s such a great time to get a dog with WFH. If this will be a (literal) pain, try Option C asking if your niece can meet her on your behalf due to health issues, and you’re happy to FaceTime her to show where the puppy will live if that will make her more comfortable (worst case, breeder says no).

        1. ThePear8*

          Agree with C, as some folks pointed out the number of dogs that die flying in cargo is such that I would never trust an airline with an animals life. And it can be tricky trying to have a dog sit on the seat with you, let alone a new puppy that will probably be frightened/stressed about leaving its mother for the first time. But since driving aggravates your health, I think it’s absolutely okay to explain that to the breeder and ask if your niece can go instead and suggest if you can FaceTime in or something.

        2. Eeeek*

          I wouldn’t try to send a surrogate or say you have health issues. The breeder may pull the dog if they think you are too sick or not energetic enough to care for it.

          1. Bibliovore*

            that’s what I was thinking. I have been on a jury of murder trial. I have been on a two day onsite academic interview. I have bought a coop in NYC and passed the Coop Board Interview. I have managed a summer reading program with over 500 participants. Believe me when I say nothing, nothing was harder that getting our first Wheaten.

    3. WellRed*

      What does the breeder think they will learn about you that they can’t learn via Zoom? What if she doesn’t like you in person after you make the trip? And just because I’m in a mood, I guess only fully able bodied people are allowed to adopt her dogs? Suggestion: can someone else drive you and you also take plenty of breaks? If you’ve waited this long, I hope you can make this work!

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Breeders (good ones!) are VERY particular. This is not an unusual request at all–often breeders close by do home visits and more. I would do the plane trip or see if you have a friend who can help you drive.

        1. pancakes*

          Yes, but meeting someone face to face on a single occasion isn’t a home visit and doesn’t come close to conveying the same information a home visit would convey.

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            True but breeders get recommendations and more if they can’t home visit. Applications, contracts, and references are the usual.

      2. Rainy*

        Yeah, this is actually pretty normal. I was on a breeder’s list for years and we had a ton of conversations and emails and everything else over the years. I ended up getting another breed (long story), and that breeder’s wait list is so long that you basically have to know someone she knows well to even get a response from her.

      3. Courageous cat*

        I mean, asking someone to come to you to pick up something you’re buying from them, rather than them delivering it to you, isn’t what I would call outright ableist. That’s just… normal. Someone is going to have to travel.

        Under very special circumstances I can see the latter being considered, but it’s far from standard.

      4. KoiFeeder*

        While I don’t know the care requirements of Wheaten Terriers and I don’t know Bibliovore’s health issues, I do feel fairly certain that Bibliovore would not pick a dog with care requirements they couldn’t fulfill. So it probably is fairly silly to be sticking to performing a house visit during a pandemic (although hopefully Bibliovore isn’t American).

        All that being said, part of the reason Sir Fusspot was my first and last dog is that my health issues mean that I wouldn’t be able to appropriately care for a dog (okay, there might be a dog out there for me, but what I want in a dog and the care I am capable of providing seem to be mutually exclusive). While there’s no breed in existence that can only be cared for by a fully abled person, if I personally tried to adopt another corgi a good breeder would screen me out so fast it would give me whiplash, and that’s what’s supposed to happen!

    4. merope*

      I will note that there are breed-specific rescues, and perhaps there is a Wheaten rescue in your area, if you determine the effort here is beyond what you can attempt at present. I have multiple friends who have gotten their Wheatens from one or another of these organizations, and they are lovely dogs.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Meet half way, ask your niece to drive you. Tell the breeder your limitations ask if they will bring the pup so you can see the pup and participate in deciding if this is the right pup for you.

    6. Jim Bob*

      Flight, definitely, just be sure to sanitize and distance. Even with normal airline prices, that much time savings would be worth it, and right now tickets are probably cheaper than 13 hours worth of gas.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Not necessarily cheaper for US domestic flights. I recently saw a round trip to Iceland that was under $400, while the same date/airline was close to $1000 to fly round trip to NYC. Same date/airline
        going to Las Vegas was about $100 though so it’s really going to depend on where bibliovore lives and where they need to fly to.

    7. Bluebell*

      In precovid times, we drove 8 hours to pick up our rare breed dog. If you didn’t have the driving issues, I’d recommend driving, as it might be easier for pup. However, in your case I’d try for option C. Do lots of zoom with breeder, show breeder your house, etc. The one question I can see her asking- how will you socialize the new pup if you are at risk? Will new pup get to meet other dogs once it has all its vaccines? As you talk to breeder, ask if any of her dogs are close by, and you could meet another owner who might meet you in person and vouch for you? Part of the reason we got our current pup was that our past breeder recommended us. That made a difference. I don’t think you should wait for the next litter- it’s a good time to get a dog.

    8. Bibliovore*

      Clarifying. Thank you everyone who has posted.
      1. The actual cheapest is flying because I have Flight credits due to Covid.
      1.a- yes, flying would be the easiest on my body and Wheaten puppies are small enough to be put in a travel bag and go in the cabin. I would make sure with the airling.
      2. yes there is rescue- I have had a rescue Wheaten who had been 2 when I adopted her. A multitude of issues including PTSD. I would like the last dog of my life to come to me not having experienced trauma her entire life.
      3. I do not fault the breeder. They are trying to assure a good home AND make sure that I am not an evil puppy mill owner or willing to sell to them.

      1. Rainy*

        My husband flew to DC and back in July, and we didn’t get covid. He wore his mask, complained about people who didn’t, and sanitized hands and surfaces often. I think I’d fly.

        And fingers crossed for your new pup!

      2. pancakes*

        Dogs that come from breeders sometimes have trauma, too. One family dog we had growing up that came from a breeder, a bichon, was weaned too young and tried to suckle people’s arms the rest of his life.

        1. Bibliovore*

          oy. well this breeder is has a super reputation. They pride themselves on socialization and giving the pups a good start. We do have our old lady dog and there is a tennis court a block away where people bring their dogs to play early in the day. I think we could do that social distancing.

      3. Wandering*

        Would it make sense to do all of the above?
        You & your niece fly to the breeder. Rent a vehicle big enough for you to lie down in the back with the pup for as much of the trip as you prefer while niece drives. You could find a place for the night en route home for shorter driving days for everyone’s comfort.

    9. pet*

      Did you check to make sure the airlines are still allowing pets?

      I would say fly, but I know a lot of airlines cancelled allowing pets into the plane due to covid.

    10. 00ff00Claire*

      Could you rent an RV to make the trip? Maybe your niece could travel with you in the RV. If you have the time, you wouldn’t have to rush and maybe it would be easier on your hip and back. Or is there a possible Amtrak route (although I’m not sure about animals on Amtrak)?

    11. Quoth the Raven*

      I’d go with B, especially if you can fly with the puppy in the cabin (I would not do it if they’d have to fly as cargo), or ask your niece if she’d be willing to drive you.

      If none of these options work, are there pet transportation services available? I know there are dog relay services for adoptions/rescues, so perhaps there is a similar service you could use if flying with the puppy or driving would be impossible.

    12. Anono-me*

      Is it possible to ask the breeder if there’s anyone local to you that she knows and respects who could do the in-person interview for her?

      Otherwise; I’m going to echo 00ff00Clair and say the RV round trip roadtrip seems like a good idea.

      Also; I’m assuming part is the stress operating the gas and brake pedal puts on your hip, so you would want another driver. If your niece can’t go; is there anyone else in your circle who practices a similar level of covid safety that you could travel with? Since money is a lesser concern; maybe also look at people in your circle who you can hire, not just really good friends. If you do RV it, try and get one with good beds and maybe even plan to tweak the bed with a piece of plywood.

    13. Bibliovore*

      Ok. Thank you everyone who chimes in. I am going to stop trying to force a solution and be more mature than I want to be. It makes sense to get a dog closer to home these days. If it were not covid times a road trip would be a perfect idea.

      I will contact the breeder and if they are not able to change their policy, I will live with that.

      Just as our little old lady Bijon showed up as a foster that was “unadoptable” I can be a little more open minded. Started to look at other breeds like Tibetan Terriers that may be a good fit for us.

  30. Treebeardette*

    So I moved into a rental townhouse. They have connections with a company that does fiber internet. I paid for a gig plan because I do a lot of online gaming. However I noticed there aren’t any ethernet ports (or direct connections, Idk what to call them). Hooking up my PC to a cable is important. Does the company install the ports or the landlord? Am I just out of luck here and have to use wifi? I’m guessing if so, I’ll have to upgrade my router to handle day wifi.

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      I plug my ethernet into my router and it works ok. Your landlord would probably be the one to add the ethernet ports (points? also don’t know what to call them) but it’s unlikely any of the landlords *I’ve* had would do it :/

    2. BRR*

      recently went through new fiber internet installation. Most companies won’t do more than basic hook ups for the router (ie wont install other Ethernet ports). Plus you’d need your landlords permission before installing them. Talk to your landlord about installing them or you’ll have to plug your pc directly into your router.

    3. Anon for right now*

      No expertise here on gaming or technology, but I hadto thank you for the charming mental images that arose after I misread your first sentence as “So I moved into a rental treehouse.” Alas, the bubble burst as my mind tried to shoehorn routers and electrical wires into a treehouse.

    4. Gatomon*

      I work for a telco. If there isn’t already fiber to the unit, they will install the fiber, the ONT (terminates the fiber) and a jack to plug the router in to. This is part of the installation so typically would be included in the costs you were already quoted. It probably won’t cost the landlord anything, since you are requesting service, not them. I’m guessing this is the case if you don’t see an ONT or ethernet jack anywhere. You should be able to call the fiber internet company and find out more information on exactly what to expect for your install. If there’s no fiber to the unit they may need to do construction which can take a few weeks, or do a temp line until they can send a crew to bury the drop.

      We will do the work to install additional phone jacks for our standard charge rate (time + materials), but I haven’t heard anyone requesting additional ethernet jacks. Most people use wifi. I’m guessing more ethernet jacks would fall under our regular charges, but you can also call companies to come out and do it. Either way I’d expect that to be a cost to you, not the landlord, and they may object to the additional work. If the jack means your router isn’t near your PC, it’s probably going to be much easier to get a high-end wireless router, or move your PC, or maybe just deal with a visible cable running around the house along the baseboards. My parents opted for that last one for some reason!

    5. StrikingFalcon*

      What I did for the place I am staying is bought a MoCA adapter, which runs the Ethernet signal from the modem/router through the already installed coax cables. I don’t know if that would work for you, but it works quite well for me

  31. nep*

    In the market for a reading chair / chaise. I got one recently but it’s not doing it for me. I’m going to sell it and try another. Suggestions welcome. I like to sink into something and have my head / neck supported.

    1. AGD*

      Maybe a bowl chair/papasan? Super cozy, and you can move the cushion around a bit to get it to line up with head/neck.

    2. SpellingBee*

      Ekornes Stressless. They are without a doubt the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever sat in. They’re not cheap, but they last – ours is 35 years old and is still in great shape! It helps that it’s leather of course. You may be able to find a secondhand one if you’re lucky.

      1. nep*

        Oh, that looks really nice. I’d have to see whether they make a vegan version. Beautiful chair. Thank you.

    3. Llellayena*

      I’d love to have an old leather wingback chair or something with similar styling for a reading chair. I can tuck my head in the corner and pull my feet up (or a footstool, that works too). Not sure about the sinking in part thought. Wingback chairs tend to look a bit more formal which means they’re often a firmer cushion.

    4. Ron McDon*

      I love my Ikea Poang chair and footstool – it isn’t a chair I ‘sink into’ so probably isn’t what you’re after, but it is very comfortable.

      1. Bluebell*

        A friend gave me her IKEA Poang and it’s in our home office. I like to read there on the weekends, and also sometimes take phone calls and zoom calls there. Love having the foot rest too.

  32. Jessie*

    My husband and I have a problem. We were under the impression that schools will be online this term. But nope, all schools in the country are starting this month. Our five year old’s school starts tomorrow. I’ve tried to email the school administration to no avail.
    We got an email today, where they are offering worried parents to do online schooling for the “initial period” (the first two weeks.) Now, we can’t make a decision. My husband says that we don’t know when an outbreak will happen. We could keep him home for the first two weeks, then an outbreak happens on the third or fourth week or further into autumn. So, it’s pointless. Also, our son has Asperger and a developmental disorder and has really fallen behind and really needs the structure of a classroom to focus. I agree with all this. But I also believe his health is more important. Plus I did hear of outbreaks happening in other countries within the first week. So, would keep him home the initial two weeks? What would you do?

    ps: We live in a country with a lot of stigma towards special needs children and it was a miracle we got him in this school. His position is not stable at all, if he is not keeping up

    1. WellRed*

      I have no kids but I think I would keep him home for the first couple weeks and then reassess. I realize he’s special needs but he’s also only 5, it’s not ideal but it’s not affecting his chances to graduate.

    2. Ranon*

      Most of the places you are hearing about having big case surges are in areas that already had high levels in their population (day 1 cases are not from spread within school, day 1 cases are from the community. Week 2 or 3 clusters are what would indicate spread within the school, most places making the news never made it that far).

      Most kids have very mild or moderate disease, especially at the age your kiddo is. The bigger question is probably what are your risk factors if your kiddo brings it home? Are they in contact with just you? Are you all in contact with higher risk folks?

      If case counts are low, the school is taking reasonable precautions (particularly maintaining stable small cohorts), you as parents are low risk, and you don’t have contacts outside your household, I would send him. I’d ask since pointed questions about surveillance testing since so many folks are asymptomatic, but I’d send him.

      This Week in Virology answered a similar question on Thursday’s podcast that might help you think through the risk factors.

    3. MissGirl*

      One of the things an expert said at the start of all this that resonated with me is that being healthy is so much more than not being sick. I don’t know the right answer for you because there are so many variables. Prioritize what keeps your son the healthiest, physically and psychologically.

      1. Nita*

        That’s definitely a big thing to consider. I’m going crazy trying to find a way for my kids to be physically in school this year, because the five-year-old is having some scary mental health things cropping up, and the seven-year-old (who is normally much more resilient) is also starting to crack from barely spending any time with his peers. But we’re in NYC and the chances of them bringing the virus home are relatively low at this point. Case counts are low, day cares have been open since May, and I don’t know of any day care outbreaks. I think we may be at this level of risk for a long time (a year? more?) and at this point the risks of staying home are greater than the risks of going back to the classroom.

        I think the overall virus situation where you live should be a consideration. And whether you think the adults in your family are at risk. But also you’ve got to consider that even once the “peak” passes, there will be some risk for months or maybe years to come… it’s so hard to decide when the virus stops being a bigger risk than the isolation…

    4. RagingADHD*

      Where I live, school is not mandatory until age six, and I’m very confused by the idea of a child “falling behind” academically at age five!

      I don’t think there’s any purpose to online kindergarten. The benefit of kindergarten is social interaction and physical play. Obviously both those things will be disrupted by covid precautions, but if you don’t have access to other activities it still might be better than keeping him home.

      Another consideration would be how well he deals with change. Is it going to put him in a tailspin if he starts in person and then the school goes into a staggered schedule or shuts down?

      If all 3 of you are physically low-risk, I would decide based on what is likely to give him the best emotional experience. How will it likely affect him if his routine is disrupted by school shutting down right after it starts?

      If he needs a LOT of consistency, it’s probably better to start slow and stay home the first 2 weeks. That at least gives the school time to make decisions and adjust if necesary.

      If he can tolerate a bit of changeup and needs the structure/intervention of the classroom, it might be worth starting immediately so he can meet the teacher & his classmates. Then if they have to close, he will have the personal connection.

      These decisions are hard to make, and none of them are perfect. Emotional and developmental needs are also part of good health.

      1. sequined histories*

        In the US we’re trying to teach them to read kindergarten—it’s “the new first grade.” As a middle school/high school teacher and human being, I think this huge push to MAKE them read so early is nothing but toxic for society as a whole.

        However, if I had a child that age, I would be very anxious about bucking the trend—it’s a terrible trend but, what if not doing what everyone else is doing created its own problems for my kid?

        My own nephew was in “remedial” reading by first grade (last year). This past summer he became an avid reader, so I’m guessing he’s probably “caught up.” I can’t help but believe his so-called problem with reading could have been entirely avoided by not trying so hard to make sure kids can read by the end of kindergarten in the first place.

        I would love it if the pandemic made us reconsider these new early education mandates, but I don’t see that happening yet.

    5. Anon for this*

      If it were me, I would send him. People seem to be scoffing at the “falling behind” at 5, but these are precious developmental years, especially for a special needs kid. Work to use good hygiene practices, social distance, masks, as much as you can. Good luck.

      1. Jessie*

        I think we will go ahead and send him. It’s really terrifying. But the school is taking a lot of precautions and I think he needs the structure. I hope he is safe, God willing. And as people here said, there is going to be a risk for a very long time.

      2. Eeeek*

        Yes you can absolutely “fall behind” at 5 or even 3. Especially if you have something already making it harder. For a kid with a speech delay, losing out on 6 months of therapy could delay them for years and have permanent affects.

        1. Jessie*

          At his end of year assessment last June, he was the only kid who couldn’t form letters by himself. He has problems with fine motor skills and struggles to hold a pencil. The only kid who couldn’t count beyond 4. And he was in the weakest group in jollyohonics. So, yes you can fall behind at that age.
          It’s 6 am here. I’m waiting for the little one to wake up so we can start getting ready. It doesn’t help that he hates school lol.

      3. RagingADHD*

        I’m not scoffing at the idea of falling behind developmentally if school is the only place where he gets therapy/intervention.

        I understood from the post that there was a concern from the school about academic advancement- which, to my mind, is a developmentally inappropriate demand for any 5 year old.

        But it is what it is. At this point, consistency is probably the highest priority.

    6. Eeeek*

      Personally I’d send him. It sounds like he needs the structure and schooling. It’s extremely rare for kids to have serious complications but depending how risk you and your husband are would be the final call I guess. Everyone I know with kids has them in school or daycare so they can work.

    7. Observer*

      I don’t have a good answer for you, but I think you need to look at his health holistically – his mental and emotional well being is as much part of his health as his physical well being.

      Going from there, you need to look at how his all of the pieces interact, both in the short term and the longer term. And what are the relative levels of risk for him and the rest of your family. If you have a good pediatrician who understands his developmental disorders, that would be a really good person to discuss this.

      1. No fan of Chaos*

        Have you tried putting a mask on them for an extended period? Seems like a good idea to climatize children to masks for extended times in preparation for school.

  33. My Brain Is Exploding*

    Embarrassing moments of the week? Mine was discovering, late on Saturday, that I had typo’d in the open thread. I wrote 50% instead of 5% when discussing COVID positivity rates. I noted it, but far too late, and felt like a doofus!!

    1. Square Root of Minus One*

      I got my new phone on Wednesday. And I was getting crazy about it not detecting the SIM card. My cousin suggested I restart the phone, which I hadn’t done, and smirked pointing at my boyfriend’s chest.
      He was wearing, I kid you not, his T-shirt “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
      (He’s the IT guy at his job)

    2. ThePear8*

      This is pretty small and more of a programming/tech one but at work the code editor I was using gave me a pop-up that the free version of it I was using was about to expire. I immediately messaged my boss, asking if he wanted to suggest any alternative editors, and offering a few of my own suggestions. He then told me “[other version of exact same code editor] is free.” Oops! No alternatives needed!

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      Oh I love this thread! Went to register my kid to vote and we walked right past the giant sign on the door that said city hall wasn’t open and stared at another giant sign that said city hall wasn’t open and had to be told by someone that city hall wasn’t open. In my defense, the hours page of the website still has the hours, so that’s what was stuck in my brain. They updated the page for the new address but didn’t update the hours for covid.

    4. Double A*

      I wrangled my kitten and my toddler out the door on time, which is the first time I’ve taken my daughter anywhere with me since quarantine started, got to our vet appointment early, and called from the parking lot to check in. They didn’t have a record of the appointment but said they’d see what they could do.

      After about 15 minutes I realize…I had called a different vet and made an appointment there. I had meant to make it with the one I drove to, but called the wrong place. So I missed the appointment. So embarrassing.

  34. Instant Pots*

    Does anyone have an Instant Pot mini? I want to be better about cooking something for dinner (as opposed to always having rice and beans or pasta), and I like that it can cook quickly and from frozen, which have always been my two big barriers to being more adventurous in my after-work cooking. Since I have limited kitchen storage space and would be cooking single servings, I have been looking at the mini, but some things I’ve read online make it sound like it’s hard to halve recipes for it. Is that the case?

    1. GoryDetails*

      I have a mini, and have found some of the regular-size recipes a bit tricky to adjust – but there are cookbooks specifically for the mini, which helps.

      That said, I mainly use mine for cooking hard-boiled eggs and for preparing beans (from dry to done in an hour or so, without soaking! Yay!), and very seldom for actual meals.

    2. Unicornucopia*

      I have one, I mostly use it for rice, but also recently made a pork tenderloin (which I then shredded, BBQ style) which I just sort of guessed cooking times and such for. I haven’t really looked into a lot of InstantPot specific recipes, I typically adapt my own and it’s worked out well so far.

    3. Instant Pot thoughts*

      This is not really answering your question but I just wanted to raise the point to be careful about assessing how quickly the Instant Pot cooks if that is one of your main reasons for buying it. When I got our instant pot, one of the reason was because I thought it would it cook meals quickly but found that a lot of recipes don’t incorporate the time it takes to pressurize (and maybe also omit the depressurize time?) in the recipe times so in many cases it took the same amount of time as cooking on the stove top. Plus I find it a hassle to clean and it takes up a lot of storage space (mine is not a mini though). I would take into consideration the kind of foods you cook (it seems to be good with meats, beans, stews, rice, hard boiled eggs) and I think works less well with the kinds of foods I tend to cook which are more fish, veggies and Asian influenced meals. Lots of people love their Instant Pot, I just wish I assessed it more carefully before getting one.

      1. Natalie*

        I’ve noticed that same problem with cooking times. We eat a lot of beans and legumes, so it still saves us a lot of time, but if you make a lot of quick cooking items I don’t think it would be worth it at all.

      2. Generic Name*

        This. I think the advertised cooking times are disingenuous at best. “Cooks in 5 mins!” my foot.

        1. acmx*

          Agreed!

          I think it might be useful if you have frozen meat since you don’t have to thaw it first.

          I don’t find an IP useful.

        2. PollyQ*

          Yes, recipes that ignore the time to come to pressure and the time for pressure to release at Lying Liars Who Lie.

      3. Dan*

        For the sake of conversation…

        I find my instant pot super easy to clean, usually just a quick rinse of the pot is all it needs. If stuff is sticking/burning to the bottom, you may need to add more liquid to the recipe. Perhaps more importantly, if you’re “quick releasing” the pressure valve, then using “natural release” will probably be better. I know that if I QPR my rice, the rice will stick. NR it won’t. You can split the difference a lot of times as use 10 minutes of NR and then QPR the rest of it.

        As for the types of foods… the later model Instant Pots are far more than just a pressure cooker. I wouldn’t pressure cook fish or lots of vegetables (like you) but I’d certainly steam them. I really like steaming stuff in the IP, because water boils FAST in that thing.

    4. Generic Name*

      I have one. I got it when my sons dad moved out and I was cooking for kiddo and me or just me. It’s quite small and a lot of the recipes out there simply don’t fit in it. I’m honestly not in love with it like a lot of people are and really only cook rice in it. Unless you like (wet methods of) cooking a lot of huge hunks of meat or adore soups and stews, I would pass on the instant pot.

    5. Dan*

      I have a regular sized instant pot and cook for one most of the time, and TBH I think the regular one is appropriately sized. I’m not a True Believer like some people are, but I do find the instant pot convenient. Yes, “instant” is more of an advertising gimmick than truth in advertising.

      I steam quite a few things, and with the regular size, once you add the steamer basket, there’s not a ton of room in there. And for recipes such as rice where you made need some minimum amount of food to cook properly, you can use a pyrex bowl as an insert.

    6. BunnyWatsonToo*

      Space-wise, a mini is still awfully big. I gave mine away because it took up too much space in my kitchen just to occasionally boil eggs.

    7. PollyQ*

      I have one, and I haven’t found that halving recipes is an issue. There are cookbooks that are made specifically for the Mini, and also some general IP cookbooks that tell you when & how to halve recipes.

      I’m also a single apartment-dweller, so the Mini felt like it made more sense for me, and it’s mostly been good. I kinda wish I’d gotten the full-size, though, so I could make bigger batches and have leftovers. But my folks have a full-size IP, and it does take a good chunk more space, so…

      Another issue is buying accessories, e.g., pans, liners. Many of them are only made for full-size pots, so if you thought you might want to make steamed puddings or something like that in the IP, it’d be harder to find the tools for that.

      Another issue is that I believe the wattage on the mini is lower, which means that trying to get a good sear on meat before the pressure cooking is really difficult. I generally just use a separate non-stick frying pan for that.

    8. Square Root of Minus One*

      I have a regular one and I agree that pressurizing time is not taken into account. Nor is depressurizing time for that matter, which can cause some steamed veggies to be a bit overcooked.
      I never tried recipes. I use it for cooking beans (not soaked) or rice, and I find it better than a pot for soup and stews, it doesn’t burn. Also steam fish and non-leafy veggies (leafy ones get overcooked).
      I won’t use it for eggs, sauces, sautéed anything, or baking.

      1. Dan*

        FWIW, the steam function on my IP doesn’t pressurize, so I don’t have to worry about overcooking as a result of that. I don’t even have to seal the lid to steam.

        1. Square Root of Minus One*

          Interesting. I’ll have to check but I could have sworn the steam program of mine doesn’t have the low pressure option.
          Of course I could leave the valve open but then the timer wouldn’t start, so I might as well use an ordinary pot.

  35. Crazy probiotics + heart issues?*

    Hi! A crazy thing happened to me a couple of months ago. In February, I started taking these probiotics/prebiotics. I had started getting some heartburn and thought it would be good to start taking them, plus I have Hashimoto’s and have been on synthetic thyroid hormones for 14 years and thought these might help with that.

    In early May, I started feeling very off. I felt “revved up,” my heart rate was beyond elevated and I started having heart palpitations every other day. I couldn’t even have one sip of coffee without it feeling like I had taken an adderall + monster energy drink. It was insane and I had never been affected by coffee like that. I couldn’t have alcohol, anything that elevated my heart rate was out the door.

    I went to the doctor and my thyroid levels were good, a bit on the verge of “hyper” or overactive, so we reduced my thyroid medicine (first time in 14 years I had ever reduced the meds, so I thought the probiotics were healing my condition).

    In late June, the same thing came back. I felt on fire all the time. Super revved up. I remember one morning I drank a coffee and for 6 hours I felt like I was going to explode. Went back to the doctor and had my thyroid levels measured, and they were 100% normal. About a week later I thought “what if it’s these crazy probiotics I’m taking?” So I stopped and about a week later I felt normal. I haven’t taken them in about a month, tried another brand, and within 2 days felt the same way. I haven’t taken anything like that since then.

    I couldn’t find a lot of information about probitoics causing issues like this and my doctor hadn’t heard of it either. Has anyone had a similar experience?

    1. Generic Name*

      Strange. What are the other ingredients in the pills? I switched to Splenda in my coffee a few years ago and started getting heart palpitations around the same time. I did some googling, and other people reported the same thing. It’s not in the “official” list of side effects, but the palpitations stopped when I stopped consuming Splenda.

    2. Nita*

      That’s crazy, and I’m glad you were able to find the cause! It does happen. I had a very odd side effect to fenugreek herbal supplements a few years ago. It did something to my blood sugar and I completely lost the desire to eat. It was definitely the fenugreek (though unfortunately it took a couple of months to figure that out), but afterwards I googled and googled and could not find anyone complaining of the same thing.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I don’t know what was causing it – probably a reaction to dyes or sweeteners as others mentioned. But there’s a big issue here I want to address, because it’s going to make you vulnerable to people who will rip you off and possibly damage your health.

      Nutritional interventions like probiotics may be able to reduce the symptoms of autoimmune disease or slow down its progress. They don’t make organs grow back.

      If you were properly diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and your immune system has been attacking your thyroid for 14 years, you have a lump of scar tissue in your neck. It is atrophied. Gut flora are not going to “heal” it.

      The thyroid glad can partially regenerate after removal, due to the action of TSH. In cases of regeneration, probiotics have nothing to do with it. And since your blood tests came back normal in June, your TSH was not elevated.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. Probiotics cen be very, very useful. But they are NOT going to reverse Hashimotos, especially not at this point.

    4. Ron McDon*

      I find anything which has caffeine in gives me these symptoms – have you checked the ingredient list to see what other ingredients it has?

      1. Crazy probiotics + heart issues?*

        Just a bunch of probiotics/prebiotics. Here’s the link:

        https://seed.com/pages/label-101/

        I’m 100% fine now that I stopped taking them and can drink my normal amount of coffee again without any problems. Currently drinking some cold brew now :P

        1. Ron McDon*

          Yes, there doesn’t seem to be anything ‘hiding’ in the ingredient list that could account for your symptoms- very weird. I hate not knowing why my body reacted in a certain way!

          Glad you can enjoy your coffee again – I have to drink mainly decaf due to caffeine making me feel very ill, it’s not the same as proper coffee!

    5. Eeeek*

      I actually have. Even went to the hospital. The probiotics were the only change. It made no sense. I always convinced myself that the probiotics couldn’t have done it but I think they did. Look up histamine intolerance. I think that’s what I have.

      1. Crazy probiotics + heart issues?*

        Oh wow! This is so interesting and definitely sounds like something that happened!

    6. PollyQ*

      A lot of “nutritional supplements” are minimally regulated in the US. IDK if actual probiotics could cause problem, but who knows what you were taking?

      1. Crazy probiotics + heart issues?*

        Totally true. I’ve heard some horror stories lately and have definitely decreased the amount of supplements I’ve been taking.

    7. Happy Lurker*

      I also have Hashi’s and heart palpitations with any minimal caffeine intake. I aways have attributed it to caffeine versus my probiotics or other supplements. Your take on probiotics is intersting to me, and I will give my probiotics a break this week to see how I feel.
      Thanks so much for sharing CP+HI.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Forgot the most important part, which is that stress is my biggest trigger for my heart palpitations. So in this current climate and my stress has been through the roof!
        Let’s connect next weekend and see if stopping the probiotics ceases the palpitations.

      2. Crazy probiotics + heart issues?*

        It was SO strange! I’ll have a heart palp every 6 months or so but it’s so small and not recurring enough for me to be worried. Some of the ones I had when I took probiotics were insane, lasted way long and were huge. So scary.

        I’ve always been able to drink caffeine (I love my morning coffee) and am glad it was the probes and not the coffee! Heart breaking! Haha.

    8. WS*

      I have the exact opposite problem to you (I had Hashimoto’s and thyroid cancer and a complete thyroidectomy) and sometimes end up hypothyroid because I also have Crohn’s and the resultant absorption issues. My guess would be that the probiotics improved your absorption of the synthroid which sent you hyperthyroid. The second time, even if you were within normal range, you were high *for you* and got the same effects. Obviously your system is well-balanced as is and don’t mess with it!

      1. Crazy probiotics + heart issues?*

        I absolutely think that is what happened! Why mess with a good thing!? Heh. Although I really never knew this could have happened. I think I’m actually more hypo now because my medicine was reduced – just had some blood work done Friday, so we’ll see what it comes back as.

        Needless to say, I’m never taking probes again! :P

  36. HannahS*

    Children’s last names: How did you (or people you know) decide what to do, if they didn’t give the father’s last name?
    I know some people who’ve hyphenated, of course. One family I know, both parents have colour last names–like, Greene and Brown–so they gave the kids the last name “Olive.” I thought that was a creative solution!

    1. Parenthetically*

      I have some friends who hyphenated, but my favorite is the ones who made an anagram with letters from both names to have an entirely new name!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have friends who gave their son mom’s last name and their daughter dad’s. I also have other friends who did that the other way around.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I know some people who did this, using both parent’s last names as Middle and Last, but different order for the different kids.

        Of course, if you have an odd number of children… :)

        I know others who gave the mother’s mother’s “maiden” name, or otherwise chose a name from within the family history.

        My relative gave the father’s mother’s family/maiden name, and in fact now both parents are changing to it, too!

      2. Mila*

        We did this but gave our first kid my last name (dad’s last as middle) and our second has dad’s last (my last as middle). I recommend it!

    3. OyHiOh*

      My children have their father’s name – traditional, didn’t even think about it – but I kept my maiden name so there are ocassional situations where I have to clarify names but overall not a big deal. Given that he died when the kids were all young, the name is a nice connection to have with him.

      If I could go back for a redo, I think that I would have done a my name for my son/father’s name for the girls. I like anagram names in general but the specific letters involved didn’t come out to anything nice.

    4. Natalie*

      Honestly, I pretty much decided. Neither my husband or I changed our names, but I wanted our kid(s) to have both last name because it is genuinely easier to share a last name with your kiddo in a lot of situations. It probably shouldn’t be, but that’s not really something I have control over. I’m the filler of forms in our household, so any pain from the double barrel last name is mine alone.

      I figure our kid(s) would have basically the same potential name change issues as adults regardless of what their name was, so that wasn’t a reason to avoid a double-barrel name.

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      My children have both of our last names. It’s so much easier when travelling alone or for people knowing whose parent you are.

    6. Double A*

      We just hyphenated. I would have preferred a combination last name because you can pretty much just smush our last names together and they make what I think is a cute name, but my husband doesn’t like the portmanteau. We use it as our informal family name but husband and I kept our last names and hyphenated the kid’s.

      Hearing what my coworker is going through changing her name I’m so glad I kept mine.

    7. Not that Leia*

      My husband has a hyphenated name (and ambivalent feelings about it), so both kids have my name. (I’m a woman.) Just wanted to put it out there that in today’s world, shouldn’t have to be the default that kids get the father’s name, or that it’s always the wife who changes her name. You could pick whichever name you like best. I have friends who then use the other name as a family middle name if you want to keep both.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Icelandic friends…whole country still uses patronimic. So using Viking mythology, 3 children of Thor Odinsson are Móði Thorsson, Magni Thorsson, Þrúðr Thorsdottir.
      It makes for lengthy envelope addresses, I’m sure.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, and an interesting phone book, which is indexed by first name. Phone books are pretty non-existent these days, I expect…

    9. allathian*

      We went the traditional way. I changed my name when I got married and our son has the same name. It wasn’t particularly onerous for me, because I got married two months before my due date, when I was on medical leave due to pregnancy complications. I did need a new ID and driving license, but applying for those was a breeze. I notified my bank of my name change and they issued a new credit card. I also informed my employer so they could get all the paperwork done and everything was in my new name when I went back to work.

      The law here is that you can’t give full siblings different family names, except in very particular circumstances. If the parents of a child are unmarried, the default is that the child gets the mother’s family name, although it’s possible to opt for the father’s family name, too. If they subsequently marry and the wife changes her name and they have another child, the baby born to the married parents will get the joint family name. Usually, if the mother changes her name, the names of older siblings are changed as well. However, if a child is at least 12 years old, they have to be consulted in any name changes, and it can’t be changed against their will. Such cases are very rare, though. In the only case I know where this was an issue, the mother changed her mind before the wedding and took a hyphenated name to share names with her daughter. The younger son got his father’s name.

    10. Bagpuss*

      My brother and his fiancée chose to pick a new surname so they and their daughter all have the same name but it’s different from both their ‘maiden’ names.
      They decided that hyphenation just pushes the issue back to the next generation and that they wanted to all have the same name, but not to take the other’s name.

    1. nep*

      For me, roasting makes everything delicious.
      As far as raw (greens / salads), I love adding dulse flakes.

    2. Ali G*

      I personally think veggies are delicious! What don’t you like about them?
      A fool proof trick: olive oil, salt, pepper and a little red pepper flake – roast in the oven until brown.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, I think the key is figuring out what you don’t like about them — I also think veggies are delicious! BUT, I do recall my perpetually-dieting mother’s veggie method, which made everything taste equally disgusting: put frozen cauliflower or similar in a pan with salt, Italian seasoning, and fat-free powdered butter flavoring. Add a little water, put the lid on, and steam until mushy. (Contrast that with my cauliflower: toss cauli florets, sliced onions, and whole, unpeeled garlic cloves in olive oil and salt and pepper, roast at 425 on a big tray until crackly and caramelized. Top with buttery toasted bread crumbs into which you have smashed up the roasted garlic.)

        1. Reba*

          “fat-free powdered butter flavoring”

          that’s just… so sad.

          But yes, many veggies are fantastic in a high heat roast. Some veggies are beautiful just blanched or steamed, so they stay beautifully greened.

          So I would say, the “hack” is figuring out the methods you like best for individual veggies. The other hack-like ideas I have are: miso, garlic, lemon, good chunky salt, and maybe some spice blends (I have this wonderful one with salt, ginger, harissa, and something else I’m forgetting).

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yeah, we ate a lot of really sad diet food during my growing-up years. I take a lot of pleasure now in eating the lovely normal full-fat versions of the tragic fat-free things I ate as a kid.

            1. Bibliovore*

              My mother must have hung out with yours. the only meat was chicken breasts marienated in some kind of italian fat-free dressing mix. No bread. OR a two slice allotment per day. No butter, no salt. No sugar. No jam. Salad had a splash of lemon juice that came in a plastic lemon. Frozen vegetable boiled on the stove. plain boiled potatoes. (and the worst- she sent me to school with a can of sardines for lunch. really)
              Now we eat- roasted vegatable- toss vegetables in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, roast at 475. yum
              This works with brussel sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli.

              1. Parenthetically*

                Yes! Chicken breasts in fat-free Italian dressing — a regular feature at my house. Sometimes my dad put his foot down and grilled it with some actual oil on it.

                1. Bibliovore*

                  yep. My brothers and I to this day refuse to eat white meat chicken. And yes- sticks of butter, whole milk, whole yogurt, cream cheese, AND brie are all in the fridge right now. and a beautiful loaf of whole grain sour dough bread.

            2. Generic Name*

              SAME! My mother is a wonderful person, but not a great cook, and she bought into the fat free diet that was in fashion in the 80s. Meat was dry and overcooked. “Alfredo” sauce consisted or margarine and a few shakes of grated Parmesan. Now I add butter and cream to everything. I drink whole milk. Bwa ha haaa

        2. Ali G*

          Right! I think so many people are traumatized re veggies because their parents only served frozen vegs that were mushy and tasteless. And then they think the only way for them to taste good is to drown them in cheese or something.

      2. fposte*

        I have a list of different seasonings like that! I forget them if I’m just staring into the fridge.

    3. Aspiring novelist*

      Roasting them, particularly with any/all of the following: butter, salt, onions, garlic.
      (You did not ask how to keep them healthy. But I’ve been reading that butter is not the villain we were once told it was, so…?)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I once bet my housemate that I could get him to not only eat Brussels sprouts but ask for seconds. I then got a pound of bacon out of the fridge.

        I won the bet. :-P

        1. Anon for right now*

          Genius!!!! Also, your comment would be great as a three-sentence novel/short story or on a customized T-shirt.

          I might adapt your recipe with turkey “bacon” for my own reluctant veggie eater. (We keep kosher at home. Away we’re less strict, but we still decline bacon.) Will report back if it’s a roaring success.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            My normal roasting is with olive oil – using bacon grease instead was the big guns :) toss them in olive oil with lots of garlic and salt and pepper and roast, then throw in the chopped “bacon” at the end so it doesn’t get burnt during the roasting. (I also added Parmesan cheese, but that’s not going to work for kosher obviously.)

            He was like “there’s so much bacon and cheese and garlic here I don’t even notice the veggies! This is so cheating!” I said “Gimme my five bucks.” :)

            1. Anon for Right Now, aka Jean (just Jean)*

              Now you have a six-sentence novel/short story or two paragraphs for that customized t-shirt.
              Love the idea of bacon grease as the big (culinary) gun. (Kosher now, but I enjoyed me some BLT sandwiches in my youth.)
              Thanks for the chuckles.

    4. TPS reporter*

      Depends on the veggie. Grilling eggplant, zucchini and peppers is divine. Cauliflower is great roasted. You can also “rice” it and sauteed with nice olive oil and seasoning. Trader joes makes a vegan “chicken” seasoning that is so good. Spinach in a simple sauteed with garlic. Kale chips crisped in the oven with salt. Carrot puree.

    5. Blue Eagle*

      This question reminds me of a couple of years ago a co-worker brought extra swiss chard into the office. I thought you were supposed to just steam it and served it to DH that way and his response was “no need to make this again”.
      The next week at the farmer’s market I told the story to one of the farmers and she responded “Oh honey, you are cooking it all wrong. You need to fry it slightly in olive oil and add chopped sweet onions, crushed garlic, 1/2 a small apple chopped in small pieces and crumbled bacon pieces. I’ll even give you some free swiss chard so you can serve it to your husband cooked that way and every week you’ll be back here buying more chard to serve him.”
      Needless to say I prepared it that way and this summer I have a garden full of two types of swiss chard that we enjoy eating every week.

    6. Mohr*

      For asparagus, although it probably works for other vegetables as well:
      (1) Cut off woody ends and steam in covered pan until you can spear them with a fork.
      (2) Remove lid, pour off extra water, add a decent amount of olive (or other cooking) oil. Season with salt, pepper, garlic salt/powder, and soy sauce. Cook until soy sauce has reduced.

      I will eat an entire bunch of asparagus in this manner.

      1. Caterpie*

        We do something similar but with lemon juice instead of soy sauce. Your version sounds fantastic though, I may try that next time!

      2. LuckySophia*

        Asparagus cooked like this but with *sesame oil*…and thin sprinkle a few toasted sesame seeds over top…yummmmm!!!

    7. NeonFireworks*

      I find a lot of raw vegetables unpalatable, so I either buy them pickled/canned, or stir fry with teriyaki sauce or miso.

    8. Caterpie*

      A celiac disease diagnosis forced my hand, but I’ve been replacing pasta with veggies for a while now. A spiralizer has been a great investment – you can spiralize zucchini and serve it any way you would serve spaghetti.

      Spaghetti squash is also wonderful. I’ve seen a ton of recipes for it ranging from simply served with red sauce, to chicken-bacon-ranch alfredo type dishes, so you can really get creative.

      Sheet pan veggies are also fun – just cut sweet and russet potatoes, red onions, squash, etc into 1 inch chunks, toss with oil and bake. I like to add balsamic vinaigrette to mine at the end too.

    9. Trixie*

      I love sautéed veggies but am looking at a cashew “cheese” sauce made with Yukon gold potatoes, carrots, spices, and nutritional yeast flakes. I could also see adding some soft tofu for some protein as well.

    10. Chaordic One*

      Most vegetables are kind of bland by themselves. Like the other people have said, roasting in olive oil or else served with a pat of butter or margarine.

      Maybe add some spices. I’m lazy and a big fan of the various “Mrs. Dash” salt-free seasoning blends. Sometimes I might spritz with some salad dressing, something like a balsamic vinaigrette or good old-fashioned “Italian”. You might also consider sprinkling with Mozzarella cheese (or as an alternative, nutritional yeast).

    11. lazy intellectual*

      I love soup, so cooking them down into some sort of puree soup and blending them altogether. I use a chicken broth base with onion, garlic, and ginger, and salt. It takes out the veggie-flavor.

      I also like making fruit smoothies and sneaking a handful of spinach in. You can’t taste it.

      Cheese makes everything delicious.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Spiralizer. I had heard people say the way meat is cut changes the flavor. I finally saw this with veggies. The spiralized squashes just taste so much better than plain squash slices.

    13. Roja*

      1) Roast them, seriously. Pretty much any veggie tastes amazing with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
      2) Buy good quality, in season veggies. If you’re buying limp lettuce in December, nothing you do will make it truly tasty. But if you’re buying, say, a radish in season, you hardly have to do anything. It doesn’t have to be local/organic (and for some things that’s impossible anyway). It just has to be in season and fresh.

    14. Emma2*

      I will admit up front that I generally really like my veggies (except green salad – a basic green salad will usually bore me; I almost never make them), so we may not like the same things.
      As everyone else has said – roasting. Maybe start with some roasted sweet potato or cauliflower. They both have a nice texture when roasted, and stand up well to some robust flavours if you want to spice them up.
      Raw veggies with hummus. I would eat almost anything with hummus, but carrot sticks and hummus are a go to snack. You can also make vegetable-based dips like babaganoush (eggplant) or muhammara (red pepper).
      Add extra veggies to sauce – if I am making a tomato-based sauce for pasta, I will toss in things like frozen spinach, diced carrots or bell peppers.
      Stir fry – such a quick way to prepare veggies (once you have them chopped), and you can get lots of flavour from your sauce.
      Smoothies – I usually include some frozen spinach in my smoothies.
      If you are looking for some inspiration, the recipes on the Cookie and Kate blog are usually quick, easy, tasty and full of vegetables.

    15. Anono-me*

      Plain vegetables microwaved and lightly salted.

      Put the fresh vegetables in a bowl with just a little bit of water, cover with plastic wrap. Microwave. Lightly salt.

      For corn on the cob, leave the husk alone. Wrap it in a damp towel microwave for 5-7 minutes. Cut the bottom of the ear off at a slight diagonal over the widest part. Use a potholder to grasp the top of the husk and squeeze to push out the ear of corn. A little bit of butter or olive oil helps the salt stay on.

    16. frystavirki*

      My absolute favorite vegetable preparation is one that I, no joke, learned at a hospital. I was staying at NIH for a 9-day clinical trial and they served this zucchini thing which I immediately told my mom about. I now can eat about five zucchinis’ worth of it at once. It is: zucchini (quartered and chopped), tomatoes (same), rosemary, and shallot. Pretty sure you sautee the shallot in oil first, and then the rest goes in and you sautee it until it’s done but not mushy. It’s very flavorful and nice. Another thing my mom does is cut zucchini, carrots, and summer squash into ribbons and cook them in toasted sesame oil, which is extremely delicious. Everyone else has given you the roasting advice already, but that’s also something I will eat lots of. My favorite roasting candidates are carrots, parsnips, brussels sprouts, and sweet potato.

    17. Not A Manager*

      SOUP!! Right now I am eating, for breakfast because I’m weird that way, soup that contains onions, carrots, celery, fennel, cabbage, tomatoes, arugula, mushrooms, broad beans, and bean sprouts. It used to have chicken in it, too, but I’ve eaten all of that.

      Another favorite is ratatouille.

    18. Grey Coder*

      White miso as part of a rub before roasting — 4 parts white miso, 2 parts maple syrup, 1 part sesame oil, rub on any vegetable before roasting. White miso is umami in a jar.

      Sesame oil is also good — just a dash on cooked greens.

  37. Aspiring novelist*

    Any NaNoWrMo folks out there? I know its early, but I’ve wanted to participate for possibly a literal decade and I’m finally going to do it this year. My main goal is to just build a daily writing habit, which I’m starting now.
    But I would love to hear from other folks juggling full time work and other responsibilities while writing a novel. Any time management (or expectation management) tips?

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      Forget about editing and write, write, write! And make sure any household members know to give you space!

    2. Felicia*

      3 tips that have worked for me
      – find a NaNoWriMo community and attend their events. Most places have them through the official NaNoWriMo website. This year all the events will be virtual, at least the official ones, but seeing other people doing the same thing is motivating.
      – Tell as many people as you can that you’re doing it. Then if they ask about it, it motivates you to continue.
      – Carve in some writing time into your day. I know a lot of people who wrote on their lunch breaks. I commute by subway so I used that for writing too, and I woke up 10 minutes earlier than normal in November for regular writing time.

      Its important to remember no matter how many words you have at the end of November, if it’s more than you started with, you’ve won

    3. Oxford Comma*

      I have tried and failed to complete a novel for NaNoWrMo for years now, but maybe this is the year.

    4. midnightcat*

      As mentioned above I’m considering it but I worry it will be a distraction from actually writing!

    5. LQ*

      Know what kind of person you are. If you’re a perpetual procrastinator then don’t commit yourself to a full thanksgiving weekend full of stuff because you’ll likely be trying to catch up. If you’re a start strong person plan to stay up late or get up early and write all day on the 1st. If you can do it I highly recommend taking a day off work or two, or in my case half-day Wednesday’s all month (not this year but years past). If you are a challenge person make sure that you have pre-set up challenge elements (write or die, sprint tracking partners or tools, rewards). If you are a social person find good accountability buddies. If you are a planner, plan now. If you are a wing-it person have spare writing prompts and things for days where you don’t have “inspiration.”

      And if you are starting the daily habit now it’ll really help. I like a good word count/writing tracker to help with this.

      Good luck!

  38. Purt’s Peas*

    What’s everyone reading?

    I’m on book 2 of the Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein—enjoying these so much!

    I read Women’s Work recently and now my husband is reading it. I think Parenthetically recommended it on here? If so, thank you :D

    1. Blue Eagle*

      I just finished Samantha Powers “The Education of an Idealist”. This book was very long but was actually a great read. It was interesting and eye-opening to learn about:
      – the Bosnian war (of the mid 1990’s) from the prospective of a journalist covering the war,
      – the ups and downs of advising the U.S. President about actions to take to advance human rights in foreign countries
      – what the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations actually does on a day-to-day basis.

      It is an excellent memoir and I highly recommend this book!

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        That sounds fascinating. I’ll keep that on my list (though it might have to wait until I have more fortitude to handle semi-modern politics, haha).

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      Oh also finished Harrow the Ninth and really enjoyed it, even though I can barely stand second-person POV narration. I’m curious what other people think about it, though it’s so hard to talk about it without gigantique spoiler risk.

      1. Jr. Woodworker*

        Oh I read Harrow the Ninth too! I liked it, though tone-wise it’s such a shift from Gideon’s narration in the previous book. The varying povs worked for me, especially by the end, but then I don’t mind 2nd person too much. I did really like getting to see much more of this universe than we did in Gideon, though. Did you feel this one was more plot/worldbuilding-focused than plot/character-focused, compared to the first?

        Also I’m pretty sure I know what spoiler you’re talking about, and my heart stopped the first time it was hinted at!
        !!

        1. Purt's Peas*

          I feel like it’s 100% spoiler, haha! But yeah the book really is such a shift in structure and style from Gideon, and honestly my issue is that I really liked Gideon as a narrator and simply didn’t care as much about Harrow. So I was like, aw nuts. Plot-wise it was definitely a lot more scattered, though understandably so for spoiler reasons. I agree that it really focused on worldbuilding over character–obviously both novels are pretty focused on their respective POV characters but Gideon The Ninth was definitely more plot/character-focused.

          So many heartstopping moments, though, and it was so cool to see the universe at work. I really enjoyed basically every single twist. AND I’m really looking forward to the final The Ninth :)

          1. Jr. Woodworker*

            Haha I felt the same way. I loved Gideon as a character/narrator so much and it was hard for another narrator to match that, but to be fair I knew that going in! And I still enjoyed it a lot, especially the twists like you said.

            Oh yeah I’m definitely excited to see how the next book plays out!

    3. Parenthetically*

      I’m in the midst of the sixth Gamache book, Bury Your Dead, and absolutely loving it. I think Louise Penny’s writing style is the most cinematic of all the sort of pop-detective fiction authors, and being a very visual person, I really enjoy how I can “see” the scenes as though watching a movie.

      I also just finished Underground Railroad which is obviously incredible, but also one of the grimmest books I have ever read. My husband and I enjoy reading aloud to each other, and we just finished Gerald Murnane’s The Plains which you just have to get your hands on and work through for the sheer pleasure of his writing. I have no idea what the book is about, but the writing is just ACHINGLY beautiful and sly and baroque and wonderful.

      1. Purt's Peas*

        I like the Gamache books–my mom loves them, enough to complain vociferously about the economics of the small town, which is so funny to hear. Every time she brings them up she has to end on, “I love them, but HOW can a town that tiny support a fancy artisanal B&B AND this bookstore…AND whatever other thing…AND they have these beautiful houses…”

        1. Marthooh*

          It’s the same strange magic that keeps up the population of Cranberry Cove, Maine, in spite of the horrific murder rate.

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        Thank you!!!! Murnane! I have been trying so hard to recall his name lately. I loved Stream System.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I’d never heard of him — this was a book my Aussie husband got as a gift from his brother years ago and never got around to, so we decided after we finished our last read-aloud to tackle it.

    4. Nervous Nellie*

      I am hugely enjoying The Tyranny of Public Discourse, about Abraham Lincoln’s 6-step method for creating persuasive arguments.

      Also loving The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1/4 Years Old. Funny & poignant!

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I started The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, but just bounced off it super hard. I’m not sure why – I love postapoc fiction, so it should have been right up my alley — I’ll try it again in a couple months. Otherwise, this week, I reread The Golden Compass (after spending last Saturday binging the BBC/HBO season one of His Dark Materials), read Alison’s rec last week of Before the Fall, and my bestie’s suggestion of Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, which really is kinda like a grownup version of The Westing Game.

      I have a bunch of library books on deck and am debating where to go next. I just grabbed a couple of memoirs, a couple of Shirley Jackson classics, and the first books of a couple of John Bellairs series – one that I loved as a kid (the Johnny Dixon books) and one that I didn’t know about (The House With A Clock In Its Walls, that the movie was based on). But I’ve also been pondering a reread of some long-time favorites – last week I plowed through a bunch of Richard Preston medical nonfiction, which made me think about “Rabid” and “And The Band Played On.”

      1. Parenthetically*

        Richard Preston! I read SO MUCH of his stuff in high school. I was obsessed! I should go back to some favorites and see if it holds up to my adult tastes.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          When you read three of his books back to back, you do realize that he tells the same stories in each, haha. He’s got a new(er) one that talks about the Ebola outbreaks in what, 2015? as well.

      2. Ali*

        I LOVE Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts. I’m from Boston, and the author does the best job of setting the story in the city.

      3. Emily*

        I’ll have to look into Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts – I love The Westing Game!

        I really enjoyed The Fifth Season and its sequels, and don’t remember having much trouble getting into it? But I’ve had that experience with other books that should have been my thing.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Fifth Season is on my desk to start next. I adored Jemison’s short stories, collected in “How Long zuntil Black Future Month?” Have you read any of those?
        I’m not enjoying my current book and hope I don’t have two unexpected slogs in a row.
        The new one I just started is Garth Nix “Angel Mage”…and the apparent main character is so cavalier with others’ lives, by Chapter 2 I am rooting against her and hoping this is the villain. We shall see.

    6. Llama face!*

      I just read The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires and, while it was a bit more “horror-y” than I usually prefer, I enjoyed reading it. This line just cracked me up: “”I am not sure what the appropriate gesture is to make toward the family of the woman who bit off your ear, but if you felt absolutely compelled, I certainly wouldn’t take food.”
      (Content warning for those considering reading: r@pe, creepy bug/animal horror, gory bits, racial violence)

    7. Overeducated*

      I’m reading NK Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy. I’m on the second book, The Broken Kingdoms. I’m enjoying them.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      I just picked up a couple of short story collections at the library – hurray for librarians doing librarian stuff, not childcare! – that I’ve barely started. Many different authors included, so I expect some stories will be less enjoyable than others, but I hope to find a couple of new favorites.
      The Book of Dragons, edited by Strahan, from Harper Voyager
      Star Destroyers, edited by Daniel and Ruocchio

    9. GoryDetails*

      Some interesting ones, including:

      MY LAST CONTINENT by Midge Raymond, touted as “a love story about the Antarctic” – featuring a literal love story and another for the Antarctic continent itself, and for the colonies of penguins that the protagonist is there to study. [I had some issues with the way the story worked out, but I liked the asynchronous order and the cautionary-tale bits about the hazards of tourism in a fragile ecosystem.]

      FOREVER by Pete Hamill, about a young man who becomes immortal – as long as he stays on Manhattan Island. There’s a lot more to it than that, touching on the history of Irish immigrants, African slavery, government corruption, and personal vengeance across the centuries – unusual and interesting.

      And for some graphic-novel fun, the FENCE books by C. S. Pacat, about competitive fencers (with some romance on the side).

  39. CTT*

    I am almost done with “The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures” by Jennifer Hoffman; I read a review that described it as John le Carre with sci-fi elements, which is extremely up my alley. It’s about a Stasi officer at the end of the Cold War looking for a missing woman while flashing back to his time spying on a scientist who worked on an American project on teleportation. It’s little too contemplative at times, but I’m enjoying it.

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      That sounds really cool! Contemplative like, it slows down the narrative too much sometimes?

      1. CTT*

        It’s more emotional than plotty. Which is good! But I was expecting more action and not “here is a chapter about the main character remembering when his mother killed herself at the end of World War 2 and that everything in life is temporary.”

  40. Laura H.*

    Getting my porch time a little earlier than usual and with some sweets (donuts) and a hot chocolate. Bit warm but still pleasant. Porch time helps me retain my head during all this COVID stuff.

    What things do y’all do that are small but make huge differences in your well-being?

    1. nep*

      Forest bathing, meditation–Both have helped immensely.
      Porch time sounds wonderful. I love a cozy porch.

      1. nep*

        Yes–just seeing NeonFireworks’ comment. I would be lost and miserable without my workouts…But that’s long been the case, pre-pandemic. I am grateful every moment of every day that I’m able to move my body and exercise. An absolute life-saver. (And it truly can be any way one is able to move.)

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yep, my habits-tracker item for exercise is “Movement.” Can be vigorously scrubbing out the tubs + scrubbing floors, can be a 15-minute dance party with my kids. Walking a couple miles around the zoo ABSOLUTELY counts. I aim for 6 days a week, and usually hit 5 days a week, and it is an absolute lifesaver for my head. That and Zoloft, but we’re going for a holistic approach to mental health here! ;)

    2. NeonFireworks*

      Exercise. I am not very athletic and definitely do not love it – it’s like a household chore – but I feel really good if I’ve been keeping up with it!

    3. Kathenus*

      Definite porch time. I’m split WFH and at the office, on my WFH days when it’s not too hot I work part of the day on the back porch which is wonderful. Also avoiding the real-life politics on TV by re-watching my collection of the entire West Wing series DVD’s. If only…

    4. Bibliovore*

      I’m all about the porch. It was actually the AAM weekend commentariat who helped make it happen. Summer was a horror to me , I love it but the bugs love me and I NEEDED a screen in porch but had no idea how to figure out what I wanted. The postings directed me to everything I needed to talk to the contractor.
      It is my sanctuary. I spend most of the time lounging with my laptop on a fabulous hot pink couch that we got at the Room and Board outlet with the old dog curled at my feet.
      Today was a perfect porch day.

  41. Nervous Nellie*

    Hi AAM friends! Hoping for some advice. My 80-something parents have been refusing to get Dad a badly needed hearing aid. They could afford it, but still talk around in circles and overthink the subject. They are in Canada.

    I live in the US, where the over-the-counter hearing aid market is starting to bloom. I read about the Bose ‘hearphones’, which, unlike FDA-approved hearing aids at $5000-8000, are $500.00. I want to buy one for Dad here and ship it to them. Even with customs/duties/FedEx international shipping (all told, another $300.00 or so), it would still be significantly cheaper, which I think would help them accept the gift.

    Does anyone have any experience with the Bose hearphones, or can suggest a comparable one? This one can be used without a smartphone, but is best used with one. My folks don’t have a cellphone (another issue I have with them as they are in earthquake zone). Are there other such products that are a tad less techy but would do the trick? Dad needs more than just a basic amplifier. He needs a true hearing ‘aid’ that can be adjusted and filters as needed. Any thoughts you all have would be tremendous.

    1. Asenath*

      When my grandfather refused to consider hearing aids, he did buy a much cheaper over-the-counter one – which was useless. That many have made him even less inclined to get a better one. Maybe over-the-counter hearing aids improved – this was quite a long time ago – but I’ve assumed that to get the best out of a hearing aid, you need a proper hearing assessment to find out what type of aid you need. I also assumed that if someone is as resistant to the idea as my grandfather was, it’s just as well to accept that you’re going to be shouting a lot. I never did understand why he was so resistant to the idea. Well, he did think they were vastly overpriced, but the cost could have been managed. And I think he underestimated just how bad his hearing was.

      Going down a generation – I never managed to persuade my late mother to keep either her cell phone (although I persuaded her to accept one) or her cordless phone on her at all times, and she wouldn’t even consider one of those personal alarms. I arrived one day to find that she’d been on the floor for hours and unable to get up, so I hope your parents agree to some form of emergency communication. If it helps, my mother did agree to daily visits or calls as a way of checking up on her.

      1. Suffering spouse*

        My partner was told more than 30 years ago there was no way to deal with his hearing loss. Of course, the fact that technology and medicine have changed a lot in all those years is not relevant! Really- the reason for the objection is that only “old” people need hearing aids!

    2. Generic Name*

      Why is your dad resisting hearing aids? And why is your mom part of the decision? I mean, they’re not going in her ears, right? Maybe talk to your dad separately and ask him a lot of open ended questions and just listen and don’t offer any opinions or arguments. That would be my first suggestion. If your dad says “no, I don’t want them” and you send hearing aids anyway, I can’t imagine that is the most effective solution to the issue.

    3. A313*

      I volunteered for a program where you visit elderly people in their homes (generally home-bound). One woman had difficulty hearing and didn’t want to spend the money on hearing aids (or new, better-fitting dentures, for that matter) because she might die soon after receipt and it would have been a waste?!?! Meanwhile, for the several years I knew her before she passed, shoe couldn’t call her longtime friends and acquaintances because of her difficulties hearing, and I truly hated calling her and dealing with yelling into the phone (to little effect, anyway). She had cassette tapes of music she enjoyed, but it was hard to hear, tv really didn’t interest her because of her hearing (she also had some sight issues, so closed-captioning, which can move fast, didn’t appeal to her). All of this is to say she was socially isolated, where she had been a very social person when she was younger. The loneliness really got to her, unfortunately.

      My relative is an audiologist and would definitely recommend real hearing aids, complete with an assessment by a medical professional. There are different types of hearing loss and assessment is essential.

      So, while your dad is coping now, this won’t get better. And really, his coping is comprised of either missing out or making everyone else, especially your mom, I imagine, accommodate him, so her opinion matters. If, God forbid, he lost her, he would lose even more than a beloved spouse. And to a certain extent, the younger you are when you get them, the better you adjust. I hope he can be convinced.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      I really hope your dad gets his hearing checked. He needs to be evaluated by a hearing specialist and his aids need to be tuned to his needs.
      Hearing problems are linked to cognitive decline, so hearing aids aren’t as optional as some would think. I wish people would think of them the same way they do glasses.
      I put my husband on the road to hearing aids by buying a cheap OTC aid, called it a toy and told him he could mess with it and even take it apart. (He’s an engineer, so that engaged his interest.) Of course, the cheap thing was useless, but he ended up getting high-end hearing aids through our health care. YMMV. Even these hearing aids are not optimal but they’re better than nothing. By the way, the aids are almost impossible to see when in use.
      You might have an uphill battle with this, given your mom is against hearing aids. You might tell your parents you’re willing to put whatever amount you’re willing to spend towards real hearing aids or a hearing test. I’m concerned money spent on Bose, etc. would be wasted.
      Best of luck.

    5. Nita*

      I hope your dad comes around. Hearing aids are not just a nice health support to have. They’re vital. My grandfather was also stubborn about not getting hearing aids, and when he finally got one and lost it, didn’t want to replace it. It caused a really bad cognitive decline because he could not carry on a normal conversation with anyone for years – it’s very hard to have a conversation when you have to shout loudly the whole time. It also really cut down on how much the family talked to him, unfortunately. We’d sit in companionable silence a lot, but trying to talk about anything was painful (physically painful, even, my voice isn’t naturally loud and my throat would be sore all day afterwards).

    6. Nervous Nellie*

      Hi everyone! Thank you all for your comments. I fully agree that Dad should get a proper test and a proper hearing aid, but that is out of the question. My folks have pooh-poohed that for 3 years already and it just not getting any better. The only way I can think of to spur change is to buy one and put it in front of them to try.

      My folks are very reclusive, extremely frugal and very, very smart, which is a dangerous combo here. They are not feeling the social isolation hearing impairment can cause because they have each other, and they have always thought that they can think their way out of anything. My siblings and I are at our wits’ end. If Dad survives Mum, we’re going to have a serious problem. But even while Dad is more adamant than Mum about refusing the gadget, she doesn’t press it, or really agree with me that it is overdue. They are also quick to use Covid to excuse themselves from any doctor visits even though Dad routinely goes to the doctor for other matters. My siblings who live near them are frustrated about needing to shout and repeat and repeat. I can’t visit because the borders are closed, but I am more than willing to throw some money at this and see if I can find that one option that slips past their balking.

      1. Washi*

        You may already know this, but I just want to put it out there that hearing aids are awesome but not a cure-all for hearing loss. This is actually not something I realized before working with at an organization that provided hearing aids to the elderly, but even with the aids, most people still needed to be in a quiet environment and looking at/quite close to the person talking to them in order to hear properly. In particular, a lot of people wanted hearing aids to hear better in larger groups, but still found those situations difficult (though maybe that’s not an issue with your parents!) I don’t know about the cheap hearing aids, but even with expensive ones, typically our clients would need to come back for at least one adjustment, plus they needed to wear the hearing aids every single day to get used to them and re-teach the brain how to filter out ambient sound. I would imagine a cheap hearing aid would just exacerbate all these issues.

        Basically, hearing aids are not like glasses for the ears, and I probably would not spend the money to get hearing aids for someone who doesn’t want actually them. Don’t get me wrong, they can be amazing and it’s better to get them sooner rather than later! But they are expensive, fiddly, and require some effort to get used to, and if he’s not going to go through the whole process, he probably won’t have a good experience with them.

      2. A313*

        It’s so hard to watch this happen, I know. Perhaps one of his other doctors, since he is seeing them, could broach the topic at you or your siblings’ suggestion? I know HIPAA and all, but you won’t be expecting them to tell you anything, just listen to your concerns. (I did this for my father over a different issue.) Certainly, his care providers have noticed the issue, and they might have more influence.

        Or, instead of pushing the hearing aids directly, ask a series of questions about how he sees his life if he survives your mother or if she, even temporarily, has to be in a nursing home; have his friends complained; does he have a plan for when it gets worse, as it very likely will; does he know that his brain function/cognition are impacted by not having his hearing stimulating parts of his brain; does he know it is easier to get used to and is more effective to do earlier, as opposed to later? Granted, some of these are statements of fact more than questions, but he needs to have all the information before making such a quality-of-life decision. I’m sure there are other important considerations, as well. And your mother might have some specific-to-him suggestions/ideas for questions as to how his hearing loss impacts him since she’s having to make up for it.

        This is a tough conversation to have because for older people, it is a sign of old age, infirmity, and touches on eventual death. And plenty of parents don’t want to discuss a topic like this with their child, especially.

        At some point, of course, you have to let him be, as the choice is all his, even while it can be clear to you his life could have better quality.

      3. Too old for this*

        I’m going to be really cold hearted here and suggest something that it sounds like y’all haven’t tried. You say that it’s very frustrating for you and your siblings to shout and shout and repeat repeat repeat. So stop. Tell your parents “We can’t do this anymore. These are not quality conversations. You’re choosing to not investigate a solution. We’re refusing to shout and shout and repeat and. AT this point your father has no motivation to investigate hearing aids. you’re doing all the work. Maybe after a few weeks of not being able to talk to you he’ll change his mind. If they do email, send an emails. If they don’t email send snail mail. If you are in the same room write down what you want to say. Not willing to do this? Get used to shouting, it isn’t going to get any better.

    7. King Friday XIII*

      As someone with audio processing issues, I’ve never heard of those ‘hearphones’ but I’m excited something like that exists and I’m going to be looking into them, so thank you for asking!

    8. Dancing Otter*

      I think, before you just send him a “one size for all” aid, you should consider why they haven’t gotten this done themselves.

      Is your father reluctant to admit he needs a hearing aid? Or does he think they’re uncomfortable or ineffective? Does your mother try to push, or just leave the decision up to him?

      Are they concerned about going somewhere to have him tested and fitted because of the pandemic?

      Are they unsure of the best place to go, and paralyzed by indecision?

      I am Not an expert, but I know hearing loss is very individual. People lose different frequencies, which means the aid has to be adjusted to accentuate the missing frequencies. That adjustment is a large component of the audiologist’s value. Also, ears come in many shapes and sizes: hearing aids that don’t fit can be very uncomfortable, I’m told.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Thank you, DO, and everyone here for your comments. I was really just looking for product advice, and only because my sibs and I have already been over and over and over all of the ideas/queries/considerations you all bring up here. Thank you all for mentioning them, though. It was kind of you all.

        But really, conversations, however well-meaning, are not possible with my parents. Period. My folks are not even close to reasonable about anything that troubles them, and have always refused to discuss any family/medical/legal etc matters with any of us. My sibs and I have been talking about this for years. The goal here is not to get the perfect solution (which would be Dad going to the doc and getting a proper hearing aid) or to try to engage them in any kind of educational negotiation or plea, or to face one more slammed door when trying to propose a solution, but to do the only thing we all think is left that we have any ability to try. No worries – I will research online and find something that is adequate. Thanks!

        1. allathian*

          Okay, so they won’t talk to you. There’s no need for you to be frustrated by this, you’ll just have to accept that they won’t do it, and because they’re your elders, they won’t accept that you might have some useful advice to contribute. Some parents are weird like that. The trick is to stop caring. No doubt more easily said than done, but you can’t really do much else.

          Just engage with them in the most superficial way possible, and boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Don’t volunteer anything to help them, even if you’re willing to help if they ask. Don’t suggest a visit without an invitation, even after COVID restrictions are lifted.

          If watching them making bad decisions hurts too much, you can decide to quit engaging with them. Send a Christmas card and maybe text occasionally. Keep it superficial, since that’s the way they want it. Anything else is bound to be an exercise in frustration. If you sibs as a group can commit to not talking about them and going on with your own lives, I bet you would be a lot happier. Your parents have made it clear that they don’t appreciate your advice or your interference in their lives. So don’t. Leave them to their misery. But as a group, I recommend that you and your siblings find something else to talk about.

          1. Generic Name*

            I think this is the realest advice I have ever read. And I totally agree. I mean, OP’s question boils down to, “other adults don’t want thing, and I want them to have thing, so how do I best force thing onto them?”

    9. Venus*

      I have a family member who bought a $500 pair that amplify without being official hearing aids that are tailored to the individual. It’s likely they were bought at Costco, and they were useful while this person was transitioning into mild hearing loss. At some point he switched over to more expensive, individualized hearing aids. So I don’t know if the OTC amplifiers will help with severe hearing loss, but I know someone who really appreciated them for a year. And so did I, specifically my voice! Good luck.

    10. Wandering*

      Good luck, Nellie & sibs.
      I assume you know about caption phones, where someone transcribes first the receiving phone. That may or may not help.

      The most stubborn person I’ve known in refusing hearing aids was offended that the rest of us didn’t want to yell to be heard. And he had gotten so loud, in order to hear himself, we didn’t want to listen to him. After years of this something changed and he got hearing aids. After which he scolded us for being so loud, & said even his own voice was too loud. THEN he said he’d had hearing aids before, & had forgotten that they actually worked. So sympathy, & solidarity.

      1. No fan of Chaos*

        Quit enabling someone with hearing loss. My father had severe hearing loss. My husband had severe hearing loss. My daughter at 3 years old had severe hearing loss. I was loosing my voice several times a month from shouting. I told Dad and husband that I was through shouting. They could get hearing aids or just not hear what I was saying. I would no longer reply to them by shouting. Took about a month for them to get appointments. I should tell you I am a very interesting person. My daughter was already scheduled for an operation which greatly improved her hearing. One interesting outcome was that my dad had gone for so long not being able to hear that when he put down his knife on his plate he always jumped at the noise. He had lost his filter for everyday noises.

  42. Lovesick or Something*

    I’d love to hear advice on things that make your romantic relationships work, just simple advice, and the like! I’m also in the mood to hear your “love stories” – not necessarily the fairytale endings, but things that are just working for you/the little things that have made you happy, lately.

    I’m nearing my birthday and my boyfriend has taken it upon himself to make sure it’s a fantastic one. I’ve never had anyone make it a big deal, so this is a really sweet gesture to me. He’s also just been randomly popping in and surprising me with flowers.

    We’ve known each other few a few years, and dated for a bit less than that, but it’s honestly been lovely. Our communication is really strong, we have a lot in common but enough differences to keep it interesting, sometimes I think his mom likes me more than my own mother, and so on. Of course we have arguments/disagreements/whatever you’d call them – but again, communication has been great and we’ve worked through them and helped each other grow in new, positive ways. All in all, it just feels really nice.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I found out a couple weeks ago that my husband has a monthly reminder on his phone to “do something extra nice for my wife.” Usually that has been a nice dinner out, though obviously not recently.

      I’m super not the romance type, but my favorite story is how we got together. We’ve known each other for like sixteen years, originally just as friends. When I moved to Indiana, he was getting ready to move overseas in a last ditch attempt to save his marriage, and I adopted his dog. The last ditch attempt did not work, and he came back. He crashed with my roommate and I for a while, and I told him that he couldn’t have my dog back. He never ended up leaving, and we joke that he married me for my dog. (She’s now almost 13 and is the Elder Statesdog referenced in the senior pets thread above.) Also, because we lived together and then started dating, we continued the “doing it backwards” trend by spending a week on our honeymoon at Disneyworld, on our way to Vegas to get married.

    2. LoveMyMan*

      Always being grateful for the tiniest things. (“Thanks for taking out the trash/feeding the cat” etc).

      It’s helped not only in my romantic life but every facet of life. I don’t vocalize the same tiny thank you’s in detail to my boss/mechanic/grocery store clerks but I still think them in my head. I do vocalize them with my husband.

    3. Purt's Peas*

      Advice–I got this advice at my bridal shower from a friend of my mother-in-law’s, haha. Basically having an agreement that you can press the rewind button on something. I’ve done this a couple times. If you come in, and you’re grumpy, and kind of snap at your spouse who then is grumpy and snaps back at you, either of you can pause and say, “can we rewind?” And then you physically go back out the door, and replay the interaction like you wished you had done the first time. It works so well for just the tiny times you’re annoyed right off the bat and everything starts on the wrong foot: you just override it in both your memories. There’s the caveat of course that this should be a mutual agreement to rewind/replay, and it wouldn’t work to just ignore and override actual meanness. But I really like it.

      Nice love story–I woke up this week and my husband had left a folded piece of paper on my keyboard. He’d written a love letter to me after I’d gone to sleep. I keep unfolding it and rereading it. We’ve been doing really well together through the pandemic but it’s so easy to get trapped in the everyday; it was a really wonderful reminder of the transcendent.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Relationship savers: a ready sense of humor and recognizing love languages. Hubby’s love language is doing household chores. I prefer that over gifts, so it works out.
      We can also laugh in the middle of an argument. During a disagreement that was escalating:
      Me: So how many angels DO dance on the head of a pin?!
      Him: 27!
      Me: All righty then!
      Cue laughing from both parties.
      May you laugh together often!

    5. OyHiOh*

      We met as appointees to a non profit board. He was in a crumbling long term relationship, I was trying to keep my marriage together. We had wildly different backgrounds/reasons for being on the board, but crossed paths just often enough to recognize a spark in each other. He resigned, I asked for a coffee meeting to talk more, we talked for 2.5 hours, and I went home saying “today I made a friend.”

      Ten months after that meeting, my husband got sick and he had been out of his relationship for a few months. My friend took me out for lunch. He brought snacks and sport drinks to ICU while I sat vigil the last day of Mr Oys life. He attended the funeral and recited the congregational responses in the mourners kaddish (he’s not Jewish but knows the prayers). A week after the funeral, I asked him to have lunch with me.

      That was a year and a half ago. We’ve been firmly linked in our friends brains as a couple for the past year. We’re partners, living apart for so, so many reasons. Pandemic has been hard – I ended up needing to temporarily relocate for family support, he’s lost no less than five family members to COVID – but an odd little relationship just keeps on ticking.

      Like any other successful couple, it’s all about communication (while we’re long distance, we call every night), and the little things – I mail him bits of origami, he sends me postcards printed with photos he takes – and every the I get one, I stand at the mailbox with a goofy grin, thinking once again, today I made a friend.

    6. TX Lizard*

      My SO of 3 years and I were long distance until Covid. I moved back in with him when we went totally remote. We had lived together for a few months before going long distance. I was worried that quarantine and being cooped up in a small apartment would really test our relationship, but things have been so good. We live together really well and I think having each other as support during all this has been good for us.
      Last week he cooked me a nice dinner. Usually we eat standing up in the kitchen but we set the table with candles and got dressed up. I even wore makeup for the first time in months. We had a three hour dinner just sitting and talking. Crazy how we’ve been stuck at home and still get so busy, so it was nice to have a “slow night”. It felt super romantic and like a real date.
      We also wrote postcards when we were long distance and have kept that habit still. We just sneakily stick them in the mailbox after the real mail is delivered. Its thrilling to write a postcard in secret and to receive one.

        1. TX Lizard*

          We try to find ones with funny art or art of things that the other person likes. Someday they will all go in some sort of scrapbook!
          They are also nice because it feels like less pressure to write a three page, poetic, soul-inspiring, Very Serious Love Letter.

    7. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      My hubby & I met at the Original Ren Faire. I had no plans to ever marry or have kids, but the moment that I saw him – that was it!
      Treat the marriage and your relationship like a plant – if you do not care for it, it will die. We still go on ‘dates’, that was important, even, no ESPECIALLY when our kids were growing up!
      We went to counseling before we got married – we were having troubles and fighting all the time. He asked me, do you want to split up? I said no and he said me either, what do we do? So we went to marriage counseling.
      We’ve been together since 1982. He still makes me laugh and we still hold hands when we walk together.

    8. ThatGirl*

      I’ve been with my husband almost 17 years, married for 13.

      I think something that’s underrated is that we like each other. We love each other too! But we enjoy each other’s company. However, we’re not “best friends” – that works for some people but we need outside friendships too!

      We were young (20 and 22) when we started dating but we’ve grown together, changed together, and by some stroke of luck we’ve come out of our 20s and are heading through our 30s with a strong marriage.

      1. Generic Name*

        I agree that the idea that you must be best friends with your romantic partner isn’t universal. My husband is my favorite person on the planet, and we adore spending time together, but I don’t think of him as my “best friend”. We’re so much more than that. We’ve actually talked about this concept and we both agree that even if we met in the context of being in the same friend group or something (rather than an online dating site) we probably would have immediately started dating rather than being friends first.

    9. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I met my now-husband online, we were almost a 100% match on the site (and both of us had answered a LOT of questions…).

      We got engaged last year, and moved in together a few months before this all started (2019 feels like 10 years ago!). I think neither of us could have ever prepared for anything like this, but…it’s actually worked out beautifully.

      We’re one of those “when you know, you know stories”. We were engaged less than a year after our first date! However, we’re also both in our 30’s and have been around the block a few times. We were supposed to have a beautiful fall wedding…not.

      So we got married in our living room. Some dear friends came over, we signed some paperwork while wearing masks/social distancing, and now we’re married! It was actually nice and not stressful and our kitties were there.

      It took a long time for me to find him, but dang, he is 1000000% worth it!

    10. StrikingFalcon*

      Some of the best advice about marriage I’ve gotten is from the blog/book by the Gottman institute. It’s based on scientific research into what makes marriages work. The book is a bit… gimmicky in how things are named, but my husband and I have found the advice really solid.

      One of the best things I learned is the concept of “bids for attention.” Basically in a relationship, we do things every day to try to connect to the other person – share something funny, point out an interesting bird outside, reach over and touch each other. These are the currency of your relationship and in a healthy relationship, both partners notice and respond to the majority of their partners bids. I found it a helpful reminder to pay attention to the little things, and both of us consciously working on this has made our relationship stronger and richer.

    11. Generic Name*

      Here’s my love story: I left an abusive marriage after nearly 20 years. My abuser told me I was undesirable and unlovable, and my needs were wrong and bad and unreasonable. I started dating for the first time as a divorcee in my late 30s with a kid. I just had this sense that there was someone I ought to be looking for. Well, I found him. We’ve only been together for 2 years, but we got married a few months ago. We are still crazy about each other. Like we can’t keep our hands off each other, and we still want to spend all our time together. We are both in our 40s. It’s never too late fo find love. Even if you think you are broken, someone will find you lovable.

  43. cleo*

    I loved The House on the Cerulean Sea! This may be the first time I’ve read a book before Alison has. I’d say that this a book for adults, but written in the style of classic YA fantasy. There’s a lovely, understated gay romance between the protagonist and the head of the home he’s sent to investigate.

    For my fellow gay / queer Harry Potter fans, this book was clearly written for us. It was so, so refreshing to read a mainstream fantasy where the queer subtext is intended and there are actual LGBTQ+ characters on page. It’s both charming and a little heavy handed and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  44. Beach lover*

    Do you love your beach chair or beach umbrella/shade? If so, tell me about it.
    I tend to go to the beach solo, so I’m looking for items that are easy to carry and, in the umbrella/shade category, very easy for one person to put up and take down. I am healthy but not particularly strong and I’m mechanically inept. Tents are impossible for me.

    1. Jim Bob*

      Look at the Sportbrella. 5 min setup but is basically a mini tent. I would suggest including a longer torque arm (maybe use a dowel from the hardware store?) to screw in the main stake; the one they provide isn’t quite long enough for me.

    2. Reba*

      I got the Neso sunshade and used it for a week at the beach. It’s a stretchy fabric tarp with sandbags and 2 posts. Super simple to put up, though not necessarily one-and-done, you have to kind of fine tune it based on the wind. Very doable by one person, if you bring a little shovel for the sandbags. :) It comes in a nice carry bag.

      You can watch videos of setup and decide if it would work for you. I have the smaller of two sizes, and it’s the right amount of shade for 1-2 people.

      My sib has this nylon ground cover sheet thing from WellaX that is nice too.

  45. Electric Trimmers*

    In search of electric trimmers or shavers with attachments! (I am a she/her if that makes a difference beyond price point.)

    Backstory:
    I recently became disenchanted with my decades-long scrape-and-bleed through various shaving blade promises, hair direction advice, and techniques. Around the same time, I decided to just stop shaving altogether and see what happens and how I feel about it. (Early results: I feel complicated about it. Personal care became amazingly easier. My equally decades-long struggle and embarrassment with underarm sweat markedly decreased. Amazing how our bodies know how to take care of ourselves! Buried thoughts about having to scythe off so many markers of maturity because society says so have surfaced with a vengeance. Feeling self-conscious in the public eye without covering up, oh yeah.)

    Because of the last bit, I am considering experimenting with trimming up some while leaving the roots, as it were. I may be looking for a unicorn but as my only experience with the electric kind has been distant and dismal, I’d love to hear your recommendations for something that—

    —Is great for lower legs and underarms. If it does bikini line as well, that’s a bonus.
    —Will allow me to keep some of my hair.
    —Favors sensitive skin as I seem to be prone to nicks, bumps, rash, and any other shaving-related pitfalls, and I just am not familiar enough with trimmers or electric anything to know what to look for.

    Thank you!

    1. Ali G*

      I’m not sure if this is what you are looking for, but since I can’t get waxed right now, I’ve been using my husbands beard trimmer. I also cannot shave my bikini area (I have no problems with underarm). The trimmers have different guards you can put on it to leave some hair behind. I use the smallest one to trim and then if I want to take it to the skin I use it without the guard.
      I think they make body trimmers that work the same way. You want something that is more designed to be used on the body, since a beard trimmer is a little rough on bare skin, especially sensitive areas.
      Also for legs, look for “waterless razors.” They are razors int he traditional sense, but they might not irritate you as much.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      I am ferociously prone to both infected hair follicles in my armpits and ingrown hairs everywhere else. I’m not above letting my inner Sasquatch hang out, but people have FEELINGS about it…honestly it was just easier to de-fur myself and get on with life, and a trimmer was by far the best solution for me. I’ve been investing in laser hair removal, but that takes ages (and obviously isn’t happening at all right now).

      I have an Andis beard trimmer. When used without a guard, it trims just long enough that the hair doesn’t go back into the follicle, but short enough that it’s not obvious unless you’re literally sniffing my armpits. Maybe in a perfect world, I’d have a full-sized one too, to make quicker work of the legs, but the mini trimmer is good for contoured areas like armpits and face. It scratches a little but doesn’t cause pain or irritation, at least for me.

      FWIW, I only trim every couple of weeks. If you can see my pelt while maintaining social distancing, it’s time…

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      My skin for some reason didn’t do well with electric razors, so for a long time I used “Bump fighter” razors, meant to prevent razor bumps in the faces of curly-haired men. It has a sort of toothy guard in front of the blade and takes the hair down enough that people don’t see your leg hairs coming from down the street, but leaves plenty of root. I know you’ve tried a bunch of blades so I apologize if you’ve already tried this one, but if you haven’t, it gives your hair a lot more length than any other I’ve used including the various wire-wrapped ones.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      Don’t use the same trimmer for bikini line as everywhere else! I have a cheap bikini trimmer from Target— brand is Clio I think? — that’s about an inch wide and comes with a guide to about 1/8” long. It’s not quite small enough for all the nooks and crannies with the guide cover on, but for general weedwhacking it’s great.

  46. Natalie*

    We’re reading to our daughter as part of her bedtime routine even though she could not give less of a shit (~4 months old), and I’m so bored of the books we have. Tell me your favorite books for the under 2 set! Doesn’t have to be a board book.

    1. My Brain Is Exploding*

      At that age I would just read anything (well except “adult” theme or language)! Poetry, the encyclopedia, etc. Or a chapter book for an older child and read a chapter each night. Right now it’s about your voice and closeness.

      1. Natalie*

        I’ve definitely been doing that too! She hears a lot of news articles and rubber duck debugging of work stuff. But I was figuring we should start expanding her library anyway.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My husband read gaming system rule books to our daughter as an infant. :) the important thing is it’s language and attention from someone who loves you.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know much about kids, but if she’s that little, could you just read her something that’s interesting to YOU until she’s old enough to have some idea of what’s going on?

      Otherwise – my favorite books for kids are the Clifford the Big Red Dog series. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you’re nerds of that nature, I got my friends a couple of Star Wars books for their munchkins – ABC-3PO and Obi-123. There’s also a bunch of Little Golden Books that are Star Wars themed.

    3. Laura H.*

      Dr. Suess- but you might wind up speaking in rhyme for a while after (happened to my dad, so I’ve heard)

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        What’s wrong with speaking in rhyme for a while?
        I find this behaviour makes people smile
        and eases burdens of the day
        and jazzes up life in many ways
        so I will rhyme with box or fox
        and I will rhyme with mouse, in house,
        and here or there and everywhere
        I rhyme and rhyme without a care!

        Alas, on AAM I can only sign my “work” as Jean (just Jean) with a bucket full of apologies to the wonderful spirit of Dr. Seuss.

        1. Laura H.*

          I needed that!! Thank you!

          And it’s always fun to hear mom tell about my dad rhyming the morning after!

      2. Aza*

        A few years ago I learned about some racist things within Seuss’s books so I’ve avoided them with my own kid. It’s unfortunately one of those things I can’t unsee, even though I grew up reading them.

    4. Aza*

      The Pout Pout Fish, Little Blue Truck, I like myself, A is for Activist, Moo Baa La La La, Doggies (by Sandra Boynton), Wherever You are (my love will find you), I want my hat back, No No Yes Yes, No matter what, and classics like the Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear Brown Bear, pat the bunny, and Goodnight moon.

      All good! A is for Activist and I like myself have non white characters. little blue truck is fun to read. No matter what and wherever you are make me cry sometimes. I want my hat back is funny!

      1. Aza*

        Dog by Matthew van Fleet is a good touch and feel type book. It’s kinda funny too (“all dogs poop and all dogs pee!”). I think they have a similar book for cats.

      2. Aza*

        But just want to commiserate with getting bored. My daughter just turned 2 and pretty sure I’ve memorized most of those!

      3. Aza*

        And if you’re christian, I like when I pray for you by Matthew Paul Turner (another one that makes me cry!) and the Children of God storybook Bible by Desmond Tutu.

        And a final (nonreligious) book I like us Dreamers (non white characters).

        Good luck!

      4. Aealias*

        Moo, Baa, La La La! (Sandra Boynton) is fabulous, and one of the first books my kid started to ‘read’ (recognize the first letter and get the word from context).

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Children’s books! What fun! Here’s a quick list off the top of my head. You can also browse online through public library catalogs or at your favorite book seller. The American Library Association each year honors one book for writing and one for illustrations. The New York Public Library used to have/still has? a list titled something like 100 Children’s Books You Have to Read. Other libraries may have similar offerings. My list reflects my own experience– mostly traditional families (one mom, one dad), few people of color–but children’s books are somewhat more diverse nowadays. My expertise is somewhat dated as our “baby” is out of his teens.

      – Almost anything by Sandra Boynton, but especially her bedtime-themed books; most little kids enjoy the repetition of her sweet and goofy rhymes
      Goodnight Gorilla
      Goodnight Moon by Margaret Brown (some parents can’t stand this one, so don’t berate yourself if you’re one of them)
      Jamberry
      The Mitten (illustrations in the margin of each page hint at the action to come on the following page)
      The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
      – board or baby books with texture: not just Pat the Bunny but modern ones with domestic pets, farm animals, and whatnot
      – board or baby books about any subject you please: fruits; vegetables; interesting vehicles; alphabetical lists of you name it; international pictures of Mommies, Daddies, and/or Families
      – *Any of the Winnie-the-Pooh books or related books of poems by A.A. Milne (being a purist I don’t recommend the Disney versions)
      – *Any of the Curious George series by H.A. Rey (again, stick with the originals!)
      – * Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus or The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog (these spun out into a larger series without the same imaginative oomph, imho)
      – Any of the Francis books (Francis is a badger with a mom, a dad, and later a little sister … it’s old-fashioned but sweet children’s literature)
      * = might be better for slightly older children….

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Forgot to add (apologies if this is painfully obvious):
        – American Library Association, New York Public Library, and others all have websites :-)
        – some institutions that grant Masters’ degrees in library science may have classes for children’s librarians (e.g. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which also had a library collection of children’s literature)
        – there are also many books about “how things work” to explain special-function trucks, all sorts of science & tech, exploded drawings of machines, etc. I’m not saying start your four-month-old off with Encyclopedia Briatannica but you might find baby books with illustrations of farm or zoo animals, pictures of seashells, etc.
        – Richard Scarry is amazingly comprehensive but restricted by gendered roles (Moms cook, males dig tunnels under roads, etc.)

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        Most important, and least original comment: Reading aloud to children is supposed to be a wonderful experience in which close contact, cuddling, affection, and parental attention all reinforce the wonders of reading and learning. And bless you, bless you for staying away from electronic books! There will be plenty of other opportunities for your small one to stare at a screen.

      3. HBJ*

        Oh, yes, The Mitten! Anything by Jan Brett really. Such cute stories with gorgeous illustrations.

    6. Books!*

      Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany series makes for really good read aloud material

      In board books there’s a site called Drivel & Drool that has good recs (full disclosure that I know the author). She also has two board books from Shakespeare that are great reads: Behowl the Moon and Wild Waves Whist.

      The Texas Library Association puts out a list called the 2×2 list for kids from age 2 to grade 2 and we’ve had lots of winners from there.

      1. Books!*

        Babybug magazine from Cricket Media is also a great way to get a regular infusion of variety into your reading material

    7. Cruciatus*

      This is mostly related–but are you in the US? You can sign up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (actually, I think it’s available in many countries). But you are sent free books every month from birth until the child is school-aged. There are areas they don’t send books–this happened to a friend of mine, but she just had them sent to her parent’s house which was in the available area instead. But it would help get more books that might be more interesting to you and eventually to your child!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Dolly’s been reading online too.
        As for books, I’ll throw in Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth, and his other books about Stillwater the panda.

    8. OyHiOh*

      Mo Williams

      Anything he’s written.

      Or just read what you like reading. Books she can engage with are more important when she gets to the age of looking/pointing at things

    9. Alex*

      My favorite book at age 2 was “Quick as a Cricket” by Audrey and Don Wood. It has beautiful illustrations. Also “The Big Hungry Bear” by the same authors. I think these both come in board and non-board versions.

      I also knew a few toddlers who LOVE LOVED LOVED the Leslie Patricelli books, especially QUIET LOUD, but there are a few. They are super simple and pretty boring for adults but boy did these toddlers love them.

      And of course, pretty much any book by Sandra Boynton is typically a big hit.

    10. Amey*

      Oh, one of my favourite topics! At this age, don’t go just for super simple boring board books (you know the ones with one word on a page), go for books with beautiful illustrations that have a lovely rhythm to read. The picture to text ratio needs to not be enormous because they like the page-turning but a stanza a page should be fine. There’s a reason that the Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler books are so beloved here (the UK), they’re colourful and really enjoyable to read. My personal favourite as an adult is The Highway Rat which has the same rhythm as The Highwayman. Other books we love include Peepo and Each Peach Pear Plum by the Ahlbergs, and everything by Barbara Helen Berger (e.g. Grandfather Twilight). I’d then have a selection of other books that are fun for the baby/young toddler to look through when they’re playing, like the very dull That’s Not My… Books that babies love. Everything in board book if you can manage it though so that it’s okay if they pull at and bash the books, you want them to be able to interact with them.

      1. Amey*

        Oh and my point about them being nice to read is that not only is that nicer for you, but for my kids at that age, what they were responding to was cuddling up to us listening and feeling the rhythm of our voices rather than the meaning of the words.

      2. Natalie*

        Ah, this is so helpful conceptually! Thanks, I think I will like books with nice illustrations, too, especially once I’ve memorized the text through endless repetition. :)

    11. Alaska_Blue*

      Favorites:
      -Frederick by Leo Lionni
      -Corduroy by Don Freeman
      -anything by Eric Carle
      -Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
      -The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble

      These are the books that were read to me as a child, that I then read to myself as a child. And to this day, to reopen any of these books takes me back to reading with my parents and the warm feeling of home. I think this year Frederick will be a good touchstone.

    12. Parenthetically*

      Any Sandra Boynton book. We especially love But Not The Hippopotamus and Moo Baa La La La and Hippos Go Berserk.

      The Ahlberg’s books (such sweet illustrations and good stories and EXCELLENT find-it books for when kiddo is a bit bigger).

      The BabyLit books. Nice, bright, simple illustrations. I love their “Little Naturalists” and “All Aboard” series in particular, but we also have Moby Dick, P&P, Romeo and Juliet, and a few others. Good Night Mr. Darcy, a parody of Good Night Moon, is a hoot.

      We have a ton of kids’ books in Dutch — if you are at all conversant in another language, read those as well, and then translate them for the baby as you go. I find it much more mentally stimulating.

      I also read the first illustrated Harry Potter to my son at that age, which was fun for me, and fun for him because there are pictures and I do all the voices.

      1. Natalie*

        Good idea, I’m conversant enough in Spanish to read kid’s books. That would be fun and engaging for me for a while, too.

    13. Hotdog not dog*

      My mom read to me from just about the minute I was born. She read magazines, newspapers, crime thrillers….whatever she was interested in. I ended up becoming an early reader and still love to read. I don’t remember her ever reading children’s books to us, even as we got old enough to understand some of it. It was interesting when my 3rd grade teacher sent a note home because I had a copy of Cujo by Stephen King in my bookbag. My mother’s response was, “oh, that’s mine. She wasn’t supposed to bring that to school”! With my son, I did the same, but edited for content when he started catching on.

    14. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      So many books to read!

      In addition to the above:

      Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells
      How Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolan (and all of her other books)
      Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendeck
      Sheila Rae the Brave by Kevin Henkes (and all of his other books)
      Click Clack Moo Cows that Type
      Chicks Chicka Boom Boom

      Also check out songs but Sandra Boyton. Some go along with her books.

    15. SJNB*

      Red is best, animals animals (poems with illustrations by Eric Carle), big Sarah’s little boots, mabel murple, the paperbag princess

    16. Not A Manager*

      The Nutshell Library (Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, One Was Johnny, Pierre)
      Bread and Jam for Francis; Bedtime for Francis (warning for brief threat of a spanking)
      Little Bear; A Kiss for Little Bear; Father Bear Comes Home
      The Little Fur Family
      The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear
      Flap Your Wings
      Guess How Much I Love You

      Some of these are for older children, but they’re all excellent.

    17. Bibliovore*

      I love Baby Goes Beep,
      I kissed the Baby,
      “Everything” by Sandra Boynton
      “Everything” by Ken Wilson Max
      Putting some links in the comments