weekend open thread – November 14-15, 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: Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh. After several years of silence, the author of Hyperbole and a Half (and the blog by the same name) is back! Her new book is full of illustrated stories about her childhood, her family, dogs, and the harder stuff she’s always so willingly tackled like loss and grief. It’s moving and funny and powerful, as her stuff always is.

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

{ 1,213 comments… read them below }

  1. DistantAudacity*

    Weekend thread appreciation thread!
    What are items or activities you’ve gotten into or started because of the open weekend threads?

    For me (from the last few months) it’s been:
    – The crochet discussions – it’s encouraged me to pick up crochet again! Also thankful for the crochet site and crochet pattern recommendations.
    – That thread about useful things gotten during the past months – I now have some weird and wonderful baking tools!
    – Thanks, I think, to Alison for bringing up moss pictures that one time. I now have one on my living room wall (much smaller than the one on Alison’s wish list)…

    Of course, this not all! Many thanks to commenters who started different discussion topics and/or provided specific recommendations.

    What are other readers’ top 2–3 specific things from the weekend open threads?

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I like this question!
      I’ve gotten an ASD diagnosis off the back of people’s experiences here. That is the main thing. I knew I was autistic but didn’t really see the point of a formal diagnosis at my age; reader, I was wrong. People’s experiences here convinced me to go for the assessment and I’m so, so relieved and happy that I did! It’s made an incredible difference to how I see and treat myself.

      And I’ve also gotten some great health book recommendations, namely “Vegan For Her” by Messina and “Dynamic Aging” by Bowman, which have been very informative and helpful!

      I think this is a really great forum ♡, and I look forward to reading it every weekend, especially now when getting out to see friends is not happening.

      1. My Brain Is Exploding*

        I’m so happy you found Katy Bowman’s book useful! (I’m working my way through all her books and her blog and her walking well program.)

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I love the book recommendations, not only Alison’s but also the ones by other commenters. I may not get around to some of the books I want to read (the everlasting curse of the huge backlog that never seems to shrink), but it’s nice to have a place where I can get recommendations outside of my usual choice in reading.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I’m the “useful things gotten” poster, and I thank you for letting us know you appreciated the discussion. It was such fun. I recently bought some furniture coasters for the bed and would add those to my list.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Yes – that was really fun! Of course, you phrased the question much better than what I managed to remember :)

      2. SpellingBee*

        I bought a couple of Epicurean cutting boards due (I think) to that thread – or at least because someone on this board mentioned them. I love them, and immediately consigned my motley collection of warped and worn-out boards to Mr. Bee’s woodworking shop, where they will be much appreciated and have a second useful life.

    4. Might Be Spam*

      I started a 10 stitch afghan after seeing it mentioned several weeks ago. I haven’t knitted in years and that made me feel like trying again. Thanks to YouTube, it’s been a lot easier this time. It’s a lot less discouraging when I have to rip out a few rows when there’s only 10 stitches in each row.

    5. Professor Plum*

      I discovered Yoga with Adrienne from people talking about it here. Did well for several 30-day calendars and want to get back to it!

    6. Cat anon!*

      Pill pockets! I never heard of these until Alison mentioned them and they make pilling a cat so much easier!

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      Book recommendations, gardening and crochet ideas, but most of all the sense of community and caring. I love knowing that people from different backgrounds, cultures, genders, abilities, etc. have so much common ground!

    8. Bibliovore*

      probably too many to count.
      how to talk to contractor about difficult projects.
      House buying checklists- what an inspector does.
      How to travel internationally.
      Where to eat while in London.- Thank you whoever suggested Dishoom- I now have a favorite restaurant in the entire world.
      How to say no.
      What to do when my dog was at the end of her life and I was beside myself.
      medical stuff that I don’t want to talk about
      anxiety hacks
      depression hacks
      Work/life balance hacks.
      yummy recipes that I aspire to make. I DID make bean soup!
      What to do when you have a flood emergency

    9. Parenthetically*

      Gosh, so many! Book recs, life hacks for kids, recipes…

      One of the best ones was a rec for the LectroFan Micro, which we initially used on our camping trips but have since used at hotels, to facilitate car/stroller naps for the little Bracketses, as a backup white noise machine when the power’s out, and as a bluetooth speaker for parties.

    10. Bluebell*

      I’ve enjoyed the book recommendations, and I got some useful advice when I was remodeling our kitchen. I think I found out about Yoga with Adrienne here as well!

    11. Pink Basil*

      Months ago someone recommended a phone game called I Love Hue and I play it almost every day — slowing moving up the levels. I find it very soothing and thank whoever it was who mentioned it.

      1. SpellingBee*

        This is an awesome game! I find it soothing as well (which I’ve needed greatly the last few months); it’s my go-to when I need a distraction and I can’t focus on a book. I’ve gotten pretty far along in it, and recently discovered the second game in the series, aptly named I Love Hue Too. Same premise but a bit more complex in that it also uses different shapes. I flip back and forth between the two. I find it easier to play Too on my iPad, because some of the pieces are pretty small.

        1. Pink Basil*

          Thank you! I’ll download that one too. I always have to bump up the brightness on my phone before I start playing it.

    12. Aurora Leigh*

      A couple years ago I learned about inflatable kayaks here! Lots of summer fun and seething I would have stumbled onto on my own.

      Also so much useful advice about dealing with a difficult parent, dating, moving in together, and house buying. I love this community!

    13. jotab*

      On line jigsaw puzzles! I do one every day – when my kids were little they were not allowed to dump over a puzzle at the library unless they would put it back together themselves. Mom couldn’t do it! And I’m talking about the wooden shape puzzles with 8 pieces on pegs. Once they tested me – they gave me 6 pieces and told me it was an alligator – Nope could’t turn it into an alligator. So when I saw that someone was doing online puzzles I was curious. There’s a satisfying snap as each piece fits and all the pieces are shown in the correct orientation. Success! Then my 6 year old grandson showed me all the tricks – he loves to help -Thank you to whoever posted that!

    14. pancakes*

      I think the wood bed risers I got were recommended by someone on here. We just got a new mattress & got rid of the old box spring and the additional height is perfect. Bed heaven.

    15. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Can’t point to specifics atm but generally when I’m needing some clarity on a situation or a gut check this place is great to help with that.

      1. Following one's heart*

        Amen to this…AMAZING community that’s helped me through several tough dilemmas. Gut check is exactly how I’d describe it too. Also got a few great book and podcast recommendations, recipes, cooking sites, the list truly goes on.

    16. I take tea*

      Listening to video game scores as concentration music to focus. I love Skyrim, though I’ve never played it. Or much anything, really, but the music works.

  2. Free Meerkats*

    I borrowed a sous vide setup to pasteurize eggs for Christmas eggnog. That’s done and eggnog will be made this weekend.

    I’m looking for ideas to try now with the sous vide while I have it.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Thiiiiisssss. My husband’s had a sous vide for a while, and is most happy with the fish dishes.

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Total lack of personal experience here, but I really enjoyed reading about the experiments in the Will It Sous Vide? column on Lifehacker. The most obvious things are in the earliest posts.

      (Link in reply)

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You know how short a time frame there is between undercooked & overcooked squid? Sous-vide makes it work. (It can still be overcooked, but it gets too soft not too hard.)
      Vacuum sealed meat can go directly from freezer into the sous-vide. (Not plastic-wrapped at the butcher, the ones done at the processing plant, without the drip-catcher pad.)
      And it really is worth searing it over fire briefly at the end!

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I’m going to try sous-vide turkey breast this Christmas.

      Egg-wise, Japanese hot spring eggs (onsen tamago) are delicious.

    4. Ali G*

      Do you like steak? It will ruin you for steak any other way. Sous vide it at the final temp you want (There are lots of guides out there for specific cuts) and then season and sear in a hot skillet to darken the outside.
      It’s basically the only way I do steak now.
      Serious Eats has a lot of good experiments too – have fun!!

    5. PostalMixup*

      ALL OF THE THINGS! Scallops. Salmon. Chicken. Steak. Pork butt (for like 72 hours – do it in an igloo cooler). Coffee. My husband (who is the cook) uses the guides on Serious Eats a lot.

      1. PostalMixup*

        Also, one of the awesome things about sous vide is that you can split what you’re cooking into separate bags, sear one to eat that night, and throw the other right into the freezer. Then when you’re ready, pull it out of the freezer and stick it back in the hot water to thaw and get warm, then sear it off. Makes a really easy weeknight meal!

        1. PostalMixup*

          Hahaha it totally reads like that! But then who would cook dinner??? My skills max out at pasta and rice.

    6. Artemesia*

      It does fish really well — like salmon you can get it that perfect level of sort of translucent and flacky without being overdone which is hard to do. And in fact it does meats super well too. fish is done quite quickly but you can cook a steak from anywhere from 24 to 48 hours and have it perfect. Just needs a quick seer if you like a seered surface and is the perfect level of ‘done’ all the way through. We have particularly liked it for things like pot roast.

  3. Anxiety*

    How does one find a remote therapist?

    I am 35 weeks pregnant and struggling with anxiety (*gestures broadly at everything*). I had postpartum anxiety with my first baby and want to get ahead of it if possible. But I’m not comfortable seeing a therapist in person due to COVID, and most of the therapists in my area are overbooked and not taking on new patients anyway. I need to find someone who will do virtual sessions and take my health insurance. Any ideas to navigate this? Thanks!

    1. Princess Deviant*

      In the UK, the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) has a list of qualified therapists you can search. They also have a separate tab for online working and therapists available online.

      Do you have a qualifying body like that where you are? I’d start there, and look through their directory.

      The way I found mine was through my insurance (amazingly, I was matched with a fantastic counsellor) and I’ve since gone on to work with them privately.

      But when I was searching before that I just googled who was in my area.

    2. RagingADHD*

      A lot of “regular” therapists are doing telehealth right now. I’d just go through the normal word of mouth/referral process, and when you call the practice, ask if any of their folks are doing remote appointments.

    3. Jackalope*

      Ask your insurance company (if you have one) what their options are and if they can refer you to someone.

    4. *Marie**

      I also suggest having your blood tested to check for copper/zinc levels. I found out (after my fourth pregnancy) that high copper/low zinc was Contributing to my depression and anxiety, and the main cause it was so out of whack was because of storing so much copper during pregnancy. Dr had me start zinc picolinate, and it’s helping so much. I now feel like I can handle daily life, including any complications that happen. Talk to your Dr about checking out your blood levels.

      Good luck finding the right therapist for you. And congrats on your new baby!

    5. WS*

      Your obstetrician’s office is likely to have a list of therapists who specialise in postpartum anxiety and might be able to help getting you in, since you have already experienced it with your first baby. Give them a call!

    6. Sunrise*

      A lot of insurance plans offer telemedicine through a specific service as a benefit. If yours does, therapy might be included. If so, start with the telemedicine service and see how that works.

      1. Alex*

        This–my health insurance includes one of these services and it is GREAT. I found a wonderful therapist this way and really like the therapy-from-my-couch situation. (Started even before COVID.)

        1. B*

          1. Psychology today has a directory (providers pay to be part of it so it’s only those who enrolled)
          2. Google the following with the biggest city in your state (licensure usually restricts to your state): maternal mental health, post partum mental health, perinatal mental health. Finding someone who really specializes really makes a difference.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        My insurance is offering $0 copays for telemedicine appointments as an incentive, so you might get lucky that way, too.

    7. mreasy*

      I have had luck with searches on ZocDoc, Psychology Today, and my insurance site. There are also the new apps like Better Health, which I haven’t tried but which might be a more flexible solution.

    8. Whiskey on the rocks*

      Psychology Today is a great resource. Many are doing remote sessions, but you’re right that doesn’t help if they arent even taking new patients. If you’re working, does your work offer an EAP (employee assistance program)? My work opened it up to employees who dont carry our insurance. You can do a limited number of sessions through this program and either get referred at the end or sometimes continue with the EAP therapist. Good for you for seeing your signs and taking care of yourself!

    9. Reba*

      One possibility for at least the short term would to try one of the online therapy services, if they are available in your country. Better Health and Talkspace are the ones I’ve heard of. They should at least be able to get you in with somebody.

      good luck!

    10. kz*

      I’d ask your OB if they have any recommendations, especially since they likely know of folks who deal with perinatal mental health issues!

    11. Generic Name*

      Have you looked at your insurance company’s website? Mine has alerts and articles and links about teletherapy services. Many insurances are waiving co-pays for teletherapy sessions through the end of the year.

    12. Purple Penguin*

      I’ve had a pretty good run with Talkspace, which is an online therapy platform with a variety of therapist types (social worker, therapist, psychologist, etc.) who are certified in the US. It allows me to talk to someone when I need to instead of when the next available appointment is. I believe the platform takes some health insurances.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t have experience with these platforms but that one would be near the bottom of my list to try. Check out the Aug. 7, 2020 NYT article, “At Talkspace, Start-Up Culture Collides With Mental Health Concerns.”

    13. Anonymous therapist*

      Have you tried psychology today’s find a therapist search? If you’re in the US, anyone licensed in your state in can provide remote therapy to you. Try the search and toggle to search your whole state, not just city. You can also limit to providers that take your insurance or look for specialists.

    14. DataQueen*

      I highly recommend Better Help. It’s about $50/week, and I don’t know if insurance ever covers it for folks, BUT i love it. You can do video calls, phone calls, or just text them. And they’re very responsive. They have all sorts of worksheets they’ll assign you, and they even text you if they don’t hear from you in a while, which prompts you to keep it going. It’s great!

    15. anonlurkerappa*

      I would suggest seeing if there is a new mothers group in your area or region that you might be able to reach out to for recommendations. My state has a “LGBTQ+ Mental Health Providers’ Professional Network” – maybe there is something equivalent for expecting mothers near you?

      My therapist has gone remote. Extrapolating from my experience, I think most therapists are doing remote sessions right now and/or the barriers and approvals needed to do remote therapy are less. My therapists is only doing a few in person visits with clients who don’t do well on video (i.e. children).

      That doesn’t really help the fact that most of the therapists in your area are not taking on new patients right now. But, since its a decent bet that most therapists are doing video sessions, maybe consider broadening the geographical area you are looking in. Its going to be via internet anyway, so it might matter less that the therapist is 50 or 80 miles away?

    16. Artemesia*

      I know how hard it is to find therapeutic help as I had a difficult time finding anyone, insurance or not, for an adult child in desperate need of medication who could not find one. But your OB should have some resources for patients with post partem depression. Surely they must have many patients who have this need as it is so very common. Even if you already tried that (and I assume you probably have), try again more insistently for referrals. And then use the name of your doc when trying to connect with those on their referral list — maybe they can do a direct referral. This is something to be assertive about with your own obstetrical practice.

      NAMI often has information in any area of places to contact for help — they don’t help directly but keep resource files — and then grind away on the phone with those. there are often state mental health departments that provide resources — sometimes they are only available to people without insurance, but they might have lists of people to contact.

      I assume you have contacted your insurance company — they should be able to give you names of therapists who are covered in their plan — should, I know is the operative word. This is just hard to do, your difficulties finding someone are typical. Mental health care is in a shambles in this country — been there trying to get someone help.

      I needed to find a psychiatrist who took medicare (short answer, almost none of them do). I eventually found someone on line who turned out to be surprisingly good. My issues were caused by a personal crisis and thus not ongoing and I just needed short term medication, but I am grateful that she is available to me if a similar crisis creates the need again. I googled, asked friends for refs etc etc and just kept phoning till I found someone. It was discouraging but I did end up finding someone that way.

      My daughter had serious PPD after her first baby was born and none at all with the second. It is likely but not automatically true that you will have the same problems the second time. Hope not and it goes easier this time.

      You might also look on line for mindfulness exercises, and various meditative programs to help you manage anxiety. I got a serious sleep problem under control with a program of cognitive behavioral therapy I found on line, subscribed to and followed. For just management of anxiety there are a lot of meditative exercises including guided meditation with calming visuals on line. That may not be enough, but if you start practicing those now every day, it might help you manage some of your anxiety as you look for a practitioner who can help. Sometimes just knowing you have a plan of exercises like this (similar to what a therapist does) can give you the support you need to avoid anxiety.

    17. Meds?*

      I had a friend whose OB/GYN prescribed anxiety meds that she started around 37 weeks for every pregnancy after her first and continued through the first 6 months to a year. She found it very, very helpful in avoiding the postpartum anxiety she had with her first.

    18. Cascadia*

      Just wanted to add that there is a speciality known as Perinatal mental health, which is therapy for people dealing with issues surrounding pregnancy, post-pregnancy and all the rest. It’s a specialty you can search for on Psychology today.

  4. Sleepyhead*

    My GP has prescribed me a short course of sleeping tablets to help reset my sleeping routine. I’m nervous about taking them and haven’t filled the script yet.
    No med advice please; I just want to know if anyone here has any experiences of taking them short term and would mind sharing?
    TIA.

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Not sure how helpful it will be because it was only two nights and part of an expected recovery plan, but when I got my eyes fixed with laser treatment (c-ten, not lasik) some years back those first couple of days of everything being really blurry threatened to mess with my sleeping schedule.

      I was given sleeping tablets for two nights because I was dozing a lot during the first two days (it was really dull!) until my eyes healed, and for me it was completely fine and just made me stay on a schedule with no ill effects.

    2. Pennyworth*

      I had a short course a while back, and was anxious about taking them. They turned out fine, no after effects at all. Get the script filled, you don’t have to actually take anything until you are ready, and then they will be there for you. If you live alone and are anxious about side effects, you could tell a friend and arrange to call them in the morning.

    3. Tulip*

      I’ve been on sleeping tablets for two short periods before. Once was when I was a teenager, and the other was just last month. I didn’t notice any side effects as such the first time round, but this might depend on the specific medicine you’re taking?

      Taking the medicines really helped me with falling asleep, but I was having frequent dreams (sometimes nightmares) – might not be related though, cause I’m still having them and I’m not on the meds anymore. I had to stop taking the medicines cause of an issue with drug interactions.

      On the whole I think they were helpful and had a positive impact on my sleep schedule. For a couple of days after I stopped taking them, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to sleep, which of course contributed to me not being able to sleep (vicious circle!). But I feel better now.

      Maybe it would help to discuss with your doctor the specific things you’re worried about? Good luck, and I hope you have an uneventful time taking the medicines.

    4. ..Kat..*

      From my personal experience, I would recommend that you start using the pills when you don’t have to get up and be functional (drive a car, go to work, make important decisions) the next few days. When I needed to take sleeping pills, I was really groggy the next day.

      Good luck with your sleeping routine.

    5. WS*

      Short-term, they’re usually used to re-set your sleep routine. When I took them (for three nights) I was advised to do all the regular sleep hygiene things as well – cool, dark room, no screens for an hour before bed, no caffeine for 12 hours before bed, make sure I don’t have to get up at an unusual time the next day – because the aim is to set a new habit. I did find that I was very dopey in the morning and I wouldn’t have wanted to have to drive, but that wore off after about 2 hours.

      1. Sleepyhead*

        Thanks. My GP has recommended the usual sleep hygiene too. It’s good I’m WFH right now so I don’t need to use my car for the commute.

    6. Tea and Sympathy*

      I took them for a few weeks after my father died, when I had trouble sleeping. They worked so well, and it was nice to be able to sleep. I had no side effects and no trouble stopping them once the grief abated.

    7. Outside Earthling*

      I’ve had no problems with them at all. I use CBT to treat my occasional (severe) insomnia, and I find that really effective. I take one of my tablets occasionally when things are particularly rough and it is enough to break the cycle of fear where I don’t sleep one or two nights and then get very anxious about it. Just knowing they are there has been very reassuring for me.

      1. Sleepyhead*

        That makes sense that they’d offer reassurance without you needing to take them every night.
        What kind of CBT things work for you, do you mind me asking? Is it like the usual sleep hygiene stuff?

        1. Outside Earthling*

          I did an online course called Sleepio. It was incredibly helpful for me. The behavioural components are tough but I was highly motivated to make it work. It goes beyond sleep hygiene although that’s a part of it. I never did work out whether the course was meant for occasional acute insomniacs or more for chronic insomnia (I am the former). If you are interested, also google Donn Posner. He’s a behavioural medicine specialist who did a couple of really helpful talks that are on YouTube, plus an episode on the 10 per cent Happier podcast. Sorry for the info overload but it took me a while to find the resources that would really help me so I’m keen to share what worked for me in case it helps you or others. Sleep problems are really tough but there is help out there.

        2. Natalie*

          If you are interested in pursuing it, the term I would look for is CBT-I (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia). My husband is a lifelong chronic insomniac and poor sleeper, and had some moderate success with CBT-I.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Ambien is dangerous for some people. If this is your med, be careful. I had to stop taking it due to dangerous side effects and a relative almost died from an accident she had while under its influence. Other prescription meds might be much safer – at least I hope so.
      Ask the pharmacist how to safely start this new prescription. Ask about interactions with other things you’re ingesting. Start it on a night where you’re not driving or operating equipment the next day.
      I now practice good sleep hygiene and take a half dose of OTC melatonin. I get more exercise during the day for better sleep at night. That works great for me.
      Best of Luck and Sweet Dreams

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Yeah, I had a very unfun experience with ambien. It did, technically, work. It just also did other things.

      2. Sleepyhead*

        Hmmm that’s worrying. My GP has asked me about my current meds and has prescribed me a sleeping pill, I don’t know what it is because I haven’t filled the script yet, so I presume she knows what she’s doing. This has really made me anxious though.

      3. Ginger ale for all*

        I cosign on the Ambien warning. My father was given these in the hospital despite my mother’s objections. She was a nurse and knew he would have problems. He had intense hallucinations and his recovery from surgery was made more difficult. He kept having the hallucinations and memory problems for several weeks after my mother got them to stop giving him the Ambien. For a while he couldn’t tell you his name. My mom said that the older you are, the more likely you will have problems with it.

      4. Skeeder Jones*

        I have also had a bad experience with ambien. A lot of people end up sleepwalking, sleep eating, and even sleep driving. I would wake up in different clothes than I wore to bed and occasionally ate things in my sleep (I would find the wrappers in the morning). It can be helpful, just look for signs that you are doing things in your sleep.

        1. jolene*

          I LOVE it. Works perfectly, gives me a solid 6+ hours sleep, I wake up fine though with a faint chalky taste in my mouth. I only use it for travelling/jet lag/crazy stress, and do not find it addictive in any way. I once took one on a terrifyingly bumpy flight, lay down in the back row, strapped myself in and was mercifully fine during it and got off the plane afterwards completely clear-headed.

          Not discounting anyone’s experience, just offering a different perspective. I do know friends who have been thoroughly knocked out by it and would never touch it again.

    9. Michaele*

      I was having trouble getting to sleep; my mind just would not stop racing. (My husband is the opposite; he is close to have a G and an H imprinted on his nose from repeatedly falling asleep head down at the computer.)
      My new Dr. prescribed Trazodone as a sleep aid that is not habit forming. (I can only take ½ tablet or I’m groggy all the next day.) My sleep is So Much Better, and as a result, my energy and clarity have greatly improved. Of course the Dr. may tell you why this med would not be right for you. But that is my experience.

      1. Anon for this*

        Here to second trazodone for insomnia. It’s an old drug originally developed, apparently, as an antidepressant but no longer used for that very much. But because it’s old it’s pretty cheap and well-understood. It’s a great insomnia drug because it has few side effects, isn’t habit forming, and generally doesn’t leave people groggy although Michaele has clearly had a different experience there!

        Amusingly, my dog and I both have trazodone prescriptions – he takes it as a sedative for car trips. He needs much higher doses than I do, even though he weighs a lot less. I’m completely knocked out by a fraction of the dose that barely registers with him.

      2. Sleepyhead*

        Thank you! I’m not sure what kind of med it is yet, but I’ll find out tomorrow when I get the script filled. So glad it’s worked for you both.
        Michaele, I’m so envious of people who can fall asleep just like that (snaps fingers)!

      3. Skeeder Jones*

        I despise trazodone because it kicks in at about 20 minutes and makes you super tired, but if you don’t fall asleep right then, you sort of bypass that moment and then you are wide awake but feeling like crap. I’ve had a lot of friends with the same reaction.

        1. Anon for this*

          Interesting – I took it bc I had insomnia after a head injury, which took the form of being able to fall asleep but then waking up and unable to fall asleep again. Trazodone kicks in for me pretty fast but also keeps me asleep through that stage when I’d been waking up, so I can sleep several hours at a time. It was a huge help, but as with lots of things, people’s reactions to it vary.

    10. Sleepyhead*

      Thanks for the replies so far! I appreciate those who have taken the time to post their experience.
      I’ll fill the script this week and start it Thursday pm, as I’m not busy over the weekend. If I have side effects I’m only taking it once then talking to my GP again.

      1. Artemesia*

        Ambien works great for me and no hangover BUT it is super addictive/becomes useless quickly and should not be used more than once a week or for a short stint.

        I have pathological levels of sleep issues. What did work after a family crisis had me not sleeping at all for nights on end was a cognitive behavioral sleep program. The one I used was ‘shuteye’ and I followed it much as I hated it and it really did work. Now I am back to my usual pre-crisis levels of insomnia i.e. occasional. My husband goes to sleep in 10 minutes every night — it is always at least an hour for me.

        It helps me to have meds available — I can relax knowing that if I msut sleep I have options. My shrink gave me serequel which in large doses e.g. 200-600 a day is an antipsychotic but in tiny doses works as a sleep med. If I take 12 units (half of a 24 pill which is the smallest available) I sleep like a rock. I only take it if I don’t have anything the next day and am desperate — but knowing I have it is comforting.

        Trazadone is another drug often prescribed in low doses; it does nothing for me.

        The best approach (and it is backed up by research) is the cognitive behavioral training and you run no drug risks with that. Because it begins with serious sleep restriction, it is difficult to do — but if you hang in there and do it, it works.

        Even if you are using meds I would really suggest pairing it with the behavioral approach so you can move off meds once past the initial crisis.

        1. Sleepyhead*

          Thanks! Good point, I intend to look into the other aspects of insomnia as I don’t want to rely on drugs.

    11. anonlurkerappa*

      it really depends on what the actual drug is. There are multiple things out there that count as ‘sleeping tablets’

      Diphenhydramine leaves me a little groggy in the morning.

      Trazodone – my understanding is that it can be habit forming. A quick google search did not clarify that for me. A friend of mine take it for sleep. She says she just needs to be sure she has 8 hours of sleep. Needing to wake up 6 hours after taking it is not a good or pleasant experience for her.

      I don’t have experience with Ambien.

      1. Artemesia*

        Trazadone does nothing at all for me. Serequel on the other hand in miniscule doses is like a hammer. Ambien is perfect and leaves no hangover for me but is useless quickly and becomes habit forming quickly so I never take it more than once a week — basically reserve it for when I must get a night’s sleep before something important or to treat jet lag (back when we jetted off to places overseas — would take it the first two nights to reset sleep time). Benydryl makes me nervous and jittery and wide eyed all night; works for many.

        I am glad I went with a cognitive behavioral sleep training program — that does work and you dn’t have to worry about the side effects of drugs. For some people Ambien has serious side effects — like getting in your car and driving to Canada in the middle of the night or eating your way through the kitchen.

    12. NewCEO*

      I have chronic insomnia I’ve struggled with for decades. I’ve been on Trazodone for the past two years, after trying all sorts of sleep meds that simply didn’t work, including Ambien. Trazodone is an antidepressant and nonaddictive and truly has saved my life. The only side effect I’ve noticed is blurry vision when I wake up, but that goes away within minutes. Hope you get some sleep.

    13. 2QS*

      I am on Zimovane (zopiclone) for the short term given problems with sustaining sleep. Not sure whether it’s available in the United States because it’s potentially addictive.

      About an hour after taking it, I’m feeling sleepy and my brain is sort of quiet and calm and ready to pass out. Then I wake up around 8 hours later feeling VERY good.

      The only side effect is that they taste terrible and the aftertaste is prolonged to the point of absurdity (it lasts almost until it’s time to take the next one).

      1. Artemesia*

        I got that after surgery in France one time — it is fabulous but not available in the US. I didn’t notice the after taste — but if it didn’t have addictive side effects or whatever has made it highly restricted abroad and unavailable here that would be my drug of choice. quick, nice long rest and no hangover.

      2. Sleepyhead*

        Thank you, I saw those side effects. If I am only taking it for a few weeks I think I might be able to live with that.

    14. Another sleepyhead*

      Anon for this and unfortunately had no time to read or comment yesterday, but hoping Sleepyhead reads this. Personally been on Trazodone since about a year, was apprehensive about it at first, but it’s been a blessing to be able to have it. I’ve had insomnia since after grad school finished in 2019. First it was being unable to fall asleep, and then once I got past that hurdle, had nightly wakeups ranging btw 2am or 4am..brutal. The last 6 months of grad school was an incredibly stressful and draining experience and messed up my sleep terribly…hoping I eventually go back to normal. My doc has had to increase the trazodone dosage after I had issues with a brief stressful relationship and he also temporarily increased it after I had a panic attack a few weeks back…what a fun year 2020 has been…smh. All that to say, is that Trazodone works for me, and it’s a blessing to have it while I am still recovering from grad school and working through other issues. I go to therapy, I did CBT for sleep as well and still practice it (the way my former therapist did it focused mostly on sleep hygiene…the insomnia ‘magically’ got better after I was furloughed for a few months, so she didn’t actually have to do much other than to remind me that an occasional wake up in the middle of the night is not the end of the world…having less money while laid off clearly bugged me less than having to deal with a stressful job…sigh). I tried Zopiclone at one point too, but my doc took me off it after about two weeks when my body quickly showed it got too used to it. I tried Ambien and same thing happened as with Zopiclone, so Ambien no more and didn’t experience dangerous side effects. Key thing in my case is having a good physician who knows how to deal with insomnia and regularly monitors what’s happening.

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing.
    How are the NaNoWriMo people doing?
    Personally, most of my writing has focused on the Thing That Shan’t Be Discussed in the weekend thread, and I don’t think that’ll change anytime soon.

    1. BethDH*

      I am finally having time to go back to a piece of academic writing I have started and stopped at least three times over as many years (maternity, job search, coronavirus). I’m excited to get back to it but also really frustrated trying to understand all the text snippets and notes that I wrote when the research was fresh.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I definitely feel you on trying to make sense of notes after a long hiatus. And that’s assuming I can still read my own handwriting after all that time!

    2. Laura H.*

      The fanfic bunnies are alive and kicking. Working on something that’s basically an attempt at a test run before my coauthor and I try it in our fic. And it’s coming along nicely.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I feel like I’m behind. I’m almost done with worldbuilding, but I’m behind on the conlang, and I haven’t made an outline yet for my next project. Mostly it’s because of the certification class I’m in. I’ve been really struggling to get through even the basic material; it’s just so. much. jargon. But the instructor finally got in contact and he held a Zoom workshop on Thursday where he talked about what we needed to focus on most for the exam, so that helped a LOT. But I’ve been trying to think about that and everything else all at the same time, which is not really working!

      I think if I can get my sleep schedule fixed so I wake up earlier, then I can break my day into segments where I just focus on one thing at a time—x time for job hunting and applications; y time for study; z time for book stuff. The last will probably stay an evening activity, since I usually do it then when I’m working. Plus, it’s the most enjoyable, so why not save it as a reward for doing all the rest? ;)

    4. Spessartine*

      I’m so far behind on NaNo it isn’t funny! I’ve always been a pretty consistent 1,667-a-day’er and this year I didn’t even start until the 7th. I’ve missed a lot of days since then, too, and I’m not a fast writer…so I’m not sure how I’ll catch up. I don’t have an excuse, either! I’ve just can’t seem to make myself sit down and write.

      1. Laura H.*

        Winning isn’t everything and this year isn’t normal. Be kind to yourself and your novel in progress.

        And kudos for even doing nano. Tried myself one year and I’m just not built to write that way.

      2. Pink Dahlia*

        I haven’t won in over a decade, but I still do it every year. Even one extra word is something!

    5. Nela*

      I collected beta reader feedback on my nonfiction manuscript, and wanted to start revising last week, but I’ve been swamped with client projects. I hope to get started tomorrow.

    6. Burr... it's cold in here*

      I am finishing up my first semester of graduate school and am writing a paper on the history of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe immigrating to the US in the late 1800s, and another on the role of online crafting communities in alleviating the effects of capitalism. It’s a lot, and I’m struggling hard with motivation. BUT after tomorrow, I’m done for the semester!

    7. NaoNao*

      Just finished a mini write in with the fiance! We had a hot cocoa “charcuterie plate” (marshmallows, chocolate mint bark, white chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate syrup, holiday sprinkles, all as toppings for hot cocoa) and I put on the “restaurant/coffee shop jazz music” YouTube background.

      I’m at 27k and chugging along. I’ve got two-three major scenes to write left so I’m a bit concerned I’ll have to go back and “pad” which I dislike but as usual I’m running out of plot too fast!

    8. ThePear8*

      Finally got the courage and published a bit of my food writing on medium. It’s not much, but it’s been fun to do in my fleeting moments of spare time!
      What bugged me though was after I shared my articles with my ex (we’re still friends), he just told me the pictures look bad. I can’t seem to find a good way to resize pictures on Medium, it just auto fits them into a box, so if anyone knows how to size pictures nicely on Medium that’d be fantastic! I suppose I could try and crop them to fit but it’s a lot of images and I don’t really want to spend so much time on something that right now is just a fun little hobby for me. I agree with him the pictures look bad, but it kind of still got under my skin because he’s almost never said anything nice or encouraging about my passion projects (hence why we are exes).
      Not to derail from the writing itself too much though, I’m continuing to have fun recording my food experiences and will hopefully get the time and courage to branch into other topics I want to write about, like art, business, and pets.
      In other writing, I had a virtual jam today that I organized and wrote a small interactive story about one of my pet snails (yes, pet snails). What I thought might be a funny/cute/wholesome story actually turned out to be a bit of a tearjerker!

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    This thread is not limited to video games, any gaming goes (we don’t gatekeep here). Also feel free to ask for recommendations, either for yourself or someone else, and for help identifying a game you vaguely remember.
    I did get around to finishing Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened and have now started Nemesis, but I feel like that one might take me a while because I’m gonna be busy for the near future.

    1. 10Isee*

      I dont know if this qualifies as gaming, but my spouse and I recently subscribed to a murder mystery box subscription. We’ve done two so far and have absolutely loved it! The last time we were shocked to realize that three hours had basically flown by as we sprawled on the carpet passing each other evidence bags and poring over coded letters. May have been our favorite date night ever.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Well those are tabletop games, so you’re good :)
        I’m also interested in trying one of those out, actually! There’s one of those services in my country that gets pretty good reviews, so I might actually go for it.

      2. Hello Sweetie!*

        This sounds really interesting! So you can play with just 2 people? What company are you using?

        Sometimes it’s hard finding good gifts for my husband, this could be fun.

      3. Burr... it's cold in here*

        I too am deeply interested in what the game you are doing is. I have wanted to get one for my mom, but I haven’t wanted to spend the money on something that isn’t much fun.

    2. BonzaSonza*

      My husband found a mod called “skyrim together” and it has enabled us to play together in the game world. It’s SO GOOD to slay dragons with a partner.

      I’ve loved rediscovering the world of skyrim and have probably invested about 80 hours of playtime lately.

      We also played 500 with my brother and sister last night. I haven’t played that particular card game in ages and I had a ball. I almost won with an open mìsere, but they got me on the last trick.

      1. BethDH*

        Anyone have recommendations for games that can be played online with a small group that includes a variety of ages? Nothing that requires a big investment of time — think about an hour every 2-3 weeks. We tend to like games like scattergories, rummikub, or card games — low key stuff where it’s easy for someone to bow out early.
        Bonus points if it’s something where you can have a team of 2-3 on each computer. We can work around this but the extra setup means it won’t happen as often.

        1. OTGW*

          If y’all have Steam and don’t mind spending ~$10, Tabletop Simulator has a bunch and even more in the workshop.

        2. BonzaSonza*

          My favourite games are forbidden Island and forbidden desert.

          It’s a team of 2-6 players working together as a team against the board, and we’ve played it with the kids from age 5. It’s a lot of fun and encourages strategy and teamwork

          Highly recommend

    3. Jaid*

      I’ve been doing “escape the room” games online. I admit to cheating by looking at the walkthrough a couple of times, especially since one game didn’t make it obvious there were more screens for me to go to and I thought it was broken.
      But I do like puzzle games that aren’t timed.

    4. Holly the spa pro*

      I picked up Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin for the switch. It describes itself as a side scrolling dungeon crawler and farming sim. So far it is really cute and fun. I love Japanese mythology which is heavily entrenched in the story. Its a Xseed game so it has a ton of systems and stats which can be a little intimidating at first (think rune factory games, same company) but the combat is pretty fluid and easy to learn and the systems are getting fed to me in a satisfying way. So far, im really liking it.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Ooh, I’ve been seeing ads for that one but never really looked into it, but it sounds pretty cool!

    5. Dr.KMnO4*

      Since I LOVE Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2 playthroughs completed, halfway through a third) my husband suggested I try Fire Emblem: Awakening. I like it, but not as much as 3H. Grinding (something I love doing) is much more difficult, and I really got used to the Divine Pulse system in 3H. So it’s taking me a while to get into it, and I’m only on Chapter 5 right now.

      I’ve also got back into Destiny 2 with the new expansion. It adds a lot of cool story stuff, and new abilities which are fun to use.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        If you like the Divine Pulse you may also want to check out Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, as Mila’s Turnwheel is very similar to Divine Pulse.

    6. Cruciatus*

      I work at a university and our department has held a few remote game nights for students, mostly Jackbox Games, and that’s been going well, but due to popular demand we played Among Us, which was new for me. That’s a pretty fun game, although I had never played before and was the imposter 2 times in a row! I didn’t know what I was doing and was figured out pretty fast. So I suppose I will need to play this game a little more to get better at it–in theory it’s such a simply little game, but there’s a lot to figure out!

      But if anyone is looking for a fun game to play that is free (though there is a paid version) I recommend Among Us if you haven’t tried it already (I think I may have been the last person to ever play it).

    7. Squeebird*

      I spent too much money and picked up Assassin’s Creed Valhalla when it came out this week. I’m enjoying it so far but still adjusting to some of the combat and navigation changes made since the previous game. I’ve just gotten out of Norway and am hoping I end up somewhere in England that is not quite so snowy.

      1. wingmaster*

        I’m enjoying the game too! I like the side missions and challenges from matching horns to building up the settlement.

    8. Nynaeve*

      I played Among Us for the first time and it was pretty fun, even though I tend not to like Mafia-style games. (I find having to distrust people stressful and I am also terrible at lying and sabotage.) But hey, the hats are cute! Mostly, it was nice to have a game night with the usual bunch for the first time in a while.

      I also played A Mortician’s Tale, which is a cute, chill game where you are a mortician preparing bodies for burial. It teaches you a lot about different funeral traditions and helps you think about how to honor the deceased and their lives. The main character has an arc as she struggles against the corporatization of the funeral home.

      1. Lifeandlimb*

        What! A Mortician’s Tale sounds interesting. I’ve been fascinated by death rituals from an anthropological perspective for a long time, but I didn’t know there was a video game about it. I’ll plan to check it out. The taboos (at least in the U.S.) around even talking about it are very restrictive.

    9. Lifeandlimb*

      I’ve been playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for a loong time and don’t plan on being finished any time soon. It’s been a nice bright escape from the darkness of this year.

      My partner and I recently bought two tabletop games: Onitama, a very simple but fluid two-player game that’s a little like chess and involves strategy; and Chronology, a 2-4 player game where each player draws cards with historical events written on them and must add the card to their own collection in the right chronological order. It’s surprisingly fun and can move quickly.

    10. Doctor is In*

      We saw a write up for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and went all in with a new gaming computer! Splurged since we are spending nothing on travel. We are both senior citizens who have not played games since PacMan. Quite a learning curve, we have to Google a lot of things. I have yet to land without crashing. Husband flew under the Golden Gate Bridge! Any suggestions for “easy” Xbox games that are intuitive to figure out how to play?

    11. Biziki*

      I’m slowly starting to come to terms with the fact that I won’t be able to see my mom at Christmas this year, and I want to find ways to make an online Christmas as fun/normal as possible. Does anyone have any suggestions for an online scrabble that is as close as possible to playing in-person? I’m willing to pay to avoid ads, but I want as game that’s as user friendly and close to a ‘real’ game as possible.

      1. Doctor is In*

        Our family used to play real Scrabble, and have since played Words with Friends. The problem with WWF is you can go to web sites that will tell you what words you can make with your letters, etc., i.e. “cheat” so you are really playing with a computer if you do that. It can be fun though.

        1. Biziki*

          Cheating is no stranger in my family’s game night, so I don’t think we’d let that stop us. Thank you for the suggestion!

  7. Anon and alone*

    This question is for those who have broken/injured a limb (or more specifically hand, wrist, or arm). How long did it take to regain close to full functionality? My physiotherapist says my wrist is regaining strength quite well but flexibility, not so great. It’s been two months since I started physio.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      6 weeks for the breaks (foot & toe, 2 separate occasions) to heal, but I’ve sprained my ankle several times and damaged the soft tissue in my ankle and my foot and they’ve taken months to make progress, even with physio. I haven’t found physio always helpful; I’m still in pain and my ankle and foot are weaker now and more prone to injury which then takes longer to heal, but I have hypermobility so that may be why. But I’ve always been under the impression that damage to tissue and ligaments can take longer to heal than damage to bone (depending on injury sustained of course).

      1. Emma*

        I have the same experience with soft tissue damage – and realistically, if you have broken a joint then you also have soft tissue damage to some degree. I seriously sprained my ankle a few years ago and it took about 6 months before it wasn’t constantly bothering me, a couple of years before I felt safe wearing heels again, and I just realised last week (about 4 years post injury) that I no longer have any difference in strength or sensation – now if I want to know which ankle I injured, I have to remember, I can’t just wiggle them both and see which one is slightly sore!

    2. Lifelong student*

      I broke my elbow (on Christmas Day 2015, on vacation in Rome) – continued with my vacation for 2 weeks- came home, had surgery- a cast etc- then PT twice a week for almost 4 months after that. It was long and painful- but I regained everything by that point! I had a wonderful PT person!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      A friend broke her ankle in the worst possible place to break an ankle. It was probably a year for her. There were a number of hold ups in her process. Not the least of which, the doc did not explain how bad the break was. Months later she asked why she was still having problems. Then they put her on a bone stimulator and eventually she got PT, etc.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      It can depend on your age and general health. When I was younger things healed faster than they do in middle age. However, a couple years ago I made a big push to regain good health (didn’t lose much weight but gained muscle, strength, and energy). Over the decades I’ve sprained or broken quite a few things, most recently a dislocated shoulder which took about 3 months to get back to full function without discomfort. During my “out of shape” period I had a broken wrist take almost a year. I hope you heal quickly and completely!

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I agree: it depends on your age and general health.
        It can take months to a year to regain full function for some injuries but sometimes complete recovery isn’t possible. PT and PT-prescribed home exercises can make a huge difference for injuries.
        Fingers crossed for you!

    5. Bluesboy*

      Broke an arm a few years ago. Did my exercises, but was a bit lazy if I’m honest. Full functionality after maybe 6 weeks? Although it still gave me twinges for a year, at which point and unrelated I started going to the gym, and the twinges went away. Making me realise I should have done my exercises in the first place.

      So yes, do your exercises!

    6. Jenny*

      To be honest I’ve never fully regained the strength in my wrist and it still hurts occasionally. Keep working on it though, it really depends on the break.

    7. Old and Don’t Care*

      I had a very simple break in my arm and the ortho told me it would be 95% better in six months. This turned out to be true, but it was probably 90% better in three months. I did PT, and the
      therapist stretched out the arm at the end of every session. One day I got on the table and said “Wait, this is stretched out already” and that was that. I didn’t necessarily notice incremental improvements in flexibility, though they might have been there.

    8. theAcademicBeanMovesOn*

      for me, it was close to 8-10 months, i broke my hand and then developed tendonitis while in the cast. the tendonitis is why i couldnt get full functionality. the physio didnt do much for me and it was incredibly expensive (850$ a session, wtf). for context i was a female in my late 30s when i broke it. and it was on the thumb side. im hoping your healing goes better

    9. KarenK*

      I broke my wrist about 3 years ago. I had surgery twice – once to put a plate in and once to take it out again. Never had physio. The improvement was so gradual I couldn’t tell you when I got back to normal. It still doesn’t have the flexibility of my other wrist, but it’s close enough to not be noticeable.

    10. Seal*

      I had rotator cuff surgery a few years ago after a fall. Messed up a few other body parts too but the shoulder was by far the worst injury. My shoulder was immobilized for 6 weeks, although I started physical therapy a few days after the surgery. PT continued for 4 months, starting with visits 3 days a week and eventually getting down to once a week. After that I continued to do strengthening and stretching exercises on my own for months. Although I made significant improvements during physical therapy, I didn’t get full range of motion back for at least 6 months; full strength took at least a year. Two plus years later it feels great; in fact, it feels and moves better than my other shoulder does. But it definitely took a lot of time and hard work to get to this point.

    11. Esmeralda*

      Broke a leg. Took four weeks to heal, about three months to return to full function. (I was 50-something at the time)

    12. mreasy*

      I dislocated my elbow and was in PT for about 4 months, including wearing a traction splint thing every night while sleeping. It really depends on what & where it is but it could for sure be more than 2 months.

    13. Anon and alone*

      Thanks everyone, this is very helpful to read. For reference, I’m in my 50s and I do the exercises the physiotherapist gave me every day. Luckily, it was my left wrist and I’m a righty.

    14. OtterB*

      My daughter broke her arm just below the elbow in August. The break is completely healed and she has full use of it, but still has trouble turning that arm palm up. The orthopedist said it could be as much as a year before she regained as much function as she would.

      Similarly, my husband badly broke his wrist (among other things) in a fall from a ladder and his function continued to improve for months after the bone was healed.

    15. Pink Dahlia*

      I fell on ice and badly sprained my wrist in Feb 2018. I was given a brace and no physio. It’s still too weak to support my body weight (can’t do push-ups, or lift myself from a sitting position) and it hurts often. I had hoped to see my PCP and ask for help, but then Covid hit, and I wasn’t willing to risk a non-urgent appointment. I’m not sure where to go from here.

    16. Sandra Dee*

      Broke my ankle end of July 2020, cast for 5 weeks, boot for 3, ankle brace, PT. Follow up at 3 months, still broken. Now have a bone stimulator, wearing ankle brace all day every day. Follow up in January. For reference, I am early 50s. Things just take much longer to heal. I really want to get back to a normal routine.

    17. Anon for this*

      So sorry to hear it – this kind of thing gets so disruptive and drawn out. I had a foot fracture at the end of 2015. 6 weeks of cast/crutches, then several weeks of limping around waiting for muscles to even out. 6 months of physiotherapy. Resumed biking in summer 2016. Could not stand on tiptoe for more than a year without it being seriously painful. By fall 2017, still experiencing pain and a bit of arthritis in the joint. Saw physiotherapist, who said things would continue to improve. Resumed running. By summer 2018, injury almost always unnoticeable.

  8. Not Australian*

    We’re celebrating this weekend because MIL (90) is going to live in a care home; the celebration is because she’ll be looked after, have good food and great company, and have a decent view from her window after years in a dark basement flat. The whole process has been so simple and straightforward that it contrasts wildly with the time my mother went into care about fifteen years ago; she was deemed a danger to herself and had to be ‘sectioned’ – UK term for detention under the Mental Health Act – which involved a moonlight transfer in a secure van with three guards in case she was violent. (I went with her and held her hand btw.)

    For those of us unable to look after senior relatives ourselves, getting them into an appropriate care facility is always a challenge – so I’d love to hear about any cases where this went especially well or especially badly.

    1. Emma*

      The only older relative of mine who has lived in residential care was my gran. She had dementia, but we were slow to realise because she talked a good game and made it sound like everything was normal. It was only when my mum went to stay with her for a few days that she realised how bad gran’s memory had become: she was repeatedly missing appointments, leaving appliances on or in dangerous states overnight, and had forgotten that her neighbour that she used to play Scrabble with had died several years earlier and would get annoyed that she never came round any more.

      Because of this, it took a long time to convince her that residential care – or any kind of move, really, since she liked where she lived even though there was no-one local to support her – was the right way to go. She wasn’t aware of the risk she was at or the things that were causing us concern. We would explain them, she would agree to think about it, and then a few days later she would have forgotten and we would have the same conversation again. It was a very long process, but when she eventually did move she did very well at the care home – and she was close enough to my parents that they could, and did, visit her every week, which she loved.

    2. Sue*

      My friend’s Mom (93) fell and had to move into a facility when she could no longer be in her home alone. She had refused for years to move but now she has adjusted beautifully. She’s made lots of friends and when they had to take her out for a bit because of covid, she was very anxious to get back to her social life. It has been a huge blessing for the whole family to see her happy and getting the care she needs.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The last place my mother was in was impressive in some ways. But an odd, cool thing happened. One day a big stretch limo pulls up. A bunch of guys in three piece suits and sun glasses get out. Yep, FLOTUS had come to visit her bro.
      This was a little tiny nursing home, in a town that is a pencil dot on a map.

      I cannot describe the reassurance that came in that moment. The family of the US Prez thought this place was okay. I held on to that thought very hard. Reassurance comes in odd packages.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        That is an amazing story! I’m dying to know which flotus it was, but it doesn’t really matter. Regardless of who it was, I’d be just is impressed and reassured (if I were in your position)!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is reaching back just over 35 years ago. Bro (BIL?) was in the news because of his terminal illness. The articles never said where he was or how he was being taken care of. I just double checked my own self- and it was the VP’s wife, not the prez, I misspoke there. My decades are merging now. I am still good with it, no matter. ;)

    4. SpellingBee*

      My mom moved into an independent living community with a continuum of care (transitions within the same community to assisted living and then into skilled nursing care when necessary) after my dad passed away almost 5 years ago. She did it because she knew she wasn’t able, and didn’t want, to keep up the house and property by herself. She actually even moved to a totally new area, to be near my sister and me. It went really well! She dove right in and made friends, and had an active social life. Last summer and fall she started having problems with memory and disorientation (calling us from her apartment in a panic, saying she was lost and didn’t know how to get home, for example), so she had to move into an assisted living apartment which again she did willingly – it helped that one of her good friends also lives on that floor, and she was able to move in right next door. Unfortunately she continued to decline rapidly, and she’s now in skilled nursing care there. However, her care is absolutely stellar and they’re handling the COVID thing really really well, with very strict protocols resulting in only a few cases and no deaths in their community.

      And in another success story, Mr. Bee’s dad (who turns 98 today) moved into a senior apartment community a couple of years ago, and is thriving! He was pretty isolated before, and now lives near Mr. Bee’s sister and her family, plus has made friends in his community. He was invited to join the ladies’ poker night and plays pool with a couple of the other men.

      1. Venus*

        Agreed about the benefit in no longer doing housework. Someone nicely phrased it to their mother as “Hey mom, you had a hard life and now you get to retire from cleaning and cooking. If you *want* to cook, then you can use the available fancy kitchen” (there was a party room that had a big kitchen).

        In the right circumstances it can be a huge social benefit. I have known seniors living with their children, and the children worked all day and then had little to say in the evening. When they moved to a retirement home there were dozens of people their age, with someone to talk with during the day, on many different topics.

    5. fposte*

      My dad self-relocated into a continuing care facility, where you start out living independently and then get more support as you need it, and that’s my plan as well. It’s one of those things that current fposte does to make things easier for a less able future fposte.

      I loved my dad’s facility and would absolutely choose that one if it were near me. One detail I loved was they drew a lot from the local high school for their dining room staff, and on prom the kids would come out in full dress with their dates to show off to the residents before the dance.

      1. ThatGirl*

        My grandparents did similar, there’s a complex in the town they lived in with apartments (with meals available and basic med or shower help), semi-independent rooms and skilled nursing. It was a real blessing to know they didn’t have to make any more big moves and that when they needed it, the extra help was there.

      2. Generic Name*

        Yes! My grandma’s retirement community had a preschool on-site, and a lot of her friends volunteered as classroom grandmas. Such a benefit for both the kids and the adults.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, absolutely. So many kids live far enough from their grandparents that they don’t necessarily get to visit very often, or else, for whatever reason, the grandparents may not have any contact with the kids at all.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would be celebrating too, and I wish you all luck! My grandparents refused to move even when my grandmother’s mobility was severely compromised. They wouldn’t even allow a caregiver in. It destroyed my grandfather’s physical health. My grandmother died in August and he won’t move, and it is frightening. I hope your MIL settles well and finds the benefits of being in a place where she can be looked after with good company.

    7. Parenthetically*

      My grandmother had two wonderful care home experiences and one absolutely awful one that almost killed her.

      When my granddad was alive, they lived in a multi-care-level place that was absolutely lovely, like a fancy 1960s hotel — it had a gorgeous restaurant-style dining room, a hair salon, several posh boutiques, a shoe repair shop, a spa, a pool, an indoor fountain, a huge plant-filled sparkling atrium, all sorts of things. It was also beyond their means, but subsidized by their sons as the best option. After granddad died, grandma fell into a depression, was moved to a different care home, and her (abysmal) doctor promptly prescribed her several medications in far-too-high doses, so she was a zombie for about… five years. One day she sat down in her recliner, three of her vertebrae broke, and she couldn’t get to the phone. The care at that facility was so poor that she sat in that chair for THREE DAYS before my uncle got concerned that she wasn’t answering her phone and went to check on her. After her PT was finished, she moved closer to my folks into facility #3 where she was doted on by nurses and staff who adored her, had regular visitors, played bingo and went to Sit-Fit class every day, and lived another FIFTEEN YEARS. She passed away two years ago at the ripe old age of 96.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      I can think of 5 different people who either lived in a nursing home or worked in one. None of the experiences is positive. So I’m glad there are positive stories here.
      My advice to anyone who has a loved one in a nursing home is to go as often as you can to witness what kind of care your loved one is getting. I hope they’re getting great care.

    9. Filosofickle*

      We had pretty good experiences with both my grandmothers.

      Grandma 1 went in at 89, still had all her marbles but couldn’t live alone anymore. She went in very gracefully and with full acceptance, which helped immensely. While it was really hard to give up her home and city, she had outlived all family and nearly all her friends so she greatly enjoyed the socialization she gained. She didn’t live very long after that, she had a sudden stroke out of nowhere, but the week before she was elected VP of their community. Adorable!

      Grandma 2 was much harder. She was in her 90s and adamantly refused to leave her home. Her dementia had escalated and she was living alone in a rural area, across the country from all family, and she refused ANY domestic / care help. It was incredibly dangerous. In the end, her dementia actually solved the problem — she literally forgot that she refused to leave. One day she just agreed and we moved her across the country into an independent unit at a nice place only 5 minutes from my parents. It was a good community, not the best ever but she got good care and surprisingly good food. With wine at dinner! She did well at first, even enjoying even the activities which was frankly very surprising. Dementia made her nicer and more open. But it didn’t take long for her to need a memory ward, sadly. Then she forgot all about the good food and happy hours and balloon volleyball she’d previously praised. She’d complain no one had checked on her all day or taken her to any meals, minutes after we watched someone check on her or wheel her back from lunch! Oof. We didn’t know how to respond. You’re not supposed to argue about reality, but we wondered if it did harm to let her believe she was just being abandoned. She died a year ago, and we’re honestly grateful we didn’t have to navigate all that during the pandemic. She wouldn’t have understood anything.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’ve had several elderly family move into care homes, and I’ve talked with multiple people dealing with moving relatives into care homes, and I’ve attended support groups for dementia caregivers.

      For the majority of people, regardless of how much they fight moving (and some of them really do fight), once they’re in and settled they have loved it. The big one is the social aspects. When your life is limited to the tv or other very narrow windows onto the rest of the world, having your social horizons suddenly broaden is a pretty big deal. Most of the time, they wonder why they resisted the move and wished they’d done it years earlier.

      There are some people who are determined to be miserable, and thus they are. They are the minority in my experience.

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

      I’m so glad that your MIL is going to be in a reputable place. We weren’t so lucky with my Gran, she ended in an illegal care home because it was the only place that accepted her, and we’re grateful it was decent enough. My other gran was on a waiting list for a home run by the local church, and she never got the call.

  9. Brusque*

    I just discovered the joy of making sandwiches with home-made Hawaiian Rolls.
    My favorite so far is a triple cheese BLT.
    First layer: cream cheese with finely chopped chilli pappers, second layer: cheddar, third layer: gouda. That gets grilled in my oven till the cheese melts and then topped lots of crispy bacon, fresh lettuche and tomatoes, finished with some A1 sauce and a little mayonnaise. Mmmhhhhh.
    But I also like guacamole, eggs, salami, cheese, cucumber slices and mayonnaise with cress.
    Have you ever tried sandwiches made on Hawaiian Rolls and what are your favourites?

    1. Jen Erik*

      That made me google Hawaiian Rolls. I’m trying to imagine what they taste like now. Is there a classic recipe?
      All of them have pineapple juice, and most use buttermilk, but then some put in honey or ginger. (The King Arthur one has potato flour, which I don’t think I can get.)
      Is there anything in particular I should look for in a recipe?

      (I just want to try your sandwich, really.)

      1. Anonymath*

        I’ve done the King Arthur one, and potato flour is just crumbled instant potatoes, like you can find in most supermarkets under instant mashed potatoes. I did find their recipe came out much better with the recommended sweet bread yeast instead of regular yeast.

    2. Slinky*

      Glad you used Hawaiian and not cheap ass rolls! (For those relatively new, this is a reference to an AAM letter from last year. Link to follow.)

      I like Hawaiian Rolls with any kind of mayo-based salad, like egg salad. The sweet roll pairs well with the rich mayo. Adding a slice of lettuce provide just a little freshness to balance it out.

    3. Anona*

      This sounds delicious! Where did you get the roll recipe? I like hawaiian rolls but haven’t eaten them much since I realized the store bought version has high fructose corn syrup.
      When you say layers, are you doing multiple layers of bread too? Or is it just cheese layered/stacked in the middle, with bread on either end, like a traditional sandwich? And it sounds amazing, by the way.

      1. Brusque*

        I just stack the cheese. I posted the link to the recipe further up and hope it gets through moderation.
        This morning I toasted them with cheddar and honey. So delicious.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Pulled pork with bbq sauce and coleslaw on it.

      Mini-burgers especially Hawaiian (grilled pineapple and cheese).

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Seconding pulled pork, although I’ve mainly had it faux-kalua-style (slow cooked with salt and liquid smoke). It’s delicious!

        I would guess teriyaki chicken or turkey burger would be a good combo too.

  10. BonzaSonza*

    My brother put on an offer on a house today and I’m really happy for him.

    My husband and I bought a block of land a few months ago and are drawing up plans with a builder which is exciting. The block should complete the title process in February and construction will start right away. This will be our fourth house, but first new build as we’ve been working towards this for 15+ years.

    For people who’ve done through the new build process before, do you have any tips or suggestions for us? I don’t know what my “unknown unknowns” are and would love to hear from you

    1. Sue*

      We had an architect do our plans and then I made changes, cut out things I didn’t want and added a lot of extra storage. I had a good idea of what we wanted the layout to be and the property determined some of the plans. My only regrets are with stuff that happened during the construction. I had a picture of the fireplace we wanted and came over after work to find it done, NOT like the picture and they shrugged. I’ve always wished I’d made them tear it out and do it right but I didn’t. They also left out a medicine cabinet in one of the bathrooms but that was minor. My main suggestions are to plan out your rooms carefully, especially the kitchen. Where each appliance goes, drawer size and function, pantry space, all of it. I had a friend who measured everything she owned and had every inch of storage built to her specifications. I’m not that particular but flow and adequate storage are pretty crucial.
      We walked through to plan all the electrical, switch placement etc. All the decisions were pretty overwhelming, choices of texture, trims, fixtures, paint colors, flooring. I had a talented friend help and by the end, they did everything and I just gave a yay or nay.
      That was 29 years ago and we still love our house.

    2. Not Australian*

      Not a new build, but we did an extensive renovation from the shell a few years ago; I’d recommend you to install *double* the amount of electrical outlets you think you’ll need, and have them as high up the wall as your local regulations allow. We got this mostly right, but for some unknown reason didn’t have a socket put in our hallway – space is tight, so we probably thought it would be unnecessary, but that decision’s come back to bite us now. At any rate, the more outlets you have, the more flexible you can be with the layout/function of your room(s). If, for example, you suddenly need to turn an office into a bedroom – or vice versa – you’ll still have plenty of options and will probably only need to change the decor.

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        Oh, I second this! I would also put in at least double the ‘normal’ outlets on any room you expect to use electronics, tv, computer, etc. I would be so happy if I had put in 3 or 4 outlets side to side in the area where I have my desktop, printer, paper cutting machine, external hard drive for backup, multiple monitors,…. my god there are a lot of things that need plugging in!

        Oh, I would also suggest considering some outlets that include usb ports if you have a lot of usb charging things. I wish I had one at my bedside for my ipad, and in the kitchen for my bluetooth speakers.

        Another thing I would like to have is an intentional place for recharging batteries for cordless tools (screwdriver and drill for me), there just isn’t a good place to have these set up (partly because of lack of outlets, partly because the garage is not heated in winter and the -3oC temps are too extreme).

        I also wish I had main floor laundry, instead of basement, but would want it in a soundproofed area if I did.

        1. Autumn*

          Oh yeah, we moved the laundry from the basement to the second floor (where the bedrooms are) and it is a life-changer. We took advantage of a north-facing wall where you don’t need a ton of windows (I agree parenthetically with Parenthetically below!), tucked in a largish closet space between two bedrooms. We got stacked units and put in a rod to hang things to dry.

      2. T minus now*

        Don’t forget to put outlets on the outside. Also, make sure you have electrical support in the ceilings so you can install overhead lighting or ceiling fans.

    3. Dear liza dear liza*

      We built new about 10 years ago. We actually fell in love with a model home the builders had done and asked for it to be built on our land. That dramatically decreased the number of choices we had to make. “What’s in the model” was our default answer.

      Lessons learned: construction loans are pricey; go to the site in person as often as possible (my partner went every day); expect it to cost more and take longer than estimated. We had no serious obstacles but it still took 2 months longer and 10% more.

    4. Sunrise*

      Go every day and review what’s been done. It’s much easier to correct an issue at the framing stage, for example, than further down the road. Our builder was great, but we still caught a couple of things that way.

      If possible, have a professional designer plan your kitchen. I cannot believe how functional our kitchen is, and would never have thought about some of the things the designer came up with.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yes, go every day. Consider it your new part-time job.
        Congratulations on your exciting new project!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      My father built a house when I was 16. He ended up sick. I ended up trying to figure things out.

      My advice:
      Show up to the building site often and randomly. Bring coffees or cold waters for everyone.
      Be pleasant, be conversational, but look around. Always look around. Be seen looking around.
      Consider going at times when no one is there and taking pictures. You want pictures of anything that will be buried or covered over by sheetrock. Label your pictures.
      Start a home owner’s book or folder to collect up the paperwork for warranties on things.
      Ideally, get a home owner’s journal and fill in the questions it asks= such a furnace model and so on.
      Putting the roof on might mean a “topping off party”. Think about doing something small to celebrate, such as bringing everyone cookies or whatever.
      I always pad estimates by 20% for unforeseens. They go to dig your for your foundation and, whooops, rock ledge. They think your well will be 300 feet and somehow it ended up being 500 feet. People estimate as best they can, it is almost impossible to foresee everything that can come up.
      Decide right now how you and your other half will resolve disputes with each other. Work to avoid arguments with each other, get a plan. Building a house is one the top 5 most stressful things that a person can go through. You will get insight to each other that you would not have had any other way, prepare for that also.
      Work to avoid outright arguments with the contractors you hire. They will notice that and appreciate your extra care in doing business. Nice people get little unseen perks. For example a contractor might do an extra task and not bill you for it AND never tell you they did it. All though the task may be small, these little extras add up.
      Make sure things are set up in a manner that they are easy to access for repair. For example a furnace shoved over into a dark corner will not be easy to repair. Pull it out from the wall if possible and have extra lighting installed over it or very near it.
      Think about maintenance and safety issues. I just had “sky hooks” installed on the peak of my roof so repair people can clip on to the hook for extra safety while repairing my very steep roof. It was cheap, $120 to do this. A human life is worth a lot more than that.
      Also think about ease of use as you go along.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 to the estimate padding, and do your best not to upgrade in the middle of construction. Emotion runs high, and a little here / little there runs to a lot.

    6. Parenthetically*

      Just popping in to give my standard advice for new builds which is: for heaven’s sake consider the winter sun. If you live in the northern hemisphere, make sure you have plenty of large south-facing windows in the areas where you spend most of your day (living room and kitchen, rather than bedrooms), and try to shade or minimize the number of north-facing windows. If you don’t, you’ll have a blazing hot house in the summer and a dark, cold, depressing house in the winter.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Agreed, but make sure the thermostat isn’t in line with a sunny window. My childhood home was always chilly in the afternoon, because the sun heated the thermostat so that the furnace wouldn’t kick on.

    7. Generic Name*

      My husband is a carpenter and he builds custom homes for a living. His biggest pieces of advice are to hire an architect to come up with the layout and draw up the plans and to not change your mind once something is decided. Yes, you can decide at the last minute you want your window openings two inches higher, but it will cause delays and many thousands of dollars more than you stick with the original plan.

      Having an architect do the layout is especially important because there’s a reason why houses are laid out in particular ways that makes a house more economical and efficient to build. I’ve been in friend’s houses who did the design themselves, and sometimes the layout is just…odd. Like you have to walk through a bedroom to get into another room because they didn’t think to include hallways in the layout.

    8. Just a PM*

      Have a contingency in your budget in case things need to be redone. If you don’t like something, don’t be afraid to ask for it to be redone. This is where the frequent check-ins and site visits will be helpful — it’ll help you spot something going wrong before it’s too late to undo or redo. And make sure you check every room, closet, nook, and cranny, not just the main living spaces. This is how my brother and I got upside-down receptacles in our bedrooms and bathrooms. By the time it was spotted, there was no more budget to correct.

      I also found Flipping 101 with Tarek (on HGTV) to be really insightful too. He has a lot of really helpful advice for the homeowners. The episodes I’ve seen have covered everything from the value of having an architect, doing an owner-build vs. contracting it out, timelines and schedules, and design considerations. Might be worth giving a look!

    9. bunniferous*

      I used to work for a builder.

      Go every day if you can. Builders use subcontractors. It is always a great idea to keep an eye on them and for them to know that someone is keeping tabs on them. Trust me on this.

    10. Autumn*

      Consider the location with regard to the angle of the sun throughout the year. In my current house the kitchen catches the early morning sun, and the living room the afternoon/evening sun, especially in the winter when the sun is low in the sky, and the day just… progresses naturally. I didn’t build this house but it is clear the people who did thought it through, and we’ve done some renovations that capitalize on it.

    11. TechWorker*

      Not a build from scratch but extension and complete renovation.

      What I wished I’d done differently:
      1) checked the windows more carefully – the original house has lower than normal sills and this brings a lot of light in. Our extension bedroom has what’s presumably a standard height but means the window is overall smaller (we checked the width carefully but didn’t think about the height!). Ditto we have one roof light which is actually kinda tiny and in hindsight we should have had a bigger one but we didn’t really realise how small it was until the roof was already framed and half in.
      2) maybe your builders will be better than ours.. but know who is going to do cleaning in between jobs and make sure it happens! Our brand new windows went in before the outside was rendered and before the inside was plastered and then weren’t covered properly, so there’s render splatters on the outside and plaster splatters on some of the internal frames. 6 months later and I still haven’t got round to cleaning it all :( Similarly in the bathrooms some of the cleaning the builders did wasn’t great and silicon was put on when the tile was a bit mucky… it doesn’t look *awful* but it doesn’t look perfect either.
      3) there’s a lot of decisions and it really is worth making as many as possible upfront. Our builders said they’d give us plenty of notice before we needed to choose things but in some cases that meant ‘you need to order the bathroom and tiles this week’ and we actually were a bit rushed in making decisions. We also didn’t choose most of our lighting whilst the build was ongoing so got plain white cheapest possible put in everywhere about half of which we now want to change and quite a few are still just a bulb hanging on a wire.

    12. Sled dog mama*

      We built 3 years ago, best advice I got was to photograph the wiring before the drywall went up, such a smart idea!
      The biggest thing I learned is to pick your battles, there will be things you end up compromising on and there will be things you don’t want to compromise on, choose carefully. Hubby and I agreed on one “it will be done my way no compromising” for each of us during the construction. I forget what he used his on but I used mine on interior doors, I wanted solid wooden doors and the builder quoted solid wood doors then after we had to make a few changes tried to get us to do hollow core interior doors to save money. I’m very happy I put my foot down and stuck with my solid doors.
      Also don’t be afraid to go outside what your builder recommends. Our builder typically has clients choose lighting at a specific shop that does lighting, plumbing, and appliances. We only liked a few of the options there, all of them on the very expensive side. We ended up getting plumbing, stove and dishwasher there and finding a fantastic deal on a fridge at a big box store, we also got all our lighting at the big box store.

    13. Observer*

      Two more things that I would absolutely do if I were redoing my house:

      1. Network wiring and a space for networking equipment. Your best bet is to figure out where your internet will be coming in to your house (whether wired or wireless) and create a space there for the modem, router and any other pieces of equipment you might wind up getting . Allow some extra space there because that stuff winds creeping up on you. This is especially true if you have several people in the household using electronics, a lot of shared devices or smart devices. Also, make sure you have network jacks around the house. Yes, I know that wireless is good, but there is a reason that so many mesh systems actually put network jacks in their access points. And even things that CAN work on wireless often work better on a solid wired connection. Also, having jacks throughout the house gives you some additional options even in regard to getting wireless coverage. Lastly, wired connections are harder to hack, for anyone who is worried about that.

      2. HVAC – Unless you house is going to be small and only one story, set the system up with zones and then get a good smart thermostat that allows multiple sensors. You don’t need to enable remote access – you don’t even necessarily have to put it on your home network. What this does is let you heat / cool different parts of the house differently. For one thing, even a well build house may have differences in temperature, so if you can allow just the hot part to be cooled in the summer or the cold part to be heated in the winter will make you more comfortable and save you a good bit of money. Also, depending on your usage patterns, there is a good chance that there are areas that you simply don’t use during some periods so you can leave turn the heat / cooling significantly down. For instance, even now with WFH, there are some parts of the house I almost never go into during the day. If I could turn the heat down in that area, I’d probably save a pretty penny.

    14. BonzaSonza*

      So many fantastic ideas. Thank you everyone!

      I’ve picked up:
      * Visit the site unexpectedly and often, daily if possible. Take photos every step of the build and pay attention to the builders and sub-contractors.
      * Bring goodies with me on some visits and treat the workers well. Be respectful and don’t get in the way.
      * Future-proof the house with more electrical outlets than we think is necessary. Double them if possible.
      * Don’t be afraid to speak up if something doesn’t look right or isn’t too plan. It’s easier to fix early rather than later.
      * It’s going to cost more than we expect so pad the budget by at least 20%
      * Have a conflict resolution plan in place with the hubby.
      * Be organised and save every document in a dedicated building file for reference.

      1. Anona*

        One final thing! I’ve heard that due to the pandemic, building materials
        in the US are more expensive than usual right now. I know someone who is delaying building their house because of it. And a friend yesterday told us that some wood is now 2-3x as expensive as usual. Just throwing that out there, in case it affects your timeline.

  11. Might Be Spam*

    My new laptop has a terrible camera. I’ve tried to change the light setting, but I am still washed-out looking no matter how my lighting is set up and even manually changing the light levels in the settings. Also, it irritates me that the picture is fuzzy and not crisp. Is this normal for a $950 laptop?

    I don’t really have to have a great picture but I’m thinking about getting a new camera. What should I look for and do you have any other suggestions?

    1. Still*

      You have probably checked it already but are you absolutely sure there isn’t some kind of pesky protection film still on the lense? Sometimes they’re so thin and clingy, they can be really hard to spot.

    2. Dear liza dear liza*

      I had the opposit problem: my laptop camera makes me very red in the face. I bought an Aoozi webcam for less than $40 from Amazon and am pleased.

      1. I edit everything*

        Oof…I was on a Zoom party the other night, and my face was so red it looked like I had some horrible rash. I had to run and find some powder to cover it, it was so bad. First time I’ve even touched makeup in years.

    3. WellRed*

      Why oh why does my new work PC have the camera on the bottom edge of the screen. Not a good angle for middle age women. After reading this, maybe I’ll get an inexpensive camera.

    4. fposte*

      I think web cameras tend to be impressively good even at low price points. I prefer my laptop camera but work with a big screen sometimes so needed an external camera, and my $30 plug and play no-name brand was fine.

      I haven’t messed with these, but on some applications, like Zoom, there are appearance-tweaking settings. Could those be used to compensate for your existing camera?

    5. It happens*

      Have you tried turning down the screen brightness while on camera? It took me months to figure out that was my problem…

    6. PollyQ*

      I helped my dad buy a Logitech webcam for his desktop PC for ~$60. Piece of cake to set up, and it works very well (includes built-in mike). I don’t remember the model #, but I can ask him if you’d like.

    7. Dumpster Fire*

      When my school went to remote and I added a second monitor (above my computer, and I put my Zoom window with my students on that monitor), I realized that my school’s laptop camera made it look like I was looking at the ceiling even though I was looking at the kids. I got a cheap USB webcam for about $20 from Amazon, hung that on the top of my second monitor, and fixed that problem. As a bonus, I now have a USB webcam that is a hundred times better than the cam in my own loaded-for-computing-but-not-for-video laptop, and I can unplug that and bring it home any time I plan to be on zoom at home.

    8. young professional*

      I have a well-reviewed webcam from amazon (1080p logitech), and my quality is great! Only downfall is that if I look tired it really picks it up. I love a good webcam though, it helps me feel like I’m really connecting with / seeing the person

    9. Caterpie*

      Unfortunately I think it is quite normal even at higher price points. I’ve been hunting for a laptop and a common complaint within the $900-$1200 range I’m seeing is low quality camera. I think they’re trying to make the border(?) around the actual screen as small as possible, which reduces the space you can put the webcam. Therefore you end up with a small lens and poorer quality. I’d try to get an external one!

    10. Observer*

      Totally normal. Most laptop cameras are the MOST basic you can get – not better and often worse than what you can get in the $50 range.

      Sample links to follow.

      1. Observer*

        https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1578210-REG/xcellon_hdwc_10_hd_webcam.html – we actually have a few of these at work. Are they phenomenal? No. But, at $49, they are good enough and DEFINITELY better than a laptop camera.

        https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1572702-REG/creative_labs_73vf086000000_live_cam_sync_hd.html – This one also has a privacy cover, which is nice, especially if you are in a shared space.

        https://www.logitech.com/en-us/products/webcams/c920s-pro-hd-webcam.960-001257.html?crid=34 – This is a bit more that $50, but it’s a great unit, and it also has the privacy piece.

  12. Professor Plum*

    Mysterious receipts: concerned about potential fraud.

    Earlier this week I received two emails from the NYC Dept. of Finance for two different parking tickets being paid. Only they’re not my tickets. Not my receipts. They both have ticket numbers, receipt numbers and say they were paid by a Visa with only the last four digits showing. It’s an email address that I haven’t regularly used until recently. I have a vague memory of once associating a credit card with that email–and maybe those last four digits are familiar–but it’s been years and that card is no longer open and I don’t have any records with whatever that card might have been.

    I first called Visa–the charges are not on my current credit card. They looked for those last four digits by my social security number and didn’t find anything. They had no further ideas about what I could do.

    Next I called the NYC Dept of Finance after searching for contact info online. I spoke with two different people who both tried really hard to help solve the mystery. But since the tickets have been paid, they can’t locate by the ticket number any more. And they can’t look up the receipt number. The receipts didn’t have a license plate which they both said might have allowed them to find something further. They did look up my current license plate (I live two time zones away from NYC and my car has never been in my NYC) and, there are no current tickets on my license plate–so that’s good.

    My guess is that maybe someone got an old credit card number that was still associated with that email address, but that card isn’t still connected to my SSN. So, does anyone have any ideas? Is this something I should continue to track down? If so, how? Thanks for any suggestions–I’m not going to be able to check in until late in the day on Saturday.

    1. Emma*

      Did the emails address you by name? If not, I think it’s likely that someone just provided the wrong email address when they signed up to pay tickets online. I completely understand why you’ve checked your credit file and other details, and I would have done the same! Since you’ve found nothing concerning, I think an email address snafu is the next most likely explanation. You’d be amazed how many people regularly misremember their email address, add or remove numbers to it incorrectly, forget whether it’s Gmail or Hotmail, or even just use an email address that is their name without realising that they have to actually register it with the provider first.

      In your position I would keep an eye on my credit file, make sure that old credit card really is closed, maybe check that there are no other vehicles registered to your name and address, but then not worry too much about it.

      1. Zooey*

        This! I have an early adopter GMail address (so it’s in a very simple A.Name form) and at least four different people consistently use it by mistake. I’ve received massage appointment confirmations, messages from students for their TA, even once an invitation to interview! So people make this mistake even on pretty important things (if I think an email would be a big deal if missed I email the sender and let them know they must have a typo in the address).

        1. Oldbiddy*

          same here. I’ve gotten sales receipts, flight itineraries w links to check in, bills, emails scheduling job interviews, and lots of emails about puppies – someone with my name apparently runs a puppy mill and lots of people miss the number in a.name.number@gmail.com. I suspect that gmail tries to autofill to the simplest address so that may be making things worse, at least with the puppy mill person.
          I have a soft spot for animals so I always email the people looking for puppies, but I’ve stopped replying to the others.

        2. Scc@rlettNZ*

          Same here. I have first name.surname at Gmail and some woman with the same name in the USA keeps using my email address as hers. I get all sorts of stuff.

        3. Zephy*

          I’ve had this happen with my old college email address. I was apparently the first “Z. Lastname” to enroll at that school (or the first since they started using email), so my email address was zlastname@college.edu. When I graduated in 2013, I set up my school account to forward to my personal gmail, so I could update or close any online accounts I had used my school email to sign up for, since I would lose access to that account upon graduating. Suddenly, years later, I’m on mailing lists for clubs I never joined, including ones that didn’t exist while I was attending; I guess another Z. Lastname has since enrolled and keeps forgetting they have numbers in their school email address, and the school never deactivated my email account.

      2. WS*

        Yes, this. I share a first and last name with at least three people in the US (I’m in Australia) and sometimes get their mail. The two I get most often are a teacher in North Carolina and a pilot in Atlanta, but I was very alarmed when I started getting medical information meant for the mother of a very sick child in Tennessee. I let the hospital know and haven’t received anything for that person again, fortunately.

      3. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        I think this is a great answer and most likely what happened. Unfortunately, this means you should expect a lot more emails not intended for you as the person will likely keep making the “error”. This happened with my phone number this year, and I’ve been getting unwanted calls and texts every day for months. If so, there’s nothing you can do about it. I hope for your sake that this is as far as it goes.

      4. No SoCal*

        Same! I’ve had concert tickets, vehicle appointment reminders, threads on the health of a loved one all come from different people to my email address.

        If you’ve confirmed the ticket wasn’t you’re a and the credit card wasn’t yours…..then I don’t think there is much else you can do at this point.

      5. fposte*

        Yeah, there’s somebody with my name on the other side of the country, and I get email fir her frequently (to her credit, they seem to be the kind when somebody guessed wrong rather than her own mistakes). And there’s enough overlap in our interests that sometimes it takes me a minute to realize an email isn’t actually for me.

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

        Your story make me remember a writer who has been in a digital tug of war of sorts with his namesake for the last twenty years. Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… It’s like Australia and Austria but with real people.

    2. WellRed*

      You have a vague memory and maybe those four digits are or maybe they are not the same as a card you may have had years ago? You’ve done your due diligence. Chalk it up to a typo of some sort.

    3. Bye Academia*

      It sounds like you checked with Visa, but have you taken a look at your credit report? If it were me, I’d double check to make sure you don’t see anything strange.

      But I agree with others the most likely explanation is that the ticket recipient gave the wrong email by mistake.

    4. Professor Plum*

      Thanks everyone for your helpful ideas and suggestions. Good to have a tribe mind to turn to!

  13. Gada*

    I was reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder for the first time since I was a child. Wow, the whole town was close to starvation! I didn’t really understand that when I read it 45 years ago.

    1. Zooey*

      I read a non-fiction book about the same winter a few years ago and it made me realise how even though she does show that, she still glosses over just how devastating it was. Terrifying!

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        What was the title of the book? I was just thinking of the long winter the other day as the Wapo had done an article interviewing a woman from De Smet of all places.

        1. Zooey*

          Annoyingly I can’t remember now – it was a good few years ago and the details were distressing enough that I passed the book on fairly quickly after reading!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Can you remember the title or author? That sounds like one I would like to read. (Childhood Little House fan, grew college history major.)

      3. Marthooh*

        I remember reading about the long winter in a biography of Teddy Roosevelt, and slowly realizing it was the same thing LIW wrote about–it was a widespread and terrifying disaster! And it wasn’t just the Dakotas that suffered.

        Also–the locusts were for real. And also horrible.

    2. Isobel*

      I was thinking about that book recently – particularly where they have Christmas in May at the end when the trains start running again. I suggested to my parents that we should postpone the family Christmas in a similar way (though I’m not equating the hardships the Installs suffered with the current situation, really – it makes you appreciate having warmth and food so much!).

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I highly recommend the book “Pioneer Girl” – a heavily annotated version of her first draft of an autobiographical book, written for adults.

      1. Zooey*

        One of the things I found most fascinating in that book was the revelation they actually shared their house with another family during the long winter – and they did not enjoy it!

    4. Holly the spa pro*

      Wow, thanks so much for bringing up this book! I had the whole series of books when i was a kid and loved them so much. Im going to track them down as id love to revisit them as an adult.

    5. Reader*

      I read it when I was about 9 or 10 and then reread it with my daughter more recently and wow was it different to think about being Ma instead of Laura during that winter.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, yes. My daughter is really really into these, and I have to say as a mom I am not really a fan of Pa anymore.

        A very charming and and affectionate person who made some really terrible life decisions that endangered and harmed his children. I’ve seen too many of these in my family of origin, thank you.

        And as far as I can tell, there was no real reason they had to leave the Big Woods in the first place, except that he hated being near people.

        I can’t imagine how their marriage worked, unless she was so entranced by him and the great adventure that she could chalk up the suffering, death and maiming of her children to just a normal part of life.

        It was the 1870s/80s. They had relatively prosperous/stable family connections. Living the way they did was a choice (his choice).

        Not a fan.

        1. Gada*

          Yes, I’ve noticed that Pa made many bad decisions based on his wanderlust. And didn’t seem to be too good with money – in one of the books, they finally had a bit of money saved for once. Pa blew it all on an organ for Mary to play when she was home from college. She was supposed to stay at college for 7 years. And came home to visit maybe once a year, at most.

          He also had a lot of bad luck with his crops being eaten by gophers and blackbirds. Not sure how he could have prevented that, though. But surely he knew they’d come?

          Laura’s husband Almanzo also made bad business decisions and had a lot of bad luck with farming. They say you marry your father!

          1. RagingADHD*

            As in contemporary life, an incident of bad luck, or even a run of bad luck, is going to hit you a lot harder if you put yourself in a precarious position to start with.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          Yeah, reading as a kid he was the cool parent, who played the fiddle and encouraged Laura played with the little kids. As an adult, he should have been single. He would have been fine as an adventurer, it was a provider where he fell down. Probably the worst decision was moving from the Big Woods to territory that hadn’t been opened to settlement. They spent a year in a one room log cabin with a couple of fairly distant neighbours, an unbalanced diet (game meat, flour and cornmeal), and a very real worry about being murdered in their homes, only to get kicked off with what they could fit in a wagon because they were breaking the law.

          Most of the crop failures weren’t his fault, but continually depending on one good harvest to reverse the family’s fortunes was. He never supported the family adequately as a farmer – in early days he earned money trapping furs, in later, doing carpentry and administration. Laura went out to work at 15 in the books, living among strangers, in real life it was closer to 12.

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yeah, I think those were the first books I read as a kid where the parents were full-fledged humans – and also kinda crappy. Not monsters, distant authority figures, or “always right” but just sorta not-the-best-people. I think it was remarkably mature for that.

        4. Zooey*

          Agree – though highly recommend the book Prairie Fires for insight into their choices at the time. They were desperately desperately poor. I’ve always wondered why settlers of the American West repeatedly fell for the promise that the next place would be better, and part of the answer is they were so poor that hope was all they had. However Charles Ingalls did also make terrible choices – separating them from their very close extended family (Charles and Caroline were actually cousins!) being the biggest one.

          1. Old and Don’t Care*

            I thought Prairie Fires was outstanding and came away with quite a bit of sympathy for the Ingalls. The devastation from the locusts was incredible to read about.

    6. Epsilon Delta*

      I re-read a book we had to read in high school, Into Thin Air, about the Mount Everest disaster in 1996. Originally I found it to be the most boring book ever. This time around I was fascinated and horrified! Interesting how perspective changes with life experience.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I donated all my Little House books when I moved since I’ve read them so many times I practically have them memorized. But I did keep a biography called Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Donald Zochert (it was published in the early 1970s; you can get it on Amazon).

      It has photographs of the family in it (!!! I had never seen them before, only photos of Laura) and there is one of Laura, Mary, and Carrie taken following that winter. Laura is standing and she definitely looks like she didn’t have enough to eat compared to later photos of her. She’s also giving some serious side-eye, like You tried, but you didn’t get me.
      https://i.pinimg.com/474x/b5/56/90/b55690f8b1f5798b291eb73841d6182d.jpg

      It’s amazing, all the parallels between the Ingalls family’s confinement during that time and our current pandemic situation. And some people now don’t have food either, not because of blizzards cutting off the supply trains but because their jobs are gone. :(

    8. Oxford Comma*

      You may like Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser which is a biography of Wilder and really does a good job providing a larger historical context for the Little House books.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I loved this book! I was so fascinated by how Laura survived and seemed to keep re-inventing herself in order to keep going. And Rose… she was such a character. And the incredible scope of American history that their lives encompassed.

  14. Zooey*

    Has anyone tried hypnobirthing? Would you recommend it? And it so, are there any good sources that aren’t too… woo in styling? I have heard some good things and can see why the basic principles would be helpful, but I listened to the relaxation tracks that go with the Hollie de Cruz book (which seems to be a popular one in the U.K.) and I just can’t. To me they sound like she’s in a comedy sketch about an alternative healer – just way over the top (especially when she uses the same sing song voice to even introduce the track!).

    By contrast, I use the Headspace app and really like Andy Puddicombe’s voice/ approach – calming but also more normal and matter of fact. So something more like that would suit me better I think.

    1. Disco Janet*

      I tried it (and still like referring back to things like headspace for everyday life stress!), and also can’t do the sing song voices – not soothing at all for me. I ended up liking something that wasn’t birthing/labor specific, but used voices/sounds/music that I found to be more helpful. However, during actual labor I found that I needed absolute silence to focus and yelled for it to be turned off and everyone to shut up. (I swear I’m not a mean person, haha – but it was an intense labor with almost no breaks between contractions). I know that’s not exactly a recommendation, but know you’re not alone if the plan ends up changing completely in the moment!

      1. Natalie*

        Ha, I had a similar experience during labor. At some point on the early end of the process when we were mostly killing time, my husband put on a podcast that I normally love and I just COULD NOT handle it and got all snappy. I asked for nature sounds instead, which is more of his go-to. And during the main event I don’t think we had any kind of sound on, making a playlist would have been wasted on me.

    2. NapkinThief*

      I absolutely recommend hypnobirthing! Specifically Positive Birth Company. I’ll post the link below. I watched the free videos on youtube and found them really helpful, so I went ahead and bought the digital course. So so worth it. I had my husband and mom watch as well so they were prepared to support me.

      What I like most about the framing at PBC (besides the minimal woo-woo-ness) is that it’s not “all natural or bust,” but there’s a lot of emphasis on maintaining your own agency through the process, making informed decisions, and having a positive experience even if things don’t go according to plan. This was really helpful because I ended up getting induced (which was not my plan), had a bad reaction to nitrous oxide (which I didn’t expect) and needed an episiotomy (which i definitely didn’t plan!), but I did not get an epidural (which was my goal!) and I overall had a great experience – which I totally ascribe to what I learned from hypnobirthing.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Thank you for sharing — I’m going to check this out! I’m 16 weeks pregnant and starting to think about what all the options are. Being the first in my friend group and not close with my mom I’m feeling a bit at a loss.

          1. Zooey*

            Congratulations Aurora! It’s a strange time to be pregnant isn’t it? Hope your journey goes smoothly.

        2. Zooey*

          Thank you! I checked out their YouTube videos and it definitely feels a bit more matter of fact. And not too expensive – it feels worth giving a try to.

    3. 30ish*

      I was also interested in this, but found it too woo-y. I ended up using my yoga practice and short meditation sessions to establish two “mantras”: focus on breathing out and relaxing all muscles in between contractions. These really helped me – and honestly, I really could not have focused on anything more complicated than that during labor. Based on my experience I would very much recommend this kind of mental preparation.

      1. Generic Name*

        I also used my yoga breathing while I was in labor during contractions. Honestly, I just did it naturally. And agree on the focus part. I think our bodies react a certain way to the pain. I remember the world shrinking down to a small point and not being aware of my surroundings at all while going through contractions and pushing.

        1. Zooey*

          I feel like if I just take away one or two things from a hypnobirthing course maybe it would be worth it? I do some mindfulness but don’t have a regular practice so I’m not sure I have those things to fall back on without some practice.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Yes! I did hypnobirthing with my first and had an excellent experience. Not pain-free, of course, but I didn’t really feel any pain from the contractions until I was fairly far along, just pressure. And when it did become painful, I was able to breathe/ vocalize through it most of the way. I did ask for some Demoral in transition to take the edge off.

      I had an induction for low fluid, and we made it in 7 hours from the Pitocin, without an epidural. From what I’m told that’s pretty fast.

      I don’t remember much about it because I was more or less “elsewhere” mentally. So the hypnobirthing did its job in terms of deep relaxation to promote a healthy/quick progression of labor, along with some definite benefit in pain management.

      I am also not a fan of woo, and finding the right audios took some work. It was nearly 14 years ago, so I’ll have to see if I can find the name.

      FWIW, with baby #2 I was not able to get in the zone because I hadn’t practiced. So I did that one unmedicated and fully aware. I know the hypnobirthing worked, because that hurt like a sonofabitch.

      I think the biggest benefit of it was a permanent change in my relationship/attitude to pain and effort. It gave me the ability to detatch pain from fear. Like, to assess the awareness “this hurts” separately from the question “is it dangerous?”

      And the awareness “this is hard” from the question “is it worth it?”

      That’s as much the result of childbirth itself, I suppose. But if I’d gone the conventional route, I’m not sure I would have got there.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Looks like I used a combination of audios from Mongan Method and a couple of tracks titled “Birthing from Within,” but when I search on that name I’m not finding any self-hypnosis audios currently available, it’s more classes and artsy-craftsy activities and stuff that seems far more “woo” than what I did.

        I remember the central image in one of the inductions was a large control center with a panel of dials and gauges where you could turn different aspects of your awareness up or down. That was far more helpful and reassuring for me than some of the other systems, that had stuff like imagining yourself giving birth in a field or on a beach.

        Those were not relaxing images for me at all! Yikes.

        1. Zooey*

          Thanks! It’s good to know it was helpful with an induction as I’ve heard that can be more intense.

          1. RagingADHD*

            They were intense in different ways, because #2 came fast with almost no break between contractions. But the Pitocin contractions were like being in some kind of industrial machine, bang bang, bang.

            The normal ones came in waves like they tell you in the books. So you know where you are, mentally. There’s an up and a down.

    5. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Not as such, but I found that yoga breathing and the birthing pool helped me immensely. It was the water mostly, and if that’s an option for you I’d highly recommend it.

      The main thing I understood is to focus more on breathing out than pushing as such, and you can practice that on the toilet, lol.

      1. Zooey*

        Have heard so much praise for water birth! I’m very lucky in that our local hospital has a great birthing centre with pools etc – and it’s literally one floor down from the more medical ward so you have easy access to that if it turns out you need a different sort of care.

  15. The one (house edition)*

    We are looking to buy a new home.

    How do you know when you’ve found the right home? Spouse and I bought each bought a home before we were married / met and we both ‘settled’. When I bought this condo my lease at the apartment I was renting was coming up and felt a lot of pressure to buy a place and this was okay enough. But I kind of regret the purchase. Spouse had a similar feeling about the home he bought before we were together. This time we don’t want to regret such a large purchase.

    For our budget no place is going to check all of our wants so understand there will be compromises. When you bought, how did you know what you were compromising on was the ‘right’ thing? Or that the home you bought was a good fit ?

    The housing market is very fast moving right now so places have offers before we can get to see them or before the advertised open house can happen. Which is making me feel more pressure to just pick a place and go with it.

    1. Rebecca Stewart*

      We looked at a lot of houses when my poly family (myself, boyfriend, and girlfriend) moved. Going into it, we knew certain things: I am a good cook and so I need a kitchen I can work in, and a lot of storage for appliances and pantry stuff. Girlfriend has a bad back and so needed a ground-floor bedroom, preferably large because she largely lives in it, between school and sleep. We needed a place to put our conjoined library, and we needed a bedroom for Boyfriend and I, a room for a home office for Boyfriend, and a Room Of My Own (sewing/craft) for me. As we are owned by two cats, it was important to allow for cats.
      We walked into this house, and saw a house sixty years old with a lot of hardwood and recently updated plumbing, with a built in vintage bookcase in the hallway between kitchen and dining room (we call it the library now) and a family room with a full bathroom outside and two closets inside that only required a door to be hung to turn it into a large downstairs bedroom. There was a three-season room that faced a back yard with three large trees in it, and three decent-sized bedrooms upstairs. We saw two other houses today, but this one was the one that I could see us living in, and we said, “Yes” and went with it.
      I think I would still prefer something where everything was on the ground floor, and the floor is uneven in a couple spots where it’s annoying. (If I don’t push my desk chair in when I stand up, it will gently move itself four feet over to lean against the big bookcase.) And I would put in more storage if I could, though getting shelves up in the garage may help with that. But otherwise… This is pretty good, and we’re happy here. And the cats ADORE the three season porch. I put up a bird feeder out there and between the birds and the squirrels and the sun I hardly see them in the daytime unless it’s canned food time and I’m getting “gentle” reminders of the fact.

    2. Zooey*

      We just had a gut feeling it was right. We’d looked for over a year and found nothing that suited – then as soon as we saw this house within minutes of stepping in we both knew we would make an offer. Looking back we must have really been seeing the potential as it was really scruffy! Five years later we’ve got the majority of the place looking nice having ripped up hideous 70s carpets, replastered crumbling walls, and redecorated rooms that has a patchwork of wallpaper.

      That said there are a few things that helped us trust our gut:

      * Having looked at a lot of properties in the area we knew what trade offs were realistic (for example I’d live a bigger kitchen and a garden, but I know that both these things would involve going up several price brackets, so I wasn’t put off by having to compromise on this).

      * Having a realistic idea of what we could do to the house. It was at the top of our budget so we knew we wouldn’t be able to afford any major work. But the house had new electrics, boiler, double glazing – basically we were reasonably Ute we wouldn’t need to do major work immediately and could live with the cosmetic stuff for a while. So it’s a question of what you can pay for and what you can live with.

      Good luck!

    3. Achoo*

      Our biggest priority was location and lot size; that narrowed options dramatically. We kept cruising the neighborhoods that would work for us and eventually a house in our price range popped up. It checked enough boxes that we jumped. It’s not the perfect house but I keep looking at realtor dot com and in the 3 years since, I have yet to see a house that would’ve worked better.

    4. BonzaSonza*

      I currently own three houses and am looking to build a fourth.

      So far I’ve been pretty detached when it comes to buying houses, and try to purchase with my head not my heart. I would inspect all available houses in a set area for a month or two until I had a really good idea of what houses were worth, then would check in with the local agents. I would show them my loan pre-approval documents and term them exactly what I was looking for in a house (down to the type of cooktop and heating system) and the price range. They would occasionally allow me to view houses before being publicly listed, and this is how I bought my last three houses at a good price. I still paid fair market value but the sellers were usually happy not to have open houses and a quick sale, and accepted the low-end market price.

      As far as finding the right house: my husband and I make a list of our non-negotiables and our nice-to-haves. We’ll compromise on the second list, but won’t look at houses that don’t meet the first. My non-negotiables are usually things that are difficult to change such as location, local amenities and structural layout.

      I have to say though, we’re building our fourth house and it’s the first one I’m emotionally invested in, I guess because it’s being literally built for me from the ground up?

      Good luck in your search!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      We looked at so many houses, that the process involved me crying.
      The one we picked was based on:
      Modest price which would eventually allow us to have extra funds to fix it.
      Ease of use. It’s very easy to live here. No big flights of stairs and a logical floor plan.

    6. MissGirl*

      I looked for a few months before I was in a position to make an offer. That have me time to hone in on what MY priorities were. That way I couldn’t jump the gun and make an offer.

      For instance I knew with my budget I had to buy a townhouse. Before I started looking m, I didn’t care much about location beyond it being close to mass transit. After seeing several, I did not want to be in a strictly townhouse community for a plethora of reasons. Now I live in a neighborhood with condos, townhouses, regular homes, and even a few million dollar homes a few blocks away.

      As much as I wanted a big nice bathroom, I traded that for yard space and a garage. So take some time looking to get your priorities sorted.

    7. OP for this thread*

      I should have mentioned, we put our current residence on the market and closing is next month. (Need the money from the sale of current home to use as down payment for new). We have a rent back agreement for a couple of months but we need to be out of here sooner than later. Which makes the pressure to find a new place greater. We’d prefer not to rent someplace else and have the hassle of moving again. But if it that happens, it happens

      1. Workerbee*

        Can you afford to stuff things in storage and rent an apartment in a month-to-month? And/or do you have a realtor working for you?

        When finally moving from our townhouse:

        We sat ourselves down and made a huge list of what we’d like in a house. Then we split it into needs vs nice-to-haves. We were able to toss some things altogether, so that list wasn’t as daunting. The hard part was just doing it in the first place. We gave that to our realtor.

        Another thing we did was be honest about future needs. Neither of us want to be carted off to a senior living home eventually and one of us already has mobility problems, so we changed our dream of a steep-staired Victorian or arched-doorway 30s house to a ranch house. Things like that helped narrow our focus.

        And one day in the house list our realtor emailed was the house we’re in now. It would never have been one we found on our own or perhaps even considered without that third party nudge. Something about it grabbed us from the pictures alone, even knowing the special angles and lighting used.

        The moment I set foot in the yard—just the yard!—it felt amazing. The house did too. We could picture ourselves and our stuff in there. Instead of the put-offs we’d found in other houses, here we saw only potentials. Quite a paradigm shift.

        And it was in a hot location that we didn’t even know existed nor considered. It worked out for both our jobs before we became remote due to COVID. 12 showings scheduled that same day. Well, we put an offer on it right as we finished touring and discussing.

        It’s been over a year and I love it every day. I tell you all this because if you have the means to wait and not rush—unless of course something comes up within the next month—consider it. (And with hindsight, we had enough room to create two offices for ourselves, so…depending on jobs and the world, extra space is a boon.)

        1. Dan*

          Another option with renting is just do a full year lease and break it. At my place, the month-to-month premium is steep, but the break-lease fee is like two months rent or something. By those numbers, six months is the break-even period.

    8. fposte*

      I didn’t, because I never do. I bought during a seller’s market where I’d have to commit on sight. That was really hard for me initially, because I like to deliberate, but it ended up being beneficial in forcing me to really commit. I mean, I did like it enough to offer on the spot, and I’ve never regretted it. I wish it had a slightly sexier exterior and I’d enjoy a properly attached garage, but its location is excellent, the design makes the light wonderful, I like the negotiability of the kitchen, it’s solidly built; it’s an easy house for me to live comfortably in.

      I do think houses shape your life in and around them, and I got lucky on a lot of that; I would encourage you at least to write out the things you enjoy and hate doing and assessing whether they’ll be harder or easier in the prospective house.

    9. Natalie*

      I bought our house by myself before we got engaged, so I didn’t have to factor in another person’s tastes. But what worked for me was making a list of absolute dealbreakers and not looking at anything that didn’t have those, and having another list of a half dozen or so things that I really wanted, just as a reminder. Beyond that I just knew when I walked in the door.

      Although a hot market with a lot of pressure to move now or lose it forever sounds like the last place you should be if you’re really trying to avoid significant regrets. So if you can be at all flexible in your timing I might wait a little while.

    10. Ali G*

      It took us 2 years to find a place. We also both independently owned places too, which we both loved ours.
      Anyway, make a list of your must haves, nice to haves and deal breakers.
      For me, must haves are things that can’t change, or are hard/expensive to change: location, lot size, no HOA, square footage, or ability to expand (within reason/budget), master suite (or ability to create one).
      Then you just go looking. It sounds like you already really know your area, so that’s good. Just go to see all the properties you can – if you are comfortable going to open houses, that is really the best way to see what your budget gets you, and it will vary depending on location.
      As far as knowing it’s “right”, for me, I could see myself in the place. We ended up finding a place had all the hard stuff done, and we just needed to put us in here. We had failed contracts before, and we felt relief that happened, since this was definitely our house.

    11. Stephanie*

      We moved into our current house last fall. It’s our 4th house together, and we absolutely love this house. Our previous house was just not the right one for us, and I regretted buying it almost right away. (We stayed for 16 years, for many reasons, but that’s another story.)
      My advice is to look at lots of homes before you buy. Go to open houses. If you’re not working with a realtor, I highly recommend that you find one you like, they can be an invaluable help, as long as they listen to you and understand your wants and needs.
      We moved from a large house with a large yard, an attached garage and a master suite to a smaller house with a smaller yard, a detached garage and no master bath. I thought I would miss having an attached garage and a master bath, but I truly don’t. At all.
      We walked in the door of this house, and I just knew it was “the one”. It just had the right feeling. The only downside was that it had only one bathroom, and we went back and forth on it. We looked at several other houses after we saw this one, and nothing came close to that feeling. So we bought it, and had a plan in place to add a second bath in the basement, factoring in the cost of that in our decision. We have zero regrets.
      Pay attention to how you feel when you’re touring a house. Then look at the practical side: is it in a good location? Are there things that you’d want or need to change, beyond cosmetics? Are those things realistic–financially and logistically? Renovations are expensive, time consuming and tedious. They’re not for everyone. But small, cosmetic changes are definitely doable.
      Keep in mind that there is no perfect house, but be aware that big negatives are difficult to overcome. If the style of a house matters to you, like it does to me, no long list of amenities will make you happy if the house just isn’t what you want esthetically. But if amenities matter more than looks to you, weigh your choices accordingly. And location matters, and cannot be changed. Check out the neighborhood of any prospective house as thoroughly as you can before you sign anything.
      Good luck!

    12. Dan*

      I’ve been renting in HCOL areas my entire adult life, and am finally at a point where I can actually fathom scraping up a down payment and moving.

      Housing is too expensive and too illiquid to make a purchase you will regret. So the first thing I would do is minimize the pressure to “buy something”. I know you mentioned you sold your place and can rent for a bit; I second the suggestion of moving into a rental while you figure things out. The way I read your posts, it almost seems like there’s a 60 day deadline to “buy something”. That seems to be a recipe for regret if I’ve ever seen one.

      As to compromise… what two or three things must you have? Figure that out and go from there. If you can’t afford your musts, then IMHO that’s a sign that you should rent until you can.

    13. I edit everything*

      We were making a long distance move when we bought, and I had to come by myself. I had a single day to look at houses, and then just had to pick one and make an offer. I could text pictures back to Edits Nothing, and we talked, but ultimately it was my decision. I chose based on value—the home we could afford, and that we could walk into basically sight unseen and live in (appliances, didn’t need major renovations, etc.)—and where I could stand on the porch and take a deep, appreciative breath. It’s not a perfect house. We don’t love it, we don’t hate it. But it was the right choice for us at the time.

    14. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I just had a feeling, was drawn to it. The house actually had an open house that day, and I saw multiple places with my realtor. Once she and I were done and I was on my own, I went back to the open house on my own and went through it again. The fact that the relator was there and knew I’d come back on my own probably indicated my interest. I then called my relator once I got home and said I wanted to put an offer on it. It was accepted fairly quickly and we proceeded.

    15. Fellow Traveller*

      For us, we felt very strongly about: location, single family home, number of bathrooms (2), number of bedrooms (4), room for a kitchen table, and price. Living nine years in our first house helped me solidify a couple of things that we knew we didn’t want to continue living with ie. lack of space for a kitchen table, small galley kitchen, and tiny bedrooms. We did have some regret about that first house – namely we paid too much for it and the kitchen was so small we couldn’t open the fridge door all the way. For our current house, the location was 99% what I wanted. I originally didn’t want to look at it because the pictures in the listing weren’t very good. But the location was practically perfect (I would have liked it to have been one street over, but the inventory there was pretty low). So we went, and it had the right number of bathrooms and bedrooms, the kitchen was a good size, and the price was right. We looked at a fair number of houses, and it got to a point where we could walk in the door and know right away if something wouldn’t suit. The houses that we thought might work, were out of our budget. And then we saw our current house and it was within our budget and checked the “must” boxes, and we loved how the rooms flowed. By then we had seen enough houses to know that for where we were looking, at our price point, it wasn’t going to get any better. The layout isn’t perfect, the house aesthetically is really dated, there are no trees in the yard, and it gets a lot of noise from traffic, but I am really happy that this is our home.
      I will also say, yes, moving is a hassle, but living with regret in a house that you felt pressured to buy is an even bigger hassle. If there isn’t anything that checks all your priority “must have” boxes, then rent and bide your time. The market is always changing and the hassle of moving will be just a blip in time in the greater context.

    16. willow for now*

      I just found a new place. Only looked at a few in the process, in person, looked at a LOT on-line.

      The good one just felt right – I liked the space, iimagined what I would do with that basement, loved the lot, and most of all, thought about would I want to live here for the next 20 years. Some places definitely did not tick off that last item.

      Also, do you want to just move in and be done with it, or do you want to fix up the whole place right away (a la This Old House), or somewhere in between? Can you live with that carpet for a few years while you redo the kitchen? Things like that.

      1. A-ok*

        I second the must haves and wants. But take a good look at your must haves and think about if they truly are must haves for you, or if they are must haves because you think they should be.

        Do you really need a bigger place? How many bathrooms do you actually use (and how often)? If you only need something (guest bedroom) four nights a year, do you really need it? Do you like gardening?

        I don’t like gardening or cleaning, and prefer a smaller space, even if i easily could afford an up-grade. It baffles my family that I still live in an apartment and not a house, but I don’t want to live in a house.

  16. Ellyfant*

    I have two kids with my older child being exceptionally smart and the younger being average. While I want to rightly acknowledge when Older Kid gets good grades, awards, etc I am also concerned about my Younger Kid’s self esteem. We try to even the attention/compliments but we also live in a society where academic achievements receive much greater spotlight than other qualities like thoughtfulness or creativity or being emotionally intuitive. Any suggestions?

    1. WS*

      Speaking as someone who was a “gifted child”, giving compliments about how smart a kid is (rather than complimenting them for trying new things or for working hard) does not set that kid up well when they start to run into truly difficult things. So it might be good for smart kid as well as regular kid if your attention and compliments are related to their effort/thoughtfulness/creativity instead of academic achievements. Also, don’t make all your kids do the same activities – the more variety, the more genuine your praise can be without comparing anyone.

      1. mreasy*

        Another “gifted kid” here who is a neurotic perfectionist at 40 – seconding this. I was praised for my intelligence and getting good grades, but those things were easy for me. Encourage both your kids to be active and try hobbies, and learn early to fail, lest they stick with what’s easy/praiseworthy and are afraid for the rest of their lives to fail.

        1. Parenthetically*

          “learn early to fail, lest they stick with what’s easy/praiseworthy and are afraid for the rest of their lives to fail.”

          Help I’m being attacked

        2. TechWorker*

          Whilst I agree with this I had a slightly different problem where I was both ‘gifted’ and worked hard and received zero praise from my dad because he basically said he wouldn’t expect any less. That wasn’t… great either.

          (I remember my then-boyfriend telling me he was proud of me during my finals and being like ‘huh, first time anyones told me that’)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This, and more variety will also help the other kid find something they’re good at and enjoy doing.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Yes, this, absolutely!

        Praise them for hard work, praise them for trying new things, praise them for pushing through frustration, praise them for kindness, generosity, honesty and teamwork. This cultivates “growth mindset” where they can tolerate the process of trial and error in learning new things.

        And tell them things that aren’t necessarily praise, like “I just love watching you do X because it makes you so happy.” When they take joy in doing things for their own sake, they are more likely to pursue them to the point of excellence and mastery. If they work for praise and recognition, their motivation will be brittle and short-lived.

        Avoid praising them for “being” anything as much as you can, because that ties up their identity with these attributes in really unhelpful ways.

        The world is out there and is obnoxious a lot of the time. But they will take their primary cues from you, and if you give them a solid foundation they can be resilient in the world. Feel free to tell them plainly when the world/society is bunk. It’s good inoculation against groupthink and contagious stupidity.

      4. londonedit*

        WS – I totally agree. I was the ‘gifted child’ in our family and I really hit a wall when I found myself in a situation where I wasn’t automatically the best or where I couldn’t naturally do something. I was utterly devastated when I failed my driving test at the age of 17 because I’d literally never failed anything in my life before and I wasn’t prepared for it.

        My sister has been telling me about how they’re working on praise with my nephew (who is only two, but still, I think the idea has merit at any age). Basically, if you’re always praising everything a young child does, then they tune it out and there’s nowhere for you to go when they actually do something you really want to praise them for. So for example if they’re drawing, the temptation might be to say ‘Wow! Well done! What a brilliant drawing! That’s amazing!’ But what’s actually more helpful is to use a narrative with an upbeat tone – so ‘Oh! You drew a tree! Look at those branches. Can you show me the leaves?’

    2. BonzaSonza*

      I was a gifted child and did very well at school. I skipped two years and graduated younger than all my classmates.
      My parents always praised me for my effort first. They were happy for me when I did well in exams because I was happy, but they made a point to praise me when I stuck at things that didn’t come easily.
      If I got upset at only scoring 98% they’d tell me how proud they were that I’d stuck to my study plan and put in the effort to get the 98% in the first place.
      My three younger siblings weren’t as good at school, but my parents always seemed as pleased with my sister’s C grade as with my A, if she put in the effort to study. They’d also praise her for her kindness and thoughtfulness towards other people, and for helping in the home. They’d praise my brother for his art and my other sister for her music. I was the “smart one”, but they were careful not to make being smart any more important than being patient or hard working.

      It was a really healthy way to grow up and I am grateful for my parents. My siblings and I all have a wonderful relationship to this day.

      1. another scientist*

        To this point: don’t get into a scheme where you reward certain amounts for certain grades. I used to get some extra money for the report card, but the amount was more calibrated to my age than anything else.

      2. ampersand*

        Your parents sound amazing from what you’ve written here, and that’s really refreshing to hear about!

        —yet another “gifted” student that was praised for grades, is a perfectionist, and is terrified of failing (seems like there are a sufficient number of us that we could start a club)

      3. All the cats 4 me*

        When Ama?on delivers my time machine (delivery guaranteed by 7 pm today!), I plan to go back in time and get myself adopted by your parents.

        I hope your family loves cats.

    3. Sandi*

      I had a neighbor whose two eldest were brilliant and the youngest average. He never compared them, loved them equally, complimented them often, and spoke to their strengths. I’m sure the youngest couldn’t avoid comparing themselves to siblings, but at least they were confident. They also chose to go to a different high school as they noticed that teacher expectations in the siblings’ school were very high and wrong.

      I work with some really academically bright people who aren’t strong socially or creatively. They do well on tests, but aren’t as good about finding solutions to real-world problems.

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        I second this book! I read it many years ago when my kids were little and I’m happy that people still recommend it.

        From my own experience (as a kid not a parent,) having a label (ie: the smart one or the athletic one) as a child can be very limiting. In my family, I was the smart one. And that’s it. My sister was the pretty one, the athletic one, the popular one, etc. At least that is what she told me, and I internalized all of it. My parents praise and attention were for being smart so I only ever heard negative things about myself in all other areas. My self esteem was crap by the time I became a teen and I engaged in all sorts of risky behaviors.

    4. Sandi T*

      Praise for effort and actions, not intelligence or grades. If kid A works hard and gets an A, and kid B works just as hard but gets a B, both get praised equally for the effort and achievement. “I could see you put a lot of effort into this report”/”I saw you working really hard to prepare for that test, I’m proud of you for trying hard”, stuff like that. And encourage both of them to try new things and challenge themselves, so they can experience failure and take a growth mindset approach. Don’t let failure be a scary thing! Teach that failure is learning and growth, and a vital part of success. This builds resilience and confidence far more than sticking to the things you already know you are good at, and sets kids up much more effectively for developing the skills and mental approach needed to handle difficulties.

    5. NeverNicky*

      I was a ‘gifted’ child, my sister not so much.

      It really ground my gears when my parents made a big fuss and congratulated my sister for getting average exam results but I got “That’s nice but we knew you’d do well” or even on one occasion when I got 98% in an exam “What was the question you got wrong?”

      Doing well academically was important to me as a child and played a big part in my self worth. It hurt to see my parents not express that they were proud of me (and they were and are, they aren’t monsters!) because they were trying to be ‘fair’.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I thought I had two kids with the older being exceptionally smart and the younger being average, but I was mistaken. They both required educational testing for different reasons at different times. When the younger one was first evaluated, the tester told me that full siblings are seldom more than 10 IQ points apart. (This is complicated by what and how they test now, but she was referring to the verbal scores, I believe.)

      In the case of my children, she turned out to be correct. My younger child had some pronounced learning differences that affected his ability to express his intelligence fully. Also, his personality and our family dynamic channeled him more into the role of “good natured and funny” and less into the role of “super smart.” With good support for his learning differences and as he became more comfortable with healthy competition, he decided that he could keep up with the “smart kids” in his classes, and he did.

      All of this is to say, don’t just assume that your one child is “average,” not that there’s anything wrong with that. Think about things that might be getting in the way of that child fully expressing their intelligence. I’m not suggesting that you pathologize your child, but sometimes these things are just a matter of the older child having staked a claim to academic performance, so the younger child shifts their attention to something else. In that case, I think you would want to find areas where the younger child can work hard and shine that AREN’T squarely in the standard school curriculum that your older one has mastered.

      As others have said, do praise both your children for process over product, for skill building rather than skill expression, and for character traits such as perseverance, self-control, good planning, etc. My “super smart” older child is a much less self-disciplined and focused adult than my younger one, because he never needed to learn those character skills.

      1. Weekender*

        I see this a lot with second children, and it’s especially painful when it’s an older brother/younger daughter dynamic. Often the older brother acts up in the classroom so the adults at school recommend testing in case he’s acting up out of boredom. Younger daughter, equally smart and bored, just tunes it all out and reads, and is overlooked. I’m not saying every case is like this, but I know enough families to see a pattern.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Something similar happened with my younger brother and me – I excelled at school and my brother did not, to the point that my parents had him tested in case he had learning challenges. On the contrary he has a significantly above average IQ, no learning difficulties, and just never cared about school.

        It would have been really easy to label us the smart one and the athletic one, but I did pretty well at sports and he had brains to spare (since he didn’t like to apply them to homework!), and I think we came out of childhood pretty balanced overall.

        With my own kids, it’s tough. They’re both good at school but have very different strengths. Older kid gets frustrated *so* easily, is a true pessimist (we had her screened for depression already), and wants to be perfect without working at the hard things. But she is seriously skilled when she does apply herself. Younger kid bounces back from disappointment much more easily and doesn’t personalize failures, so I think he’s going to have an easier time with things overall. We definitely focus on praising effort and sticking with things, but it’s an easier sell for the younger one for sure.

    7. Analyst Editor*

      There’s a book called the optimistic child, which I’m reading through. I am also curious how to balance praising for effort while also being realistic when someone is actually better, and not lying.

    8. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Ever child is going to be different, but I would say try not to “compensate” for your younger child being average as though it’s a disability. Kids are really savvy and will pick up on it. Being praised for things their sibling isn’t, as though your expectations of them are low, will do more damage than hearing praise for their sibling. Don’t stretch to find something excellent about them…just let them both know they are enough as they are, mistakes are inevitable and expected, improvement is always possible.

    9. Zooey*

      I am someone for whom school came easily.
      My sister has significant learning difficulties. My parents did a great job of making us both feel valued and I think it’s that they just treated us 100% as individuals and celebrated our achievements equally. From my POV they
      Also paid a lot of attention to what I cared about and was putting effort towards and praised those efforts. Same for my sister. We’re now adults and it’s still the case that our individual achievements are celebrated. I think my parents did an amazing job – I have definitely noticed that sometimes parents overcompensate and don’t celebrate the ‘gifted’ sibling for fear of it being hard for the other sibling, but I’m here to say you can celebrate both (and both kids will notice if you don’t).

    10. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      One of the things my husband and I bonded over when we first met, was about how we were not allowed to be proud of our achievements and had to hide them, because it “was bragging” and would make our younger siblings “feel bad about themselves” since neither of them shared our school focus. (Though they are both smart and successful adults, they both felt high school was a useless waste of their time.)

      So don’t do that.

    11. Nita*

      I don’t know that there is such a thing as average, really. They probably just have different strengths.

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

        Depends on how they measure intelligence. Sadly, IQ and standardized tests are still used to categorise people.

  17. Jessie*

    Hi

    I have an interior design question! I’m considering buying a house. It’s a resale and has people living in it right now. It’s already decorated and “finished.” I can of course change anything I want if I buy it, but it seems that the owner spent quite a lot of money on it, so I doubt it would need much changes.
    However, I noticed that the floor is black and one of the walls is also black. I’ve seen black walls and floors in several homes I’ve visited in the last few years. Is this a new trend? And from an interior designer question, what does black add? I know that white is bright and colors are cheerful. But why would you want black? From an interior design perspective, what does it add?

    1. Not Australian*

      We just painted our kitchen black. It’s a room that gets a lot of natural light and has plenty of shiny surfaces anyway so we knew it wouldn’t be too gloomy – and we also have a picture rail so there’s plenty of white above that. We chose black because it’s unusual and looks really smart. I’d say that black would make a great background for pictures or a statement piece of furniture, assuming there is enough light in the room to allow it. An occasional space like a hallway could also take black, especially if you were displaying something against it. Don’t forget that there are lots of shades of black, though, and some will work better than others.

      TL:DR, it adds drama and visual interest.

      1. Jessie*

        I actually like bright colors and never thought that I would live in a place that has a black decor. However, this house is a great deal in everything. My initial thought was that if I buy it, I would change the black wall and floor. However, I have since found out that the floor is very expensive and also heated (which is unusual here), so I think it would be a shame to replace it. I can get rid of the black wall though and find a way to brighten the place with that floor.
        It definitely adds drama!!!

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          You could put an area rug down. I’m thinking something with turquoise and white in it, and something matching on the wall, would really pop. But that might be too much drama.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a very small section of my flooring that is black (or close to), in a half-bath and the four feet of hallway leading up to it. I don’t know why they made that decision, literally every other floor in the house is either a medium-tone wood or pale grey tile, but for some reason, that tiny section is in black wood. It shows dust really easily and makes it very obvious when I need to vacuum. The medium-tone wood, with visible wood grain, gives me much more plausible deniability, haha.

      1. Rebecca Stewart*

        My new house has walnut-colored laminate throughout the downstairs, and I am choosing to view it as the house supporting me in my desire to keep it clean.
        (So much cat hair. SO MUCH.)

      1. Sandi*

        Whoops, I tried to catch the typo and fix and soemhow it’s also changed the name field? Weird. This was me.

    3. fposte*

      I think it’s more common with a floor than with a floor and a wall. What’s the flooring? It sounds like it’s not painted or vinyl. I also think matte black and glossy black function very differently.

    4. Reba*

      It’s a bold choice, and if you search for “moody” interiors you will see that’s it’s very much a trend, though not for the faint of heart.
      Heated floor, nice!!

    5. Bibliovore*

      when we bought our house the kitchen was very white. White walls, white cabinets, white appliances, white tile floor, white stove, white countertop. The dishwasher died. and we discovered that we would need to replace the floor . we lived without, then the fridge died and oven stopped working on Thanksgiving. So we renovated.
      Replaced the floor with dark slate colored tile, countertop with almost black soapstone, appliances are steel, backsplash an almost patina green/blue hand made tile, walls are a similar color.
      I would keep the dark floor and paint the walls the color you like best.

      1. It’s me AV*

        How are you finding the soapstone long term?

        I considered it but was worried it would scratch too easily.

        1. Bibliovore*

          I love the soapstone. I haven’t noticed any scratches- we didn’t choose the polished. It has a warm feeling to me. We kept the original white cabinets.

    6. Stephanie*

      A dark floor can really ground a room. Rooms that have all lighter tones can feel flat, and it can be hard to put a finger on what’s missing. Contrast livens things up. I am fairly adventurous with color and decor choices, so I would probably try living with that black wall for a bit and see how I liked it before making a change. I imagine artwork and furniture would really pop against it. But I would definitely keep the floor. You can always add an area rug to lighten or brighten it up, if you feel like it needs it.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This. That black wall and floor is to display statement pieces in the home. I would personally keep both, but I also like bold things. (And a black kitchen is my dream.)

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I would think that black sets a tone or creates an atmosphere.
      Dark colors make rooms look smaller. Light color make rooms look larger. Same deal with exterior paint colors.

    8. TechWorker*

      Black walls (and black kitchens) are definitely a trend – although worth bearing in mind that lots of the pictures in which they look awesome are either rooms with tonnes of natural light or lit professionally for the photo. If you took a standard room and just painted it black I imagine it would mostly look dark!

      Saying that – if the room has good light or you choose good artificial lighting it can look really cool – and (like all bold paint choices) will look like less of a statement once there is furniture against it and something on the wall!

      Pinterest can be good for suggestions/seeing if it would work with your style. If not, be prepared to do a lot of layers of paint to cover it :p (or maybe choose some wallpaper you like, if you want to keep the feature wall!)

  18. Rebecca Stewart*

    Laurie is willing to cuddle with all the other cats, isn’t he?

    Is it jointly willing cuddles or is it the “I notice you are asleep and will sneakily join you so you are cuddling with me against your will!” that I have also seen going on. (Complete with looks of disgust and horror from the other cat when they wake up to discover That Cat snuggled up to them.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s mostly joint! He’s always the initiator — when he sees a resting cat, he often looks very excited as the realization dawns that this is an opportunity for cuddling and he enthusiastically flings himself down against them; they generally allow it. Wallace is his favorite, but he cuddles with everyone (except Olive, who has made it clear she will not allow it). Even Eve is now allowing it although she always seems slightly confused about what’s happening.

      After Wallace came back from a day at the vet for dental work, Laurie was wary of him for a couple of weeks and during that time he used me as his Wallace-substitute, cuddling with me constantly. But now his bromance with Wallace is back on and he has far less use for me.

  19. Seeking Second Childhood*

    How does your garden grow? Are any of my northern hemisphere companions tending indoor plants like me? Can anyone in the south and southern hemisphere remind us of warmer days?
    My dilemma this year is an unpleasantly cloying lemon scent that drifts around the house. I haven’t pinned it to the new exotics, and my daughter swears she smells just the geranium which didn’t do this last year. And the scented geranium is downstairs so that’s not it.
    This weekend I have to get the LED lamps set up…the sun’s short enough plants sad.

    1. Lady Heather*

      Does anyone know how I keep cats out of (a section of) the garden? Specifically, I want to grow some cooking herbs that I can use without getting toxoplasmosis, and there are a few outdoor cats in the neighbourhood.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Try putting orange peel down, cats don’t like that. I also put spiky twigs in between the plants to discourage them even stepping on the soil.

      2. Zooey*

        If you can protect them while the herbs get established, once there’s ground cover cats won’t really disturb that patch. They generally go for loose / bare soil as toilet space.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Capsicum pepper compounds are also said to keep mammals at bay, but I have not tried.

    2. Princess Deviant*

      I’ve planted my garden for spring in the back yard! It’s a lot of work for what seems like nothing but it’ll flower next year and look great! (I hope.) I tried to plan it a bit with the highest plants at the back tapering to the smallest plants at the front.
      I still haven’t started painting the walls and it’s getting darker and rainier…
      I’ve got some work to do in the front this weekend, if I have time. Just some winter flowering plants and a tidy up, but I also have a college assignment to do so that takes priority. I’m just trying to do what I can, which actually right now involves rewatching Buffy, haha.

    3. Anonymath*

      My fall/winter seeds are all planted and mostly sprouting. I’m already harvesting some mustard greens and arugula.

      The passion fruit vines were traumatized by our having to replace the fence they were growing on, and they aren’t very happy now. I hope, with a hard trim in January, they’ll start growing new vines for a spring harvest. Our papaya trees are finally starting to flower, and it looks like at least two of them are female, so we should have plenty of papaya to share with our neighbors. The basil plants are done, but bees are still visiting the flowers so I’m not going to pull them just yet.

      1. Bobina*

        Papaya trees! That takes me back to my childhood. Do you know if they are the more orange or red variety (I have no idea what they are called, just that the red ones are typically sweeter)?

        1. Anonymath*

          I think they’re orange, but they are “Hawaiian” papaya. My neighbor brings me more unusual fruits to try and these came from the seeds inside one of the papaya she brought. She made a big thing over Hawaiian papaya being better than Mexican, but I don’t eat papaya myself so I wouldn’t know the difference.

          1. Bobina*

            Interesting! I just went on a little google and I think the ones I tend to think of as red are likely to be the Hawaiian variety, but there seems to be some variation. Papaya is one of those fruits for me where good ones are really good but a lot of them are very average and can be quite tasteless. Great in smoothies though!

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Cleanup is mostly done. I left a few seedy things on purpose and am enjoying watching the birds picking at them.

    5. Might Be Spam*

      My living room Thanksgiving/Christmas cactus has buds on it and should be ready by Thanksgiving. I have a smaller one in the kitchen that isn’t doing anything yet. I’ll try moving it to the living room in a few weeks to see if it will bloom for Christmas. I found that if I move my Easter cactus, it will bloom twice a year.

      1. lapgiraffe*

        I’m taking care of a friend’s Christmas cacti while she’s at her mothers for a long visit, not feeling confident about watering schedule, how much and how often would you recommend?

        1. Might Be Spam*

          I’m pretty bad at keeping a watering schedule and it survives in spite of my neglect. It seems OK if the top layer of dirt drys out, it’s a cactus so I worry more about overwatering it. I water it about once a week after checking to see how damp the dirt is. Don’t move it around after the buds appear or they may drop off. If it is happy enough to develop buds, I leave it where it is until it’s completely done with the flowers.

      2. Tortally HareBrained*

        I’m anxiously awaiting buds on mine. I bought it last year and it seems happy enough, but no signs of flowering yet.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          Try moving it. Mine likes to be next to a bright window but not full sun. It needs to be protected from drafts and not over watered. Use natural light not electric light, because shortening days are what triggers budding. If it is in a room that has lights on at night, it won’t know the days are getting shorter.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            OH! THAT is what’s different this year, the room is lit all day for WFH! Maybe tomorrow I can make brain space for rearranging house plants …I haven’t even made it to the hardware store for more lights.

    6. lapgiraffe*

      Planted my garlic (finally!) last night and noticed that something dug up the tulips I planted maybe two weeks ago. Not only is that bed an absolute disaster, there’s a giant new hole in the yard nearby and a mountain of mud between the two.

      Could be squirrels or, by the size of things, more likely raccoons, but honestly my money is on my downstairs neighbor’s stupid dogs (shared yard). Begrudgingly planted the garlic in some raised beds because of these dumb dogs and now I’ve nailed down chicken wire over it just to hedge my bets.

      Indoor plants are all mostly very happy right next except my Vancouver Centennial Geranium, I repotted her a few months ago and she’s been fickle ever since :-/

    7. Nixologist*

      My spider plant farm is proliferating. I got really into my spider plant during the stay at home order and I’ve continued to enjoy it as I’ve gone back to work. I enjoy seeing the difference between how the planted seeds and the “spiderettes” grow.
      I also have an orchid that I bought on a whim ($2!) that’s stayed alive for a whole month.
      My succulents don’t seem to be doing as well… So I’m leaning in to spider plant joy!

      1. Venus*

        I’m not great at succulents, but someone mentioned that I should use the water from my dehumidifier and that seems to have helped. I think that you could get the same effect by leaving water out on the counter for at least a few days, possibly as much as a week. I can’t know for certain that this has helped me, but it was recommended to me and I haven’t (yet) killed the ones that I was given a year ago.

    8. another scientist*

      Got the last red tomatoes in last week, but need to go back and bring in the green ones, now that rainy weather is officially here. Sprouting some new salad and my first radishes ever!
      I am keen on planting some garlic, which I have never done before.

    9. PX*

      Bulbs arrived today so I have spent all day looking for plant pots because I remembered I actually only have 1 and uh, I have a lot more bulbs. Going to try and get some planted tomorrow and then either leave the rest for spring planting or have to winnow down the probably 50 tabs I have open and just buy some damn planters so I can plant the rest next week :D

    10. Llama face!*

      It is full winter weather here complete with lots of snow and minus double digit temps (celsius). I still have my potted tomatoes growing inside and maybe… possibly… the largest tomato babies are starting to change colour. It’s hard to tell at this point.

      I also have some happy blooming plants. Both my large xmas cactus and one of my smaller ones are budding. My spider plant which I grew from a cutting I got last summer (2019, not the one that just happened) has grown its first baby spider stem and is flowering along the length of it.

      I am growing ginger in pots and one of the stems has just taken off and grown from 6 inches to almost 3 feet high in about a month. I am cheering for it to reach the ceiling from where it sits (another 2-ish feet should do it).

      My pothos plants are all putting out tons of new leaves which always seems to happen this time of year. It seems odd since you’d think they would do that more in spring/summer, but I’m not complaining!

      My plants are one of the things keeping me happy these days. :D

      1. Bobina*

        How did you grow the ginger? Did you just pot some store-bought ginger that was sprouting? Did you buy a plant? I’ve thought about this as I love ginger but it seems complicated for some reason.

        1. Llama face!*

          This year, possibly because of virus chaos, we had a lot of ginger in the grocery stores that had developed eyes (normally they irradiate them just like potatoes to prevent the eyes from forming). So I kept buying it and planting it. Not sure yet if I have much corm growth or if it is all stem but it’s been fun even if I don’t get useable gingerroot from it.

          1. Anonymath*

            I have a stand of ginger in the backyard that I grew from two supermarket gingers that had eyes, just like yours. Halfway buried them flat on the turned ground, and just left them alone. It’s been about four years now and it supplies all my ginger needs year round plus some. One of the easiest things I’ve ever grown.

            1. Llama face!*

              I wish my climate allowed for that! Unfortunately our winters are extremely long and cold so ginger won’t survive outdoors over winter in this zone.

          2. Bobina*

            Exciting! Plus Anonymath’s experience of it being easy to grow is making me want to try it. Might give it a shot next time I have some thats starting to grow!

    11. Girasol*

      The garden is all cleaned out and all the shrubs and trees are trimmed back for winter. But the zygocactus in the kitchen is blooming wonderfully! And we’re drinking summer in the form of currant cordial made from last summer’s berries, yum.

    12. Cantabrian*

      Representative of the southern hemisphere checking in as requested :). We’ve had a 3 day weekend here and the weather has been a belter – nearly 30 degrees the first two days and a more pleasant low 20s today. This is our first summer in a new house and the garden is an ongoing joy – amazing peonies and roses blooming, and my beautiful frilly irises that I brought with me from the previous house have just opened out. Busy, noisy birdies everywhere, and so many bumblebees!

      1. Bobina*

        Aww this sounds lovely! Something I didnt realise I missed until a while ago was the sound of birds! I love living in a city, but sometimes I wish the city was a touch more nature friendly.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This house is the first where I’ve had peonies and the fragrance was startling because I recognized my great-great-aunt’s perfume. I have one stand of purplish red peonies that came with the house, and I’m thinking of adding more. Are there varieties that smell different?

    13. Zooey*

      I’m hoping to get my garden winter ready today – I have a small front patch which needs weeding, then I’ll plant a ton of bulbs and put mulch over the top so the weeds stay down in the cold season. Plus I’m planting some ground cover which will hopefully help to keep the ground elder from next door’s patch creeping over.

    14. Nita*

      Cleaned up most of the garden. Planted the garlic (thank you Venus!) Picked all the leftover green tomatoes and fried them. I did leave the tomato plants – if they get through next week’s frost, they will probably keep setting fruit into December. Our winters get milder every year… The indoor garden is looking pretty happy. Southern window, so it gets more sunlight now than in summer. Still no sign of buds on the Christmas cactus, but there’s time, I guess.

    15. GoryDetails*

      End of season in southern NH. I’ve emptied my veggie planters – though I still need to clean them for winter storage – and had a lovely final harvest before first frost. I desperately need to hire someone to do yard cleanup before snowfall, or else it’ll wait until next year (again). [Was going to do some raking and pruning today but I put it off and now it’s raining, so I’m safe – er, I mean, darn it, I missed my window.]

      I plan to set up my AeroGarden soon, for fresh lettuces indoors (and some nice bright light, which is nice as the days shorten). And I splurged on THREE deluxe amaryllis bulbs this year instead of my usual one-from-the-supermarket; they arrived today and I had to scramble to find a pot and potting soil for them, as I’d thought they came with planting materials. Two dark burgundy ones and a white-and-pink-striped one; should be lovely if they grow properly and if the cats don’t get at them. (They won’t bloom until after New Year, as I ordered them late and they took longer to ship than expected, but it’s not as if I’m in a hurry or having parties or anything!)

  20. Beginner Cook*

    What simple/easy for beginner recipes using cream cheese would you recommend? I have leftover cream cheese and don’t know what to do with it. No baking recipes, please, I don’t have an oven.

    1. Bea*

      Chop up some dill pickles. Mix the pickles, a little pickle juice, and a tiny bit of salt into the cream cheese. Makes a good cracker spread.

      1. Loopy*

        I came here to post this. Great for events or if you have a sweet tooth. They keep for a good while in the fridge too!

    2. Lizabeth*

      Pimento cheese? The one that I liked from the grocery store has a little cream cheese in it besides the mayo, pimentos and cheese. I’ve since made it myself and the cream cheese gives it some body.

    3. Ins mom*

      Small batch chicken/hot sauce dip? Shredded chicken, Red’s hot sauce, chopped onion heated in microwave

    4. Slinky*

      Cream cheese is really good on a grilled cheese sandwich. Just spread a little on the bread before you top it with cheese.

    5. Elf*

      I remember making fake cheese blintzes in middle school home ec. I remember them tasting really good (to middle school me) even though they are objectively…dubious.

      Take some soft white bread (think Wonderbread, that bad) and cut off the crust. Use a rolling pin (or bottle) to roll it flat. Mix the cream cheese with some sugar, cinnamon, and raisins (sub in other seasonings/fruits/nuts to taste). Spread some on the flattened bread, and then roll it up. Then eat it!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Treats: Take some dried dates, cut them in half but only part way to make a little pocket. Stuff the pocket with cream cheese, then roll in sugar for a light coating of sugar. omg. So good.

      1. Ellen*

        Those are so good! Fond memories from my childhood. Dates are fruit, so those cream cheese sugar bombs are good for you, right?

      2. Llama face!*

        I’ve made a similar thing but filled the dates with a mix of cream cheese, sugar and toasted walnuts. (Skipping the roll in sugar part) Best if refrigerated afterwards for a while. High protein and high fibre so there’s that excuse… ;)

    7. Buni*

      I buy cream cheese (presuming you mean the Philadelphia-type stuff) almost exclusively for bunging in pasta sauces. Whether you’ve made the sauce from scratch or just grabbed a jar of Dolmio almost any tomoto-based sauce is improved with a bloody great spoonful of cream cheese. Also, pasta sauces without tomato…

      1. Bibliovore*

        yes this. If you have lemons, you can melt the cream cheese in a pan.
        Boil up some spaghetti.
        squeeze lemon in the sauce pan with the melted cream cheese, about 1/8 cup of shredded parmesion, a pinch of nutmeg,
        sauce- if it it too thick , thin with some of the pasta water.(save about 1/2 cup of pasta water)
        put cooked drained spaghetti in the the sauce to coat.
        If you have fresh parsely chopp and sprinkle on top of your plate.

    8. CTT*

      If you have any sauce or soup recipes that involve heavy cream, you can use cream cheese instead in most cases.

      Also, it’s not a recipe, but I’ve been on a real bagel and cream cheese kick recently. So simple but so delicious.

    9. PhyllisB*

      If you like green olives, you can make an olive spread. Just finely chop olives, and add to softened cream cheese with mayo and a bit of the olive juice. Great for dip or a sandwich spread. This is an old Helouise recipe (those unfamiliar, she writes a column of household hints.)
      If you like sweets, you can spread cream cheese on bread, sprinkle with white (or brown) sugar and add a bit of cinnamon and run under the broiler until bubbly. Tastes like a cheese Danish!!
      I’m going to hunt down that olive recipe and make sure my memory is correct. If I need to change anything, I’ll report back.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Beginner Cook (and anyone else interested) I looked up the actual recipe for Heloise’s Olive Nut Spread (yes, I forgot the nuts part.) 6 0z Cream cheese, softened 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/2 cup chopped pecans (can use walnuts) 1 cup sliced green olives 2 Tablespoons olive juice Mix together and allow to chill.

    10. Not A Girl Boss*

      Cream cheese and celery. I especially love mixing cream cheese and peanut butter, most underrated dip ever. But when I’m lazy I just do cream cheese and everything seasoning.

      I also make a broccoli cheddar soup crock pot recipe. A pound of frozen broccoli, roasted at 400F for 18 minutes, a bunch of garlic, a carton of broth, a brick of cream cheese, 8oz half and half, and 8oz of cheddar cheese. Cook until cheese is melted and blend it together.

    11. Girasol*

      It’s lovely in an omelet and good on potatoes. If you have tortillas and sandwich fixings around, you can make roll-ups using the cream cheese to glue them together. Cream cheese and jam on toast is heavenly. And “me too” on Not A Girl Boss’s stuffed celery.

      1. pancakes*

        My breakfast lately is a tortilla with cream cheese & jam, or cream cheese with hot pepper jelly or chili crisp.

    12. The New Wanderer*

      If you have at least 8 oz of cream cheese (plus 2 lemons, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and ready-made graham cracker crust), you can make a no-bake lemon icebox pie. I made this a month or so ago and it was amazing!

      Zest the lemons, squeeze the lemons for juice (should be 1/2 cup, top off with water if necessary), mix with the cream cheese and condensed milk until creamy, and pour into the crust. The original instruction said to refrigerate 6 hours but I froze it instead and that worked great.

    13. DataQueen*

      Just trust me on this one: take sliced deli ham. spread cream cheese on it. wrap around a dill pickle spear.

    14. B*

      Midwest sushi:
      slice of ham or turkey, spread softened cream cheese. Roll around a pickle and slice.
      Aaaahhmazing

    15. willow for now*

      Cream cheese, some mayonnaise, chopped up green olives with pimentoes, spread on deli sliced ham and roll up, cut 1/2 inch slices and eat on crackers. Comfort food.

    16. Brusque*

      I add a tablespoon of cream cheese in my pancakes. They become very rich and tasty then. I also like a bit of cream cheese in my scrambled eggs instead of milk or cream. Tastes better and they’re less runny but still more moist than without.
      I also like cream cheese-strawberry spread on rolls. Just let a handful of frozen Strawberries melt in a small bowl, pour out the liquid (it tastes good to drink in a little milk) then puree the berries (squishing them with a fork works well too) and mix in the double amount of cream cheese, add sugar to taste and maybe a little vanilla. Spread on toast or fresh rolls. So delicious!

    17. Cedrus Libani*

      In my family, most parties feature a block of cream cheese with some jelly on top. Jalapeno jelly is a favorite, so is anything with berries, but you can use what you have and like. Serve with crackers. That’s the whole recipe. I will eat this for lunch sometimes when I’m craving something sweet.

    18. Zooey*

      Slice a couple of leeks, soften gently in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water. Mix in cream cheese (about 150g), squeeze in half a lemon and add a couple of teaspoons of capers and a grind of black pepper. Fry or grill a salmon fillet and serve the cream cheese mix on top (you can add a couple more spoons of water if you want it to be more of a runny sauce). You can add a bit of tarragon or dill to the sauce too if you care for those.

    19. Tears of the mushroom*

      Pan sauté a few chicken breasts, deglaze the pan with about ³/4 cup stock, add about half a block of cream cheese and 2 tbsp pesto sauce. Simmer gently for à few minutes and you have lovely sauçe for the chicken.

    20. Professor Plum*

      Your question reminds me of a pizza restaurant nearby where I used to work. They add cream cheese to their pizzas and strombolis-yum!

    21. SR*

      Cream cheese in scrambled eggs is my favorite! Just put in small globs towards the end of cooking, shortly before turning off the burner, and stir it in so that gets soft and melty.

  21. The Other Dawn*

    Has anyone obtained, or tried to obtain, a land loan? Specifically one for land which will not be built upon?

    Our house is the original house (1735) that was sitting on what was an eight acre horse farm. The family subdivided it many years ago and sold off the other plots. We ended up with about 1.4 acres. The person who sold us our house six years ago is now selling the remaining plot of land behind us. Now that we’ve sold the old house and paid down some debt, we’re in a much better position financially. We’d really love to buy that plot of land to expand our property and to prevent anyone from building behind us.

    I’ve been checking online and it seems like a land loan might be difficult. We can’t get a HELOC on our house since we don’t yet have enough equity, and we don’t have that much cash on hand to buy outright. A personal loan isn’t a likely option since terms are usually limited to five years and the loan size wouldn’t be enough.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I read about that and it could be an option. The plot has been on the market about two years with very little interest, so he might be motivated to do something like that.

        1. Anono-me*

          If you do a contract for deed, be careful. They can be very helpful to nonstandard buyers and sellers, but they can also be super advantageous to unscrupulous sellers.

          1. Anono-me*

            The other thing to look onto is access to the back property. It sounds like the for sale back parcel might be “landlocked”. Is there a driveway to the back property or an addition to your deed allowing a driveway to the back property to be built on your land?

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Yeah, I was wondering if it was landlocked also. If yes, that works to Dawn’s advantage, it could mean a lower price or it could mean that the seller would be more willing to work with her.

              In thinking along here, I am wondering if the owner could hold the mortgage for a bit – just long enough for TOD to get the properties joined as one lot and then go to the bank and refi then pay off the owner “early”. She’d end up with a new and larger mortgage.

    1. Cecil*

      Would your state historic landmarks have guidance, since the house is quite old and you’re recombining some of the original property? There are grants and assistance programs available. It might mean a covenant that prevents the land from being improved, but that sounds like your goal.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, I didn’t think of that–thanks. Yes, the goal is to simply recombine it with our property and do nothing other than install a period-correct fence and maybe add some trees.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also look into the CT Farmland Trust, even though it’s not a working farm, it bring it back to big enough that some day it could at least have the chance.

    2. Ali G*

      Is the land rated for development? It might depend on the zoning – if it’s current zoned for development it will be more difficult. You could look into options of getting a short term loan and rezoning it which ma qualify you for something else long-term.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I believe it is since the plot next to it was sold a couple years ago, and the guy that bought it ran utilities from the street and built a house.

    3. Sunrise*

      Is it possible to refinance your current house but include the new plot in the refinance? Maybe your bank is willing to get creative in offering a refinance that covers everything.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        No, there wouldn’t be enough value in my house to accommodate a refi with additional funds.

  22. JerryTerryLarryGary*

    What’s your take on how the teacher addresses parents vs how the teacher wishes to be addressed? I’m happy to call another adult Honorific+ Last Name if that’s their preference, but default lack of parity is a bit annoying. Children are moving from grades using Honorific +First Name where there was more casual contact to this new pandemic world where we’re messaging much more frequently.
    Why is this the default parents first name, teacher not?

    1. Lady Heather*

      If someone addresses you as “Jerry” rather than “Mr Gary”, they just gave you permission to use their first name as well.
      At least, that’s the way I see it.

      If they correct you, you can:
      *apologize and Mr/Ms them, or
      *say, “Oh, I thought we were on first-hand terms given you’ve been using mine”, or
      *ask to be addressed with Mr/Ms as well.

      (Option 2 – maybe use different wording. English is not my mother tongue, hence when I do the “politely making a point” thing it becomes either too polite or too pointy.)

      1. NapkinThief*

        The address-them-how-they-address you is how my mom used to achieve parity when I was in my schooling days! That’s how she and my high school principal ended up on a de facto first-name basis – I don’t know if he intended it to be equal but he just never pushed back.

        There was an interesting exchange with a teacher (Dr. Science) who kept calling my mom Mrs. Thief although he was aware that she was also Dr. Thief….interestingly enough he did not appreciate being called Mr. Science!

        1. Observer*

          That sounds more like a guy who can’t deal with the concept of a woman having academic credentials.

    2. Dino*

      That’s not the default, in my experience. Maybe it’s just the teacher or school you are dealing with?

    3. allathian*

      This is odd to say the least. Among adults, the default should be parity. After all, you’re supposed to work together to help your kid get an education. I mean, you don’t call your kid’s teacher sir or ma’am, do you?

      That said, I was mostly educated in a culture where kids call their teachers by their first names from daycare on, in my son’s case, they use a nickname, because she asked them to. The exceptions were the year I spent in the UK as a preteen and when I studied in France, where the formal vous was used by both the students and the teachers when addressing each other. The idea is to demonstrate the formality of the relationship rather than one party being in a postion of authority over the other, once they hit puberty, French students are generally addressed as vous, as I understand it.

      1. Mx*

        I grew up in France. We had to use the formal Vous with teachers, but they used the informal Tu with us kids.

        1. Non merci*

          I’m Canadian, not French, but yes, the thought of myself being vouvoyé as a child by a teacher gives me the same feeling as going through a door marked “Employees Only” or calling my parents by their first names lol

          At my kid’s school, the teacher is Mme Firstname to the kids, so that’s what I call her when my kid is there, but when I’m talking to her one-on-one we just use each other’s first names. We used “vous” for each other for the first few interactions, then moved to “tu,” as is the norm for most interactions I have with adult strangers. I would find it weird if one of us was using an honorific and the other wasn’t, or if one of us was saying “vous” and the other one “tu.” Either the relationship is formal, in which case it’s formal for everyone, or it’s informal (my preference, but I’m in a generally very informal part of the country), in which case it’s informal for everyone.

    4. Epsilon Delta*

      I have no idea and it feels weird to me too. It mainly comes up in emails, where I don’t know if I should write, “Hello Ms Warbleworth” (which feels stuffy and/or like I’m a child again) or “Hello Tanya” (which feels too familiar/bordering on disrespectful). I’ve kind of just started avoiding addressing teachers by name at all if I can!

      If I’m talking about them to someone else that knows them as a teacher (my child, school staff) it seems more natural to use the honorific and it would feel weird to use their first name only.

      1. Disco Janet*

        As a teacher, I do the same thing with tending to just avoid using a name, haha! I don’t mind parents calling me by my first name, but considering that parents are sort of our client/customer, it can be a delicate thing since you never know who may be offended by something. Some feel that it’s more professional for teachers to use the honorific with parents, and others feel that it’s snobby.

        So JerryTerryLarryGary, I wouldn’t assume the teacher would be bothered by you using their first name. They’re likely just be referring to themselves by their honorific because they’re in teacher mode where that is what they’re called 99% of the time. If you want to call them by their first name, I doubt they’d be offended or care.

        1. AnotherTeacher*

          Strongly agree with this — when I’ve been responding to email after email from kids, it’s easy to slip into “Thanks, Ms. G.” when replying to a parent.

          I’ve also found the opposite, honestly: parents who continue calling me “Ms. G.” even when I sign my emails “~Nadia”

      2. JerryTerryLarryGary*

        I’ve been doing that as well. It hits a bit more this year, where we’re more in partnership (?) than before.

    5. RagingADHD*

      In my area, teachers are called Honorific + First Name in daycare and preschool (which is the general convention around here for little people toward most adults, such as the parents of playmates). Once they go to kindergarten, it’s Honorific + Lastname. And the teachers address parents the same way.

      Once the student has aged out of that teacher’s grade (or school if they float grades), then the parents and teachers can address each other by first names if they have struck up a personal connection.

      There doesn’t seem to be any trouble code-switching. I had a personal friend who switched grades and wound up teaching both my kids. She was “Betty” when we were hanging out, and “Ms. Boop” in any capacity related to school. Not that complicated.

    6. B*

      My take on this is that it is less about my relationship with the teacher than it is my kids relationship with teacher. If I’m consistent in mrs smith, I don’t have to keep track of two names and my kindergartener keeps that appropriate title. The reverse isn’t as important. My kid isn’t confused if someone calls kids mom or sandy or Mrs g.
      Clearly different as kids get older.

    7. Pink Dahlia*

      My guess is because families are much more complicated than they used to be, and it’s easy to mess up who changed last names, is a step-parent or guardian, etc. Less assumptions are being made when you cut directly to the given name.

    8. Observer*

      In my world, it would be a major faux pas for a parent to call a teacher past preschool by a first name unless that teacher initiated it or the parent and teacher call each other by their first names, and that usually only happens if there is a prior relationship. And even when there is a first name it’s accompanied by a title. So, it would be Rabbi Firstname or Morah Firstname.

    9. Double A*

      Honestly as a teacher I wish we didn’t go by honorifics. I would prefer to be on a first name basis with students and parents. However, you need to go with whatever your school culture is, and mine is honorific + last name. I find it very, very be difficult to switch between these modes within one family; there’s never a point where I feel organic about having parents use my first name. I don’t really know why, but it’s awkward.

      I generally refer to myself as “Ms. Smith” when I am in work mode (e.g. introducing myself). Part of it is I assume it’s easier for the parents– they know that Ms. Smith teaches history because that’s how their kid refers to me, so if I introduce myself as “Lucinda” it could get confusing. Plus that’s twice as many names to remember.

      I try to default to honorifics when speaking to parents, but often I end up using first names after awhile. I guess it’s awkward, but I find it’s the same with doctors; I refer to them as Dr. Last name and they use my first name. There are just a few professions where it seems like that’s the norm.

      But believe me, my choice would be that tomorrow teachers all start going by our first names.

  23. The Other Dawn*

    I wanted to say thank you to those who answered my question last month about owning a MINI–I got one! I ended up getting a 2016 Hardtop 4 door. The price was good, it has only 50k miles, and it looks brand new. It’s definitely a fun car and the gas mileage is great. I’m getting about 36 MPG. My husband has a 65 mile commute one way, whereas I work at home now, so he takes it a few times a week to save gas. And what was nice is we decided to get an insurance quote from AAA after many years of being with another company and the savings pays for the new car payment, so it’s a wash.

    My only complaint is the lack of options–not my car in particular, but MINI in general. By “lack of options” I mean it’s more that I’m used to what I have in my Chevy Equinox with a mid-range options package. It seems like there should be more things that come standard given the price point on these cars. Even if I were to buy a brand new fully loaded model, things like remote start just aren’t an option. There was also one thing I found really odd: I can’t stand outside the car with the door open and press the Lock button on the inside door panel to lock the car before I shut the door. The only way to lock it is to shut the door and use the remote, or be inside the car with the door shut. So if I were outside in the yard and remembered, “Oh I forgot to lock the car,” I can’t just open the door and hit the button to lock all the doors. I have to find the remote and lock it that way. I realize that’s really minor, but it’s so odd to me and really frustrating.

    1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Congrats on the new car! Mini is a BMW company, and BMWs generally come stripped at their base price. Generally you have to pay a lot of $$$ when the car is new for popular options, and I’m guessing the original owner didn’t do that. Still, it’s a cool car and 36 MPG is fantastic!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Mine has some options, like heated seats, sunroof, and a few other things so it’s not bare bones. But when I priced out a 2021 model just because, the two things I’d absolutely want in my next car would be remote start (I have it on the Equinox) and a heated steering wheel. Neither of those are offered. I asked the dealer out of curiosity and he said MINI doesn’t do that. Also, the MINI Connected radio didn’t come out until 2019 I think and it can’t be added to an older model. That’s no big deal–I can still connect my phone and use an aux cable if I want to play Pandora and XM–but the Equinox has all that super easy connectivity and functionality and I miss it when I drive the MINI.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The lock thing — the idea is that you are literally not able to lock the keys in the car by accident. You can’t lock the car if all the doors aren’t closed, at which point you have to be either inside the car, or outside and holding the remote in your hand. My Smart did the same thing. I eventually figured out that literally the only way to lock the keys in the car was to lock it from the outside with the key/remote, pop the back glass on the hatchback, deliberately throw the keys inside and then close the glass again.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I found it annoying at first, but I *had* locked my keys in previous cars more than a few times, and it definitely resulted in better habits for me :) I wonder if it might be a setting in the car’s computer you can turn off or adjust somehow? My current car has some automatic lock options that I can change or disable, I know.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            There are a couple options, but none of them have anything to do with this particular feature. I’m getting used to it, but it just annoys me. LOL

            1. allathian*

              Some cars also have a “walk away lock”, where the car doors lock automatically once the key fob is far enough away from the car. At least some recent Honda models have this feature.

      1. Pink Dahlia*

        Exactly this. My MINI, Volvo, and Saab all did/do some variation of this. My ’99 Saab would only let you lock it by turning the key in the driver door from the outside.

    3. Weekender*

      Next time you want to lock the car without a remote, try locking via the passenger door. As in: close driver door, open passenger door, use the interior lock button, and then close the door. This works in my 2009 Mini, which I learned the hard way. (Also, using the remote to unlock the back doors doesn’t unlock the whole car, so don’t load groceries in the trunk with your keys and then close the back doors.)

  24. Washi*

    I’m curious if commenters can help me pinpoint why a thing is bothering me (and what if anything to do).

    I’ve been friends with Anna since we were preteens and she is funny, smart, and loyal. We know each other’s families super well, and she’s practically family too at this point. However, for a while I’ve noticed that I feel impatient and annoyed when she talks about negative things/being unhappy. That was always weird to me, because I don’t have that issue with other friends. Sometimes there’s not as much to say about the things that are going well, and with anyone else, I don’t mind delving into the things that aren’t! It took me a while to identify the difference, but I’ve finally realized that Anna rarely talks about her feelings and approaches it more from “this is happening and now I have to do this and this and this and maybe I should do this, but if I do this then that happens…”

    For example, the most recent thing is that her dad is having some health issues but is resisting going to see the doctor. So she describes to me all the ways she’s tried to get him to go, how she has to make him go, how bad it will be if he doesn’t go, how unhappy her mom is about all this and how she needs to go to therapy, asking me about how she can persuade her mom to go to therapy, etc. With my other friends, there’s some of that, but there’s also a lot of “this is so hard, I’m really stressed/sad/frustrated, I feel so helpless/annoyed/tired” and just more…feelings. I’ve sort of tried to pull feelings out of Anna sometimes, and if I say “so are you frustrated at your dad” she’ll say yes, but she never seems to volunteer feelings.

    The thing is, I don’t know why Anna’s situations exhaust me but other people’s don’t. What they need from me is not that different, but with Anna, I feel more and more like she’s dumping anxiety on me and just wants to press a button and get sympathy. But other people who tell me about difficult things also are looking for support and I give it happily! I’m just not sure what to do because with the pandemic, my own reserves are a little lower, and I’ve found myself tuning her out at times, and that’s really not great. Thoughts?

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I think you’ve already very intuitively pinpointed what it is that’s exhausting about Anna’s way of talking about problems versus others’ ways of talking about their problems.

      Maybe her not identifying her feelings makes you feel like you’re the one doing the emotional labour and that’s why it’s so tiring?
      It’s selfish to not be looking for solutions but just an ear to vent, which is why I’d wager it’s frustrating for you – in naming the feelings you’re trying to get her to own them, and that’s not what she wants.

      I guess you can tell her that you’re not in the headspace to be able to console her, sorry, and have you considered a therapist?; or you can limit the time she talks to you for your own feelings.

      1. Grapey*

        I think it’s the opposite of what you describe – Anna doesn’t sound like she wants an ear to vent, she wants solutions. If I were Anna, after describing everything above just being asked ” are you frustrated at your dad?” I’d be thinking “…obviously?”

        Anna “asking me about how she can persuade her mom to go to therapy” sounds like what Anna wants.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Do other people move to action plans while Anna just talks and talks?

      For me, your description shows she gives a lot of detail. That can be annoying. Perhaps you can steer her by saying, “Of all this, which one thing bothers you the most?”

    3. MissGirl*

      Just throwing this out. Are you a problem solver or someone who wants to fix things? I’m wondering if your other friends need you to do whereas Anna needs you to listen. If you can’t offer anything besides a listening ear, maybe you’re subconsciously feeling more stress about it.

      1. Washi*

        I think you are on to something here. You’re right in that with other friends, I “do” in that conversations take the form of more active listening and sort of, exploring? And that’s what I like from my friends too when I’m sharing something hard, is them asking me questions and trying to understand it together. We don’t give each other advice or try to fix it, but it’s a back-and-forth. But yeah, with Anna, she literally just wants me to listen and say “that sucks” every once in a while and I honestly do not enjoy that. Because I don’t share that way, our conversations end up being very lopsided where her sharing is a lot of venting where she’s talking most of the time, and my sharing is me trying to have a back-and-forth where we are talking equally, but the result is that she talks like 80% of the time.

        She actually loves it when I vent and is a great listener when I occasionally do so, I just don’t do a lot of venting. I think I’m realizing that as close as we are and as well as we know each other, we don’t really have the same conversational style at all.

        This is actually really helping me think through it, thanks AAMers :)

        1. The Spinning Arrow*

          Feel free to disregard if this doesn’t seem to apply, but from what you’ve described you remind me of my boyfriend who is 100% an “action” person. If he can’t find an action to pursue to help an issue, he gets incredibly antsy and anxious about it. Which means that when I, very much NOT an action person, come to him just to get something off my chest, we sometimes have a clash where he tries to offer solutions I don’t want or have already considered and abandoned for one reason or another. To his credit, he’s gotten much better about saying, “I have some thoughts, if you want to hear them?” after I vent (and I’ve reigned in my venting too!); maybe something like that phrase or just reframing your thinking to “My action to support Anna right now is to listen to her and demonstrate understanding of her position,” that might help it feel less like being dumped on?

          Again, if that doesn’t seem relevant feel free to disregard. I just definitely recognized my boyfriend’s frustration in the “Why are you talking to me about this if you don’t want me to help you fix it?” nature of that second sentence. :) Good luck!

    4. WellRed*

      I’m confused. I was going to say some people are always complaining or just kind of negative and it’s draining. But then you mentioned wanting to pull her feelings out of her. Why? People are allowed not to psychoanalyze everything. And how would that help you find her less draining? Have you and Anna always had this dynamic?

      1. Washi*

        Fair point! When I was able to identify the difference, I wanted to see if shifting the conversation from “I have to do this, I have to do that, aghhhh” to feelings would help me relate to her better, but it’s clearly not her preferred way of sharing so I don’t try to do that anymore.

        We’ve always had this dynamic, but I previously thought of it as temporary. Like oh, once she finishes college/grad school/gets married/moves she’ll be less stressed. But now I’m realizing that this is just her way of being, and that I have a hard time with it.

        1. WellRed*

          It’s totally natural and OK to realize you dislike a certain personality trait or relationship dynamic as you grow up or older.

    5. fposte*

      I join others in wondering if this may be as much about how you respond to Anna as about Anna. If she’s not venting disproportionately to you and she’s willing to listen when you vent to her, could you try recasting her emotions as there but subtextual?

    6. Purt’s Peas*

      A few options I can think of.

      One part may be, your normal response to friends needing support—talking about their feelings—is just HARDER with Anna, and that extra effort is genuinely tiring. If this is the case I wave my magic wand and set you free from trying to draw out those feelings and instead thou shalt say “that’s really hard” at appropriate times.

      Another part may be…well it sounds like she’s not that good a storyteller about her emotions and her hard times. Not that she needs to make her life enjoyable to you, it’s that it’s simply a tiring conversation, where other friends may process all of that into a more cohesive narrative. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve support; it just means I’m not surprised you’re kinda bored by conversations that sound boring.

      Finally I think she IS expecting more from you than your other friends do. It sounds like she’s laying some difficult thing down and saying “hey pick this up and deal with it” where other friends might be saying “hey can you put your shoulder under this and help me carry it?” That’s fine if it’s what she needs, but again it makes sense that it feels more effortful to you.

    7. Not A Girl Boss*

      Could it be that you’re just exhausted by *general hand waving* 2020 yourself and just can’t really afford the amount of empathy you’re used to showing Anna?
      I think sometimes we taken on much more of the burden of sadness when we are so close to people. And sometimes that shows up as anger or resentment.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Anna does 80% of the talking? You might have turned into an unpaid therapist.
      This is a friendship, so what keeps you two connected? Do you have interests and topics in common or is her complaining the main thing? Try some experiments such as less time with Anna or meeting under different circumstances or with a set time limit on a get-together or asking for one conversation with no complaining. That might give you insight about your dynamic.
      There are some people who want an audience, not a back-and-forth. I’ve had years-long relationships where I thought I was friends with someone when I was actually just their audience. I was okay with it until one day I wasn’t. I was exhausted with them. They hadn’t changed; I had. I quietly drifted away to other things that were more fulfilling to me.
      You don’t necessarily need to drop Anna but do take good care of yourself.

      1. TechWorker*

        To be fair it’s not clear whether Anna does 80% of the talking in all conversations (in which I would totally agree it’s time to step back from the friendship and have done so myself in a similar situation) or just in ones in which she is discussing something stressful.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Some people just don’t articulate their feelings with feeling words. They feel them, and are aware of them experientially, but put their words on outward things. Obviously Anna is aware of it when she’s stressed and needs support, and is able to take action to address those needs by coming to you.

      I don’t know that one way is necessarily healthier than the other. We tend to prize words because of the legacy of talk therapy, but some people just don’t process emotion that way.

      Perhaps when you talk with your feelings-friends, hearing those feelings-words activates your empathy directly, whereas with Anna the literal part of your brain is thinking about her words, and you have to intuit the feelings?

  25. Not So NewReader*

    I think you are in the clear here. I think someone just sent the email to the wrong address.
    Does the email address allow replies?

    If you really want to dig into it, you can go to the website for NY courts: nycourts dot gov
    There is a contact us page and you can send them an email asking if the email you received is fraud.

    Conversely, you can contact the NYS attorney general’s office. Those people are very kind and very helpful. Someone will probably investigate for you. They have helped me several times with things, it’s like having an attorney for free.

  26. Puppy!*

    Thank you for the suggestions on the puppy raising.
    What worked-
    putting worn t-shirts in the pen with her.
    Taking her out for a last walk and just put right back to bed.
    I say “go to sleep”
    Started crate training.
    understanding that SHE is a toddler and when she gets bitey and mouthy when she tired and cranky.
    Another play session at night outside.

    Accepting help from others for walks and play sessions.
    She had her vet visit and booster shots this week. Healthy and hearty.
    Zoom Puppy class this week.

      1. Puppy!*

        I can’t believe we made it through another week!
        The vet says at least another month of quarantine from other dogs until after her next round of boosters.
        She is doing “the good work of dogs”
        I am learning to take advantage of her quiet moments.
        To take playtime as beneficial “pause” time for me.
        I am learning to enjoy being out in the world again on our walks.

        1. Stephanie*

          This made me smile! I’m so happy that things are going better with your puppy. It sounds like you’re getting into your groove with her, and you’re right: she is a toddler, and it’s good to recognize that. (I know that for me, just knowing the “why” of something helps me accept it.) Enjoy your cute little ball of fur!

        2. Katniss Evergreen*

          Oh good! I’m so glad for you and your pup – puppyhood is beautiful and fleeting, but also very challenging.

          Side note – we got so accustomed to enjoying our dog’s quiet moments that while she is pretty capable of playing on her own (throwing balls and toys around for herself, etc.), but we forgot how much she liked long outside walks. Walks became a utility thing because we’ve always rented apartments and don’t have a yard – I’m finally starting to take her on longer walks more often and I feel a little guilty at how much she loves it because we sort of unintentionally deprived her of that for a few years. She’s 7 now, and the last time we did long walks with regularity she was probably closer to 3-4. Don’t lose sight of the stuff that makes your puppy ecstatically or noticeably happy – they don’t know how to ask you to keep doing those things or how to tell you if you’ve stopped (most of the time), but those things will probably stick through adult doghood.

          1. Puppy!*

            Previously we lived in Brooklyn so puppy time was walks and dog parks. Right now its all about the playtime and walks and training. She has two forty minute walks. Looking forward to when she has all her shots and can play with others.

    1. Generic Name*

      Yay! I’m so glad you’ve made progress. Having a puppy really is a similar amount of work as a baby is. :)

  27. KeinName*

    Interesting question! I also get annoyed at certain friends‘ ways of venting/sharing about challenges. For me, I get frustrated when things are repeated a lot and nothing really can be improved, over years. I mean, I get that I as a friend should really just emphazise that indeed, things are hard and not offer solutions, but someone stuck on a misery loop without any agency can be challenging company sometimes. That‘s just my experience though, with your friend the reason could be any number of aspects in your relationship, e.g. if she is also supportive of you, if you feel understood by her, etc

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I firmly believe that an acceptable response to “I just need to vent” is “no thank you” or “not right now”.

      Listening to someone is part of being a good friend, but being a dumping ground for someone’s negative emotions, while only being allowed to make soothing noises of agreement and sympathy, is often hard work, and leaves them feeling better and you feeling worse. It’s particularly an issue when someone keeps venting on the same things, over and over again, and doesn’t do anything to change the situation, or when they’re the problem, or their complaints are about relatively mundane, normal things that everyone deals with. Being a sympathetic ear too much here can actually make things worse – the venting makes them feel just better enough that they don’t need to do anything constructive.

  28. MissGirl*

    I’m getting a puppy today!!!! I ran to Petco last night and hopefully I have the initial basics. What tips does everyone have for how to survive the next few weeks? This is my first inside puppy as an adult. I grew up on a farm and they were all outside dogs.

    Do I need to take them out during the night? How often? Tricks for bonding? Tricks for house training? Any help appreciated.

    1. fposte*

      Congratulations! Look through the open threads in the last few weeks—another poster is a couple weeks in on a new puppy and has been posting about it.

    2. Dog and cat fosterer*

      I use a crate for house-training. I take them out every hour or two so they aren’t stuck in there, and once in the middle of the night if they whimper, but poopies sleep a lot so they do well in a crate and it is good to give them a safe space. You can train them early, with simple things, like making them sit before you give them a toy or food. It takes forever the first few times as they jump up and I stand there waiting for that brief moment where they set down their bum, but it is time well invested. Bonding develops with training (you feel accomplished and they associate you with praise and food).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Puppies as ‘poopies’ is an accurate autocorrect. It’s one reason I decided I want a young adult dog instead…I’m just afraid of my ability to keep on top of potty breaks.
        (I have to get some household things dealt with before taking the plunge…but it’s time. Hopefully spring.)

        1. Dog and cat fosterer*

          I have been using the term poopies ever since I fostered some bottle babies, as those were my first exposure to pups younger than 8 weeks old :) Kittens are a million times easier as they use a litter box as soon as they wean at 4 weeks, and I never appreciated that difference until I was overwhelmed with poop from the pups. It gets better (bigger poops, less frequently) when they go to new homes at 8-9 weeks of age, although it’s still a lot, but the poop from those two pups was overwhelming at first. At one time I had a huge litter of nine that made me wonder how breeders cope, although I have since learned to use a litter box (same as with kittens, a cat litter box with litter in it) and that has helped a lot. I wouldn’t suggest that option to anyone with an older pup, as it is better to bring them outdoors, but it worked well as poopies tear up puppy pads with their land-shark teeth and having the box meant that their toileting was confined to an area that is easier to clean.

          A friend asked breeders about slightly older pups and was really lucky to get one that was 6 months old and didn’t have the right body shape for the show ring. It worked out great as he was well socialized. Good luck!

    3. Puppy!*

      Search for my user name. People have given me great advice that really really works!.
      What kind are you getting?
      what has worked for us- basics-
      Plastic crate/kennel, puppy food- we are feeding Royal Canine
      Lots and lots and lots of chew sticks. At least one rope toy for tugging.
      two balls- one small. one that is large and rubbery and hollow. ( will find a link for that)
      A stuffed toy bear/dog that has a beating heart.
      TREATS- dried liver, lamb lung, dehydrated chicken chews.
      a six foot leash.
      A pen with four sides so that the dog has a safe place to play.

      Stupid thing I bought- 8 sided play pen thing with a door in it. I am short, it is tall, I can’t get the puppy out of it.

    4. Not A Girl Boss*

      The biggest tip I have is to crate them at night and just NOTTTTT give in to their crying. The crying is normal but the less you give into it the sooner they accept their new world and the happier they ultimately are.

      I did set my alarm for halfway through the night to take my puppy out for the first month because they really can’t make it a whole night. But having an alarm trigger for that cut back on the crying as a method to get me to get up and play.

      Also with my first puppy, wrapping him up in a dryer blankie put him right to sleep at night. It was so cute.

      1. Generic Name*

        This. You will probably need to take them out in the middle of the night when they’re really young, but otherwise they need to learn that they sleep when the humans sleep. I also extend this to daytime activities. Walks and feeding take place on the humans’ schedules and the dogs learn to fit into that. I still feel tempted to let my dog keep sleeping when I’m ready to take her in her midday walk because she looks so cute and peaceful, but I remind myself that she is on my schedule and not the other way around :)

    5. MissGirl*

      I am appreciating everyone’s tips. I won’t be able to respond to each one but I am reading. I am currently waiting for her to pee since she hasn’t in three hours. Instead she’s sitting on my flowers.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        It’s important to keep them on a reliable pee schedule too. Set a timer and take her out every hour or so, say “go potty” wait 5 minutes or so, and take her back in.
        The goal is to 1) remove the opportunity to have an accident and 2) teach her the difference between play and potty time.

        My last puppy had a Thing about prefering to pee inside, so we taught her that she had to pee to earn her freedom. If I took her out and she didn’t pee, I put her back in her playpen and tried again in half an hour. Once she peed she got an hour of freedom.

    6. ShinyPenny*

      Every single (tiny!) thing you do, that the puppy likes, *is a reward* for the puppy. And it will repeat whatever it was doing *right before that* in a natural desire to get more happiness.
      The more you can manipulate this system to your advantage, the happier everybody will gradually become… (because you have a plan about what actual long-term happiness IS for your family, while the puppy is planning in 2 second intervals).

      Rewards: A glance. A touch. A squeal of pain or delight. Six inches of movement in a desired direction. Barking (some things are self-rewarding!). Chewing. Food. Movement. Setting down a warm blanket. Your arrival in a room…

      A “reward” can be unintended and un-noticed by a human, but still make a puppy do a behavior more.

      If you become aware of the granularity of this, and you can delay or speed up “a reward” by even 2 or 3 seconds so that (slightly!) better behavior is rewarded (instead of random behavior, or undesired behavior)– then the whole multi-individual system can move in great directions pretty quickly! With no conflict!

      (The classic example of this is that you can reputedly get an entire litter of tiny puppies to gradually trend quieter, just by waiting to walk through the door until the decibel level is at the lower end of their current normal range. I’ve never had a litter of puppies, so I’ve never been able to test that. But I’ve used the theory to great advantage in other dog raising circumstances.)

      Thanks for calling puppy-breath memories to mind!

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        I find that dogs of any age often get excited and sometimes consistently bark before being let out of their crate. Even if the pups are very young and desperate to toilet I still take the few minutes for them to quiet down a bit before letting them out. It makes such a difference!

  29. CatCat*

    Snoring! Does anyone have any tips to reduce snoring for someone who uses a CPAP?

    In the past month or so, my spouse, who has sleep apnea and uses a CPAP, has been snoring even with the CPAP. I can’t sleep when he snores. He contacted his doctor last month because of it and also sinus pain, which he thought mycbe related. His doctor treated him for a sinus infection, but the snoring has persisted.

    I told him we’ll have to have separate bedrooms if this keeps up. His doc has referred him to the appropriate department to see if there’s an issue with the CPAP machine. But is there anything we can do in the interim. We’ve tried elevating him a bit so theres a bit of a slope when he sleeps, but that doesn’t seem to be cutting it.

    1. fposte*

      Is it positional? If so, there are physical deterrents to keep sleepers off their backs; the easiest is to tape a tennis ball to the back of the PJs so they don’t stay on their backs.

    2. Blue wall*

      Sounds like the pressure might need to be increased on the CPAP. Does he see a sleep medicine doctor?

    3. GoryDetails*

      There’s an EPBOT post that might be helpful here; I’ll post the link in a reply, or you can web-search for “Our $5 DIY Sleep Apnea Solution”. It’s a kind of extreme variant of the tennis-ball technique, for people who might be able to ignore a tennis ball in the back {wry grin}.

      1. Gada*

        Wow, I was just thinking today that maybe I should try taping my mouth shut to help me stop snoring!! I was going to try medical tape but this looks better, thanks!!!

        1. RagingADHD*

          Have you been assessed for apnea or sinus issues?

          I would be extremely leery about taping your mouth unless you are 100% sure your airway is clear all night. We breathe through our mouths as a survival mechanism.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      What type of mask is he using? Would switching to a full face mask work if he’s currently going nasal mask only?

    5. Filosofickle*

      I can’t speak to the CPAP combination, but my snoring vanishes when I sleep on a foam wedge. Having my head and shoulders elevated keeps my airway/sinuses from collapsing or whatever they do to obstruct breathing when I’m on my back. They come in various heights, and the low 7″ works for me. (I actually prefer side sleeping and don’t snore when I do, but my sciatica puts me on my back more than I’d like. Hence the wedge.)

    6. Dan*

      Check the mask fit. I’ve had my CPAP for almost two years, and I still have trouble getting the mask fit correctly. It really has to be “goldi locks” for me — not too snug and not too loose. Except they send me a new head band every three months, and it seems like I spend two of those months making nightly adjustments to the head band. I’ve recently stopped changing out the head band just because they send me one. However, I change out the nasal pillows, because they do wear out.

      My understanding is that the CPAP is supposed to reduce if not eliminate the snoring, so if that’s not happening, *something* is going on.

    7. RagingADHD*

      If he has a sinus infection, he probably can’t breathe through his nose well enough for the CPAP to do anything and he has to breathe through his mouth. It may also need a pressure adjustment.

      Those breathe-right type nose strips help somewhat for a blocked nose. But if the blockage/puffiness is deep in the sinuses they won’t help much. Taking NSAIDs to reduce the swelling in his sinuses, as well as taking guaifenesin (mucinex) and drinking lots of water to clear out the mucous should help some, too.

      When I can’t use my CPAP at all due to blocked sinuses or a power outage, sleeping on my stomach helps with airflow and reducing the snoring.

    8. allathian*

      I hope you find a solution to your problem.

      My husband used to snore a lot, but then he lost quite a bit of weight and now he doesn’t snore unless he’s congested. That said, I’m a poor sleeper, so we have separate bedrooms because of that.

    9. A Non E. Mouse*

      My husband continued to snore with CPAP, so he’s now on a bi-pap machine.

      We were able to do this without a second sleep study by provide the data from the CPAP machine to the specialist, and we kept his CPAP for travel/backup since the darn things are so expensive.

    10. I take tea*

      I have a Cpap and without it I snore. I do it with my mouth shut and the position does not matter. If he’s the same, he might need either to up the inflowing air or get a better fitting mask. If he’s just snoring now, because of sinus problems, a whole face mask might help.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Full face mask for me. And remember when the equipment was changed out, this year I lost track of time and had replaceable components wear out. No wonder I wasn’t sleeping.
        Also I snore worse during allergy season, for which my best help is sinus irrigation. (Aka neti pot, although I use the nose-squirter kind.)

  30. Lifelong student*

    Crochet thread- what’s on your hook this week?
    I finished my hydrangea afghan and sent it off to my sister. I also made an infinity scarf with some of the violet yarn and sent that as well. Purple is her favorite color.
    I made a few mask extenders and am about a third of the way through a Frank ORandle pattern. His things are very interesting although his pattern writing style takes a little getting used to. You can find him on Ravelry- some of the small patterns are free.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      STILL stash-busting! I guess I underestimated the extent of my yarn hoarding problem! (Guess what EVERYONE is getting for holiday gifts this year…) I’m about halfway through yet another multi strand afghan. No pattern, I’m just making it up as I go.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          It is when there’s a pandemic and the yarn shop is closed…but now they’re open again and I need to justify buying more yarn! (Support your local small businesses, people!)

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Crochet: I finally finished the Phoenix afghan! First blanket I’ve ever made that was for me! It ended up about six feet square, so the last few rows were like 24 feet each and took FOREVER, haha.

      Next yarn project up is actually knitting, I’m doing a double-knitted Star Wars scarf. Black with rainbow motifs on one side, rainbow with black on the other. I have no idea who it’s going to be for; I’ll figure that out eventually. I have lots of options.

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      Not crochet (for now anyway), but knit. I’ve just finished a cat bed (“Purrfect Cat Bed” pattern found on Ravelry). Today, I’m starting a shadow knit checkerboard blanket as a baby shower gift.

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        I am curious, does your cat actually use it? My cats only seem to want to lie on furbidden textiles.

        1. HamlindigoBlue*

          She was very interested in it when it was just a square. She kept trying to sit on it while I was seaming it together. Now that it’s finished and is a circle, she’s not so sure. I sprinkled some catnip in it, so we’ll see. It turned out a lot smaller than I thought it would (and I added at least 20 extra rows). She likes to sit in small spaces, so I hope she takes to it. She’s sitting ON it right now, not quite IN it.

    4. Unicornucopia*

      I’m still very beginner but I just finished my first hat! I’m starting on my second one now, it’s nice to have occupied hands during zoom meeting and things. Neither look amazing but they’re just going to family members who won’t really care too much about that. I don’t think I really have the patience yet for a long term project but I’m excited to work my way up eventually.

      1. Lifelong student*

        A simple piece of single crochet. Using cotton yarn, I did about 20 chains, sc back, 3 sc in the end, sc the other side of the chain. Sew on buttons at the ends and you have a piece that can be used to hold the ear loops of your mask. Or- a headband- again sc in rows to the right length, sew on buttons- to hold the ear loops. There are several patterns on YouTube

    5. BabyCarrot*

      A former colleague reached out to see if I could make 16 tulle dish scrubbers for her to give out as christmas presents. Ordered the material I needed and I’m starting on them this week end. Other former colleague in the discussion also wanted some, as well as my child’s educator at school who received one last year and loved it. I’m happy that people appreciate what I make :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I saved more onion bags than I needed for my dahlia bulbs and I’m wondering about cutting them up to try and make scrubbies–what do you think? The one time I tried to cut tulle I couldn’t get it straight.

  31. Claire*

    Has anyone successfully dealt with a spider mite infestation on houseplants? I think I identified the plant that is the source of the mites (it has much more webbing on it than anything else) and have only seems clear signs of mites on 3 other plants (including my huge beautiful monstera!). I did a thorough spray with heavily diluted castille soap, was still seeing web appear three days later, and then did a thorough spinosad application last night. I have around 50 plants total scattered throughout the home so I’m trying to squash the spider mite population pretty thoroughly. I’ve read conflicting things online about what works – please let me know if you’ve defeated these things!

    1. Venus*

      “Mix 40 parts water with 1 part liquid soap (20 oz. spray bottle plus one tablespoon soap) Spray plant thoroughly and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse with spray of clear, room temperature water. Repeat three times over a 10-day period.”

      Do this is a bathtub or shower so you can spray well under the leaves too.

      1. Claire*

        Have you had that succeed? I think because I saw some new webbing the day after the first soap rinse, I wasn’t very convinced that it got all the adults.

        1. Reba*

          Usually with soap or other treatments (I favor Neem oil, you can buy it as concentrate or ready-to-spray) you do have to repeat the application several times. So don’t despair!

        2. another scientist*

          You get one generation, but the next one hatches soon after. You spray every few days to get the current generation before they can lay new eggs and until all eggs are hatched. So, one application won’t suffice, don’t give up!

    2. CoffeeforLife*

      I have cleared an infestation using Dawn and water in the spray bottle. I’ve also used rubbing alcohol but it can cause burning of delicate leaves.

    3. Girasol*

      Me too: soapy water. It disturbs the surface tension of the water in most insects so that they leak to death. But there’s a trick to it: you have to soak each insect thoroughly with it; it’s not a poison that will kill a dry bug that walks across a sprayed leaf tomorrow. So sometimes that means several sprayings to be sure to soak down every one.

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I had an infestation on my potted succulents…lost one mixed pot completely but saved all the others. In addition to thoroughly spraying you could also try wiping gently with a q-tip or cotton ball on the leaves and especially the joints where leaves and stems meet to get eggs/larvae off.

  32. Llellayena*

    How are you (are you) doing holiday present exchanging this year? I’m having a heck of a time figuring out what to get some people because I haven’t seen them at all this year and probably won’t see them for the physical exchange of presents. Some of these people would be fine with a “hey, it’s COVID, next year” but some will be disproportionately disappointed in not getting presents. I’m especially stuck for people I might have considered an “experience” present for (like parents) due to lack of space for stuff. It’s like my range of options was limited, and my knowledge of what would work for people is equally limited. So how are y’all dealing with this?

    1. Llellayena*

      Just a clarification so we don’t divert the thread: I’m fine with the “disproportionately disappointed” people still wanting presents. It’s a personality quirk that I’m willing to indulge to keep the friendships. But they’re also the ones I probably won’t see in person for gift exchange due to them being in high risk jobs.

    2. WellRed*

      I mostly just exchange with mom and aunt (stocking stuffers mainly). Haven’t seen my aunt so am a bit stuck but am currently visiting mom and getting ideas for fun and practical (vegetable peeler that works, new hand towels for bathroom cause hers smell mildewed), puzzle. None of us need or want anything but I can’t imagine not opening a few things in this trying year.

    3. WellRed*

      For an experience gift for your parents, gift cards to fave restaurant? Some sort of gift box (coffee? Fancy foods? Wine? Bar tending? Indoor movie night?)

      1. Llellayena*

        I’m leaning towards an Audible subscription. But they’re being super COVID careful so eating out is a no and their usual indulgences (theater) are also out. Most of the gift box things leave them with “stuff”.

        1. acmx*

          Although it’s still “stuff” what about the mystery game box up thread? They could play it and then discard the game or regift possibly.

          I think there are food boxes that don’t leave someone with leftover stuff. Like Harry and David pears.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I try to do experience presents and in the work holiday parties thread earlier this week, someone posted a link to AirBnB’s online experience options. For fifteen bucks, I got my husband the opportunity to spend an hour and a half on a video chat with a Sri Lankan biologist talking about leopards, which will be RIGHT up his alley and something that wouldn’t have crossed my mind as a possibility previously. :)

    5. Reba*

      I’m planning to give some people Air Bnb experiences! LOTS of providers doing classes, tours, and other things via video. Of course, if your people are not tech savvy and wouldn’t enjoy screen based entertainments, that’s not so hot. Just wanted to say that “experience gift” is not totally impossible.

      My mom just straight asked for a list, but did not return the favor, grr!

    6. Wool Princess*

      Last year I bought felted soaps for everybody I wasn’t sure about. Some people found it exciting, some not so much. It’s basically a bar of soap that has wool felted around the outside so you don’t have to use a washcloth or anything and it exfoliates your skin. The Felted Soap Lady on Etsy has them in all kinds of colors and scents.

    7. another scientist*

      We’re normally a pretty laid back bunch who don’t need any stuff. If we can get together, my mom gets show tickets, but if not then we get nothing.
      This year, I’m planning to order and ship directly to my far-away folks. Probably little gift boxes of socks from a sock company. You can always use socks and they are a little something to unpack.

    8. A313*

      I am stuck, too. I emailed my parent if they would like a subscription to a service that emails them a question a week and then compiles their answers into a book. It’s got more features than that simple explanation, but you get the idea. I would love if they would do it, but the answer will likely be no (which is why I am asking before springing the gift on them). I’m hoping I at least get “gift points” for a) thinking about their gift early and b) being interested in them personally, their experiences, thoughts, etc.

      1. Not Alison*

        Sounds like this is a book that is more for you than for them. They have to do all the work each week and you receive a nice book.
        I did this with my parents, but I was the one who asked the questions and took down their answers. It was an enjoyable way for us to spend time together.

        1. A313*

          I think my parent might like knowing the next generations will be able know him, in a way. Family stories always get modified with the retellings, and it can be nice to learn what the actual individual saw, felt, etc. But yes, I would love to be able to access something like this long after it’s not possible to ask in person.

          I have volunteered with the elderly, and they have all expressed a wish to record their lives for their descendants somehow. Unfortunately, at the point they were making this sentiment known to me, it was too late — they couldn’t work the tape recorder their families had given them, they couldn’t write because of arthritis. And though I didn’t tell them this, at least one of their families told me they didn’t really care about the result for themselves, they just thought it would occupy their elderly relative in a pleasant way.

    9. Not A Manager*

      What people expect in the way of gifts can differ so much, but for our family we usually do a baking project and then send a box to everyone. The past few years it’s been holiday cookies. We bake endless batches and freeze them, then wrap them all up and ship them. This requires a lot of time and freezer space.

      This year we’re not up to it, so we’re going to do some much simpler projects and send those. I believe we will do one or two kinds of marmalade (shockingly easy) and possibly some cellophane bags of homemade muesli. But you can do anything – homemade snack mixes, flavored roasted nuts, etc.

    10. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I am getting my parents an iPad so they can FaceTime with their grandkids and great grandkids. So it will be a great pandemic present. I usually go for experience type gifts for them (theatre tickets, etc.).

      I have no idea what to get anyone else though. And my mom is already hounding me for present ideas ( for myself and everyone else.). I am kind of hoping our governor closes all non essential stores so she can’t go shopping (she does not do online)

    11. allathian*

      I’m lucky, we decided a few years ago to stop exchanging presents between adults. We mostly bought books from wishlists for each other and candy. The number of presents my son’s getting is decreasing every year as well. He doesn’t really care about “stuff” and is one of the few kids I know who’s happy to get clothes as a present.

    12. All the cats 4 me*

      I have been thinking about subscription boxes for various people, altho I do find it hard to choose them. I have decided for my elderly mom, who lives 6 hours away from me, and needs absolutely nothing physical, to do a monthly delivery of some choice treats from a wonderful Italian grocery/lunch counter that she loves.

      I am thinking I will alternate sweet and savory between months so she can use up things like cheese between deliveries. Not really a practical option if she didn’t live in a big city though.

    13. Loopy*

      For experience presents I’ve been thinking of the Great Courses- they are available for a wide range of interests (not just strictly academic!), super covid compatible, and kind of an experience- just in the house instead of out on a campus. My dad adores them and I don’t have direct experience but they seem to be good quality from what he says. And they have reviews on each.

      1. Not A Manager*

        We love the Great Courses from the Teaching Company. We’ve been listening to them for years – mostly history and literature. They’re excellent.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Just be aware that they have one of those business models that expects you to buy everything on sale and has the non sale price set multiple times higher. Just wait until the course you want is on sale.

    14. TechWorker*

      My siblings and friend groups have switched to doing secret Santa. I’m just going to post things as not likely to see most in person.

    15. Observer*

      You’ve gotten some good suggestions. Another thing to think about is photo albums. For instance if you have some photos of a shared vacation, you could create an album that you would send them. Or you could create a slide show – it may not cost anything but it’s something that shows you thought about them and put some effort into.

      In a similar vein, for parents / grandparents – a photo frame the you could send pictures to. It’s nice, and while it takes up SOME space, it’s very little space in comparison to the payoff, for the right people.

      Also, music. Beyond subscriptions, just music that they can play. Depending on who it is, you can give either actual CDs or downloads.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I suspect everyone will be getting a book, possibly with a tote bag to carry it if my arts kid gets inspired to decorate.

  33. anon24*

    This week someone described me as having “the demeanor of a china doll and the heart of a dragon.”

    It got me thinking, what are the coolest ways someone has described you?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Three things come to mind that I’ve enjoyed.

      I have a framed placard in my office that my husband got me that says “She’s whiskey in a teacup.”

      Earlier this week, a friend commented to another friend about me that “[Red] takes ‘take no shit and suffer no fools’ to levels that are nothing short of impressive.”

      This one might not be cool to anyone but me, but in a discussion about conversational analysis recently, I explained how I have to process when other people randomly throw jokes into conversations, because it requires a lot of conscious effort, and so I was giving my husband examples of how that processing works depending on how well I know the person in question, and he was like “Geez, you really DO think like a Vulcan, don’t you.”

    2. WellRed*

      I was described by my former editor as a “little bit alternative” in my approach to writing and reporting.”
      Also, redheads Stevie Nicks.
      I took both as high praise.

    3. ThatGirl*

      “A little wry and ready to say something brilliant” – a friend of ours said this about me and I liked it so much I put it on my Twitter profile

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      A friend once described me to another friend as being “a port in a storm” which I quite liked.

    5. nep*

      A friend once said to me: ‘You are integrity.’
      I didn’t/don’t merit that, but it was really something to hear.

    6. Bluebell*

      Not necessarily cool, but amusing: many years ago someone described me as a “cheerful rock.” Then last year I was being thanked for something, and he used that phrase again.

    7. Helvetica*

      That is amazing!

      Notwithstanding anyone’s belief in astrology or lack thereof, whenever someone finds out my birthday is in November, they more often than not go “Oooh, of course.” Which could mean a number of things, both positive and negative but I don’t take it too seriously.

    8. Free Meerkats*

      I was once described as being “So laid back as if to be comatose.” At the time I had been working hard to just let things go, so it really struck a chord; I’ve sort of adopted that as a goal.

    9. DarthVelma*

      A former boss once told me I was “iconoclastic” followed up with “I mean that as a compliment”.

      I just about fell over laughing and still treasure that compliment.

    10. Generic Name*

      This was just after I got divorced and reverted to my original name. I chewed out one of the principals at my company (we’ve worked together for a long time, and he said something really boneheaded to me in private) he later told me that Generic Originalname has much bigger balls than Generic Marriedname. Lol

    11. Stephanie*

      At my lunch aide job, a coworker, whose child was a student at the school, told me her daughter said “Mom, Mrs. S. doesn’t play, does she?” I took it as a compliment. I was the one everyone sent the misbehaving kids to, or the one they threatened to bring into the conversation when there was drama. I still work at the same school, slightly different job, and the kids seem to know that I’m tough, but I’m also very much in their corner. I’ve had more than one come to me when they needed adult help with a sticky or difficult situation.

    12. Threeve*

      A few times, I’ve been told something like “omg, that’s the most Threeve thing I’ve ever heard you say.”

      It’s not precisely flattering (because most likely it’s because I’ve said something weird or sarcastic or overly-opinionated) but there’s still something great about having someone recognize and appreciate you at what they think is your most authentic.

    13. RagingADHD*

      I have a card from when my firstborn was still learning to write her letters, that says “You are lovey as a sailboat.”

      Im pretty sure she meant lovely, but either way I’ll take it.

    14. Not Australian*

      Someone once said I had ‘creamy shoulders’, which is not a thing I would ever have thought about myself!

    15. Just a PM*

      Former coworkers used to tell me (and other people!) that my brain was an air traffic controller map/board. Just by how I could multitask and stay on top of so many different things.

    16. Pink Dahlia*

      In college my comp class did a writing exercise where we listed a compliment about everyone else, and the professor compiled them and handed them out anonymously. Someone called me a “beautiful wounded wild creature” and 25 years later I still want to know who and why. I was enchanted and intrigued by the poetry of it, but also a bit dismayed to be seen as fragile, since that was definitely not my MO.

      1. Katniss Evergreen*

        I don’t know that “wounded” being part of that description necessarily translates to “fragile.” No idea if any of these people knew you well at all, so it’s hard to gauge, but fragile isn’t the first thing I think of when I hear that. Could be that the writer was aiming for resilient, evolving.. something in that neighborhood?

        Cool description!

    17. The New Wanderer*

      Part of my mid year review feedback involved quotes from people I’ve worked with (who were verifying my stated contributions and asked to provide comments) – one person called me “fearless” and I think that’s my favorite compliment ever. Definitely only true from a work point of view though, I’m a true worrier in my personal life!

    18. Sarahkay*

      Not entirely complimentary, but I found it funny (and, let’s be honest, accurate): “SarahKay doesn’t bear grudges – she has a whole team of Sherpas to do that for her”.
      In my defence, said grudges are rarely about individuals in my personal life, they’re mostly related to particularly bad service from a shop or financial institution, or untrustworthy public figures.

    19. Katniss Evergreen*

      Not really a description, but my last manager told me that he appreciated how I “always fight to fix things when something is wrong.” It was nice and true, because lack of accountability bothers me – I knew he meant advocating for the people we were onboarding to our division when various errors occurred. These sort of run the gamut of HR problems, the badging office trying to delay someone’s start date because of a timing issue they caused, fixing work behind some of the admin staff who did an incomplete job of starting interns’ payroll or health insurance records, or making sure our immigration details were correct for our international people.

    20. Maxie's Mommy*

      Got called a Russell—brains of Bertrand Russell, looks of Lillian Russell, determination of a Jack Russell.

    21. aarti*

      One of my former students called me “a literal Disney princess but you know…badass too”. Still love it

  34. Blue wall*

    Looking for some low-bar fun craft ideas for myself. I’d love to have something crafty to do in the evenings after a full day of school, rather than just read.

    I have watercolor paints (took a few classes last year) but I don’t pull them out bc of the set up- the space I have is in my small bedroom, which is also my yoga studio, sleeping zone, dressing zone, school zone… I have embroidery kits but didn’t get too into it when last I started bc I got hung up on the French knot. (Maybe what I need is a good resource for learning stitches?) I have coloring books and those are helpful for me during some lectures. I also make greeting cards for friends, but I’d like something that is more tactical. Thanks!

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      I played around with making doilies for a while. I liked how easy it was to pick up and put down. But maybe not great if you don’t like knots lol.
      Youtube is awesome for teaching them.