weekend open thread – January 23-24, 2021

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: I Suck at Girls, by Justin Halpern. A very funny book of essays about the author’s dating life from boyhood on, entwined throughout with highly amusing advice from his dad on all aspects of life. (You may know the dad from the author’s viral Twitter account, Shit My Dad Says.)

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

{ 1,094 comments… read them below }

    1. Aphrodite*

      Indeed! That’s.a fantastic setup, Alison. I like the way you used several condos combined to create one master building. Do they share as easily as it looks like they do here? Is it it in your living room? Does it take up a lot of room?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Periodically, it goes up temporarily. My husband is obsessed with building the cats different structures each time he makes one. Then he lights them with Hue lights. The cats love it.

        1. Aphrodite*

          If he ever wants some side income, let me mow. I would love to have a kitty condo but I have ideas about what I want like a wider than usual one at the bottom so the cats have different levels with easy steps to allow them to get up. They are senior cats and can’t jump. I see a kind of back-and forth thing with easy stairs and luxurious lounging spots that have short sides so they can’t fall off while sleeping. I cannot tell you how many I have looked at trying to find high but not steep ones best suited for disabled or older cats–and there is nothing out there.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            You might like what a friend of a friend did with deep Ivar shelving from IKEA. They cut holes in the shelving and attached ramps to each hole from the lower level. Very little customization needed for the basics, and nice & square to add sides & traction if your cats need it.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It’s impressive, but of course it’s *very* small compared to a normal city.

      In fact, I would call it…

      …an itty bitty kitty city!

      Seriously though, I am impressed….and I’m developing a strong desire to try to build a cat condo city!

  1. Come On Eileen*

    I just finished reading The House in the Cerulean Sea and adored every single minute of it. It was enchanting and heartwarming and just made me feel good. Can anyone recommend something in a similar vein? Need my next great book.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Try The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison – the plot is very different, but it gives me the same sort of heartwarming, hopeful vibe.

      The Wayfarer’s Series by Becky Chambers – scifi, very strong on the character end of things, with smaller scale plots (ie, individual people’s lives and their interactions), and a great setting. A new books is coming out in a few weeks.

      Some of T Kingfisher’s fantasy books are great fun/comfort reads. Try The Clocktaur Wars (two book set), Swordheart and Paladin’s Grace, all of which are in the same world. Snappy dialogue, decent people doing their best in difficult circumstances, some romance, and very entertaining plots. (She also writes creepy horror and YA fairytale retellings).

      1. booklovinmama*

        I second T Kingfisher! A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking was just what I needed-smart girl meets challenge head on with magical twists. Extremely well written. I read well over 100 books in 2020 and this is in my top 5.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I happened upon that one and really enjoyed it.
          The angry sourdough starter was hilarious.

      2. GoryDetails*

        T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) is awesome! Jackalope Wives was among my favorite reads last year, and I have Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking in my queue. [I’m also enjoying her juvenile series “Dragonbreath”; written for kids but very entertaining for adults as well.]

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          I gave my kid “Digger” for Christmas, Ursula’s Hugo-winning graphic novel. He ran through it in a weekend. It was first published as a web-comic, which is still up, if people want an introduction to her style.

      3. ShrunkenHippo*

        I’m here to second that The Goblin Emperor is an amazing book and definitely gives the same vibes. I’m so glad that someone else knows about it, I feel like it’s such an underrated book.

      4. Autumn*

        Another vote for The Goblin Emperor. If you like audiobooks, the reader is fantastic. I have listened to it more than once and found a lot of comfort and support in the main character’s development.

    2. Lady Heather*

      I’m enjoying the Earthsea series right now. Dominic Noble has a review about it on Youtube if you want a taste. (I like watching his videos regardless of whether I’ve read the book, and this one, I stopped watching after a few minutes and ordered the book!)

    3. GoryDetails*

      How about WAR OF THE OAKS by Emma Bull? Rocker-chick meets pooka and gets caught up in a war between factions of faerie, with humor and magic and friendship and music.

    4. Daune*

      I also just finished it too. I had a hard time in the beginning but the book really grew on me and now I’m eagerly waiting for the next book. Have you read A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamilton? Its a great read.

  2. Double A*

    Happy weekend everyone! My husband and I are expecting our second baby in May. Our daughter will be about two and a half when he’s born.

    Any advice, tips, suggestions for a second baby? What surprised you or did you wish you knew? What should we do to prepare? This can include ideas for preparing our daughter who currently doesn’t really understand when I tell her about it. We’ve done basically nothing to prepare (other than prenatal care of course) because there’s still plenty of time and we have pretty much everything we needed besides diapers and a few odds and ends.

    As a bonus I’d also love to hear anyone’s experience having a baby during the pandemic. Hopefully things will be somewhat improved by May but I’m definitely not expecting things to be back to normal.

    1. Jessie*

      What surprised me was that my three year old son was acting very happy and excited about the baby but we got a call from the nursery six weeks later saying that he is extremely jealous and was acting out by hitting. So, even if your kids acts ok, proceed with caution. You never know what is going on in their little head.
      The other issue is that babies are different. We all know that. But you will find yourself comparing your second kid to your first kid and sometimes freaking out. I kept thinking, but my son didn’t eat like that. But my son was more alert. Don’t do that. They are little humans and it’s normal to be different. It doesn’t mean there is a problem.

      1. fposte*

        And the older sib can be genuinely happy sometimes and genuinely jealous others! Just like parents, they can have changing feelings.

        1. Double A*

          A podcast I listen to was talking about it like, “Imagine if your spouse was like, ‘I love you so much that I went out and got another one!'” Kids may find this logic no more convincing than your spouse would.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Be prepared to suddenly find that your daughter is a huge overgrown animal compared to the tiny baby when he arrives!
      You can practise doing stuff with one hand, like setting up a colouring activity, while breastfeeding with the other. I used a doll in a sling for a bit.
      “Spoil” your daughter rotten. Let her have sweets she hasn’t been allowed to have up to now, give her a new toy “from the baby” – not a doll because you don’t want to force playing mummy and baby on her, unless she asks for it. My partner just took our son to the toy shop and told him to choose what he wanted. We let him watch the Lion King almost non-stop for the first few days – it helped that there’s a strong father-son connection in the story and he was definitely looked after more by daddy while I was breastfeeding.
      Expect things to fall apart now and then and don’t be too hard on yourself. Let the housework go – no child has ever reproached their mother for not keeping the house clean enough!
      You might want to make double portions of all meals in the run-up to the birth. You can freeze the leftovers for a quick re-heated meal on those days when you can’t even find time to clear the breakfast things.
      Good luck !

      1. em*

        The first time I picked up my 3yo after only holding the newborn in the hospital for a couple days I was like this child is the heaviest, most solid thing in existence omg

      2. Double A*

        I have been holding back on most Disney movies but definitely plan to open the floodgates as needed when the baby comes. I figure that’s when we’ll finally break the Frozen seal.

        1. Parenthetically*

          If you have Disney Plus, let me throw in a rec for Bluey for a thousand reasons but mainly for the episodes being 6 minutes long, thus perfect for a quick distraction while you change a diaper or do other quick things. (But also, Bluey is truly the best kids’ show out there right now, no competition.)

    3. Perpetua*

      Congratulations! I don’t have two kids yet, just an 11-month-old baby, but from what I’ve read about other people’s experience/advice – plan to focus on the older kid more than the baby in the first weeks/months, as much as possible. Most parents plan the other way around, thinking that the baby will need them more, and of course tiny babies need us as well (and need us a lot!), but in the beginning they (hopefully) sleep more, eat and have fairly little time awake, whereas your bigger kid can already form somewhat conscious memories, communicate, etc. So if you can manage to get some quality time alone with her every day or most days (even 10 minutes!), that should help with the transition.

      Also, babywearing! I don’t know if you did it with your first kid or not, but I can’t imagine my parenting life without it, even with just one kid. There are many baby carriers, not all of them equally comfortable or recommended, so I’d recommend researching it a bit. It might seem overwhelming at times, but it definitely doesn’t have to be! I’m a huge fan of woven wraps for their versatility and comfort, and if you can get over the steep-to-some learning curve, they can be really great, but there are other options as well. I’ll stop here as I’m not sure if this is something you’re even interested in, but if you are and would like more info, let me know.

      Good luck and a boring rest of the pregnancy to you!

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Baby wearing FTW. I’m one and done, but I have friends that absolutely swore by ring slings for the second newborn. No tying or fiddling, just pop the baby in and you’re good to go. Useful when you’ve got an impatient or grumpy toddler as well.

      2. Double A*

        We did some baby wearing with #1 but definitely plan to up my game with #2. I have a moby and I think I’ll make more use of it. My husband prefers the more structured front packs, which I also like for actual walking around vs. lounging, so we’ll pick up one of those since our much-handed-down one from the first baby bit the dust.

    4. PostalMixup*

      My daughter was almost four when her brother was born, and I recognize that’s developmentally very different. But one thing that was very helpful for us was the “big sister bag” that my MIL put together for when we were busy with the baby. It was full of books and coloring supplies and stickers and other solo play items that she could occupy herself with for a few minutes. If she wanted us to play when we couldn’t, we’d just say, please get your big sister bag and we’ll play when we’ve finished this diaper change. It worked more often than not!

      1. Alex*

        Second this! I am not a parent but I was a nanny for a family for a while, including during the time when their second child was born. I did something very similar to this and it worked like a charm. For us it was a special “big girl” toy that we made a big deal about being just for her, and that the baby was too little to play with it. We kept it on a high shelf and it only came out when I needed to attend to the baby for a bit. Also, the big sister was more the age of the OP’s kid and it still worked well.

    5. bunniferous*

      It’s as big a transition going from one to two as it is going from no children to one. You have to juggle the needs of two, which can be a challenge when both require your attention at the same time!

      1. Clisby*

        Yep! I’m the eldest of 6 children. My mother said the 2nd meant twice as much work, but the third wasn’t even a third more work, and by the time she got down to #6 she barely noticed any extra work (probably because at least the 3 oldest of us could do a lot to help with a baby.)

    6. D3*

      It may go very, very smoothly at first. This is because you put thought/effort into making sure the oldest doesn’t feel forgotten.
      But then. The tiredness sets in and the shiny “big sibling” toy has lost it’s shine and it gets harder.
      And then. Baby gets mobile and invades big siblings stuff. And all hell breaks loose.

      So my advice is, don’t get complacent. Don’t start with compensating big sibling at a level you cannot keep up with. And try to see this change from the sibling perspective. Don’t negate the things that are hard for toddlers. Teach your child to share AND teach your child they can have things all to themselves sometimes. Help them understand when to do which. Don’t give baby a tiny lego or barbie shoe. They could choke. If you want, let baby hug your stuffed animal instead, etc.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Congratulations! We have a three-year-old and a baby. In addition to focusing on the fun things our three-year-old can do that the baby can’t, we ask our big kid for help with the baby (and of course praise him accordingly) – can you please bring me a diaper/wipe/bottle/book/stuffed animal, etc.

        Re: things going smoothly and then all hell breaking loose…we’re just getting over a sleep regression with our older child. He was waking up and coming into our bedroom at least twice a night. No one in our home slept a full night for over six months. Other parents will tell you their kids regress with potty training, ask to drink from a bottle, etc. It may take different forms, but just keep in mind this is normal and will pass, and remember to give your big kid some special one-on-one time, which is even more important than treats and toys – and hang in there!

        Lastly, about the pandemic: Our baby was born in the early months of the pandemic, about three weeks after my husband tested positive for Covid. It was especially stressful finding someone to watch our older child while I was in the hospital. Hopefully by the time you deliver, all your healthcare providers will be vaccinated (maybe even you and your husband will be, too). Now that we know so much more about this terrible virus and how to protect ourselves, I think the best advice I have is to just take all the necessary precautions you can, run anything you’re not sure about by a trusted physician, and hope for the best. Congrats again!

        1. Double A*

          Thank you! That sounds really stressful to have to give birth when this was LL so new; it’s not ideal to do it during the pandemic at all, but I do feel like more than a year into we know a lot more. And all the providers that are willing to be should be vaccinated by then.

          Fortunately my parents will be able to watch my daughter for the birth. I’m hoping my parents will be vaccinated by late May since they’re 68 and 71. I don’t think I will be–I am definitely planning to, but we just don’t have the info about vaccination and pregnancy at this point, and I feel like the time my number is called is unlikely to be much before my due date so I would rather just wait at that point.

    7. em*

      My first kid was 3 when the second was born and my go-to strategy for kid milestones and concepts is always books. There are TONS of big sibling/new baby board books which are all probably about the same. A good picture book about sibling worries/jealousy is “Ruby’s Baby Brother” by Kathryn White.

      “Ready, Set… Baby!” by Elizabeth Rusch was a GREAT kids’ book that focuses on how pregnancy and baby affect a bigger kid’s life – it’s good for explaining and having conversations even if a lot of it goes over your kiddo’s head. It has a lot of info but not detailed in a sex ed way – more like “mommy has a special space for growing a baby in her tummy” and “we were excited to play with the baby but all he does is cry and poop!” type stuff.

      1. Double A*

        Definitely am planning to get some books! She learns a lot of concept from books. I haven’t yet because 6 months is a long time for a little kid; I figure we’ll start hitting the books hard about 3 months out. Thanks for the titles!

    8. ADHDAnon*

      One of the random things I was told that I really felt worked well is to always explain no’s in terms of fact, not because of the baby. I.e ‘we’re leaving the park now’, and when asked why, say ‘because we are’. Even if you’re leaving because it’s time for the baby’s nap. Prevents a lot of inter sibling resentment.

    9. Quiet Liberal*

      It seemed to me like the second time around everything was easier for me. I was an older first time mom and I was so anxious I would do everything wrong. The second baby was way easier for me because I wasn’t so worried about every little thing. It’s been many years, but I honestly don’t remember our 3.5-year-older son being jealous of his little brother. Maybe time has dulled the bad memories! ;) One thing I made a point of with the second was to take some time to really enjoy the moment when we’d be nursing in the middle of the night. I was so worried about doing it “right” with the first kid, I forgot to drink in his sweetness. Congratulations on the impending arrival!

      1. Double A*

        I’m 37 so definitely in this boat! My attitude is definitely that we’ll figure it out as we go hence the total lack of planning. I’m actually most worried about sleep, because it was hard the first time and we are even older now.

    10. oatmeal pies*

      Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has a couple of episodes about bringing Baby Margaret into the family, and these were a huge part of what made our transition from one child to two relatively painless. Those catchy little jingles are quick to toss out – “there’s time for you and baby too!”

      (never predicted my first AAM comment would be about Daniel Tiger)

    11. Bumpjumper*

      My oldest was 2.5 when my second came along—it’s the nicest age gap. We started telling this story together: Once upon a time, there was a family. Mama, Daddy, and (oldest kid’s name). They were very happy. One day, Mama’s tummy started to grow. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, POP! And then (baby 2’s name ) came out! Baby 2 was very little and tiny. Sometimes she was happy and sometimes she was sad. Did she drink from a cup? NO! She drank from mamas milks! And Oldest kid was now a big sister! And she got to help hold baby 2 and they were a happy family!

      We repeated it over and over. We also had a great picture book, called “Happy Birth Day” by Robie H. Harris. It has beautiful illustrations with a tired looking mother and a newborn that is all wrinkly and actually looks like a real newborn. There is a beautiful illustration of a nursing mother, we used it to explain that I wouldn’t always be able to get down on the floor to play with my oldest if the baby needed to eat. Highly highly recommended. We just told the story with our own family’s names, and my daughter didn’t seem to notice that the big sister in the book didn’t look anything like her:) My kids are now 14 and 12, and they have 10 and 8 year old siblings. Good luck! You’re going to do great!!

    12. gsa*

      Apparently, before my brother was born, my mother caught me tossing my Snoopy stuffed animal down the stairs, repeatedly. She asked what I was doing. I said oh, this is my new baby brother.

      She asked me I thought that hurt him. I said oh no, he likes it…

      Good luck with your second!!!

    13. lobsterp0t*

      My tip as an older sibling is to remember that your first is older than your second, but also still very young! My parents had my brother when I was almost four and I remember (in addition to my family having quite exactingly high expectations of four year olds anyway) feeling like I was suddenly expected to know better in a lot of situations where I actually still needed quite a bit of help, especially emotionally. Because I was still a little kid with underdeveloped self control and emotional regulation!

      Hope baby comes out fully cooked and bouncing, and you all stay safe!

    14. Elsie S. Duble-Yoo*

      Congrats! My oldest was almost exactly 2 when baby sister was born. We really played up all the cool stuff 2 year olds get to do that boring little babies can’t (using “big kid” cups, using the potty, bringing things to mama, etc.) and what a great big sister she is whenever she would interact well with baby. Our girl loves the spotlight so the complements were helpful lol. I delayed moving her to a toddler bed b/c I was worried about issues with her wandering into baby’s room at night (luckily she loved the crib so it wasn’t an issue).

      Embrace Disney movies, give her jobs to do if she likes to feel helpful and just hang on for the ride! :)

    15. KoiFeeder*

      Apparently my older sibling asked my mom to take me back to the hospital multiple times.

      On the other hand, I also bit him a lot as soon as I got teeth, so…

    16. Wilde*

      Congratulations! I’ve got a 7 week old and a 17 month old and have just begun navigating this new chapter. Obviously our age gap is a bit different but hopefully our experience can be helpful for you.

      What has worked for us
      – introducing #1 to other babies before #2 arrived and explaining that soon Mama was going to bring a baby home for our family
      – using language like “our baby” “your sister” and “babies name” rather than “the baby” to give #1 some ownership of #2
      – my husband was able to be at home for five weeks (COVID meant he didn’t take much PTO last year and here in NZ we have four public holidays over the Christmas/NY period). This gave#1 plenty of time to adjust to having #2 around without competing for either parents’ attention
      – introducing #1 & #2 first thing in the morning when #1 is in their best mood of the day
      – baby wearing! #2 spends a lot of her day in a wrap so I can be hands free
      – We “inbox zero” tidy our house at the end of the day so we start afresh in the morning but I don’t try to maintain any level of tidiness throughout the day. The exception to this is the kitchen, which I keep clean enough to prepare meals. Clean enough means dishes rinsed for the dishwasher and some empty bench space.
      – I do all my laundry overnight so I can hang it out in the morning before my husband leaves for work
      – I get up with my husband in the morning so I can shower and eat breakfast while he sorts the kids.
      – monitor your own mental health, and know what you need to maintain it. For me right now, that’s a shower, clean clothes, 5-10 minutes of yoga a day, a walk in the afternoon, a couple of social visits a week & sleep. If I didn’t get a nap in during the day, I’m asleep by 8:30 at night to compensate for night feeds.
      – prep freezer meals that your toddler will eat

      I don’t have any COVID advice sorry but if you can find some other expectant mums due at the same time, my antenatal text group has been so supportive during those night feeds.

      One resource I have found to be amazing is Karrie Locher. She’s a post partum RN on Instagram who also has virtual antenatal and baby classes which look like they have incredibly practical and helpful content. Had our age gap been bigger I would have purchased it.

      Something I found surprising was how different my two labour & birth experiences were! Contractions were so different the second time around I wasn’t even sure they were contractions for around a quarter of my labour. Even though it hadn’t been long since my first birth, I still needed to put in a lot of mental preparation for birth. I was surprised by this but it paid off and my recovery this time has been much faster, both mentally and physically.

      Finally, enjoy the season! So many people have said to me how hard this will be, with the subtext of “hard equals bad”. But I am determined to enjoy it and have fun with my kids in it. It is hard (nappy changing a wriggling one year old while wearing a newborn is no fun) but I love these tiny humans so much and they’ll only be tiny for a short time.

      There’s a good chance this reply turned into a novel but I’m not sorry! This is my life right now and it’s nice to be able to share it with strangers on the internet.

    17. Double A*

      Thanks everyone for all the replies I’m reading them all if not responding to each individually! Overall I’m feeling pretty good about #2 and our somewhat “we’ll figure it out as well go” approach.

    18. OnceAMotherAlwaysAMother*

      Not that people can visit right now, but if you are doing zoom calls and she is present, make sure to ask friends and family to direct comments about your kids to chat her up first. So, congratulations on being a big sister, my have you grown, etc etc, and then ask about the baby. A friend lent me this monster non-portable old playpen, this was back in the day. I wasn’t going to put my newborn in it, but I set it up in the living room. When her little sister started crawling, my oldest daughter would go in their with small toys that were not safe for the baby to have, legos, polly pockets. It was like her fort when she wanted to play with small things I didn’t want to worry about her sister getting into to (big sister was three at the time, and crawling sister was 6 months). She was still with me in the same room, and felt like she had her own little space. Also, asking for help with the baby, and praising her. When I was cooking, I would put the baby in her baby seat, and ask her to get her animals from the bucket and teach her sister what they are, and what sounds they make, because she didn’t know. So was so proud, to get all the animals out one by one, and say the name, the sound they made and line them all up. Dinosaurs, cars, whatever she wanted. It was like her daily show and tell. Her baby sister would just stare at her and laugh. She took this role really seriously, and although she could read words very young, when her sister was born, all of sudden she started reading books. I think this was because she loved the attention it got her, and loved that this was something new she could do, and that she could read books to her sister, which she did all the time. I also read “how to talk so your kids will listen, and how to listen so your kids will talk”, this helped me see things from a kids perspective. I had read somewhere, at the beginning you can’t imagine life with two kids, and then after 3 months, you can’t imagine life without two kids. So give it time. Good luck.

  3. Laura*

    Sige. I have just discovered that I have clothes moths so yesterday I bought those ECOstyle moth traps and some acrylic boxes for my clothes after I have either washed or frozen them. In for a weeekend of cleaning, washing, and emptying my freezer. I read that it could spread through apartment buildings so I’ll probably have to go and warn my new downstairs neightbours, yay great first impression. The neighbour next to me is an office. Should they be warned? Should I tell the apartment building’s supervisor? Any other advice or tips?

    1. Laura*

      (That first word should have been “Sigh”. Stupid autocorect keeps changing or capitalizing random English words.)

    2. Derivative Poster*

      Ugh, I went through that a few years ago. My research at the time indicated moths could potentially survive a deep freeze and that heat (IIRC above 120 or 130 degrees Fahrenheit) was a safer bet. I live in a place with a hot climate part of the year so I figured the trunk of my car would get close to that temperature. Dry cleaning is another option.

      I’d probably err on the side of caution and tell the office. They might have wool furnishings, or maybe someone will reconsider keeping an extra sweater at their desk.

      1. Laura*

        130 degrees?! That is a lot for woolen clothes! I usually only wash clothes at 86 F/30 C, had intended to up it to 104 F/40 C and freeze what I didn’t want so warm.
        I am in Denmark so a warm trunk is not possible at this time of year. But a good idea for warmer climates.
        You are probably right about this office. I will tell them monday.

        1. Laura*

          *wash and then freeze the clothes when they are dry, and just freeze the clothes I did not wash in hot water.

          Thanks for your advice!

      2. Pucci*

        Bagging the clothes and sticking them in a hot car for a day or so is a great way get rid of moths. Doesn’t work in the winter :/

    3. NRG*

      You can also bake items in the oven if you have one with a low enough setting. I’ve done this with thrifted wool items.
      Also, my infestation turned out to originate in the cat tower, as apparently moths find shed cat hair delicious. I was considering just adopting an all-polyester lifestyle until I found the center of the invasion. Cleaning that up cut their population down a lot.

      As for the acrylic boxes – they need to be air tight. Moth larvae are tiny and can crawl pretty far.

      1. Laura*

        Thanks for the baking idea.
        I have no cats so at least that is ruled out.
        The boxes have lids that hatch on so I hope that should do it.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Painful subject for me, I have been fighting them three years and many emotionally distressing losses. I’ve given up on traps and freezer treatment and gone to mothballs. I have a few vintage travel chests and they do a surprisingly good job keeping the odor in.
      Other things that reduced but didn’t eliminate: switched to acrylic rugs, got aggressive about moving furniture to vaccuum underneath, cleaned the baseboard heating flanges which catch everything fluffy. Cleaned the tops of kitchen cabinets and inside ceiling lamp fixtures.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          One other thing I read recently –someone claimed that wiping surfaces with vinegar can keep eggs from hatching. I don’t know if it’s true, but I figure it can’t hurt.
          I’m pretty sure the reason we had so much trouble getting rid of them is that they had a snack available — the former owners raised raised dogs, and we’re still finding tufts of fur in hidden places. Logical to me: the underside of those baseboard heating units, in gaps at the edges between flooring & the rough stone fireplace, underneath an armoire that came with the house. Surprising: on high ledges & beams, in a light fixture, and even inside the basement’s drop ceilings! I must admit we’re kind of lazy housekeepers…but we’re much more careful now than when the moths hit.

    5. Laura*

      So far nothing have been caught in the traps but the instructions say to wash at at least 55 C / 131 F or freeze 2-3 days at -18 C / -0,4 F so that is the game plan so far whilst deep cleaning wardrobes and drawers.

    6. Ranon*

      Dryers get hot enough that you can put dry clothes in the dryer to “bake” them which can work well on non spandex stuff- dry wool won’t shrink when heated

      1. fposte*

        Yup. Seconding this. I had a little bit of felting from one scarf and had to take a slicker brush to my sheepskin throw, but otherwise the dry wool and cashmere survived the dryer just fine. It’s putting them in there wet that will doom you.

        BTW, I don’t know if you have these in Denmark, Laura, but my infestation was not moths but carpet beetles. Since they’re not easy to see the damage gets mistaken for moths a lot, but I actually captured a specimen which immediately convinced the initially skeptical pest control guy. If you’re seeing holes but no moths in pheromone traps or elsewhere, consider it might be a non-moth chewer.

    7. Not A Manager*

      We just found moths, and I spoke to an exterminator last week. Here’s what he told me. I don’t know if it works because we just did it and I hope they don’t come back.

      He said to look for the egg sacs. They are threads about 1/2″ long hanging from the walls or under the furniture. They are whitish with a bit of a metallic hue. Get all of those off. Wash or clean all the natural fibers. Then deep clean the room, again looking for those egg sacs, and finally spray all the surfaces with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and laundry detergent. He did not tell me the ratio so I just filled a spray bottle with alcohol and added a few tablespoons of detergent.

      Be sure that all of the surfaces are dry before you put stuff back, and that you don’t store damp textiles anywhere. Moths like damp stuff.

      He did not tell me this, but I did some internet research and I also added a bit of cedar essential oil, which is supposed to repel the moths.

      Unless your entire home is infested, I would not assume that they have spread to your neighbors. If the moths are mostly in one place and you’re not finding egg sacs anywhere else, I don’t think you need to warn the whole building.

    8. Generic Name*

      Oh no! My parent’s mountain cabin has an infestation and they want me to troubleshoot how to fix it. (Yeah) Does anyone know how to tell where it’s coming from?

      1. NRG*

        Fortunately(?) moths will just stick mostly in a small area if they have a good food source. You just have to search. The traps can help with that. Just make sure you have the right kind of traps – they usually work with pheromones, and there a 2 species of clothes moths.

    9. Otter Dance*

      Seconding the suggestion to bake things. Keep an eye out for plastic fastenings, though. I’d take anything with a plastic/nylon zipper to the dry cleaners, myself, but buttons are easily removed and redeem afterwards.
      Really big ZipLocks are better than acrylic boxes, because they seal better. Also, they’re generally cheaper. Lavender is a good moth repellent, as is cedar. I have lavender sachets in with all my knitwear, and cedar as well as the pheromone traps in the closet with my wool suits. You can buy lavender in bulk online, and I sew well enough to make a bunch of little cotton packets; I like to think I saved money that way.
      Tell the building office, and let them warn other tenants. For all you know, yours came from the neighbors. (I’m certainly not the one who introduced mice into my building – though my cats enjoyed them while they lasted.) The management might be able to step up the regular pest control treatments to address moths, too, if they know about the issue.

    10. BuildMeUp*

      Oh no! I’m not sure what kind of traps you’re using, but I’ve had good luck in the past with the Mottenfalle brand.

      One thing to know with the traps (which you may already be aware of) is that most of them work by putting out a pheromone that attracts only one gender of moths. So you may still see moths for a while after using the traps, but they should stop being able to reproduce.

  4. nnn*

    Today I learned toilet seats can break!

    So I have to buy a replacement toilet seat, and there are more options than I expected!

    So does anyone have any thoughts about:

    1. Characteristics that make a toilet seat comfortable or uncomfortable (that can be determined through online shopping, because pandemic)?
    2. Characteristics that make a toilet seat durable or not durable?
    3. Things you wish you’d known before buying a toilet seat?

    1. Laura*

      Wooden ones are suprisingly warm (or at least not cold-ish) and are nice to sit on and look at, in my opinion. Though I don’t know about cleaning them.

      1. RagingADHD*

        They get very nasty, very fast. Theyll go along okay for a while, and then when the finish/texture starts to change, it becomes impossible to clean.

        Porous substance + toilet = nope.

        1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          Mmmm hmmmm! Plus the timber colour means you don’t always see if there’s spots that need more of a clean. Hard no.

        2. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, once the wood ones get nasty, it’s just awful. I replaced it with a plastic seat, but that has its own issues – easy to clean so far, but if you sit on the lid, you quickly realize that’s a bad idea.

      2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        Failure mode of our wooden one is where the screws go into the wood, they’ve gradually come loose over time, because it’s softwood and literally a bit too soft to hold the screw thread solidly. Not actually come apart yet, but at some point it’ll want the holes filled & re-drilled. The metal hinges themselves are lasting well so far. That was from IKEA if I remember correctly.

        I’ve also seen a wooden one which eventually warped so 2 of the pieces separated.

        I’d still consider buying a wooden one, but I realise now that to get one that’ll last indefinitely, you probably have to pay a bit more than we did!

        I’ve also encountered various plastic ones where it was the fittings which broke. You could still sit on it but it would slide around.

        One thing to be aware of when buying is to match (at least roughly) the shape of the ceramic pan. Some are more oval, some more egg-shaped, etc. Otherwise it’s going to look a bit odd, or potentially not even line up its rubber feet properly with the edge. Online you might be able to find a diagram with the dimensions. (When I went to the shop, I cut the outline of the pan from a bit of cardboard, to be able to compare.)

      3. GoryDetails*

        Mine’s wooden, with a nice tough paint coating that’s held up well over a couple of decades.

    2. Have a seat*

      I’m a fan of the open front (U-shaped) seat!
      They’re said to be more hygienic, perhaps because the less hand/arm contact with the seat the better?

      1. Chaordic One*

        I’ve only ever seen open front (U-shaped) seats in men’s rooms and have always thought of them as being “men’s toilet seats”. I figured that if the men were too lazy to put the seat up, then there was less seat for them to dribble on if their aim was off. LOL

    3. Ah, the important questions*

      I had the same issue and was bewildered by all the choices. Turns out reading reviews of different types of toilet seats on Amazon can help you sort out features you want or don’t want. For example, one seat I was going to buy, people complained the “hole” in it was too small. Others complained that those with a lip at the back are uncomfortable. Etc. (I haven’t bought one yet so not recommending anything in particular here, just where I did research.)

    4. RagingADHD*

      Cheaper ones have plastic or thinner metal connectors. Get good sturdy bolts, or the seat will slide around whenever you move.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        +1 to this! We “splurged” for the $30ish soft closing ones because I was tired of crashing sounds. (We keep the lids down all the time because of dumb cats).

      2. Not So NewReader*

        So I had a big lesson on soft closing seats.
        I needed a new seat and bought the only one the tiny store had.
        I brought it home and installed it, thinking nothing further of it.

        My friend who is a contractor/builder, borrowed my bathroom one day and came out of the room laughing.
        “You have one of those soft close seats!” I asked what was up with that. He went on to explain that some people are careless about putting the seat down. Repeated dropping, can cause the bowl to break. Households with young boys are most apt to want these seats so they do not keep buying new toilets.

        I ended up really liking this for a low tech thing it works well and I like the fact that it lands quietly. I also like the fact that I may be helping the bowl to last a bit longer.

    5. L6orac6*

      Our toilet seat got a split in the front of it courtesy of the light shade that fell down on, apparently they can get lose in their fittings.

    6. Michelle*

      One thing to keep in mind is that different toilet shapes require different styled seats. They aren’t one-size fits all. Either check measurements/styles well, or carry your old toilet seat with you. We ended up just dragging ours to Home Depot and holding up to the wall of seats until we found the few that would actually fit our shape of toilet.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep – my dad bought three replacements by eye only to find that they don’t fit any of his toilets. (But they fit mine, so now I have a stash of backup toilet seats, because dads do dad things.)

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        LOL, no GOL (guffaw…) at the idea of hauling our needs-t0-be-replaced toilet seat to Home Depot. Especially as our home has only 1 bathroom.
        On the other hand, Home Depot has probably seen it all already.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Trace it onto paper or a cardboard box and take that instead?

          I’m pretty sure Home Depot has people show up with broken toilet seats on a weekly if not daily basis.

          1. Michelle*

            This is a great idea! It was less trouble for us to just grab the old one and go, but for people with only one toilet, this would be helpful.

    7. Lcsa99*

      I hate when that happens. You get goofed every time you sit down!

      When ours broke I did a little research on durability and read that the more supports it has (the little nubs on the underside) the longer it can last. They distribute the weight so if there are fewer, it stresses the material.

    8. Tris Prior*

      We broke 2 since the pandemic started – I swear we are not abusing our toilet! Though, with both of us WFH, obviously it is getting way more use than it ever did.

      Both times it was the hinge that snapped off, so this time we went with metal hinges. Fingers crossed. It does seem more durable in the hinge area.

    9. CoffeeforLife*

      I don’t know about comfort, but definitely get the kind that are easy on/off. You flip the back caps up and then slide it off. That way you can throw the whole thing in the shower if necessary and clean the back of the toilet seat!

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        +1, I bought the easy off bolt ones plus soft close, worth every penny. So much easier to clean!

    10. Wishing You Well*

      1. I don’t like puffy/padded toilet seats and ones that have fabric or fur on them. Ick!
      2. No idea but you can assume cheaper is less durable.
      3. I wish I had known toilet seats come in different shapes and sizes and only one will fit a particular toilet. Sheesh.
      Measure your toilet (length and width) before buying a toilet seat. If you go to a store, remember your toilet brand and take a cardboard tracing of your toilet rim with you to assure the correct fit.
      Best of Luck!

    11. Elf*

      You don’t want a super-cheap seat because the bolts will be crap and wiggle loose all the time and you’ll find yourself sitting unexpectedly on no seat at all.

      This is the one I got and am happy with https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EPET9SQ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      It has proprietary locking bolts that are super easy to install and really work. You probably don’t want that specific seat (it has a special insert for little kids) (but if you are planning on kids at some point the inner seat magnetizes out of the way and it’s so nice) but anything by that brand will be reliable.

      My one regret is that I am now *really* wishing I’d gotten a bidet seat, so think about that before you order.

    12. Texan In Exile*

      We live in Wisconsin in a cold, old house.

      For Christmas the year we moved in, my husband got me a wooden toilet seat. The porcelain one was too cold.

      There are heated toilet seats, but we did not want to spend that kind of money.

      (The hardware, alas, was cheap crap, and we have had to replace it. Pay more for Good Steel or Brass or whatever.)

    13. Al7la*

      I got a “quick release” toilet seat where the whole seat/lid can be removed with these clicking bolt things. I don’t know how sturdy it is (I’ve had mine for at least 3 years, but I live alone so it only gets so much wear) I LOVE how easy it makes cleaning though!

    14. Anono-me*

      Make sure you get the right shape and sized seat. (Oval seats look funny on round bowls. )

      Have you considered an upgrade?
      Recently we added a nice bidet toilet seat. It has a heated seat, heated water and a blow dryer. Fabulous.

    15. *daha**

      The main two shapes of seats are called round and elongated, and you want to match the old one. Round looks like a circle, elongated looks like an oval. The quick change / easy removal attachment points are very convenient for cleaning because you can easily take the whole seat off and carry it into the shower, and also they will save a little time the next time you need to buy a seat if you also get one with the matching attaching when you buy that future one.

    16. lobsterp0t*

      The super flimsy ones are yuk. Get a quiet close one and/or a nice hefty porcelain one with a lid that properly covers the loo. No poo vortex and poo in luxury!

  5. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    Today is the first time our cleaning person comes. Following advice from friends I cleared as much clutter as possible. Wondering:

    – what general advice y’all have re: a cleaning person
    – what would be good to ask for or expect in a four hour window, every two weeks? It is a small house, two bedrooms one bath. Can I ask for the whole shebang plus an extra each time? Or is that not realistic?

    Thanks!!

    1. Perpetua*

      We have a cleaning person come every two weeks for 4h as well, and we’re currently in a 50 sqm/1 BR (previously 65 sqm/2 BR with the same cleaning person). It might be realistic to ask for everything + an extra, but it depends on the exact house needs, layout, knick knacks, etc.

      In our case, sometimes she’s able to fit in the extra (e.g. windows) in the 4h timeframe, but sometimes she needs a bit more time. We have a flexible arrangement where it’s okay if it takes her 1/2 hour or an hour more at times.

    2. hello*

      Seconding to tidy up beforehand. Otherwise the cleaner will have to tidy up – it’ll take time, and they won’t be good at it because it’s your house and you know where things go, and they don’t.
      (And they’ll probably hate it, which is also worth avoiding.)

      All the employer best practices – be fair, be professional, communicate clearly, abide by tax laws – are also best practices in a domestic employee setting. It can be easy to mix that up – and a lot of people have an awkwardness around hiring a cleaning person in particular – so try to get into the habit from the beginning.

      What’s reasonable to achieve – you can ask them. What’s realistic depends on how clean the house is already, how clean you want it to become (horizontal surfaces or inside the kitchen cabinets?) and how much things you have around – a large empty table is dusted much more quickly than a small shelf of cat figurines. (Or is that what you meant by clearing clutter?)

      They may expect you to provide certain cleaning products, like a good mop (string mops don’t actually clean floors) or cleaning chemicals that are kind to the hands and airway. Or they may prefer to bring their own equipment and supplies.

      Be clear and specific in your expectations, at least the first few times. When you want ‘the kitchen’ clean, do you mean the cabinets should be emptied as well? Do you expect the dishes to be done and laundry to be folded?
      Those things may seem obvious to you but they aren’t, as different people have different expectations.

    3. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Our house sounds similar in scale to yours. Our cleaner comes on the same schedule, does the whole shebang and usually has time for one extra. In saying that, we don’t have children or pets and we like keeping the place tidy, so YMMV.
      It’s a good idea to be there the first time to talk to them specifically about what you want and discuss what they think is what’s achievable so you can both manage your expectations.
      We’ve been through a few cleaners and found that one self-employed person who you can get to know is always far, FAR better than going through a company. We’ve also discovered that good, thorough, reliable and trustworthy cleaners aren’t common. So if you find a good one, look after them. If you need to cancel, pay them anyway (they’re relying on that income and can’t fill the gap at short notice). If it’s a hot day, leave the a/c on for them. We’ll always make sure that there’s nothing super gross for them to deal with, like a festering bin, etc.

    4. Not A Manager*

      It depends on the extra. Also, you should ask him or her upfront about what they can fit into the four hours.

      I would assume that regular cleaning would include scrubbing the kitchen and bath, washing or vacuuming all the floors, and light dusting of visible surfaces. Our cleaner changes the bedsheets when she comes, but if you want to save time for other stuff you could do that yourself. Laundry is quite time-consuming so I would not ask a cleaner to do that if you hope that they will do other things.

      If there are things that you want done less frequently, you could ask the cleaner to make time every two months to dust higher or lower surfaces (baseboards, book shelves, light bulbs), or to scrub a low-traffic area.

      A few times a year you could also completely forego the regular cleaning and ask the cleaner JUST to tackle an important deep cleaning project.

    5. Generic Name*

      Back when I had a cleaner, I made sure to pick everything up off the floor and clear off the tables of clutter. I think you can expect your whole house to be cleaned in that time, but you can always ask.

    6. Jay*

      The first clean will take longer if she’s good. At least it did for ours, both when we first hired them and when they came back after a four month pandemic break. If we cleaned to their standards, we wouldn’t need them!

      We use a service and they have a standard list of what they do (floors, counters, bathrooms, dusting open surfaces). They also have a list of rotating “extras” that they try to do every month or so – dusting the baseboards, cleaning behind furniture, scrubbing windowsills, various things). That may be one way to approach the “extras.” Be polite and clear about what you’re asking for and be willing to accept “no” for an answer or to pay more for more work (probably should offer to do that anyway).

      If you’re going to be home when the cleaner is there, it’s a good idea to have a plan – I really don’t like being in the same room (even pre-pandemic). Now of course someone is always home. They come at 9:00 AM and we’ve asked them to start on the first floor; we go upstairs after breakfast and stay there until they’re done downstairs. Then we switch. If I really need to do something in my study, I shut myself in there while they do the bedrooms or take the study off their list for that day and dust it myself.

      If you have idiosyncrasies or specific requirements, tell them upfront. We have lots and lots and lots of books and I struggled to find a cleaner who would actually dust the tops of the books on the shelves on a regular basis. We are also a fragrance-free household and need someone who will respect that and either bring their own fragrance-free (not unscented!) products or use ours.

      Thirding the advice to do what you’re already doing and tidy up before they come. It makes their job easier and you are less likely to lose track of small objects – our cleaners tend to relocate pens and pencils and other small objects to bowls or plates that I don’t intend for that use. I just found a pile of binder clips, paper clips, and hair ties in a decorative African bowl in my living room.

      I love, love, love, coming home to a very clean and orderly house on Thursdays. I am happier to do the work to keep it clean and tidy in between than I would be otherwise. We’re supporting a small local woman-owned business that pays its workers well and offers benefits. It’s all good. Actually, it’s great.

    7. Oxford Comma*

      Are they bringing their own supplies? Do you need to have them use theirs?

      The cleaner should be able to give you an assessment of how much time it’ll take them. The first time my guy came he could only do so many rooms because they really needed the extra attention. Now he can do most of the place in 3.5-4 hours. If I need to have him do something extra, we work that out (and I have to pay him extra). Sometimes there’s a room that needs more attention than others. We’ve also worked out that every couple of months he does a deeper clean, for which he gets paid more.

      I would advise having a conversation with them about what you want short and long term.

      Tidy up beforehand. I do this every time and have a routine so that my cleaner can focus on tasks like floors, toilets, sinks, etc. I can fold my own laundry, make my own beds, etc. I’d rather he deal with the icky stuff.

      I presume you’ve had discussions already about masks or other measures. If not, you probably should.

      Are you going to be home when they are there? If not, you need to establish arrangements for access. If you are there, are you going to hole up somewhere? Do you have pets? Other people who will be in the house? Small children?

      Best decision I ever made was getting a cleaner by the way.

    8. Bubblegum Blue*

      We have small 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house and we usually get them for 2 hours once a fortnight. I am very clear about what I want before they start. I want the bathroom and toilet areas cleaned, and the floors mopped. Every time. These are the jobs I never get to and care about. Once that is done, the remaining time can be spent in the kitchen. I don’t mind if they run out of time and don’t finish the kitchen because I will get to that but I will be very unhappy if the bathrooms and floors are missed. If you have certain expectations, let them know. We tidy the house before they come which makes a big difference on how much they get done. Occasionally I will ask them to do specific stuff like wipe down the kitchen cupboard doors if they have time at the end. Four hours should be plenty of time to do everything and then some, assuming our idea of a small house is similar :)

      We leave the house while they work because it makes me really uncomfortable sitting around while someone else is cleaning. I feel like I should help them even though logically I know it is their job. They just lock the front door when they leave. I have never had any issues although I have always found my cleaners through word of mouth recommendations so maybe that helps.

      I am seconding that getting a cleaner is one of the best decisions I have made.

    9. lobsterp0t*

      Make a list!

      We’ve only used a cleaning service a few times but it worked best when we made a list per room and were clear about anything to skip or pay special attention to.

      Then, stay out of the way.

  6. Aphrodite*

    Has anyone here used the company ReBath? I gave them a deposit today, and while their Yelp reviews are okay their Google reviews look bad. We are replacing a shower-tub with a walk-in shower in the guest bathroom until I can afford to gut the master bathroom. It’s for a mobile home.

    1. NRG*

      Pay attention to local reviews. The problems I’ve heard of seem to be with specific local outfits.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Local franchise makes sense. Cousins loved their quick fix. I decided against it because of pushy-salesman vibes and a much higher quote than they’d been given just 70 miles away.

    2. Peppermint Patty*

      My husband an I looked into ReBath when we were planning on redoing one of our bathrooms. My husband is really handy in that he was able to do a lot of the work when we were renovating, but since this bathroom is pretty small, we looked into ReBath to just change out the tub (husband was going to do the rest). The quote they gave us was something like $8000 just to switch out the tub. We didn’t feel like their choices of finishes and accessories were very good (cheap). When we told them we would not be using them, they all of a sudden were able to take 20% off, which we still thought was too expensive for what we would get. In the end, we decided to not use them and held off with re-doing that bath. Instead, I ended up freshening up the paint, DIYed the outdated linoleum (was in good shape, just outdated), bought new towel bars, added a new rug and shower curtain (which hides the crappy tub), and painted the cabinet. It turned out really good and I only spent about $200!! It will still need to be re-done in the future, but this bought us some time until we are ready to spend the money, in which my husband will take it on.

    3. Roy G. Biv*

      I used ReBath to replace a heavy oversized tub/shower enclosure, and the work looks great. Here are the problems 5 years later – the faux subway tile “grid” is a pain to clean. Every single crevice and groove must be cleaned with a soft cloth. (A smooth finish would have been a better choice.) And they have a looooong list of cleaning products and implements you cannot use, or it will mar the finish.

      Second problem – actually the larger problem. Every single caulk line is growing mildew on it. What the heck kind of caulk are they using? They will come out and replace the caulk since I have the lifetime warranty as long as I own the house, but why must it be done? I’m sure there are many, many bathroom fixtures in the world where the caulk is mildew free. What’s going on here?

      So that’s my experience with ReBath.

    4. KarenTheLibrarian*

      My husband and I used ReBath 4 years ago following a good recommendation from my parents, who had two bathrooms redone with them. The tile surrounding the fixtures was broken, which led to a ton of mold, and the bathtub was in bad shape, so we knew it needed to be a total gut, which is a plus for the company. They promised us a 2-day job, which was good because we only have the one bathroom. It ended up taking 5 days, which left us scrambling to take time off of work and also asking my parents to come for the day so that someone was always here. The one guy they sent probably could have been done sooner had he not been talking to my husband/Dad almost the whole day. Not sure why they didn’t have 2 people like I thought they said they would. He did an ok job, but there are things I’ve noticed that I’m not happy with–his caulking job was sub-par, and I’m noticing the mildew like Roy G. Biv. The corner shelves were spaced way too far apart, which makes the top ones unusable for me; those feel like a big waste of money. I can also see pencil lines that should have been erased. Overall, it’s held up well & we have a mold-free bathroom. Was it worth $6000+? Maybe? If I had to do it again, I would definitely get quotes from other contractors/companies, which we didn’t do because of my parents’ recommendations. Chalk that mistake up to being new homeowners who didn’t know what they were doing!

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I would say, though, the extended time to finish has been my experience with almost every contractor. It definitely sounds like you had a 2-person job, but I think some of the other things would have made me crazy as well…especially the caulking.

        1. KarenTheLibrarian*

          I think we did expect it to take longer given the scope of work, but we definitely didn’t expect a full 5 days; 6, if you count the caulk-drying time. It got really interesting trying to “take a shower” using our utility sink… lol! That was the worst part of the delay. But, if you have more than one full bathroom, that wouldn’t be an issue.

          Life lesson we learned: finding mold as inexperienced homeowners made us panic. Could & should we have waited a few extra days/weeks to get a few more quotes? Absolutely yes.

    5. AnnieG*

      We used them at our previous home for a new tub that went over the old porcelain tub and tile walls. Here are my thoughts:
      1) As other posters mentioned, the caulk is the weak link. The caulk is much more exposed than in a pre-fab tub/wall kit. We had to completely recaulk about once a year.
      2) When taking a bath the new tub always felt chilly because it was sitting on the old porcelain-over-cast-iron tub.
      3) They charge really high prices for new faucets. If you think you’ll save money by reusing the old faucet or buying one somewhere else, they charge an additional fee.
      4) Price was only about 10% cheaper and 2 days vs. 4 days than a full tear out and replacement.

      In hindsight I wouldn’t use them again unless I absolutely couldn’t afford a “regular” replacement.

  7. NeonFireworks*

    I had a hard week. Everything is going to be okay, but I’m lying in bed feeling kinda sad and waiting for my morale to come back up. I would love to hear some anecdotes (short or otherwise) about recent acts of kindness and general interpersonal awesomeness. Something you did to help another person, something someone else did for you, groups of people you know helping each other out, etc. Also welcome: ideas for (real or hypothetical) small acts of kindness that might make a big difference at the moment!

    1. Sue*

      I saw two I really liked on my news feed today. The guy in Indiana, I think, who had been delivering pizzas for 30 years. His customers loved him so much they went in together and bought him a new car. And the man in Turkey who was admitted to the hospital and his sweet dog kept getting loose, going straight to the hospital and waiting out front..for six days..until he was released.

      1. Bluesboy*

        I saw the dog in Turkey too! He followed the ambulance to the hospital so he knew where his owner was. Arrived every morning, politely waited outside all day without troubling anyone. Went home to sleep, came back in the morning. Bless

    2. Asenath*

      Not recent – but we had incredibly bad weather last winter, and this winter, as our first big storm was moving in and we were all talking about it, one of my acquaintances told how last winter, she had been scheduled for pretty major surgery when one of the storms hit, and her husband was trying and failing to dig their car out for the 5 AM trip to the hospital. Two city snowplow operators saw the problem, stopped their work, cleared the snow so they could get out, and went back to their job. This is definitely not part of their official duties (although individuals, police and operators of ambulances can request something like it in an emergency), so I think it counts as a major act of kindness!

      Then there are all the little ones like people who let those who need it sit on the bus or offer to carry things for them and so on.

    3. Tamer of Dragonflies*

      This is pretty small,but maybe will help. Little old lady at the gas station couldnt find her debit card to pay for her coffee and snacks cakes she wanted so I paid for hers with mine. Not a big deal, but its something.

      1. Copperboom*

        It may seem small to you, but might not have been to her. Years ago, I got fired. I was a wreck and terrified about what would happen to me next, and all I wanted in the world was a sandwich. I went to buy one, pulled out my credit card, and realized it wasn’t there. Tried to pay with my debit card, and had it declined because it had expired without me realizing. I was mortified, apologized to the cashier, and walked out crying. After I got out of the door, I felt a tap on my shoulder- the person who had been behind me had paid for my food and brought it to me. 10 years later I still remember it as one of the most profoundly kind things that has ever happened to me.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          I second this: it’s a big deal. Thank you, Tamer of Dragonflies!
          There is an oversized joy when someone gets exactly what they need when they need it. It’s transforming.
          “Little things” matter a lot more than we know.
          A toast to your good health!

          1. Lizzo*

            Reminds me of last summer when I encountered a homeless man while out supporting a friend who was training for a (virtual) marathon. I offered to get him some food and he had a very specific order from the convenience store about 2 miles up the road. After serving as a “water stop” for my friend, I headed to the store. I got what he wanted plus some beverages + extra snacks, but when I returned to his spot, he had disappeared. I drove around the area and found a different homeless guy, rolled down the window, handed him a bag of food, and told him to enjoy. I felt bad letting the first guy down, but I hope passing the food along to the second guy balanced out my karma a bit.

        2. 2QS*

          This. Years ago, there was a time on a September afternoon in a town I didn’t live in when I was a scruffy teenager in unwashed clothes trying to buy a bit of food in a supermarket. My bank card was turned down, and the woman behind me bought it for me. I gave her a desperately grateful “thank you”. What has occurred to me since is that I must have looked like I was homeless. That wasn’t the truth – it was nothing remotely so unstable or desperate. Rather, I was on a week-long school camping trip that involved a lot of hard physical activity. It was rewarding, but draining – an hour uphill every morning, both hiking and climbing, at a time when I was badly out of shape. Because the campsite and the outdoorsy area were on opposite sides of a lake with a pretty little town halfway between them, there were a couple of days that week when we were allowed to have a few minutes in the supermarket to get some snacks and/or briefly feel reconnected to civilization. That’s what I was doing when I discovered that on top of being drenched in dried sweat with my muscles thinking of planning a mutiny, my bank account was empty. Which is not at all like not having a home, of course; my family was stable, and I was attending a school that was clearly well-enough furnished to be sending its students on camping trips. Still, that little bit of kindness has never left me. The trip was worth it – the scenery at the top of the ropes was spectacular – but it was one of the physically toughest things I’ve ever done, and I was running mainly on stubbornness and Gatorade.

      2. KaciHall*

        A few winters ago, when my kiddo was small (18 months, I think) I needed gas in the middle of a snowy day. I had put it off because I don’t like using my card at the pump and I didn’t live near a gas station I could use an app at, and getting kiddo out of the car was not happening to go in to pay for gas in sub freezing temps. By the time I stopped for gas, I was truly on empty. I go to the pump, get my phone ready, and the pumps are not working. They lost their internet connection. I thought it was just the app, but it wouldn’t work with a debit card, either. The person at the next pump went in to see what was going on, and let me know they were re-setting the pumps and it would be up in a minute. She brought me a coffee while we waited. After a few minutes and it still wasn’t working, she went back inside. Came back out to tell me that they couldn’t get pay at the pump working, but could turn them on from inside. I got ready to get the kiddo out of the car to go pay, but she had already put $20 on my pump, and would not let me pay her back.

        It was a very small thing, but I was overwhelmed, cold, and miserable (kiddo slept through it, though) and she made my night SO much easier. I think about that night ALL the time. It really made my cynicism go down a little bit, which I didn’t think was possible!

    4. Buni*

      I was buying myself a little treat when I remembered a friend idly chatting about smth similar, so I bunged a few more in the basket to send on to her. Total extra cost to me: maybe £5 and an extra envelope when I was going to the Post Office anyhow.

      This week, an enorm0us parcel from her arrived containing smth I’d been lusting after since before Xmas, and I swear had never mentioned to anyone. Don’t know how she knew, defo wasn’t expecting anything in return!

    5. Something Blue*

      I live in an area where people are practicing social distancing and masks which is good for fighting covid but of course gets lonely.

      One of my neighbors has started texting me when she’s about to walk her dog and I join them. I joke she’s walking both the dog and me but I’m touched by her kindness in thinking of of me.

      1. MissCoco*

        My parents neighborhood has started this, and it’s the sweetest. They have a dog walking route and times, and whoever wants to join (with or without dogs) will be at the end of their driveway when the walkers come by.
        At the end of the walks they play fetch in the yard of a neighbor with an elderly dog who isn’t up for long walks anymore so he still gets to hang with the other pups.

    6. Holly the spa pro*

      The person in front of me at the dunkin drive through paid for my order. Ive never had that happen in real life. Now i try to do the same whenever i go and its one of the ways i justify splurging on a sugary latte.

    7. Grits McGee*

      The son of my local US Representative (Jamie Raskin) died recently, and people have been doing small acts of service in his memory and documenting them in a Google sheet. I’ll put a link in a reply.

    8. CatCat*

      Neighbors on Nextdoor with lemon and orange trees have generously been sharing their citrus bounty with folks in the neighborhood they don’t even know. I picked up a sack of fresh Meyer lemons and tangerines that just made my day yesterday!

    9. MCL*

      I baked a big cake and dropped off pieces to friends and neighbors yesterday. It was really fun and brightened everyone’s day.

      1. Lizzo*

        Many, many years ago (in the Before Times, when going to an office was a thing), I was on a cake baking kick. I tried a new recipe: chocolate cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting + topped with chocolate ganache. Took it to work, along with paper plates and forks. Cut pieces up and started hand delivering them around the office. Never have I ever seen so much joy as people looking up from their computers and realizing I had a cake delivery for them. For those who were in meetings, they had cake waiting for them when they returned. That was a happy day for all.

    10. Jane of all Trades*

      I live in a new house (moved in mid-March) and because of covid I wasn’t able to spend Christmas with my family.
      On Christmas Eve I get a knock on my door, and it is my neighbors with a Christmas care package. They know I live alone, and didn’t see any other cars to indicate that I had guests, so they came by to share some holiday cheer, which was so lovely and thoughtful!
      The same neighbor has come over with a tarp to cover boxes I had received when it was bad weather and I wasn’t there.
      How lovely is that?

    11. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Do random acts of kindness from non-humans count..?

      This was a little while ago, but I had a horrible time moving out of my last place. It was a small, rundown, boho complex; replete with gorgeous yesteryear features, peeling paint, thin walls, plumbing issues, failing electrics, hidden passages and 3 decades of neglect. The residents: a ragtag bunch of broke-artist, loud-sex-having, hippie itinerants; including the landlord who was Not The Whole Fruit Basket.

      Moving day was 18 hours of hard, heavy work and cleaning, followed by 4 hours of sleep, an early start, more cleaning and then… waiting for 2 hours in an empty apartment for the late landlord who insisted I wait there for her so she could check I had properly cleaned the place. When she finally showed, it was obvious my apartment was cleaner – far, FAR cleaner – than it ever was before I moved in. But that didn’t matter because there were now 3 small threads ripped out of the old, dirty, threadbare carpet in the main hallway and she’d decided that was my fault.

      By this stage I’m overtired and emotional. I’d been working physically for over 6 hours that morning without food or coffee and I’m just over the whole living-in-a-dilapidated-crap-palace-with-crazy-people bullshit. I want the path of least resistance. So I go out, buy some crazy glue and set to work on this shitty carpet.

      I’m so tired I can’t see well. My head pounds. My whole body hurts from the effort of the day before and I’m crouched awkwardly on the ground, my raw-from-cleaning fingers sticking together with this nasty, fast-setting glue and 30 years of accumulated, un-vacuumed carpet crud. It’s at that point that another resident walks past and questions why I’m fixing the carpet that ‘the new guy downstairs tore when he moved in his piano?’ that I put my head down, give in and start to cry.

      I know it’s just carpet + a nonsensical person + being tired, but I’m feeling utterly pathetic and I can’t help it. I’ve got a snot trail leaking out my nose. My fingers are stuck together and my lump of fingers is stuck to the feral carpet.

      Then, out of nowhere there’s a soft bump on my forehead and a little “meeooorrrrppp?” The neighbour’s ancient tabby, just popping out to say “Hey, I see you. Pat me hooman and feel better”. Which I did, once I could peel enough gluey shartpet off my fingers.

      There’s always someone out there who cares and wants you to feel better. Sometimes in the moments and places you least expect it.

      1. Perstephanie*

        When I was in the middle of my divorce, there came a night when everything was just too much, and I lay on the couch crying.

        My brand-new kitten saw me and jumped up next to me and sat down and licked the tears off my cheeks.

        Then she bounded away because “Hey, fly!” but it was everything.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Also a non-human act of kindness: The day I found out my grand-son was going to prison I was…not in the best of moods. I wasn’t crying but if anyone looked at me they would have been able to tell I was grieving. My dog jumped up in my lap, put his front legs around my neck like a hug, gave me a small face lick, then laid his head against my cheek and stayed there still and quite for a bit. I can’t tell you how much that helped my state of mind. Note: he’s never done that before or since.

    12. TX Lizard*

      I had to drop off some prepaid, time sensitive packages, and the ups store was packed with people not wearing masks. I was waiting outside for the store to empty a little, but more people kept going in. I was about to give up and go home, when a man came out of the store and offered to mail my packages for me. He told me he wasn’t worried about it being crowded, and since I obviously was, he would drop them off for me. A small thing, but I was so relieved and thankful! I’ve been looking for a way to pay it forward.

    13. The Spinning Arrow*

      I had to go buy a new minifridge for my office the other day. I went by myself, because of course I did (lol). I didn’t have any trouble getting the minifridge into my cart – but when I got outside, trying to wrestle the minifridge and the cart in pretty high winds was a little too much for me. After a few minutes of struggling a nice man (who was actually wearing a mask!) came over and helped me get it into my car.

      Another one, if you’re up for video game acts of kindness – I play a massive online game with a housing system. Yesterday, a bunch of houses became available as the company got rid of folks who hadn’t logged in in a while. But the housing system is random, so there’s no way to tell when a house is available to buy besides standing in front of it and repeatedly clicking on the “buy this house” sign. My boyfriend and another friend of ours spent the better part of an hour helping me find one I was interested in, and then camped out at it with me for another hour or two to ‘deter’ other people from stopping (because they’d appear to be competing with three of us, not just me.) Kind of a silly one, but still made me feel very loved. :)

      I hope next week is better for you, Neon!

    14. fposte*

      Did you hear about the Philly pizza guy who lowers free pizzas from his apartment window? He’s a grad student who used to run a couple of food trucks back home, and he started making pizzas during lockdown—like, perfecting a several-day fermented dough, working with baking steels to get as close to a pizza often as possible, and making his own sauce. And you need somebody to eat the results, so he just started lowering the pizza out the apartment window. Now he regularly does something like 25 pizzas a couple of days a week, all lowered from his window to people. I’ll append the YouTube review by the amusingly boisterous and sweary Barstool Pizza Reviews.

    15. B*

      My boss retired two weeks ago. She had me over for lunch yesterday. A really nice set table, a delicious Italian soup and bread, cream puffs for dessert. I have three kids home and I’m working during a pandemic. It just felt so nice to be tended to for an hour.
      An aside, soup is so comforting. Making it for yourself. Sharing with someone. It’s a hug from the inside.

    16. AGD*

      Back in November, I happily did a favour for an organization that one of my friends works with, and to thank me, they surprised me with a gift certificate to Very Large Online Retailer for quite a bit of money! Very generous indeed. Anyway, it had been a couple of months, and the gift certificate was still sitting in my inbox, because I privately have some mixed feelings about Very Large Online Retailer and wasn’t sure I was going to find anything I wanted enough to compensate for that. It was looking over my head. Then I realized I could just put it to good use. I called up Awesome Local Homeless Shelter and transferred the gift certificate to them and they ordered some reportedly much-needed supplies, especially baby food.

        1. AGD*

          It was a much better alternative to buying something for myself (or a close friend or family member) and forever feeling ambivalent about it simply because of where it came from.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      People are great they really are.
      My main water line sprung a serious leak. The whole line had to be replaced. In the middle of winter with all these winter time bills.
      A friend mentioned a grant for home owners.
      I found the application, filled it out and put it in the mail on Friday.
      They approved the grant on Monday.
      My waterline was replaced on Thursday.
      Some times life happens fast.
      There’s lotsa good people out there who “get it” and make things go fast.

    18. Anon5775*

      I picked up an order at a local boutique that’s going out of business. That’s gotta be hard for the owners so I gave her a little crafty thing I made and it made her happy.

    19. Loved by kitty*

      Tiny thing- I went to the hospital last week for several days. When I came home my cat was initially a bit nasty – would nip at me when I tried to pet her etc. But she soon realized the human was broken (using assistive devices for walking) she hasn’t left my side all week. Although normally she’d only spend half her nights with me, and half with my daughter, kitty hasn’t slept with daughter all week.

    20. MissCoco*

      A little thing, but I’m in optometry school, and my mother has been struggling with her contact script.
      I encouraged her to set up an appointment at my schools contact lens clinic when she was in town for a visit over the holidays, so she did.

      They weren’t able to help her, and they suggested she go back to her regular optometrist and ask to be more corrected for near, and less corrected for far, then use glasses to drive. She was happy that they gave her some useful information and a plan to work with her current optometrist, but when she went to check out, they refused to charge her since they weren’t able to solve the problem she came in with.

    21. LNLN*

      My friend had a medical thing done yesterday and needed a ride home from the hospital. It occurred to me to take him a hoagie because I figured he would not have eaten. Sure enough, he was starved and wolfed down that sandwich. I was glad I thought of it and I enjoyed seeing him eat with enthusiasm!

    22. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Our upstairs neighbor’s kids are socializing, masked, with friends on the stairs. So I use the front door if they’re on the back stairs, and the back if they’re on the front porch.

      They didn’t ask me to do this, but it’s a small thing that helps keep everyone safe–and maybe encourages them to keep doing the right thing and not having visitors indoors.

    23. fhqwhgads*

      Someone on my sibling’s block with a snowblower did sibling+sibling’s spouse’s driveway and sidewalk. They don’t know who it was, and they might be the only family on the block without a snowblower, but they have a newborn so it was super helpful to wake up after a large snowfall and find it just done already.

    24. Keener*

      My friends dog had emergency surgery after eating a couple of rocks. She is a nurse and needed to go back to work so for the critical post-op days I’d pick up her dog in the morning and bring him to my house while I worked at home so he was supervised and had company.

      1. Anima*

        We have an incredible hard task to do for uni this week. Some of us finished it already, some did not, and today someone postet a “haaalp task 5” in the uni-channel (we mostly use Discord) and for or five people wrote “coming right over!” or posted needed equations to use for the others. That was quite cute and gave me back my faith in humanity.

    25. Mstr*

      I like to scroll through “Humans just being bros” on Reddit when this mood strikes. People submit heartwarming anecdotes/pics/videos of people helping others or helping animals.

    26. Anonymous for this Comment*

      SO took our stimulus check $ and put it towards the local rescue mission’s utility bill at the city office the other day. Gave cash so it will be anonymous. Hope they won’t have to worry about paying that for a while.

    27. JC Books*

      Several years ago the woman in front of me in line was purchasing a sweet Christmas dress for her little girl. Her card was declined so she said ” Sorry, I need to come back later.
      I told her I would love to buy it for her. I scanned my card before she could refuse. I was so glad that I could bless her! My daughter was a teen at that point. I loved the nostalgia of
      buying a special Christmas dress!

    28. Nynaeve*

      Haven’t finished this yet, but am in the process of getting enough quarters from the bank to give everyone in my small apartment complex a roll of quarters for the new year. (Our complex is older and the washing machines and dryers only take quarters.) Because of the coin shortage, I can only pick up $50 worth at a time, but I should have enough by Monday. I’m hoping this will save them some hassle – most of them work essential jobs and lots of banks are closed for in-person services, so you really have to go out of your way. The nearest bank with actual tellers now is 13 miles away, and this from B of A, the Starbucks of banks.

    29. Uranus Wars*

      I haven’t experienced anything recently but I just wanted to say thank you for starting this thread. It really lifted my spirits after a hard week.

    30. NeonFireworks*

      Thanks everyone for all these wonderful stories! (Animals and video games absolutely welcome.) I read through these yesterday and by the end had a huge smile on my face. I’m feeling a lot better today and this made a big difference.

  8. Arya Parya*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with thick hair?

    I’ve had a full head of hair all my life and have dealt with it by keeping it in a shirt pixie cut. I get my hair cut about every 7-8 weeks. They always thin it out a lot.

    Now we’re in lockdown again and it’s been 8 weeks already since my last haircut. It also looks like it’s gonna be a while before the salons are allowed to open. So I need to deal with my thick hair. How do I keep it from standing up on the top of my head? How do I keep it somewhat in check.

    Important to note: I hate sticky product in my hair. I really cannot deal with the sensation.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Option A, from when I was trying to grow mine out: Bobby pins and bandannas.

      Option B, if you really prefer it short: invest in a trimmer with different length options and experiment with a buzz cut :)

      1. Arya Parya*

        Thanks. I do not think I dare to give myself a buzz cut, so I’ll look into bobby pins and hairbands.

        1. Chilipepper*

          I have an undercut on the sides and about chin length on top. Sides are very short (a buzz cut I guess, I do it myself during covid with a #4). I find it very manageable with my thick hair.

          My husband bought a set of those scissors that thin hair and he likes that but I find I don’t need it.

          1. LDF*

            I was also going to suggest an undercut! I have very voluminous hair. I gave myself an undercut last summer, first time ever using clippers, and it didn’t even matter if it wasn’t perfect because when the rest of my hair is down you can’t tell. And it cuts down the volume in half which for me, still leaves a normal amount of volume.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          You can use clippers to keep it even but not necessarily go full buzz cut. I have a #11 guide, which I believe is 1.5 inches. I’ve been keeping my pixie reasonable looking with that.

    2. Asenath*

      I’ve been using stretchy headbands, although some hair does seem to escape and has to be tucked back in. The ones I have are cloth – I tried the silicone ones but my hair seems to stick to them and strands break off, making the problem worse. When I had really long hair, I used to braid it or fasten it back in a kind of bun, but I guess your’s isn’t long enough for that yet. I decided to let my hair keep growing after I couldn’t get it cut for weeks during COVID.

    3. DeepDarkBlue*

      Give your stylist a call and ask for their suggestions. Hopefully, they can check their messages and call you back. Good luck!

    4. Dino*

      You can buy thinning shears at beauty supply stores where I’m at. If you have very thick hair it’s easy to thin it yourself and is pretty darn forgiving/hard to mess up.

      1. Arya Parya*

        Thanks, I had no idea. If the lockdown is gonna last a lot longer, I’ll definitely look into this.

    5. Dr.KMnO4*

      I have short, thick hair and two cowlicks – one at the corner of my forehead and the other towards the back of my head. I currently have “anime protagonist” hair, with both cowlicks pushing my hair in weird directions. The one at the back means I have a chunk that sticks straight up pretty much all the time.

      I don’t have to be on video for work, so I just let my hair do what it wants. When I have to go out, I wear bandana-ish headbands. They cover my hair like a bandana, but have an elastic band so I don’t have to tie them. Those might work for you.

    6. Foggy Morning*

      When the salons were closed near me I bought a dark brown cashmere hat that roughly matched my hair color and wore it daily with all the excess hair tucked in.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        When I was growing out an unfortunate haircut many years ago, I wore a beret with my hair inside, like a very warm snood. Snoods are also a thing. I have one made by a reenactor and one from Chinatown.

    7. Myrin*

      I take it you don’t want to wear your hair up in any way?
      I have a lot of hair, and it’s thick hair, and I basically always have it in either a braid or a bun which works well for me because it’s pretty unsightly when worn down and also annoys the living hell out of me – but I’m not quite sure if your hair is maybe too short for that still?

      1. Arya Parya*

        I wouldn’t mind, but it’s too short for it right. If the salons stay closed long enough though, I can definitely look into braids.

    8. Voluptuousfire*

      – An electric teakettle. I bought it in March and use it for my morning and afternoon mugs of tea. I have boiling water in less than 5 minutes.
      – A microplane grater. I just got it the other day and used it this afternoon to grate ginger and orange zest for honey ginger orange chicken. I made it last week with drumsticks and had to drain the drippings through a sieve to prevent any ginger or orange zest from going into the finished product. The microplane solved that issue.

    9. university minion*

      Hair band when I need to look civilized, otherwise, I just leaned into my Albert Einstein/1970’s Leonard Bernstein look. Where am I gonna go during a pandemic that it matters, anyway, right?

    10. KoiFeeder*

      I have been cutting my carnivorous thick hair myself. It doesn’t look good, but it’s also staying out of my way.

    11. Katrin*

      My thick hair was terribly frizzy when I washed it every day. I gradually built up to washing once a week and now it lies flatter. I don’t know if this would work for you, but at very least it doesn’t cost anything to try?

      1. allathian*

        I usually wash 2 or 3 times a week as well. I admit I love L’Oreal’s Dream Length shampoo and detangler. I have never really learned to shower without washing my hair, unless I exceptionally shower more than once a day. I usually shower in the evening, but if I’ve had a really bad night I’ll shower in the morning as well to wake up properly. For the morning shower I’ll skip washing my hair.

    12. lobsterp0t*

      You won’t get a salon cut at home, but clippers aren’t that difficult to use as long as you have the dexterity and strength for it (or a person you trust).

      I watched several YouTube videos and managed to get into a pretty good routine of home barbershop during Lockdown 1.

      Wahl makes a decent trimmer set that has hair scissors and a little cape – think I got mine for about £20

    13. Arya Parya*

      Thanks for all the great advice. It really gave me some good ideas on how to survive until the salons open again.

    14. llamaswithouthats*

      French braids if you just want your hair out of the way. I keep it this way at home, but don’t like how I look in it so I style my hair (blow dry) when I go out. I always keep my hair long. Of course, I haven’t been doing much styling as I’ve been in lockdown since March.

  9. Zooey*

    Help with buggies! (Strollers) We’re expecting our first baby and looking for a buggy. Where we are Covid restrictions mean we can’t go into any shops to actually see them and it seems likely that will be the case up until the baby arrives. We’ve narrowed it down to a few possibilities but one factor is we have a very small car boot (Skoda Citigo).

    We’re looking at the Bugaboo Fox but are worried it won’t fit in the boot, or won’t fit in without the wheels taken off. Has anyone got experience of this buggy and a small boot? Any experience generally with it – is it easy to fold? Do you like it?

    We’re keen to have one that will stand up to rougher terrain – we’re not super outdoorsy but do like the odd country walk and will also be walking in muddy parks a fair bit. Unfortunately all the buggies that are very compact are really meant just for pavements and without being able to try them out we’re struggling to square that circle.

    1. Jules the First*

      I haven’t tried the Fox because I find the Bugaboos horrendously complicated to fold, but I did look at a ton of off-road buggies with my sister last year and then further research this year (I’m due in about four months; sister has two big dogs and I have horses, so offroading and compact to protect boot space was critical for both of us). Recommendations for durable buggies that cope well with offroading include the UppaBaby (the Cruz is the smaller version; the Vista is bigger and tougher but unlikely to fit in your boot…my sister went with this one, which she loves except when she has to cram it into her car), the BabyJogger City (which I think would fit your boot with all it’s wheels still on), or the Mountain Buggy (the Nano copes well with mud and will almost definitely fit your boot). Personally, I opted for the Yoyo for day to day as compact and lightweight with a one-handed fold was the big issue for me, and we’ll use a sling when I’m offroading with the horses (or I’ll pick up a used Nano and stash that at the stables). The Ocarro is also popular with the country walk set and I’m told it has a reasonably compact and straightforward fold, but I haven’t had one in my hands so can’t comment with confidence.

      1. Zooey*

        Thanks! That’s really helpful – especially about the fold of the Bugaboos generally which is what really puts me off.

    2. B*

      I had a bob single for my first then a double bon with my twins. I love it handles well. Folds easily. I would look for used as they hold up so well.

    3. Double A*

      So I went deep down the stroller rabbit hole with my first because I had the notion I needed to buy it before she was born. (Also I tried to be pretty chill about most things so I think the stroller was like my one anxiety outlet). And my conclusion was I wished we would have waited to buy it until I knew more about how we’d be getting around because we ended up not using it much. So basically…you can totally wait on it.

      It sounds like you may not be in the US but I used the Wirecutter for reviews of baby stuff.

      1. Zooey*

        Heh, it has definitely been my anxiety outlet! Who knows if we’ll end up needing it early… with Covid I find it impossible to imagine what on earth our life will be so maybe waiting is a better idea!

    4. LK03*

      Congratulations on the baby!

      Maybe you really do need a buggy/stroller for your family’s activities, but I’ll say this just in case: it might be worth looking into baby carriers instead. For our baby a few years ago, we used an ErgoBaby carrier exclusively — I think we used our stroller (which was borrowed) literally twice. The Ergo was easy to wear and comfortable for us parents and for the baby. We walked her to and from daycare/nursery in the Ergo every day until she was about 2.5. And it was wonderful for traveling — since it’s small and made of fabric it was easy to fit into our small car, and when we flew, we kept her in it in airports so she couldn’t run off while we fussed with our luggage. We also found it no problem to wear the Ergo in front and a backpack in back for carrying our own things.

      There are various brands and styles of baby carriers available. We used the ErgoBaby Classic, which converts from front carrier (which we used all the time) to back carrier (which we never actually tried) but doesn’t allow the baby to ride forward-facing in the front position. There is an infant insert but we didn’t try that — we used a MayaWrap ring sling before about age 7 months. I found the Ergo a lot easier to use than the ring sling, though, and if we had another baby I would get the infant insert and start with the Ergo right away.

      Good luck — and have fun!

      1. Zooey*

        Thanks! I’m definitely going to be using a baby carrier as well a lot of the time but I think we’ll use the buggy too.

    5. Evangelist*

      The city mini GT was the single best purchase we made. It lasted for years despite heavy use (2 miles a day of daycare commuting in all weather). It folds pretty small and pretty easily. It’s not for infants, but there are attachments you can get for it if you need to use it before the baby can sit up. Highly recommend!

      1. Blackcat*

        We also have this. It’s great.
        The newer version lays fully flat, so you can put a newborn in it.

      2. Wilde*

        Amen to the City Mini GT. I love ours so much.

        It fit in the boot of our Mazda 2 standing upright when folded down, all wheels still attached. We also used the bassinet attachment but that only fit in the car with a backseat folded down. However with one kiddo that was feasible for us.

        The wheels are rubber tires rather than plastic so great for off-roading. And you can collapse it with just one hand (although it’s heavy enough you might not be able to put it in your car boot with only one hand).

        1. Zooey*

          Thanks for the recommendation- seems like a lot of people had a good experience with this one so worth looking at!

      3. Double A*

        This is ultimately the stroller I ended up getting. I almost never use it; I just lives at my parents house because they provide our childcare, and they do use it to walk around the neighborhood. It’s a good stroller! I think…

        We live in a rural area so we’re just rarely walking around an area where strollers make sense (esp with covid we are never like “in town”). We’ve tried a billion different carriers though. Maybe someday we’ll use a stroller when we can do things around other people again!

    6. Blackcat*

      Are Baby Jogger City Mini GTs available where you are? They fold quite compact for being a fairly large, all terrain stroller.

    7. Charlottemousse*

      We were given our friend’s Doona stroller & carseat rolled into one. It’s super convenient, and I’d highly recommend looking into it. The advantage of not having to move your baby from a car seat to a stroller is enourmous; no nap interruptions. The downside is that it has a limited size, so it’s good for approximately one year, or less if you have a bigger infant. I’d also recommend looking into the BabyZen Yoyo, which is really well-sized (i.e., compact) and convenient for travel/city life, once travel becomes a thing again…

  10. Sleepyhead*

    What’s an item under $50 that’s made a big improvement in your daily life?

    For me:
    – multiple phone chargers (one by couch, one by desk, one by bed). No more unplugging and if one breaks its no big deal!

    1. SJNB*

      It was just under £50 (I’m in the UK) – a heated throw blanket! Highly recommend, got it from Lakeland for any UK readers. Means I can be cosy on the sofa in the evening and don’t have to have the heating on as much. It’s very popular with my cats as well!

      1. JobHunter*

        In the same vein, a heated mattress pad in winter. Our house was built in 1918(ish), and the floor grates meant to convey warm air to the upper stories had been covered over by carpet and/or dropped ceilings during remodels over the years.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          How hot do the mattress pads get? And are they washable? I’ve been thinking about a heated mattress pad. I’ve never been one to want to add heat to the bed, as I prefer to sleep cool, but my house was built in 1735 and the heating is inefficient. It would be nice to have more warmth without the use of one of those little personal heaters. The heater tends to dry out my nose and mouth, so I wake up really thirsty during the night and sometimes with a stuffy nose.

          1. MCL*

            I used to use one and I could control the temp settings. I would heat up the bed and then turn it off to sleep. It doesget pretty toasty at the high end. I don’t recall if it was washable, though. I bet you could cover it with a second mattress sheet for more protection. I would only use it in winter so I got many years out of it.

          2. JobHunter*

            I wash mine a few times per winter at the laundromat in a large capacity machine, gentle cycle. I hang it to dry.

            Both of mine have 2 controllers so each person can have their desired setting on their side. The cheaper one ($50) doesn’t have an automatic shutoff, but the higher priced one (gift) shuts off after 10 hrs. I usually just use it to warm up the bed and turn it off before going to sleep.

    2. NRG*

      Thick fuzzy socks. Warm feet, cushioning for my hard workfromhome floors. They’re so thick I can’t fit my shoes on with them, and I love them.

    3. Asenath*

      New slippers. I had a pair that I loved but which finally got too battered to use, and most of the ones I initially considered didn’t look quite right. I found a pair that covered all my foot for comfort and security walking, which had s nice non-slip sole that worked even on wet tile, and a really comfortable and fuzzy lining.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Care to share the brand? I could use a new pair myself and it sounds like just what I’m looking for.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Since you mentioned chargers, I like the 6-port USB wall chargers, one of which is a home charging station and the other in my travel bag so I don’t need any other adapters or plugs, even when our family travels we can all plug our devices into it overnight.

      Smart bulbs. I just got a few, and set up voice commands. No more walking through the cat hork to turn on the light to find where the cat horked! Plus, all my lamps are now dimmable! I woke up and it was still dark, so I turned on the lamp low, and I’ve been slowly ratcheting it up as my eyes adjust. 4 Geeni bulbs were $50.

      1. LQ*

        Along these lines, smart plugs. I use them mostly for lights but I really love automated lighting and it absolutely changed my life. It’s so much easier to get out of bed when its dark out if the lights inside are on.

        1. fposte*

          I’ve been using electronic plug-in timers for years for just this; they’ll be replaced by smart timers if they ever give up the ghost. It’s also easier to get myself to bed if I don’t have to run around switching lamps off.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yes! I have a couple that turn off all my downstairs lights at midnight so they don’t get left on all night if someone forgets, and I used one during the holidays to turn my Christmas lights on and off.

        3. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I actually had a smart plug on this lamp, but the smart bulb was cheaper AND it’s now dimmable! The biggest drawback is that the Kasa (my smart switch) app is MUCH better, it can detect sunrise/sunset and you can schedule lights using that, and it has a countdown timer, not just a clock timer. The Geeni app has neither of those, but it’s adequate. They both do Alexa and Google Home integration, although if you have a Samsung phone, the Kasa works with SmartThings, which means it shows up under the “Devices” button on your notification panel, which is handy.

          I’ll probably put the smart plug on the lamp by the front door, then we can use that as a vacation timer for that lamp.

    5. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Kind of silly but scissors, simple $3 pair. Having hand issues now it was getting hard to open things (whyyyyyy do kids clothes have so many tags!). I keep one in every room of the house.

      1. Jay*

        Yes. I finally have scissors in my bedroom and in the study and multiple pairs in the kitchen since those tend to go on walkabout. No more trying to get tags off clothing with my teeth or open packages with my fingernails!

        1. MissCoco*

          YES ALL THE SCISSORS!

          I truly don’t understand why more people don’t have a pair in every room. They come in so useful, and I never have to go searching when I want a pair.

      2. D3*

        LOL. I rage-bought scissors for every room in the house a few years ago because I was so frustrated when the scissors on my desk constantly went missing.
        And I guess all those years of complaining about my scissors being stolen stuck, because they keep migrating back to my desk drawer now. I just looked and there are four pair of scissors in my desk drawer right now!
        Guess you can’t win them all!

      3. Double A*

        One Christmas about 5 years ago my husband bought literally a dozen pairs of scissors for me. We now know where about 3 pairs are so probably we’ll need to do that again next year.

      4. Pippa K*

        I bought a bag of scissors for $2 at a garage sale a couple of years ago from a crafter who was clearing her closets. Over a dozen pairs, from cheap to quite decent. So useful! (She also sold me a bike for $10, so best garage sale ever!)

      5. Potatoes gonna potate*

        hahahah i am so glad I’m not the only one who realizes the importance of this! no more trying to cut things with my hands or teeth!

    6. Ali G*

      Tea mug with leaves strainer and lid! So much better than tea bags, but you can still make one cup at a time.

    7. Red Sky*

      Quick disconnect spigot and garden hose connectors! Saves so much time when changing between sprayers/wands/sprinklers or hooking up the drip irrigation.

    8. CatCat*

      Hot water bottles. We put one or two under the covers in our bed near our feet at night when it’s cold. Feels cozy and warm under the covers and saves us money on our heating bill!

    9. GoryDetails*

      Most recently: a set of spice tins, 4-oz size metal ones with see-through lids. I’m using them to get all my herbs and spices into consistent, clearly-labeled containers, labeled on the side and on the top. Over the years I’ve spent too much time fumbling through the mis-matched jars and tins that were my spice collection!

      1. Toothless*

        My slower trick for getting a matching spice collection is I always try to get the square glass containers whenever I’m getting something new, and whenever anything in a square glass container runs out I wash it and relabel and refill it with the contents of one of the oddly sized ones!

    10. Dr.KMnO4*

      Longer phone charging cables! The outlets in my bedroom are a bit too far from the bed for a normal cable, but the 4ft cables work very well.

      Plastic craft supply boxes. My husband and I collect and paint Warhammer miniatures, and I found some craft boxes at Meijer that are the perfect size for all of our paints. Now I can organize them by type so that we can find what we’re looking for much quicker. I also got some boxes that my smaller minis fit in. Makes storing them so much easier.

    11. NerdyPrettyThings*

      A cookbook holder for the kitchen and a stand-up thing that sits next to my monitor at work (similar to the cookbook holder, but designed for sheets of paper). It’s crazy how much easier tasks are when you’re not trying to bend down to read something that’s lying flat.

    12. Coenobita*

      Mine’s an insulated, spillproof travel mug. When I was in grad school seven or eight years ago, it seemed like everyone in my cohort suddenly had Klean Kanteen bottles. I was skeptical of the fad but also envied my classmates with their nice hot drinks during our night classes. I got one for myself after my classmate accidentally burned her tongue on tea that she’d made like eight hours before. I still use it every day! In fact, I’m drinking out of it right now!

      1. Lizzo*

        Yeti’s mugs/ramblers/tumblers are also an excellent choice. Not spillproof, but the lids are easy to clean, and things stay hot/cold for HOURS.

    13. Chilipepper*

      Garlic rocker – easier to use and to clean.
      Extra phone chargers definitely.
      Yarn for my new covid stress reducing crochet habit.

    14. Millicent*

      A long shoehorn! My partner and I have hit the age when bending down to put on shoes uses noticeable effort, when before we would simply put on the shoes and think nothing of it. (Ah, to be young again.)

      I had a long shoehorn (it measures maybe 13-15 inches long so you don’t have to bend to use it) in my Amazon cart for years but never bought it because it seemed like a stupid thing to spend money on. Then last Christmas I was searching for gift ideas to give to someone who wanted to buy me gifts, and I put the shoehorn on the list.

      This is a game changer! I mean, if the game was just putting on your shoes – we’re obviously not talking life or death here. But it is so convenient that I can’t believe I didn’t get one sooner. For just about $10-15, it’s made my daily life so much easier.

    15. Dwight Schrute*

      Long phone charging cables, Alexa controlled lamps, and a new wireless charger phone holder for my car!

      1. Disco Janet*

        You literally read my mind with the first two! I don’t have the third, but might need to try it out since apparently we have similar preferences for what conveniences we really like having.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          It’s really nice to not have the extra wire in my car and it holds the phone really well. I ordered it from Amazon for about $30 if I remember correctly!

      2. allathian*

        I second long phone charging cables. In the evenings I enjoy playing games on my phone while watching the news or a show my husband likes but I’m not so keen on that I want to focus on it 100 percent. There’s an outlet behind the couch for the charger, but it does need a 6 ft cable.

    16. ThatGirl*

      – A Bluetooth speaker (not a smart speaker) I can play anything from my phone on
      – wire shelving to organize my kitchen cabinets better
      -a mesh cover for the shower drain to catch loose hair

    17. Professor Plum*

      An acupressure mat—so relaxing! It can take a bit to get used to the plastic spikes, but I love laying on it before falling asleep.

    18. Laura H.*

      I have 3 but bought at different times and one is close or still in the $50’s

      1. Extra long, braided cable charger

      2. A set of wireless headphones (that’s the one in the $50 range but they have been SO useful in the past year)

      3. A foldable phone stand that was originally bought to be used with my Nintendo Switch, but has been super useful for my phone meetings.

    19. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

      Silicone ice tray – I use my food processor to chop several bulbs of garlic then freeze it with some olive oil. Has cut down massively on food prep time!

      1. Toothless*

        Have you noticed a taste difference between the garlic you froze yourself vs fresh? Or versus the pre-minced garlic you can get at the grocery store if you’ve ever tried that?

        1. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

          I found the flavor between fresh and frozen to be pretty similar! I don’t use jarred garlic because I don’t find the flavor strong enough. We love garlic so probably 4-5 bulbs goes into a 15 cube tray.

          1. Toothless*

            Ooh, I’ll have to try that then! I’ve been using the fridge jar kind but I end up using a TON, so the freezer kind might be easier.

      2. Katrin*

        I do something similar with ginger, I haven’t tried adding oil though, might try that next time!

      3. Squidhead*

        See also: basil or cilantro from the garden pureed in olive oil; pucks of tomato paste frozen in silicone muffin cups! We wrap each herb cube or tomato puck individually and store them in a zip-lock bag for easy use. The herbs aren’t as strong as when they are fresh but they are great for putting in sauce. I’ve frozen shallow pucks of pesto, too; one is about enough to skim onto a pizza instead of tomato sauce and then we don’t have an open jar waiting to spoil.

    20. em*

      Wireless earbuds – I can do workout videos after the kids go to bed, listen to audiobooks while I fold laundry, etc, it’s amazing.

      I got a box for organizing my embroidery thread as a Christmas gift and was nerdily excited. My craft stuff is so much more manageable now!

    21. Llama face!*

      Extra garbage containers. I added a garbage can (that wasn’t too ugly) in my living room and it made such a difference in non-food trash build-up. It sounds terrible but when I didn’t have it, I would end up leaving stuff on my coffee table and it would pile up. With the can right there, I can toss that envelope or kleenex right away without having to interrupt what I’m doing to make a garbage trip.

      1. Llama face!*

        I actually have a garbage can in every room now except the bedroom. And it makes a big difference.

    22. Girasol*

      Toaster oven. My husband brought home a decrepit one from the second hand store for a project and it gathered dust for ten years before migrating to the kitchen. I never needed one until I had one. It turned out to be just right for a casserole for two, or six muffins (one box of Jiffy mix), broiled sausages, pizza leftovers, a couple burritos, or a half dozen fresh hot cookies from the stock of dough lumps in the freezer. It was handy for extending the oven space on Thanksgiving. It didn’t need to preheat and it didn’t heat up the house in summer like the big oven. Now covered in rust with its door falling off, I just replaced it with a shiny new one (just under $50!). My husband is saving the old one in the garage because “it’s still good.”

      1. Fern*

        You can bake muffins in a toaster oven??!! We’ve been debating getting one, and this may have just sealed the deal for me. I often make a full muffin batter recipe, but then freeze the batter in individual muffin papers…and then only bake as many as we’ll eat in the moment – as I enjoy them so much more fresh. But it always seems wasteful and a hassle heating up the whole big oven.

        1. Voluptuousfire*

          Same. My oven sucks and when it does work, it heats up the kitchen. I think I may have asked about a smart oven/toaster oven on here a few months ago.

          What one did you get?

          1. Girasol*

            The old rusty reliable one was a Black and Decker. I found a really good deal on a well reviewed Mueller, though, and replaced with that. It doesn’t take the same odd array of mini-pans. The old oven didn’t fit anything for a casserole until I found a glass loaf pan, and could only fit a small steel gentleman’s cuff link tray for a cookie sheet. The new one takes a 9×9 standard cake pan and comes with its own baking sheet, but the loaf pan doesn’t fit. The six cup muffin tin fits both and makes way better muffins in the small oven than in the big oven.

    23. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      A space heater. I live in a drafty old house with gas heat, and it gets COLD in here. Having to pay for higher heat during the day working at home was getting expensive. My little space heater keeps my desk area nice and warm and I’m saving money on my gas bill.

    24. HB*

      Back when I used to go to the grocery store, I used a collapsible basket instead of bags for my groceries. Since I’m currently living alone, I don’t buy a lot and I could carry it all in at once instead of juggling bags. I mostly stuck to packing the basket myself in self check-out but when I did go through a cashier aisle, they always remarked about how convenient it was.

      Here’s the basket I use: https://tinyurl.com/yy9d7cyp

    25. Quiet Liberal*

      This question is timely. I just bought some LED puck lights for under our upper kitchen cabinets. They plug into the wall, have a motion sensor on-off, and adjustable light levels. It is awesome to have well-lit countertops when working in the kitchen. Our kitchen is small, so three lights is perfect for us, but more lights can be added. The set was only $20!

    26. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Family members contributions…
      A week/month planner.
      A really good stapler in a honking bright color so it can be found.
      Quality kitchen tools– a flexible stainless steel flipper just right for eggs over-easy in the cast iron skillet, a good steel knife, a sharpening stone.
      From the days when I needed to drive places in cold dark times, a plug-in car-seat heating pad.

    27. Sylvan*

      An Ikea cart. Not the famously useful and cute Raskog, but a similar one. It lives beside my bed right now as a combination bookshelf and nightstand. I’ll most likely get another to be an accent table and hold art supplies in the living room.

      1. Katrin*

        We got one of these for our kitchen! We have a built in wine rack that we don’t need constant access to so there was an opportunity to put something in front of it. We can also wheel it into the lounge for use as a tea/drinks cart when needed.

    28. Anonymouse*

      The LectroFan white noise machine is a life-changer.

      I’m a light sleeper and with the white noise machine, I don’t have to worry about things like: neighbors playing loud TV, housemates have a conversation outside my bedroom, random neighborhood dogs barking. Even if a noise momentarily wakes me up, my brain “latches” onto the white noise and sinks back into sleep.

      It’s small enough to travel with, which is the best! Hotel rooms are always so noisy (random people walking and dragging luggage along the halls, etc.), and if you’re traveling with someone (TMI warning) and sharing a bathroom, the white noise machine gives your aural privacy for when you need to do #2.

    29. The Other Dawn*

      One of the grabber tools. I bought two when I had the back surgeries (fusion) last year so I could pick things up off the floor or pull clothes out of the dryer. When I first had surgery I wanted to feel useful and like I could do *something* to help my husband, so I started using the grabber to feed the cats. I have a whole herd, so it was so nice to be able to grab the dirty dishes off the floor (lightweight plastic) and put down food-filled dishes without any bending. Bending was not only painful for a while, but it was also off-limits as part of my healing. I don’t need the grabber anymore, but I continue to use it when feeding the cats. Makes it less of a chore. I also use it when something drops out of reach so I don’t have to crawl under my desk.

      1. Katrin*

        Do you have a brand you could recommend? My mother in law has various back problems and doesn’t end up doing what she wants because it’s difficult for her to bend over.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          This is what I bought from Amazon. Just copy and paste to search (a link will go to moderation).
          “2 Pack-Grabber Reacher Tool for Elderly, 32″ Foldable Claw Grabber, Pick Up Stick Grabber, Reacher Grabber Pickup Tool, Trash Picker Upper Grabber, Litter Picker, Garden Nabber, Arm Extension.” It’s the first result that comes up. 25.99 (USD) for a two-pack.

          What’s nice is it can fold up. It’s also good enough to pick up a dime off the floor and has a good grip.

    30. Katrin*

      Tbh it didn’t even buy these, but boxes for our kitchen cupboards. All our stir-fry sauce jars are now in the box from the slippers I got for Xmas and it makes it so much easier to find them and get stuff out of the cupboard. All the stuff we use once a blue moon is on top of the cabinets in an old beer crate where I can access it with a step ladder if I want.

      I second your multiple usb chargers and would also extend it to: tissues, scissors, moisturizer, tweezers, permanent markers, bins, lip balm and sunglasses. I’d regularly lose all of these because I only had one of each and kept moving them to where they were needed and not putting them back. Much easier to keep one of each item in a location where it’s commonly used.

    31. Anono-me*

      A really good kitchen shears. I use it for so much food prep.

      Contigo mug. It has a push button to drink and releasing the button seals it up again. Great for people with medical issues or those of us that are just clumsy.

      Long braided charging cord. I can charge my phone while sitting in a comfy chair reading a book.

      Good roller ball mouse and wrist support pad.

      1. Jay*

        ooh! I just bought herb scissors from Amazon and they are AWESOME. So much faster to cut up fresh herbs into small bits. I usually left them too large out of impatience and my husband spent FOREVER making them small enough. Much much much better. Under $20.00.

    32. PhyllisB*

      Extra reading glasses!! I was forever looking for my glasses (I wear the cheap Dollar General kind.) I finally went and bought enough to have a pair in every room and extra in the car. Maybe a $30.00 outlay but it made my life so much easier. And now my children can cancel the order for the headstone that says, “WHERE’S MY GLASSES???!!!”

    33. Esmeralda*

      TWO lumbar pillows. One I leave in my car so I never ever forget to take it to the car or to bring it back in. One inside the house.

      TBH, I may buy a third one (!) — so I can have one in the dining room and one in my WFH office and don’t have to go up and down stairs to retrieve it.

      That pillow is life changing — I never want to be hospitalized for back pain ever again, and especially not now. (LOL, however the IV morphine was awesome…)

    34. Wilde*

      – a scalp scrubber/massager. My hair is so much cleaner since using it I can now go 4-5 days between washes. Which, also, gross? How did I not know how to clean my hair properly before?
      – an app called Tody. I think it was recommended here? It schedules your chores for you. When I worked full time I did all my chores on a Saturday but now I’m at home with our kids and cannot remember the last time I vacuumed/cleaned the shower/washed sheets etc so the reminder is so helpful!
      – A little tray designed to hold salt and pepper grinders so they don’t get S&P dust all over the bench

      1. Lizzo*

        Tell me more about this scalp scrubber/massager! I’ve never encountered one of these (and this totally sounds like something I’d enjoy).

      2. Filosofickle*

        I recently discovered one can over-scrub with the silicone scrubber! Man was my scalp irritated. A day later it was fine though, once the oils bounced back. Now I go a little lighter. But it feels so gooooood. And it really helps work through super gentle shampoo on my super dense hair. (I’m doing the curly girl thing, no sulfates, so I have to scrub a lot harder these days.)

  11. Loopy*

    This week I finally started reaching out to therapists. Unfortunately, I waited too long and really should get in ASAP. I used my insurance’s patient portal search for those in network, but more importantly, that were marked as currently accepting new patients.

    Unfortunately, the first therapist I contacted let me know that the insurance sites are often not accurate/updated often enough (she was not accepting new patients despite being marked as that via the website). She was very kind and also apologized for not having someone to refer me to since her usual referrals are also currently fully booked and not accepting new patients. She did let me know many therapists may be fully booked as she hasn’t found anyone to refer patients to currently (I tried not to panic at that possibility).

    While I’ve already reached out to a second, the thought of wasting weeks going down an inaccurate list is making me miserable. Does anyone know of a more reliable site/search method that I can cross reference to try and only contact therapists *actually* accepting new patients? Also, a friend send me a site called talkspace where you can sign up for online sessions, but right now I think I need the privacy of somewhere local rather than trying to do them in my house, or sneaking around to take them from my car. But if it gets to that point, has anyone has good experience with that?

    1. Imtheone*

      Try the search function on Psychology Today. Therapists control their own listings so the info is likely to be more accurate.

      If there is someone who could help you do a first check to see who is accepting new patients, that could help.

      Also, ask your PCP for a referral. That can sometimes help you get to the front of the line.

      1. M*

        I agree with this. My husband is a therapist and he is also full right now. He says EVERYONE is completely full right now. He keeps his status updated almost daily on Psychology Today. He also maintains a waitlist as some clients need short-term assistance so he does pull from his waitlist relatively frequently. My own therapist left private practice recently and I have not been able to find anyone else but my company’s EAP has a therapist I love (I saw her before moving to the one who left) so I’ve been able to work with her while I figure out how to find someone new.

      2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        +1 for Psychology Today

        I’ve found all my therapists through there and it hasn’t steered me wrong yet. You can sort by all kinds of categories.

    2. oranges & lemons*

      My advice might not be particularly applicable since I don’t have health insurance and didn’t have any restrictions in that sense, but I found a clinic that offered a lower rate for interns (Masters students), and the interns also had more availability. I managed to get an appointment with an intern counsellor who I really liked after waiting only a month, as opposed to at least six months for any other therapist I could afford. Maybe there’s a clinic near you that has a similar program?

    3. Grace Less*

      If you (or an immediate family member) are employed, check to see if there is an EAP available. Ours doesn’t offer counseling, but they do offer assistance in locating providers and obtaining appointments.

    4. mreasy*

      This is extremely frustrating and something I have dealt with. I haven’t found a source that can be tried on to regularly update, I’m afraid. Psychology Today and ZocDoc are other options but I’ve found out of date listings on both.

      1. ADHDAnon*

        This is from a long ago Carolyn Hax column, and is amazingly helpful. Write out a script for yourself to use when you make the call – 90% of the time you’ll get voicemail- and since at this point you’re just trying to find openings you don’t need to go through the exhausting (for me anyway) process of saying exactly what’s going on with you.

        Hi, my name is .
        I’m looking for a therapist for (keep it simple) who takes (name insurance).

        I would prefer (remote, weekday, weekend hours). My phone number is: You can leave me a detailed message at this number if I am unable to answer. Again my name is , and my phone number is .

        Also, you can have someone else use the script on your behalf! I.e. Hi, my name is…I’m calling on behalf of a close friend who is look for a therapist for ….

        Also, as above Psychiatry Today and if you have an EAP see if they offer sessions or can help you find a provider.

    5. AceInPlainSight*

      Try seeing if your GP/ PCP can give you a shorter list- I had good luck calling down the list of 5-10 therapists with a script. At least in my area, many note whether they’re accepting new patients in their voicemail message.

    6. Voluptuousfire*

      I use Talkspace. It’s covered by my insurance and it’s helpful. You don’t need to have virtual visits with them—it’s an option but. It requires. I type my thoughts out and my counselor responds via leaving a voicemail in my TS room. If you go for that option, it helps if you have headphones to listen to the responses.

    7. TextHead*

      My insurance partners with a program that helps you find a therapist. They get some details and preferences and reach out on your behalf to make sure they are available.. You may want to see if yours offers something like that.

    8. Loopy*

      Thanks to everyone who replied! I actually got a call back later yesterday morning from someone with openings! They’re able to get me in Monday afternoon too. I’m not sure why but I’m already unsure if it’s a good fit though, or maybe I’m just apprehensive because I had minimal info when reaching out. I’m hoping that’s what’s got me on edge.

      I wish I had known about pyschology today a week ago!! If this one isn’t a good match I’ll definitely try there or by asking my primary care doctor. Also for those who suggested an EAP, I don’t have one currently at my job but I have in the past and will keep it in mind if I ever do again!

    9. llamaswithouthats*

      I found a therapist over the summer by getting in touch with a psychiatrist who then sent me a referral list of therapists in my area. I like the one I settled for, but she isn’t covered by my insurance.

      Psychology Today is more up to date than insurance sites, but no one I contacted through it (I tried by both phone and email) contacted be back, so it ended up being as effective as my insurance site.

    10. Esmeralda*

      I’m so sorry you are going through this. Both my husband and son had to wait quite awhile to get in to see anyone.

      My son really needed to see someone pretty quickly, so he signed up for betterhelp.com and was able to speak with a therapist within two days. He spoke with the therapist a couple of times and emailed questions as well. It is $90/week, can schedule plenty of appts, unlimited texting and emailing. I’m keeping him on it til he has a new therapist and psychiatrist (for meds) where he lives. YOu will have to check with your insurance person (talk to a live person) to see if and how to get reimbursed.

      Can you get recs from friends or your usual provider (internist or ob/gyn or gp)? Then you can look them up online to see if they are accepting patients. THEN check to see if they’re in network. That’s what I did for my husband. While we were waiting for his appts, his internist prescribed an anxiety med and an SSRI. He also ended up in the ER several times til we figured out that people with intense anxiety are not always good judges of whether they need to go to the ER — anyway, the ER doc prescribed a different and more effective anti-anxiety med. Not suggesting you go to ER but if you do end up there, remember to ask them about medications to get you thru til you can get a therapist and / or psychiatrist.

      Sending good thoughts your way. This is such a terrible time, and it is so hard to get mental health care right now because so many folks need it.

      One other thought — your insurance may offer a case management service. If they do, and aren’t charging extra for the service, you might talk with a case manager to see if they can assist you. And to see if you like the case manager.

    11. Lizzo*

      It sounds like you’ve found something, but I wanted to add that most of the therapists I know are only doing teleheath appointments due to COVID. My therapist said they won’t consider going back to in-person appointments until the majority of our city is vaccinated.

      I’m glad you’re taking steps to take care of yourself! Be persistent until you find something that works for you. Hang in there.

  12. Teatime is Goodtime*

    I am starting to learn to sew my own clothes! This is really fun and I’m making good progress. However, having bought off-the-rack my whole life, I have never had this much control over every aspect of fit. I’m noticing that beyond the basics, like it poofs funny here or pulls weirdly there, I’m a little bit at a loss. So, I was hoping for your help.

    I have two questions:
    1) What are some good fit and tailoring resources? Books, videos, Blogs, I’m all ears (or is it eyes?).
    2) Are there celebrities or public figures or other people that you know of that have curated clothes in larger than model sizes? My husband suggested looking at photos of people with my body type to get a sense of what looks good, what flatters where and such like, but I’m again at a loss for where to start. If it helps, I’m slightly below average height and thicker at the hips and bust. Not sure if being more specific would be helpful or weird.

    I’m looking specifically for everyday wear at the moment, but I’m really open to more formal stuff for later. I’m a lady, but don’t like wearing dresses or skirts much. :) Thank you so much everyone!!

    1. Grace*

      Rachel Maksy on youtube sews a lot of her own clothes and talks about making adjustments to account for bust size, hip-waist ratios etc – a lot of what she does is vintage styles, but a lot of the basic ideas would still stand.

      1. Tea and Sympathy*

        I sew quilts, not clothes, so no tips on sewing. But I have found that there are so many YouTube videos for this kind of thing and there will be a Facebook group filled with experienced and helpful people who sew exactly the kind of thing you are interested in.

        1. Teatime is Goodtime*

          Tea and Sympathy, I quilt too! One of the hard parts for me with clothing so far is that I’m actually supposed to sew non-flat-laying seams. I mean, I knew that, but it feels so wrong! And with Jersey and other stretch fabrics it doesn’t have to be exact at all, just good-enough, most of the time. :)

          Happy sewing!

      2. Reba*

        In addition to Rachel Maksy, I’ve appreciated video tutorials by Alexandra Morgan (“Fitting Fundamentals” series) and Sew-To-Fit by AD Lynn (as the name implies, fitting is her whole thing).

        For inspiration, The Curvy Fashionista, Lolo Russell, Gabi Fresh, Girl with Curves. I feel like there were more when blogging was more of a thing, but nowadays it’s all on instagram.

    2. jotab*

      “Sewing with Nancy” is from 40 years ago but I sewed all my kids clothes and a lot of my own. this was in the days of jogging outfits so easy sewing – I’m not an expert. Her fitting advice is the best I’ve ever seen especially for pants with pockets. There are still some videos on youtube from her show.

      1. jotab*

        As I recall, it was her method that made the difference. For pants, you sewed the inseam on both legs together first then fitted the outer leg seams together on your body before sewing so you had a perfect fit.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Nancy (Zieman) did a book “Fitting Finesse”. It shows how to customize your clothes to fit your actual body. I have dabbled with this and had good luck.

    3. Non-nonanon*

      There’s a site called the curvy sewing collective. Pattern testing, fit information, lots of links to sewing and pattern resources, and tons of photos of lovely people modeling clothes they made.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My number one tip is to learn how to layout and cut. This means putting the time in to accurately determine the straight of the goods and in some instances the repeat of the pattern on the cloth. I almost spend more time laying out and cutting than I do completing the item. It’s worth it to see the item hang nicely. The quality of the work shows.

      I recommend splurging and getting any assistive devices you want to do this well. I have bought rulers used in quilting but I use the rulers for regular sewing. I have also bought specialty pins, again, because it’s worth it for me. If you have a JoAnn’s near you, you can sign up for their mailing list. They seem to offer a lot of 50% off coupons and that is how I allowed myself these indulgences.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Yes, this is great advice! I’ve already got rulers, roll-cutters and good scissors and such because I quilt…but I definitely need a bigger cutting mat. And better tracing paper. :) There’s an equipment learning curve that I was not expecting, but I’m starting to figure that out a bit. Thank you for the comment!

    5. RagingADHD*

      This is all great advice. I’d add that there is only a small step from detail fitting and pattern adjustment, to pattern drafting.

      Whenever you fit a garment, copy the final markings back onto your pattern. Then you have a record for next time.

      Once you have basic top and pants patterns that fit well, you can use them as templates (aka slopers) to quickly adjust new patterns before cutting out, or even create new patterns from scratch.

      One great shortcut is to take ready-to-wear clothes that already fit great, trace them out and copy them. There’s a book called “Making Patterns From Finished Clothes” that covers how to get an accurate tracing without cutting the garment up, which can be fiddly.

      Self-made clothes are so satisfying, especially when you have trouble finding the fit or style you want in stores!

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Oh yes, I’ve already gotten one pattern from an existing garment and ended up cutting it up (it had a nasty stain that wasn’t coming out, so I was ok with that) because I couldn’t get a good fit on the shoulder. I absolutely wondered how to do it without that in the future, so I’ll check that out. And I’m really interested in making my own patterns, too! I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but I want to be. :) Thank you for the tips.

    6. LNLN*

      The magazine THREADS (Taunton Press) is all about sewing garments. They have articles on both advanced and basic sewing and fitting techniques. They are likely to have books or DVDs that collected their fitting articles. Good luck! I am super tall and have been sewing my own clothes for 55 years.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I’ll check them out! I think I’m trying to work on mastering a few things first, but I’m sure once I’ve worked through that I’ll get bored and want more regular input and new ideas, so this is great.

        And go you for sewing your own clothes for so long! If you don’t mind my asking: Is everything in your wardrobe from you, or do you only do some kinds of sewing? I’ve been thinking about the future and don’t quite know the pros and cons of doing it all myself vs picking and choosing, if that makes sense.

        1. LNLN*

          When I was younger, I sewed almost all of my own clothes (winter coats, blazers, slacks, blouses, dresses, skirts, bathing suits, my wedding dress, nightgowns). Now I can buy more clothes that are long enough for me (I love you, Eddie Bauer!), so I don’t need to sew as much. Also, sewing clothes now does not save as much money as it used to. What I love about sewing clothes is that you can get exactly the style you want and, with a little practice, exactly the fit you want. Good luck in your endeavors!

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Thank you! I’ll be checking this out, it sounds great. :) Shirts are on the top of my list at the moment!

    7. Should I apply?*

      A lot of the indie sewing pattern companies also have blogs where they will often have articles about fit and adjusting patterns. Also sew – alongs which are great because they have more detail and pictures then the instructions. Some of my favorites are closet core patterns, Cashmerette, grain line studio. I also second the recommendation for the curvy sewing collective.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. I have the older version . The best parts of the book are diagrams showing fit problems (example “top bunches between shoulder blades”). It tells how to alter a pattern to solve the issue.

  13. Greta Garbo*

    Relationship angst ahead, and a request for coping strategies:

    Spouse and I have been together for 40+ years, much of that married. Spouse is at bottom a good person and loves me, and tries their best to show it (though in a really tone deaf way more often than not). My problem, at it’s most basic, is that we have grown into very different people over the years and I feel like I’ve grown in a drastically different direction than they have. And I don’t know how to handle it.

    I care about them, but I don’t love them like I used to. Quite frankly if it were possible I would be ecstatic to live alone, on my own, be my own single self-sustaining person. For a myriad of reasons that just isn’t feasible, the main one being that it would break Spouse’s heart and I just can’t hurt them that way. Spouse also had a really serious accident several years ago and though they are back at 98% fully functional, I can see some lingering challenges that time and age are going to exacerbate. There was a head injury, and there are some processing and memory challenges that aren’t serious now, but may well get worse down the road. I don’t see how I can abandon them …

    I need to find a way to rein in my irritation with so many things that Souse does, with their general habits. I don’t want to be a nag and a mother, but neither do I want to live in cluttered, expensive chaos. FWIW, most of our lives up until recently have been with Spouse earning the lion’s share of our income, and me doing everything else. And I do mean everything. That’s changed a bit (at least Spouse is doing their own laundry now and running their own errands) but I’ve increased my work load out of the house (my pay is crap but I love my job) and am still doing the bulk of Everything Else.

    So, finally, I guess my question is … How do I navigate continuing to live with someone I’ve spent over half my life with when their presence is more of an irritation than a comfort? They aren’t abusive or hateful, they want me to be happy, *they* love *my* company, but they don’t really hear me or see me, I don’t think. I’m like a security blanket (and pretty much their only friend too, which makes this all more difficult).

    I feel like a horrible, ungrateful person since my current confidence is a direct result of being handed our life to manage, in kind of a sink-or-swim manner. I started out as shy, timid, an endless worrier and pleaser. I’m still a bit of a worrier and definitely a pleaser, but I now know I can tackle ANYthing. That’s thanks to my life with Spouse. I need to figure out how to tackle this mess.

    If you’ve successfully navigated something similar, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

      1. Greta Garbo*

        We have and I have. The couple’s counseling did result in a bit more listening to what I actually am saying vs what they think I’m saying, and in taking on their own chores. The single counseling was frustrating because the counselor/therapist essentially blamed me for not being loving or grateful enough. Left a bad taste in my mouth. I know that’s only one counselor out of millions, but between that slap down and my current level of no-time-for-anything I just haven’t had the intestinal fortitude to go looking again.

    1. Bobina*

      Oof. I think being their only friend is the part that gets me because I would not cope well with that at all.

      My first instinct is to say find a way to bring individual activities into your lives to help create space. Hobbies are the obvious answer – are there things you do (or can do) that give you an excuse to spend more time on your own or outside of the house. Are there things you can encourage *him* to do that dont require you to be there (I’m thinking of that old classic, golf). I realise pandemic doesnt really help, but its one to consider. Essentially a focus on making time together be a specific, deliberate thing rather than the default behaviour.

      I guess reading this, the analogy that comes to mind is weaning a child off depending on you for everything and teaching them independence. You dont want to cut off all ties, but you want them to be able to survive without you. I would approach this in more of a stealthy manner where you dont come out and say it directly (although I’ve heard of good approaches to take with partners where you use the line “oh, if something ever happened to me, its important that you know how to do these things and take care of yourself!”) but kind of sneak these things into your life and routine until in a few years, you are able to have more time to do what you want and they can live without you or there is more of a balance in your interactions. Basically the reverse situation of when you hear couples say how “they just drifted apart without noticing”.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        This is what I would recommend as well. Even if Spouse doesn’t want to get a new hobby, it is ok for you to find something that takes you out of the house a night or two a week. You could even try something together, like dancing, after the pandemic is gone.

        Also consider if there are aspects that, as Captain Awkward says, ‘can be helped by throwing money at it’. Can you afford a cleaner once or twice a month, and would that help you feel more comfortable?

    2. 00ff00Claire*

      From your description, it appears to me that your spouse’s accident set into motion a chain of events that has brought you to this place. I may be reading it wrong though, so I encourage you to first think through what really is the ‘issue’. I too, highly recommend counseling.

      Have you had counseling, together and individually, to help you both navigate the changes you’ve experienced? Or a support group, specifically for caregivers?

      I have family members and friends that are going through similar, but different, situations. The couples have all gone to counseling, but not all the same type. Two couples have gone to counseling specifically focused on navigating the impact of the medical diagnosis, and for the caregiver, individual support for their changing role. These two couples recognize that the role of counseling is to support them in the midst of the situation they are facing, not as a means to “fix” something that has broken. The third couple I know has also received counseling, but their view on the purpose of counseling was different. They sought only mariage counseling and focused on the problems in the marriage. The counselors they saw did not specialize in life changing medical diagnoses, and that combined with the couple’s approach to counseling, the counseling wasn’t really very helpful.

      I’m not trying to say that only one type of counseling could be helpful to you. Just that in your particular circumstances, the effect of a right “fit” with the counselor could be stronger.

      As far as you being responsible for everything, does your spouse have interest or are they willing to learn how to do more? If that answer is no, is there anything you can outsource, like hiring a cleaner or utilizing a meal subscription? Maybe that could ease some of the burden of responsibility that you currently feel.

    3. Anonymoose*

      I have struggled for years in my own relationship and I don’t know if my experience is helpful but I’ll offer it.

      A few years ago my partner decided to start their own business which required being on a computer, so they could do it from our home. I was fully supportive, but said that after a year I wanted them to find a workplace elsewhere. In the end, it was years later, and during a pandemic, that they finally got an office nearby. I was getting to the end of my patience because I’m now also working from home and I couldn’t escape them.

      Being at home and having no other options for time away has been difficult.

      Partner gets grumpy because they feel confident that they do half the cleaning. I’m grumpy because I definitely have a lot more work cleaning up, so my conclusion is that they make 90% of the mess. I hate cleaning up before going to bed and waking up to a kitchen that has been used and not cleaned.

      I have asked them to clean up more, but they have responded that they won’t change. I am so tired of living with them.

      I have felt so much better now that they are at their office (it is isolated, no health worries). They still make a mess at home sometimes, but I have time to myself and it makes a big difference. I’m still tired, but I have much improved since last April.

    4. Still*

      I’ve never been in your shoes so I won’t pretend to know what you might be going through, but I have a few thoughts:

      1. You don’t owe Spouse gratitude or eternal servitude just because you’ve become a better and more confident person during your time together. Sure, they might have contributed to it in a large way, but other people don’t have the power make us change if we don’t want to change and don’t actively work towards it. And people come out of relationships all the time, often better and smarter and more confident; that does not mean they owe anything to their partner once the relationship is over.

      I am not saying you shouldn’t stay with Spouse, I’m just saying: don’t use the fact that you’ve grown and improved as a stick to beat yourself with.

      2. Are the things Spouse does that annoy you things that are innocuous and just a matter of preference? Or are they things that any reasonable person would likely be annoyed with? Is this a pet peeves / Eating Crackers situation, or is Spouse genuinely being thoughtless or selfish?

      3. Spouse WANTING you to be happy doesn’t really matter a whole lot if they are doing things that actively make you unhappy / aren’t doing things that actually make you happy / are making you feel unheard and unseen. I feel like there is an imbalance here where you think they WANT you to be happy and therefore you’re willing to actively do stuff to MAKE them happy. If all they do is wish for you to be happy while actively doing stuff that makes THEM happy, how about you return the favour and wish them all the happiness in the world while actively focusing on doing what actually makes you happy?

      Trading your actions for somebody else’s intentions sounds like a bad deal to me.

      4. Does Spouse still work? Is there a plan for changing up the division of labour once they’ve retired? You’ve said that for the majority of your life together Spouse has earned money and you have done everything else. Surely the moment Spouse gets to retire from work, you should get to retire from managing the entire household? Laundry and errands are a great first step, but it sounds like there is way more to tackle (you mention clutter and expenses?) Is Spouse willing to put in the work to change how you two operate? Because if they’re not willing to contribute, again, maybe you should reevaluate how much effort you’re willing to put in.

      5. I guess my question is: you feel like you can’t possibly abandon them, but have they been abandoning you, just in small ways?

      I’m sorry if this is harsh, I really don’t mean it to be. You just seem to place an awful lot of responsibility on yourself. I can understand that after years of relationship you might not be as close, as in love, as excited about each other, have as many things to talk about, share as many interests. But surely you should still be able to work out ways to be good housemates who aren’t actively detracting from each other’s happiness, even if they’re not adding to it. You might not be in love anymore, but a good housemate who does the dishes is a thousand times better than one who leaves a mess for you to pick up!

      I wish you a lot of relief and happiness!

      1. Reba*

        All of these points and especially #3! This might be an “actions speak louder than words” moment. Of course, actions and words are not an either/or thing, but often I think a person’s behavior demonstrates what they really think and feel — something they may not even realize about themselves! (that is, I’m not saying that an action-word mismatch means intentional deception, just that there is more to dig into there.)

        Counseling — ideally with someone with some experience with brain injury — would be good.

        Also, Greta Garbo, I realize that you have taken leaving off the table right from the start, but I’d urge you to keep it as an option. What would you want and do if you had the freedom? You say you “just can’t hurt them” — would you want to live with a person who didn’t fully love you, who stayed with you out of guilt/to avoid having a painful conversation, who would be “ecstatic” to be without you?

        Best wishes to you.

    5. ten four*

      You might head over to Captain Awkward’s site – she gives absolutely top-notch relationship advice, and I can think of a few of her columns that are quite similar to the situation you’ve written out here.

      You seem like a really kind person and a strong one. I see a lot of really negative self-talk in this letter! I hope you can get to a place where you can tackle challenges in your life from a place of valuing yourself. This is your one and only life – it’s good and right to build a life that is peaceful and satisfying.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I’m going to give you some advice that you didn’t ask for, but here it is. This is coming from the perspective of someone who did care for an ill partner for many years until his death, so I understand the moral imperative to remain available to a partner and I also really really know the toll that it takes. The thing that I want to stress is, my partner and I had a good relationship prior to his illness, and we maintained a good relationship during his illness. I loved him very much, and making his experience easier was a good in itself to me, even though the circumstances were hard. If we had not had a good relationship or if I hadn’t loved him the way that I did, it would have been much harder and more difficult for me. I actually can’t express how hard that would have been.

      What I want to say is, don’t set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm. This is your only life. Don’t sacrifice your own happiness, even for your partner. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely ditch him and all of your responsibilities to him. It’s possible for you to live separately, for example, but for you to remain his medical POA and to help him with his medical care – including lining up other resources to assist him so that you are not his personal aide. It’s possible for you to steer him to housekeeping services, or other providers of the services that you have been performing, or to show him how to do those adequately enough for himself. You can prioritize in your own mind what is MOST morally imperative for you to assist him with (medical care, yes, making new friends, maybe not). You’re not responsible for making him *as happy* as he was with you. You are probably responsible for keeping him physically safe and helping him to find ways to adjust to his new situation, if he is willing to accept that help.

      If you’re going to do this stuff, the time is now. He’s not going to get better or more competent, so it’s important to get a system in place where people other than you are available to assist him in the future, and where he is able to cope without your constant presence.

      I am so sorry that you are going through this. I hope that my advice isn’t offensive to you. If you choose to stay in your situation, I do very much hope that you can find a way to maintain your own quality of life.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Piggy-backing this reply also as someone who is on the other side of the story. I agree with Not a Manager 200%.
        When my husband got sick, I had done enough of elder care for family members that I was able to define what I needed from him. (Bear with me, I have a parallel point for your setting.) I told my husband that in order for him to remain here in our home, I needed him to help with his own personal care and help with his medical decisions. (I couldn’t lift him and I could not provide 24 hour care- I have to sleep, not optional. I have my own health concerns and I could end up in the ER if I am not careful. )

        He was the first terminally ill person I took care of who ACTUALLY did this- he lived up to what he agreed to with his self care and his treatment decisions.

        So you see how specific I got with him. Yes, that was a very candid conversation but he was also ready for it and accepting of it. I think he was almost relieved to be honest. For you in your setting, I suggest thinking about what it would take for things to work for you right now. It looks to me like hiring someone to help with all the work he does not do would be a good starting point. I suspect your husband will be willing to accommodate any ideas that you have that show thinking and planning. This conversation would include saying the levels of clutter are not something you can continue living with. But atm, I’d target the uneven work load as your number one issue, just because you have to start somewhere and clearing this up will allow you to see the next step you want to take.

        If you haven’t gone through living wills and health care proxies, etc. I suggest you do that together. This will give you a feel for where he is at and it will also give you some food for thought on your overall setting right now. (They have you pick out secondaries so although you’d probably name each other you both will have to pick someone else, also. Secondaries are important, don’t skip this step.)

        After my husband passed someone at church came up to me and said, “Did you say to yourself, ‘This is what marriage IS? This is all I get?'” I busted out laughing because that is EXACTLY what I thought. My laughter was the huge relief that someone else understood and felt a similar feeling. Marriage is not the sum total of life. It’s only a part of life.

        As I read what you have here, I started to cry because I get this. I get the feeling of listlessness, waiting for the other shoe to drop, being in a holding pattern for no real reason except for the fact that partner is not able to do more. When our partner’s life slows down, our own life slows down with them. It’s extremely challenging to be the healthier spouse and we don’t talk about that very much. You want to go and do stuff but Partner, not so much.

        To me, this is what marriage looks like after decades together. The torrid romance is over, the honeymoon period is over and it’s more like two friends taking care of each other. Only it ends up that one friend is the stronger one and does most of the heavy lifting.
        What love looks like has to change. Things that were appropriate 40 years ago, just no longer fit with life as it is now.
        Additionally, I think that some of this happens to help prepare the healthier partner for life on their own later on.

        Bottomline what I see in your post is (and I could be misreading/missing other info/etc):
        You still love him but it’s different now as it manifests as “not wanting to hurt his heart”. This can be a form of love. Right, it’s no where near what it was 40 years ago.
        He still loves you as you say he is concerned about your happiness. Yes, you are his security blanket. He is trying to figure out how to reciprocate and be YOUR security blanket. Let him. Tell him point blank how he can do that- (suggestions of hiring household help and reducing clutter as starting points.) It’s time for the two of you to meet the people you each have become. (Am saying this through tears.)

        You both have had enough changes in life that it is time to start assessing your current needs and meeting some of those needs such as updating legal documents. Do it now, while he is still doing okay and can be considered legally responsible. (Yes, my husband and I RAN to the lawyer’s. His condition was so bad that the lawyer had us sit and WAIT while they typed up the final version of the documents. I have never seen anything like this. In one appointment we walked out with the documents. Those documents provided our basis for how we handled many other matters. It was definitely not a waste of time as it clarified our thinking and got us on the same page.)

        It’s okay to revamp what you are doing now in order to stay together. And it’s okay to stay and think about leaving all the time. That can be a coping tool of sorts.

        Going the other way, it’s okay to leave and think about staying. This could look like you have a place of your own and you are on your own but you check in on him and/ or help coordinate his care. So while not physically there, you are still watching over him in some form.

        FWIW, what you show here are some of the reasons why I don’t date and have no interest in remarrying. I put a lot into my marriage and I am not sure if I can do that again. I am happy on my own, too, so that is also a factor. And yeah, it’s okay to be happy on your own. No one ever said that marriage would be the hardest work I will do in my life… they should have told me….

        1. Workerbee*

          Thank you, so much, for sharing this wisdom. And retroactively, I am sorry for what you had to go through to get it. I’m glad you have happiness.

    7. Jay*

      Second, third, the advice for counseling. It will give you a safe place to process the emotions you’re experiencing and support for whatever decisions you make. The therapist may also have concrete suggestions for things you can do.

      Can you make yourself a space in the house that’s just yours? That you have complete control over and can retreat to?

      What would happen if you went about your life without trying to meet his emotional needs? It’s not your responsibility that you’re his only friend. That’s his lookout. In the US, at least, this is a pretty common scenario for men when they retire. Most or all of their social contacts were through work and they suddenly find themselves socially isolated. There’s a pretty funny comedy routine that includes the line “If you’re dad’s a boomer, he doesn’t have friends. Your mom has friends, and they have husbands.” This is difficult and still not the wife’s problem to solve.

      So you can have your life, your friends, and your activities. If he’s lonely, he can figure out how to find meetups or online groups or other activities.

      The housework is harder. If you haven’t already had the conversation, it’s worth having once. Frame it in I terms – “When I do xyz all the time, it makes me feel overwhelmed/taken advantage of/frustrated (fill in your emotion). I need you to abc.” Don’t frame it as “helping.” Then see what he says and see if he does it. How much can you afford to outsource? Cleaning? Laundry? Cooking? Outsourcing cooking can mean eating takeout or getting a meal kit delivered or buying premade meals from a home chef. One of my friends hired a college student to come over for an hour a two a day and clean the kitchen, do the dishes, and keep up with the laundry. I thought that was utterly brilliant. If my husband were still working full-time I would absolutely have done it now that we have enough money.

      Take the time to figure out what you really want, what your bottom line is, and what your possible courses of action are. Talking that over with a professional will really help.

    8. D3*

      I am in a similar place. Marriage isn’t bad but not longer as fulfilling as it used to be because we’ve grown separate ways and lost interest in some of the things that initially connected us. Empty nest hasn’t helped. Splitting up would be a lot of pain for us and for the kids, and doesn’t seem *necessary* when I’m not unhappy so much as unfulfilled.
      And division of labor is definitely an issue – as the kids have left a redistribution of who does what is necessary and he won’t see it.
      I’m finding hobbies and going back to school have helped me to find purpose and accomplishment.
      We are still making an effort on our marriage and hopefully this is just an off season for our marriage. We’ve had them before on a smaller scale. I hope we’ll find a better connection again, but I’m not centering my whole world/hopes on that.

    9. Courageous cat*

      Counseling, but also, “don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm” is a saying that comes to mind. If you got divorced, you could leave nearby and still support him for whatever he needs, as a friend – if you/he wanted. Please don’t resign yourself to a life of mediocrity just on account of someone’s feelings, even though I absolutely understand the temptation to.

      1. ThatGirl*

        All of this. I’d also like to say …let’s see if I can word this right. OP deserves to be happy but Spouse also does, and deserves someone who loves them fully and/or is a better suited companion. Or to have the chance to be happy on their own. Choosing to stay with someone because you think they’d be miserable without you takes their agency away as much as yours.

    10. Sooda Nym*

      You sound like you feel trapped. When I feel trapped, a few things happen: I make poor decisions, my perspective is colored (so things that might be mildly annoying are now catastrophic) and I tend toward depression.

      Can you reframe this for yourself, at least for a while, by choosing to stay? You can start short term. Tell yourself “I choose to stay today because I used to love him, and tomorrow I can choose again.” Then tomorrow, “I choose to stay this week because he made me a better person.” I think my goal would be to choose an extended time period (six months? a year?) and tell myself I’d re-evaluate at the end. For six months, do what you can to improve the relationship and the situation. Go to counseling, find new activities you enjoy together, find ways to spend alone time on things you enjoy, etc (lots of good advice here already). Honor your past. Honor your promises. And don’t feel trapped – because this was only a six month commitment.

      In six months, re-evaluate. Are things better? Do you want to keep working at this? Do you need to start working on an exit strategy? Do you just want to give it another six months and re-evaluate again? You can give yourself a chance to find out how much “feeling trapped” is contributing to your feeling of hopelessness, without actually needing to leave.

    11. LibbyG*

      In my first marriage, I had to be the grown up for various reasons, and I didn’t quite realize how exhausting it was until I took a temporary job that had me staying in my own tiny studio apt during the week. It was glorious! And, it took a few years, but I eventually realized that it’s ok to leave a relationship with a good, loving person if it doesn’t work.

      I’m now remarried to someone who is basically an equal partner, but has some health challenges that shift some burdens to me now and will likely shift more as we age.

      I envision our partnership like a Venn diagram where our two circles currently overlap a lot (especially because of parenting school-age kids). As we age, though, I think our circles will spread apart more and more from different interests, priorities, and especially capacities. I don’t really know. It isn’t simple to be simultaneously committed to our partnership and to meeting my own needs. No one thing goes “first” always and everywhere.

      Best of luck to you in navigating this and finding the order and peace and autonomy you need.

    12. RagingADHD*

      You feel alone and that Spouse is the problem. Anybody would, under the circumstances. But if things are going to change for the better, y’all need to somehow get to a point where you are both on the same side, dealing with the mutual problem of this major life change and the way it’s affected your marriage.

      This may sound overly simplistic, but one avenue to approach it — has the injury and its aftermath affected your physical intimacy?

      In a long marriage, physical intimacy goes way beyond physical. It makes a huge difference on your sense of unity, your emotional connection, and honestly goes a long way to smoothing over the daily irritations of living with another person.

      It also helps make a safe space to talk about difficult stuff, because it affirms and reinforces trust and committment.

      It’s not a magic bullet that fixes everything, but it’s worth thinking about because it’s connected to everything in a relationship.

      You’re in a hard, complicated situation that doesn’t have any easy answers. I’ve just found over the years that reconnecting on the physical level always makes it noticeably easier to work other things out.

    13. Wishing You Well*

      Wow. I hear you.
      You sound, among other things, exhausted. Before you make any relationship decisions, please consider smaller changes. It’s harder during a pandemic, of course. Consider getting more housework help from your spouse or a service. Consider finding time and space for yourself without Spouse. I sense you could use regular breaks from them to recharge your batteries. Spouse needs a social outlet and maybe more medical monitoring of their health issues. There might be therapies or help out there. Please ask your/their health care about getting more support for both of you.
      Living on top of each other is hard, especially now. Please try some changes. Some changes won’t work and some changes might surprise you. I feel for you and wish you a better future, whatever shape that takes.

    14. Laura H.*

      So I say this as an adult offspring of one parent who has developed a mental condition which in combination with a prior one threw a lot into chaos for about a year and a half, and past it by about a year. And also as someone who’s been a bit more stuck with the same three people more than usual for the duration of the pandemic.

      That mindset of “doing for my parent, or in the throes of the chaos, I likened it to “making sure the veggies get eaten” is a really hard one to completely get out of- even I think a year and a half later, it’s about 95% changed to a new normal. Give yourself time and go easy on yourself about that. I wasn’t in “survival mode” but it was very trying, and I imagine that’s difficult to get away from.

      Time away (both routine and more spontaneous) is also very crucial in my close contact relationships. It helps keep me from being someone I don’t want to be (unpleasant to live with).

      Try small and routine breaks if you can.

      I hope it resolves in a way that helps you both.

    15. Anonmoose*

      I’m in a weirdly similar place. No solution, just commiseration.

      My spouse had to quit ADD meds, due to kidney and liver damage (yes, he was that bad, on a massive dose for decades). The full-blown raging ADD version of him is intolerable; I would never have dated this person. I have to manage our entire lives because he is incapable of paying attention, keeping appointments, or finishing anything. It’s like chasing around a destructive toddler; he demands my constant unwavering attention. I quit caring about books, movies, and television because he won’t shut up long enough to let me to enjoy them. Sleep is my only real escape, and even then I have to wear earplugs, because he tries to wake me up to chat because he’s bored.

      Leaving him would mean he has no income and no health insurance, and nobody to advocate for him once he transitions into early dementia, which is all but guaranteed based on his family history and severe symptoms. (He has the worst insomnia I’ve ever seen; he can’t sleep until he’s hallucinating from multiple days of being awake. I’ve had to confiscate his driver’s license.) A pile of medical specialists (including psychiatrists, neurologists, and sleep disorder therapists) have all thrown their hands in the air and given up.

      Despite all this, he’s a gregarious person with varied interests who loves to learn and always wants to make me laugh. The good version of him is getting buried under piles of garbage.

      I don’t have an answer. Either I abandon him, or act as his caregiver, just like I had to do for his dad’s dementia, which started in his early 50s. Everything feels hopeless.

      1. Laura H.*

        I don’t know if it will help but look into NAMI (and apologies I can never remember what the acronym fully stands for).

        And can you make time for you to breathe in whatever form it takes, be it hobbies, a virtual group, or as simple as grabbing a coffee? That doesn’t fix the problem but it might help you deal with it a little bit better.

    16. oranges & lemons*

      This is a tough position to be in. It sounds like you’ve done a lot for your spouse, and aren’t seeing much in the way of appreciation or reciprocation from them. And it sounds like they’ve gotten pretty comfortable letting you be in charge. Maybe they feel like more of a responsibility than a partner sometimes.

      Not to make this sound adversarial, but since it seems like your spouse is a lot more heavily invested in your relationship than you are, it puts you in a good position to set up some firm boundaries and protect your own time and interests. Think about some concrete things that would make your relationship more livable for you–maybe a few hours to yourself each day, or more help around the house. Maybe you could set aside a room for yourself where you can just do your own thing, uninterrupted. You can lay it on the line for your partner that you need these things and you need their support in making them happen.

      If they agree in principle but don’t follow through, you can impose consequences by easing up on some of the things you do to make their life more comfortable every day (obviously not in cases where they really need support, but more minor things). It might be difficult, because it sounds like you’re used to being a pleaser and trying to be helpful to your partner, but I think it’s fair to ease off on all of the time and energy you invest in their happiness if you’re not receiving any support in return.

    17. Girasol*

      I’m reading this avidly because I’m in much the same position. I’d come to the conclusion that Not So New Reader did: marriage starts with romance, then there’s the honeymoon, then eventually two friends caring for each other, one of whom will naturally end up with more responsibility than the other. Having the greater responsibility makes me stronger and builds my patience; I try to remember that when I get frustrated and imagine how glad I will be for it in years to come. But two other thoughts: you object to his clutter, a problem I share and saw with my folks’ relationship too. Husband and I have a truce: he gets two rooms and a bath to mess up however he wants. I can close the doors but I may not touch anything. I get a room for me and the living room and kitchen to keep clean and tidy. He doesn’t leave stuff lying around there because he doesn’t want me to move his things, so that works out. The other thing that helped is that when I retired I took up some activities that involved being out of the house, not all the time but often. At first he objected to me going off and leaving him alone for a few hours. I stuck to it and eventually he reacted by expanding his own external activities, so we both “get a life” other than sitting home all the time getting on each others’ nerves. That was a win/win that I didn’t expect. It’s not perfect, and I know this will get tougher as he starts to need me to be more of a full time carer. But I practice finding as much joy in the day as I can and hope that I will keep learning ways to cope as the task gets tougher.

    18. Bubblegum Blue*

      I am not really surprised. Taking on the role as a carer for your spouse is really hard, even if things are much better now. If you don’t look after yourself, it will drain you until you have nothing let to give but resentment and guilt for the resentment.

      You need to start doing things that are just for you.

      I would also talk to other people that have been thrust into the carers role. I really doubt the impact on your relationship is unique. Just talking to people who understand would be helpful and they might have practical advice on how to navigate your relationship changes. Perhaps search online?

      If your husband is well again, you need to see your husband as an attractive man again and not someone you look after. I don’t have your experiences but I will say that my husband and I went through a rough patch and the big thing in finding our way back to each other was having fun together. It takes time and it is hard in the beginning. But be silly together, shake up your routine, try new experiences etc. Be a team. Counseling is helpful too but you need positive experiences together to start rewriting how you look at them.

      Don’t be hard on yourself. If nothing else, martyrism efficiently squashes feelings of being desirable and amazing, or any inclinations to have fun or climb your husband like a tree.

    19. ..Kat..*

      Would it help if you were able to carve out a space in your home that is just for you? Say a spare bedroom that you decorate and maintain just the way you want.

    20. Greta Garbo*

      Thanks everyone for your responses, lots of good food for thought.
      I should clarify a couple things, I guess.

      I am a total introvert. My need to be alone (as in no other human around me, rather than simply not interacting) is deep. I work a client-facing customer service type job 5 days a week, so coming home to a quiet, empty house with just my (many!) pets for company is my idea of heaven. I am not lonely, I have good friends nearby and I like the people I work with, but at my core I’m a hermit whose preference is animals over people. That’s where the irritation comes in, because Spouse is also fairly introverted, but they like noise and bright lights. Bluetooth headphones for them are a godsend for me!

      Spouse is in no way disabled. They are in a professional career, and any trouble they have with job(s) is simply due to personality traits. If you didn’t know them well and know the backstory you’d have no idea that there was a very serious head injury in the recent past. I can see some processing issues, but that’s because we have such a long history together. The concern though is Alzheimer’s, which studies have proved can be more common in those with a TBI. Spouse is doing the utmost to stave that off with a rigorous exercise program, so … we wait and see.

      We each have our own interests and hobbies. Theirs terrifies me and I have no interest in trying it (think extreme rock climbing or sky diving) and quite frankly I’m not sure I want to share mine. It’s my escape. Mine also requires a good deal of practice and expertise, and it’s not something you can just start up on a whim, go and do sporadically and be safe. Spouse has a hard enough time staying current in his own hobby, there’s no way they’d be able to take on another learning and practice intensive sport. We actually are pretty happy each going and doing our own thing, and then sharing stories at the end of the day.

      I have thought about splitting up. It would be difficult in part because of the way that we live. Spouse is next best thing to a hoarder, and our latest move was a trial I don’t want to face again for a long, long time! We also have an animal family that I am mostly responsible for and who I love dearly. The critters require a setup that needs space, and my current income is not remotely enough to pay the mortgage plus bills. I’m working very, very hard to change that. I NEED to be self-sufficient, even if we don’t part ways. I can no longer rely on Spouse’s job – they are paid extremely well but that doesn’t matter much when there’s no continuity. I’m so very tired of getting my hopes up, making plans for the house etc, and then having the rug pulled out from under my feet.

      Anyway, I know I’m so much luckier than many in the world, and I shouldn’t bitch. It’s sad that we’ve grown apart – or that *I’ve* grown apart, I guess – but there is a lot of good in my life that I guess I need to focus on. I will find a way to deal with the irritation factor, and cut us both a little slack as well.

      Thanks everyone, your input is appreciated!

      1. Natalie*

        This might be a kind of wild hair, but I’ve thought about it for my husband and I (we have kids but once they’re out of the house) – what if you each lived in the different halves of a duplex, or in small houses next door to each other? The logistics of that would obviously take some doing and a lot of it would be very specific to you as individuals, but I wonder if, conceptually, it would give you enough space and privacy to take some of the pressure off.

        1. Greta Garbo*

          I would love it, Spouse would not. Frankly I would be pretty happy with separate bedrooms, but that is a total nonstarter for Spouse. They like my presence even if we are each doing different things.
          I sure have thought of it though!

          1. Not A Manager*

            I just want to pop in and say that whether you stay or whether you leave, I don’t think it’s always useful to treat your spouse’s preferences as a total veto to your own needs. If you *need* to have a separate bedroom, maybe you should tell your spouse that instead of asking. Then the conversation would be about how you can continue to meet his need for companionship *even though* you are going to sleep in separate rooms.

            If you don’t *need* separate rooms but you do need more time/space to yourself, then the conversation could be about how you both can meet your own need for solitude *while* also meeting his need for companionship. Then the conversation would be, “if I don’t sleep in a separate room, then how can we assure that I get sufficient privacy at other times?” He doesn’t get to invade your daytime experience with lights and sound, AND prevent you from having a private nighttime experience, too.

            I’m also a bit puzzled about how your spouse’s hoarding is a barrier to your separating? Surely if you separate then your spouse is responsible for his stuff?

            My advice would be to find someone that you can talk to about this on your own. A joint person for both of you together is fine too, but you need a space to work through what’s actually best for you at this point in your life.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Hoarding. The problem is getting the hoarding spouse to clean the house to prep it for sale.
              What I saw happen was the spouse who left remained on the hook for a house they could not unload. Worse, since Exiting Spouse was not there to nag all day long, even less got done, which did not seem possible and yet that’s what happened. There were additional problems, such as Exiting Spouse could not find/access some of their things and necessary paperwork was MIA.

              I do agree strongly that no one has final veto. There still has to be compromise. I love how you frame OP’s right to have quiet time in HER own house and I so very much agree.

          2. Still*

            You’re the expert on your own life and know your situation best, but speaking as a complete stranger, I don’t see why Spouse’s preference to share a bedroom trumps your preference to have separate bedrooms. It’s such an intimate thing, I feel like it should fall into the “need two to opt in and only one to opt out” category. But again, you’re the one who knows best what’s realistic for you! <3

            1. sswj*

              Picking my battles. Plus our house is not set up to easily allow separate bedrooms.

              On the hoarder front, I don’t ever want to move again if I don’t have to. This was my 33rd? move in my 50-odd years, and we were and are not military. I can’t see Spouse willingly packing all the crap to make a move out they don’t want in the first place.

    1. nep*

      (I’d rather not use drops, but will if I have to. Have you seen marked improvement by using warm compresses, massaging upper/lower eyelids? I know the cause is an important factor–anyway, interested in anything people have found to relieve or prevent dry eye.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do both of those things and they work fine in the short run. (I actually never found any real benefit from drops, though I might have just been doing them wrong since I hate putting things in my eyes.) Long term, nothing is going to fix it for me until I get better at blinking when I’m looking at screens or book pages, and since I’m doing one of those two things for probably 70% of my waking hours …

        1. nep*

          Thanks.
          Right–I’ve been working on blinking more often and for longer throughout the day. I reckon if I do all of these practices consistently, they would make a difference. Consistency trumps everything.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      Have you checked the humidity levels in your space?

      I struggled with dry ice eyes, couldn’t wear my contact lenses very very long, and so forth. Then it was suggested to me that that the air in my living room was very dry. I checked it and it was at 25% (recommended is between 35 and 45 percent, but not above 45!). I bought myself a humidifier and it has made a huge difference for me. No more dry eyes, or feeling vaguely tired in the afternoons due to that!

      Note:I am in a cold climate where the air usually gets dry in the winter, especially indoors due to heating.

      Other than that, I like the gel- type drops (can be used before you put in contact lenses). I use the other type in addition if I need to when I’m wearing lenses.

      1. nep*

        Thanks.
        I know that our house is way too dry–I wake up parched all the time. Working on that. I’ve been looking at humidifiers, but haven’t tried one yet.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Not sure if this would work for you.
          My bedroom is super dry. I took a clothes drying rack and set it up permanently in my room. I don’t use my dryer much anyway, so there are usually plenty of clothes to hang up every couple days. Some stuff takes longer to dry so most nights I have something damp hanging on the rack.
          Added bonus, the dry clothes are right next to the closet or dresser they belong in once dry.

          If this would not work in your setting, I would next suggest setting out bowls of water. Freshen the water frequently of course. (Yes, I am excessively frugal sometimes. ha!)

    3. Venus*

      If it is already a plan then I would do the humidifier before looking into drops or anything else. I was going to suggest the humidifier anyway, but if it’s already a plan then do it sooner.

      I also use eyedrops. I don’t know of anything else that is as effective. Compresses are good for tired eyes (too much time looking at a screen) but drops help with the itchiness of being dry.

      I would recommend the eyedrops at Costco, although I don’t know if they have the same type everywhere.

    4. Chaordic One*

      Have you been checked by an opth0mologist? When I had this problem my doctor diagnosed me as having an infection of the tear ducts (blepharitis) caused by staph germs. He had me shampoo my eyelashes with baby shampoo (because it contains a small amount of alcohol that kills the staph germs but is reasonably gentle) before going to bed and when waking . He said to stick to “Johnson’s Baby Shampoo” because some of the other brands don’t have alcohol in them, but if you pay attention to the ingredients and make sure they are the same other brands would probably work. He also prescribed a mild antibiotic ointment to apply to eyes. (Awkward) I would put it under my upper and lower eyelids and also around the eyelashes (because the germs like to live there) before going to bed.

    5. profm*

      I had this problem last year and this is what my eye doctor told me to do:
      1. Warm compresses once or twice a day, either a warm wet washcloth or a microwaveable eye mask (mine’s Bruder moist heat eye compress).
      2. One eye drop in each eye every hour. I did this for an entire week. Since you’re using so many, you need to get preservative-free artificial tears that come is single use plastic vials. I have not noticed any difference in brands. Do not use regular bottled artificial tears. Because of the preservatives, having more than 4 drops a day can irritate your eyes.
      Hope this helps! Of course, you might want to go to the doctor to find the source of your problem (if you haven’t already). Turns out I’m allergic to cats, so they’re no longer allowed in my bedroom.

      1. Mindovermoneychick*

        Using glasses with blue light blockers when I am on the computer have helped me a lot. Also drinking water consistently helps too. Although I tend to forget to do that.

    6. fposte*

      I have meibomian gland issues to the point where I had recurring corneal erosions. Ouch.

      I’m on Xiidra prescription drops, which are really good but require good prescription insurance; Restasis apparently takes much longer to make a change but can be helpful too. That has been enough to stop my corneas from pulling holes in themselves, but things still get dry.

      I use warm eye compresses every freaking night. I do a little lid massage afterwards. Sometimes when I remember I do the blinking exercises one doctor gave me.

      I did do Lipiflow and really liked it; the effects only last for a year or so, and it’s not yet covered by most insurance, unfortunately. But once we’re post pandemic I think I might make space in the budget for doing it once a year if I can.

      I have Systane Balance when I need additional lubrication for the day, but that’s pretty rare—mostly it’s waking up that’s the really challenging time and things settle down during the day with the blinking. Every now and then I’ll use a nighttime ointment or gel if a cornea is feeling touchy.

      Ever

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I forgot—I do do tea tree oil wipes a couple of times a week. I’m not sure if they’re actually helpful, but there’s also some indication they might be good for rosacea, so I just wipe eyes with one side and face with the other.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I love tea tree oil. It’s great on burns, no scarring. It will sting a little, though.

      2. Courageous cat*

        I’m so sorry about the corneal erosions but I’m also mildly glad to see I’m not alone with meibomian gland problems. My blepharitis is incredibly evil and I have to lid scrub every. single. day. or it feels like I have papercuts on my eyelids. My dry eye sucks too – unfortunately my insurance didn’t cover Xiidra so I’m on Restasis and yeah, it is definitely taking 200 years to work.

        I was very sad when my optometrist told me that this was just something that I randomly got at age 32 and will now likely never go away fully. I may have to look into Lipiflow, I’ve never heard of it.

        1. fposte*

          Definitely do. I wish somebody did it closer to me, so it wasn’t a road trip experience. But it doesn’t take long, feels perfectly fine if a little weird, and it helped me a ton.

      3. VT*

        I have meibomian gland disease and came across a new type of mask called tear restore. You may look into it, it allows you to keep your eyes open while you do your treatment. It’s a bit pricey but they do have a 30 day money back guarantee if it isn’t your cup of tea. I’ve only had it about 3 days so it’s a little too soon for me to say whether I love it yet, but I’m pretty excited about all the progress in the dry eye universe in the last few years.

    7. Can't Sit Still*

      I have very dry eyes, so much that sometimes it feels like someone has sanded my eyeball and then sliced it open. Per my ophthalmologist’s recommendations, what’s worked for me is a saline rinse when I first get up and just before bed, and also right after I get out of the shower, because there’s so much chlorine in the water here. I use preservative-free eye drops (the kind in the individual vials) because the other kind (in the bottles) cause rebound dryness (I had to find that out for myself, but it’s true, not a marketing gimmick). I use the regular drops 3-5 times a day or as needed and I use a light gel after the saline rinse and before getting into bed.

      All of the major brands are fine; differences are mostly just variations on packaging. Disclosure: I work for a company with an eye care product subsidiary, but I was buying eye drops decades before I started working here.

    8. Flabbernabbit*

      I’ve used refresh eye gel on the advice of my ophthalmologist, who said to stay away from the types of drops that are also supposed to reduce redness, which can make it worse after temporary relief. Worked for me. But check with your ophthalmologist – best advice for an eye condition.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      I had to see my eye doc because of dry eyes. My eye doc advised “Refresh Plus”. It’s OTC and comes in soft twist-open individual vials. The doc said I can use as much as I want per day because there are no preservatives (due to the sealed vials). It’s easy to use and very portable. I’m very pleased to use something so close to natural and so effective. Once in the morning and once at night is all I need. A big thumbs up for “Refresh Plus”!

    10. Jackalope*

      My personal favorite is Thera Tears. OTC, at most grocery stores, and help so much. I’ve also found that wearing sunglasses when outside is super helpful, although that’s partly because I’m often riding my bike and the wind in my eyes dries them out, so YMMV.

    11. Caterpie*

      My eye doctor recommended Systane drops, which I find works well but is a bit expensive.

      For me, I found that the best thing for my dry eyes is to drink a TON of water. I aim for ~80-120 oz per day, but don’t always get there. I can tell a differences in how dry my eyes are if I haven’t been good about drinking water for a while.

      1. Fern*

        I’ve also had good results with the Systane Ultra drops. (Also recommended by my optometrist). They are shockingly expensive, but as I only use them occasionally, it’s a very infrequent purchase. When I have a painful eye day I put them in 3 times a day, just for one or two days and then I’m back to being fine. I will also look into all the great tips here, though (humidifier, water consumption etc)

    12. MissCoco*

      I’m an optometry student, so I think I’m obligated to suggest a visit to an optometrist or ophthalmologist, but for drops I swear by refresh optive, and avoid anything redness reducing, but it really depends on the cause of the dry eyes. If you do start regularly using drops, preservative-free are the way to go.

      I do warm compresses just before bed, and I’ve found wearing an eye mask (one of those with a little gap above my eye so it’s not being squished) helps some to somewhat increase the local humidity near my eyes overnight. A bruder or another purpose-made humidity increasing sleep mask would probably be better.

      20-20-20 rule is simple, but it does work, especially if you are a computer user. Every 20 minutes look at something at least 20 feet away (or close your eyes), for at least 20 seconds. It helps both to prevent eye strain and to give your eyes a break from reduced blink rate.

    13. Ethyl*

      I have thyroid eye disease and the attendant dry eyes. I got silicone punctal plugs put in about ten years ago and they helped enormously, until perimenopause caused things to go out of whack again. Now I’m on the warm compress, eye drops, and fish oil regimen, and we will see how that works over the next few months. There are also OTC eye ointments that are for overnight use that may help. Good luck!

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        +1 for the plugs! I had them put in after Lasix and they helped tremendously. I don’t have them anymore but they worked when I did.

        I also sometimes use a travel humidifier (uses a water bottle instead of a huge reservoir) and just place it next to me.

    14. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I use “artificial tears” or the CVS store brand equivalent, on my eye doctor’s recommendation. It’s worth talking to an eye doctor if you haven’t already, in case your dry eyes aren’t just aging or random variation in imperfect human bodies.

      I am sufficiently happy with the cheap eye drops that I haven’t experimented further.

    15. Retired optometrist*

      Try to get to an optometrist or opthalmologist who can identify why you have a problem. Allergies? Insufficient tear production? Poor mucin layer? Etc Lots of good suggestions here, but not everything works for everyone, and there are also things like punctal plugs, an easy on-office procedure which keeps tears from draining out of your eyes.

    16. VT*

      I have had meibomian gland disease for a few years and my case was pretty severe until we (me and my docs) got a maintenance plan together. I strongly recommend you see an eye doctor for an evaluation. Having dry eye is a symptom, the cause could be a number of different things. I have a coworker with a hormone imbalance that caused her dry eyes and another one whose meibomian glands were destroyed during chemo and their maintenance regimens are completely different than each other’s and my own.

      But since you asked, I’m largely off drops unless I am wearing contacts but I liked Oasis Plus and Restasis Celluvis and I use both at night now (eyes don’t close all the way and eye drops keep them moist). Oasis is better for day time because it doesn’t blur your vision but both are good for those very dry days. I do warm compresses and eyelid massages and did do Lipiflow almost 3 years ago. I take high quality fish oil every day.

      I haven’t seen it mentioned yet but I use Cequa, which is prescription only. It has the same active ingredient as Restasis but it’s got a different delivery mechanism and the concentration is higher. It was an absolute game changer. I used Restasis for about 2 years and it didn’t feel like it did anything for me. But about a week of Cequa was all I needed to feel the difference in my eyes. It can be tricky to get your insurance to cover it because it is so similar to Restasis but is a lot newer/expensive so they may make you try Restasis first for up to 6 months before they cover it.

    17. Clisby*

      TheraTears for me.

      The recommendations for a humidifier are worth checking into. I live in coastal SC, where I have to run a dehumidifier year-round to combat mold/mildew, so … nobody would want to run a humidifier here. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be helpful in other areas.

    18. Faux Fur*

      Try not taking any antihistamines or decongestants during the day. That includes allergy eye drops. Because they dry out your eyes. That has helped me tremendously.

    19. Catherine*

      I don’t know if they sell Rohto eye drops where you are, but there’s a mentholated one that is simultaneously unpleasant and incredibly helpful. Like, it very much cures dry eyes, but at what cost!! I don’t go anywhere without mine during allergy season.

    20. Moi*

      Hi nep!

      This is what personally worked for me and my diagnosis. I would highly recommend going to see a doc, because it sounds like there are different causes to dry eyes. For my dry eyes, the cause was a lack of oil/fatty whatevers in my tears. The doc was able to tell this with a neon yellow drop and by literally poking around eye. The first step we took were good fish oil pills, and thankfully that was enough. Originally I used PRN (Physician Recommended Nutrition) which was Fish Oil and Vitamin D, but I’ve switched to the Nordic Natural equivalent in regards to the Omega-3 EPA/DHA levels and added my own vitamin D pill to it since it’s winter.

      I find that if I don’t take the Vitamin D with the Fish Oil, my eyes will start to feel more dry, so I’m guessing something about the two is beneficial. Also, that neon yellow drop made my eyes itch like crazy when my eyes were super dry, but was not annoying at all after the fish oil pills took effect (3-6 months).

  14. Moving to hardwood floors*

    I’m moving into a rental with hardwood floors. I’m used to carpet and cleaning carpet. Does anyone have recommendations for what they use to clean hardwood? Do you use a mop? Steam mop? Combo vacuum mop? Swiffer type of thing? I don’t wear shoes indoors so not too worried about muddy feet.

    Thanks.

    1. sswj*

      I use a combination of dust mop, robot vac, and occasional sponge mopping.

      I live in a sandy area and have many pets with outdoor access, so keeping the sand at bay is the worst problem for me.

    2. Ali G*

      I use a Roomba (we have a dog) for picking up dust, hair, etc. In a smaller space, I would just sweep. If I mop, I use a reusable pad (it’s like swiffer but you can wash it and reuse it) with Bona cleaner. Just spray the floor and mop as you go.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You can use white vinegar and water to clean hardwood floors with a sponge mop – just don’t go too hard, you want lightly damp not wet. Then sweeping or vacuuming most of the time for dirt or dust. Almost any vacuum can do hardwood floors though some are better rated than others.

    4. Reba*

      Find out whether it is wood-wood, or engineered wood.

      Vacuum everything for grit and pet hair. We have quite a few rugs and use the same stick vacuum for all surfaces.

      I used to use a flat mop with reusable microfiber cloths, with Method floor cleaner liquid. Super easy for light cleaning, and I preferred it to the spray swiffer which was never really effective for me.

      Now I have more floor, I recently got a spin mop and it’s pretty cool! I use it to damp-mop, i.e. not put tons of water on the floor, as I have bamboo and it’s not recommended to get it soaking wet. I use dish soap or Mrs Meyers all purpose concentrate in the mop water.

      Don’t use a steam mop!

        1. allathian*

          Steam isn’t good for hardwood, because the heat and humidity can cause the wood to warp, even if it’s laquered.

        2. Reba*

          Yep, it is strongly not recommended for wood, engineered wood and laminated products! It will cause swelling and shrinking of wood that can un-level your floors, and although engineered products are somewhat more resistant to humidity and temp changes, the steam can shorten the life of the adhesives and finishes, or the material itself in the case of laminates.

          I used to keep one just for tile surfaces, but in my current home those are small enough that the mop was more trouble than it was worth.

    5. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Regular mop and a gentle eco-detergent in hot water works well for me. Interestingly, I always find the wooden-floor specific detergent leaves streaks.
      Word of caution on the steam mops: they’re great for drying quickly and not leaving streaks. But be careful not to leave them standing in one spot (eg: while you move furniture) as they can leave marks and exacerbate damage in older/worn patches.

    6. fposte*

      My wood floors are touchy and the one thing they don’t tolerate is air drying any noticeable amount of water. I’m a petless and no-shoe household do they don’t get that dirty, so I find a vacuum and swiffer combo works fine. (I also have rugs on a lot of the floor space so that’s easier, too.)

    7. Filosofickle*

      I highly recommend Bona. More frequently I dry dust with a vacuum, broom, or swiffer to get up debris. When it needs a wet cleaning I break out the Bona, which is a spray + a microfiber mop thing (which is similar to swiffer, a handle + reusable pad). Works really well and is gentle on the finish. Brings out its glow. I know people who use steam on wood floors and it gets up everything but it’s hell on the finish.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Sweep, vacuum, and dust- mop frequently. Occasionally use a damp mop, well wrung out, with Murphy’s Oil Soap and very hot water. The hotter the water, the quicker it evaporates.

      I love my spin mop for everything because you can leave it wetter for nonporous floors or wring it nearly dry for hardwood, and you never have to touch the water or bend over to wring it.

    9. mreasy*

      Definitely don’t steam mop in a rental – and check your lease which may specify types of cleaning you can’t do on the hardwood. Potential to damage finish & warp boards which you don’t want to end up on the hook for.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have original hardwood floors. I use plain water mostly, sometimes with some blue dawn dish soap. Vinegar and water are also good. A lot of people love things like Murphy’s oil soap, Bona, etc. The problem is that these types of cleaners will often leave residue on the floors, which can dull them.

      To clean, I’ll use a regular mop or a cloth on the hands & knees. The mop is less effective, so if the floor is really dirty I don’t use it.

    11. Anono-me*

      The team that refinished our floors just laughed when I asked about a steamer, then said “No. And if you use one anyway, we will charge you full price to fix the damage. ” They recommend dry mopping or Bona.

      It helps to keep as much dirt outside as possible. I have have big ratan entry rugs at both doors. They look like a bad macrame or knitting project and are about 3/4″ thick. As the rugs are 4′ x 6′, everyone has to take 2 or 3 steps on the rug to enter, meaning both shoes hit the rug at least once (and all the paws) without me having to ask guests to wipe their feet. Lots of grit and dirt falls off between the holes in the rug.

    12. Adultiest Adult*

      Check and see if your wood floors are sealed or unsealed before you do anything to clean them! In one apartment, the wood floors had been varnished within an inch of their lives and I could Swiffer wet mop them with no issues. In this apartment, the floors are engineered wood and unsealed, and I have learned to clean them only with a hot water and vinegar mixture, and to wipe up any residual moisture with a towel right away. Glad someone clued me in before I damaged my floors with a traditional wood floor cleaner designed for sealed floors.

  15. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Feeling sad over the possible end of a friendship that means a whole lot to me and wanting to do everything I can for it to not end.

    Turnip and I used to spend a lot of time together until the pandemic hit. with that the conversations pretty much stopped too (which I didn’t take too personally bc life was crazy for both of us).

    We talk now (well text only, neither of us do phone calls and in person is no go atm) but I noticed lately Turnip only wants to talk about one topic which I don’t really want to talk about.

    At first I went along but lately I noticed that when I had tried other ways to engage them-things we used to talk about before-I’d get no reply. And….It kind of hurts? That they have no time to talk but plenty of time to talk about this topic. I pointed that out to them and that I miss them and….silence.

    We used to talk about anything and everything. I’m not ready to end it as it takes a whole lot for me to end a relationship but I am feeling sad about it. Anyone go through this, esp in recent times? Is this temp and they’ll come back eventually or the beginning of the end?

    1. Bucky Barnes*

      Not exactly the same situation but my longtime BFF got pregnant… at the same time I had a hysterectomy. Since then it’s kind of been a slow fade. We used to have monthly dinners and that’s gone. I’ve asked several times and don’t get a definite response. I’ve since found out through Facebook (I know) that she has a new BFF. My suspicion is it’s because I’m not a mom or a member of her profession. I’m sorry, I don’t really have any advice. I just know it hurts.

    2. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      I feel like Turnip’s ‘topic du jour’ is utterly central to the issue. Why are they only interested in discussing this with you and nothing else…? Are you comfortable sharing anything more? There could be so many reasons for this; some about you, some not at all about you.

      1. Anon for this*

        I agree. For example, if the topic is her work, or your marriage, or whatever, it gives more insight. TBH I think a phone call is in order. “I’ve noticed we’ve been a bit distant, is everything okay?”

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I mean we used to talk about all of that, work, marriage, family lives (both of ours) etc. We are both very much not talking on the phone people but I may try that.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Sorry, blabby started crying and I lost my train of thought. But yeah we used to talk about all personal stuff but now the conversation is restricted to politics (not US, our home country).

            1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

              It’s hard to know what you mean by “personal stuff” as that varies so much between people. Politics is very much personal stuff to me. But it sounds like maybe you’re used to relating to Turnip about relationships and your home and family lives, and now it’s confusing because they don’t want to talk about that kind of stuff at all right now?

              Just a theory: for a lot of people, being stuck at home at the moment with just spouse/children 24/7 is challenging. They’re in your way, in your face, in your ears, and in your business all day long. Even though you love them to bits, not getting time away from them can drive you up the wall. Maybe Turnip just needs a break and doesn’t want their conversations with you to be taken over by it too? It’s also hard to talk about those things at length on text.

              If politics doesn’t interest you much, maybe you could try another topic completely unrelated to home/family/relationship life and see how Turnip responds?

              1. Potatoes gonna potate*

                That’s true, I didn’t think of it that way. For me it’s the opposite, I’m with family all the time so I skew towards talking about them all the time (esp the baby). I’ll try using another topic.

      2. Washi*

        Agreed! Or if not the topic, can you say how they are talking about it? Like are they complaining? Bragging? Pontificating? Sharing every tiny update of a situation?

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I’d say pontificating. Trying to get into a debate about the topic. They said they’re genuinely interested in my take on things but…idk.

          1. tangerineRose*

            If you take a break from this friend for a few months and then check in eventually, I wonder if by then the friend would finally be tired of the topic.

    3. allathian*

      Sometimes people just grow apart and end up wanting different things. It may help you to remember that just because a friendship may end doesn’t mean that it was worthless while it lasted.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Thats true. We used to have good times together and I really enjoy their company. Maybe some friendships just dont translate well online

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Yes Turnip has children. We used to talk about their kids and I do talk with their spouse fairly often and consider them a friend as well (although I ‘d feel weird complaining to spouse about Turnip). They were really supportive of when I was pregnant so it’s a little bit of a bummer I haven’t shared much with them as I’d like.

    4. RagingADHD*

      If the topic is related to current events it may blow over. If it’s a new preoccupation like a fitness/health plan or something like MLMs, those type of things generally have a life cycle that runs its course.

      In a long-term friendship there’s room to step back for a while and then renew things later on. This may just be a season when you’re farther apart, it may not mean the friendship is over.

      I think saying that you miss talking about life in general was exactly right. I know it’s sad, but give it some time.

      The ball is in her court and she may come around.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        It is current events. I have a feeling he doesn’t have a lot of ppl he can debate this stuff with (his family is on the complete opposite side, spouse may be uninterested etc). I’m just going to step back for a bit and see if he initiates.

    5. lapgiraffe*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this, I know it’s a really hard situation and there’s really not a lot of great writing out there about friendships the way there is about relationships. I can understand not wanting to name the topic but I will say, whatever it is, the fact that it has become the only topic is a flag that either this has nothing to do with your friendship but rather everything to do with her (an obsession, a new cult-like devotion to something, an inability to pull themselves out of an abyss, etc), or a very passive aggressive way for her to chip away at the friendship in a destructive way.

      I found myself doing the latter with a text based relationship that I was not happy with, but because of the weird casualness of the text thing and absolutely never ever seeing the person IRL, it felt hard to be direct and just say “I don’t want this in my life anymore.” Because I didn’t feel like I could be direct I instead would kinda harp on a specific thing in a very negative way, almost like I was emotionally poking them, purposefully being mean hoping the other person picked up my negative vibes and would somehow read my mind (dumb, I know, I eventually ghosted out of cowardice/awkwardness/hitting a tipping point). I realize this is not good or healthy communication on my part, but I did find it to be a weird consequence of covid times. If we had been seeing each other in person this would have been dealt with much sooner, totally differently, more directly, or at the very least it would have offered up some nonverbal, body language cues to go on. I’ve never had a relationship like this before nor have I ever reacted this way, but here we are.

      I know a scenario like that is cold comfort, but thought I’d offer it in case any of it rang true, and also because regardless of her motivations, it sounds like you need to release and grieve the relationship. Either she’s uninterested right now, uninterested in general, or singularly focused on something that it sounds like you want nothing to do with. Perhaps a mental reframing away from “this person has rejected me and I’ve lost something” to “this relationship has changed and I’m sad but it isn’t serving me in its current form and I deserve better relationships than what this one has become.”

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        a very passive aggressive way for her to chip away at the friendship in a destructive way.

        That is exactly my fear.

  16. Ali G*

    Hi y’all? Does anyone live in eastern North Carolina? Hubs and I are starting to think about where we want to retire, and I am leaning to NC. I did my master’s at Duke and have spent a lot of my career in the state, even though I haven’t lived there since 2003. We want to buy a place soon, so we can rent it out until we are ready to relocate (we are also open to buying a lot and building later), as real estate nationally seems to be on the up and up.
    While I love the coast, growing up in the east, I am concerned with hurricanes, but Hubs wants to be on water. We compromised on a river or lake instead of the ocean. So I am looking at places like Greenville (I’ve been there and like it) and New Bern (I haven’t yet been there). Also considering near Charlotte as my brother lives there, but that might be too expensive.
    My question is, does anyone have experience with this area and the severity of hurricanes? I grew up in South Jersey and live in the DC area now, so I’ve dealt with hurricanes, but I know the Carolina’s tend to get harder hit. I can deal with it, I just don’t want to set ourselves up for being regularly pounded and all that includes. Do we need to be farther west for it to be manageable?
    Thanks!

    1. Lifelong student*

      My parents retired to New Bern and I visited them a few times there. While the town had flooding from several hurricanes not all areas are near the water. They never had any damage to their homes. There are lots of lovely areas and the shore is not far away. They moved there from Northwest Jersey and were very happy there. I will say the summers can be very hot and humid.

    2. Coenobita*

      I’ve never lived in North Carolina but my job is related to flood/storm risk and I have done some work in the area. Here are my two cents: unless you are right up against the coast, your biggest risk is likely going to be from rain, not wind or surge. Both the Tar River (Greenville) and Neuse River (New Bern) are seeing increasingly intense flooding from hurricanes and also just regular (non-tropical storm) rainstorms. However, flood risk is also highly local – sometimes one side of the street has chronic flood issues while the other side is dry. And NC’s residential flood disclosure laws are weak sauce, so probably no one will tell you if a house you want to buy has flooded before.

      So my advice is to find as much specific, local information as you can before buying a house – talk to the neighbors, look up coverage of past storms on local news sites, maybe check if the local government has resilience plans – and buy flood insurance (even if you are not required to). Sorry to be kind of a downer – this is an absolutely lovely area of the country, I just recommend going into it with your eyes open!

      1. Ali G*

        Thank you! This is super helpful. I knew the rivers flood seasonally, but this is good to know, as this type of stuff will get worse over time, not better (usually).

    3. Unicornucopia*

      Hello! I live on and island near Wilmington, NC, and we have about one serious hurricane a year since I’ve lived there. If you’re looking to avoid dealing with that, simply living farther west within Wilmington means a whole lot less prep work and potential destruction, but if you’re looking to avoid anything major with hurricanes, it would be better to move to the Triangle or Charlotte area. Greenville probably wouldn’t be too bad, but keep in mind that hurricanes will come inland enough to make rivers flood too, which has historically caused even worse destruction.

    4. KMD*

      I lived in Greensboro, NC and surrounding suburbs for about 8 years. Hurricanes don’t usually make it that far in land, by then it’s just some rain. Plenty of lakes. I loved it there, but missed the family.

    5. Anon NC*

      As long you’re not on the coast, a hurricane isn’t fun, but it’s also not the end of the world. People are pretty used to it, so their reactions to a hurricane are relatively calm and organized.

      If you buy a house, get the roof inspected before you buy. At some point before or after, get your trees looked at by an arborist or another professional. Ask if any need to be removed or pruned. You’ll be glad to have a sturdy roof and healthy trees a good distance from your building or power lines.

      Because you’re looking at cities, here’s a little note. I’ve only lived in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Asheville (too far to the west for you). Hurricanes occasionally reach Raleigh, but it’s still pretty far inland. Hurricanes are sometimes weak by the time they arrive in Raleigh. Charlotte, to the west, has pretty tame weather.

      1. Blackcat*

        Yeah, I have family in NC near Raleigh/Durham, and the only hurricane that caused substantial damage was Fran. So that’s one hurricane that caused major problems in… 30+ years? I lived there briefly and did get hit by a tornado but those aren’t that common there.

        My biggest concern about retiring to NC is the heat. It’s hotter now than it was when I’d go visit my family when I was a kid. But I’m in New England and like it here…

      2. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        Agree on Charlotte – I’ve lived here for several years and when hurricanes come, we get rain. Occasionally some wind but nowhere near hurricane force that I’ve seen.

        As for expense, that depends a lot on how close to uptown you want to be. If you don’t mind a bit of a drive into the city proper, the surrounding suburbs and towns have a lower cost of living for sure.

    6. NostalgicForNewBern*

      I’ve lived in both Greenville and New Bern and I would strongly recommend New Bern over Greenville! New Bern is very charming and has a good number of restaurants and fun things to do despite being a small town (and is only 50 minutes to the beach), whereas I found Greenville very bland even though it is three times the size. The summers are hot and humid, though I live in DC now too and don’t find it too much more extreme than here. In general, with regards to hurricanes, you can research or ask around which areas of towns are most impacted by flooding historically and take that into consideration. All that to say, I really do love New Bern, and though I’m happy where I am now, I do miss it!

      1. KittyCardigans*

        I agree. I’m from Dare County (live in Durham now) and have been to both of those places many times—Greenville is bland. New Bern is cute.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I have no idea what I’m going to cook, so I’m just going to start with decluterring the kitchen area and see if that gives me the energy to do something.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Made a turnip-and-rutabaga gratin yesterday – sliced the vegetables on a mandolin, layered them with cheese, seasoned with a little thyme. Very tasty – though I learned that if I’m going to mix root vegetables in one dish I need to be sure they’re at the same level of “toughness”! (The rutabaga was harder than the turnips, so the dish as a whole took longer to cook; if I had it to do over, I’d try steaming the rutabaga before slicing it.)

    3. NerdyPrettyThings*

      It’s a beautiful day in NerdyPretty land, so we’re grilling steaks today, with my famous bourbon baked beans. I’m pretty excited.

    4. Chilipepper*

      Going to make mapo tofu for Sunday lunch and then make what I need for fajitas bowls for work lunches during the week. We are vegan so part of the fajitas bowls is a recipe called “the best damn vegan sour cream” and it is really good and one of my favorite treats and I am looking forward to lunches next week! The bowls will have rice, black beans, red pepper and onions sizzled in a cast iron pan, with the “sour cream” and a cheezy red pepper sauce.

    5. TX Lizard*

      I found some super easy recipes for sheet pan gnocchi that I want to try. I just need to do some research on which gluten free gnocchi brands are any good. And then I have to decide between the garlic shrimp one and the mushrooms and shallots one…. or maybe make both lol

    6. Never Nicky*

      I have just made some mango chutney with the three slightly over ripe mangos in our “surplus” fruit and veg box.

      Supper will be vegetarian sausage with carrot and swede (rutabaga I think is the US term?) mash and braised red cabbage – again all veg from the box.

      I’m still trying to find something to do with the kohlrabi we had – any suggestions?

      1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        I love kohlrabi! I peel it and slice into rounds for just about any preparation. It’s great raw as a veggie chip for hummus or any other dip. You can pan fry crispy rounds, make gratin, lightly steam and add to ramen, or basically anything you’d do with sliced potato or turnip.

        You can also julienne or grate for any kind of slaw or salad. If yours came with leaves, they’re delicious raw (any way you would eat kale, not so much like lettuce) or sauteed.

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        I just eat it raw :) peel, slice and that’s it. Somewhere between an apple and a radish? Difficult to describe but tastes great!

    7. curly sue*

      We got a proper hot pot as a belated Christmas gift from my SIL, and we’re doing Mongolian hot pot tonight! We used to do it in an old rice cooker, but the element in that gave of the ghost months ago and we haven’t had a good roundtable group soup in months. I went out to the local Asian grocer’s this morning and stocked up on things like baby bok choi, dumplings, and fish balls, and found a kind of (frozen) mushroom bao that we haven’t tried before. Tonight, we feast.

    8. Filosofickle*

      This weekend’s menu is chicken & dumplings (or biscuits, not sure yet) and salmon burgers. Last week the big hits were a beet & farro salad and beef & broccoli lo mein.
      We’re about to get 5 days of rain so I better think on that…

        1. Filosofickle*

          My store was out of the little bag so I got a big bag and now we’re eating a LOT of it. Good thing we like it!

          1. Old and Don’t Care*

            If you haven’t, check out smitten kitchen’s One Pan Farro with Tomato. Easy and very good. I make it year round with grape tomatoes.

    9. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

      I have pizza dough resting and am going to do three types – veggie, pepperoni, and bbq chicken.

      Last week’s favorite was Sunday roast with garlic smashed potatoes and asparagus, with sticky toffee pudding cake for dessert!

    10. Parenthetically*

      This week my mom and I made red chile pork tamales, which was a surprisingly easy and really fun project, and they turned out an absolute triumph. I was expecting an epic task, but we had 40+ tamales lined up in the steamer in under an hour of work, and the only thing I did in advance was slow-cook the pork and soak the chiles. So we shredded the meat, made the sauce, made the masa, soaked the corn husks, and made all the tamales in like… 50 minutes? I wouldn’t do it for a weeknight or anything but I’d absolutely do it again and make 3 or 4 times as many to freeze.

      On the menu for this week — a farro salad with roasted veggies, probably with some fish? Plus very inauthentic burritos with guac because I have a bunch of avocados I need to use up. I’ll roast chicken (might roast two and shred the other one since I have like 8 in my freezer) and make a pot of soup of some kind, depending on what vegetables I need to use. I’ve got a ton of ground chicken, so I’ll probably do some satay-style meatballs with peanut sauce and a rice noodle salad.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I bought pressed tofu and my teen cooked it up in 2 ways without prompting. First was a mixed veggie sautee, second was strips fried as a snack, and both were a success. It worked better than the soft variety for us, so we can add tofu to our regular rotation.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband does the our menu planning (I swear that’s the part that stresses me out the most, so I still do the shopping and cooking, I just passed the actual meal picking off to him) and among other things, he put BLTs on next week’s menu. Dirt simple, but I’m really looking forward to a nice bacon sandwich with garlic mayo. :)

    13. Nynaeve*

      The planned menu for this week is sausage and vegetable soup, chicken drumsticks, kimchi mac & cheese, roasted broccoli & cauliflower, bell pepper & shallot scrambled eggs, and energy balls.

  17. AnonForThis*

    Hi everyone!

    My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 18 months ago. He’s been doing heavy duty treatment (surgery, radiation and chemo) but the treatments haven’t been effective. Does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with the ongoing stress of a sick loved one? I also am married with 2 little ones and work full time so I don’t have a lot of time to spare. I’m trying to figure out how to keep things together if they get worse. I really don’t want my husband and kids to suffer because I’m struggling. Any suggestions would be appreciated!!

    1. Teapot Translator*

      Hi, my dad died of cancer last year. I know how hard it can be. I dealt with it by cancelling everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary while also giving me “me time”. I think you need to figure out what the “me time” is for you. Is it exercise? Is it reading a book? Is it therapy where you can cry freely? Then you work it out with your husband so you can have that “me time”.
      What do you mean by “suffer”? This is a moment where your husband has to support you (whatever that looks like for you) because at this point in your life together, you’re the one who needs more support.
      Your dad is dying. Your family will feel the effects.

      1. AnonForThis*

        Thank you for the thoughtful reply. My husband is very supportive. I’m more concerned with my kids. I don’t want them to feel disconnected from me while I’m working through my grief.

        1. Reba*

          Maybe some picture books about illness, death and bereavement could help give you and your kids a shared language for what is going on. It’s ok for your kids to see you being sad (assuming their basic needs are being met, of course!).

          A resource for locating such books is the website Little Parachutes, or ask a local bookseller or children’s librarian.

          Sorry about your dad.

        2. Not A Manager*

          My spouse passed away when my children were young. My advice to you is to name your emotions to your children. That doesn’t mean making them responsible for fixing them, but rather to help them understand what they will absolutely perceive. Death is inevitable, and in many ways it’s easier for children to understand and process illness and death when it’s an older and more distant relative like a grandparent or an aunt. If you can model how to acknowledge and process your emotions, you will be helping them a great deal.

          “I’m feeling very worried right now because grand-dad is back in the hospital,” might be hard to say, but if you don’t say it you will still be worried and they will still know it. If you name your emotion, you can also model how to process that emotion. “Even though I’m worried, I’m hopeful because I know he’s getting the best possible care.” “Because I am worried I am going to write in my journal.” “Because I can’t visit grand-dad right now, I am going to send him a pretty card.”

          I hope that your father makes a full and complete recovery. If he does not, I think you can model grieving in a similar way. If you are feeling sad and teary, you can say to your kids “I’m really missing grand-dad right now and that’s why I’m starting to cry. I’m going to take a 10 minute break and then I’ll be back to give you both a big hug.” Try to accept small comforts from them (they will probably want to hug you and not be separated from you), but I think you can process your extreme grieving by yourself, and be sure to return to them and reconnect. “I had a really long cry because I was missing grand-dad, but I’m done crying for now and I’m ready to cuddle up and read to you.”

          My thoughts are with you and your family. Best wishes for your father’s treatment.

          1. AnonForThis*

            I’m so sorry for your loss. This is extremely helpful. Thank you for your thoughtful, kind and practical response. I really appreciate it.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            My father did this with me. He used it as an opportunity to teach me about loss and he shared his religious beliefs… not that I had to have the same beliefs but rather so I could understand how he thought about it all. I treasure that to this day.

          3. RagingADHD*

            I lost my mom when my kids were small, and this is so important. At first when she was sick I tried to “protect” them by hiding my feelings and it made them so anxious, because they could tell I wasn’t really present with them.

            When I started verbalizing my feelings in simple ways, we reconnected and they were so much more secure because of that authenticity.

          4. Lizzo*

            As someone who grew up in a family where emotions were ignored/shoved away/carefully hidden, and who had no clue how to handle grief as a young adult, I would like to +1oo everything Not a Manager has just said.

            It may seem scary and difficult to be vulnerable in front of the kids, but it will be far more scary and difficult for them when they get older, encounter emotionally difficult situations, and have zero coping skills to draw upon.

            I’m sorry about your dad. xo

          5. TurtleIScream*

            This is a really great response. My kids are older, so are better able to handle their emotions (and mine!) but I still needed to be careful to not place my emotional burden on them. I love your concrete examples that help teach your kids how to direct their feelings.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Hospice can offer support not just for the patient but for the family. People also tend to live longer on hospice. Your dad should look into it.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Get help. Reach out for practical and emotional support from friends, other more distant family members (or maybe a sibling if they have more margin in their lives), and therapy.

      Being in the “sandwich generation” caring for both kids and parents is a very hard season of life, and it is too much for one person to deal with. Particularly when you are facing a sad prognosis and contemplating grief.

      You should also have a talk with your husband about what he can do to support you in this particularly stressful period. Marriage is give and take, and right now it’s your turn to take all the help you can get.

      Make it a priority to address the physical effects of long-term stress. Your body needs exercise and sleep to fight off the damage of stress hormones. Your body wasn’t intended to be awash with adrenaline and cortisol all the time, they are supposed to save you from a short-term emergency and then get burned off. The last thing you need is to have a mental or physical breakdown yourself.

      I’m very sorry for what you’re dealing with and wish you and your family the best.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I did go hiking (a very gentle, flat hike) after the snowstorm! It was beautiful. I might go back tomorrow.
      Today will be gentle training (I try to alternate cardio and gentle training). I don’t know what yet. I feel like my arms need to get stronger, but I have a bad shoulder, so I’m afraid of hurting myself. I’m also pondering getting dumbbells (light ones, again, weak arms).

    2. CatCat*

      I was good about consistently going for a walk and doing barre3 online video workouts. My goal this upcoming week is to at least: walk at least 5 days, do an exercise video at least 3 days.

    3. Chilipepper*

      We walk 3 miles every evening – its a great way to get moving and to spend time together.
      I also walk the 3/4 mile loop around the lake at work most days.
      I wish I was lifting weights and doing yoga but I don’t seem to be able to get back to those.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I bought an exercise bike! Going upstairs to put it together and give it a whack here in a minute. It’s not a particularly fancy model with bells and whistles, but I was looking for something with adjustable resistance and sturdy enough to stand on, without taking up too much space, and the reviews suggest that this one should meet those needs. Fingers crossed. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It does! I experimented today, 10 minutes each on the rower, bike and treadmill rather than 30 minutes on one or another of them. Need to get more upper body in there, I’m not sure anymore whether I have knees or just spaghetti :-P

    5. Emily*

      I’ve been doing 3-5 mile run, rest day, and bodyweight exercises on a three-day cycle for the past few weeks, but my mild ankle pain flared up again. I’ve very reluctantly stopped running (again) and have booked a doctor’s appointment. Running is my favorite of my pandemic-safe exercise options and it’s driving me crazy not to be able to play outside as much as I’d like!

      On a more positive note, I’m seeing improvements in some of the strength exercises (push-ups and side planks) that I generally find most difficult. I stopped keeping up with strength workouts earlier in the pandemic because I don’t enjoy them as much, but I do like feeling strong and having visible muscles.

    6. comityoferrors*

      I’ve had a rough few months exercise-wise. I had a bout of Covid in November-early December which left me too fatigued for much activity, and then I injured myself by jumping back in too quickly.

      I’m back to doing regular walks around my neighborhood, which is really hilly. The route I used to walk regularly was a little over a mile and I’d hit my daily goal to climb 10 stories. I’ve found a new route with a very steep hill, so I’m now doing almost 2 miles and climbing >20 stories. I was an avid hiker before the pandemic so I’m really enjoying the change – it feels like I’m getting back to my normal, and I feel like I’m getting my endurance back so I can hit the trails again.

    7. Filosofickle*

      Oof, did a 6 mile hike Monday that knocked me out. I injured myself a year and a half ago and this is the longest one we’ve done since then so I was really struggling! It included the equivalent of 45 flights of stairs. My partner bought an elliptical and my intention is to try that out during the upcoming week of rain. I loathe cardio but boy when I’m on the trail I am embarrassed by my fitness level so I’m hoping I’ll like it.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Yesssss exercise thread!!

      I got the 30-day free trial of GetMomStrong’s SLAM program, and y’all it is GREAT. I sweat my butt off and for the first time in my life I feel like I can really engage my pelvic floor and core? It’s also extremely NOT focused on aesthetics or “toning” (ugh), and very focused on function and strength.

    9. Fish Microwaver*

      I’ve been ocean swimming nearly every day this week. It’s hot in my part of the world so a swim refreshes and cools me and is more pleasant than land based exercise.

    10. Double A*

      I’m 22 weeks pregnant and only get a chance to exercise on the weekends, so today I was able to go on about a 4 mile hike with some gentle jogging. It was great except someone’s dog had diarrhea and there was gross poop every 50 feet literally for miles in the middle of the trail…I really don’t know how that dog didn’t run out. And I get that you can’t really bag that kind of poop but can’t you try to at least get your dog to go off the trail? Ugh. I’m not much of a dog person to begin with but it’s just perpetually dismaying how fine people seem to be with letting their dogs just poop everywhere.

      Anyway I’m planning to do some yardwork for some more exercise this weekend! Raking some areas that I want to seed with wildflowers.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Three walks and 2 exercise bike sessions, which is better than I’d been doing.
      I’m miffed at the night-light exercise belt I ordered– it’s billed to go over coats, but it’s not as extendable as the writeup indicated. It was however inexpensive so I may buy another and snap them together as a sash.

    12. Casey*

      I just got RingFit Adventure for the Switch about two weeks ago, and it is surprisingly fun and effective! I’ve done ~25 minute sessions every other day, with 30 minute elliptical jaunts on the off-days. My problem working out was always a combination of difficulty focusing (I was notorious for going to the gym, getting on the stationary bike for 20 minutes, doing a few reps on a machine, and then leaving because I was bored) and not knowing what to do, so RingFit has been… kind of perfect. I can definitely see myself making this a very regular habit.

    13. PseudoMona*

      I went on a morning walk last Monday, and was so much more focused and productive than usual over the course of the work day.

      So I’m aiming for a morning walk 3 days this week.

    14. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m planning to begin adding arm exercises with light weights this week. My arms and wrists are so weak from carrying the baby, I need to increase the strength.

    15. LGC*

      Less than I wanted!

      Ran 3 miles yesterday and 11.5 this morning. (“But that’s a lot!” you might say. I was planning on doing 14.)

      It was BITTERLY cold this weekend, by my standards (20-30 degrees F, pretty windy), but even still, it felt really tough to do. At least I got hot coffee afterwards.

    16. Hi there*

      I went for a walk with a friend on Monday and for a short hike with the hubs on Tuesday. I had nice runs some of the other days, and tomorrow I start a strength program offered by my online running coach. I’d like to get stronger and to make strength a habit.

  18. Teapot Translator*

    I have a question for those who’ve been able to cut down on sugar sustainably and for a long time. I’m talking here about added sugar (not the one that occurs naturally in food).
    What if any side-effects or improvements did you experience?
    I eat dark chocolate every day. I wonder if some of the problems I have would improve if I cut down on sugar.

    1. Anonydoglover*

      So I’ve completely cut out sugar for the last 3 months and let me tell you, it has changed my life. I have a lot less inflammation, my headaches have all but gone away, and I’ve lost weight. I still get the occasional craving, and I can usually curb it with a piece of fruit. I will warn you that the first month was incredibly hard because I was eating so bad and so I was cranky all the time due to the detox. But I would recommend it to anyone who wants to try it.

    2. Joe*

      I cut down on desserts and candy, and it helped with migraines tremendously. Turns out blood sugar spikes and drops were a trigger.

    3. Holly the spa pro*

      I wouldn’t say i completely cut out sugar but i did cut back so that i only ate added sugar once per week (date night) and while it was really difficult at first, it did have noticeable effects:
      -when i would eat anything sugary, lets say a donut, it tasted extra sweet and rich and also would make me hot! I would feel really warm, near sweating which was great in winter haha.
      -if you arent eating added sugar, you arent eating processed foods most likely so i slimmed down without really trying (though i walk a lot and have a physical job) idk if i dropped actual pounds but i was less bloated and puffy for sure
      -my skin looked amazing. I realized im a person whose skin is affected by dairy and sugar.
      -because i allowed myself a treat on Sundays, a dinner and dessert(i hate the phrase cheat day but essentially it was that) it was easier to maintain because i knew i could squash a craving within a week.
      -i was grumpy the first couple weeks. I worked in a restaurant at the time and that was HARD lol. I ate paleo at the time so i was doing a lot of meal prep and planning anyways so having a firm idea on what i was eating each day really helped me stay the course

      It does require some discipline, especially if you have lots of snacks around you or bakers in your life. I really liked sugar free jello cups if i was feeling weak haha. I 100% believe that sugar is addictive but i recommend anyone try to for a month and you will be surprised, probably, with changes you see.

    4. Ali G*

      I lost a bunch of weight. It was a long time ago, so I don’t recall any other benefits. I don’t find it that difficult, it just takes some time to read labels. A little bit of dark chocolate a day shouldn’t be a huge problem if you enjoy it, and it keeps you from bingeing on worse stuff.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Yeah, it’s really about portions rather than specific foods being good or bad. I really love cake, and I realized a long time ago that I couldn’t stop myself going back for a second piece at special events featuring huge cakes, but I could get smaller pieces and have the same amount of psychological satisfaction.

        1. Venus*

          Agreed, it’s about portions and also about eating well. Quite a few people who become vegetarian or vegan like to talk about how eliminating meat changed their health, when the reality is that they weren’t eating veggies before the change.

        2. Kt*

          It’s about portions for some people. I am finding that psychologically or personality-wise abstaining is much easier for me than moderating. I’ve done hard things before. I’m sure if I put my all into it I could moderate. But abstaining is just trivial for me (oh, I don’t eat that) while moderating…. Ugh. I hate it. It takes so much thinking, so many decisions, so many slippery slopes….

          1. Joe*

            I’m the same way. Some people are the other way around, but for me, total abstention is much easier than moderation.

    5. TPS reporter*

      You can always try stevia sweetened treats to wean yourself off. Cold turkey is rough! Anything labeled Keto is what you’d look for.

    6. nep*

      The most noticeable impact I saw was improved sleep. Amazing difference.
      And, well, better elimination.
      Overall energy level better…as in, not choppy; felt more mellow and in a flow.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      – Less moody.

      – When I increase my sugar intake around the end-of-year holidays (parties and party food, gifts of cookies, and so on), I feel it. That is, it gets me into a cycle of having sugar, wanting more sugar, having more sugar, and then wanting even more. Going cold turkey when the last tin of butter cookies runs out in early January is the worst! When I’m not getting this extra sugar in my diet, though, I’m not so crazed for more sugar-sugar-sugar all the time.

      – Fewer cavities than most of my pals, because I avoid candy and sweetened drinks. Drinking plain water during the day helps, too, because nothing that I eat stays on my teeth for very long at all.

      – I think it’s helped me avoid some of the weight gain that most of my pals have experienced as we’re entering our 50s.

      1. Filosofickle*

        100% agree on the cycle. The more sugar I eat, the more I want. The less sugar I eat, the less I crave it. This goes for artificial sugars as well. They crank up my sweet tooth SO BADLY I avoid them entirely. They are not a viable workaround for me. Another insight into my body is that it’s better for me to have something that’s both sugar + fat (like a cookie or candy bar) over something that’s only sugar (like soda or jello). For the same calories — just more fat which I don’t care about — I am more likely to feel satisfied/full. Otherwise the sugar seems to make me more hungry.

        I realize I would probably benefit from eliminating added sugars but NGL I’m just not willing to do it.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Yeah, I’ve observed the same cycle. I just don’t know how to go about cutting down on sugar without adding more stress in my life.
          I think my craving is more sugar + cocoa or sugar + fat. So, if I can’t have chocolate, I’ll have ice cream or cookies. I enjoy soda (iced tea, mmmm), but mainly when I go to a sit-down restaurant as a treat because I don’t drink alcohol.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Better sleep- a LOT less nightmares and of the few nightmares I have had they were much, much tamer.

      No headaches. Headaches used to be a weekly thing almost. Now if i get a headache I know I am coming down with something.

      A lot less colds. To the point where a couple people asked how I keep going. I don’t call in, I don’t get flat on my back sick and I don’t get sniffles.

      My hair looks better and it’s easier to manage.

      Food cravings are a thing of the past.

      Less general aches and pains.

      My thinking feels clearer, less bogged down.

    9. Girasol*

      I did better with staying off added sugar and grain products this year, but promised myself a break for the holidays. After enjoying some Christmas cookies and pastries my body was stiff and my joints achy like I’d suddenly aged decades. I slept badly. It seemed like every hour I’d alternate between feeling screaming famished and feeling bloated and over-full. And I felt kind of depressed. Now that the holidays are past and I’m back on the wagon again, I feel about 20 years younger. My body is flexible and doesn’t hurt. I don’t feel puffy. I sleep really well again. I feel more like moving and doing things than sitting. (BTW I have found that whenever I need to wean off eating too much sugar it helps to pig out on fruit to reduce the cravings. It’s easier to reduce fruit intake later, if necessary, than it is to get over that hump of cutting out added sugars.)

    10. HB*

      I went low carb, lost weight, felt physically fantastic, but in reality was super depressed and on the edge of an eating disorder. I got medicated for the depression and immediately starting eating french fries and rice and sugary stuff again. The weight came back and then some!

      Trying to gently move back into that lifestyle without the added mental issues or obsession but it’s not easy.

      If you do go low carb, it’s important to find your magic number. Some folks can go super low, but if my carb count goes under 40g, I stop, er… pooping.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        A lot. When it’s under control, it’s like half a bar of Lindt dark chocolate per day. When I’m stressed and tired (or bored), it goes up.
        When I’m eating yogourt, I do add honey (plain greek yogurt+fruit+honey). Otherwise, it’s the sugar that is added to stuff and we don’t know about (bread for example). I don’t want to start reading labels to cut out all sugar.
        I think what I want to do is find better mechanisms than eating chocolate, but it’s hard. I’m wondering if I cut it out dramatically, will it diminish my need for it and I will be able to find a better balance? Or will I fall deeper into it?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I developed a real problem with chocolate. My father had passed away and people just. kept. giving. me. chocolate.
          It’s 2 highs, sugar and caffeine.
          I got to the point where I was eating so much chocolate that I did not eat real meals. Not to be too graphic but it felt like my insides were falling out also. I felt listless and I had no coping mechanisms because I wasn’t getting any real nourishment. (This ride gets scary if a person stays on it too long. It messes up the body but I also had trouble collecting my thoughts. )

          Physical component: I was “lucky” in that I could not get in a store to buy chocolate after a bit. So my easy access ended. I did buy a lot of watermelon when we grocery shopped and that saved me. Every time I needed something sweet I had watermelon on hand.
          I also needed help with vitamins and minerals and I checked in with a practitioner to get on a program for my setting. I needed Vitamin B to get some energy for one thing. Chocolate was giving me an energy boost, but the problem with going too high is that at some point going to low will follow along. (I needed a little more than 1-4 hours sleep a night.)

          But there is also an emotional component: That chocolate was filling in for something that was missing in my life. (Well actually there were several things I needed to fix in my life.) Chocolate had become a way to avoid those things and a way to comfort myself. Since chocolate did not fix my problems (shocking, eh?), it would not be long and I would need more chocolate.

          So I am 25 years out from this story. I can tell you that even now I still know how to pack in the chocolate. Once we learn how to do that, we never forget. But I am hugely motivated to stay out of the chocolate because I never want to feel that crappy again. (There were days where I thought I was going to die because I felt that crappy.) I can have control over my daily life and my thinking OR I can have all the chocolate I want. I cannot have both.

          You might find some help by using stevia in things. It comes in liquid or in powder (like regular sugar) and you only use a tiny bit because it is sweet. Some folks say that it’s helpful for blood sugar levels.

        2. Observer*

          If the problem is sugar, then I doubt that your chocolate intake is your biggest problem. I could be wrong, but if you are eating commercially prepared foods, including baked goods, and are not reading labels, odds are that you are consuming A LOT of added sugars. Cutting out the chocolate will probably not do you much good.

          Now, the chocolate itself could be giving you problems, totally aside from the sugar. You are not eating an outrageous amount, but it could be a problem. The best way to figure that one out is to TOTALLY cut out chocolate, anything with cocoa, and anything chocolate flavored AND anything with caffeine for a month. By that point you should be seeing a significant difference if that’s your problem.

          Finding a way to deal with stress and / or boredom, other than eating high fat + sugar (which is probably what you are craving) is always going to be healthier than this. But it’s not easy at all.

          If you want to reduce your added sugar intake, without spending your life reading labels, a good way to start is to really cut back on the processed / commercially prepared foods you eat. Ironically, some of the worst offenders are marketed as “healthy” alternatives. If you see anything that’s “fat free” check for sugar levels (and salt as well). But also a lot of foods that you would never think of as containing sugar have sugar. For instance, most pickled foods have a shocking amount of sugar.

    11. Potatoes gonna potate*

      This is really timely as I’ve been trying to “detox” from sugar the last week or so. Not so much detox as just not eating candy or any other dessert. I’m still eating other stuff–my diet is so unhealthy but I need to do it in baby steps, not all at once.

      My primary reason is to help reduce pain in my hands/wrist joints. There may not be any correlation between the two but I’ve heard so much about how getting rid of sugar reduces inflammation and pain that I figured I’d give it a shot.

      7 days on, I wish I could say I feel better but I really don’t. My blood sugars are better, but I still have horrid pain in my hands and wrists. The only thing I’ll say is that I guess the craving has lessened. I t’s much easier to refuse it.

      1. Lizzo*

        I don’t want derail the thread, but for me, the biggest source of inflammation turned out to be wheat flour/gluten. Maybe consider getting rid of that (along with sugar) for 90 days?

  19. Anonydoglover*

    Has anyone here successfully started a community fridge? It’s been on my mind to start one, but I would like to know if you faced any unexpected challenges or anything else that one should know before starting one. I’ve been googling and have been volunteering with one in an adjacent city, so I feel like I have a good idea of what to expect, but I know there are people of many backgrounds in here that could help. Thank you!

    1. pancakes*

      Talking more with the group you’ve been volunteering with seems advisable. I found something in my bookmarks that looks useful: A June 2020 article out of Hofstra University titled, “Legal Issues in Mutual Aid Operations: A Preliminary Guide.” I can’t remember who recommended it to me but it looks like a good resource. “This is a preliminary guide to legal issues that impact groups engaged in mutual aid. It is targeted to groups that have been responding to the COVID-19 crisis in New York, but has information that may be relevant for groups engaged in mutual aid in other contexts and other places. It gives legal information on topics including: risk of liability; questions around governance and incorporation; safety policies, liability waivers, and insurance; banking and mutual aid; funding mutual aid and taxation of mutual aid; crowdfunding regulations; and food storage and safety rules.”

    2. Blackcat*

      My community does free pantries (for non-perishables), which are much easier to operate. Fridges where I am require all sorts of permitting.

  20. CatCat*

    What to do to stop a cat from scratching you?

    One of my kitties will, seemingly out of nowhere, swipe at our (me and my husband) legs or, from the cat tree, our arms or shoulders. She doesn’t seem angry when she does this, but she uses her claws, and that is painful and upsettting. She has lots of toys, a companion (who also sometimes swipes, but with claws retracted/just a soft tap), and we play with her regularly multiple times per day. I don’t know what to do to stop these painful, no warning swipes and am growing increasingly frustrated with the behavior.

    Any advice for stopping this behavior?

    1. Cat Momma*

      I don’t know how to stop that behavior, but I would suggest trimming her nails if you don’t already do so. It’s a good habit to get into (and easier to instill in a young cat than an older one!) and will hopefully save you some bloodshed! Could also reduce damage to furniture and other things she might scratch. Good luck!

      1. CatCat*

        We definitely need to trim her nails. She just haaaates it, but we were able to trim a few last night.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Yep. If you start when they are kittens, they are (reasonably) ok with it as adult cats.

        Don’t need to do all the claws on both paws in one sitting. Do as many as the cat will put up with, then do another bit the next day, etc.

    2. Nicki Name*

      1) Can you move the cat tree to where yo walk past it less?

      2) If you’re not doing it already, let yourself make a loud “Ow!” when she does it. Cats have an understanding when playing (which is what it sounds like she’s doing) that they need to stop if they’re causing actual pain. Since she’s already in the habit of doing this, though, it will take a while for her to get out of the habit.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is my response exactly. The “ow” sort of replicates the sound of a littermate yowling in pain, and I think cats instinctually respond to that and dial it back.

      2. tangerineRose*

        Also, after saying “ow” (making it sound like a sad animal cry is good), leave the kitty alone for at least a few minutes.

    3. fposte*

      I’d also play detective a little more. Even if she’s not angry, this could be an “Enough” or “Too close” swipe and she just doesn’t have a claws-free stage for those the way some cats do. Is the cat tree by a doorway or passage to somewhere, for instance, and people are getting swiped when they pass by? Moving or rearranging the cat tree may be a simple way to lessen that problem.

      1. CatCat*

        Unfortunately, there’s literally nowhere else in our apartment the cat tree can go. They definitely love the cat tree, but I’m open to getting rid of it if the fact we have to walk past where she is chilling out bothers her.

          1. CatCat*

            No, she isn’t in a cubby with an entrance when she swipes, she likes to chill on the open platforms at the top. We could potentially get a much lower cat tree and put it next to our front window and that’s not a spot we walk past. (Putting the current tree there would really obstruct our view out the window since the tree is so big, but a lower tree could work.)

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I was meaning maybe you could fit a cubby on top of it. But obviously that’ll depend on the tree.

            2. Esmeralda*

              We built a “cat shelf” in front of one of our windows — it looks out on trees and birds…
              Put a pillow on it, sprinkle a little catnip perhaps to get her interested.
              The cat tree may have to go, if you can’t get her to stop…

    4. Generic Name*

      My male cat used to do this. I would involuntarily yell “ow!” And he seemed to stop after a while. I also made sure I was out of swiping distance when I passed him sitting on the cat tree, for example. It sounds like they’re doing it out of a sort of predatory instinct, and if you make it less rewarding (fun) they may stop.

    5. Yellow Warbler*

      Hiss and growl at her when she does it. Speak her language. We practiced by listening to mountain lions on YouTube.

    6. HB*

      Trim her nails, make sure she has scratching toys and posts. One of my boys does this because he wants me to stop walking by and pay attention to him. It does hurt! I’m always covered in scratches, but I’ve accepted that as part of cat ownership. They don’t mean to hurt us. Kitty might just need more attention.

    7. WS*

      A high-pitched shriek (like a kitten would make) is pretty effective at deterrence. She might just be asking you to go away but going about it wrongly, or she might feel genuinely threatened, but either way, a shriek isn’t what she wants. I had an ankle swiper and this worked on him. Approaching more slowly also helped, but not every time!

    8. Deanna Troi*

      Yes, as others have said, a high pitched “ow” shriek worked with a couple of my cats. They thought they were playing, and the way they learn from other cats that they’re being too rough is when the other cat cries out. It works with puppies, too. Good luck!

    9. ShinyPenny*

      As others have said, making a verbal “ouch!” noise and then (critical!) withholding all attention for a span of time seems like the most helpful training approach.
      Fixing the furniture layout sounds like it might be helpful, too, but not possible for you right now.
      But could you staple cardboard to the cat tower strategically? To create barriers, and prevent kitty from snagging you as you pass? You say she likes to observe life from the upper shelves, but maybe she has lost that privilege for a while?
      I would use multiple layers of heavy cardboard, attached with wood screws running through big fender washers to really pin the layers of cardboard– but a staplegun could work, too. Yes, it would disrupt her enjoyment of the tower, but you’d just be ‘handing the awkward back to her’ and she could earn the privilege back again by behaving better :)
      Also, she may end up developing a new hobby– attacking/shredding cardboard– which I would consider a win, since she clearly needs a better hobby than clawing her servants!

      1. Blackcat*

        Yeah, screech, hiss, and then slink off. Same way an adult cat would do it if they were annoyed. That worked when my cat was young.
        He does occasionally jump out from behind things and pounce and can sometimes scratch when he does that. But that’s a sign he hasn’t gotten enough play.

  21. Dee Dee*

    Has anyone had any experience with a package that you mailed ending up in the Dead Letter/Mail Recovery Center? Here is the long version:
    My son goes to school in a neighboring state about five hours from our home. The university did not re-open after Thanksgiving break and did all their classes, finals, etc. online or via Zoom. He had to mail his textbooks back to the textbook rental office at the university. They had to be postmarked by December 18th. We boxed them up securely and took them to our local post office on the 18th and got an expected delivery date of December 23rd. It arrived at a Network Distribution Center on December 20th. On December 24th it said it was “In Transit to the Next Facility”. That was the last update until January 5th when it arrived at the Dead Letter/Mail Recovery Center in Des Moines, Iowa. (We are in Missouri; university is in Illinois.) It says “Your item could not be delivered or returned to the sender. It is being forwarded to a USPS mail recovery center where it will be processed.” I have filed a claim online and basically got a form letter type response that they are trying to locate the package. I am in contact with local postmaster. (We live in a very small town—population less than 500 so we know each other on a first name basis.) She has talked to her supervisor several times, but nothing has been done. I used the email form on the USPS website and requested information on how to escalate this but did not get any helpful information, just another form letter type response. Phone calls are unsuccessful as well. I must leave a message, and no one returns my call.
    Has anyone else had this happen? Does anyone have any suggestions on what my next step should be? I have Googled possible solutions but haven’t found anything helpful. These books are valued at $1300.00 and it is almost imperative that we find them. (My husband and I are both unemployed right now due to COVID-19 layoffs and we really cannot afford this expense. The school is working with us on the charges for now but eventually will need to have the books returned or paid for.) With 20/20 hindsight, I realize now that we should have insured them, but we didn’t.

    1. fposte*

      Oof. I’ve had things eventually turn up after claims, but nothing I couldn’t wait for. Have you talked to the university textbook services at all? It’s a long shot, but since you have documentation they may have some thoughts. Unfortunately it’s not a case of asking them simply to hold off on a bill, but you never know what could happen until you ask.

      Another possibility is your congressperson’s constituent services. I know it seems like a small potatoes thing for them, but especially since there’s a federal component they may be able to pull a string somewhere.

    2. WellRed*

      You might need to give it some time at this point. It’s only been a few weeks and the post office is a bit of a mess these days.

    3. SummerBreeze*

      Maybe try getting your l9cal state or county representative involved? Write them a letter explaining and ask for their help.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Did you pay for the shipping with a credit card? Sometimes credit card companies include certain insurances in their fees. It’s worth a call to see if they have any insurance for this situation.

      Also, ask your homeowners insurance or your renters insurance. Again, sometimes those policies cover losses like these.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      Don’t feel bad for not insuring them. They’re awful about honoring the insurance anyway. A friend of mine sent me some expensive art books two Christmases ago. They were wrapped individually since they were gifts. When they were delivered, the mail carrier dumped them in my neighbor’s yard. All of the books had been unwrapped, had ripped covers, and had dirt and mud on them. My friend had paid for the insurance, but they would not pay out because they said he couldn’t prove they weren’t like that when he put them in the box.

    6. Blackcat*

      I would consider them gone, and I would appeal to anyone and everyone at the university. I’d try the financial aid office and the bursar’s office first, but moving up to deans could work, too.
      The school *does not* need the books back. They can write off the loss. You can also see if they have some COVID emergency funds for students and see if those can be accessed for this purpose.
      I would give up on USPS.

      1. Hi there*

        I agree with this. I work at a university (not in financial aid) and have the impression that there are some flexible and understanding policies in place around how students’ situations are impacted by Covid. Good luck!

    7. Esmeralda*

      Re the school — have your son talk to financial aid about changing his package since his (your) financial situation is quite dire.
      — See if the school has an emergency fund that could help him pay for the lost books.

      Insurance: the books might be covered on your homeowners policy, if you have one. Talk to your agent/

      1. Dee Dee*

        I appreciate the suggestions. I will definitely check with my homeowners insurance. The supervisor at the rental office has removed the charges for now but said they would need to be paid by the end of the spring semester. She did say the could possibly work with us on the fees if they are not found. Also, today I got an email from the postmaster in the university town that says she is checking on the status. I feel like recovering them from the dead letter office is a huge long shot.

        I paid with my debit card, not a credit card so I don’t think I have any recourse there. I will have my son check with the financial aid office as well. They may be able to help because of our current financial situation. And oh, the irony–I got an email from the postal service asking me to rate their service on my recent claim inquiry!

  22. Glass Piano*

    At long last I have been cleared by my PT to start running again after a nasty injury this summer! Still only on the treadmill, sadly, but hopefully in the next few weeks I can get back to running outside.

    Does anyone have any tips for getting in to a consistent crosstraining schedule? I know that in order to avoid more injuries I need to be better about incorporating strength training, but I can already see myself making excuses to stop. I’m looking for good youtube channels, mental tricks, and any other tips people use to make themselves do things like squats and lifting weights!

    1. TPS reporter*

      After the pandemic hit and my gym closed, the struggle was real trying to feel motivated at home. The best method for me now is a schedule as if I have a class. So strength A is let’s say Tuesday at 6pm and B is Thursday at 6pm. Then running is 8am Monday, Saturday Sunday. Strength I have an online trainer who gives me a program but you can find so many programs out there. I would search through Instagram hash tags.

      1. comityoferrors*

        Same. I found that part of my issue with strength training at home was that I don’t have access to most of the equipment or machines I used in the gym. I had set routines at the gym, but when I tried to translate that at home it was a lot of “hmm, nope, can’t do this, can’t do that one, can’t do this” and it really took me out of my focus.

        There are a lot of great programs to follow online, or you can make your own. I have a fitness watch that I can design routines on now; before that, I used FitNotes to plan and track my workouts. Whatever you pick, just make sure you have the equipment and space to complete your routine.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      So this isn’t perfectly relevant, but the key for most of my exercising habits has been shifting the internal conversation to “showing up”. Which is to say instead of thinking about how much and how many and how long and such metrics, the question is: did I start? And how often did I start? I set a goal for whatever it was, X times per day or week or whatever. Because, for me, easily the hardest part is starting. And if I’ve started I’m already likely to increase how much I was doing over all and make it more of a regular thing even if what I’m doing is small. It always works better than if I put pressure on myself to do a certain amount to begin with. Maybe that reframing would help you, too? Instead of saying I need to do x amount, say I need to do it y often. Just a thought!

    3. TX Lizard*

      Honestly the best thing that worked for me when I was working out was picking a show (or podcast) I really wanted to keep up with, and only letting myself watch it while I was actively exercising. I would watch on my phone or on the TV if I was at home, and do podcasts when there wasn’t a good way to watch something. And then I was really strict about it. Like turning it off during water breaks, quitting at cliffhangers when I was done working out, etc.
      I felt kinda dumb for it (I’ve gotta bribe myself to work out?) but it was really effective in getting me to stick to my plans and actually spend some time exercising.

      1. Glass Piano*

        This is really smart. My biggest problem is that I actually hate strength training and find it super boring, so my brain is actively looking for excuses to quit. Linking it to something I enjoy is definitely the way to go!

        1. TX Lizard*

          Yes! Working out is SO boring to me. I don’t think I can ever change that, so I work around it.

        2. allathian*

          I’m fine with strength training, but I’m bored out of my skull on the stationary bike. As much as I generally dislike listening to podcasts or audio books, because I just can’t seem to focus on them, I guess I’m just going to have to try something to motivate myself to work out for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

    4. Ranon*

      So, it started as a program for postpartum women but they’ve got programs for pretty much everyone now- I really like the MommaStrong/ PoppaStrong programs for basic body maintenance/ injury prevention stuff- it’s at home, 15 minutes a day, minimal equipment, with a really good focus on functional fitness. I’ve only done the momma side but there’s tons of focus on glute activation, pelvic floor stability, and core function, all that stuff you need to support running. And at 15 minutes it really takes some mental gymnastics to tell yourself it’s too much to fit in.

      Squats while you brush your teeth is a “not focused training but better than nothing” option

    5. Miki*

      Google “before the barbell program” from Meg Squats. 8 weeks 3/week for $8/month. Sign up and try it.

    6. Bethlam*

      My motivator is an Excel spreadsheet. My exercises are listed down the left rows, grouped by type- stretching first as that gets done every day, then a section for legs/feet, core, and upper body. Days of the week are across the top columns. I print it out and record what I do each day. It’s painful for me to see empty squares that should be filled in, so very motivating for me.

    7. Lizzo*

      The Fitness Blender channel on YouTube is great. It was recommended to me by my PT and ortho. Lots of activities to do with bodyweight only + pilates workouts.

      Last fall I subscribed to the Peloton app. It’s less than $20 a month if you don’t have the bike. TONS of classes that you can either attend live or watch on your own time: strength, yoga, stretching, etc. Most classes require some weights but you can make do with items around the house. The YouTube channel I mentioned above was great, but I needed more accountability and the functionality of the app/filters/search function was much easier for my brain instead of browsing the YouTube channel to find my next workout. Plus the instructors and the workout playlists are motivational!

  23. Anon in IL*

    If Chaordic One is reading this, did you ever discover the name of your Rolls Royce murder mystery TV movie referenced in the January 2 open thread? I would really like to watch that!

    1. Chaordic One*

      No, I never did find out the name of the movie, so I’ll keep looking for it. Several people commented that they remembered seeing it, so I was relieved to know that I didn’t imagine the whole thing.

  24. TX Lizard*

    Anyone have any tips or tricks for Gmail persobal inbox cleaning/organizing? I keep getting the notifications that I’m running out of space, but the thought of trying to deal with my jungle of an inbox is very intimidating. I don’t want to just mass delete everything before a certain date, because I occasionally need to dig into old emails for certain records.

    1. Pharmgirl*

      Use the search function to delete (or label and archive) anything from a certain address.

      Specifically, use “in:inbox *****” replacing stars with the search item. For example if I want to delete everything from Sephora because they keep sending me promotional emails I would search “in:inbox Sephora” and then I can mass delete all of those knowing there’s nothing in there that will be important. I try to do this every 1-2 weeks so it not a giant task.

    2. CTT*

      I’m not quite an inbox-zero person, but I do like to keep it in control, and one thing that I find super-helpful when I’m trying to delete things is to sort my inbox by sender instead of chronologically because it makes things I don’t need stand out more. Like, those two emails from Delta about changes to a flight schedule from from three years become more noticeable to me than if it’s jumbled with other things that I do need to keep.

    3. Coenobita*

      Here are some things I’ve done:
      – Search for anything that has the word “unsubscribe” in it, and delete those.
      – Search for anything with attachments above a certain size, and delete the ones you don’t need anymore.
      – Delete messages associated with list or group that has external records (e.g. if you can access those messages from the group’s page, you may not need to keep them in your own email)

      You could also download/back up anything before a certain date, then delete it from your gmail. That could work if you don’t need to access those old records frequently. And make sure it’s actually your email that’s taking up space – files in google drive also count toward your limit!

    4. Ranon*

      Depending on the value of your time, it may be cheaper to pay for more storage. That storage gets shared across all google products so it’s pretty handy.

      1. TX Lizard*

        Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to decide. Although if I’m going to pay for storage I’d almost rather buy a nice external hard drive and download everything then delete from Google.

        1. CoffeeforLife*

          I finally bought storage this month so now I have a year to ignore it. After some digging I found it was mostly video and picture storage using all my space and Gmail was just a small piece of the Google pie.

          1. TX Lizard*

            Mine is about 50/50 Drive and email, since I’ve pretty much never deleted an email until last week *shame*

    5. PollyQ*

      If you’ve got a desktop/laptop and a little techno-savvy, I recommend installing the freeware program Thunderbird. It has vastly greater sorting & grouping functionality, and makes it much easier to grab large chunks of email you want to delete.

      Another way to get rid of the “low-hanging fruit” is to do a gmail search for messages that are large or have large attachments by using the following terms in the search box.

      Attachments: has:attachment larger:10MB (change the size as needed)
      Large msg: size:1000000 (which is 1MB, again can be changed as needed)

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I second Thunderbird. I have been using it for years and it is much easier to sort and delete stuff in bulk. It can be a bit slow to download emails though.

      2. NoLongerYoung*

        This – I have had to do it, and discovered a distant friend (I’m on a group email) sends huge – huge pictures as attachments. Of every camping trip. If you go onto the web version of that warning, their help tells you how to do the above.
        I also was backing up my text messages (which contain photos as well) nightly – and somehow, it doesn’t just back up the new ones, it backs up all of them again and again. So… I have been purging.

        I went from out of room, down to 1/10 the need. Be sure to empty your trash when you are sure you are safe to do so…. you can tell pretty quickly what’s working.

    6. It’s me AV*

      Do you use the inbox tabs (Primary/Promotions/Updates)?

      After I got the low space warning I found that Promotions emails were taking up a huge chunk of the space and are of course the least useful to retain! I find the system is pretty good at distinguishing promotional mail vs updates like order confirmations but sometimes you do have to move one over.

      Now every month I search “in:Promotions before:12/1/2020 -keyword1 -keyword2” and then mass-delete all results. The date being the first day of the previous month, and the minus-keywords being anything I specifically want to save, hence exclude from the results. That way I still have any recent coupons if I end up wanting them but the backlog doesn’t build up again.

      When I did the initial cleanup I also used keyword or “from:address”, plus date ranges, to get rid of unneeded things in the Updates folder.

      Doing it by keyword/sender in chunks of say a year at a time keeps it limited so you can cast an eye over and make sure you aren’t losing something you wanted to keep.

      Also I didn’t try to sort it all out in one session, rather fitting in a couple of keyword-search-and-deletes in between other activities.

      If the bulk of your inbox is not promotional but from your main personal emailing activities then more storage might be the way to go!

    7. Squidhead*

      I don’t care for Gmail’s preset categories (promos, social, etc…) But I use the “filter messages like this” function to assign mail to different labels as it comes in. Takes a bit of work at first, but now every message from [professional association x] gets sorted with its own label and (depending on how timely x is) marked as “read.” Then I can open that label group and look at or mass-delete when I need/want to. When you build a filter, you can check the box that’s labeled “apply to [n] messages in inbox” so it’s a good if slightly laborious way to cull the mail you already have in addition to pre-sorting mail in the future.

  25. Self- care thread*

    Third migraine in two weeks. Checked in with my Dr. Seems that the swings in weather are wreaking havoc. Getting some relief from Imitrex and NSAIDs. Tea and toast. Sitting quietly in the dark. Can’t read and mostly staying off screens. I can listen to movies and tv.
    Would love recommendations for light netflix/Amazon prime/hulu/ disney+ for distraction.
    Like Frankie and Grace type things. British mysteries like Blechley and Endeavor. Just finished Queens Gambit. Thinking about the Fran Lebowitz. No loud noises. Extra points if talky and don’t have to actually pay attention to the screen.
    Suggestions?

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      You might enjoy Death in Paradise. It used to be on Netflix, I’m not sure if it’s still streaming there or not but it was a British murder mystery show! Also, hope you feel better! Migraines are awful

      1. Lizzo*

        Death in Paradise is on the PBS Passport app–$60 donation (or $5/month) to your local PBS affiliate will get you access to the app!

    2. fposte*

      Agatha Raisin? Shakespeare and Hathaway? I haven’t seen it, but a friend swears by the newish Father Brown mysteries.

      I am also a huge fan of a little Canadian reality (meaning it’s not actors, not that people didn’t come to make friends) thing called Still Standing, where a Canadian comedian travels to a small struggling Canadian town, gets to know it, and does a standup routine geared specifically to the town and its inhabitants. There’s some great scenery and interesting history, and it’s fascinating to see how he pitches the routine to his audience. The comedy is a little old-fashioned and corny with the raciness just right to make a small-town grandma giggle at the daring, and he doesn’t necessarily bury bad history.

    3. D'Euly*

      I’m so sorry and I hope you feel better soon!

      When in the throes of all-day morning sickness I watched Derry Girls (Irish light comedy on Netflix) and listened to recordings of P.G. Wodehouse (there’s lots on YouTube and maybe your local library).

      1. Tea Time*

        Pretend It’s a City – New Netflix series with Fran Lebowitz.

        “Wander the New York City streets and fascinating mind of wry writer, humorist and raconteur Fran Lebowitz as she sits down with Martin Scorsese.”

    4. Chaordic One*

      I can relate. A low pressure zone moved in on Friday morning and I woke with a mild migraine. I was afraid to call in sick, because I’d taken vacation time before and after MLK day. I managed to work through the day, but the pills didn’t really do anything until today. It started raining Friday afternoon and rained all night and was still raining this morning when I woke up. But at least the headache was mostly gone. The rain is now turning into snow. Ugh.

      I second “Shakespeare and Hathaway” and “The Father Brown Mysteries”. Sometimes I just want to see pretty countryside and villages, so I might look at “Doc Martin” or even “Last of the Summer Wine.”

    5. GoryDetails*

      Much sympathy! (My own migraines have been helped a LOT by zolmitriptan – not sure if that’s something that would work for you, but am throwing it out there just in case.)

      As for semi-mindless viewing as distraction: there’s a new season of Blown Away on Netflix now – a glass-blowing competition show, not usually loud though there are occasional glass-shattering scenes. Lovely to watch the creations take form, though perhaps not as effective if you can’t look at the screen for long periods. (There are talky bits about the craft itself and the individual artists’ visions; that might be soothing.)

      Oh, and for an UTTERLY soothing show – The Repair Shop. Last time I looked, Netflix only had one season, having dropped the previous two, but it’s beautifully quiet and mellow, with a narrator who’s a joy to listen to even if you don’t look at the tranquil scenery, focused workshop, or finished projects.