weekend open thread – July 17-18, 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: The Very Nice Box, by Eve Gleichman and Laura Blackett. An engineer mourning her girlfriend develops an unexpected relationship with her new boss at a trendy furniture company … who might not be who he appears. This was an unexpected pleasure and a funny skewering of corporate culture.

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

{ 1,222 comments… read them below }

  1. CatCat*

    I’ve enjoyed a few historical non-fiction and fiction books related to seafaring and would be interested in more. In non-fiction, I’ve read “The Bounty” about the mutiny on the Bounty, and “The Republic of Pirates” about the golden age of piracy in the Caribbean. In fiction, I’ve read “Billy Budd” and “Treasure Island.”

    I tried to get into the Aubrey/Maturin novels after seeing the movie “Master and Commander,” but couldn’t get into them because they have too much technical detail and jargon without explanation for me.

    Any recommendations?

      1. Anon working class*

        Great recommendation.

        I also suggest Thor Hyerdall who was an experimental archaeologist, afaik. He built ships based on ancient designs and wrote about testing them on open waters.

    1. Aphrodite*

      Pacific and Atlantic (two separate books) by the fabulous nonfiction writer Simon Winchester. Incredible!

      1. Brambleberry37*

        Agree! Slight caveat re: Winchester. He is THE STEREOTYPE of White, English (country) professor who Knows More Than You. He does – fab researcher – but he very much can be That Guy. That said, his books are super informative. He’s also great at the history of the subject of geology.

        1. voyager1*

          I agree when it comes to The Atlantic, but with the The Pacific his chapters on the horrid actions of the US Government to the indigenous populations of Pacific islands was really eye opening and not what I would expect an old crusty white dude to be telling. I have only read those two titles from him so maybe my experience is a bit limited.

          1. Brambleberry37*

            I’ve read a bunch of his back catalog (I was surprised at how many when I counted!) and pretty much everything prior to 2009 has moments where I went “WELP.” I am glad to hear he’s getting better! Again, he is an incredible researcher, and has such amazing specialized knowledge. But. Yeah. That Guy sometimes.

    2. Lisaajous*

      Not a particular book, but for non-fiction if you can find one on the Batavia it should be good.
      That bit of history has everything Hollywood could want, including but not limited to gold, shipwrecked on a desert island off the Western Australia coast, plots and mutiny and murder most foul, and the heroic captain and one sailor going off in a rowboat to get help from now-Indonesia *and succeeding.*

    3. I'd Rather be Eating Dumplings.*

      Cinnamon and Gunpowder was a delight (although not very historically accurate, I imagine).

      The Terror was fascinating (and somehow both more and less historically accurate than the other one I just mentioned). There is an AMC show based on it as well, I believe.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I’ll second CINNAMON AND GUNPOWDER, by Eli Brown; it’s a twist on the “woman taken captive by pirates” plot, where it’s a man who’s captured and finds himself using his cooking skills to impress the woman who captains the ship. The story does get quite dark in places, with some very brutal scenes here and there, but I found its mix of food, seafaring, and somewhat unusual characters quite entertaining.

        I liked Dan Simmons’ THE TERROR as well, though for my taste the story of the lost Franklin Expedition had terrors aplenty without adding the supernatural element – or without making some of the historical characters into horrendous villains, for that matter. But the depictions of conditions on the ice and in the ships, and the homage to the customs of the indigenous peoples, all worked well together. It’s my favorite of Simmons’ work, FWIW.

      2. Jen*

        Along the same lines, Erebus by Michael Palin (of Monty Python fame) was a very enjoyable read and covers much of the same history as The Terror. While the book is serious and nothing like Monty Python, Palin’s writing is just as good as in his comedy days.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          I just read this and LOVED IT. Truly enjoyed how he wove the story of the ships’ past (ALL of it) with his contemporary view when he was researching their path. I then read Frozen in Time, which is about the excavation of the three expedition graves and their autopsy and that was pretty good too.

    4. Asenath*

      I liked Joan Druett’s “The Hen Frigates” (about captain’s wives who travelled with them) and “Island of the Lost, Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World” which is more about shipwrecks than seafaring as such.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I liked both of those as well, though I preferred HEN FRIGATES, in part because there were so many women who’d captained ships and that I’d never heard of before.

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

        I’m currently reading Tupaia by Druett. Excellent book! The discovery of Tahiti and Island of the Lost were also great reads.

    5. Liane*

      I loved Alexander Kent’s Richard Bolitho novels. At least the first dozen or so. There’s 28 now, but it’s been years since I’ve read them and so a lot have been written since.

    6. Merle Grey*

      Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, by Dava Sobel. Seafaring related, and an enjoyable read – yes it’s about something technical, but it’s very accessible, and she doesn’t get into all the technical nitty-gritty.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larsen is a good read.

    8. Llellayena*

      It’s a bit more young adult, but “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” was wonderful for this. The character is learning the sailing terminology as she goes so you do too.

      1. Lizzie*

        The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik is an alternative history of the Napoleonic Wars, with lots of seafaring – and dragons.

    9. Tipcat*

      Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr. is a memoir of working his way from Boston to California and back on a merchant ship starting in the 1830s. There is a lot of technical information that I did not understand and ignored. The stories of Dana, his co-workers, his bosses, and the Californian ranchers were amazing.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The thing I love about this is that it was published as a small-scale memoir. Not expected to go anywhere or be a big deal… But then they struck gold in California. And it was closest thing to a travel guide that anyone had, so it went into multiple printings. Not bad for a college kid’s break year!

    10. fposte*

      Nathaniel Philbrick’s The Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is fascinating. He has other sea-themed nonfiction that I haven’t read, but I bet they’re good too.

      1. Sandy*

        Seconded! The movie is NOTHING like the book. The book is one of my favourite books of the decade.

    11. AY*

      For nonfiction, I had an absolute blast reading Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz this year. It is part history about Captain James Cook and his three Pacific voyages and part travelogue about Horwitz’s travels to the places Cook went. He writes a lot about Cook’s legacy, particularly with indigenous people. And there’s a great, funny section where Horwitz sails on a replica Cook ship. Would be a great book for fans of Bill Bryson.

    12. dawbs*

      Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean” is currently REALLY high on my reading list. But I”m reccing without reading yet.

    13. Purple Penguin*

      If you’d like to dip your toe into academic writing, Argonauts of the Western Pacific is an interesting read. The book was quite extraordinary for its time and almost ahistorically describes seafaring and ocean adventure in the Western Pacific.

    14. Brambleberry37*

      I’m most of the way through “The Bounty” and have an odd sea fixation myself! Here are a few on my shelf:

      1. Batavia’s Graveyard by Mike Dash
      2. Caliban’s Shore by Stephen Taylor
      3. A Brave Vessel by Hobson Woodward
      4. Wreck of the Medusa by Jonathan miles
      5. Scurvy by Stephan R. Brown (less voyages, but directly impactful)
      6. When China Ruled the Seas by Louise Levathes
      7. The History Of Piracy by Phillip Gosse

      All non-fiction. They have their issues, but are pretty fascinating.

    15. Clisby*

      Have you read the other 2 books in the Bounty Trilogy – Men Against the Sea and Pitcairn’s Island? I read all 3 in high school and really enjoyed them.

    16. lemon meringue*

      The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley! Can’t say much except that it has to do with historical seafaring and has some fantasy elements. It’s hard to say much more without giving the plot away, but I highly recommend it.

    17. CatCat*

      Wow, thanks for all the awesome recs! My library book list is going to be quite full :-)

    18. Silver Radicand*

      Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
      True story of a ship that got trapped by sea ice in Antarctica. they ended up having to sail over 600 miles in 20-foot longboats on the open ocean. It is truly a crazy real story.

      1. Max Kitty*

        This was going to be my recommendation. One horrible thing after another for that expedition!

      2. GoryDetails*

        The “Endurance” saga is truly mind-boggling, all the more so as Shackleton managed to get all of his men rescued – something that I don’t think anyone would have given odds on under the circumstances.

        But there’s another side to that expedition that’s also of interest, though it didn’t go quite as well for all concerned. Shackleton had another ship on the other side of Antarctica, tasked to set out food depots for Shackleton’s team that had intended to cross the continent. The second team had no way to know that the Endurance was ice-bound, and persisted in attempting to complete their own mission – but ran into some severe troubles of their own. There are a couple of books about this, with the one I liked best being:

        THE LOST MEN: The Harrowing Saga of Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, by Kelly Tyler-Lewis.

    19. HBJ*

      Carry On, Mr. Bowditch and Stargazer, both about Nathaniel Bowditch, a pioneer in ocean navigation. Stargazer is a biography. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is a fictionalized account of his life. The bones are correct, but then the author filled in a lot of details that could be accurate for the time of how his life probably went. Both are excellent.

    20. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

      If you want to give the Aubrey / Maturin novels another try, “A Sea of Words” is a great reference for the technical jargon.

    21. Lurker*

      I recently read “Madhouse at the End of the Earth” which is based on the Belgica’s 1897 polar expedition to Antarctica. Due to a variety of reasons they get stuck in pack ice and are doomed to spend a dark and frigid winter in Antarctica (the first expedition to do so). The isolation and darkness has a profound psychological effect on them and the ship barely makes it out the following spring. It was my first naval-related read and I found it very easy to read – while there was nautical jargon, I felt like I was still able to decipher its meaning.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I read “Madhouse” recently too. The Belgica expedition highlighted the mental strain of being frozen in the ice over the Antarctic winter – and it also featured the early adventures of Frederick Cook and Roald Amundsen, who would each become notable for their own expeditions. Cook’s, alas, retain a stain of doubt, but the problems that his lack of documentation caused did teach his friend Amundsen the importance of having undeniably accurate readings.

        1. Lurker*

          Yes, Cook and Amundsen… that scene where they went out to try to reach the higher land to help Lacointe get an accurate reading of where they were, tethered to one another by a rope, and could barely find their way back was terrifying to me. I was like, “Nope! I would not be cut out for this lifestyle.” Being a sailor/explorer back in the day was no joke.

    22. Book lover*

      Ten Rogues is about an unlikely group that built a ship to escape the Tasmanian convict colony and attempt to sail to South America. Cracking read. True story.

    23. Emma2*

      I have just started reading it, but Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. So far, it is really well written, and I picked it up because it was strongly recommended to me. It is set just before the Opium Wars and is set in British-India, and is the first book in the Ibis trilogy (the Ibis is a ship that plays a central role in the story).

    24. Time's Thief*

      “Gentleman Captain” by J.D. Davis is the first in a great series of seafaring books. They’re set in Restoration England, soon after Cromwell died, so it’s a period of history that I didn’t know much about and it’s fascinating. The author’s a leading authority on British naval warfare during that time so it’s solid history and a fun read. Plus, while it is focused mostly on the male characters, the female characters are well-written and the relationship between the main character and his wife is adorable.

    25. Pam Adams*

      My recommendation for Aubrey/Maturin is to follow Stephen’s example- and let the ship-speak wash over you.
      The definition of a cross-catharpin doesn’t matter as much as the characters.

    26. Free Meerkats*

      Flying Cloud: The True Story of America’s Most Famous Clipper Ship and the Woman Who Guided Her by David W. Shaw.

      The story of the ship’s record setting voyage focusing mainly on Eleanor Creesy, the navigator and spouse of the captain.

      1. fposte*

        God, I love that saying. It pops up in my head at random moments. (Preceded, of course, by “Better drowned than duffers.”)

    1. lobsterbot*

      Good boundaries, and some amount of negotiation when they’re stable as to how they would like to be treated when they are not.

    2. Not a cat*

      My niece (who lives with me) is bipolar. We have an agreement that she needs to stay on her meds. I help with her side effects when she has them. She needs a long nap when she gets home from work. I make sure to stay quiet (I WFH) while she’s napping. I don’t take it personally when she’s cranky or rude.

    3. I need tea*

      Very much agree with good boundaries and discussing with them as to how they’d like to be treated. I’d also read up on some accounts by people with bipolar – personally when a friend gets a diagnosis I’m unfamiliar with (by which I mean a diagnosis I haven’t personally experienced or already actually read up on – there’s a lot of stigma and misinformation out there, so I don’t count just knowing the diagnosis exists as being “familiar with” it) I start with googling “what not to say to someone with bipolar”, “misconceptions about bipolar” and “what it’s like to live with bipolar”. From there look for blogs that discuss mental health written by people with bipolar (just googling “bipolar blogs” can help you find these) – there’ll probably be things that it might help you to be familiar with but you wouldn’t know where to begin looking for them, and just browsing blog articles and experiences (or watching Youtube vlogs or listening to podcasts) can help. I’d pay extra attention to articles and videos that look at things like stigma, ableism and experiences getting accommodations or treatment, particularly if you’re someone who might be providing emotional support after doctor’s appointments and that sort of thing.

      Also, if needed, discuss safety plans. If they call you in crisis and need support, what’s the plan for keeping yourself safe and supporting keeping them safe? What are their needs when/if that sort of thing happens? What are the expectations around things like calling medical professionals or the police (definitely read up on how the police usually treat mentally ill people in your area and of your friend’s other demographics)? Talk about this before there’s a crisis.

    4. Flatpack*

      Have you talked with them at all about/do you know what their episodes look like? Most people with bipolar have particular warning signs that show up when things may be about to go haywire. If you can identify them, then giving the person a heads up if they start to become noticeable can be a really good thing. Sometimes the person getting ill doesn’t realise they’re heading into an episode, or sometimes they sort of suspect it but think it’s not really that much of a problem. It can be super helpful to have a friend say “hey, you’ve been talking really fast today, do you think your mood might be starting to get a bit on the high side?” If they aren’t keeping a mood log, that can be a great thing to do. (It can be as simple as rating how you feel each day from 0 – 10, where 5 is a comfortable/normal/averagely happy, 10 is sky high/vibrating out of your skin, and 0 is through the floor; the important thing is that getting to the top of the scale is not good! Being a 5 or 6 is a good thing.) The reason this is helpful is that it makes it easier for the person to see trends they may not notice changing from day to day but which over a few weeks represent a noticeable shift. That way they also have something they can check back over if you notice something is up.

      Following on from that, figure out (ideally in conjunction with the person) good ways to stop things escalating when warning signs do show up. If they’re getting hypomanic, the important things to prioritise are rest and food. Being somewhere calm. Doing something chilled. Having downtime. Basically, absolute opposite of what they feel like doing. It may be more fun to get wrapped up in all the exciting things they feel like doing, but that just increases the risk that things spiral.

      If they’re in a depressive episode then react in the same way as you would with a friend with unipolar depression, pretty much.

      I don’t know if this is a newly diagnosed friend or a new friend with a pre-existing diagnosis. If they’re newly diagnosed then be aware that they’re probably looking back on other stuff that’s happened in their life with this new context, and that can be pretty hard work emotionally – realising that actually they were ill when xyz happened, or whatever, can cast a new light on things. People live with bipolar episodes for a median of about 7 years before it’s diagnosed. There can be a lot to work back through, not to mention that whatever it is that precipitates the diagnosis tends to be kind of a rough experience. If this is the case for your friend, be open to listening to them if they want to talk about it.

      Most of all, the fact that you’ve asked this question at all is awesome, so thank you.

    5. BiPoSis*

      My sister is bipolar. From what I’ve learned over the years, it will vary a LOT depending on how your friend’s episodes manifest, how open they are about them, how much they stick to their meds and if alcohol is involved. I would try and understand how stable they are. My sister is quite stable (and always takes her meds) but she is also very lucky.

      My sister was diagnosed in her early 20s after having a massive manic swing resulting in 3 weeks of hospitalization and 6+ months of outpatient psych treatment and rehab. She was soft of a walking zombie for a lot of that time and does not remember it (my entire family, including her then-fiancé, however, remembers it clear as day). Since then, you probably wouldn’t know she is bipolar unless she told you. She went to grad school and became a physical therapist. She has a townhouse and pets. She married but has since divorced and has decided she neither wants to remarry nor have kids, though is open to long term dating someone with older (teen+) children.

      She is very open when going through a particularly polar swing. She takes her meds. She is not allowed to be with my younger children alone, though my oldest is now 12 and allowed 1:1 with her. This is tied to a specific incident 6 years ago where she relapsed and was hospitalized,* after which my husband and I no longer felt comfortable leaving a child who could not look after themselves alone with her. Nothing has happened since, but you just never know.

      Are there specific issues you are struggling with, such as how to engage (or not) during a depressive episode? I try and reach out via text and if she doesn’t reply or is clearly depressed, I usually try and give her a call and/or do a FaceTime session with one of the kiddos. I agree that clear boundaries are needed, frankly, on both ends. If you will be spending a lot of time together and your friend is not stable, or may not be, how would they like you to handle things? Are their depressive episodes deep and dark and likely to end in a place where you need to intervene, or just generally extended periods of glumness?

      *she was at a family party and got blackout drunk (she’s been sober since her early 20s) and had inappropriate behavior around my kids, such as hugging my 2 year old so tightly she cried, slurring and falling over in front of them, plus becoming violent with family members who had to physically remove her from the party, and assaulting the person that drove her to the hospital where she was sedated and spent the next week. I believe I posted about that here years back and got great advice.

      1. Overeducated*

        Oh man, I think I remember that post, I’m so glad she’s doing so much better now and you all are able to maintain a safe relationship.

    6. Anon Because Reasons*

      I come from a family of bipolar folks so

      1) Thank you for being a great friend!
      2) Mental illness is not an excuse for bad behavior

      Something I have noticed is that people will give certain members of my family endless grace/forgiveness for otherwise crappy behavior and… it doesn’t help! For one of my siblings, it has resulted in a life free of consequences and a now staggering level of selfishness. Meanwhile, my husband has always (with love) called out moody behavior and bad choices. It forced me to be more self aware about my moods and really stay on top of the stress that leads to episodes. My bipolar will never go away, but I am much much better at managing it than almost anyone in my family.

      Don’t fall into the trap of treating them as just your bipolar friend or trying to manage their condition. Just… be a friend. Make plans. Talk about shared hobbies. Use kind words to explain when certain behavior doesn’t work for you. Resentment can build quickly when folks put up with XYZ because friend is sick/fragile/moody. It’s ok to not put up with XYZ! I’d rather hear about it now vs. Lose you to resentment later.

      Medication is a hot button issue for folks. You can (sort of) level out the lows but you generally lose the highs. The highs (mania or hypomania) in bipolar are… imagine your highest energy most productive rawest energy day. And then imagine having that kind of cleaned-the-whole-house, work-inbox-is-empty focus as a semi-regular feature. No lie, i wait for those days and I knock out everything on my to-do list. It’s amazing. So don’t be too harsh on your friend if she has mixed feelings about medication. My bipolar is unique to me but I am high functioning enough (and in the right job with flexibility) that I’d rather have the occasional down day in order to keep my highs.

      Basically just be kind and maybe work on removing the word “crazy” from your vocabulary. It can be hurtful for folks with mental illness :).

    7. Gem*

      Thank you all for the kind, open advice! I really appreciated reading your experiences.

      This is a newer friend whom I believe has been dx’d for quite some time. I get the sense that they do not like to talk about their condition. They told me about it after canceling plans with me seven times in a row. I was ready to conclude that they just didn’t want to be friends so am glad they clued me in to the fact that there was something else going on.

      Since then I’ve been aware of what I assume are highs (15+ text messages before 7am, boundless energy, enthusiastic plan making) as well as lows (barely speaking, canceling aforementioned plans hours before we were going to meet, being very cranky at everything). I guess I’m just not sure how to respond to what feels like whiplash. Is this where boundaries come in?

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this is where boundaries come in. You have the right to decide how much of her bipolar-induced behavior you’re willing to put up with to be her friend. Much of her behavior is out of her control, at least currently. This may or may not change in the future if she takes the appropriate medication. Sometimes finding the right medication can take years, and for some people, the episodes never go away completely. It’s possible that disengaging emotionally from her might help. Don’t take it personally if she cancels your plans at the last minute if she’s depressive. Do you have other friends in common? When a very good friend of mine had a psychosis in college, I stopped making plans to meet up with just her. We always met as a group so that if she didn’t feel like coming, she canceled and the rest of us met. When she was in the early stages of recovery, she managed to show up to about 1 in 10 meetings.

    8. Allie*

      I have a sibling with bipolar disorder.

      One thing is, if you’re close enough, getting them help when they’re down. My siblings’ friends have been good about calling for help or getting sibling back in to see their doctor. They can often tell when things are wrong. You say this is a relatively new friend and I will say that’s not a position you should take unless you are quite close.

      I’ll echo boundaries. My sibling can say some extremely cruel things while manic. They always regret them and feel bad later. I tend to to engage with the manic stuff, it just winds them up worse and causes them to say worse and worse stuff. I monitor but I don’t engage.

  2. Sunshine*

    Any parents with thoughts on Boy Scouts.
    My son (6) is interested and I was ready to sign him up but there are just a couple struggles I’m having. Clearly a big one is child safety. And the Boy Scouts political and discriminatory histories are problematic. But also I really struggle with the way that their inclusion of girls is done in such a way as to pull from the Girl Scouts. And then once they bring in girls it seems they just separate them for a lot of the programming anyways. Honestly if I could sign him up fo Girl Scouts or a truly gender inclusive group I would prefer that. Has anyone navigated this area? Is anyone aware of other options?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Camp Fire? I did that as a kid – it was coed. I don’t know much about it these days, though :)

      1. OyHiOh*

        I don’t think Camp Fire exists any more. I did Camp Fire as a student and loved it but when I looked it up, I couldn’t find a national organization.

        OP, you might find value in a good 4-H club. There are many “townie” clubs in major cities, often associated with schools or libraries. They are gender inclusive, egaletarian, places a lot of emphasis on developing youth leadership skills (meetings are run by the elected student government of the club, no parents involved), and many of the activities traditionally found in scouting are available through 4-H, including hiking and camping.

        There are three levels of 4-H – Cloverbuds (5 to 8 year olds), Juniors (8 to 12, I think), and Seniors (12 to 18). Cloverbuds kids do a variety of group activities in a parent/leader run setting. In most places, they can participate in county/4-H fairs in special non-competitive classes but it’s neither expected nor required. You could certainly try that out for a year or two, see if you and your son like the environment, with a much lower committment. Try out several clubs, if possible, to find one that really fits you.

      2. The teapots are on fire*

        Camp Fire still exists and is very inclusive, has been since the late 1970s, but has fewer local councils than when I was a kid. Certainly look to see if there are any near you.

    2. Cherryblossom*

      I think it depends how political you want to get. Boy Scouts is a pretty problematic organisation. But if the kids have fun then maybe it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to make everything about politics if the rest of the kids time is balanced and appropriate.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I agree with this.
        Two kids, 1 girl 1 boy. Neither did any scouts. But they had a number of friends who did Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and it seemed to be a uniformly positive experience. From pretty okay to great.
        So at kid level, a good idea if your kid is interested. (Mine never were; they had sports extracurriculars taking up plenty of time and I never suggested it.)

    3. Derivative Poster*

      Maybe your local Girl Scouts organization could give you some suggestions about alternatives in your area.

    4. A Cat named Brian*

      My son earned his Eagle scout 4 years ago and my daughter was in the Venture crew, she served as president and vp in her high school years. We made some wonderful life long friends.
      I chose a high adventure group and have traveled the United States backpacking, camping, caving, canoing and sailing. Visit several groups and pick the one that best fits you and your family.

    5. Mum of 4*

      Maybe this is a regional thing? I have a boy and a girl in our local cub Scout group and they do exactly the same program at the same time. The only separation is boy tents and girl tents on camp.

      As for child safety I have concerns about that in general (not just re scouts). We tackle that issue by being involved in the group. My husband is a leader and often goes on activities with the kids. All the adult members of our group have kids currently involved so we aren’t unusual there.

      Another point: my child has ASD and sports don’t work for him. We have found scouts to be an excellent option for him. It is a chance to succeed in a structured social environment with kids who are generally encouraging and community minded. The organisation is far from perfect but for us the benefits far outweigh any concerns.

      All families are different. My comfort zone won’t necessarily be yours and I understand your concerns. This is just my experience with my local group.

    6. PSU RN*

      Hello! Scoutmaster of a female Scouts BSA troop here.

      Child safety: in response to child abuse, scouting now has one of the strictest youth protection policies (go online and check it out). I can never be alone with any youth that is not my child. I can never text or email a youth without another person on the text/email.

      Agree, political and discriminatory histories are problematic- so is everyone! How do we change culture without getting involved? I will say things are much different and more inclusive now, and that scout culture has changed for the better. There was a time when female scoutmasters were not even permitted (decades ago) but just because I wasn’t always welcomed does not mean the current program does not welcome me with open arms now.

      I am so sorry you feel that Scouts BSA is pulling from Girl Scout troops. They are two totally different programs that both serve female youth. I know female scouts that participate in both programs and have earned Gold Award and Eagle scout. My own daughter was involved in Girl Scouts, but she did not enjoy the program and quit. She watched her brother participate in Scouts BSA and waited eagerly for her chance to join a troop in 2019. Half my Scouts BSA female troop quit Girl Scouts because they didn’t like the program- as you know Girl Scouts program functionality is very dependent on local leaders. The Scouts BSA model attempt uniformity across all packs and troops- a successful troop should be camping monthly, have x service hours, etc no matter who the leaders are. My girls are having a blast in Scouts BSA and I am so grateful for their opportunities, character development, and youth leadership that are really making them into spectacular young people! This program is working for them. But it might not be the right program for your child, which is also totally fine. All the females in my troop reached us via friends, world of mouth, or an internet search-I am specifically prohibited from recruiting directly from a Girl Scout troop. Basically, it’s like two different sports and it’s my opinion that the female youth should always have the choice to pick one program or both- whatever is working for them. Because choices are great!

      The programming for female scouts at the troop level is set up so that they are a separate troop-it allows them to run patrol method and their own youth leadership totally separate from the boys. It also gives them some space. Imho, if the troop was co ed the girls would have most of the leadership positions and there wouldn’t be much for the boys to do. I am not familiar with how things run at the pack level. We are linked with a boy troop-this allows the troops to sometimes work together and makes things easier for families/schedules with a male and female scout in each troop. The separate gender troops is an ongoing discussion with national-they are always looking at this and some people feel in the future we may move towards a co ed troop model more like Venturing. But part of getting the old guard (changing culture!) to accept females in Scouts BSA was that troops would be separated by gender when we started.

      As far as gender inclusivity, Girl Scouts does not allow male scouts. Scouts BSA allows male, female, and LGBTQ+.

      My takeaway is that your child is interested in cub scouts-why not let them try it and see if they like it? Just like any other youth organization! If you don’t like that particular pack, try another pack or quit. You are permitted attendance at several meetings and one outing before you have to commit to joining-so you really have nothing to lose by trying out your local pack!

      Not so much Cubs (pack level), but at the troop level Scouts BSA has shaped my two children (boy and girl) into strong leaders, hard workers with a positive attitude, resilient people, and they have made tons of quality friends. I love this program and what it does for youth, especially females. For my new female scouts, most of them have never done any of this stuff-tent setup, first aid, start a fire, sleep in the rain, etc. They can do it all, and then they realize they can do so many other hard things! I can’t tell you how beneficial it is to see these youth become stronger people through facing mild adversity. We have tried church programs, sports, and clubs, but no program has ever come close to the long term benefits that Scouts BSA offers. It is truly an amazing program for me and my family and I would encourage anyone interested to check out their local pack or troop or crew at beascout.org

      1. RagingADHD*

        The point about not drawing kids out of Girl Scouts is well taken, from my perspective. In my area, the Girl Scout troops seem to revolve entirely around arts and crafts, with a few weekend getaways to cabins in the woods, with the parents grilling hot dogs. And lots and lots of selling cookies.

        They girls I see in those groups don’t learn or experience anything that they aren’t already doing in school or at home, except that they’re selling cookies instead of gift wrap or whatever this year’s PTO fundraiser is.

        I know other Girl Scout troops are different, but that’s the stuff they do locally.

        Around here, the only place to learn real outdoorsy skills and have exciting, challenging experiences is BSA, and I’m glad they accept girls now.

        1. KittyCardigans*

          This was why I quit Girl Scouts—we did nothing but arts and crafts in a classroom at my elementary school. Lots of cookie sales, but not a single camping trip in 3 years. My brothers were in Cub then Boy Scouts, and I learned considerably more by tagging along with them and reading their literature. It’s SO dependent on local leadership. I think it’s worth talking to people whose children are involved with the chapters you’re looking at to see what theye are really like.

        2. It's Growing!*

          I’m sorry your local GS leaders aren’t following the tenets of the program very well. GS has a huge focus on teaching leadership skills and enabling the girls to develop their full potential. It’s much harder to facilitate a girl driven program than just organize some arts and crafts projects. Sometimes it’s really hard to figure out what to do with ideas the girls are really excited about – my granddaughter’s 2nd grade Brownie troop was all gung ho to develop robots which could tend to the veterinary needs of injured wild animals. They did build owl boxes as 1st grade Daisys using power tools. There were a lot of screws screwed into scrap 2x4s just because that was so much fun. They are equally excited to work on their painting badge because that’s fun too. They made enough cookie money to visit a safari park and will go after they can get vaccines.

          As a high school age GS, I learned to water ski, canoed on the Kings and Colorado rivers, sailed and navigated a 90 ft schooner to Catalina Island (after earning the money to make that happen), personally bought troop camping equipment which turned out to be defective and got our money back from the store manager who wanted to claim the defects were our fault, and learned out how to lead groups of younger Scouts. I even wrote my college essay on my GS experiences (top-notch school, iffy GPA-it worked).

          GS depends on involved adults who are willing to teach the skills over time, and then stand back and let the girls lead the way. I can’t imagine that having a mixed gender group where the boys wouldn’t be mansplaining everything to the girls and claiming all leadership roles once they hit puberty. Look how poorly women have been integrated into VMI, for instance.

          1. RagingADHD*

            That sounds like so much fun! I’m glad your leaders were so creative and resourceful.

            The girls I know in BSA don’t want to paint or do woodworking. They do that stuff at home with their parents. They want to get out in the woods with knives and fire.

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        BSA only became open to girls to solve a massive multi-year PR problem of not accepting trans boys. They got to appear “woke” without actually affirming and supporting trans boys. GSA has welcomed and affirmed all girls since the question of trans kids was brought to them. I think this is the gender inclusivity the OP is referring to.

        1. the cat's ass*

          YES. I am in agreement with this, because: mileage may vary according to your location and particular troop, but my kid, through GS, has traveled to Japan, welcomed Japanese GS to our city as part of an exchange program; learned automotive care (yes, there’s a badge for that); got knowledgable about women’s health and followed a mammographer and a woman cardiologist around for a day (also a badge); had multiple camping trips; learned about/patricipated in local food and ag programs; earned a silver award creating a program to prevent LGBTQ bulling in middle schools, and oh, sold some cookies.

    7. My Brain Is Exploding*

      4H? I did that for a year (then we moved). It’s not just for rural kids.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I’m another one who suggested 4-H in a reply above. I think it could be a good alternative for a lot of families with hesitation about the legacy of scouting. I follow the national 4-H page and, even though I was a townie 4-H kid myself, I am continuously impressed with how urban, tech forward, and diverse 4-H is becoming.

        1. ShinyPenny*

          4-H was fantastic for me. I was in two different clubs, one for small livestock (my teen passion), and one for cooking and sewing (purely for a chance to socialize with friends, but I ended up catching the sewing bug). In my experience 4-H offers a lot of interesting topical skills/education, and great leadership practice as well. It was where I was able to shine socially (as opposed to school where I did NOT shine socially, lol). Looking back on it, I feel incredibly lucky that I had these two “extra” social groups where I got a chance to practice being more outgoing than I could manage in the much larger group of kids at school. I still thank my Mom for all the work she put in driving me to meetings!

        2. OyHiOh*

          ShinyPenny, until recently, I managed to forget the drama and public speaking projects I did in 4-H! And the leadership training was absolutely invaluable to me as a young person.

          There is so much more to the organization than the animal projects most people think of. When I go to the state fair and look at the 4-H exhibits, I’m really impressed with the coding and robotics work some surprisingly young Juniors are turning in (those are 8 to roughly 12 year olds for non-4Hers).

      2. Windchime*

        I was a rural kid and did 4H for all of my growing up years, from about age 8 till 18. We had horses, but there was also a dog group and one of my sisters learned to knit in her 4H group. I wasn’t sure that 4H even still existed so I’m glad to hear that it is still around and isn’t just for rural kids.

        My boys both did Scouts for awhile. The younger one dropped out fairly early; the older one stayed in but he wasn’t interested in the badges. He just wanted the cool shirt and to do all of the fun outdoorsy stuff. He had a blast in Scouts.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Another vote for 4H. Different 4H clubs do different things, ours sewed and did other needle work mostly But there was plenty of room for other activities. My father explained that they chose 4H first because there were less costs- no uniform, etc. Instead of badges for accomplishments we could enter our items that we made at the county fair each year.

        You can find out what clubs are in your area and what they focus on.

        1. OyHiOh*

          OP, the cost issue is a very good point. The only commitment your son will have as a Cloverbud is learning the 4-H pledge, and the kids say it at every meeting so even without extra practice at home, most learn it pretty fast just at meetings. In my area, Cloverbuds (which is where your son would start) meet once a month. My youngest was briefly Not.Happy! when she turned 8 and moved from Cloverbuds to regular meetings as a Junior but the increase in participation and things she could do mollified her within a month.

      4. Sleepless*

        OMG how I loved 4-H. I was in a rural area so I did do the agriculture-related stuff, but I knew kids from suburban/urban areas too, and it had programs for every interest you can think of. It teaches a ton of poise and leadership. When I first learned to write a resume, I thought “oh! it’s basically a one page version of a record book.” 4-H opened a great many horizons for me.

    8. Janet Pinkerton*

      I share your concerns. I’d be very happy to have a daughter be a Girl Scout but I wouldn’t have a son be a Boy Scout. I’m married to another woman and I wouldn’t want my kid with two moms in an environment that was so recently avowedly anti-gay. I see that you’re getting a lot of advice to try the Boy Scouts but I just want to say that it’s okay to stick to your guns on this! There are some alternatives available, including Camp Fire, but check to see if your area has them.

      1. BcAugust*

        The Boy Scouts also have a lot of Stolen Native American imagery and traditions they mock that they refuse to acknowledge or stop. I’ve heard some troops are better about this, but as a national organization they’ve been extremely bad.

        Even their latest “how to treat this respectfully” book was really horrid, to the point that I and several other natives I know flinched at just the cover.

    9. Blue Eagle*

      Cub scouts at age 6 doesn’t really get into political issues. But one thing is true – – any national program you sign your child up for will not be consistent throughout the entire country. If you want to know how the program is in your area, talk to other parents whose child is already in the boy scout pack or girl scout troop or campfire group that your child would belong to and ask them about your concerns.

      1. Anon for this*

        I worked for the YMCA in three major US metropolitan areas. Associations One and Two were liberal and social justice oriented; Association Three still held prayer meetings.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Sure but I think inherent to the puzzle isn’t so much “will my six year old deal with the political issues directly”, but rather “do I want to support this organization at all because of said issues”.

        1. Caboose*

          And also the aspect of “is my six year old going to absorb messages from this problematic organization that I don’t want my child internalizing”. I know that I picked up a lot of big life concepts from the Girl Scouts; it’s not unreasonable to be concerned about the impacts overall.

    10. Stevie Budd*

      I went through this too. I was also concerned about the religious messaging from the Boy Scouts. Reading some stuff online, it is integrated in the materials. Some leaders may not get into it, but it is fundamental to the group. However, I didn’t actually connect with a group so I don’t know how it would have been in reality.

      We decided to try Baden Powell, recently renamed Outdoor Service Guides. They are purposely inclusive. We haven’t done a whole lot yet. For the young age group, they’ve only done virtual meetings since we joined (during COVID), but I think there’s potential. It probably depends on the group.

      Since others have mentioned 4-H, I’ll just say I did it growing up with my horse and I had a great experience. I’m not sure they have anything that really substitutes for scouting skills though.

      1. ADHD Anon*

        We did Boy Scouts from Cub through Weeblo with my son. Our experience went from fantastic to too much trouble to continue.

        My son really wanted to do it and was having trouble making friends at a new school. Overall it was fine. There is a ‘god badge’ which our leader had everyone do at home and just tell her they were done. If they’d worked on the badge together there would have been problems. That might be a really good litmus test for a troop. The selling aspect was kind of off for us introvert parents too. They sell crappy popcorn.

        Overtime it just stopped being fun for him, and then pandemic.

    11. NeutralJanet*

      You may be able to sign him up for Girl Scouts! I know in my area, the Girl Scouts have allowed boys for at least the past twenty years, though your local Girl Scouts may differ. Of course, other kids might be cruel to a boy in Girl Scouts, but I suppose it’s up to you (and him) if that’s something that would deter you, and I suppose that might vary depending on your community as well.

      For a gender inclusive group, your local YMCA may have groups for children, though again, I know programs vary wildly across the country.

    12. Anon working class*

      Try and find a co-ed troop. I was in one as a girl in Boy Scouts, and it was amazing. There’s more co-ed troops now than when I was a kid. The exposure to an inclusive environment was so great my mom even became a leader of our Troop.

      1. PSU RN*

        Just to be clear, Venture crews (age 14 and up) are coed. Maybe this is what you are referring to? BSA Troops are not coed, but a male and female troop may be linked, which means they can share adult leadership if they chose and are chartered by the same organization.

    13. Callisto*

      My experience as having been in both GS and BS (as an Explorer) myself is that it’s very troop-dependent, so you need to carefully vet each group. My GS troop was full of cliques and mean girls, and I was miserable but not allowed to quit because “GS is wholesome so clearly Callisto is exaggerating”. The troop one township over was much better, but it was a different school district and had different parents running it.

    14. Camelid coordinator*

      I was just thinking about this today, since I wasn’t crazy about the idea of joining Cub Scouts when kiddo wanted to. I remember having a discussion about discrimination and then letting him decide. Anyway, kiddo (now 15) is working at a Scout camp this summer and is thinking about going for Eagle. For me a big plus is/was that Scouts offered a space where he does fun things with other boys in person that aren’t playing video games (I enjoyed sleeping over at the aquarium, for example. The hubs didn’t enjoyed the battleship sleepover quite as much). Our second year in Cub Scouts the den parent quit, and I took on the job with another mom. I had to take a deep dive into the requirements, which has been helpful in his Scouting journey ever since, and also could shape some things (like how our den approached the spiritual parts) while still letting the boys make a lot of the decisions. We are an active, outdoorsy family, and it is also nice to be in a group where this doesn’t seem countercultural. Happy to chat more if you like!

    15. Anon for this*

      Just wanted to say thanks for this question— looking into scouting / outdoorsy groups for kids in my area now! :)

    16. A Pack Leader*

      Cub scouts is not perfect, but… I find it’s a good social, non-sports geared activity.
      I’m the den leader for my son’s Pack. “Politics” within each specific pack are wildly different.
      Although officially girls are supposed to be in separate dens, we have them integrated in my Pack.
      There is a “Duty to God” requirement for each rank. It’s done at home and we just rubber stamp that it’s done.
      Cub scouts are never alone with adults. There are always 2 adults present and a parent has to go on any sleepovers.
      I am liberal and not religious and scouts still work for us.

  3. Cherryblossom*

    What are people’s thoughts on spending money on non-essentials because of the idea that – well, the 1% have rigged the game, we can never buy houses, life is unfair etc etc so what’s a little brunch or luxury purse? Might as well enjoy life if we can’t participate in it like generations past. If anyone is familiar with this line of thinking.

    No doubt the ladder of opportunity is not what it was. I just don’t see it as a reason to opt out of saving or making wise financial choices. Surely the issues of the world are harder to deal with when you’re broke and in debt?

    I’m a recovered spender. I’m not frugal frugal and I still buy fun stuff but I keep it on the cheap side. I just side eye people I know on limited budgets who have like $30,000 weddings or travel abroad a lot or buy $100 skincare. Yes, that sounds judgey! Like one couple I know had a huge wedding and overseas travel when they live in a bad neighbourhood and should have spent the money on moving.

    I’m not against consumerism or owning fun stuff or experiences. I just find what we’re expected to spend on is a bit out of whack with our incomes? Like a millennial woman on a regular salary should have hundreds in skin care products? Seems out of proportion. Or being expected to have been overseas a lot.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Standing ovation! There’s zero obligation to run our lives based on someone else’s “expectations.”

        Exceptions to the above blanket statement: it’s usually a good idea to meet the general expectation to treat all people kindly and refrain from assault, murder, bank robbery, vandalism, arson, terrorism, and/or obstruction of justice. But as for individual taste in clothing, personal accessories, entertainment, skin care, food, or life event celebrations, you do you!

      2. Former Child*

        Huge weddings, and maybe a quick divorce, are the thinking of people who have been “groomed” to be “good little consumers” in our culture. They may never have shopped at Goodwill and have no idea how to save. They write complaints to advice columns about how their kids get “too many gifts” and don’t seem to realize they could DONATE to a homeless shelter where a quarter of the homeless are KIDS.

        They may have no clue what their values do to their life.

        1. Amanda Johnson*

          And that is none of your damn business what people do with their money. Sweep your own floors before commenting on how others run their households.

          1. I am a rock*

            We live in a society, it’s not crazy to care about how other people act in that society. Consumerism on a large scale is destroying the planet and that very much affects each one of us.

        2. Jackalope*

          Other people have addressed this below, but I wanted to comment also. It’s popular to hate on “lavish” wedding spending, and I agree that sometimes people can make poor choices in that area. But weddings are *expensive*. Yes, it’s possible to have a small, cheap wedding, but everything is set up to make that hard to do. There’s a “wedding tax” on so many things; companies will up their prices for weddings and there’s not a good way to talk them down. I got married a couple of years ago, and I was old enough that I had more experience navigating the world, but for people getting married in their early to mid twenties, it’s the first time they’ve ever had to plan an event for over 100 people, including making arrangements for a space, food, decorations, tables/chairs, etc. We managed to keep it below $10,000, I *think* (there were a few things my dad covered that I’m not sure what the final expense was), but that was from taking the cheapest option in almost all cases – we had the cheapest location we could rent that would hold the number of people we were inviting (around 120), a friend gave us her photography skills as a wedding gift (easily $2500 normal cost), we had buffet style catering instead of plated meals and soda instead of alcohol, we had the ceremony at my now husband’s church which was free (the church had nowhere for a reception, which is why we had to rent a room for that), we bought flowers and then some friends made the bouquets (and no flowers other than the bouquets and boutonnieres), etc., etc. We had a lot of friends help out and volunteer (including things like the photos, which was big), and we watched money at every single step (until the last few weeks when a handful of issues got money thrown at them because we were too exhausted to deal, but by that point all of the big decisions were resolved already). So while my own wedding was “on the cheap”, and we didn’t go into debt for it at all, I can totally see how it would be easy to spend a lot more without even trying.

          And one of the things about weddings is that they have a lot of meaning, tradition, and substance. Many families and communities have particular ways in which they celebrate the joining of two lives, and that’s not something that can just be ignored. And honestly…. I know that many people say that it’s just a big party, and I understand that perspective, but weddings have been huge celebrations in cultures throughout the world for centuries. I think there’s something to saying that this is a need that many people feel, to mark this huge moment of change in their lives, and to mark it together with their community. Our wedding was a wonderful and amazing day, and a really large percentage of the people that we love were there and we got to make this promise to each other before them, where they could agree to support and encourage us in that, and…. I’m running out of cousins to get married, so from this point out it’s mostly just going to be funerals. It was great to give everyone a chance to come together and celebrate rather than coming together to grieve. And to bring groups of people together that normally wouldn’t ever meet. And…..

          Anyway, this is getting a bit rambly, but I just wanted to defend this particular life decision, because so many people like to hate on spending money on weddings, but it’s much more complicated than that.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            But when did a sit down meal become the standard instead of a buffet meal? All my cousins (I went to so many weddings as a child) had a church wedding and buffet style reception in a hall.

            As an young adult I went to a wedding and the reception and tried to leave but someone told me they hadn’t served the meal yet so I stayed but that doesn’t have to be standard so that buffet style is the cheap option.

            1. Srsly*

              The cost difference between buffet and sit-down is there but it’s not substantial. I am doing buffet style for my wedding but it’s not going to bring $30,000 down to $20,000.

        3. PT*

          I have never shopped at Goodwill, either, because I *have* shopped at Goodwill and left empty handed.

          The Goodwill nearest me when I was at my most broke (recent grad, pit of the recession, part-time job instead of a full time one) had old, shrunken, stained, out of style clothing for the same price as new clothing at Target/Old Navy/H&M/TJ Maxx/Filene’s Basement, especially if you were someone who had an eye for sales and clearance bins. That Goodwill also sold dirty, mismatched housewares for the same price as Target, the grocery store, and in some cases more than Dollar Tree. (I’m not buying a dirty chipped mug that says REYNOLDS FAMILY REUNION 1989 for $3 when I can buy a new solid color one for $1.)

          I don’t get the moralizing by Goodwill shoppers. Maybe you’re lucky enough to live near a nice Goodwill, but I’m not wasting my money on old trash when I can get something that’s new and not ruined for the same price.

          1. Gray Lady*

            The Goodwills and Salvation Army stores near me have good thrift store prices, but their merchandise definitely skews toward “someone died, and this is the stuff nobody wanted to claim.” The clothing especially leans toward unwanted old people stuff. Once in a while you can really score something, but not enough to make it worthwhile to spend much time shopping there.

          2. The Other Dawn*

            I agree. I’ve tried many Goodwill stores, in different parts of my state and also the country, and I’ve never found anything worth buying that I couldn’t get new at an inexpensive store. People would say, “Go to the one near Rich Town,” and the clothing and other items were still terrible.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I think it’s about how you want to spend your money. I’ve seen folks in tiny houses in less desirable neighborhoods with fancy, expensive cars and other things. It’s not how I would spend my money (I’d prefer better house and a crappier car), but to each their own!

      I don’t think seeing folks spending money on lavish things on a smaller salaries necessarily means they’re being financially irresponsible, not saving, etc. Why should moving to a better neighborhood be more important than a dream wedding or travel?

      Most folks also have their splurge category – the thing(s) they are willing to spend more on, typically balanced by spending less in other categories. With bigger things, maybe they saved up or took on a side gig or received a gift, etc. etc.

      1. Cherryblossom*

        I think moving to a better neighbourhood is a simple one? One without gunshots and better schools! I like in a homogenous area so it’s not a race thing btw.

        I just feel like some of the brand and experiences are out of line with middle class incomes, even with a splurge category. I’m not counting people who have trusts or family gifts etc. I mean like if you are middle class you’re expected to buy x brands and do x things. But those things are really expensive! Like why do young women on limited salaries spend hundreds and hundreds on beauty and skincare products and that’s normal?

        I’m just questioning capitalism a little where the level of spending that is normalised ($30,000 weddings) seems to be out of line with being a responsible person financially. As I get older I realise the brands and experiences in my ‘class’ or ‘income’ bracket are actually kind of too pricey and it seems a bit like marketing designed to separate me from my money and wealth building.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Yep, marketing is designed to separate us from our money and wealth building. That’s how they get more money.

        2. ....*

          Yes marketing is to sell things. Some people value spending on weddings and skincare and others don’t. I mean I don’t have a car and just realized I have a pair of $20 shorts that have been in heavy rotation for 8 summers now. And I also get $100 facials sometimes. I guess I don’t feel an intense expectation to do…. anything really? Because I just do what I wanna do.

        3. matcha123*

          I can get a lot of brands cheap if I: wait for sales or wait for a used item to come out.

          I have an authentic LV cardholder I picked up used for $30 a number of years ago. I bought a used Fajallraven backpack for $30 a few years ago, too. Heck, I got a used (authentic) MiuMiu wallet for $30 a number of years back, too. Hmm…$30 seems to be the price of the day, but these are just some examples of “luxury” items I was able to nab at affordable prices.
          If you saw me with them and only knew the names, you’d probably think I bought them at full price.

          I am very open about bragging my bargains, but some people want to pretend like they bought things at retail price.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Me, too. I don’t care if people know I paid $2 at a tag sale for a $100 handbag. People who stay on top of this stuff KNOW for a fact that my new-to-me back is actually OH-sooo-last-week. I remember a friend of mine talking about living near Big City. She said people knew where you bought your clothes and WHEN. The “when” part was a bfd. If you had something for a few months then it was time to get rid of it. This sounds anxiety inducing to me. “Can I wear this shirt one more day or do is it too old now?”

            Personally, I say, “Keep doing flipping stuff, keep supplying yard sales with neat stuff for a couple bucks. I am good here.”

          2. Clisby*

            Once I went to a big yard sale where I bought a black silk Nieman Marcus dress for $1. Although, I bought enough stuff that they gave me a discount so I later figured the dress cost 87 cents.

            I told a co-worker about this, and that this was the perfect dress to wear to a family thing I had going up and he said, “Wow! That probably was a $200 dress! They’ll be impressed.”

            Me: “My family would not be impressed that I spent $200 on a silk dress. They’d be impressed that I got it for 87 cents at yard sale.”

        4. newbie*

          I come from what would be considered working to low, low middle class. I’ve spent plenty of time around wealthy and wealthy-adjacent people working for them. I’ve learned to never assume someone’s financial situation. Lots of people have family money that they don’t mention, such that their $30,000/year job is only a small part of their total income. Others truly are profligate spenders and are living hand to mouth on 10 times that. Unless you’re privy to their books, you don’t know what or why someone spends what they do. More people get family help than you’d think.
          I’m pretty darned frugal – I have zero family or other safety net, so it’s all on me. I think most would be surprised if they saw my excel sheet where I track income and expenses.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I agree. I knew a multimillionaire who drove a 20 year old car. The reason is simple: he liked it. He was orphaned early in life. He got a job and kept working his way up. The story sounds trite, but my point is he was part of the so-called new rich yet he had little need for visible symbols of wealth. Going the opposite way, I know people who have taken out loans against their inheritances and the senior family member is not dead yet. If you walked through their house everything you saw, they owed on it.

            There’s a reason there used to be a bumper snicker, “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

        5. Clisby*

          If I lived in a neighborhood where gunshots were frequent, I would prioritize moving, but “bad neighborhood” is in the eye of the beholder. The entire time I’ve been with my husband (> 25 years) we’ve lived in neighborhoods weirdly characterized as “bad” by some people we knew (intown neighborhoods in Columbus, OH, Atlanta, GA, and now Charleston, SC.

          1. OyHiOh*

            I’ve lived most of my adult life in “bad” neighborhoods, by local lore and classification, that were not inherently unsafe. The were and are merely majority not-white and working class/blue collar in terms of jobs and wages. I like it. The neighbors make good food and notice when something is amiss.

            1. Clisby*

              That has been my experience as well, although my Charleston neighborhood has been rapidly gentrifying over the past 10 years. I’m not sure how the ones in Atlanta and Columbus have been going. I still remember when I lived and worked in Columbus, telling a co-worker where I lived (Victorian Village, in case anyone is familiar with that area). He said, “I wish I had the guts to live down there.” I was gobsmacked. That was one of the best neighborhoods I’ve ever lived in.

          2. Green great dragon*

            Yep, I lived in a ‘bad neighbourhood’. There were streets just across from me I wouldn’t walk down at night, but it was a lovely block, the routes I took felt safe, and I never had any trouble. I had no reason to prioritise moving out over ‘wasteful’ spending.

          3. Pointy's in the North Tower*

            “Gunshot or firework?” is common at my house, and I don’t live in the “bad” part of town. Housing in my metro area is lower than in other metros, but it’s by no means cheap and rapidly increasing in price. Even living in the gated communities isn’t a guarantee that some form of violence won’t happen.

    2. PollyQ*

      You do sound judgey, and I’m wondering why that judgment is being pointed at individuals making choices about how to spend their money rather than the various societal realities of wage stagnation, lack of housing, college tuition, costly health care, etc. etc. And just because people are spending money in ways you wouldn’t doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “doin it rong” or are unwise. It may just mean that they have different priorites from you.

      I also don’t agree that there are broad societal “shoulds” that are forcing people to make these choices. Sure some people overspend, and some people make choices they may regret. But I don’t think the majority of people are having weddings beyond what they can afford, traveling overseas often, or buying hugely expensive skincare.

      You didn’t ask for advice, but I’ll give you some anyway: Try to stop worrying about how other people are living their lives unless it directly affects you. If it’s not your money they’re spending, then why should it take up any space in your mind? If you want to make the world a better place, do some charity or do some activism. But mentally pointing fingers at people you know doesn’t do them or you any good at all.

      1. Cherryblossom*

        It takes up space in my mind because it impacts on my life. Lots of people hang out with people like them and then norms get set.

        Like being invited by friends to go out and the outing is really expensive because these people don’t have sense. But if you want to keep up with your friends then yep you’re about to be separated from $100 for the long boozy lunch. I like going out but sometimes it is cheaper to bring a bottle to a friends place and bring a dish.

        And then with brands people comment if you buy cheaper brands. Someone at work will start a discussion about foundation and their foundation is $80 and I’m like, yep mine’s not and they find that odd.

        I’m trying to a pay a mortgage within a time frame and I just notice that other people’s reckless spending makes that harder or more annoying to deal with and there’s awkward conversations about why I don’t buy x or do y.

        1. Decidedly Me*

          Those don’t sound like good friends if you’re not comfortable expressing that you don’t want to spend a lot or if they look down on you for the brands you buy.

          Are you sure the conversations are awkward, though, and that it’s not just something you’re worried you’rebeing judged on? While I interact with all sorts of people with very different spending habits than me, I’ve never had to defend my spending choices to them or have an awkward convo on it.

        2. PollyQ*

          Well, then your problem is with your friends, who do sound both “spendy” and judgmental themselves, if they’re scoffing at you for “only” spending, say, $40 on a foundation, or god forbid, only $10 for a drugstore formula. Are you sure you’re in the same income bracket as them? Because you’re not wrong that those costs are well above any kind of market midpoint. However, I still don’t think those are the “expectations” and “norms” for middle-class folk across American society.

          You may just need better friends or colleagues, ones whose habits are more in line with yours, or at least ones who don’t care that you choose to spend your money your way.

        3. tangerineRose*

          Maybe skip the expensive outings and try organizing something fun but inexpensive?

        4. AcademiaNut*

          I think you just need new friends. You and your friends have very different spending habits and are mutually judgmental about it. They think you’re cheap, and you regard their spending habits with contempt. There’s not a whole lot of room in there for compromise.

          On a broader scale, people have their priorities, and their reasons for them, and in general it’s not really your business unless they’re constantly complaining about the results of their choices to you, they’re asking for *your* money, or you’re planning on combining finances in some way. With friendships, there’s room for compromise, but sometimes that compromise is sitting out the activities that aren’t to your taste. That’s not just for spending – the same is true if you like fine dining and your friends are board game potluck types, or they like hiking and you’re allergic to nature.

          Comparing spending on small luxuries to a mortgage is something that makes me roll my eyes, though. I live in an area with ridiculously high housing prices. I’ve done the math. We could technically buy an apartment instead of renting. We’d pay significantly more per month for a place that was smaller and not as nice, in a much less convenient location, have no chance of paying the mortgage off before dying of old age, and if (when) the housing market crashes we’d have an underwater mortgage and be financially ruined. No amount of foregoing Starbucks is going to change that equation.

        5. NeverComments*

          It’s pretty unkind to say that your friends have no sense because they want to hang out and have an expensive brunch. Everyone has different priorities and that is reflected in what they are willing to spend their money on. No one knows the full financial picture of other people.
          To the people who are judging your for not using an expensive foundation- how strange

        6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I don’t even buy foundation so there’s that.
          People tell me I’m lucky to live in a house with a garden just outside Paris. No it’s not luck, my partner and I worked very hard and saved like mad to be able to afford it. No holidays for several years except visiting my parents (which wasn’t a holiday). Eating the cheapest of everything for years which probably wasn’t good for anyone’s health.
          I realise I don’t know people who would spend a lot of money on foundation. Or rather I do but I just say hello to them at parties and don’t bother to get into conversation with them. I’m used to being considered the weird one, and don’t bat an eyelid, I’ll just tell people that they may think me weird for whatever now, but back in the 70s people thought I was weird because I believed in global warming and now look, the globe has already warmed more than even Greenpeace predicted. And I was weird because I was vegetarian, now the sons and daughters of those who called me weird are asking me for nutrition tips and recipes because they’re veggie too. Weird basically means ahead of the times, so roll with it and choose your friends from among people like you and accept that not everybody wants the same as you.
          As far as neighbourhoods go, we chose a rather run-down grotty suburb of Paris where we could have a house and garden rather than live in the smart end of town but only be able to afford a crummy flat. The kids turned out fine! (of course we don’t have problems like gunshots here).

        7. Amanda Johnson*

          Then get friends who fit your narrow standards. And perhaps don’t let people live rent free in your head.

          Again, what people do with their own money does not affect you paying your mortgage or not buying things you deem too expensive. There’s this little word called “No” is they invite you on expensive trips or outings that you don’t want to go to. Perhaps you should focus on putting up boundaries with your friends instead of judging them.

        8. Not So NewReader*

          I think that sometimes we have to decide what we are about and what we are Not About. Because you are kind of gravitating or tracking these kinds of comments/conversations, I am wondering if you are having your own internal conversation called, “Where do *I* fit into all this?”

          I also wonder if this is about dealing with people who ask rude questions, “So how come YOU aren’t driving a Beemer?” Eh, just ask them when they are going to purchase some manners. Seriously, though you could just say, “What an odd question, why do you ask?” Answer with a question that is open ended- meaning it requires more than a yes or a no. Prepare your question or questions in advance so you do not have to drum one up on the spot.

        9. Actual Vampire*

          I don’t understand how other people’s spending makes it “harder or more annoying” for you to pay your mortgage on your schedule. You have chosen to prioritize your mortgage. They have chosen to prioritize other things. If you’re unhappy with your priorities, that’s a you problem.

          As an analogy – I have some acquaintances who decided to have kids in their early 20s. They said they chose this because they wanted to be done parenting by their 40s. Great for them! But then they started complaining that they lost their friends, who kept partying and inviting them to non-kid-friendly activities. Well, that’s the bargain they made. They decided to prioritize fun in their 40s over fun in their 20s. Their friends didn’t, and aren’t required to accommodate them. There is no right or wrong here, just different people with different values. If your values don’t align with your friends’ values, you need new friends or new values (and/or a different attitude).

          1. Firecat*

            Same here. Did I see a lot of friends and family splurge to a level of over indulgence then silently role my eyes when it came time for their “woe is me I can’t afford new tires for my car” after they literally bought their 4th designer dog that cost thousands? Sure.

            Did I feel compelled to spend more and “keep up with the Jones?” No.

        10. Caboose*

          It sounds like you’re very proud of how frugal you are, and will take every opportunity to make sure people know it. Of course people are having awkward conversations with you about why you don’t spend money on certain things, *you’re* initiating by bragging about buying cheap foundation!

          You seem to think you deserve accolades for being good with your money, and the ~frivoulous youths~ around you aren’t providing them, and therefore, there must be something wrong with them.

          There isn’t, and you are not better than them for having a mortgage.

    3. Kiwiapple*

      Why “should” that couple have moved from their neighbourhood and not spent money on a wedding? Because you say so?

      1. Cherryblossom*

        Where I live schools really vary in quality and your education sets you on a path for your future. I don’t care if it sounds judgey but if you condemn your kids to a much worse education because you’d rather have a party and holidays I don’t think too much of that. That’s not fair on the kids.

        Obligatory that life shouldn’t be like this. All schools should be great. But they’re not. If people can’t afford to live with better schools I totally understand. Choosing a big party and a holiday over moving to better schools is not great parenting.

        1. Kiwiapple*

          Ok but does that couple have kids? (you don’t mention that in your post above).
          Also, I can tell you that education varies in many places and countries and cities, not just in the US.

        2. Jackalope*

          Maybe they have a different reason for not wanting to move? Case in point: I have some good friends who could have lived in a fancier neighborhood, but decided to live and root themselves in a “bad” neighborhood. It had cleaned up a bit but was previously notorious. They sent their kids to the neighborhood school which had a lot of issues with low-income kids; the school was over 95% kids on free & reduced lunches, with only 11 students who were NOT, 2 of which were their kids. But their idea was that a good education shouldn’t just be for their children, but for the other children around them. They spent a lot of time working/volunteering at the school, and being activists for good things to happen there. Things like pushing for gifted classes, making sure that the needs of all the kids there were met, going to school board meetings to talk about why our city’s gifted testing found that almost all of the gifted kids in our area just happened to be white…. Plus just supporting the students, teachers, and staff there. (I could give other examples but am using education because that’s what you brought up.) Plus they’ve also gone on some nice trips overseas and things like that.

          I know that most people probably aren’t making decisions for the same reasons as my friends, and sometimes the reason for someone’s decisions is that they’re bad at making decisions. But people can also have good reasons to make those decisions, reasons you may not see from the outside. I know that I personally chose for a number of years to live in a 1 room apartment (that was spacious for an apartment but still) that was cheap because the building was old and had eccentricities, so that I could afford to travel and to pay for an expensive hobby of mine. Could I have saved that money and bought a house? Quite possibly, and I would have been buying into a better market than what we have now. But I’ve also had some amazing memories from traveling. And while I enjoyed being single, there was a certain loneliness that came from living w/ just my critters, and paying for my expensive hobby that had a hobbying center that I could drop in on 6 days a week and be around other hobby enthusiasts that I was friendly with made a HUGE difference in my mental health. It was so worth it to me to have that place to be around people I knew and enjoyed, not to mention engaging in my hobby.

          So those are just 2 examples, and anectdata is of course not perfect. But just saying that sometimes people seem to be making foolish financial choices but are in fact making decisions that make sense for their own lives and situations.

          1. Cherryblossom*

            It is very true that people should probably keep sending their kids to ‘bad’ schools to life up the entire system. I understand many community minded parents do that and well done to them.

            These people are not interested in politics. They just don’t value education (theirs or the other kids). I know it’s judgey but we’re living through a time where poorly educated people are more likely (in my country) to vote for awful Governments, so I don’t really think much of choosing parties over education.

            While moving your kids to good schools does contribute to an unequal system at least we know that people who go onto be college educated are less likely to vote for idiots. Given the stakes are so high these days I just can’t get on board with spending on frivolous stuff instead of trying to educate your children in a difficult world.

            1. London Calling*

              Do your friends have children? if they do are you privy to their plans for those children’s education? what business, frankly, is it of yours anyway?

              I have to say, OP, you don’t seem to like your friends that much. Perhaps move on and let them find a friend who isn’t constantly sitting and judging how they live their lives and spend their money and talking snarkily about them to internet strangers.

            2. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

              Why in the world are they your friends. You talk about them with such contempt. Both above by judging them for doing an expensive outing because they have no sense, and here because they have absolutely no value for their own education.

              Seriously, why do you consider these people your friends when you have absolutely no respect for them.

              I also just wanted to add that constantly judging people, and looking down your nose will lead to you being miserable (if you aren’t already). You should feel happy for the people around you and that makes you feel happy.

              I wouldn’t have a 30,000 wedding either because I think it is a waste of money, but I certainly wouldn’t expend a huge amount of my own headspace to being disgusted that people who I call my “friends” do.

              I really think you need to re-evaluate how you approach the world around you, and how you get or expend energy. And I am trying to be helpful as someone who grew up with a very negative parent who has spent a lot of time curbing my judgmental impulses as an adult. I am a lot happier now than I was in my 20s. Good luck.

            3. Pop*

              This is a pretty bad take. There is a lot of research that shows that enrichment in the home, outside of school, can be just as beneficial to kids and their education as going to “good” schools. Supplementing with things like museum trips, travel, books in the home, etc all contribute to a well-rounded education. And going to “better” schools doesn’t necessarily mean the kids will end up in college or with more opportunities. There are plenty of people who did everything “right,” have $100k in loans and are struggling, perhaps in part because their parents couldn’t afford to help them pay for their education. And plenty of other students who are making $50k a year right out of high school in a carpenter apprentice program. Your comment reeks of classism and contempt for public schools, who by their definition are there for ALL kids, not just ones who can afford to attend the “better” ones.

            4. Dark Macadamia*

              I’m a teacher looking at moving to an area with one of the “worst” schools in our district. Do you know why it’s the worst? Because they have a more diverse student base who scores lower on standardized tests due to language proficiency. That’s literally it. The most important factors in school quality come from leadership and staff, which can be hard to assess from outside and change very abruptly. I’m not concerned about the quality of education my kids will receive there, and DO have concerns about the parent culture of thinking their kids deserve more or are better than others that is prevalent at the “best” (more affluent/white) schools.

              1. OyHiOh*

                I kept my kids in “bad elementary schools (while living in “bad” neighborhoods – 2 for 1!) precisely for socio-economic diversity. The playground experiences of playing and talking with classroom of kids who all look and sound different from each other is an invaluable part of their education experience.

              2. Jackalope*

                Yes, the school I mentioned above is considered a “bad school”, but the reasons that it’s bad are related to the poverty rate, which means a lot of kids moving around. A few years ago they had a 130% or 150% student turnover rate during one year because so many students were homeless and kept getting moved from school to school when their parents were able to scrape together enough money for a place somewhere else. But the teachers were great, the classes were actually a place where kids learned (when they could be there), and the kiddos I mentioned earlier (my friends’ kids) got a good education and are doing well.

            5. Anon scientist*

              Ok, I have to reply here. I went to a “good” public school system that had lots of people trying to get in. And overall it sucked. Turns out that all those great outcomes were because of highly educated helicopter parents who did all the tutoring, enrichment, etc on the side and if your parents weren’t on the inside, pushy, etc, it was terrible. If a kid had an actual problem, the school did everything possible to divert to vocational school so that the bad student wouldn’t have an impact on our vaunted numbers. Don’t even get me started on the bullying, the sexism, the fact that a high percentage of the kids ended up neurotic messes…

              I turned out ok in the end, no thanks to anyone in the administration, but my friends in working class to bad school system turned out generally better adjusted. And because they weren’t pushed into private colleges, they also ended up better off financially 10+ years down the road.

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                I got into an elite school and ended up seeing a psychiatrist specialised in girls from my school so…

            6. Clisby*

              I have no idea whether your friends have children or plan to have children – but my husband and I consciously made the decision that we would NOT choose a place to live based on our perception of how good the schools were. Our priority was to live in a neighborhood we liked. If we weren’t satisfied with the available public schools, we’d have sent our kids to private school. We could pay more to live in some suburban outpost we hated to get “better” schools, or we could pay less to live where we wanted and possibly more for schools.

            7. Not So NewReader*

              “I just can’t get on board with spending on frivolous stuff instead of trying to educate your children in a difficult world.”

              You don’t have to get on board. They aren’t your kids.
              If you are having difficulty watching other people’s choices, then don’t watch. Seriously, I have watched people make some really radical-to-me decisions. It was very difficult to watch them do this.

              One thing I tell myself is that other people can condemn me for choices I have made.

              A component of friendship requires that most of the time we accept our friends “as is and where is”. This is who they are and this is what they prioritize in life.
              Another helpful thing to think about is we all play the cards we have been dealt. Most of us get a few decent cards at some point, even if we get some bad cards.

            8. Nancy*

              They aren’t your kids, so you have no idea why they chose these supposedly ‘bad’ schools. Assuming these kids exist, since it is to clear if these friends have kids yet.

              Worry about your finances, not other people’s. If they invite you somewhere you can’t afford just say so and suggest someplace else.

            9. Actual Vampire*

              “While moving your kids to good schools does contribute to an unequal system at least we know that people who go onto be college educated are less likely to vote for idiots.”

              I went to very “good” public schools. In my experience, they do not teach much at all about the social systems you mention in your comments. They are very focused on maintaining and glorifying the capitalist status quo. My friends who went to “bad” schools – who I met at the same fancy universities I went to, to which they were also accepted and where they also succeeded – seemed much more savvy to the forces that shape our lives and were much more able to make good (imo) political decisions. I haven’t kept up much with my classmates from public school, but I think many of them have not had the political awakening that I had.

        3. Jay*

          Maybe this is trolling and I’m feeding the troll….but this hit a nerve. We moved into a “bad” district when our daughter was 18 months old. We are literally across the street from the “good” district. We did that knowingly and intentionally and I would do it again (she’s now 21 and we’re in the same house). The “good” district has a state championship football team and much better test scores. We knew that the test scores reflected the income and educational level of the parents, the academic life was intensely pressured and elitist, and the football team coddled a bunch of rapists (and yes, I know this, both because we lived in the community before we bought the house and because three of them were arrested for rape after they went to college). The “bad” district has far more racial diversity, an excellent elementary school with crappy test scores because 20% of the kids don’t speak English at home, and a walkable neighborly neighborhood.

          We didn’t want to be house poor and spend every discretionary dime on an overpriced mortgage for a fancy house in some social-climbing community that would teach our child to value material status and white supremacy over everything else. <—– this is not actually how I feel; it's putting our decision into your judgmental language.

          But because our house was at the bottom of the range of what we qualified for, we have been able to travel and renovate and throw a couple of very expensive parties that were a whole lot of fun. Those parties – and the dinners out and the nice wines and the rest of our recreation – created wonderful family time and memories that are worth far more to me than a bigger house in a "nicer" neighborhood. So please do not tell me that I sacrificed my daughter's future a party and a vacation. You are wrong.

        4. NeverComments*

          This is a very classist attitude and one that creates more inequity. So everyone who can afford to (usually white people) move out of the neighborhoods that have “bad” schools- what do you think happens to the schools/teachers/students at these already struggling schools. Children who have parents that are able to spend time with them and are able to be invested in their academic success (ie don’t have to work multiple jobs, have major financial stress) already have a huge leg up.

        5. Calliope*

          Choosing schools for your kids is a lot more complicated than that. For one thing, do you really live somewhere where EVERYONE goes to their neighborhood school? Guessing not. For another, the best fit for an individual kid is not necessarily the same as the school with the highest test scores or the best reputation.

          You’d judge me, I guess. I live in a neighborhood I absolutely love and have a toddler who’s not in school yet. But our school is rated poorly on Great Schools, etc. My feeling is that from what I’ve seen, the test scores don’t tell the full story, the school has an involved community that cares about it, and it might be a good fit after all. And if not, I’ll look at other options when the time comes. But yeah, in the meantime, do I sometimes go to brunch instead of paying twice as much for a house? (As if that’s the tradeoff – trust me, my brunches do NOT add up to twice the monthly mortgage payment.) Sure.

    4. LDN Layabout*

      I’m a recovered spender.

      There is none pious like a new convert.

      Other people’s spending doesn’t affect me, it’s not a debate of morality like you seem to be making it out to be. This isn’t people going bankrupt because of overspending, they just have different priorities to you.

      Have the courage to say ‘actually a boozy brunch isn’t in my budget right now, can we do X’ instead of being nasty and judgmental about other people’s choices.

      1. Cherryblossom*

        I don’t think it is morality. Or even different priorities. It’s about realising capitalism and marketing are trying to keep you on a treadmill by making you spend and then need to work more and so on. And I’m not even that left or commie.

        I just question the whole set up of working hard in order to buy stuff that marketing says is normal for people like you, but actually those spending norms are quite pricey if you really look at it in the context of rising debt, houses prices and so on. Instead you could work hard and pocket the difference between a higher income and low spending.

        People are free to spend on whatever they want but don’t then complain to me you need more hours at work, can’t buy a house, have to pay your credit card etc.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          It’s about realising capitalism and marketing are trying to keep you on a treadmill by making you spend and then need to work more and so on.

          And you can realise this and still decide that you want to spend money on that fancy purse, or that holiday abroad. This is what different priorities boil down to. You’ve just decided your priorities are the moral and correct ones for the entirety of society because you feel judged by friends or because you’re sick of people complaining.

          1. RetailEscapee*

            I have read this column for YEARS and never felt the impulse to comment so strongly as I did reading this exchange. LDN Layabout thank you for jumping in here more kindly and concisely than I can bring myself to. The layer of judgment is THICK in this “question” which seems to have been not a question so much as seeking validation if a world view.

        2. Kiwiapple*

          I can’t buy a house where I live – because anywhere that is “affordable” are in places I don’t want to live (rural, no jobs) or are in a really bad state (a house recently sold for $2 million NZ with no bathroom, and missing walls – that’s around 1.4 million US). It’s said that house prices are around 10x a normal income. So realistically, it doesn’t matter how much I earn, unless it was megabucks because the house prices are so out of touch to normal people.
          I think you should just spend your money however you want – and let your friends/colleagues/family etc do the same.

        3. tangerineRose*

          Is the problem that your friends spend money in a way that seems careless and then complain to you that they need more money? That would get tiring.

          1. Cherryblossom*

            It’s a few things. It’s a personal feeling or getting older and realising marketing and the ‘system’ dupes you. It’s hearing people whine about money but who are not sensible. It’s friends who want expensive get togethers (same income, they just spend more). It’s a revaluation of my relationship with money in light of now having a mortgage and also changing political views.

            In terms of the whining I think that the whole ‘millennial spend too much on avocados!’ thing isn’t entirely wrong. I do think college debt and houses are stupid priced of course and often out of reach no matter how hard you try. But when I look at the ‘lifestyle’ marketing to millennial like me on social media and in the media I am starting to think there may be something in the critique that our generation is maybe not making the best consumer choices sometimes.

            1. Asenath*

              I don’t think all people at any time in history made the best consumer choices. There’s two factors here – first, some people, including very poor people, do splurge sometimes. I think that’s perfectly natural and normal, and I’m not going to get upset about someone wasting money on lottery tickets or whatever the splurge might be. Then you get people who live beyond their means routinely – as the old saying has it, they try to keep up with the Joneses. That is, to my mind, foolish, but again, it’s their choice – unless I choose to do the same thing, which, being my choice, I won’t. I’m not going on wildly expensive parties or whatever just to keep in with my “friends”. If they’re really friends, they won’t expect it. But I don’t go so far as thinking that marketing dupes me (I’m not sure what you mean by the ‘system’). Sure, people will try to convince me of all kinds of things, from the professional persuaders who create ad campaigns to the friends who want me to share the lifestyle they adore. But I don’t have to be “duped”, there are tools I can use to enable me to make my own choices. I still remember reading part of my junior high English language text that our teacher didn’t cover – it was a description of common fallacies in simple language with examples from advertising. It was probably one of the most useful things I read.

            2. Liz*

              Regarding the “avocado toast” thing, I wonder if there’s something of an equivalent of the “model minority” thing going on for you? Yes, there will always be people who live up to certain stereotypes. But so what? Not everyone is going to curtail their habits for the sake of proving a point. People’s spending choices are their business.

              Furthermore, the difficulty in getting on the property ladder has contributed massively to a shift in priorities. Why save if the goal is out of reach anyway? You stated further down that they could afford apartments if they really tried, but at what cost? Not everyone wants the responsibly of maintaining a property. And if your income takes a hit, a handbag and makeup habit is far easier to cut back on than a mortgage. As far as reckless spending goes, ambitious mortgage arrangements and predatory lending were a big issue in the financial crisis of 2008. Property ownership is a responsibility and not everyone wants that, certainly not for the sake of a tiny, run down property in a neighbourhood they don’t like and have no plans to remain in.

              If there’s one thing people have learned from watching the financial ups and downs of the past 20 years, it’s that it’s very easy to do everything right and still wind up financially stuffed. Very few people of our generation will save enough to retire. Many people will never be free of college debt. Most Americans are one big medical bill away from crisis. No wonder people are just choosing not to play the game and are living for the moment.

              It sounds like you have some quite mean, judgey friends who are making unkind comments about your financial choices. And that’s rotten. It doesn’t mean their priorities are inherently wrong, it just means it might be time to tell them straight that their attitude is hurting you, and try and take steps to plan some activities you can all afford so you can ease some of those feelings of resentment and frustration. Either that or cut loose and find new friends who are more accomodating and less judgey.

            3. mreasy*

              Having a mortgage is just as much being part of the “system” though. There is no difference.

            4. Disco Janet*

              It sounds to me like desperately wanting to stick to your new budget, and doing so by convincing yourself that anyone who doesn’t follow the same budgeting rules as you is short-sighted and an avocado toast eating millennial with no sense. And it sounds ridiculous merely in how extreme it is. There’s a lot of assuming and judging going on here.

              Interesting that you note the changing political views. I will assume that fits in with how you wave away the real problems with a “yes housing and college pricing is ridiculous, BUT…let me share all my assumptions about how much other people’s lives cost. Let’s talk about how that should be blamed instead of ignore the systemic issues.”

              1. Not So NewReader*

                “Let’s talk about how that should be blamed instead of ignore the systemic issues.”

                A big AMEN to this one.

                I remember in the early 80s my mother was diagnosed terminally ill. Her out of pocket expenses totaled 10 times my father’s GROSS pay.
                MOST of the people around us at this time condemned my father for not having “enough” savings. They tsk-tsk-tsked at him. Instead of a hand up, he got a smack down. But he was already pretty far down.
                I think it satisified something in the people around us, “OH, I can’t lose everything to medical bills, because NSNR’s dad just had poor financial planning. That won’t happen to me.”

                This can be pretty difficult to picture because now medical bankruptcies are a well-known problem. But many of the people around us “knew” they would be safe because they “knew” how to budget and save.

                Getting a good education means nothing if the person does not use it. The grammar school I went to now charges 6k per year. Back in my day it was $60 per year. I am here to tell you that supposedly I got a “good education”. It took me years to recover from what happened there. There’s a lot more to being a good parent than sending your kid to a so-called good school. A lot more. And I am concerned that a focus on one thing such as education, negates other issues that are of major concern to many people in regards to raising a child. Just because a parent sends a kid to a good school does not mean the child will succeed in life. Just because a parent sends a child to a good school certainly does NOT indicate they are a good parent. It just means they send the kiddo to a good school- that is all.

                1. Disco Janet*

                  It’s the “that won’t happen to me” that’s the driving force for sure. People will do all sorts of mental gymnastics to think they’re better than others. It’s unfortunately automatic in our brain to some extent, but doubling down like this when challenged, instead of stopping to consider whether you’re thinking logically, is not good.

        4. Double A*

          So you recognize that the problem is systemic (capitalism) and yet you’re really focused on the behavior of individual people within that system. I’d suggest your next step would be to start examining the value of individualism, which is the lifeblood of capitalism, and questioning the ways it upholds that system by discouraging critique of power by placing responsibility with individuals.

          Also I’ll say that as a teacher, “good” schools can’t make up for crummy parenting. And a lot of times “good” schools are the ones that do the best job of preparing kids to compete in the rat race of capitalism.

          Look, judging people and gossiping can be fun and satisfying in a guilty pleasure sort of way. I totally judge how people spend their money. But I’m not fundamentally right or better than them except in my mind, which I keep to myself; I think when you start to try to really justify smugness, you get into pretty insufferable territory. Pull the stick out of your own eye before you worry about the speck in your neighbor’s, and so on.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            The only solution I have found to capitalism is for me to stop buying so much crap. I am one person. I can’t change anyone but me.

            I tend to think that if we pick a way of life that suits our own selves, we can gain an inner peacefulness. Perhaps, OP, you are too stringent on your budget and you don’t let your own self up for air. I think you can seek a way of processing life that allows you to let the decisions of other people not be so concerning to you. One framing that has helped me is that I know, I am picking the things that *I* need. This means that it’s unlikely anyone here would have the exact set of needs I do, therefore their picks will be different. But it’s also likely that from time to time, we will find shared choices, too.

        5. Ethyl*

          “but don’t then complain to me you need more hours at work, can’t buy a house, have to pay your credit card etc.”

          Well the food news is that if you keep treating your so-called “friends” with such contempt, they won’t be your friends much longer and you won’t have to listen to them! Problem solved!

        6. Calliope*

          But you’re saying they SHOULD be spending more on a house in a “good” district. That’s marketing too.

        7. Overeducated*

          “It’s about realising capitalism and marketing are trying to keep you on a treadmill by making you spend and then need to work more and so on.”

          OK, I AM that left, but it’s all capitalism and marketing trying to keep us on a treadmill until we die. It’s capitalism that my only choice for housing within an hour to an hour and a half of work was to buy a house at the very top of my price range with a burdensome mortgage in the county known in my region for the “worst schools” (*cough* it’s the wealthiest majority black county in the US *cough*), because wealthier people bought their way into the “better” school districts and drove up the prices, after creating disparities in schools through redlining and a bunch of other discriminatory policies. That’s marketing. That’s capitalism.

          Also, if you try to be responsible like I am now and shovel most of your discretionary income into retirement savings in a 401(k) or equivalent, that’s consumption too. It’s buying stocks and bonds in the hope enough other people will also keep buying them that the prices will rise faster than inflation and you can spend the money later.

          We’re all caught in this system and we don’t really get to be virtuous about it, I feel like.

    5. L6orac6*

      You buried the actual problem there, you’re annoyed your friends aren’t being inclusive of their not so rich friends, friends on a budget or friends or not wanting to waste $100 on a meal and drinks. Talk to them, offer up alternative restaurants, takeaways at people’s homes, BBQs, bring a plate, etc. You might have other friends who can’t afford, don’t want to spend this amount, paying by credit card and would appreciate less expensive get togethers. I hope your friends want to include all, rather than just their rich friends.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Wasn’t there a “Friends” episode about this? It’s nothing new.

        1. Flatpack*


          Ross: Huh, I guess I don’t really think about money.
          Rachel: That’s because you have it.

      2. Michaela*

        Yep, sounds like resentment and jealousy of other people’s lifestyles.

        OP, if marketing is upsetting you, consume different media. Your lifestyle is in your hands and no one else’s. A large proportion of the population pays no attention to certain segments of marketing you’ve mentioned because it doesn’t appeal to them. Chill out, stop caring what people think, and learn to spend in what actually makes you happy rather than a perception of what you think you should be spending on.

        I’m an older millennial woman this has never been an issue for me. It came from growing up as a smart awkward kid, who learnt early not to care what others thought. I’m extravagant in some areas, and miserly in others, based on my preferences and within my means.

        1. Cherryblossom*

          Its not jealousy of their lifestyles. They are not richer than me. People who can afford it can do whatever they like.

          It is frustration at a culture that encourages people to live beyond their means and one in which people my age then complain they can’t afford houses or have debt. In some cases it doesn’t matter how hard you save but where I live you could still be an apartment or something if you tried.

          It’s an annoyance with a culture that normalises things like going out all the time, expensive weddings, lots of money on fashion and beauty etc instead of encouraging people to invest in themselves. IF you can afford those things awesome but I see plenty of people who could do something much smarter with the $200 they just spend at the bar or on beauty products.

          1. Amtelope*

            It’s fine for people to spend money on things they enjoy rather than “investing in themselves.” It’s also fine for you to decide that you prioritize saving. People get to make different choices based on their own priorities, and your priorities aren’t better than your friends’ priorities; they’re just yours. If they’re trying to pressure you to buy stuff you don’t want, they’re not great friends. But if they’re just enjoying what they enjoy, there’s nothing wrong with that.

          2. mreasy*

            This is literally capitalism. But buying a house in a “better” neighborhood is no different than spending on skincare. It’s just a choice you make to spend money, and both choices are equally based in cultural directives. The idea that owning a home in a specific area is important is just as influenced by marketing and cultural factors – perhaps less obvious than, say, Instagram ads – as buying a purse or expensive skincare.

            1. Liz*

              Precisely! I live in a supposedly “bad” area and get snooty comments from time to time, but I’ve had no problems in my neighbourhood and there is a great sense of community. I’ve seen friends push their borrowing capability to the limit to buy smaller houses in “nice” neighbourhoods, and I don’t get it myself. It’s still about material things, still cultural pressure, just a different flavour. And it’s their money and their choice.

            2. Dark Macadamia*

              Yep, everyone has priorities about how they spend money and what YOU value doesn’t magically happen to be the “right” or “best” way to prioritize. $200 on skincare isn’t going to make or break someone’s ability to own their home. It *could* affect bills or rent depending on their income, but if they’re not asking you for money or pressuring you to also buy those products I don’t see how it’s any of your business. You’ve probably spent $200 on something they find silly, too.

          3. Ali*

            You’re getting a lot of pushback, but I just want to say that I hear you. Our culture is extremely consumerist and it’s hard for me to push back on sometimes because it’s not just advertising, it’s that the advertising aligns with tremendous social pressure to spend. I have great friends who are open to hearing if I want to pull back on spending, but it’s still very hard to navigate!

          4. SoloKid*

            Things like that are only “normalized” like that if you choose to pay attention to it. I run in a circle that doesn’t pay attention to things like you mention. Small weddings, backyard bbqs…sounds like you need to find a different crowd and not care about what other people are doing. If they’re hitting you up for money that’s another thing entirely.

            1. metheflea*

              It’s not always easy to just find this special group of people that you seem to have found. Most people I know (most are family/in laws) are all about spending money and I don’t even know where I would start to find friends whose values align with mine. The majority of people I have met in life are sucked in by all of the things out there to buy and spend money on (including myself at times). I get nauseated hearing about wine tours and trips to Europe and $1500 strollers but seeing as how I can’t permanently get away from the people talking about them (family) I feel sort of how the LW is feeling. I don’t hate my friends or family for being this way but it upsets me that this is our society and just like any other problem with society you need to be an outsider if you don’t want to go along. Also, every rude comment to the LW is just someone judging her themselves.

              1. Calliope*

                I mean, you meet other people who share your values by doing things that match your values. Maybe you grit your teeth and deal with family, but there are plenty of places to find people who aren’t status conscious in a way that upsets you – volunteer at a cause that excites you and that you value, or take your kids to activities that match your family’s culture, or start a meet up book club to discuss books you think are valuable. Even just join your neighborhood’s Buy Nothing group to get a sense of other people who like to share and reuse things around you. You don’t have to just accept the social group you happen to be in and plenty of people aren’t using $1500 strollers.

              2. PollyQ*

                Meetups, volunteering, some religious communities, community arts groups, etc. There’s only so much you can do about your family, but even there, you don’t need to make them the heart of your socializing.

          5. Middle School Teacher*

            Don’t take your frustration with the system out on your friends though.

          6. Not So NewReader*

            This has been going on forever. My father, who would be 101 this year, complained of the same thing back in the 60s and on. There will always be people who consume, consume, consume.

            1. Pocket Mouse*

              Yeah, it’s almost like there are entities that want to take people’s money so they do everything they can to entice people to hand over their money to them. As others have said, it doesn’t make sense to blame individuals who do, indeed, find something enticing among the plentiful opportunities to spend their money while completely disregarding the role of marketing. Marketers have invested quite a bit in learning how to effectively separate people from their money; if the antidote is for each individual to make the same kind of investment to learn and be able to evade these tactics… that’s simply unrealistic to expect and, well, there will still be things people feel fine spending their money on. It’s unrealistic to expect people to spend only the bare minimum, and only for necessities.

              Cherryblossom, I think it will serve you well to find a way to move on from this— maybe by talking to your friends with an open mind to learning their priorities and how they derive joy (or maybe the idea that they feel they are bonding through complaints?), maybe to new friends, maybe through more reflection on the dynamics that go into any kind of spending (not to mention wages and costs). In any case, think of it as something for you to resolve internally, not externally.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I had a communications class in high school that was pretty interesting.
                I no longer have the notes, of course, but I remember the teacher talking about the x number of ways advertisers persuade or basically try to manipulate us.

                Flattery: You deserve the best.
                FOMO: Don’t miss this sale!
                Fear: Don’t get caught with bad breath, arm pit sweat, dog with bad breath, flat lifeless hair, etc.
                Decide FAST: Time is running out, sale ends tomorrow, limited supply, only available to club card holders, etc.
                You can buy happiness: Look how happy the people in our commercial are.

                There were more methods on the list- but I am blanking atm.

              2. Asenath*

                Why blame ‘entities’? There always have and always will be people who try to persuade others to hand over money, from those who ask for reasonable fees for services or goods right up to those who engage in outright criminal deception, and from the individual seller or scammer to organized groups of the same. As with any other type of human interaction, individuals need to learn to handle the basics themselves, and as groups, to set organizations such as police fraud squads and courts when necessary. It’s not really necessary to assume that the individual consumer needs the same level of education as marketers or scammers; the basics haven’t changed in millennia – irrational arguments of the type you can find listed anywhere, especially appeal to the emotions, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true”, countless sayings on the wisdom of saving and financial planning for a rainy day. Of course, some people will still spend large sums of money on objects and substances that could have been purchased more cheaply, but sometimes that’s their choice; they’re paying for the emotional appeal of the skin cream as used by celebrities instead of choosing the equally effective stuff that just moistens dry skin. And it that’s what they want to do with their money, that’s their choice.

                1. Pocket Mouse*

                  I don’t think we disagree, except I didn’t say to blame ‘entities’- I said don’t blame individuals while dismissing powerful dynamics that influence spending, including psychological tactics described by Not So NewReader.

          7. ....*

            Well I like going out all the time so I’m going to keep doing it because my life is about joy and happiness and it makes me happy! But also when I need to pinch pennies I invite friends over for BYOB and they’re cool with it. I’m also working on saving for a condo and paying for my wedding. (10k not 30k for what it’s worth) . I don’t want kids so I don’t really give a flying fart about school districts or whatever. People are giving you really solid advice and feedback, I’d recommend you take it.

    6. Melody Pond*

      Okay, after reading through this whole thread (everything up at the time), it sounds like the underlying issue here is really that your current primary social group doesn’t share this hobby, which is really important to you. And you need some people to connect with, who share similar priorities to you, when it comes to spending.

      I actually have somewhat similar philosophies about money, and I like to geek out about finding ways to cut costs and waste. For the enjoyment it brings me, it’s a bit of a hobby. For you… you do seem to be connecting it to matters of moral judgment.

      @LDN Layabout said this isn’t an issue of morality, and you responded and claimed you don’t think it is morality. But… I don’t know if you realize that some of your words and phrases genuinely seem to imply the opposite. Things like:

      While moving your kids to good schools does contribute to an unequal system at least we know that people who go onto be college educated are less likely to vote for idiots. Given the stakes are so high these days I just can’t get on board with spending on frivolous stuff instead of trying to educate your children in a difficult world.

      This to me, says there is an implied obligation to do parenting a certain way, because of the potential, eventual, negative impact it could have on society if the parenting is NOT done a certain way (“voting for idiots”). We’re talking about a responsibility or obligation for someone to take a certain action, because of the harm that could ultimately come to society at large if that action is not taken.

      If that’s not a question of moral responsibility, I don’t know what is! As a result, I’m definitely getting a pretty frustrated and judgy vibe from you on these topics. And it’s understandable! The world is frustrating, and I certainly wish other people would make more decisions that I agree with, too, because I think my ideas would help make the world less frustrating. But I’ve learned that other people don’t appreciate it when I project that energy out into the world in a judgmental way. And at the end of the day, I need to have friends. I just try to make sure I’ve got at least a couple who will share some of my ideas, so I can get a little validation and connection around that.

      One final note – you might be interested in checking out Elizabeth Warren’s presentation (from back in 2007! before she entered politics!) titled “The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class”. I may be misreading this, but my impression from your posts is that you think there is generally too much frivolous spending happening on discretionary non-essentials. I’m not sure where you’re getting this idea, but if it’s just based on your personal experiences with your social circle, I’d urge you to reconsider this, as personal anecdotes, while emotionally compelling, are not actually good for drawing conclusions about wider society. (The plural of anecdotes does not equal reliable data.)

      Elizabeth Warren’s presentation is based on quality data sourced from the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, if I recall correctly, and her research on average consumer spending in various expense categories actually suggests the exact opposite of the impression you seem to have. If I can find the youtube link, I’ll add it in a reply.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        What an excellent reply! I also highly encourage the Elizabeth Warren presentation.

      2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        This is a lovely and thoughtful reply. Thanks for taking the time to write it!

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Thank you. The bit you quoted rather bugged me and now I see why: Thing is, in a capitalist system, there are winners (who take it all) and losers. It’s just not possible for
        everyone to get their kids into a good school. So there’ll always be people with kids in relatively bad schools – it’s a relative thing: even if you invest millions in education, double teachers’ salaries and hire enough of everyone from teachers to caretakers, there’ll always be schools that are better than others, and it’ll always be the schools where parents can’t afford to pay for enrichment outings that are worse.

        My kids only went to state schools but neither of them vote for idiots.

        In social democracies like in Scandinavia, people pay high taxes, especially the rich, and they are happy to benefit from excellent free state schools, free healthcare service, maternity leave for young mothers, workers’ rights etc. You don’t see grinding poverty in such countries. I remember a report about the jobcentres in the north of Sweden where their worst problem was that they couldn’t find anyone to staff the jobcentres, so they had to make virtual centres where people just went to log into a computer to talk to someone in the south. Doesn’t sound like there can be that much unemployment there right?

    7. matcha123*

      I think I get what you’re talking about. Maybe.
      If you are talking about people who are solidly in the middle class, property owners, nth generation property owners and university grads who are making over 80k a year and just want to spend, spend, spend, then yeah there’s a problem.

      If you’re talking about people born into generational poverty, no family to teach them about financial preparedness, who work jobs that pay below the national average, who are unable to afford to go back to college to get a masters in something, etc. then I suggest reading this article: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/why-do-poor-people-waste-money-on-luxury-goods

      I completely understand the urge to buy everything I want when I want it. And without going into detail, if anyone deserves to splurge, it is me.
      Well-off people tend to judge the spending of low-income people harshly. And people tend to judge those who spend their money differently, more harshly.
      I used to think that makeup was worthless. My mom never wore it, and neither did I. A few years ago, I started to wear it a bit more. I cleaned up my eyebrows. And last month I spent over $200 on makeup and skin care. My skin isn’t all that bad, actually. But, after using this new set of make up, I do notice that people seem a bit…friendlier? If I have the opportunity to spend a little more to get a better outcome (ie- shop staff not ignoring me, appearing more ‘professional’ at work, etc.) I think it’s a good investment.

      Sometimes, when everything sucks around you, if you have the money, you want to use it to feel a little better about yourself.

      I grew up around, attended university with, and work with some pretty well-off people. The common factor they have is judging me for spending $10 on a purse that was marked down from $50 because “You could have saved that money for something else, since you always say you don’t have money.” But when I outline how I eat the same thing every day and don’t go out, I’m then criticized for having a boring diet, being boring, and wasting my life.

      Finally, I notice that people from upper-middle class households don’t know how to wait and bargain shop. I waited about six years for a camera I liked to hit the used (pre-loved?) market at a significant discount. If you only googled the camera and saw the MSRP, you’d think I spent close to 1k on it, when I actually spent more like $200.

      Perhaps those people you are thinking of are irresponsible with cash. I guess as long as they aren’t hitting you up to pay their bills, you can ignore it. If they don’t like their neighborhood, maybe they will leave at some point. Maybe they wanted to have this nice thing. Maybe the $200 skincare allows them to spend less on expensive makeup and keeps them from being subjected to ageism at work.

      To your final part about going overseas. I grew up with a lot of people with family overseas. Their families traveled to Taiwan or China or Korea at least once a year to see family. In their case the travel was essential in some ways. The assumptions about overseas travel I see from white bread Americans are tied to ideas of Americans assuming other countries are dumb or something. It’s a very classist and elitist assumption to have, but yes, it is problematic.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Travel: I’ve travelled a lot. I’ve met some amazing people. I’ve learned a lot about other cultures. I’ve seen amazing stuff, shocking stuff, fantastic stuff. I’ve had stones thrown at me because locals have made assumptions about me. I’ve been ripped off. I’ve been fingered. I’ve been adulated.
        I like to think I’m a better person for going out there and trying at least to understand something of how other people live and think.
        I don’t think buying a house in a better neighbourhood would have had the same effect on me.

        1. league**

          Ah…how do i put this? What does “I’ve been fingered” mean to you? Because where I come from, it’s a sexual act

                1. Jackalope*

                  I was assuming it meant something like getting goosed or groped on public transit.

        2. RagingADHD*

          If you had to travel overseas to get fingered, you got ripped off.

          Most places, you can get fingered any day of the week if you aren’t too picky.

    8. Loopy*

      So I am on the saver side of this. I save way more than the average person and often am frugal- though not to an extreme. I am absolutely a clear outlier in how I handle my finances in comparison to most people I see around me. I drive a hand me down car, push clothes and shoes to the end of their lifespan before shopping for new things, have older and cheaper phones/laptop, etc.

      However, it sounds like you are giving this an exhausting amount of energy from my perspective. None of my close friends have spending habits that affect me- meaning, yes many may they buy a new car I wouldn’t chose too, often go for the higher end tech, but our friends outings are modest lunches and reasonably priced entertainment. It really frees me from feeling any judgment of how they spend their money because it has zero impact on me. I think if you could shift to this, it would be helpful- in an out of sight, out of mind way.

      I don’t watch TV, I get minimal advertising in my life.I don’t give mental or emotional energy to that whole world of “keeping up with the joneses”- no one in my life pressures me to and I actively remove myself from sources of that mindset.

      I would recommend trying to get away from friends/outings that cause you to fixate on this so much. I can’t see any positive impact it’s having and from my own experience I am much happier not going through the world not giving one thought to choices others make that I wouldn’t (and full disclosure, I originally typed mistakes instead of choices, thinking of some of the more concerning financial decisions I’ve seen but I caught myself. So yes sometimes it still takes reminders not to judge the path others choose when it doesn’t match my own, I do find it worth the effort).

      1. Angstrom*

        The “minimal advertising” part is important. When I was just out of school the difference between my reality and the popular image of how a young single in a city was “supposed” to live was frustrating. It took a while to realize that those images were marketing fantasies and totally unrealistic for someone with my income.

        There are whole industries based on “If you buy this thing you will be happy and someone will love you.”

        Everyone has their own priorities which can look odd if they differ from yours. For a while we had a ratty yard-sale couch and a nice canoe. If you just saw the boating gear you might think we were big spenders in general, but that wouldn’t be true.

        There is a balance. I’ve seen people who were very thrifty, kept postponing doing things they wanted for “someday”, and then had health problems or other issues that made those things impossible.

      2. Been There*

        I think you are fooling yourself if you think you get minimal advertising just because you don’t watch tv. Advertising is more than commercials and literally omnipresent in our lives. It’s on the websites you visit, the social media you consume, the billboards you pass in the streets, the shelves in the grocery store, …

        1. Jackalope*

          This is very true; advertisements are all around us. I will say, though, as someone who lived most of my adult life w/o a television and who recently started living w/ someone who had one, the advertisements on TV are a LOT.

    9. CoffeePlease*

      I’m sympathetic Cherryblossom. TLDR: Stop judging your friends and stop worrying about what they think about your spending. I don’t know if this applies to you, but when I was younger, this was a lot harder to navigate, especially in areas with a high COL. In some contexts, the available social life is too expensive for a lot of people, and the pressure to participate is tremendous. Essentially, money and spending are very complicated, and you will probably be happier if you can work towards not being too involved in what other people think about your financial choices. That might mean hanging out with different folks, at least to some extent. Based on the original question and the replies, I think the problem is primarily that you are still working through your own philosophy. For you, what is money “for”? Paula Pant’s Afford Anything is a great podcast, Community, ans blog, and it contextualizes spending and financial choices in a way that might be really interesting and helpful for you. You’ll also feel better if you can figure out why you feel a lot or social pressure to spend more. That could be coming from the people around you, but it sounds like it’s also coming from you. If you focus on yourself and developing confidence in your own attitude, you’ll either find that the problem wasn’t with the people around you, or you will have to get new friends. I am mostly a saver, and I don’t care at all if people judge me for it, and that’s partly because I don’t have to deal with judgment from my close friends. The reasons that I don’t care also have a lot to do with personality, race, class and other elements of background, and more. If you’re interested, you can read about why class and race relates to spending, or how different industries “require” different kinds of self-presentation. You can also seek out people whose financial habits match your own if you want that.

    10. Portia*

      You seem to be coming at this from an incredibly Western perspective.

      Weddings are incredibly spiritually and culturally important in certain cultures. Some may find it worth it to spend heavily on a wedding for reasons that are not obvious to a Westerner. That doesn’t mean that they have bad reasons, or that they are stupid. Just that their reasons are not clear to you.

      Spending money on accessories, skin care, even cars can be a good investment. In certain environments, a pair of Tory Burch shoes, a Tesla, a Patagonia fleece all signal “I’m one of you, I belong here.” For people who are non-white, neuroatypical, come from a lower SES, the signalling mechanism is very important. It can mean the difference between getting a job or not, being treated with respect or not. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way, but for many people it is. I spent more than a house costs on my JD, because I went to a very fancy law school. My JD from Fancy Pants SOL functions much the same way.

      1. Jackalope*

        Even from a Western perspective weddings can have a lot of specific meaning and traditions. I went into this more above, but for my family a wedding is a big deal. You get two chances to have a big party with all your loved ones coming together in honor of you, and the other one is a funeral. I tried to make wise spending choices, and think we did okay, but it was worth it to spend the money to have a celebration bringing together friends and family to witness the joining of our lives. And I’m certain everyone enjoyed it a lot more than they’ll enjoy my funeral, whenever that might be.

      2. OyHiOh*

        A friend of mine (black) talks about the expensive (like, eye-watering expensive) suits, shirts, and shoes he wore when he worked on Wall St. He probably could have worn less expensive clothing, but the choices he made (and the tailoring) helped to signal “I belong, and no I’m not the janitor, actually I manage the division” at a time when it was vanishingly rare for a black man to be in that position. He talks about reading GQ and a few other similar magazines to get help knowing how to dress, what needed to go in his briefcase, how to pack a travel bag, etc. Things he couldn’t just ask his dad about (poverty and early death). Signaling can be absolutely invaluable for many people.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          I don’t think it speaks well of our racist/capitalist society that your friend had to do that.. That’s what Cherryblossom’s talking about in the first place

          1. Catherine*

            It may not speak well of society in general, but the-general-you can’t ask marginalized people to opt out of doing things that improve how others treat us.

    11. Workerbee*

      After reading your replies so far, this is what it seems like you are really asking: “Is it okay if I sit in judgment on what other people do with their money?”

      You can sit in judgment all you want. But that may be all you ever do.

    12. mreasy*

      There are plenty of folks out there who think having kids into the environmental catastrophe we live in is itself irresponsible. The idea that sacrificing tour own luxuries to live in a “nice” neighborhood for future kids’ schooling is morally upright is simply not as universal a value as you believe it to be.

    13. twocents*

      I don’t care what other people spend their money on. The only thing I think I can feel a little judgy on — and not even really judgy so much as “you should have researched your options” — is some family members who went to college and got very expensive degrees to pursue careers that don’t require them. Because they didn’t bother to research to see what they are chosen paths needed.

      Otherwise for me personally I don’t buy into the idea that we’re all screwed over. I saved up and I bought a house. Down payment these days aren’t 20%… which maybe is a running theme with my first point of people make assumptions and don’t research and make uninformed decision based on those assumptions.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            My friend borrowed 15k. She’s paid back 45k. She still owes just over 100k.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Even the “you should have researched your options” is rather hasty. At the time of choosing what you’re going to study, you might not even have any idea of what you might want to do in life, only a vague idea of what you don’t want to do (based perhaps on your parents’ examples, or older siblings). Then very often you drift into something unrelated to your field, after not finding something in your field or realising that even if the course was interesting, you didn’t want to pursue the subject in your career.

        My daughter studied fine arts for seven years, only to realise that she didn’t want to have to suck up to rich patrons as all successful artists have to, and she didn’t want to transition into teaching art at school either, so she then took a course at a craft school and is now launching her craft business. The craft course was that much easier for her because she’d already studied art history and technical drawing and so on, so she was able to do the intense, two-years-in-one course.

        Those seven years studying art were not wasted: they inform the aesthetics of her craft, and for her first collection, she’s chosen a historical theme based on Renaissance fashions.

        And she was not mature enough to launch her own business had she taken the two-year craft course straight out of school, most kids who take it end up working in a soul-crushing factory. That would have killed her passion and she’d have ended up burnt out and miserable and wishing she hadn’t let herself be talked out of doing fine arts.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          (And I’m fully aware that my daughter is lucky to be born in a country where studying is almost free, and have a father willing and able to stump up for her living expenses while she studied then provide her with a place she can use as a workshop)

        2. twocents*

          Education for its own sake is important, but that’s not how American society is structured. All I see is them in crippling 6 figure debt they will never escape.

    14. Not A Manager*

      This is enormously complicated. I’m just going to say that I think @Cherryblossom is right that there is a convergence of (1) actual lack of access to conventional upward mobility (and even to remaining in the same “bracket” as one’s parents or grandparents); (2) group acceptance of that fact and therefore less willingness to save/more willingness to spend on immediate pleasures; and (3) forces of capitalism that place huge barriers to said upward mobility, AND that simultaneously exploit people’s desire for immediate pleasures.

      Here’s an “uphill in the snow both ways” story, but it’s really a society and infrastructure story. My family was immigrants on all sides. My grandparents ate at restaurants for very special occasions and otherwise cooked at home. There were two bedrooms for five people. One set of grandparents never owned a car; the other family had one car for everyone. BUT… their entire social circle was doing the same. People expected to socialize and enjoy each other within that lifestyle. Also, there was a public infrastructure to support that system. Decent public transport. Walkable neighborhoods. Access to groceries. If you were a white-collar or blue-collar worker, you had health insurance. AND there was the expectation that if you saved, you would have something upwardly mobile to spend that money on. Public college was free, including books. You could buy a house on the income of one middle-class earner. Both sets of grandparents saved for and paid for grad school for my parents, with the (correct) expectation that my parents would be able to access a lifestyle that had been unavailable to my grandparents.

      I’m not at all saying that those were perfect times, or that some people weren’t shut out of what I’m describing. But I think Charryblossom is right that our current system makes it less rational for people to even attempt to save for large lifestyle mobility. She thinks they should save anyway for more marginal mobility, and obviously some people do. But fewer people will save for “maybe I can rent a less crappy place in a slightly better neighborhood if I do without any immediate gratification now” than will save for “someday I can buy a house, and in the meantime my social circle and society at large support my ability to save money.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Your second paragraph rings a lotta bells for me. None of my grandparents owned a home. Of my grandparents and parents, I am the first one to have a college degree. Each generation wanted the next generation to have something better. And we did. Notice the word “better” as opposed to “ideal”.

        Grandma and Grandpa had all their medical bills including a nursing home fully covered under insurance.
        My parents could buy a house and live on one paycheck.

        I have a college degree, my house will be paid off in two years, and still if I had kids I can easily think of ten things that I hope would be better for them. And I still hope those things get better for other people’s kids.

    15. WellRed*

      If you like advice columns I highly recommend Michelle singletarys color of money column.

    16. llamaswithouthats*

      Wow – this is a pile of classist garbage. You think it’s okay for you to spend because YOLO…you don’t think others made the same calculation?

    17. BRR*

      This seems like a very emotionally charged topic for you and my take away is i think you’d be happier trying to separate judging and spending. Both your judging of others and how you view others as judging you. So what if the couple had a big wedding and traveled but life in a bad neighborhood? And so what if mostly corporate marketing departments but also some people expect women to spend hundreds skin care. You can choose what you want to spend on skincare.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The intensity reminds me of someone who is on an extremely stringent [diet/exercise/other thing]. That person can (NOT always) become hyper-aware of what everyone else is doing in that regard also. I tend to believe that if we are too strict with ourselves about [insert any subject here] we can end up imposing our own concerns onto other people who may not be concerned now or ever.

    18. Pool Lounger*

      Spend in a way that works for you. Don’t judge others, their choices are their own. If people complain about money to you and you don’t want to hear it, gently extricate yourself from the convo. People have different needs and desires in life. My husband and I, for example, have no plans to buy a home—we don’t even know where we’d want to live that long! Other people really value home ownership. We don’t have kids—too expensive. Other people have multiple kids. I don’t judge them for that (expensive) choice. Judging takes up a lot of brain space.

    19. RussianInTexas*

      I don’t make much money, never have ( my live in partner does have good salary). I would have never afford a mortgage by myself. I would have to save for 20 years to even get down payment of any sort.
      But my $56 night moisturizer prevents my 42 years old skin from daily breakouts (yes, I tried many over the years). And my $36 eyeshadows don’t suffer from fallout. And sometimes I want to go see a concert for $200. And my recent trip to see my mother for the first time in 10 years cost almost $3000 because going to Russia for 2 people is rather expensive.
      I am sorry this offends you.

    20. ronda*

      I don’t get involved in most of my friends finances at all. I suggests you stop speculating on your friends finances and just say when you don’t want to spend on something that it is not in your budget. Handle your own budget and let them handle theirs.


      one friend has recently been talking about her finances and it is appalling. Her husband is the earner, but they spend considerably more than her husbands hefty salary. Yes I judge them and yes I am worried about them, but I say almost nothing cause it just won’t help. She has also said things that make me think that she equates spending money with love. (hurts her feelings that husband doesn’t want to buy her things, she must give her children money and things)
      I wish I didn’t know this, but there is nothing I can really do about it, so I have to get over my judging and over my worry and just do the things with her we will both enjoy.

      the mrmoneymustache forum has some posts on how to handle other (spendy) people when you are frugal and retiring early. you might benefit from some perspectives on it from people in the same situation.
      Also they have some local chapters, maybe you would meet some people more in line with your attitudes toward money. But I don’t think you should drop all your current friends, just try some strategies to think better of them and see the value they bring to your life.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s not unusual for excessive [anything] to be used to fill a void of some type.

    21. RagingADHD*

      I am not familiar with the mindset you’re describing as some kind of new political / economic philosophy. It just sounds like run of the mill impulsive shortsightedness, topped with a glaze of despair.

      As a Gen-X teen / young adult, we were quite convinced that the world as we knew it would likely end in nuclear armageddon very soon. That nihilism fueled a lot of self-destructive behavior in a lot of people.

      Similarly, if someone wants to buy a house, the surest way to make sure it won’t happen is to go $30k in debt on a party.

      The main reason to save toward financial goals is to have options, particularly if things go wrong. The more options you have, the fewer compromises you have to make, and the less likely you are to wind up in a desperate situation.

      For me, when I define a “good lifestyle,” it’s much less about buying or owning things, than about having the ability to live on my own terms, have choices about work, be able to give ongoing support to causes I believe in, and not live under the constant stress of feeling broke.

      No brunch tastes as good as the freedom to walk away from a bad deal feels.

      1. RagingADHD*

        OTOH, having read some of your responses on this thread, if someone isn’t really motivated to buy a house or move, that’s their business. And not yours.

        The flip side of valuing options and freedom, is valuing other people’s freedom to make their own choices, too.

        It sounds like maybe this “idea” you talk about is something you’re hearing from friends when you’re putting them on the spot and pushing them to justify their choices. Which is a) a great way to NOT find out what people actually believe, because they are just saying whatever comes into their head to get you to stop; and b) really rude, and something you should stop doing anyway.

    22. IdoEat*

      I spend more money on durable shoes and clothes- I need good shoes to avoid problems with my feet- I need clothes that can last several seasons. The cost/year and quality makes it worth it for me.

      I do spurge on hand made soaps- better scents and support for local artists

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Support for local business though is something you can be proud of.
        I’m delighted to report that our local organic store sells excellent locally-made ice cream, for example. I can binge on ice cream and claim it’s in a good cause!

    23. Facepalm*

      Live and let live!

      If someone wants a $30,000 wedding, let them have it. Because they aren’t having a $30,000 wedding AT you. If I want to travel abroad a lot, let me go. Because I’m not traveling AT you.

      What people do with their money is their business. I would assume you wouldn’t want someone coming around and judging your purchases or decisions in this. You judge people for taking many trips abroad; some people would rather spend that kind of money than on “fun stuff […] on the cheap side.” But I don’t hear you saying anyone has given you crap about that. So why are you dishing it out?

      Seriously, live and let live. There are much bigger fish to fry in this world than worrying about how some friends of yours have chosen to spend their money. Truthfully, I have broken a friendship over a similar issue. When I told her I didn’t have money for something she wanted to do, she threw it up in my face about what I had spent my money on. I don’t need someone like that. And you don’t have to be like that.

    24. NMFTG*

      I don’t have anything new to add to the discussion, but I want to thank Cherryblossom for creating a great topic for the weekend thread!

      So many interesting and different takes, so many ways to navigate whatever circumstances you have. I have enjoyed reading the posts so much, and it’s such a great subject. <3

    25. Koala dreams*

      It’s funny you should say that. I feel the same towards the expectations that people should spend a lot of money on houses and cars. And then spend even more on the upkeep of those things.

    26. Might Be Spam*

      Last weekend someone asked me where I lived and then said “We always looked down on that side of town.” I like my neighborhood for many reasons. Some people just need to feel superior.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If they need to feel superior that means they know they are at the bottom. Maybe if they developed MANNERS they would not need to be superior because just being a quality person would be very satisfying.

        I am miffed on your behalf. I am sorry this was said to you.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          Thanks for the miffing. I just told her that I like where I live and dropped the subject.

          I used to live somewhere fancier, but the people here are nicer.

  4. Laura H.*

    Little Joys thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    It’s not exactly a joy, but I got help for my recently diagnosed depression after it showed with some oomph early last week. I’m taking the steps to work through it. And while I just started meds, and will see about a therapist Monday, I’m feeling less ick already.

    Please share your joys.

    1. StellaBella*

      Well done on the self care Laura H!

      My little joy this week was helping a new friend learn new things in Office apps, and she gave me some Polish jam and chocolates! The treats and the new friend are amazing!

    2. Pamela Adams*

      Stone fruit season- getting to eat apricots, peaches, cherries, nectarines, and plums!

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Yes! Local peaches are available in my area, and I’ve been proudly supporting my local farmstand!

      2. NeutralJanet*

        I got a ton of peaches in my CSA share this week, and oh my goodness, they were delicious! I only have one left, but I’m getting more on Monday!

    3. Might Be Spam*

      I found a necklace and pair of earrings that I thought I lost. They were a birthday gift that fell through a hole in the bag. I thought that they were gone forever. Luckily they waited until I got home before falling out of the hole in the bag and I found them when I washed the kitchen floor a few days later.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        Finding things has been a trending thing this week. I just found a curtain that I’ve been looking for for a couple of weeks. Right where it belonged. I need to wear my glasses more often.

    4. Treefrog*

      Today I went for my first paddle in the sea after being housebound with chronic illness for several months. So good for the soul!

    5. Liz*

      I finally made it back to the gym this morning after a 3 week break! I’ve been struggling with motivation, and my routine was broken after I went on holiday for a few days, but fitness is really a big part of my life and I’m so happy to be back in and lifting things!

      As I was working out, a man walked past the weights room taking his little girl to the kids class. She was about 4 maybe, and she looked on in and asked about all the weightlifting gear. Her dad said “that’s where the really strong people do their exercises!” And this tiny kid looked at me and said “wooooow!!” all wide eyed. It was so sweet! (I wasn’t even lifting much, but it made my day!)

    6. Wrench Turner*

      Out of nowhere, one of my customers said I had beautiful eyes and gorgeous hair. I’m a scruffy, generally dirty, masked and uniformed residential service tech (HVAC, plumbing, etc.)

      They’re not wrong, it was just very, very unexpected.

    7. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Eating out inside a restaurant for the first time in 16 months was nice. Probably going to be another long time before we do it again because of the Delta variant.

    8. Nancy Collins*

      My husband and I adopted a stray kitty this week!
      She’s sweet and friendly and beautiful and I just love her. :)

    9. Laura Petrie*

      I finally got my tragus pierced. I’ve wanted it done for ages but a combination of an ear obsessed rat and my fear it would hurt stopped me. Sadly I no longer have the rat and I decided to go for it.

      I had a clean bill of health at the dentist. With COVID I’d not been for over two years so I was really pleased.

      I met some lovely doggos at a coffee morning at the animal therapy centre next to my Friday volunteering.

    10. Small town*

      Our grand boss dog turned 16 and still gets the zoomies! And my younger son has his tops surgery (he is trans) and is glowingly happy, healing well. The local orchard is making peach ice cream.

    11. GoryDetails*

      Went on a day trip with three friends, to introduce two of them to a favorite lobster-roll place – and was very pleased that they enjoyed it! (Was pretty sure they would, but as the process of ordering involves standing in line for up to an hour beside a heavily-trafficked road, was in some doubt as to whether they’d consider it worth the trouble. We did warn them of the setup well in advance, of course; we’ve traveled together in the past and are aware of individual preferences and limitations, so everyone went in to the little expedition well-prepared.)

    12. Voluptuousfire*

      Went on vacation this week for 3 days. Got to see my best friend for the first time in 18 months. Also had breakfast in a great little coffee shop and had a really random pleasant conversation with a woman while we ate.

    13. Never Nicky*

      I have a new dress with guinea pigs and carrots printed on it.

      Possibly more suited for a 5 year old than a middle-aged professional but who cares?

      And it’s jersey so it’s as comfy as nightwear!

    14. OtterB*

      I went to a live music show Friday night! A venue near me put a big tent on their outdoor terrace and set up tables instead of rows of chairs. Each table is up to 4 people from one group and you’re distanced from other groups. Last night’s show was songs from the Linda Ronstadt songbook and it made me smile so much!

    15. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      I got new socks and underwear! You know you’re old when that’s a joy lol!

    16. Drtheliz*

      I found another batch of my fave protein bars, and remembered to buy some grenadine syrup so I can make virgin sunrise cocktails at home – I just like a drink that’s yellow on the top and red on the bottom and has a little umbrella, and I don’t need to stop doing that just because I’m pregnant. (But I also have pregnancy scatterbrain and have been failing to remember to get the syrup for a couple of months).

    17. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      My small joy is that after spending a lot of money on being told there’s nothing wrong with my ancient, very skinny and seemingly very picky cat, I’ve finally tumbled as to why she is not eating enough: she’s finding it hard to reach right down. So I put her bowl on a shoe box and it’s just the right height for her to eat happily. She’s already put a little weight back on and I’m hoping she’ll live on happily for a while yet.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        My daughter’s cat was losing weight and she had to hand feed him. He finally started eating when she started putting his food on a plate instead of a bowl. I think he didn’t like his whiskers touching the bowl.

    18. JC Books*

      My little joy this week was getting a 7:30 A.M. missed call from a friend. I was concerned since so early so I called back quickly. Actually her 10 month old granddaughter had grabbed her phone and “called” me. Made me smile as I walked into work.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We continue to be treated to a flock of wild turkeys visiting our yard regularly. There are two mamas with babies at different ages–the younger babies are still fluffy, and the older ones are starting to get their feathers.

    20. the cat's ass*

      great news, Laura!

      I have a new delightfully punky kitten, and we’re integrating him in fairly successfully.

      The computer systems/phones/wifi at work all crashed on Tuesday so i got to WFH for the rest of the week and hang out with the cats and fam.

      We had a garage sale for my DD’s GS troop and made 345$ and i bought some beautiful new (to me ) things, including a never worn blouse.

  5. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Does anyone who’s been involved with the foster care system have recommendations of good sites written by foster parents but that don’t have a heavily religious bent (which I’m finding frequently goes with this topic)? I’m especially interested in anything that really delves into nitty-gritty advice for the day-to-day (less “5 reasons to foster” and more advice on handling specific situations that might come up as you foster).

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Maybe try creatingafamily.org. They link out to other blogs in many cases, but are on specific topics. I’ve come across it a few times when researching adoption topics and have briefly glanced at the foster stuff. I don’t recall it being religious.

    2. KeinName*

      I do not know informational sites but some online writing about it: Emily McCombs, former editor of xojane and frequent writer of personal essays adopted her son through foster care; also the parenting editor of lifehacker, Meghan Moravcik, has a focus on this.

    3. chi chan*

      Cathy Glass is an author who fostered and wrote books about it. She was based in the UK but I think her portrayal was very realistic in terms of the range of problems kids have, and what it all entails. She also adopted one of the kids.

    4. sswj*

      Are you talking kid-foster or animal-foster? I know nothing about kids, but I might have some animal fostering links.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          No advice but sending total moral support to you and your husband. There is such a need for unconditional love combined with tough-minded* support. You will make a better world, one kid at a time.

          *By tough-minded I mean being willing to advocate fiercely for one’s foster child(ren); to draw deeply on one’s problem-solving skills to resolve logistical, administrative, and emotional tangles; and to always let the kids know one believes in them.

          Bonus wish: I hope you get to shelter kids who really, really enjoy cats.

          1. Former Child*

            In my state there are 165 foster kids available to adopt, and the fees are way less than regular adoption fees, plus you get the same stipend till they’re adults that you’d get if you were a foster parent.
            It’s good to know that’s an option.

    5. Jay*

      On Facebook, Culturally Fluent Families has a lot of discussion about foster care. It focuses on transracial foster and adoption and centers the voices of adoptees, first parents, and former foster youth.

    6. Could be helpful?*

      Look at the comment section on videos at the youtube channel The Minimal Mom, on the videos where they discuss potential plans to foster, during the last year or so – go back to the first one first. The videos have no relevant info for your purpose, but there are lots of great information about the hardships, struggles and needs that both former foster children and foster family siblings and parents meet in the comments. The commentariat there wanted to help this family be absolutely sure that they knew what they were doing, warts and all. Some religious talk, but easy to skip.

    7. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Following because I would love some good community / resources online but find that a lot of the writing online is American and very religious and it does not translate well outside of that demographic (IMO).

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Sort of tangentially related, but Kids Eat in Color Instagram has good info from a nutritionist about handling picky eating. She also had a recent post on dealing with children with a history of food insecurity. It’s a good resource about feeding younger children and she also has a website.

    9. Saddesklunch*

      Robyn Gobbel’s work deals a lot with the realities of working with kids who struggle with emotional regulation, and at least some of it is specifically about fostering/adopting. She’s a child therapist and has a ton of great insight and tools into helping kids who have come from hard situations.

    10. fhqwhgads*


      I think both might no longer be updating? But they have a ton of posts over a span of years that I found useful.

    11. Generic Name*

      Unfortunately I don’t know of any specific resources. I do know that foster children often (understandably) have behavioral issues or special needs that can be very challenging to deal with. If you and your husband decide that fostering isn’t right for you but still want to open your home and hearts to youth, you might look into being a host family for foreign exchange students.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        All kids in foster care are dealing with trauma (both whatever led to their removal and then the trauma of being apart from family on top of it) — that’s definitely a fundamental part of the gig. We’re committed (had just started the process to get licensed pre-Covid and then put it on hold during the pandemic), just looking to read more first-person advice from people who do it, and so much of what I’ve been reading has a religious bent to it.

        1. AGD*

          Not advice so much, but Kathy Harrison has a couple of touching and interesting memoirs about her family being foster parents. I especially liked Another Place at the Table.

          1. TRR*

            Fosterwee.wordpress. They no longer update the blog but it is a really eye opening account of the foster system in NYC.

      2. I Was A Foster Kid*

        While I don’t think you meant it this way, please be careful about just talking about foster kids as having issues and being challenging, as it has a severe negative impact on them. Are there special challenges with foster kids? Absolutely. Every kid, foster or not, presents their own challenges, though. Not only foster kids have gone through trauma, but foster kids are immediately pegged as issues. It affects how everyone treats them. Foster kids aren’t seen as ever having great outcomes, so many people don’t put in the effort, even the same level of effect they would put in for a non-foster kid going through a trying time. And on top of that, some foster kids go through worse traumas in foster care than they were in the situation that caused them to enter foster care, but people won’t believe them.

        I once had a kid at school tell a pretty serious lie about me (to her parents, who told my foster mom). Everyone took her word as gospel and never even asked me what happened. Why would they? I’m just a foster kid and everyone knows that foster kids do bad things /s. My foster mom immediately treated me way worse than she was previously – neglect/abuse level worse.

        I did everything in my power to hide the fact that I was a foster kid wherever possible because of the many preconceived notions. It had a immediate negative impact when people learned, even if they’d known me for awhile.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          I’m sorry you experienced this judgment. I will take your advice and watch my words next time. (For what it’s worth, my viewpoint had no negative assumptions about future outcomes for foster kids. I believe that people can choose to create small or large good futures for themselves and others. I’ve seen it happen.)

    12. OtterB*

      I recently started following Dr. Amy Nusbaum @amy_nusbaum on Twitter. I haven’t seen her offer any large scale discussion, but she has Twitter-scale discussion of her life as a single foster parent and a college professor.

    13. HBJ*

      This is not really a site, but @mellysews on Instagram has made a few posts and stories (saved in her highlights) about her family’s process of trying to adopt an older girl through the foster system. She’s a sewing blogger, so very little of her content is about fostering. However, when she posts updates, they are very detailed about exactly what they’re going through, the process, the time it takes, etc. I don’t recall her touching on religion at all.

    14. New Business*

      Not reading, but the YouTube channel be the village. They don’t have many videos up now, because they took down most of the videos, but they will be reposting. Their agency got upset by the fact they had a YouTube channel after several years so they have removed everything but will be reposting and still have some great content.

      1. Emma2*

        I have watched some Be the Village videos and while I thought they had some good and useful content, I had some concerns and ultimately decided that I had to stop watching the channel. I think some of this reflects general challenges around foster parents sharing their experiences of caring for specific children, although some of it was specific to activities on that channel. I also realise that different people will have different takes on this, and my reactions were affected by my own particular perspective.
        My main concerns were:
        (1) while they gave the kids pseudonyms and hid their faces, they talked about some pretty personal stuff. I might not be able to identify them, but all their neighbours, friends, etc would be able to identify the child. Plus, the child might not be concerned about privacy now (being a child), but then would have this content online for the foreseeable future.
        (2) they were setting up Amazon wish lists and inviting people watching the channel to purchase things for the kids that they would open on video (they were also getting things they wanted for the household). Teaching kids to share details of their lives and ask internet strangers for gifts felt risky, particularly for kids in care who can be particularly vulnerable to people preying on them.
        (3) They made some comments comparing their second foster child favourably to their first. Children in care often have a very poor sense of self-worth and to hear someone who was in a parental role suggest they were less valued than another child could be damaging.

    15. Emma2*

      I have been following this thread with interest as fostering is something I have also been thinking about for a while. I think, as with so many things, people can get very attached to particular views or approaches. So, while this has a particular bent to it, I have found some of the podcasts from the Centre for Excellence in Child Trauma useful in making me think about some things that might not otherwise have occurred to me. The first few are essentially pitches for the centre and a particular approach, but the ones I have listened to after that are things like an experienced foster carer talking about some of the challenges their kids have around celebrations and how they deal with that.

    16. lapgiraffe*

      I’ve been following this woman for years, @fosterhood on Twitter, she’s been fostering in NYC it has to have been over a decade now, she used to blog extensively about it but I think the combination of exhaustion/not enough time for everything plus worries about the precarious legal issues (she finally adopted two children, finalized in the last six months or so!) meant she took to a more freeform documentation of everything via Twitter. It’s not the most helpful since her most robust writings are several years old and her situation (single woman very open to hard cases) is very specific, but she lays it all out, the good, bad, ugly, and bureaucratic (the latter seeming to be the worst part of it, like seventh circle of hell levels of awful). And it’s not religious at all, I imagine would align closely with your worldview.

      1. A lurker*

        I believe that Stephanie Giese writes about this – her FB page is Binkies and Briefcases

    17. Firecat*

      I fostered a couple family members for 3 months. It was extremely difficult. One thing you should know is that at the 2 week mark it’s highly likely that the kid(s) will begin acting out as they are trying to learn how far they can push you before you harm them (scream, hit, leave them alone for hours, whatever their former abuse was). Some kids eventually accept that you are not going to do these things … some don’t.

      The best advice I can give is to 1) build up your support network first and foremost. 2) have counseling resources specializing in abused children lined up before you foster, 3) know that you may not be able to foster a specific child but that doesn’t mean you won’t be great foster parent for another child.

      Using myself as an example Nephew D and Niece F I fostered. Niece F struggled with me big time. I couldn’t foster her and she needed someone with way more experience. Nephew D was doing great with us, but they wanted to keep D and F together. They sent D and D
      F to a very experienced home. 20 years+ experience and over 125 successful fosters. They kept D and F for 3 weeks before throwing in the towel. Then D and F went to another home, also very experienced. D started to improve at the 3rd home but F spiraled into really bad behavior. Basically F was chaffing under the rigorous structure that D needed. So they then separated D and F. F went to a much younger less experienced home and thrived. I’m happy to say years later they are both doing much better although D has lifelong psychological tramua from before she was fostered.

      For reading material anything about the psychology of abused children. If you can connect with other foster families that will help you learn the system in your area. Some are better then others.

      Good luck! It’s a very noble thing to do!

    18. saf*

      Have you seen the articles in the Washington Post lately by Joe Yonan (editor of the food section)? He and his husband have recently started fostering an 8 year old, and he has written a few times about it. Not extensive, but interesting and thoughtful.

    19. LongTimeLurker*

      My husband and I are currently fostering a little boy right now and honestly, caring for the child has been the easiest part. Depending on what age group you are after, this can obviously vary. I am not entirely sure if it’s my area or partly because of covid, but dealing with DHS has been the biggest pitfall. Lack of communication is a common frustration. If we weren’t so in love with this kiddo we would have given up on the process a while ago, for our own sanity. We do not have children of our own and very little experience with children before we got thrown into the situation, but did so to help out a “friend.” I’m not sure how we would go about it but I would be happy to email you if you have further questions.

  6. LDN Layabout*

    Does anyone else find it fascinating whenever there’s a post on the site about rich people, there’s always the old money vs. new money mentions, usually in terms of old money being ‘classier’ or better than new money?

    I always find it mildly hilarious since it’s an attitude that’s been pushed societally for centuries but it’s really just a gatekeeping mechanism. Usually a classist and racist (sometimes a sexist) one, when you consider who was allowed to make/keep money.

    1. PollyQ*

      I’ve seen occasional comments with subtle or overt classism here, but other commenters usually push back on it. I don’t actually recall discussions of old or new money here, although I’m with you on how problematic an attitude it is.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        There was a recent post about a rich coworker where the comments were riddled with the ‘old money good, new money bad’ sentiment and it just reminded me of how many people uncritically hold the attitude without thinking who new and old money will tend to be.

        I’ve also been doing a re-read of some older books and it’s always interesting to see how those attitudes have been fixed since around the time of the industrial revolution (and even before that there would be snobbery surrounding how old vs. new your aristocratic title was…)

        1. PollyQ*

          I guess I missed that conversation — do you have a link? And yes, even Jane Austen’s works draw the distinction between landed gentry and people who (gasp!) made their money in trade.

      2. matcha123*

        I’ve seen a lot of tone deaf comments over the years. Since most people here come from privileged backgrounds, that’s not surprising. However I am very annoyed with the assumptions a good number of people hold about the poor. I remember reading the comments to a letter from a few months ago where the letter writer wanted to explain to a student why wearing a hoodie to an interview was not a good idea.
        People jumped to say that maybe the student was poor, but when someone who actually grew up in poverty wrote in to explain that being poor doesn’t mean that we don’t know how to dress for an interview, she was thoroughly attacked by a number of people.
        It’s unfortunate that people who grew up poor and comment on this site will be attacked by some for not going along with prevailing stereotypes that poor people are ignorant and need saving.

        As to old and new money, old money doesn’t need to show off because they have the connections they need to bend laws to their favor.

    2. Cherryblossom*

      I feel like things are changing. I’m juuust old enough that ‘old money’ in my era were people who valued not working. You know that whole English aristocrat thing where a gentleman didn’t have a job? And society women just went to lunch and raised money for charity.

      I feel like that’s changing. It’s now cool to create, to build, to work. Lots of society women have fake jobs or fake business for the image of working. Lots of rich people work hard at even more growing their wealth.

      I think a lot of people have seen how old money ran out of money over a few generations because they stopped working.

      I’m much more interested in someone actively working in business (new or old money) than someone who just lives off a trust and doesn’t do anything interesting.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        It’s interesting seeing it change and then again be deconstructed. Like the ‘self-made’ business people who made their mark (but had a lot of seed money and connections through their parents).

        1. Cherryblossom*

          I think fake self made people is a sign things are changing. It used to be you played up your history, now it’s not cool to admit your parents gave you like 250k to start a business or something (hi Jeff!).

          Preppy style also seems to be becoming just one strand of fashion rather than ‘the’ fashion. Lots of old money people in streetwear, jeans, sneaker heads and so on.

          It seems old fashioned to care about old money. I see what you mean though because I do just recall that era where it a ‘a thing’ and everyone dressed preppy and rich people lived lives of leisure.

        2. Felis alwayshungryis*

          Some of that is media influence – the self-made thing is a killer angle. I was once at an event and got talking to this guy who started a massive, gamechanging website in NZ – he’s a household name – and the one thing I really took from that conversation was when he said something like ‘the media always make it sound like I did the whole thing alone, but there was no way – I had loads of help from everyone, but that doesn’t make a good story’.

      2. CoffeePlease*

        I don’t think this is quite what you’re saying, but think the idea that people who work hard earn or have money is… not accurate. It’s worth considering why we as a society still believe that to be the case.

    3. I'd Rather be Eating Dumplings.*

      I did notice that on the recent post. It’s not unique to this site, in my experience, but I agree. I also don’t find it to be based in reality.

      And just because you don’t pick up on class markers doesn’t mean they’re not being displayed. In fact, the subtler markers of class that aren’t obvious to outsiders are, IMO, perhaps more exclusionary than the flashier ones.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Definitely not just here, it’s very much a societal thing, but I do find it jarring in a comment section where a lot of people are thoughtful about societal issues to see it pop up so freely and often without any challenge. Which shows how ingrained it is.

        1. Cherryblossom*

          Classism is not really in fashion, except for maybe Bernie Sanders fans. It’s all very about race nowadays. Which is fair as race is a big BIG issue. But I believe in intersectionality. Other things matter too. Like your class, your gender, your religion, your disability. Disadvantage isn’t just linked to one thing but that seems to be all we talk about at the moment.

          I almost wonder if some of the 1% would rather people focus almost exclusively on race because it’s not going to hurt their bottom line to be more inclusive. But a focus on something like more women CEO’s or paying tax might cut a bit deeper.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            May I take issue with “Bernie Sanders fans”? I mean if I lived in the US I’d be voting for him and possibly working for him even. I’d prefer to be called a social democrat than a “Bernie Sanders fan”, he’s no rock star. If we’re talking fandom, I’m a David Bowie fan, and that has nothing to do with my politics.

    4. WS*

      Of course it is, because the old money has had a few generations to shape the idea of what a “classy” rich person should look like! In another 100 years, it will be different again.

    5. Purt’s Peas*

      Oh god, it really did stand out in that comment section. Huge vibes of “she must not be _really_ rich, otherwise she’d be chill and not mean to poor people.” Wild stuff.

      1. Eden*

        Yeah whenever I read this stuff (not unique to AAM comments by any means) it’s like. Guys, the “good” rich people aren’t here to see you defending them and they’re not gonna treat you better because of your brave words. Very eyeroll-y.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Well, there’s a big difference between “she’s not rich at all” and “she’s newly rich.” I saw a lot of the former, and it seemed to come from a place of “she’s so over the top it must be an act” rather than “wealthy parents would have raised her better than that”

    6. ThatGirl*

      In a related vein, my inlaws are very well off, possibly even rich, but they refuse to think of themselves that way because in their mind, you’re only rich if you didn’t have to work for your money? Or if you became a zillionaire I guess. But since they worked their way up, and my FIL’s company is blue collar (but he owns it!)… they can’t be rich. It’s a weird mindset to me.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Nobody thinks of themselves as rich. Ask anyone to define “rich” and they’ll name a sum that’s somewhat higher than what they have.

    7. MEH Squared*

      That was a fascinating debate because ‘old money acts classy’ got tossed around so casually in that post. As you said, this commentariat is usually more thoughtful than most so it was wild to see that playing out. “Oh, old money people don’t let on that they have money because that’s classy.”

      Oh really? According to whom?

    8. lemon meringue*

      Haha, yes, this is a trope as old as time but I’m always interested in seeing it in the wild. I think I come from a more class-conscious/anti-capitalist place than most people, but I am fascinated to still see people offering up a preemptive defense of the ultra-wealthy. I suppose if people with generational wealth have perfected one thing through the centuries, it’s convincing others that they’ve somehow deserved it.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Yes, it’s gatekeeping/classist/racist. But there is also a bit of truth to it. People who grew up with multigenerational family wealth do tend to behave differently than people who are 1st generation wealth who also behave differently from 2nd generation wealth.

      I don’t care how much money you have, or how long you’ve had it. If you’re an a$$hole, that’s not good.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing.
    I have reminded myself why I usually don’t do poetry, because I wrote a “poem” as a sort of challenge and dear clouds is it bad ^^’

    1. CoffeePlease*

      I’m happy for you have successfully written a bad poem! You’re ahead of me this week.

    2. Bee Happy (they/them)*

      I’ve been getting back into writing fanfiction lately after a five-year (or so) gap and it’s been so fun! I can never really finish a piece to my satisfaction, but I did join a writer’s bingo that allows for works of any length, so I’ve been posting my short little scenes and getting some good feedback.

      Good luck on the poetry! I’ve always found it difficult to express myself in a way that feels “poetic”, but I love to read it.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Congrats on getting back into fanfiction! I definitely recognise the feeling of never being content with a piece.

        I’m not really intending on making poetry a regular thing, but I do occasionally dabble in it to sort of get out of my comfort zone a little.

    3. Cendol*

      Really well! I’m 67k into a fanfic (that my spouse thinks I should turn into a novel) and am preparing to start edits on the first draft of an original short story. I’m proud of myself for maintaining my pace (4-5k per week) and hoping I’ll be able to keep up a similar pace on my next project.

      Congrats on the poem! It’s fun to wiggle around outside your comfort zone.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oooh, congrats! And who knows, turning that fanfic into a novel may work out pretty well :). I mean, Dante Alighieri is still celebrated for his self-insert fanfiction so…

    4. Never Nicky*

      I had some very positive feedback this week on a piece I did for work from a very prominent person in our field (and in the UK healthcare system generally) which excited even our CEO!

      When I wrote it, I thought it was clear and hit our internal brief but it’s functional, factual stuff so didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary!

    5. Filosofickle*

      I have a typewriter haiku series on IG, which are mostly about heartbreak and grief right now. Each week I want to change the channel and write more classic nature haiku but those darn emotions keep leaking out.

      One for next week:
      Live wire arcing sparks
      Sharp zaps strike without caution
      Enervated nerves

    6. LQ*

      I WROTE A THING! I wrote a non work thing! I wrote a thing that was purely for fun and wierdness. I shared the thing with the world in the tiniest way. AND I committed to keep doing it. To no one, well now to you all but…

      It was…painful. I feel bad about it. I feel like after a first workout when you haven’t in a long time and you’re like I’m going to give back up this why would I do it ugh. I’m trying hard to look through this but I’m having a hard time not giving back up.

    7. Callisto*

      I have an hour-long interview to transcribe, and I’m not looking forward to it. Anyone have an accurate AI transcriber? I’ve not gotten good results from Rev or Sonix.

    8. Girasol*

      I read this New Year’s wish from Neil Gaiman this week and share it to tell you that you’re doing the right thing:
      “Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.”

    9. Bibliovore*

      I signed up for a 30 day Writing Your Grief on-line workshop sponsored by the author of Its Okay That You’re not Okay.
      I am writing everyday.
      I don’t know if it is helping but I am writing.

    10. CopperPenny*

      I have my first paid writing gig! It is a hobby I am passionate about and now I get paid to do it. I am also realizing a major issue with my novel. Its the first one I’ve attempted to write. I’m realizing I need to add at least one subplot so I am currently reoutlining including some subplots I can add.

    11. OyHiOh*

      I’m directing a play I wrote pre pandemic! It’s going to be pretty “morality play on the back of a wagon in the town square” level of production value but I’m directing a play that I wrote for public performance.

  8. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want, including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    I haven’t had a lot of gaming time this week, and what time I did have went to Hades. I find it funny how many people O see online claiming the Adamant Rail is such a difficult weapon when for me it’s probably one of the easier ones.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      The old guard for me, waiting for 2.0 to drop in Genshin Impact, but I’ve been fully sucked into FFXIV even though I’m not usually an MMO person (or if I am, it’s strictly PVE for storyline).

      FFXIV does force you to do dungeons with other people but I’ve been surprised by how friendly/helpful the atmosphere is and I hope it doesn’t change with the ingflux of new players.

      Thank you for everyone who talked to me about Octopath Traveler! It’s on my list for when there’s a handy sale.

      1. Greg, not Gilgamesh*

        As an FFXIV player for 6 years, there have been influxes and outfluxes of players several times over and have run into very few issues with unhelpful or unfriendly players. Will you find them? Yeah, sure. But the cat majority are willing to help out, especially if you pop up with a “hey, new here, anything quick I should know?”

        So enjoy your journey through Eorzea with all it’s twist, turns, and gut-wrenching moments! May you walk in the light of the crystal.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          Thank you! I’m currently heading towards HW so I’ve had the gut-wrenching moment in that section of the MSQ recently ;-;

          1. Greg, not Gilgamesh*

            That is definitely one of the big ones. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but there are so many beautiful moments in the story it’s made me definitely forgive the clumsier ones. And the music is fantastic.

            What class do you play/main?

            1. LDN Layabout*

              Summoner at the moment, although I’m considering exploring a bit now. I’ve just hit a comfort level with it and the thought of doing something else is a bit daunting.

              1. Learning does not require pantyhose!*

                They’re all fine, and perfectly useful in most content. I main bard, but I’m a completionist so I Must Level All the Things.

    2. CoffeePlease*

      Has anyone played Fast Sloths ? I have a child who is very into sloths and board games, but she is on the young side, and I’m wondering if this seems to be something we could play or modify for younger kids.

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        Recommended age on board game geek is 10, and I’d agree—the rules are reasonably clear but not Monopoly clear.

    3. Laura Petrie*

      I finally started playing Animal Crossing New Horizons. I was given it as a Christmas present but decided not to play it until my university summer holiday. Definitely the right decision as I’m obsessed!

    4. The Dude Abides*

      Partner is leaving for a work trip Sunday and grandma will have the young’un, so I’m debating whether or not to do an AFR prerelease event. Hasn’t done one in almost seven years, but it is my first chance to play IRL in over a year.

    5. Purt’s Peas*

      I like the Rail a lot, though I’d say it can be tough to get a build that does really big damage. Plus I think adding reload can mess with your rhythm.

      I actually hated the bow until I switched from PC to switch…really needed the auto-aim!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I will admit that when I’m using the Rail and Thanatos shows up in Elysium (and occasionally Asphodel, depending on the build) I usually hang back and let him take care of things – usually I won’t be able to compete with him anyways.

        1. Purt’s Peas*

          Yeah, I find it fun even when it’s a low damage build, but it can take a while to clear the harder rooms. Nothing like a Dionysus build on the Rail

    6. twocents*

      Agree with Adamant Rail! I also think that one’s fun to just whale on the enemies.

      I picked up Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword yesterday (and lucked into a set of the special joycons!) I’m trying to wrap up Final Fantasy XII first though… If I start another game, I’ll forget the controls and rules and won’t finish this one. Based on the walkthrough I’m vaguely referencing, I’m now in part 5 of 5, so maybe another 10 hours to go?

    7. Nicki Name*

      I realized another thing holding me back from trying Hades is that I’ve never fully grasped the right attitude to approach modern roguelike games with, so I just picked Thea 2 back up and I’m trying to do it the right way.

      (It’s the part where you treat your early runs not as an attempt to win the game, but just a way to grab a few points to unlock some things for your next run. For me, that’s not roguelike at all– I got to play the original Rogue some as a kid, and it and all its relatives just do complete resets every time you lose.)

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I think it might be useful to make the distinction between roguelikes and roguelites, then. Roguelikes are, as you say, the kind that resets all progress when you die, whereas roguelites are the kind that allow you to keep your upgrades. Admittedly a lot of the time the distinction is not made, but it may help you to get in the right frame of mind to consider them as similar but separate.

    8. MEH Squared*

      When I first started playing Hades, I was one of those who did not like the Adamant Rail. The Eternal Spear was my jam because you could do both ranged and up close. It wasn’t until I started experimenting with Adamant Rail builds that I realized how powerful it could be.

      I’m still playing Cozy Grove by Spry Fox. It’s my dail6y comfort game that puts me in a good mood. I’m going through my Pile of Shame to find a game that will tide me over until Elden Ring (FromSoft) in late January (hopefully!).

    9. Rara Avis*

      My daughter, having turned 13, wanted to play Sims 4, so I helped her get set up. Less than two days later, our account was banned because they claim there was some violation of either the user agreement or terms of service. But they won’t give me any information on what that violation was. I read through both documents and I can’t figure out what we did, and they won’t clarify. Very frustrating. (She was playing solo, no contact with a multi-player version.)

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oof, that sucks. I seem to remember hearing about EA doing that and they don’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to customer service (or really anything else). I don’t remember if they ever got it fixed though – I’ll see if I can find those reports again and get back to you.

      2. Golden*

        Did she try to torrent (pirate) any content or mods? Not accusing her! Just a suggestion since I maaaay have tried to do that in high school with Sims 1 and gotten a scary letter from EA sent to my parents house.

        That was before you had to have an account to play, but EA is pretty protective of their IP if I’m not mistaken. I haven’t played EA games in several years so I could be way off the mark, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they took a heavy-handed approach to people trying to mod or something like that.

    10. NeutralJanet*

      I downloaded the Scrabble GO app on my phone to play with some relatives in different parts of the country, and I’d forgotten how much fun Scrabble is! I also wildly underestimated my Scrabble abilities–I remembered myself as not being very good, but I’m actually very, very good, apparently

    11. Pikachu*

      My whole family are Uno enthusiasts. We are always on the lookout for novelty Uno decks. I just got my niece a BTS (kpop) one for her birthday. I think a Space Jam one just came out, so that’s next on the list.

      Has anyone here bought those Rivals editions they have released for classic games? I saw Sorry, Monopoly, and maybe a few others at the store. They are designed for two players. Wondering if they are worth it.

    12. Smol Book Wizard*

      The fellow and I are playing Rain World! It’s a delightful and perilous platformer with cute animal player character, although unfortunately I’m not sure the ending is angling to follow up on early promise – but that depends on taste, I would imagine.
      (By “are playing” I mean he plays, I watch and cheer, and sometimes I dabble in the early levels on my laptop.)

    13. lady gamer or something*

      We just started playing Yakuza 0 and it’s been fun so far. I joked that “Shenmue walked so Yakuza could run.” Pro tip: have Kiryu go to a burger place and dine in. You won’t regret it ;)

  9. Might Be Spam*

    What is it with people calling short hair “old lady hair?”

    I’ve been growing out my gray hair and I’m trying to decide if I want to get it cut short in order to get rid of the dyed part. I can hide most of it in a french braid, but it’s a lot of work. Wearing it loose looks odd with the two colors.

    I like having long hair, but it would look OK short. When I mention haircuts, people keep calling short hair an “old lady hairstyle” and it’s making me feel really self conscious. I’m still adjusting to the gray and the old lady comments are not helping.

    1. Cherryblossom*

      At one point in time it wasn’t considered appropriate for older women to have long hair. You were meant to cut your hair as you got older.

      I think that’s an old fashioned trend that doesn’t apply anymore. You can do anything you like with your hair at any age.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This, aye. Also, for my older female relatives at least, my grandmothers, aunties and great-grands, their habit when they hit the age where my family’s double-barreled tendency toward arthritis kicked in, long hair was legitimately harder for them to maintain at home because of pain in shoulder, arm and hand joints, so they went short as a result of usually age-related medical issues. (Not to say young folks can’t have joint issues of course, but in my family’s medical history it’s arthritis as a result of getting older.)

        To me, the funny thing about long vs short is that the longer my hair gets the less maintenance it requires. My short-haired acquaintances are all “oh, long hair is so much work!” And when I inquire about their short hair care routine, they start listing off products and how all they have to do is wash it every day and blow dry it and put in this and scrunch up that and so on, it only takes fifteen or twenty minutes! Meanwhile my butt-length hair takes 45 seconds a day plus about ten minutes once or twice a week when I wash it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but my hair defies gravity until it’s past shoulder length in a remarkably unbecoming way, so short isn’t really a good option for me anyway :)

        1. sswj*

          I also have hair I can just about sit on, and I’m pushing 60 veeeerrrry hard :p When people comment on it, my standard reply is that it’s easy and I’m lazy. Wash it, braid it sleep on it, brush it out and re-braid in the morning and that’s it. And unless I’m out in the heat working, or riding (horses) and wearing a helmet, it doesn’t need to be washed every day.
          Also, Covid Hair wasn’t a thing in my world!

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Huh, I usually hear the opposite! Long-haired people using a slew of products (though they often are also the ones using hair straighteners or curlers so it may actually be more related to that). Could also just be me being very law about my short hair (washing it every few days and brushing it for ten seconds in the morning usually suffices). Can’t even remember when I last used a hair dryer.
          Also I guess I have old lady hair then? Legit never heard that short hair was for old people before, learn something new every day.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            As with any anecdata, your mileage may vary :) but in my experience, the short-haired people who tell me that long hair requires way too much maintenance are actually spending ten times as much time and effort on their hair as I do, is all I was getting at :)

            1. A.N. O'Nyme*

              Oh I absolutely agree! I wasn’t trying to be defensive or anything. Your anecdote is definitely quite funny :p

            2. Bad Skin*

              Hair maintenance levels probably depends more on individuals than length. I have short hair that I don’t need to style or use products in. All I do is wash and comb it. When I had long hair, I just washed, combed and put it in a pony tail. Neither are much work/time at all.

              But I also know people with long hair and short hair that use a zillion products and have to use irons, hair dryers, etc. to style it. (Which is kind of fascinating to me. It seems like a lot of work!)

              1. Former Child*

                The hybrid “Kris Jenner” haircut keeps it long in front, instead of short all over.

                That gives your hair some movement and w/accessories, like long earrings / scarves / etc., can still look stylish.

              2. allathian*

                Yup. I have hair like a horse’s mane, very thick and wiry. When I wore it short, I didn’t even brush or comb it, I just used my fingers. When I had a buzz cut, it’d get to 2 inches and still be standing straight up with no products.

        3. MEH Squared*

          Same here. I used to have short hair in my twenties and had to spend some time fussing with it to get it to look ok. Not much time because I’m not that kind of person. Then it would annoy me because I have sensory issues. But now I have hair that is mid-thigh which I wear in a bun most of the time and I can set it and forget it. I wash it once every other week or so–it’s very low maintenance.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Exactly – I only redo my bun every couple of days or if I’m actually leaving the house :-)

            1. MEH Squared*

              Right on! I *may* wear it in a ponytail if I’m going out, but for around the house? It’s perma-bun for me! I go for *munble muble* days without brushing it out and redoing the bun, which isn’t ideal, but a bun covers a multitude of sins.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            It’s interesting – I have very short hair, and it takes less than two minutes a day of work, with no need to condition or brush. My hair is very fine, and if it gets much beyond shoulder length it starts to tangle badly, and still needs daily washing or it gets greasy. It physically won’t grow much past mid-back.

            1. MEH Squared*

              My hair is very fine as well! My problem when I had it really short is that it’s stick straight (I’m Asian) and it wouldn’t stay out of my face no matter what. That annoyed me so I decided to grow it longer. It stayed at waist-length for decades before suddenly started growing again, I think because of diet changes; it’s now mid-thigh. It’s so interesting to learn about other people’s hair in contrast to my own.

              1. noname*

                Any idea what diet changes specifically caused it to grow? I would love for my hair to grow some more!

        4. ecnaseener*

          It definitely depends on the hair itself – I have the type of hair that’s just wavy enough to be awkwardly poufy and tangly when it’s short, vs when it’s long it weighs itself down enough to avoid the pouf. My arms do get tired brushing it though!

        5. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Long hair fan here. I went “short” after an injury triggered a frozen shoulder, and just laughed about how random my hair is. It’s so fine and has so many weird cowlicks it does what it wants. Frozen shoulders have a good chance of returning, and mine did, and this time I went even shorter. If I want it to look predictable for some reason, it definitely takes more thought than my braided bun used to.

        6. Clisby*

          Yeah, I’m 67. My hair now is just a couple of inches longer than shoulder-length, but for years it was halfway down my back. Nothing to maintenance – I wash and condition it every 7-8 days, and that’s about it. Sometimes I wear it down, sometimes I put it up or braid it. That takes all of about 2 minutes.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        More like, you were meant to put it up in an elegant bun.

        Short hair came into fashion in the 20s, with flappers and their bob cuts, and even in the 70s as a teen, I and a lot of my friends had short hair. By the time my daughter came along, girls all wore their hair long again like in Victorian days. So I think it’s quite normal for young girls nowadays to think of short hair as being for older women.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I had a 50+yo friend in the 1990s who did reenactments. Her braids were long enough they were starting to interfere with her craft. She went for a trim to tidy up the edges of her long hair. The stylist chopped off FOUR INCHES and had the gall to say “old women shouldn’t have long hair.” My friend left the chair immediately and went to the manager. Not sure what the results were for the nasty young stylist, but the manager finished my friend’s haircut for free.

    2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I’m old and I have short hair. But I also had short hair when I was young, and most years in between. On the rare occasions I tried to grow it out, I found it to be a huge pain in the ass and cut it once it hit shoulder level. For fun, I like to watch the opening episodes of “The Bachelor” for the clothes and the super-silly drama. Most seasons, all the women have long hair worn the same way and they’re really difficult to tell apart. I’d like to see some variety and individuality in EVERY age group, and not just on television.

    3. Virginia Plain*

      Fwiw I would only think of it as “old lady hair” if it was set, in poouffy curls/waves like my grandma used to get done at the hairdresser every Friday, and she’d sleep in a hairnet.
      If you aren’t doing that I’d say ignore the haters!

    4. Janet Pinkerton*

      People are just being rude. They also talk about a “mom” haircut—shorter and low-maintenance. Who doesn’t want low-maintenance hair?! (Lots of people, but that doesn’t mean it’s just moms who want easy hair.)

      I would just remind myself “oh this person doesn’t realize they’re being rude!”

      1. Anon.*

        Part of the mom hair thing is that due to hormones, postpartum hair loss often makes a short cut seem needed.

          1. allathian*

            They are, but a ponytail works just as well. My hair got even thicker during my pregnancy, but I didn’t suffer noticeably from hair loss afterwards.

    5. allathian*

      It’s called that because it’s easier to maintain, at least if you need to look professional. I’m still in my Covid hair, because I haven’t been to the hairdresser yet, last time I went was in February 2020 and I usually go every 5 to 6 weeks.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        One thing I learned in 202 was to cut my own hair! It’s not as good as the hairdresser, but I curl the ends under which hides the fact that I’ve trimmed it a bit ragged. I cut all the way round, then for the next few days I snip bits off here and there until it looks OK. The quieter social life means I can easily go for days without seeing anyone apart from my partner and other dog owners at the park (where nobody is dressed up because it’s either muddy or dusty).

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          I cut mine, too. I haven’t paid for a cut in YEARS. When I used to go to salons, I’d almost always have to redo something, so why waste the money and time?

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            I used to have a wonderful hairdresser. I just asked for “the same but shorter”, she gazed over my head at my reflection for a bit and did what exactly I asked for. But somehow it was smoother, silkier, brighter, perkier, it had never looked so good. The first time she cut it, my daughter told me “your hair really suits you like that”, the lodger told me “that’s a great cut you have” and my partner said “oh you’re so beautiful like that”. I got her a box of chocolates.

          2. Clisby*

            I haven’t paid for a haircut in 16-17 years. My husband cuts it. (He has an actual barber set – he’s not hacking at it with my kids’ old school scissors.) Our daughter had her first professional haircut when she was about 8, and our son didn’t have a professional haircut until he was 14 – my husband cut their hair, too.

    6. Merle Grey*

      My sister decided to grow out her dyed hair. She found a colorist who did something like highlights to soften the transition between the gray and dyed, and she kept her hair shoulder length. It never looked awkward. I should probably do the same. I dyed my hair after being laid off, thinking it might help since I was forced to change careers due to the pandemic, but I hate the maintenance, and wish I had tried semi-permanent dye instead.

    7. fposte*

      That sounds like you’re talking to really rude people who are rude on two fronts–one, trashing a haircut, and two, dissing old ladies. My personal thought is that the response to “That’s an old lady haircut” is “Eff *yeah* it is, hater.”

    8. KuklaRed*

      I’ve had hair of just about every length there is. Growing up, I had a mom who never let scissors touch my hair (not a joke) so when I was 21, I had hair down below my butt, almost to my knees. On my 21st birthday, I had a friend cut it off to shoulder length, dyed it auburn and never looked back. My favorite style was very short on the sides and back and enough on the top to style a bit. Now I’m 63 and my hair is thinning on top and the texture has changed. I can’t have the short hair cut anymore because I don’t have enough up there. So I’ve grown it out to just below my chin, I use various thickening styling products to help boost it a bit and it looks OK.

      All of this is basically summed up by saying it’s your hair. Wear it however you’d like. Rock that short hair cut!

    9. Bad Skin*

      The people calling short hair an “old lady style” are being weird and judgmental. Lots of younger and middle aged women have short hair, and it looks great. Lots of older women have long hair, and it looks great. Whatever hairstyle you want will be great. :)

    10. GoryDetails*

      Heh! I haven’t heard anyone calling short hairstyles “old lady hair”, fwiw – and have had my short hair since roughly 1980. But I did have someone refer to my socks as “old lady socks” once, as I like the kind that has little images of birds or animals sewn into the weave. (I get a lot of them from Wheelhouse Designs, if anyone’s curious.) I laughed at the comment, which wasn’t mean-spirited, but which did seem odd – even though I am, at pushing 70, technically an old lady myself, and I shared my fondness for the line with my mother. But why would anyone even think of a style – hair, clothing, whatever – as “old lady” specific beats me!

    11. Voluptuousfire*

      When I think old lady hair, I think of hairstyles like Betty White’s. That bouffant look that takes rollers and backcombing to do every day.

      I LOL calling short hair “old lady hair.” Myself and my mom has short hair (well I had it long/short in and odd and it’s not been longer than chin length since 2006) because we had the same hair texture, really fine and limp. Our hair generally doesn’t lend itself to length.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yep, it’s gotta be short AND permed to be old lady hair in my book. And the natural grey or white. That’s how my grandma wore her hair, you see, along with most of her contemporaries. I can’t remember the newer crop of old ladies wearing it, so it’s probably gone out style. It was bound to, really, since very few women want to look like their grandma. I certainly don’t!

        There are fashion trends among the old just as much as among the young, and if you follow them you are associating yourself with that age group. But I don’t think just short hair counts.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Old ladies would often have a delicate blue pink or mauve rinse though! I remember my friend dyeing her hair as a punk, and the little old ladies on the bus were scandalised, it didn’t occur to them that their hair colour was no more natural…

    12. Pool Lounger*

      It depends on the hairstyle. I’d just choose my hairdresser carefully and tell them you don’t want an “old lady” haircut. I had a problem with hairdressers cutting my hair in a way that aged me. I found a stylist who specializes in short hair and told him, “don’t give me talk to the manager hair.”

    13. Michaele Burris*

      I’m 73 and have grey hair to my waist. It’s been short, it’s been long. I’ve never heard the “short hair is for old ladies”, but my reply would be, “Mine is Gorgeous old lady hair!” Fashion is pulled by people looking to make money. I have absolutely no interest in ditching something I like because someone (with a new product to sell or to get an article published) has decided that everyone should do/buy this new shiny thing. If you want short hair right now, do it, and enjoy it with confidence.

    14. Rara Avis*

      I’ve always had long hair but I think I’m going to have to go short because my gray is incredibly fragile and breaks off at uneven lengths. Not looking forward to adding haircuts to the budget.

    15. The teapots are on fire*

      “Old lady hair?” That’s just rude. I mean, if you don’t want people to say that, put some blue glitter gel in it or something, but otherwise, way whatever you would say to a someone who you don’t think actually MEANT to be rude to you but needs to be pulled up short. It could be they’re thinking of a wash and set from the ’60s when you or I might be talking about a really short cut that you run some gel through and then go on with your day, but it’s just not your problem to fix whatever dumbass picture is in some people’s heads.

    16. OyHiOh*

      When I was twenty years old, I shaved my head completely bald. It has never been longer than just brushing my shoulders since then, and usually significantly shorter. For the first decade of being a parent, my hair was never more than 2 inches long. I’m mid 40’s now and have a wild asymetrical cut, but the long part is still short enough to not touch my shoulder. IDK why short cuts would be “old lady” and I resent the characterization (not from you, from people who think/say this) because I am far from old and find a shorter cut easier to maintain and deal with.

    17. RagingADHD*

      Short answer? It’s the patriarchy, that’s what.

      The entire social system is constructed to ensure that no matter what a woman does, she doing it wrong. There’s a perjoritive for absolutely everything a woman could possibly do, wear, say, be, or attempt.

      Short hair is too butch, or too young, or too old, or too trendy, or too Karen, or whatever will stick.

      Long hair is too young, or too frumpy, or too whorish, or too unprofessional, or whatever will stick.

      Same thing with clothes, and weight, and work, and parenting, or not parenting, with dating or relationships or being single.

      It’s all completely contradictory and nonsensical. There is no way to win except not to play.

      Do your hair however you like it.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t think of short hair that way. I think of styles like those short layered poofy things (I don’t know what they’re called, but think Phoebe Wallingford on All My Children) or anything very outdated as old lady hair.

    19. HBJ*

      Because from what I see, it is way more common for “old ladies” to have short hair than younger women. Doesn’t mean it’s ok to say that, but I think it’s based in a statistical reality.

    20. Overeducated*

      I cut my hair into a pixie at 30 and I’m never going back. My hair is fine and wavy and requires active styling to make me feel not self conscious when it’s longer. I now understand why so many middle aged and older women had very short hair when i was growing up, and am trying to now embrace my place among them.

  10. Arya Parya*

    We got a bread baking machine a couple of weeks ago. It’s been great and came with some recipes. However I’d like to try some new things. I found there are a lot of websites with recipes, but a lot seem not that good. Does anyone know good recources? Books, websites, anything is welcome.

    1. Legalchef*

      There’s a bread machine cookbook by someone with the last name Hensperger that multiple peopl I know swear by. I’ll put the link in a reply.

    2. Wrench Turner*

      My favorite thing to do with bread machines (had one growing up, not anymore) was to experiment. Get a base recipe and then just mess with it! Adding in herbs, spices, cheese, nuts, whatever. I needed the recipe to get the structure of the thing but the flavor was all up to me. Good luck and enjoy!

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yes, seconding this. I have the basic recipe of water+flour+salt+sugar+yeast then top it off with:

        olives for savoury bread (fantastic with savoury spreads)

        raisin and walnut (fantastic with the cheese platter)

        dried figs (they tend to break up completely, making for a very rich dough, wonderful with light cheese spreads)

        any combo of nuts (walnuts cashews pecan hazelnuts almonds), seeds (chia sesame linseed poppy), dried fruit (raisins currants goji)

        I also routinely add linseed flour since it’s rich in omega 3 and you don’t get the goodness from the seeds unless you chew them for like ages.

        I mostly use spelt flour, I sometimes have a bit of trouble digesting run-of-the-mill wheat and GF flour just doesn’t work for bread.

    3. CoffeePlease*

      Fun! King Arthur Baking is great for bread recipes, and includes discussion of bread machines for many of them. I like to use a bread machine for mixing and some rising but prefer to shake and bake out of the machine.

    4. BiPoSis*

      no recipe specifically but I will tell you that it took me a while to realize i could make pizza dough in the breadmaker and that was a GAME CHANGER.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        my family loves my pizza because I put enough tomato sauce on to actually taste it, most places here just put enough on to colour the dough.

  11. LadyClegane*

    Hi Everyone, I just got my first post-grad school position after two years of searching. Yay! Now the tough part; I’m a lifelong Californian moving so far north I can throw a rock into hit Canada (almost). Any advice for someone with NO experience with the climate/lifestyle?

    1. Fran*

      Get big winter jackets, snowshoes etc from the new location. They will have available what is needed for there whilst if you order online or buy from your current location things might not be warm enough. In general, you need to dress in layers. Try to get out every day even if it is super cold just for a while.

      1. Canadian here*

        This is widely inaccurate. Unless someone is moving to the Alaskan wilderness they don’t need snowshoes unless it is for recreation. I’m Canadian, I grew up in the Yukon in a fly in only community. We didn’t need snowshoes for everyday life up there so someone living in the northernmost 48 states certainly doesn’t need them as a necessity.

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          I think they probably meant snow boots, as in something warm and waterproof enough to wear when it snows, not literal snowshoes.

          Winter gear is often seasonal, though. You can buy it in the fall but it’s hard to buy in retail stores at other times of year, so if you’re going to be moving during winter, you may need to buy online.

          You need at least three coats: a light jacket (e.g. windbreaker or fleece) for cool days, a medium coat for fall (I recommend a woolen peacoat, suitable for all but the coldest and snowiest days), and a proper waterproof winter coat that is rated for the coldest your new area gets. Where I live I can actually get away with the peacoat for most or all of winter, but you may need something warmer.

          You also need hats, gloves, and scarves. I prefer gloves with leather palms so I can put them on before opening the door and still be able to turn the handle. You may want several gloves – a light pair and a very warm pair. A waterproof pair of gloves for scraping the snow off the car is also nice. If you want to go out and play in the snow or try skiing, you’ll definitely need waterproof snow gloves and snow pants.

          Basically, weather is going to be way more seasonal than you are used to, so you’ll need different clothes and jackets at different times of year.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      When you’re moving to a new climate, there can definitely be pressure to buy stuff up-front so you’re prepared. But in my experience that can make it scarily easy to either overbuy or get stuff that’s not quite right for your needs.

      It’s a little tougher up-front, but I’d recommend not stocking up in advance….instead getting to the area and waiting for the need to arise (and also seeing what brands are well-loved by locals).

      Also make a habit of checking the weather app every morning, so you can start to get a sense for how the temperature feels (70 F in London, where I live now, is somehow hotter than 70 in my CA hometown — I can’t explain exactly why, but it is!).

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Also, I highly recommend shelling out for one of those expensive ‘sunlight’ alarm clocks. We’ve had ours for five years now and absolutely adore it — makes waking in up in the winter 100x more pleasant.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. I also recommend blackout curtains or those eye masks you can get for traveling for the summer months, because in the summer there’s more daylight than you’re probably used to. I live at 60 N and currently we have 18 hours between sunrise and sunset, so it’s bright as day outdoors when I go to bed around 10 pm (sunrise at 4.30, sunset at 11.30).

        2. Elf*

          The actual alarm clock I had did not work for me, but I accidentally discovered that one of the relatively cheap plant lights on a timer worked wonders (the ones with the four flexible arms that clip on to a table)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Yep, I just used a regular stand light on a timer. It doesn’t gradually kick on like the sunrise ones do, but I didn’t need the gradual, I just had a hell of a time waking up in the dark. (Also, that got a lot easier once I got on a vitamin D supplement, which you will probably benefit from at least in the winter up north.)

      2. Purple Penguin*

        Seconding the wait and see approach. I’ve moved a number of times to widely different climates and each time I was surprised by what I actually needed compared to what I thought I’d need.

        That said, if you tend to be cold, I highly recommend merino wool base layers. They’re so warm! You can get them from sporting companies in a variety of colors. Good merino wool should be ultra soft, very breathable (and unfortunately quite expensive) and fit skin tight, so the shirts or leggings fit under other clothes.

      3. KR*

        Yes, this. A lot of times I see people recommend full snow suits, wool everything, socks thick enough to hike into the wilderness. But when I lived in a cold environment (grew up in one!) I did fine with a Carhartt jacket to break the wind with a sweatshirt layered in there, some hats/gloves/scarves as needed. Half the time I was just running from the house to the car/work to the car so I threw on my jacket or a sweater and dealt with being cold. It will take a bit for your body to adjust to the cold temps but I wouldn’t stock up on a bunch of cold weather gear until you see how your body adjusts and how outside you are in the winter.
        Most of my tips are automotive related because cold weather really does impede you getting around if you’re not used to it. It’s smart to keep a blanket in your car as well as a lighter. Keep a set of gloves you don’t care about in your car in case you need to change a tire/do automotive maintenance on the side of the road unexpectedly. It’s smart to keep a sweatshirt in your car or with you in most seasons – even in the summer it can get unexpectedly cold. The ice scraper should just live in your car for most of the year – as soon as you take it out in the spring it will probably frost over. That’s just how things go. I also kept a wooden board (traction on ice) and a small children’s snow shovel with me in case I got stuck in a snow bank. Practice driving in ice and snow in a parking lot so you can get a feel for how your car performs in the snow and what it feels like when your car slips and slides.
        Get outside in the winter, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the block, stomping around the snow for a few minutes, or throwing some snow balls at a tree. Sunlight is scarce and you need to enjoy it while it’s shining or things get depressing really fast. Have fun – I am living in a tropical environment right now so I’m super jealous.

          1. Sam I Am*

            I like a winter coat to go down to my hips, it keeps my lower back warm.
            Silk long johns can be worn under almost anything, they’re so thin. This can stretch a fall or spring outfit into the winter easily. Mine are from LLBean.

      4. Clisby*

        Yes! I live in Charleston, SC, and am on a FB group for parents of students at the College of Charleston. Every year, new parents are asking what their kids need to bring to college, and there’s always a chorus of “Rain boots are an absolute must!” I, my husband, and my 2 kids moved to Charleston 15 years ago and not one of us owns a pair of rain boots. There’s no “must” about it unless you’re among the unfortunate first responders who have to get out in some of the worst flooding.

    3. Amtelope*

      Assuming you’re going to the Upper Midwest, if you’re sticking to either coast, the weather’s milder:

      Seconding the suggestion to buy winter clothes locally. For super-cold weather (I used to live in Minnesota), you’ll want to dress in layers; you’ll need winter boots, warm socks, and a warm hat that covers your ears (or a hat and ear muffs); and you’ll need serious, water-resistant, insulated gloves or mittens.

      Summers can be lovely, with tons of early morning and late evening sunlight for outdoor activities. Winters can be brutal. Spending time outside really helps, as does picking up some kind of winter sport (I used to cross-country ski, I miss it!) You will get cabin fever really fast if you never go outside in the winter. If you ice skate, skating outdoors is a lot of fun!

      Everything shuts down for blizzards, but light snow that would close EVERYTHING in the south is a total non-event; schools and workplaces are open when it’s snowing as long as it’s not heavy whiteout snow or so far below zero that it’s dangerous to be outside for more than a few minutes. Be cautious about how long you stay out in the cold until you learn what various sub-freezing temperatures and sub-zero temperatures really mean. Keep emergency supplies including blankets in your car, get snow tires, and be super careful until you learn to drive on snow and ice. Good luck! It’s an adjustment, but you’ll be fine.

      1. Blackcat*

        “Assuming you’re going to the Upper Midwest, if you’re sticking to either coast, the weather’s milder:”
        Caribou, Maine would like to have a word :)

    4. Ranon*

      You can get great quality brands of winter gear on Poshmark for pretty cheap, especially right now. You’ll probably want to size up in the coat so you’ve got room for layers. Wool base layers are awesome if you run cold or if it’s quite cold where you’re going (in the under 15F range, particularly)

      Various places are known for being more or less friendly but generally folks living in cold areas tend to worry about warm weather transplants a bit during their first winter, throwing yourself on the mercy of a friendly local or two can help get you oriented to the particular climate you’re moving to.

      Oh, and damp cold versus dry cold matters a ton. I’ll take a dry 25F over a damp 35F any day.

    5. Angstrom*

      Clothing that’s really warm will not be slim and sleek and fashionable. Accept that. :-)

      You don’t need a lot of layers if you’re doing something active in cold weather. That’s one benefit of getting out and doing stuff—it warms you from the inside out.

      If you have a car, you might look for winter driving instruction. If you’re going to drive a lot in snow, you might want real snow tires. They do make a difference.

      If your apartment/house has older leaky windows, the heat-shrink window film kits can make a big difference in comfort.

    6. Katefish*

      Same scenario here but some years into it: 1) The coats they sell where you’re going will be warmer, BUT you may get a great deal on a transplant winter coat in a CA thrift store… I’d check before you leave. 2) Sunlamps are a must in winter when it’s dark dark dark. I have the Luxy from the As Seen On Shark Tank company (forget the name) and highly recommend it. Vitamin D supplements help too. 3) I think driving in snow is similar to the level of caution you need driving in rain in a desert when all the oil/runoff is on the road… If you live where it rains frequently, the roads are slick in snow, but not particularly in rain. 4) Preshovel while it’s still snowing if you live anywhere it sticks – snow is much harder to move when iced over. 5) The hardest thing psychologically has been not being able to comfortably exercise/walk to clear my head outside year round. I don’t have an answer to this – it still sucks – but finding some winter workouts/indoor workouts you like helps some. 6) Get some rock salt/snowmelt from Target or any store in fall and keep it in your car with your snow clearing gear. 7) You may feel cold all the time the first winter, but your body temp will adjust later. 8) Plan on vacationing at home/somewhere warm in March or so annually, if you can afford it, so you’re not mentally stuck in “February’s done, why is it still winter?!” (the second hardest part for me psychologically since everywhere else I’ve lived is the Sunbelt and winter is finished by March, not mid-April or May). I hope some of these nuggets help! Good luck with everything. I like where I live despite the caveats in this paragraph, but it’s still bizarre to me to me to live somewhere where the weather swings nearly 100 degrees F over the course of a year, and it probably always will be! One last thing: enjoy the summers! Deep clean your house/do big personal projects when it’s dark. :)

      1. Blackcat*

        “the second hardest part for me psychologically since everywhere else I’ve lived is the Sunbelt and winter is finished by March, not mid-April or May”
        As a native Californian, I legit SOBBED my first June in Boston when it was 50 and rainy for entire weekend. 50 and rain is winter weather where I grew up!

    7. WellRed*

      The climate in Washington state is different than Montana is different than Buffalo is different than Maine.

      1. 2QS*

        I moved from edge-of-the-Canadian-border in the PNW to edge-of-the-Canadian-border in upstate New York and that was quite the adjustment. Winter in the PNW means it rains until you forget what the city looks like in the sunlight. Most of my convictions about how to handle much colder winters were hilariously off, haha – but I learned. Lots of good advice in this thread!

    8. Squidhead*

      Think about (or discover) what actually keeps you warm. For me, I could wear 200 coats but if my head and ears are not covered I am miserable. So my core winter gear is boots, jeans, decent hip-length coat, fleece zip-up under the coat, scarf to wrap around my head, and gloves. There’s an extra scarf in every bag, and gloves in all my coat pockets. Your comfort outfit might be different!

      Depending on where you go, the amount of snow and the amount of cold are different factors. Below about 5F it’s usually too cold to snow, and you’ll have blindingly sunny cold days where the inside of your windshield gets ice on it and becomes opaque. In the 18-34F range, you can get so much snow that you need to give yourself an hour or more to clean off your car/shovel your driveway before going anywhere. (Please, please develop the habit of cleaning off your car thoroughly, from the whole roof down and all the windows. It’s safer for you and everyone else around you.) If it’s a snowy place, ask the locals about municipal snow removal timelines…my snowy city does an excellent job of having most roads cleared within about 48 hours of a major snow; we’re kind of known for it. So plan how long you might be kind of stuck at home (food, prescriptions, pet needs, etc…). I’m an essential worker (healthcare) and not going to work because of the weather is not an option, but I definitely defer other outings until the roads are clearer.

      I transplanted from CA 20+ years ago and I (mostly) wouldn’t go back!

      1. MEH Squared*

        This is really important. I live in MN and thrive in the cold. For me, I wear insulated unders, a hoodie, a head scarf, and Thinsulated gloves until it reaches about zero. Then, I may grudgingly throw on a coat if I’m going to be outside for any length of time. I’m on the extreme end of loving cold, I realize. Knowing the weather pattern of the area you’re moving to really helps plan what you need to do/wear for the day.

        Also, garage v. street parking is very important to consider.

    9. Jean (just Jean)*

      +1 to all the advice to dress in layers.

      Learn to walk on icy surfaces so you don’t fall as a result of your feet slipping out from under you. I usually make sure my center of gravity is low to the ground and then slowly creep along, bent over frontwards to avoid falling backwards and hitting my head.

      That said, I have grown to adore cold weather and snow. Snow in particular is so beautiful! Enjoy your northern adventure.

      1. allathian*

        The penguin walk is a thing. It’s exhausting to do, but it does make for more stable walking. Point your toes outwards at a 45 degree angle, knees slightly bent, short steps, and plant your whole foot on the ground at once, never lead with your heel.

        Also, if the sidewalks are likely to be icy rather than covered in snow, investing in a good pair of spiked shoes can be worth it, they’ll help you avoid a trip to the ER.

      2. Jackalope*

        I had an older gentleman show me his technique after seeing me fall on ice, which is basically not lifting your feet and slipping them forward kind of like ice skates. I’ve never fallen on ice since I took his advice.

    10. Jackalope*

      Also, lifestyle comment. If you go someplace that has a lot of winter, people just kind of learn to roll with the weather. So weather you might think in CA is a game stopper is just everyone grabs a coat or a rain jacket (if you’re in N Washington) or whatever and goes outside. Every place will have some weather they think is undoable but what’s not doable in the north won’t be the same as it would be where you’re used to. This is especially the case if you’re outdoorsy.

    11. Pippa K*

      Good advice above, and I would just emphasise that it’s a good idea to learn to drive in snowy and icy conditions. Also, your hobbies and activities might work differently (or change altogether). Do you like to garden? The average last frost date here is June 1, so my garden is very different from my friend’s garden in California. Cycling, swimming, etc. are harder to do here in the winter, but a lot depends in whether you live in a city or not. But I love living in a place that has four seasons and “proper winter” and I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

    12. Annie Moose*

      Some basic winter driving tips if you’ll be in a snowy place (less relevant if you’ll be in the PNW):

      – Drive at a speed that makes you comfortable! Other drivers may not like it but it’s better to drive like a very feeble grandma than get in an accident.
      – If there’s any ice on the roads, start applying the brakes about three times sooner than you normally would. (you will probably slide through at least one stop sign. Don’t be embarrassed. :P It happens to all of us eventually)
      – Never brake or turn sharply if you can help it, as it can cause you to skid or spin out. Take turns slow.
      – Buy a combination snowscraper/brush and leave it in your car all winter. If you don’t you will hate yourself after the first snow. Also a spare blanket in case you break down. (I usually also leave my snow boots in the car, handy if you need to clean off your car and you have nice shoes on)
      – If you know it’ll be icy, leave your windshield wipers partially raised. This will help prevent them from freezing in place.

      Snow tires can be nice but I don’t know a lot of people that actually use them–we mostly use all-season tires. But absolutely do not use summer tires!

      1. Jackalope*

        I always keep a sleeping bag in my trunk since in the winter I often drive over a mountain pass and I want to be prepared. I’ve had at least once that it saved my bacon, plus sometimes it’s nice to have a random sleeping bag with me. But it was really good the time my tire got shredded going over the pass and I had to wait by the side of the road for a few hours for a tow.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On your snow brush/scraper – put it in the back seat or trunk, somewhere where when you open the door to get to it, the snow won’t fall inside the car all over the seat you’re going to be sitting in. :P (Or passenger side I guess, but if you do have a passenger it’s not nice to make them sit in the snowmelt either :) )

      3. Actual Vampire*

        If you are renting, ask your landlord if you are responsible for shoveling or if the maintenance person does that. Also ask about schedule (at my old house, the maintenance guy did the shoveling… but not necessarily in time to get to work).

        See if your city requires you to shovel the sidewalk within a particular time frame.

        Keep an extra snow scraper in your house, in case you can’t open your car without scraping it first!

        And if you need to shovel your driveway or steps, a metal-tipped shovel might come in handy to break ice. But NEVER use it on your car.

        Remember to wake up early on storm days to clean your car off and shovel out. It might take a while. And if the snow’s heavy, you’ll probably want to shower after, not before. (….Or just work from home.)

        Buy a snow shovel and ice melt when you first move there. Don’t wait for after it’s started snowing!

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Keep an extra snow scraper in your house, in case you can’t open your car without scraping it first!

          This reminds me: my dad gave me my first bottle of something called “Lock-Heat” (?). It’s a small squeeze-top container to squirt a bit of something into a car lock if your key can’t get in, or can’t turn, because water got there first and froze solid. Like the extra snow scraper, keep this in your home not in your car.

    13. Jean (just Jean)*

      Just thought of one more detail: don’t try to defrost your car windshield by pouring on water at *any* temperature. I’m no expert! (For more info search online for something like “how to safely defrost your windshield” or “is it safe to de-ice your windshield with water”.)

      Also don’t lick anything metal, or let any children in your life try this or be teased into doing it. Tongues get stuck frozen to metal in the bitter cold. Not funny.

      No offense meant and no insults to your intelligence! It’s just that if you haven’t grown up with WINTER (in capital letters) you might never have heard of these things and the water-on-a-windshield thing sounds like a possibly good idea until you remember that glass can shatter with sudden temperature changes. You want to remember or realize this fact while water-on-a-windshield is still a *theory.* :-)

    14. Bun*

      1. Layering is your friend.
      2. If you need to shovel snow, figure out a way to do it safely.
      3. Figure out what the weather is usually like because you might want a coat with more weather resistance if it trends towards wet damp versus dry cold.
      4. Keep a weather appropriate safety kit in the car.
      5. Wool still provides warmth if wet but cotton will pull you body heat out.
      6. If there is an REI near your new location, they have a great return policy of 1 yr from purchase.
      7. Wool socks are the best.

  12. Emma2*

    I completely agree with what others have said about buying winter clothes when you get there and asking locals for recommendations. I would ask a colleague or friend, not someone in a store as stores do sell winter coats that are not actually warm enough, plus northerners often take a certain delight in explaining winter to the uninitiated so people will probably be happy to give advice even if you don’t yet know them well.
    Two specific suggestions (1) when buying winter boots, a lot have little or no tread on the soles so will be very slippery on ice and snow. If you will be walking outside a lot look for boots with more grip – you can find nice looking boots with more grip, it just takes a bit of looking; (2) if you find your winter coat is not keeping you warm enough, Uniqlo sells super thin puffer jackets – they come with a little pouch so you can fold them up and put them in your bag and they fit comfortably under a coat or jacket.
    Also, don’t wait until late in the season to buy a coat or boots – a lot of people will buy these things before Christmas even if the worst weather is in January/February and selection can be more limited by Christmas or afterwards.
    And, congratulations on the new job!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      The other thing with boots I’ve found is that if you’re walking around a city a lot, salty slush tends to eat away at boots. I wore hiking boots, and would get ones with leather uppers that could be waxed to repel water, rather than suede-y or fabric uppers. I would wear a gortex jacket in cool weather, layer a fleece down to about -5 C, and pull out my heavy jacket at colder temperatures, with a couple levels of gloves/hat/scarves. I like a jacket that’s long enough to cover my butt, to keep cold drafts out.

      Shake off the snow the moment you get inside, or it melts and your clothes get wet.

      Oh – if you live in a cold climate you can’t turn the heat off in winter, even if you’re going out of town. The water pipes can freeze, which is a disaster, so you need the heat on minimally all winter.

  13. Loopy*

    Thanks for everyone’s great San Fransisco recs and info last week! I am feeling much better about getting that planned. This next part is some Covid talk for anyone who wants to skip/scroll past!

    *covid talk ahead!*

    We were almost all ready to start booking things, but then we started to wonder if Covid will cause any more significant lockdowns in the US. For a while I was feeling much better about planning for things, but recently I’ve noticed an uptick in Covid news (and cases?)

    Is anyone else thinking travel may be impacted this winter? Part of me wants to go ahead and book and hope for the best, the other part is getting cold feet- even if flights are running, if everything is closed at our destination, it doesn’t make sense to go. How are others feeling about this upcoming winter specifically in terms of booking travel/making plans?

    1. StellaBella*

      Make absolutely sure that you get cancellation insurance. I am waiting on a decision for travel in September that may be cancelled (work) as we are seeing rising cases etc here too of the Delta variant (I am in Europe). I have yet to book anything and this event is 48 days away.

      1. Loopy*

        Yes that thought occurred to me mainly for flights but the airlines charged so, SO much more for refundable tickets it really was really out of our range. I was pretty bummed about it not really being an option.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Look at Southwest – even their non refundable flights can still be canceled for “store credit” against a later trip.

        2. Anona*

          And if you do get cancellation insurance, make sure covid isn’t somehow excluded. I’d read the fine print. My guess is that since it’s something that’s been around for awhile now, it will be excluded for a lot of policies because it’s preexisting. They may not say it by name. There are some cancel for any reason policies that I’ve heard about.

      2. fposte*

        And make sure it’s CFAR, cancellation for any reason. There are often exceptions to why you can cancel bookings, and global pandemics are definitely popping up in those.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      Talking to healthcare providers and others involved in healthcare analysis? We’re all waiting and worrying.

      A lot of places are lifting restrictions and seeing increasing rates AND we’re likely to have the wave of respiratory etc. viruses we usually have over winter that were suppressed by lockdowns last year.

    3. Asenath*

      I’m a bit worried. I’m hoping to make a very long-delayed trip in the fall – I’m looking at October. I don’t think I’ll book for another month or so, and I’ll want to get cancellation insurance. In my case, I’m not particularly worried about events and places to visit being cancelled or closed at the destination because I’m visiting family and can skip the tourist stuff I’ve done before. I think it’s very unlikely I’ll get stuck doing isolation somewhere away from home, but I can’t deny the possibility is in the back of my mind. I’m planning to book the trip, but am hedging my bets by putting off the actual booking.

    4. WellRed*

      I wouldn’t travel outside the country yet but I really don’t think America will go into any sort of shutdown again. I do feel airlines are more flexible about refunds.

    5. acmx*

      I’d pay attention to how CA is reacting to spikes. The state was more restrictive in some ways, it seemed (I was in TX so….)

      1. comityoferrors*

        Yes. LA is set to enforce masks for everyone indoors again because of the recent spikes. SF has been as cautious (or more cautious) as LA throughout the pandemic, so I won’t be surprised if they follow suit. I doubt we’ll see shutdowns but I think some things will scale back.

    6. Nicki Name*

      I think the US has given up on shutdowns. On the other hand, you should keep an eye on vaccination and case numbers wherever it is you’re going. (And as others have said, definitely get trip insurance that’ll allow you to cancel if there’s a spike there.)

      I just rescheduled a trip I was planning to take to Florida this fall due to the covid situation there. Hopefully by the spring, things will have improved. :(

    7. Spearmint*

      Case numbers are going up a lot, but hospitalizations and deaths are still pretty low because most highly at risk people (like the elderly) are vaccinated. I don’t think the US will go into shut down again unless hospitals start filling up again, which I think is unlikely when most elderly people are vaccinated.

      There’s always a risk that things will change, but I would feel comfortable planning domestic travel.

  14. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    Mine is busy! Loads of tomatoes growing, and I need to cut the grass. Thank goodness for the rain the past few weeks, as I’m enjoying watching the results!

    1. StellaBella*

      I have only four plants, which are on the balcony: 2 previously large overgrown basil, one shoot of a potato plant, and an aloe. I harvested the basil last week and made pesto which I froze, so the basil is just a few strands. So happy with my harvest!

    2. Wrench Turner*

      Our front garden beds are doing great – cherry tomatoes, big tomatoes, some kind of large pumpkin, several kinds of peppers and a row of beautiful sunflowers. Making raised beds was the ticket and it helps stabilize our all-or-nothing water table. Our back yard has 4 fruit trees and (Bernie voice) Once again, the squirrels have taken all the pears. I want a pellet rifle to prevent this from happening to the persimmons which are well underway. Both figs are HUGE and if the birds allow, we’ll get to have some.

      The intense heat and general lack of rain means regular watering (but only the garden, I don’t even want or care about grass). Woe to our water bill.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Spider plants: Big Mama, the rescue plant, had a brief turn for the worse and lost a bunch of leaves and two of her six propagation vines, but I grabbed three babies off the dead vines that were still looking good and stuck them in pots to see if they could pull through. She’s looking great now. One of the rescue babies is looking good, the other two are dicey but I think there’s something weird about the potting soil I had handy, it won’t absorb water? It just sits on the top. So I’m going to get a new bag and see if I can rescue them. The rest of Big Mama’s babies are still attached and looking good

      OG Mama, my original spider plant, has popped a second prop vine! Also her roots are starting to poke out the bottom of her pot, so she’s ready to upsize. Sammy, her first baby, is also starting to outgrow his pot. So sometime this week I will repot spider plants.

      All the wandering dudes I propagated as cuttings are doing great, so now I have masses of purple tradescantia leaves everywhere. The Purple Heart is recovering from where I accidentally sunburned it (I crossed the fine line between “more sun = more purple” and “FULL sun = sunburnt plant”), and I have cuttings rooting in water for a friend.

      Outdoors, all our tomatoes are suffering blossom rot disease :( I think the containers were too small and we weren’t on the ball enough with the watering to keep them consistent, so next year they will go into the ground.

      1. Bobina*

        Try soaking the spider plant, I’m assuming its in a pot with holes, so you can let it sit in a dish with water for 30-60 minutes if you dont want to deal with repotting it that soon.

    4. Small town*

      The tomatoes are thriving and the basil is exuberant. Any recommended recipes other than pesto or tomato feta basil salad? I moved the container with the jalapeño and El Diablo peppers into the sun and they look happier.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re excess basil: pesto does freeze well, and you can try different recipes for some variety. You can also toss basil leaves into salads – shredded finely or chopped if you don’t like mouthfuls of the stuff. And there are some lovely recipes for infused waters or juices with herbal notes – won’t use up a lot of basil at a time but it’s a nice way to expand on it. Oh, and ice pops: there are lots of recipes for herbal ice pops, with basil/lemon or basil/lime a frequent suggestion. [Also good as smoothies.]

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Basil is really nice as a layer on sandwiches. And I second freezing pesto. I do it in ice cube trays, then once frozen, pop them out into a container or ziploc bag

    5. GoryDetails*

      Eggplant and peppers ready to harvest, with tomatoes coming on fast – but I’ve noticed the heat is affecting some of the plants badly, making them more prone to disease and/or to dropping blossoms before the fruit sets.

      The summer squash is rampant but not yet setting fruit; may have to hand-pollinate to be sure. Cucumbers vining nicely but no fruit yet. Okra getting tall but not at blossom stage.

    6. NeutralJanet*

      Some animal ate all the flowers off my zucchini plant, so I may end up with no zucchini at all–the opposite complaint of most gardeners, I know, but I’m pretty bummed about it

    7. LQ*

      My big goal for this weekend is to take my plants down and trim them up and give them fresh water. I got a 3rd aerogrow and I have so many tomatoes but they need to be chopped down and have the roots cut off again.

      I’ve also been loving my sister’s snapchats of her garden as she is getting into harvest on some of her things.

    8. allathian*

      My blackcurrants are ripening. A couple weeks from now we’ll probably spend a day picking them. We just bought a juicer, too, so we’ll be able to make juice out of them to drink in winter.

    9. pieforbreakfast*

      Tomatoes are finally setting, beans are blossoming as are the cucumbers. This year I’m growing an arugula called Wasabi and it is delicious and has the wasabi-bite, I love it.
      I lost my potato crop to the Heat Dome, I got about 5lbs of baby ones, and my garlic did terribly this year. My romanesco is HUGE but not blossoming, it’s the second time I’ve tried to grow it that this has happened I think it’s a heat thing.
      Lastly, the plum tree I complain about producing too much annually has given us very few this year and I’m equally unhappy about that. Some year I’ll get a Goldilocks amount and be content.

    10. KuklaRed*

      Our garden (really, my son’s) is doing amazing! We’ve already had pounds of sugar snap peas (SO good!) and now we’re starting to get some zucchini. I need to stir fry them this weekend. The tomatoes are starting to pop and the corn is looking good too. The cucumbers are threatening to take over the world and the various hot peppers are looking great. We have some melons and squash coming along, including some delicata, which I am really excited about. So far, it’s been a good garden summer.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have a wildflower success to report — two tiny little poppies in the section of lawn I’m starting to convert. They’re not where I put down the seed of course. I am delighted. The weather has put a damper on my enjoyment of the outdoors. It’s either been too hot, too wet, or both. But I did manage to get add a dry enough to mow the part of the lawn I couldn’t do the last time.
      Inside, I have rootlets forming on the African violet leaf I am trying to propagate. This is very exciting too.

    12. Allie*

      Birds are getting through my nets and eating all the berries. I had to switch to a fine mesh net because despite the packaging and careful setup, a bird got caught in the other nets. Oh well. Better no berries than another dead bird.

    13. Might Be Spam*

      Can you root tomato cuttings? I want to try over wintering some tomato plants but they would be too big to keep inside. Would it be better to just cut them way down?

  15. sswj*

    Has anyone used an interior designer? How did you use them, or how did they help you? Was the cost worth the outcome?

    I like my house, but I’m tired of living with a style that I call 1980’s college house. I’ve been picking away at things I know need to be changed (like ALL the walls and the ceilings being some variety of yellow), and I know I need to rework the kitchen ($$$ … sigh). I need a bit of help with the kitchen layout, but I also really need someone to help me assemble and set up a cozy, casual, functional living space using a few pieces that I want to keep and potentially replacing bits we have that just don’t work here.

    I know there’s ample info out there about how to design/layout a space, and all sorts of good resources for what/where to buy, but, it’s TOO much. I don’t honestly have the time to wade through it all, and frankly I get overwhelmed. I have a good idea of the general look and feel that I want, I just can’t quite make it happen on my own.

    Any ideas? I need a designer, right? FWIW, I detest Pinterest …

    1. Jay*

      Yes! We are working with a designer now to redo our living room. She took one look and said “let’s swap the loveseats and chairs” and the room was already SO MUCH BETTER. She sees things we don’t. She understands how shapes and spaces work, and she has helped me be a bit more adventurous with color.

      She has two services – one where she goes over the space, creates a plan, and suggests specific furniture and then we buy it one our own (that’s what we’re doing) and one where she does it all including arranging for painting and buying furniture. She’s the sister of a friend of mine, which not a generalizable way to find a designer – although I found out because I commented on how lovely my friend’s living room is and she said “oh, my sister is a designer,” so I guess it was really word-of-mouth!

    2. GraceC*

      I think my parents looked at Houzz a bit when they were renovating/redecorating – for inspiration, but then I think there’s also designer etc recommendations. Not sure if it’s UK-only

    3. Ali G*

      Do it! It’s so much better than trying to wade through all the decisions yourself. It’s pricey, but the time you will save is worth it IMO. We worked with a designer in 2019 to do a few rooms and now she is helping us with our kitchen. I could write a lot more but I am short on time. If I can come back later I’ll add some more info

    4. fposte*

      A sibling and their partner used a designer; it was an unusual move for them, and they have a smallish house, like 1000 square feet, so they don’t necessarily feel like typical clients. (I think they may only have had the designer work on a couple of rooms, in fact.) And the result was *amazing*–they are so happy with it, and it’s very them, and they’ve lived with it for quite a few years without feeling an itch to change.

      I think another big advantage is access to fabrics and other products that are available to the trade and not to retail consumers. Just things like a super-cool fabric curtain valance that they couldn’t have gotten on their own.

    5. Lizcase*

      We did when we redid our kitchen and bathroom (half the main floor, ripped everything out down to studs and rebuilt it all). She was incredibly helpful not only in drawing up detailed specs for the contractors and doing a great layout for the space, but also narrowing down choices so we only had a few to choose from. I found the options out there overwhelming.
      When we started, she talked with us a lot about our style (which we knew was different from hers) and what we were comfortable with, and how we used the space (so very important! I never thought about how many steps from stove to fridge, or which appliances should have permanent space on the counters), costs, timing, etc. It was like having a project manager (or a stage manager) to deal with all the nitty-grity stuff I just don’t have the patience for.

    6. Meh*

      I bought my mom a gf for Havenly and it wasn’t a great experience. After two designers flaked she found one who gave pretty disappointing suggestions. I saw the mock ups and honestly just wanted a refund.

      All that to say, the in-person route will probably yield much better results!

    7. Dr. Vanessa Poseidon*

      I had a good experience using Havenly to help with layout and selecting a few new furniture pieces for a challenging and small living room. It’s an online design service (there are other companies like this too), so is a more affordable option than an in person designer. I would caution that you do need to be willing to do some work — offering inspiration photos of styles you like, giving the designer a specific goal and feedback throughout the process. But it’s great to get some ideas you probably wouldn’t come up with yourself and to see the space in a mock-up before you commit to buying things.

    8. HannahS*

      I have a few relatives who did it and loved the results. I would say, for best success, make sure that you either like your designer’s style when you see examples of their work, or that you see that they work well in multiple styles. The other thing is, I know it sounds silly, but actually try what they say. I mean, obviously it’s a collaborative process and if you say, “I really don’t like yellow tones,” and they say, “Hey, howabout everything in muted shades of beige?” then don’t just do it because you won’t like it! But one relative had a friend who was a designer make some very specific paint recommendations (this exact colour from this brand on this wall, that exact colour on that wall, etc), and my relative nodded, wrote it down, did exactly what she said, and it looked AWESOME. If my relative started going, “eh, but maybe I want THIS wall to be green, and maybe that orange would be better replaced by red….” then it wouldn’t have worked, because the designer’s recommendations factored in all sorts of things that my relative didn’t know to consider, like the position of the windows, etc.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        That’s exactly what happened with my friend L and our designer friend D! L paid D a consultant fee to recommend paint colors for the interior of the house. D suggested colors and combinations L never would have thought of – and the house looks great.

    9. AlabamaAnonymous*

      Have you looked at places like modsy or havenly? You send in pictures of your space and information about what you want and they send you a couple of design options. There are several different packages, depending on how many rooms you want to do and how many options you want.

    10. sswj*

      Thanks all! It’s great to hear the pros and cons. In theory I’d love to be able to do this on my own but with everything else I have going on I really just don’t have the time to devote to it. I know a few tips and tricks, and I keep shoving furniture around :p but I think a pro’s eye is the way to go.

      I also need some real work done in the kitchen, as in getting rid of my HORRIBLE double bowl corner sink. That means rearranging things a bit and will require a contractor or two, and I’m guessing a designer is going to have people they work with regularly.

      OK, now my task is to research designers!

  16. Wrench Turner*

    I’m going on a double date? to a museum for the first time since the start of This Whole Thing and I’m really excited. It’s the first time ever going to this particular one (Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center) and I plan on buying an overpriced space trinket. Going with masks will be awkward and a challenge (heat index 107+ and asthma), but I almost feel like a kid again. I grew up going to museums often, especially by myself, because I love to learn and study. As an adult I go with sketchbooks and sometimes a flask and make a day of it.

    Are you all making museum or gallery trips again? What’s your favorites or most looking forward to?
    (I also visit them when I travel so recommendations are always noted!)

    1. RetailEscapee*

      I’ve been going to museums like WHOA this summer. Check ahead to make sure you don’t need a timed ticket, even if you’re not going to a specific exhibit! And spaces with sculpture gardens are good for a “mask break”.
      I’ve learned the hard way this summer that COVID changed the process at many places I thought I had figured out so check websites and ask locals if you can how the area has been if you plan to do things like casual dining with no reservation (recently impossible for me in Providence). ALSO- little conveniences are changing based on how they cause crowding, etc. Brooklyn museum has closed coat check and there are now restrictions on the size of your bag- which would have been a problem if we had gone there straight from the train.

    2. Ali G*

      Udvar-Hazy is pretty much 100% indoors so you should be fine! It’s a great place and very big and open. Great for social distancing. You do need to pay for parking, so be aware of that!

    3. fposte*

      I *love* museums and have missed them. I’m going to check out the Lume exhibit in Indy at the Newfields Center in a couple of weeks and I’m super excited, because it seems unlike my usual fare and I’m giddy with joy at seeing something new and arty.

    4. Meh*

      The U-H has interesting sections but I’m just not an airplane nut. I took my time in the space shuttle and ballooning parts. It was not at all crowded (pre-covid) when I went so I could take my time reading all the placards.

    5. No Tribble At All*

      Woooo the Udvar-Hazy Center! Love that place, haven’t been since Covid. It really is 100% indoors— it’s like a big hanger with a bunch of aircraft in it. I don’t know if the control tower part is open, but I always really liked that too.

    6. Generic Name*

      I love museums. My first date with my now husband was at the local history museum. :)

    7. Yay!*

      Yes! The VERY first place I went after being fully vaxxed and literally hardly leaving my apartment during all of COVID was a museum. I was so happy to be there I almost cried. Enjoy!!! Ditto to the poster who mentioned checking whether you should buy a ticket even if there is no special exhibit on. Our museums are at only 25% capacity so it is possible to show up and not get in.

    8. slmrlln*

      Definitely check about timed entry. I took a trip to my hometown, Chicago, and visited the Art Institute and the aquarium, and both had some changes to various policies. In my biased opinion, the Art Institute is the best in the entire world, and you should definitely go if you ever find yourself in Chicago.

    9. Rara Avis*

      I have tickets to see “The Last Supper in Pompeii” exhibit tomorrow! I’ve been waiting since it was announced and then closed last spring, so I’m very excited to finally get to go.

      1. Yay!*

        Oh, it’s pretty wonderful! Original frescoes and mosaics and loads of fabulous detailed bronze and other artifacts. There are also a few scary bits but easy to avoid if you like.

    10. HannahS*

      I’m so excited! I really want to go, but I still feel pretty stressed indoors with strangers (my area literally reopened museums yesterday). We live near an aquarium, so I think going there on a weeknight will be great way to avoid big crowds. There’s also a little historic village that I want to take my husband to. It’ll be nice, because if the buildings feel cramped, we can wander the grounds.
      Luckily, an exhibit on Indian textiles at our city’s largest museum that I was really excited about got extended until January, so we don’t have to rush back there.

    11. Wrench Turner*

      I reserved tickets a couple of weeks ago, but funny thing, they’re lifting tickets entirely starting Tuesday. Expensive space trinkets and “astronaut ice cream” (I’m the adult now, nobody can tell me no) acquired!

      I’m a flight-and-space technology nut, though can generally do without all the war machines and especially missiles, guided munitions and the armed drones. However, seeing the space shuttle got me strangely emotional and I cried a bit standing there looking at it. Closest I’ll probably ever get to how people feel about a holy relic.

      On the drive to/from, I heard about the Jazz in the Garden from the National Art Gallery opening back up again and looking forward to that, too. The world needs more of that, like now.

      On an unrelated note, I also tried the Impossible Burger at a nearby restaurant and as someone very opinionated about food, it was really quite good. I’ll definitely have it again.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I am a HUGE museum nerd—it’s one of the reasons I love London so much because it’s full of them. There are a few there I’d like to see, like the Tate Modern, that I haven’t before. I also want to go to the Met in NYC and the big one, the one I’m most excited about, is the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

      I started planning a big European vacation before I lost my job. I was going to start in Belgium and work my way through the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, possibly Switzerland, and the Netherlands to visit my online friends and finally back out through London and Ireland, where one of my cousins lives. And hit up a museum in each city.

      *sigh* Someday.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Van Gogh is fantastic! I went there on a day trip from Paris, to see the centennial exhibition. Cost a fortune to go there but was worth every penny!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        As a former New Yorker, I love the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the one I bought the membership to was the Morgan Library. It’s small, it’s user-friendly, and they changed the pages on some of the illuminated manuscripts on a daily basis. Heavenly. Haven’t been back in years unfortunately.

    13. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Here in Paris, I was given a ticket to the brand-new art museum financed by a local billionaire. I would never have gone otherwise. It was modern and contemporary art, so of course there was some really lovely stuff, some thought-provoking stuff, and some total crap.

      Pleasantly surprised to see that the collection was very politically correct with a generous sprinkling of women and a lot of names from different continents.

      (The French MOMA recently hired a woman as director, and she decided to do a few women-only exhibitions, only to discover that they had barely any works by women. They’ve been hurriedly acquiring work by women ever since, and in the past few years have put on a couple of exhibitions focussing on women)

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For aircraft aficionados & dedicated videogamers, I’ve got a hidden treat that is an easy day trip out from New York City. The Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, NY, is located where Charles Lindberg took off. They have old aircraft from the Golden Age, modern aircraft including a Grumman lunar module that never went to space, and they have added an arcade age exhibit. All games set to free play! It’s on my itinerary for next time I go to Long Island.
      If you’re going to Ohio, look for the national museum of the US AF in Dayton.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Ah – was wondering if there was a museum where he took off. That’s awesome, I will add that to my Flight & Space Museums to See list!

        Next May we have to go to Tulsa for the golf, and I’ve already been planning to see The 99s museum in OK City and then up to Hutchinson, KS to see the Cosmosphere where the Liberty Bell 7 is housed and, if I am reading this correctly, Odyssey command module from Apollo 13. U-H is a dream trip, but probably won’t happen in the next year or so.

    15. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I’ve found museums to be an easy way to start to ‘integrate into society’ again after lockdowns.

      About a month ago I finally went to see Kensington Palace and that was pretty cool, and included the display of Diana’s wedding dress. Its far less overwhelming in person than it appears on film!

      This week I’ve booked to see the Design Museum as I’ve been wanting to go for a while. With far fewer tourists right now, its so much easier to see things in London!

      I very much want to get up to Oxford to see the IWM Duxford hangars with British planes, but next to it is the American Air Museum with US planes – my great-uncle is listed in their records as he served over here in WWII as a waist-gunner.

    16. Caboose*

      The Meow Wolf location in Denver is still set to open this fall, and I am SO EXCITED. I drove down to Santa Fe in April (literally the moment my vaccination kicked in fully) to visit their location down there for the second time, and I’m really looking forward to having a spot closer to home!

  17. Not so destruida y cansada*

    Just a quick and final update for those who kindly gave me advice about my ex partner’s death and his mom.
    I went to the funeral, and it was truly lovely. I’m so glad I went.
    My friend did the eulogy and she did great, it was a wonderful send off for him.
    I was right not to respond to the mother’s attempts to get me involved. Since the funeral she hasn’t attempted contact at all, but she has been contacting my friend (the one who did the eulogy) several times daily!
    I feel very sad at his passing, but I feel that this is normal grief and not additional stress from his family.

    1. RetailEscapee*

      I am so sorry for your loss. My ex-husband recently passed away very suddenly and his partner wasn’t comfortable with me being at the small private service. I’ve contributed to a fund for his family and sent letters of positive memories to his parents and sister. I’m glad you too got a bit of closure.

    2. fposte*

      I’m so glad to hear you found a path that worked for you in a difficult time. That’s a kind of grace.

    3. allathian*

      Thanks for the update. I’m so glad that things went as well as can be expected. I’m glad you got a bit of closure.

  18. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Any one here with personal experience helping a loved one cope, overcome Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) from the significant others perspective?

    My son’s fiancee has this condition and he’s become an enabler to her chronic worrying and helplessness, which has made her even worse than when they first met 5 years ago. The pandemic has also expanded her list of worries to a great extent.

    Links to online resources for helping people living with GAD sufferers are greatly appreciated.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that’s tough to see; I’m sorry. But it sounds like you’re on the verge of falling into the same hole he’s in–of thinking that your putting more energy into your loved one will be what helps them solve their own problem. If he’s asked for resources, that’s fine, but if he hasn’t, I think maybe your gift can be trying to model loving support with boundaries.

    2. Sylvan*

      I have GAD (and panic disorder). Chronic worrying is essentially the definition of it; a tendency towards worrying is always going to be there. You and your son can’t get rid of that tendency. You also can’t make her “overcome” it. She can see a therapist about it and do the usual things recommended to people with anxiety disorders: exercise, meditate, try to get enough sleep.

      What you can do is encourage her in whatever efforts she’s making at treatment or stepping outside of her comfort zone. You or your son can also try to avoid amplifying anxiety by frantically reassuring her when she starts worrying — instead, try to provide fact-based information or ask her if she’s encountered the thing she’s worried about before and, if so, what happened. Probably the sky didn’t fall and whatever happened was better than expected or at least manageable. Remembering that can help her talk back to whatever anxiety is telling her.

    3. Double A*

      Maybe offer to help him pay for some therapy for himself. It’s really something a couple has to work out between themselves. And if she’s not managing her anxiety well or is mostly relying on him to do it, it’s going to be really tough for him because the best thing he can do is support her in getting help.

      My husband has various mental health things, and I have some codependent tendencies. When we’re in balance, I caretake and enable a little, and it feels good and it works for us. When it gets to be too much, though, we’ve both had enough therapy/experience that we can talk about what’s going on and readjust. When we started dating I did read a couple of books specifically about being a partner to someone with his condition; it’s not GAD but there may be books out there for that. But what makes a relationship with someone with a serious mental health issue possible is their commitment to managing it. A partner can support that and provide perspective, but they can’t manage the condition for them.

    4. Spearmint*

      The best thing he can do is get her to go to individual therapy. I’d recommend a therapist who specializes in anxiety and does cognitive behavioral therapy and/or exposure therapy. Make sure their website emphasizes congestive behavioral therapy and doesn’t merely mention it, as a lot of therapists do it but not all specialize in it.

      1. Feeling good and not afraid to admit it!*

        1000+ I have suffered from terrible anxiety for many many years and in the last year when I have been doing cognitive behavioral therapy I have had a MAJOR shift. (Also meds help, but they weren’t enough alone.) I wish I had done this decades ago.

      2. Almost Academic*


        Cbt for gad should include components like monitoring symptoms, homework worksheets, and progressive muscle relaxation. If the treatment is not including these, the therapist is not doing true manualized cbt and is instead likely doing a “cbt-ish” treatment. Which sometimes helps but without the monitoring and out of session work often has limited results.

        A good therapist can also help the partner navigate the support role as well. It’s tough because what is good for treating the disease (not giving reassurance when worried) often feels invalidating coming from a partner and can spiral a bit. So it’s a tricky situation to be in.

      3. Allie*

        +1 I had GAD and therapy was the only thing that really helped. Well, and interestingly, cardio (I feel like I burn off the adrenaline from my anxiousness), though some with GAD, cardio makes them worse.

  19. DrunkAtAWedding*

    There’s something I’ve been wondering about recently, and I’m not really sure where to ask it or if there is an answer.

    So, in the UK, England recently lost the final (associated football) match of the Euros, a big Europe-wide tournament. It was a big deal. Our team hadn’t even reached the final for something like 50 years, so even people who don’t care about football were following it. It felt like the whole country was holding their collective breath for the final penalty shootout. But, we lost, and, since then, the three players who missed penalties have been subject to horrendous racist abuse online.

    The worst bit is…we knew it was coming. I knew the abuse was a possibility as soon as I saw that the player stepping forward to take the penalty wasn’t white, and other people have said the same thing. Racism – and the bad behaviour of some ‘supporters’ – has long been a problem in English football.

    Earlier in the season, several players took the knee, to support the notion that Black lives matter. This was dismissed by some politicians as ‘gesture politics’ and booed by some ‘supporters’.

    So my question is…if you’re in the crowd and want to show your support of the gesture, what do you do? Just shouting something – like “Shut the f- up!” at those booing – will probably just add to the general negative noise the players are hearing and probably won’t be clear as a gesture of support. Chanting is normally a way to express emotions during football (“We hate England more than you!” at Wales vs Scotland matches comes to mind), but searching for non-racist chants only brings up lists of the most racist chants, which is the exact opposite of what I want to know. ARE there explicitly anti-racist or supportive chants? Or is there some physical gesture supporters can make like, idk, hand on heart? I don’t think there’s room to take the knee yourself in the stands, and I’m not sure that’s appropriate for people who aren’t Black themselves.

    I just feel so bad for these poor young guys. :( They’re out there, doing their best to represent England, doing better than anyone in this specific realm has for decades, and they know – because we (people-of-colour) know – that their Englishness will be treated as conditional by some swatches of society, some of them in powerful positions. I want them to be able to look out, in that moment, and know that at least some of the people in the stands are on their side. So I guess the point of my question is, firstly, is that happening? And, secondly, how could we theoretically make that happen, what could we do if we were in the stands to show that their right to be English (and to be alive) is not conditional on whether they make a damn penalty or not?

    1. Malika*

      The three men who took the penalties had to do a very tough job in a high-stakes situation. They can be proud they stepped up to the plate and did the best they could. Regardless of their skin colour, i find it baffling that sportsfans sitting in their comfy chair guzzling beer feel that they can pass judgment on players who are achieving feats most of us would never be able to even attempt. For what it’s worth, I think all three players are as English as can be. We could even state that Marcus Rashford is a UK icon for his outstanding services to charity.

      This is a good question and i have never seen it addressed before. I wish I had an answer to that question, but i think we would need a new movement with a general acknowledgment of the right gesture (like hand on heart) to make on these occasions. Standing neutrally seems passive and to the sportspeople on the field all chanting -positive or negative- is just a wall of noise. The right gesture, campaigned for by public figures that get media attention and adopted by the general population, would be the show of support that sportspeople need to know a huge number of people are proud of the growing diversity in sport.

    2. PostalMixup*

      Just as an idea (and please, those more knowledgeable than I, please correct me if this is way off base!) what about a raised fist a la the 1968 olympics 200m race medal ceremony? It’s visible, doesn’t take up a lot of physical space, and in that context was used to express a similar-ish sentiment.

    3. Drtheliz*

      Why not look up BLM protest chants? It’s the right sentiment/cadence, and you’ll find positive things to yell :)

    4. chi chan*

      I don’t know if banners are allowed in stadium but a black power sign would link it to the overall movement. Your message won’t be lost in the chants because it’s visual.

      1. Teapot Wrangler*

        I’m a bit late to the party but I’d suggest just waiting until the muppets stop booing and then clap really hard

  20. Bad Skin*

    Has anyone ever randomly gotten red spots all over their neck before?

    I started to several weeks ago. Using hydrocortisone once a day makes it go away, but a day or two after I stop using it, the red spots start coming back. I went to the doctor and he said it was hyperkeratosis (which I don’t really understand because my skin is soft and smooth). He recommended using hydrocortisone and Amlactin (an exfoliating moisturizer) for two weeks, then to move to just Amlactin. I couldn’t get the Amlactin in stores around me, so I used an exfoliating face wash instead. As soon as I stopped the hydrocortisone the spots came back. I ordered the Amlactin online and started using it a few days ago without the hydrocortisone, and the spots are coming back again.

    Not sure what to do now. I’ve only been at my new job for three weeks and already had an emergency dentist appointment and ear doctor appointment, so I feel like I shouldn’t be making a third appointment so soon. (And it looked like a bad rash before, so I don’t want to let it get bad again just so a doctor can see it.)

    1. Workerbee*

      Sounds like you can keep using just the hydrocortisone regularly (and possibly the nonprescription exfoliating wash?) until you can get back to a doctor with your new information on what’s working.

      1. Bad Skin*

        I thought it was bad to use hydrocortisone for long periods? (I’ve been using it for about six weeks, with breaks of a few days a couple times.)

        Maybe I need to use the AmLactin a few times a day instead of just once. (Maybe the moisturizing effect of using the AmLactin a few times a day will be equivalent to using hydrocortisone once a day.)

        1. Meh*

          I’d follow the dosing guidelines of amlactin – I don’t remember if you should use more than once daily? Make sure you’re limiting sun exposure to the area/applying sunscreen. It makes you photosensitive.

          1. Bad Skin*

            I looked at the bottle, and it actually says to use it twice a day, so I’ll try that. It also says to shake it before using (which I wasn’t doing…I never had a moisturizer I had to shake before!), so maybe that’s why it wasn’t working!

            Yes, staying out of the sun. Way too hot to be outside right now, lol.

    2. A313*

      Ugh, I had a detailed reply that just disappeared. Long story short, I used hydrocortisone for a very similarly-reappearing neck rash and finally found out I am allergic to hydrocortisone. It would work initially to clear the rash and then the allergic reaction would soon appear. This went on for some time until a new dermatologist suggested allergy testing. No problems really since quitting it!

      And the new dermatologist did say it’s easy to over-use hydrocortisone and it causes thinning of the skin, especially on an area with already thin skin like the neck. Maybe quit the hydrocortisone cold turkey for a bit and see what happens? Or try allergy testing if the dermatologist thinks it might help? I don’t think an allergy to hydrocortisone is very common at all, though. Good luck!

      1. Bad Skin*

        Really!? I never would have thought of being allergic to hydrocortisone. I’m glad your dermatologist figured that out. Do you remember about how long it took the rash to go away after you stopped using it?

        And that’s a good point that using it on an area where the skin is already thin is extra bad.

        1. A313*

          I don’t remember, I’m sorry. My best recollection is that it didn’t take long, though.

          The allergy testing also showed I’m allergic to propylene glycol, which is in so, so many products. I also try to avoid the other glycols, as well, and I recently learned propylene glycol can also be listed in ingredient lists under other names, such as propanediol.

          As my dermatologist told me, you can become allergic to just about anything at any time, meaning just because I’d used something off and on for years didn’t mean I couldn’t develop an allergy to it.

          I use AmLactin on my body, and I don’t worry too much if body products have any glycol ingredients in them — maybe the thicker skin helps? Not saying you’re also allergic to propylene glycol or that it’s in AmLactin, but it can be hard to pinpoint reactions to ingredients.

      2. Chaordic One*

        Reminds me of my cousin. Horrible hay fever-like allergies with constant watery eyes and runny nose. She went through boxes and boxes of disposable facial tissues. Turns out she was allergic to disposable facial tissues.

        1. Bad Skin*

          Never would have thought of being allergic to tissues! Kind of makes sense though. Every time you grab a tissue from a box, there’s a bunch of tissue dust in the air that you breath in, so that could be irritating.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      If you haven’t already, see a dermatologist. This could be a stress reaction/hives.
      Sure hope it clears up soon.

      1. Bad Skin*

        I did have some stressful things going on close to when it started, but the stressful things resolved, so if it was stress hives they would have gone away by now?

        I did google stress hives and that looks a lot more raised then what I have (mine are barely raised at all).

    4. Alaska_Blue*

      Have you tried a new face lotion (that you also put on your neck) or a new sunscreen? In 2019 I had red bumps/rash show up on my neck and tops of hands. I thought it was from not getting the detergent out of clothes completely. However when I broke out in hives everywhere I had put the new sunscreen I had recently purchased- arms, legs, neck, hands, *except my face* I did some more researching and some spot testing and it turned out I was allergic to something in the new sunscreen, even though my face never reacted. Just a suggestion because that initial reaction made no sense to me, as I knew I had put the sunscreen on my face, my neck, and my hands, but my face never reacted.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        That is what I was thinking too. When I am allergic to a sunscreen it shows up as red blotches on my neck. This happened to my kid too. I basically can only use mineral sunscreens. Good luck!

      2. Bad Skin*

        That’s a good point. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried any new products recently and haven’t started any new bottles of anything I normally use (so no chance of using any new “formulas”).

        I think I put sunscreen on my neck at some point (maybe a few months ago…it’s been long enough that I can’t even remember when) and it made my skin break out, so I stopped. I don’t normally use anything on my neck at all (not even lotion).

        1. Orb*

          This happened to me years ago and it turned out I had just become sensitive to hexyl cinnamal, which was in products I had been using for years without issue. One day it just started giving me dermatitis out of nowhere, which is apparently a common reaction to it. I was going to say if it’s just your neck then it might be something in your hair, and a lot of hair products use hexyl cinnamal. Hair and fragrance products are where you see it the most, in my case it turned out to be in my body spray and in my hair products.

          1. Bad Skin*

            I started switching to all fragrance free products years ago, and the only product I couldn’t find a good fragrance free version of was my shampoo. The ingredients say hexyl cinnamal is in it!!!! Maybe that’s it. I’ll see if I can find another shampoo to buy/borrow. Thanks!

    5. WS*

      Reactions on the next are very often contact rashes. Hydrocortisone making it go away and then it comes back sounds very like an allergy of some kind (I have hyperkeratosis on my legs and it is absolutely not smooth, you’re right there!). Could you try taking an antihistamine for 3 days or so to see if that gets it under control? Also, take photos of it every day so you can clearly see what’s going on, and show the doctor if you happen to go on a day where it looks okay.

      1. Bad Skin*

        Good ideas! I have some 24-hour allergy pills laying around, so I’ll take those for a few days.

        I’ll take photos of my neck before starting to use hydrocortisone again (if it comes to that).

  21. Anima*

    A quick thank you to all of you who responded to my “how to put fun stuff in your life” question last week! I read every comment, but, of course, had no time to reply.
    Turns out I can take a day here and there off and do my “fun stuff”. It’s less than I hoped for, but it is happening. It’s basically setting a boundary with myself, and no one cares if the household is in shambles for that particular day.
    Thanks for all your suggestions! And most of you were spot on, I’m 33 and do not seem to have that much energy anymore. :D

  22. Amazing opportunity*

    This is likely gonna sound so lame and why would anyone ask this question but hopefully someone will identify and/or have been through this before!

    My husband and I have a great opportunity to build a small business that can generate quite a bit of money passively, with minimal oversight and involvement in the business. It would allow both of us to quit our 6-figure jobs, make more money than we do now, and essentially do whatever we wanted. Sounds amazing, right!?

    My husbands job is freelance so he would likely continue working part-time but mine is not and I’m having a bit of an identity crisis. I do love my job and it’s a part of me, and I’d have to leave it since our goal is to be able to travel a bit more and live abroad for a couple of months at a time. 95% not an option with my current role or any role at the company, they are sticklers with remote work.

    I’m young, 33, so not retirement age. When you retired or if you took an opportunity like this, what did you do with your free time? How did you make sure you still socialized? How did you make sure you didn’t become a lazy bum? A drunk? Lol. All the thoughts I’m having right now.

    1. Angstrom*

      Never been in that position, but when I look at retirees who seem truly happy almost all of them are doing something they perceive as useful. Volunteer work, community work, mentoring, taking classes, travel with a purpose, etc. Lying around the pool with umbrella drinks doesn’t seem satisfying in the long term.

      1. Amazing opportunity*

        Heheh it’s an assisted living facility. My husband has quite a bit of real estate equity and it’s a great way to make passive income. Hard work, lots of research and hoops to jump through, but worth it in the end.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Why not start the business and let it get rolling, but keep your job in the meantime? Once that income starts rolling in, the idea of spending it might feel more exciting. Basically, give yourself a chance to transition from “this job is part of me” to “this ability to travel and spend more freely is part of me.”

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’d think hard about this opportunity. Make large amounts of money passively reads as a scam to me. Plus, it’s never a good idea so put all your eggs in one basket. I’d keep your regular job for at least a few years until you are sure this will actually work out. Gives you some time to think and plan then also.

      1. Amazing opportunity*

        For sure. This is a 2 year plan at least but the thought of it is just on my mind.

      1. Amazing opportunity*

        Lmfao it’s not an MLM. It’s turning real estate equity from rentals into an assisted living facility.

        1. Generic Name*

          I don’t understand how running an assisted living facility is passive income. It doesn’t sound passive at all?

          1. Wishing You Well*

            That was my thought. The owners of the assisted living facility on my street work their tails off, starting at about 6:30 a.m changing diapers. Yes, the OWNERS. And, frankly, any business that wants your money but doesn’t want you involved sounds flaky.
            I’d do more research before investing, if I were you. Be careful.

            1. A313*

              I would want to involve a knowledgeable attorney and maybe other professionals. There is a LOT to consider for something like this — local and federal rules/regulations, Medicare, hiring/firing staff, nutrition/meals, outfitting the physical facility for the elderly, and on and on. Yes, there are a lot of boomers aging into the need for such places, but my grandparents were in a nice one and it was family-owned and I saw how it was a lot of work.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Yeah. Definitely not passive income, and also definitely not going to replace two six-figure incomes.

        2. CTT*

          Hi! I’m an attorney and literally 95% of my practice is long term care transactions. I assume you’re only owning the real estate and the operator/licensee will be a third party, but I really, really encourage you to talk to an attorney before you dive in if you haven’t already. There may still be licensure hoops depending on what state you’re in, you will definitely get sued a lot (you can get out if you’re not the operator, but that still takes time and money), and you will still have to have some operational understanding if you’re getting a loan secured by the facility since there will be operational benchmarks required by the lender.

          I’m not trying to be preachy may already know all this and be cool with it. But like I said, this is my job and I can’t stop myself.

    4. Katefish*

      My hunch here is that just because you don’t need your job for money, you don’t have to quit if you otherwise find it rewarding. I’d let the business get to the point where it sustains you two and then think about whether you want to keep working full time, move into self-employment/contract work in your field (if possible), or leave the field and do something else meaningful with your life (paid or unpaid). In any case, sounds like a good problem to have! Providing assisted living is a huge benefit to society in and of itself so hats off to you.

      1. Amazing opportunity*

        Absolutely! I love the idea of an ALF and we’ve been looking for a way to give back. Excited to plan all of the activities for them :)

        1. PollyQ*

          “Excited to plan all the activities for them”? That’s a tiny part of what goes into the day-to-day workings of an ALF. I would strongly suggest that you find small independent ALFs in your area and talk to the owners about what’s actually involved in running one. I think you’re badly mistaken if you think this is doable as a hands-off, part-time, “passive income” proposition.

          1. WellRed*

            I’m so surprised this is the opportunity! Hands off ALF? Great way to inadvertently run afoul of dense rules and regulations and expose yourself to accusations of fraud, waste and abuse.

        2. Amtelope*

          Oh, wow, are you actually planning to own/run the assisted living facility, not just rent the property? That’s not passive income at all. Running a facility like that is hard work, means you’re on call 24/7 for emergencies, and I’m not sure how compatible it would be with traveling for a couple of months at a time. Seconding everyone’s suggestions to talk to people who already own facilities like this — what it sounds like is that you’re planning to trade your current jobs for a new difficult full-time (plus) job that MAY let you transition into part-time oversight once it’s running and stable.

    5. RosyGlasses*

      I would read about folks that have retired younger than the “norm” and what their experiences have been. I read anecdotely somewhere that folks that retire younger and don’t keep up work, volunteer, or strong hobbies actually tend to die younger as well. No clue whether that is true – but it was an interesting thought that I’ve taken with me just around keeping my mind and body active no matter my work situation.

      1. ronda*

        on mrmoneymustache forums there is a section for post-fire. This topic often comes up and some folks doing it give feedback on what they are doing. There may be other topics of interest that come up in that forum too.

        I also like livingafi blog. he has one post with a “get a life tree” exercise to try to plan retirement that might be helpful.

        you could also find a different, part-time job if you really want to keep working…. but you can take a break before doing that if it sounds like fun to you. (check if your current job will allow part time and/or sabbatical if they want to retain you and you like them otherwise – you think not now, but it won’t hurt to ask if you are planning to leave anyways)

        congrats on being in a position to do whatever you want at this time in your life. and good luck.

    6. Chaordic One*

      My observation is that these things usually end up taking more time than you would expect. Maybe not full-time job amounts of time, but still a fairly considerable amount of time. And when things come up, and they will, they will usually be at unexpected and inconvenient times. (Like in the middle of that pleasure trip you’ve planned.) It’s sort of like you can have to always be vigilant and can never completely relax, because something unexpected is going to pop up.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yes. My partner rents out property and you can bet your bottom dollar if we go away for a romantic weekend, someone will call with a leak at 10.30pm.

    7. Girasol*

      When I retired I figured I’d better be pretty intentional about doing things to be sure I don’t just fritter my time away (that’s way too easy to do!) Each year my husband and I plan vacations together. On Sundays I go over my Google Calendar to see what’s on it, think about how I want to spend my week, and add/move items around so that the week is reasonably but not overly busy and has a variety of chores/exercise/fun/volunteer/social plans. I keep a brief journal of what I did each day and review it once a year to see if I’m really living the way I mean to do or not, sort of like a retirement performance evaluation, and then make plans to change whatever needs changing. I’ve read the advice that “scheduling” is important for a good retirement. I don’t know if this is what that means or not but it seems to work well enough.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I removed some personal sniping here. All, you need to be kind to other commenters when posting here. Repeated snarkiness will get you banned.

  23. Marie*

    My sister came by with her kids (ages 6 and 7) so that my mom could babysit them. I was also there because I am living with my mom.

    I went to the store because my mom asked me to buy a microwave because ours broke and I picked up lunch for everyone.

    Well, apparently while I was gone, my nephews rented the Godzilla vs Kong movie. They needed a passcode to enter and my mom was the one who entered it.

    When my sister and brother-in-law came to pick them up, they found out and my brother-in-law made a comment on how they shouldn’t be watching that. He seemed mad as he loaded them into the car.

    My sister sent me a text message that said, “They shouldn’t be watching PG-13 movies. If you don’t want to see them until they’re 13, let me know.”

    First of all, I wasn’t home when they rented the movie so I didn’t know. Second of all, I’m not the one in charge. I’m not the one baby-sitting them. I just happen to be living with my mom and I’m around the house, but I’m not the one that they ask to baby-sit. I’m not in charge.

    I don’t like the threat of them not letting us see the kids, but they’ve said it before to my mom when they were mad.

    I was texting my sister and she claimed that she’s said something about what they can and can’t watch. I don’t remember her ever saying anything. I checked emails and texts- there’s nothing!

    I brought up the fact that my mom does a lot for them. My sister replied, “Glad to know that she only does this to hold it over us when she wasn’t agreeing with our decision on how we raise our children.”

    She then wrote, “I can do this all day.”

    I understand that they shouldn’t have been watching a PG-13 movie, but I couldn’t do anything about it. When I saw it, I did tell my mom that it might not be appropriate, but no one ever listens to me. My nephews didn’t seem interested in it anyways- one was outside and the other one was reading a book. (They attention span is very short.)

    This doesn’t seem to just be about the movie. It seems like there’s something more to it, though I’m not sure what. (I’m not a psychologist or anything.)

    Whenever they come by my mom’s house and have her babysit, all they do is criticize stuff and get mad at her. Why bring them over then? Again, I understand about the movie, but why am I being blamed when I wasn’t even home and I wasn’t the one who rented it?

    It all seems very toxic and abusive.

    Quite frankly, I’m still processing everything because it’s confusing and I don’t know why I’m being blamed for stuff that I didn’t do. (They’re also still mad and not speaking to us, so I’m limited in what I can do.)

    Is there anything that we can do? I’m afraid that we’ll never talk or see them again. (My brother-in-law got in a fight with his parents and hasn’t spoken to them in 2 years!) I’m not sure where to go from here. Any advice or insight is appreciated!

    1. Round*

      There is a toxic theme in parenting at the moment, mostly white middle class parenting, that no one other than the the parents gets a say in how a child is raised. Literally to the point you could not say even one single word. Or you may never see the children again. This is considered acceptable under the guise of things like ‘boundaries.’

      To make it even worse, these parents still accept help and money from other family members. The role of other family members is to provide for and assist these parents for only the good of being able to see the child. You get no say at all in anything.

      Obviously other family members should respect parents but it isn’t unreasonable for the aunt who babysits to say ‘hey do you think junior is eating right/growing right/happy’ or whatever. It used to take a village to raise a child, now parents will police their rights to the nth degree.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yes, this is how I raised my kids.

        My parents did not have any say in the matter because no way was I going to tolerate them hitting my children the way they hit me and my brother. I wanted them to grow up bi- or tri-lingual and to learn about other cultures rather than live in a place where everyone is white. I went low-contact because of my mother’s passive aggressive comments: addressing the children to criticise my parenting indirectly, and implying that my middle-eastern BIL might kidnap our children. I also wanted to let my daughter roam free like her brother, whereas my parents thought letting her climb trees would turn her into a tomboy that no man would want to marry.

        My parents hardly ever babysat though, living in a different country. They never even offered. Once I asked them to babysit so we could go to a party, that was about it.

    2. twocents*

      The only thing that I found that works when dealing with unreasonable people — which I think they are based on what was presented here, threatening to not let you see your nephews for seven years because they watched a movie when you weren’t even around!! — is to accept that there are unreasonable and whatever you were saying is passing through this invisible bubble into their space and being translated into some infuriating nonsense and that’s what they’re responding to. There’s nothing that you can say or do or no way to tiptoe that’s not going to set them off, at least eventually.

      So trying to get to an ideal outcome is outside of your control. What you can control is knowing what your values are and living and acting in line with those values. So when she says “I don’t want them watching PG-13 movies” you can ignore the ridiculous escalation of threatening to cut you off and just say, “I wasn’t aware of that but if I am ever responsible for babysitting them, I will keep that in mind.” Don’t take ownership for what isn’t yours, don’t try to get her to value and respect your mom. You have no control over that. You control only what you say and do.

    3. fposte*

      Sounds like there’s bumpy family relationships all around and your sister is spoiling for a fight. My vote is that you back out of these discussions rather than buying into the argument–this is ultimately between your sister and your mother anyway. So if she texts you about what the kids did at your house, you say “I wasn’t even there, Sis–take this one up with Mom.” And that’s your go-to if she talks about whether people get to see the kids or not–this is for her and Mom, not for you.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes don’t engage in a back and forth over something you yourself say doesn’t involve you (but you keep getting involved in.) if you do feel a need to get involved quit texting and have an actual conversation. I also doubt these self centered, passive aggressive asshats would actually stop using the free babysitting.

        1. Marie*

          My sister texted me and directed it at me, so that is why I responded. Otherwise I stay out of it.

          1. fposte*

            Even if she texts you directly, you don’t have to respond to her complaint–saying “Talk to Mom, not me” is a perfectly legitimate response. Her focusing on you doesn’t obligate you, and you’ll be a lot better off if you make the choice of how you want to respond rather than feeling like you have to whenever she addresses you.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            This. She can text you all day long but you weren’t there. Keep redirecting her to Mom. She’s doing this either to drag you in or to avoid losing her free babysitter.

    4. Not A Manager*

      You’ve posted about them before. Your sister sounds like a pill. I doubt that she’s going to pass up free babysitting for years and years no matter what the “transgression du jour” might be, but she sure enjoys torturing your mother with the threat. And your mother seems willing to put up with the poor treatment.

      This is primarily between your sister and your mother, and I doubt you’re going to change either of them. If I were you, I’d work on staying out of the middle. The next time your sister texts you about a supposed transgression, just respond with “I’m not the babysitter, take that up with Mom.” Stay out of any conversation about babysitting, including scheduling. If your sister expresses any expectation that you’ll be around, or you’ll be helpful, or you’ll be responsible, try to shut that down. “Sorry, IDK what I’m doing on Tuesday. I’ll help if I’m around, but if you need a sitter you have to ask Mom.”

      In terms of your mother, I’d also stay out of it. If she wants to vent about how mean and unreasonable your sister is, I think you can express versions of “that sounds difficult, what’s your plan for dealing with it?” When your mother is ready to set boundaries, you can support her, but you can’t make her if she doesn’t want to.

    5. matcha123*

      Six and seven aren’t that young for PG-13. I mean, I watched Silence of the Lambs at seven in theatres when it came out, so maybe my base is a little off, but the ratings are guidelines, not hard rules.

      Second, your sister seems to know that you and your mom value her and her kids being in your lives. I’m sure a lot of people put special value on family, but honestly if my sister pulled something like that, I’d say “ok.”
      If they have such specific expectations for babysitting, it seems better for them to hire a babysitter. If they aren’t paying your mom AND they are critical of her home outside of reason, they can go off and figure that stuff out by themselves.

      If you want to try one more time you could try saying, “I love seeing you and your kids, but you seem frustrated when you bring them over. I want to understand what’s going on so we can have a good relationship.” and then see how she answers.
      If she’s asking you all to twist and jump through hoops to appease her, honestly if it were me I’d say, “I can’t do that, I can do XYZ. If that’s not acceptable to you, I understand and we can find time to meet each other and the kids on the weekends or whenever.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I think it depends on the movie and on the child. Some PG-13 films might be fine for younger kids; others may not. Some kids can handle Godzilla and others might be hiding under the bed until they’re thirty. Personally, I think whoever took a seven-year-old to see The Silence of the Lambs should be spanked!

        You’re totally right, though; if they don’t like it, let them find a sitter.

        1. matcha123*

          I don’t know, I always wondered why parents were so quick to shelter and coddle their kids from things.
          I had a classmate whose parent was very strict about the PG-13 thing, even when we were in middle school. On long field trips we had to watch bland G movies because their parent said “no” to popular films like Jurassic Park.
          I’ve met parents that don’t even want their kids to watch the evening news, which is weird to me because I grew up watching the news from a young age.

          1. Patty Mayonnaise*

            I mean PG-13 these days can have lots of violence, some nudity, cursing… as a parent, I would want to watch a PG-13 myself before having my 5 year old see it to make sure he could handle the content, and I don’t think that’s “coddling.”

            And for the news thing, I think the age of the kid matters a lot, but it’s very common advice to limit watching the news with young kids (maybe 8 and younger) because they might think they themselves are in danger. I also think the rise in school shootings and the kind of news coverage they draw has made watching the news with kids difficult, not to mention other big news stories of the last five years like police shootings. I’m not hiding this information from my son BUT I do want to be in control of the timing/messaging around it and make sure it’s age appropriate, and I can’t do that if he happens to see something disturbing on the news.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              This. You can’t neglect the conversation around it. In Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, he talks about how kids process information and mentions another writer’s son (I think it was John D. MacDonald) who said his son was terrified of “the twi-night double-header.” The kid heard this baseball term mentioned on TV and his brain turned it into a monster.

              My parents would always check stuff out before we got to see it. When my friend and I went to the theater for Jurassic Park, the people in front of us had a toddler with them. The poor kid was shaking and crying and trying to climb over the seat to get away from the T-rex. Not everything is suitable for children.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                *another writer who said his son was terrified
                Sheesh, my typing got ahead of my brain.

          2. tangerineRose*

            It might depend on the kid. Some kids are more sensitive to things than others. If the kids end up with nightmares after something like Jurassic Park, then the parents probably try to avoi those.

          3. Tali*

            As a middle-schooler I felt sick after watching Jaws and Jurassic Park. It was scary for me!

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yes, I’m shocked at that too. But then my parents had to race to turn the TV off when Dr Who came on, because the generic gave me nightmares.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        It doesn’t really matter if I agree with my brother and SIL’s choices for their kids’ TV and movies or not, I just need to respect their wishes *and* our parents and I need them not to be jerks about how they use my and our parents’ time and energy.

        They should have communicated their movie restrictions more clearly if they hadn’t done so before; your Mom shouldn’t have let the kids watch a PG-13 movie without asking your sister first; and nobody should be dragging you through this.

    6. StellaBella*

      Copy what you have written here and email it. to your sister. Then when she replies use the words from fposte, “talk to mom, not me”. and repeat for your mom about sis if she asks. Good luck.

    7. SoloKid*

      If you want to play the “I’m just here because I live with mom” card, you also have to accept you might not see the kids if you’re not willing to take a more active role. I remember being a bit older than those ages and turning on “skinemax” when my aunt was babysitting me, and my older teen cousin noticed and changed the channel. Being an adult means you can enforce some rules around kids. “nobody listens to me anyway” is a cop-out. Just turn the movie off. If your mom has a problem with that, I’d personally find something else to do outside of the house when the kids are over.

      That said, using kids as constant leverage is a crappy thing to do. In this specific instance it sounds like your sis/BIL might have been right to been mad, but the way they went about resolving it, and longer term conflict resolution, sounds very childish. If I were you I’d accept she might make the choice to not let people watch her kids that don’t agree with her style, and hold your boundaries about not accepting criticism.

      tl;dr Nobody can explain why people act like they do, but you can choose how to respond. Me saying “your sister is a PITA” doesn’t actually help your situation and if I said to antagonize her back, that won’t help.

      1. Marie*

        I do keep an eye on them and make sure they’re being safe. One wanted to go down the stairs using the inflatable pool as a sled and I put a stop to it. When I’m there, I keep an eye on things. Other times I’m out or working.

      2. Marie*

        I do help out when I can. The oldest wanted to use the mini pool as a sled and slide down the stairs in it, which I stopped him and redirected his attention to an arts and crafts project. Other times I’ve gone and picked them up and brought them over. I understand that I do have to keep an eye on them still.

        My issue is that she made a comment about how she told my mom and I these “rules”, yet she’s never said anything directly to me. (We don’t talk that much. We’re 8 years apart and are not that close. I always refer to her as “Mom #2” because she’s more like that than a sister.) They’re critical, but they never say what my nephews can/can’t do.

        Plus my sister was overreacting- they’re going on vacation and I said that I hope she has a good trip. She shot back, “Well, we may not go since it’s such an inconvenience for you.” Um, excuse me? I was just wishing her well.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Plus my sister was overreacting- they’re going on vacation and I said that I hope she has a good trip. She shot back, “Well, we may not go since it’s such an inconvenience for you.” Um, excuse me? I was just wishing her well.

          cue *wtf face* gif.

          Goodness that sounds so exhausting for everyone around!

        2. Might Be Spam*

          Could she have been planning to leave the kids with your mom and going on vacation without them?

          1. Marie*

            No- the kids went with them. She wanted to me watch her cat. No one ever asked me. My brother-in-law just told me when they would be dropping the cat off. She originally asked my mom, but my mom is going to be helping out a relative, so I would be responsible. I’m very allergic to cats. I have a note from my doctor about it. My sister was mad and said that she would take the cat to the vet to stay.

            Before they had kids, we would babysit their cat. They would critique that too. “She gained weight” or “She lost weight” or “She looks heavier, did you give her too many treats?” etc. It’s exhausting.

    8. Pond*

      Echoing some of what has already been said, particularly fposte about not letting yourself get dragged into conversation about it.
      I would recommend giving them some time to cool off, and then seeing if there’s another way you can be involved? Take some time to think through what you want. In an ideal or close to ideal situation, what would your involvement with sister & nephews be? Do you want to spend some time alone with your sister? alone with your nephews? Also think about frequency. Do you want to see them every other week? Once a month? Once a week? Once a quarter? Then figure out how a bit of that can happen.
      Any level of interaction and frequency can be your ideal, whether you decide that you’re content with seeing them a few times a year at family gatherings or want to care for them once a week. (Personally I would go with something like a once per month special day together.)
      For example, maybe you could take your nephews to a kids museum or playground? Or babysit them at your sister’s house or a park for a couple hours while their parents go shopping or have a date night? Try spending time with them outside of your mother’s house, ideally outside of either house. If they are involved with sports, scouting, or other activities, could you spend time with them by getting involved in one of their activities?
      (I was going to type something about asking your sister how she would like you to be involved separate from your mother, but that might (or might not) result in more drama.)

      On a separate topic, it seems like living with your mother is tough. (Living & interacting with people is always somewhat of a challenge, but it should be mostly nice and not draining or norms-skewing.) Make sure you’re taking care of your self and your own needs. Try to spend a lot of time outside the house, for example at a local library or park, to have some time and space to yourself.

    9. Lizy*

      So I’m a bit of an outlayer… and I was/am the other sister in this story…
      the parents’ rules are above all. Period. Just based on this one post (and I realize someone said you’ve talked about them before, so take this with a grain of salt), it sounds like your sister and BIL have had issues with people (your mom and you may or may not be a part of this) who don’t take their word or rules seriously. As a parent, I cannot tell you how incredibly frustrating it is when someone asks “what specific rules do you have?” And then they just ignore them completely, or otherwise undermine us as parents. It also makes it extremely difficult to re-establish the rules once Grandma is gone. Kids know the parents make the rules, but Grandma is mom’s mom, so that means Grandma’s rules are the real ones, right?

      I want my mom and sister to have awesome relationships with my kids. But babysitting is not giving a carte blanche. As to what to do to help? In this particular situation, I would say to respond to your sister with “I’m sorry – I wasn’t there. Mom might have more info.” For the future, if in doubt- ask or just don’t allow it. There’s that saying “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” but when it comes to parenting, I’d always ask permission first.

    10. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Did you post about your sister before? It sounds vaguely familiar. In any case, she sounds like my mother – making a BFD and going level 10 when there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for it. These type of people, they forever think of themselves as a victim and that everyone is out to attack them, they take extreme offense to everything. I recognize this in myself too unfortunately and I try really hard to not let it rear its ugly head.

      In any case, I think you got a lot of great advice above. The way she sounds, she’ll never give up free babysitting but she knows your mother is genuinely afraid of that happening and weaponizes it. She sucks.

    11. RagingADHD*

      If you don’t want to be in the middle, don’t get in the middle. Your sister is acting like you & your mom are jointly responsible because you’re siding with your mom and defending a poor decision she made.

      “Don’t show my 6 year old a PG 13 movie” isn’t actually a big ask. I think it’s a common sense and easy to understand line. And one I wouldn’t generally expect to have to say out loud.

      I don’t know whether your mom lacks common sense, or deliberately ignores stuff your sister says.

      Either way, the best way to get out of the line of fire is to quit arguing mom’s side and stick to “It wasn’t my decision. I wasn’t even there.”

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Let me guess…. and mom babysits for free, right?

      Them: “They shouldn’t be watching PG-13 movies. If you don’t want to see them until they’re 13, let me know.”
      Me: See ya in seven years.

      I’d wanna see their faces as it dawns on them that they just shot themselves in the foot.

      As long as you remain afraid that you won’t talk to them or see them they have all the power here.

      Honestly, from your description here I don’t think your mom is in a position to provide supervision for young children. If they want the children to visit your mom, they can provide supervision while the kids are there.

    13. lemon meringue*

      Your sister’s attitude feels oddly aggressive to me, but I feel like this isn’t really about you. I’d stay out of it, since it really has nothing to do with you at all. It seems like she thinks looking after her kids (in an approved manner) is a kind of tremendous treat that she’s hanging over everyone’s heads. But I suspect that if your mother offered to withdraw her babysitting services, she’d get complaints about that too. Personally if my sister talked to me like this, I wouldn’t be looking for opportunities to spend more time together.

    14. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      “I can do this all day.”
      She clearly has far too much time on her hands. I’d suggest she took up yoga to learn to chill.
      (I agree with her about the film, but I would just remind your Mum not to let them watch such stuff every single time, or else bring something for them to watch (my kids grew up in the age of cassettes).

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, this was really aggressive. Apparently she has a whole arsenal of real or imagined transgressions that she’s just itching to use against her mother and the LW? That’s . . . not a great mindset.

    15. Koala dreams*

      Firstly, it sounds like a good idea to take a step back. Do errands or take a walk when your sister argues with your Mom (if it’s mostly after baby-sitting, you’ll be able to plan a little). Prepare a short phrase (You sent this message to the wrong person, perhaps?) to use with your sister when she’s making up weird accusations. End conversations when they don’t go anywhere.

      Secondly, try low-key hangouts when your sister has calmed down. A coffee in the garden or in a park. A child friendly museum where any of you can leave anytime. A short trip to the library.

      Lastly, take care of yourself. Family conflicts are exhausting.

  24. ThatGirl*

    Last week I posted about my dog not doing well, post-seizure. It was a rough weekend but I’m happy to say he’s doing much better. Seemed like there were back issues involved too so he’s on steroids. Finally eating decently and acting more like himself. He’s not at 100% but he’s also not ready to leave this earth.

  25. fposte*

    Kayaking question! I want to start doing some very mild small-lake kayaking near me in a few weeks, like “rent a kayak for an hour and see how I like it after decades away from water sports.” I was thinking just shorts, t-shirt, and shoes that I’d be okay with getting wet rather than a swimsuit–does that seem reasonable?

    1. Blue Eagle*

      Yes, that is what I wear when I stand-up paddleboard (minus the shoes and plus a life jacket).

      1. fposte*

        I believe they have lifejackets; I’m a big proponent myself so I’ll check to be sure.

        1. fposte*

          Found a page on the park site that confirms rentals include a PFD, so that’s good, and I’m enjoying shopping for recommended other clothes to give me more options.

    2. twocents*

      I’m not a kayaker but half my family is and that that’s what they wear; they don’t tend to wear swimsuits.

      1. Emma2*

        Definitely, definitely yes on the lifejacket. A very experienced kayaker I know was recently saved by his lifejacket – to be honest he made a bit of a misjudgement but the situation that came up was unexpected and no one else on the trip foresaw it either. That’s not to put you off kayaking – it is lots of fun and a very safe sport, but water safety is always important.

    3. Angstrom*

      Depends on the weather. A wet cotton t-shirt + the sun going behind a cloud and the breeze picking up can get uncomfortable fast. An extra layer is never a bad idea.

    4. Hornets*

      I like to wear swimsuit bottoms and water shorts with a t-shirt and life jacket, and water shoes. For some reason probably related to my lack of paddling prowess, I always end up sitting in a little puddle of water when I kayak!

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, I wear summer clothes over a swimsuit and sandals that can get wet. Because there’s no way to get in the kayak without stepping in water.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I love kayaking! Never seem to get to do it frequently enough, though.

      I’d wear long sleeves and long pants, though, and a wide-brimmed hat that secures under your chin (like a Tilley hat or a knock-off) to avoid too much sun exposure.

    6. Grits McGee*

      May not be worth the investment for you, but I spent $20-ish on a dry bag from Amazon to carry my phone/keys/wallet with me on the kayak, and it’s been a good investment for the 1-2 times a year I go kayaking. If you don’t want to spend on a bag, I do think a waterproof pouch for a phone would be a good idea- just in case of an emergency on the water.

    7. Teapot Translator*

      Hat and sunglasses! And favour non-cotton clothes (cotton gets heavy when wet). I used my hiking clothes when I went kayaking. I got wet, but the clothes dried quickly.

    8. CatCat*

      I’d just be sure to have quick drying fabric in case you get wet. Shoes can get very uncomfortable if they get wet so you might just want to stow them and free those toes. Have fun!

    9. fposte*

      Thank you all so much! You mentioned things I wouldn’t have thought of, and I’ve gotten a lot more detailed in my plans. The hope is this is the first of many such outings, so the suggestions are helpful for longterm thought as well as the first outing.

    10. Buni*

      A swimsuit or two-piece under a t-shirt / shorts combo, because wet underwear is a hateful, hateful thing…

    11. Girasol*

      That’s what I wear, plus life jacket. Water shoes – those stretchy moccasin thingies you can get for cheap at any Walmart or Target – are really handy for wading in to float the boat and climb in. Remember the sunscreen especially around the knees.

    12. fposte*

      Hey, additional question if anybody’s still looking at this. The rental place recommends leaving the car keys with them; I did get a couple of dry bags and I was leaning more toward keeping it with me in those. What do people tend to do?

      1. WellRed*

        I’d leave the keys on shore. If you were to lose the keys on the water a dry bag isn’t going to help.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Yeah, I’d be worried about losing all my stuff in the water. :( But I’m a worrier.

        2. fposte*

          Thanks. I guess I was weighing my distrust of people against my distrust of water. Especially for a short outing what you’re saying makes sense.

        3. insertusername*

          Yeah a few weeks ago my friend had her cell phone, car keys, wallet, license, credit card, etc in a dry bag…. that’s now sitting at the bottom of the lake. It fell in, she fell in trying to grab it, and lost her expensive sunglasses too. Leave any valuables on shore!

      2. lemon meringue*

        If your dry bag has a clip that you can attach to the kayak, that should be pretty safe.

        1. Pikachu*

          I’d put one of those floaty keychains on them like they do for boats, just in case.

      3. Tea and Sympathy*

        You can get some sort of floater device to attach to keys (and perhaps even your bag). I’ve used it on my camera when snorkeling. But couldn’t you just attach your keys to your life jacket?

    13. lemon meringue*

      Yes, your chances of actually falling in are really minimal, unless you get into seriously choppy water. I like to wear a rash guard as a shirt, and I always wear a hat and sunglasses and a waterproof watch. I tend to find that my shorts get really wet (if I’m not using a spray skirt) but the rest of me stays fairly dry. If you’re concerned about sunburn, you might want to wear longer shorts.

      Also, have a great time! I’ve just joined a kayaking club and it’s the best decision I’ve made all year.

    14. Pikachu*

      There are a few companies out there that make UV-protective clothing. I have a bunch of things from a brand called UVSkinz They are SPF 50. They make tops and rashguards that are great for stuff like this and save you the hassle of worrying about sunscreen.

    15. Tabby Baltimore*

      If you come back to see this, you might want to consider a helmet if the lake you’re going to be kayaking in has any shallow rocky areas you’ll be traveling over. I only suggest that in case you overturn/capsize. If you overturn and go deep under the water line in a rocky area, you could seriously hurt your head.

      1. fposte*

        Thanks. I don’t think it will be; it’s not a rocky geography around here and it looks like this is kind of a jumped up farm pond, so clay is likely to be the underpinning. But I’ll check and keep that in mind for any future outings, as I’m quite attached to my head.

  26. Blue Eagle*

    Reading thread

    I highly recommend the book I’m reading this week – Four Hundred Souls: a Community History of African America, 1619-2019.

    This book illuminates 400 years beginning with the first year that enslaved Africans were brought to America. It is a collection of 80 chapters, each spanning a 5-year time period, written by 80 authors, averaging 4 pages each. The idea is that each chapter will tell of a key thing that happened during that 5-year period. For example, a number of the early chapters tell of laws passed during that period that restrict the freedom of enslaved people.

    This book was relatively easy reading because the chapters were written primarily as someone’s story and not as dry facts as figures as are traditionally found in history textbooks. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand the systematic racism that did not end with the freeing of enslaved peoples after the emancipation proclamation.

    1. Lore*

      I worked on this book for the publisher and the other great thing about it is that I’ve got a whole new reading list generated from other works by the contributors.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        I just heard about this book this morning on the Another Mother Runner podcast. I am looking forward to checking it out.

      2. Emma2*

        I have heard such great things about this book, although I have not read it yet. What a wonderful project to be involved in – congratulations!

    2. GoryDetails*

      My recent reading includes:

      DEAR COMMITTEE MEMBERS by Julie Schumacher, an epistolary novel consisting of letters by a college professor whose life seems to have turned into a constant production of letters of reference for students or co-workers, while the college he works at seems to be dismantling the English department. So far it’s delightfully snarky, with quite a few letters that could fit neatly into the Ask A Manager posts – things like letters of recommendation for students whom the main character “has known for 11 minutes” after they collared him outside his office to demand a recommendation.

      MACHINE by Elizabeth Bear is a hefty science fiction novel with a heroine who’s coping with a congenital pain syndrome (ameliorated by the future-tech treatments but something she still has to deal with daily) and with her regrets over parting with her wife and having limited contact with their daughter. She’s a medic in a galactic hospital that – I was delighted to realize – is a direct and loving homage to James White’s “Sector General”, which had a beautifully diverse cast of aliens but tended to be more white-male-centric with its human haracters, something that Bear has corrected in her version.

      THE FINAL GIRL SUPPORT GROUP by Grady Hendrix is a mix of horror and mystery, framed on the concept that all those serial-killer movie franchises were based on real-world crimes, each of which had its own “final girl” – the young women who survived the massacres and managed to kill or incapacitate the murderers. And, not surprisingly, these women have been participating in a regular support group with a psychotherapist for many years, while having their own ways of handling the PTSD and survivor-guilt. It’s got some neat little homages to many, many movies, from “Friday the 13th” to “Halloween” to “Nightmare on Elm Street” and on, and also sneaks in some nods to real-world cases, sometimes in the name of a character (one of which should have tipped me off to a major plot twist {wry grin}). I’d expected it to be more campy but it’s quite dark, illustrating the fallout of extreme PTSD and (justified) paranoia on the characters.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        I loved Dear Committee Members. There is a sequel, in case you are interested.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Re a sequel to Dear Committee Members – thanks, I didn’t know that! Will definitely hunt up a copy.

      2. the cat's ass*

        Just Finished Final Girl, and wow.
        Looking forward to reading the other two. I’ve never been disappointed by book recs on here, so thank you!

    3. Pam Adams*

      Four Hundred Souls sounds great- I added it to my Buy Soon list. (Kindle samples are great reminders)
      My latest: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers. A comforting and charming read.

  27. Victoria, Please*

    Life hacks thread?
    Mine is grating and freezing ginger. We drink chai every morning and I always get impatient grating the ginger. My sister suggested grating a lot all at once and freezing it in little “cookies” – brilliant!! My mornings are so much nicer now.
    What’s yours?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Re the ginger: some friends of mine recently recommended a different way of keeping fresh ginger: they peel it and cut it into small chunks, and bottle it in vodka. They say it’ll keep that way, refrigerated, for months. (The ginger-infused vodka could have uses of its own as well.)

      1. PollyQ*

        I’ve grated it and covered it with vodka, and it did indeed keep that way in the fridge, pretty much forever. And I found the easiest way to grate it is to peel, cut into chunks, then pulse in a food processor.

    2. StellaBella*

      I do the same with lemon peels – chop and freeze and use for soups, cookies, etc after juicing them for whatever.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        And onions – I have my husband chop 2-3 at a time, because once he’s already doing one another one or two isn’t a big deal, then vacuum-seal and freeze the extras.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      Washing up liquid (liquid dish soap) or liquid hand soap is the best emergency stain remover. Apply it to the back of the fabric (where the stain has set least), work it in, then rinse out. It might not get rid of it completely but it will definitely lift a lot of things – including chilli sauce, foundation and coffee – and make it easier to get them out when they go through the laundry.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I found this on the net and I love it. It’s for removing underarm stains from clothes:

        Make a paste out of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap.
        Apply to the garment with an old toothbrush. (I work it into the fabric)
        Let set for 1 hour (I have gone longer) then wash.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A long-ago co-worker taught me to do this, but with another first step. Work some baby powder or cornstarch or even flour into the front of the stain to lift out some oil even before you start using soap.

    4. CatCat*

      We freeze the ginger first and then grate it. I find it so much easier to grate when it’s frozen. We use it every day!

      1. Please remove your circus from my monkeys*

        This. Also, get a ginger grater if you don’t have one–mine is a little ceramic dish with a rim, and raised bumps (if that makes any sense at all) gives you all the ginger pulp & juice without the stringy fibers. 100% my best-loved kitchen gadget.

    5. Redhairedrunner*

      Similar life hack, I freeze leftover tomato paste in a silicone ice cube tray.

      1. All the cats for me*

        I put leftover tomato paste (pesto, etc) in a ziplock freezer bag, flatten it into a thin sheet, then freeze. I can break off as little or as much as I need, and it thaws very quickly.

      2. Whiskey on the rocks*

        I scoop mine into tablespoon-ish amounts on parchment paper (which I keep scraps of after I cut cake circles) laid on a small baking sheet. Freeze overnight (or, um, until I remember them) and then pop them in a bag.

    6. Girasol*

      A small empty ketchup bottle is a great dispenser for shampoo. I buy the stuff in bulk and kept dropping the slippery heavy bottle. A small ketchup bottle isn’t heavy, stands on its nose nicely, and it’s a lovely grippy shape.

    7. Anon for pet tag hack*

      I have a pet tag with my first name and phone number on my key ring. I haven’t lost my keys in the decade or so I’ve had it, but from my own experience (and what I see on the socials) people wanting to return lost items vastly outnumber people who might use them for nefarious means, and this gives them an easy way to do it. A fake name and forwarded Google Voice number or throwaway email would do the trick too, if you find actual identifiers concerning.

    8. Kitchen hacker*

      I buy large packages of chicken breasts on sale then wrap them individually in plastic wrap & put them in a freezer ziploc. Pull just one out of the freezer for a quick dinner. They’re easier to slice when partially frozen.

    9. Me*

      When incorporating cold butter in a recipe (like scones), grate the cold butter. So much easier than using a pastry cutter.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        oooh thank you, much better than softening in the microwave as I’ve been doing.

    10. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      We’ve been doing this so long that it feels like a necessity, not a hack, but: set out a cat feeder (the kind with the ice pack and timer) to open at 4am (wet food) and 6am (dry food) to keep our cat from harassing us in the middle of the night.

    11. Square Root of Minus One*

      I do something like that for baking. Say I like basic chocolate chip cookies, made of flour, sugar, chocolate chips, baking soda, egg and butter.
      I calculate the quantities for a number of eggs, usually one since I live alone. A fresh butter is cut into this exact quantity, carved with the amount in grams, and frozen in a labelled bag. All cupboard ingredients, so everything except butter and egg, is preweighed and kept in a labelled jar in the cupboard.
      And when you want to make the cookies, the recipe becomes: 1 jar X, 1 block of butter of weight Y, 1 egg. Much less hassle than a usual recipe, no weighing, cutting, and barely any dishes.
      I usually do my precuts/premixes in half dozens for about 4 favorite recipes, and as soon as I get a bigger freezer I’ll extend it to savory things.

    12. momjeans*

      I’ve been trying to meal plan for dinners for ages and could Never get into it for the life of me. Recently I made a little chart of what I would make certain days of the week (ex: Monday=tacos, fajitas or burritos, tues=pasta or casserole, wed=fish). Maybe this is just some personal quirk that this worked for me but it has been amazing. I over think things and this has helped me sort out the endless possibilities of dinner ideas and I’ve actually stuck to this

    13. allathian*

      I have a couple special margarine spreaders/knives. I don’t want to wash them after every use, because we eat a lot of bread, so I use scissors to put two cuts in the lid of the margarine box. That way I can keep the spreader in the fridge without making a mess on the lid. It was actually my son who suggested this life hack to me.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        What a great idea. It inspired me to cut a notch in a lid so I can leave a spoon in the container. Thank your son for me.

    14. Might Be Spam*

      When making cookies, I pull out the dishwasher racks and lay the cookie racks across them. Crumbs fall down to the dishwasher door and it doesn’t take up counter space.

      Laying a cutting board across an open drawer gives me extra counter space and is more comfortable for cutting, because I am short and even a couple of inches lower makes a difference. I lay a dish towel across the drawer under the cutting board to keep crumbs from falling through the cracks into the drawer.

      I use clear plastic shoe boxes in upper cabinets and larger ones in lower cabinets like drawers. I miss the pull-out shelves and drawers in my old kitchen. Plastic trays in the refrigerator contain spills and act like drawers. (Can you tell how much I love drawers and plastic container boxes?)

  28. WellRed*

    I recently learned that my FSA has a feature that isn’t quite as advertised IMO. I can roll over $550 into the next year. However. I have to spend all this year’s money before I spend the rollover funds. But the rollover expires early in following year. So basically, with an FSA you can only roll over $ every other year? I’m already irritated by the the use it or lose nature if MY money. Am I missing something here?

    1. fposte*

      Hmm, that’s confusing. It sounds at heart like it’s just the new pandemic-related IRS rule on rollovers and carryovers, in the grace period flavor where you get an additional 2.5 months to spend the previous year’s FSA; currently I think that’s only good for 2020 and 2021 FSA years. But are you saying your workplace is requiring you to use your 2022 FSA before you can spend the leftovers from 2021? I’m wondering if it’s something as basic as a typo in the year in their documentation.

      1. Chestnut Mare*

        Yeah, employers can’t make up their own rules about how to administer FSA funds, so I’d guess someone got the wires crossed somewhere and they aren’t explaining it correctly.

      2. WellRed*

        Hmm I’ll check with HR. I did call the plan administrator but there could still be confusion.

        1. WellRed*

          Also trying to be clearer: I rolled over $550 from 2020 to 2021. I must first spend down 2021 funds before the rolled over 2020 funds kick in. But the 2020 funds can’t rollover for 2022 beyond like February. Since FSA is use it it lose it I try to ensure I don’t lose it but I have a few chronic health conditions so don’t want to short change myself. It’s a delicate balance.

      3. Clisby*

        I hadn’t realized you could roll over anything in an FSA – I thought it was flat-out use it or lose it. That’s why we contributed to an HSA and didn’t take advantage of the FSA. Maybe the rollover is pandemic-related?

    2. Double A*

      I think it’s like this. You put in $1000, spend $500, and then $500 rolls over.

      Next year, you put in $1000 again, so you have $1500 in it. $500 would still roll over the next year, because you put new $ in it. But you have to spend $1000.

      But I don’t know if had $500 roll over, you put in $100 and didn’t spend any. I think that $100 would still roll over, but you would have to spend the $500 this year.

      It’s confusing. I did an FSA in 2020 and meant to put $600 in it but forgot a
      I get paid bimonthly now, so I put $50 per paycheck instead of per month. And 2020 being what it was, we didn’t have a lot of health expenses. I’m pretty sure I lost money. And of course this year I had a huge (and inevitable! I had a baby) health expense but I was too annoyed by last year to put money in.

      But I think ultimately the savings isn’t worth the headache.

        1. fposte*

          With the grace period, it’s still a pot per year; it’s just that the year lasts a little longer than the year. If they allowed a rollover, that would conjoin the pots, but it’s sounding like they’re taking the grace period option instead.

    3. ronda*

      if you have an HSA plan available, it might be better to choose that next time. does not have the must spend it rule.
      But…… you do have to be on a high deductible plan, so if you don’t have that option or want that option, then can’t have HSA.

      I found the fsa so annoying that I only used it one year :)

      1. WellRed*

        I plan to look at the hsa for next year. I wanted the better health plan because I really need it but hate the FSA. Adding insult to injury. Even the FSA is tied to a high deductible plan (per the irs definition) it’s just not as high as the other option.

    4. Katie*

      I hadn’t heard of this either, so I went looking and found this. “Employers can generally allow employees to transfer a maximum of $550 from their FSAs into the next tax year or allow them a grace period until March 15 to use their unused funds.” It’s one or the other (not both).

      I’ m just familiar with the grace period, and it sounds like most of us commenting here are talking about a grace period.

      But a rollover (which you have) isn’t the same as a grace period, and may have different rules. Hopefully a chat with your plan administrator will help clear things up!

      (Also, if you’re concerned about the use it or lose it, I believe that you can make changes to your FSA plan midyear, based on special Covid rules. So maybe, if you have too much money set aside with the rollover from 2020 and the funds you set aside for 2021, you could reduce the amount you set aside for 2021 (under the new rules), and then use the remaining 2020 funds, and lose nothing. Talk to your plan admin about this as well!)

      1. fposte*

        I’m not sure that it is a rollover, since those would extend for the full year and WellRed is talking about something that expires early in the year.

  29. Choggy*

    I’ve always been a terrible meal planner, and it has not gotten better even after 22 years with my husband. He’s the one who usually puts the meals together and I just eat them whether I want to or not. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very good cook, but sometimes adds things I don’t necessarily enjoy, spice-wise. I’d love some suggestions of websites or even simple recipes that are healthy and flavorful without too much work, especially for during the work week. Since we try not to eat too many carbs, the focus would be a protein, vegetable and a little bit of carbs. I don’t like fish either, we usually have chicken, steak, meatballs, some pork, and hamburgers/hot dogs in the summer. I am trying to incorporate more salads as a meal instead of on the side. Thanks!

    1. Cookie D'oh*

      These are some food blogs I follow for recipe ideas:

      Budget Bytes
      Mels Kitchen Cafe
      Once Upon a Chef
      Simply Recipes
      Iowa Girl Eats

      In the summer, I like grilling meats with different types of marinade. I like adding grilled chicken to a salad to make it a meal.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I got Milk Street’s Cook-ish cookbook awhile back & recommend it to everyone in this situation. (People know me as someone who loves to cook. I do! But it can be a lot of work & time. This book has recipes that get maximum flavor out of a few ingredients without too much time.)

      1. fposte*

        Oh, thanks for the recommendation! I love Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express, which is similarly themed.

    3. momjeans*

      I’ve had good luck with ifoodreal.com for recipes. One meal I make frequently is what I call “bowls”. I start with a grain (rice usually or quinoa etc). Then add veggies I have on hand (tomatoes, zucchini, avocado, cabbage, lettuces, etc) and put a protein on top (personal favorite is baked salmon with creole spice on top) and throw some mango or other fruit in there for some zing and a big squeeze of lemon!

    4. Never Nicky*

      We love the Rukmini Iyer series of ‘Roasting Tin’ books – do the prep, bung in the oven, forget for 25 minutes. Lots of vegetables, not massively carb based, plenty of room for experiments. In 18 months of regularly using her recipes, we’ve had one duff one

    5. Jay*

      We pay for the NYT Cooking subscription and love it. The recipes work, they have a bunch of stuff that’s weeknight-easy, and the comment section is both useful and hilarious.

    6. Choggy*

      Thanks for all the suggestions, will take a look to figure out what I can incorporate into my minimal repertoire.

  30. Stevie Budd*

    To those of you with ADHD, can you tell me how you feel about medication?

    Back story: My son is 7 and has ADHD. We haven’t tried medication yet, but we’re thinking about it. He had a really tough time in kindergarten with all kinds of disruptive behavior, but first grade was actually not bad. He recently had an IQ test that showed he is very high in Verbal Comprehension but pretty low in Working Memory and Processing Speed, which the psychologist said was due to the ADHD and that medication could help. If medication will help him, I want to give him that opportunity, but we’re just hesitant about having him on stimulants long term. I also don’t want to stifle his creativity and personality – we love him the way he is obviously.

    So I’m just wondering about experiences from others. Do you wish you had done it earlier? Wish you hadn’t taken them all the time?


    1. RosyGlasses*

      My son is turning 20 this year and was diagnosed around age 13 although we kind of knew earlier on. We tried hard to go the natural route (trying brain games, naturopathic formulas and doctors etc). I grew up in a time where ADHD or ADD was “fixed” with Ritalin and there was a lot of stigma around medicine. In his Senior year of HS he asked to try regular meds and oh my word it was so wonderful for him. He has gone back and forth as a young adult about trying to cope without them vs take them and that’s on him right now (the type he was taking required regular visits with a psychiatrist and he has some issues with that) but his overwhelming takeaway was that he wished he had them earlier in school. I wish I would have pushed/ supported that movement earlier on; I think it would have made life a bit easier for him specifically around executive functioning which often is a struggle for those with ADHD. It’s also good to note that anxiety and depression often co-exist with ADHD and it’s important to be aware of the impact that brain chemistry can have.

    2. Bumpjumper*

      I can offer my experience with this one—my son was diagnosed with ADHD shortly before his fifth birthday, to the surprise of absolutely NOBODY ON EARTH, and since he was still quite young, and we had already decided to give him one extra year before going to kindergarten, being that he had a late birthday, we didn’t opt to try medication at first. As the summer went on, his interest in academic things ramped up, and his ability to resist impulses to make bad choices went way way down. He simply was unable to stop himself from running off into big crowds. We attended a preschool carnival and he cried on the way home because he hasn’t gotten to “do anything!” (I watched him bounce from game to game, never settling into anything) Poor kid just couldn’t keep out of his own way.
      The first week in September, we decided to try meds—the doctor pointed out that it would be very obvious if they were effective, and that if they weren’t, we would always have the option to stop.

      I want to find whoever created this medication and give them an open mouth kiss. My son went from feeling frustrated and all over the place to asking if I could teach him to read, sitting for 45 minutes and creating a house for his stuffed animals with cardboard and stickers, and feeling SUCCESSFUL for the first time. He was able to tell me, “mom, my medicine makes me feel so smoooth!” I asked what it feels like without the medicine, and he said “I either feel bumpy inside, or I have that curious touching feeling where I need to touch everything I walk past.” In no way did the medicine change my kid into a robot—he is still very much a blonde tornado and he always will be. Nor does it “make him be good”, as his older sister asked me about. The meds simply allow his brain to slow down enough to think through potential ramifications of his actions, so that HE can make positive choices.

      The thing that really tipped me toward trying medication was reading through an ADHD related Reddit message board. Many adults talked about how much they wish they’d been diagnosed and/or had the opportunity to try medication as children—one person wrote about how he could look back and see how he’d torpedoed his relationships and his schooling experiences and he wished he could know what his life would be like if he’d had access to medication.
      He is now going into third grade, reads at a 6th grade level, just got his green belt in Tae Kwon Do, still drives his sisters completely bonkers, dug a 4 foot deep hole in the backyard yesterday (with permission!), refuses to wear a shirt inside the house, and is my most outwardly affectionate child. Medication has been a true blessing in our lives, and I strongly urge you to consider trying it, to give your child every opportunity to shine. Good luck!!

    3. ecnaseener*

      I didn’t manage to find an ADHD med that really worked for me (probably because I had a temporary anxiety problem at the same time I was trying meds) but I do think they’re worth trying. Many, many people are able to find the right med/dosage that helps with their symptoms and doesn’t stifle their personality or anything.

      For a testimonial from an adult woman who’s grateful to have been medicated as a kid, I recommend this youtube video: “What I want to say to my mom, who ‘drugged’ me” (That whole channel has some great content!)

    4. Generic Name*

      My son has ADHD and he’s been medicated with stimulants. He’s 14 now, so he chooses if he takes medication or not. At 7, when he was diagnosed, I made the decision for him, and it significantly helped his behavior problems. Also, there are several different stimulants. One kind he said he felt weird on it, so he stopped taking it. He likes the one he’s on now, but has decided to not take it over the summer. The nice thing about stimulants is there is no ramping up in terms of the effectiveness, and it stays in your system for a matter of hours. So if you do decide to try it, and he doesn’t like it, you can stop immediately with no ill effects (unlike antidepressants).

      1. ecnaseener*

        Quick clarification: there are short-acting and long-acting forms of most adhd stimulants. What you said is true for the short-acting kind!

        1. Spearmint*

          Even the long acting versions are out of your system by the late evening, however. I don’t think there are any that stay in your system more than 12-14 hours, because we all need to sleep!

          1. Generic Name*

            My son is on an extended release version, which wears off by dinner time. He takes it at breakfast, so it’s out of his system in about 12ish hours.

            1. ecnaseener*

              Some long-acting stimulants are recommended to be tapered off even so. Quitting cold-turkey gave me a serious crash.

              1. ecnaseener*

                *Stopping, not quitting lol. It wasn’t an addiction I needed to quit, it was a medication that wasn’t helping me.

    5. Spearmint*

      It’s worth keeping in mind that there is a lot of room for flexibility/experimentation on stimulants in terms of dose and how frequently they’re taken. If you find that medication changes your son’s personality or stifles his creativity, for example, you can lower the dose or try a different medication. Or you might find that your son doesn’t need the medication on weekends but does on school days.

      The nice thing about stimulants compared to other psychiatric medications is that you can tell on the first day what the effects will be, and the effects completely wear off by the next morning (until you take the medication again). Some psychiatric medications take weeks or even months to build up in your system before having a full effect, and then take weeks or month to get off of if you decide to do so. But stimulants aren’t like that, so you can make relatively quick decisions about dosage, etc. if the side effects aren’t worth the benefits.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I will say, I did have about a 2 week adjustment period when I started. I saw the effects immediately, and they were good! But I also felt jittery and headachy until I got used to the dose – like being really overcaffeinated.

    6. Sees ADD Effects*

      A bit of a different perspective – I have a relative who was diagnosed ADD in 7th grade and just finished 11th grade. She didn’t start medication until the beginning of 11th grade, and she’s not sure whether it makes a difference. It definitely isn’t bad – it’s neutral or helpful, but because she gets so little sleep she can’t tell if it actually helps or not. So if possible, I would recommend starting meds when actually getting enough sleep and in a generally good mental state (not also dealing with anxiety or depression, though they may be co-present and it’s not as if one can just *choose* to be 100% not depressed or anxious – hopefully this isn’t relevant for a 7 year old).
      As others have mentioned, I would recommend finding out about the specific medications that are being considered for your son and consider potential side effects, how long it stays in the body, etc.
      Good luck! Starting early with learning coping strategies and medicine if you choose it is so much better than starting later!

    7. OyHiOh*

      Two of my kiddos were on medication + behavioral therapy for several years. One used stimulant (“ritalin”) at home in the morning and then at school at roughly lunch time, the other used a non stimulant medication, once a day in the morning. I think that medication plus therapy is a very effective way to go – the medication gives the child the mental space in their brain to learn and pra