weekend open thread – March 12-13, 2022

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: Yearbook, by Seth Rogen. It’s presented as a collection of personal essays, but it’s really more of a memoir about growing up Jewish in Canada in the 80s and 90s, doing a lot of drugs, and trying to figure out family, girls, and comedy. At the start I thought it might be A Bit Too Much, but it’s genuinely funny.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 947 comments… read them below }

  1. snickers the great*

    Etiquette help please! We have friends coming to stay with us next month and we want to set expectations ahead of time so this visit doesn’t go like the last 2 did. The last 2 visits, which were before covid, they kind of treated us like a hotel. Ate a ton of our food, didn’t chip in for expenses, left towels and laundry on the floor, assumed they could use our car to get around (in fairness, we hardly ever use it, it was more the assuming that bothered me), let us take them out for 2 nice dinners and never reciprocated, and once invited over another friend of theirs who lives in our city without checking with us first.

    I’m making them sound like boors but we do really like them…we just don’t want to feel resentful at the end of this visit like we did the last 2 times. I was thinking of trying to set expectations better before they arrive this time but it also feels a bit weird to be doing that when the last visits when we had the problems were a few years ago at this point. How would you handle this? Scripts would be especially appreciated!

    1. allathian*

      I would simply not invite them, but then I value my privacy a lot… We’ve lived in our “new” house for almost 10 years, and we haven’t hosted any overnight guests yet, and I don’t imagine we’ll be doing that for the foreseeable future. (We’re lucky in that my parents and in-laws live in the same city.)

      But do use your words, and preferably before they arrive, or else I’ll guarantee that you’ll feel just as resentful as you did before.

    2. Rosie*

      Ooh I relate, sounds like my in-laws! So I have 3 categories I sort the behaviours into:

      1) Stop doing stuff. Don’t take them out, spend ages planning and making meals, and so on. If you know it will annoy you when they don’t reciprocate / appreciate, stop if you can.

      2) Let it go. For me it might be the laundry on the floor, but some things are just not worth the fight!

      3) Set a boundary. Choose a few important things to let them know in advance and stick to them. E.g. “we are happy to buy extra groceries so there’s enough for all of us, would you be happy to chip in $x?” or perhaps “we’ll cook something for everyone on Monday and Wednesday, could you guys take Tuesday and Thursday?” or whatever.

      Hope that helps, good luck!

      1. Artemesia*

        REALLY. hard to change behaviors once they are a pattern, but this is your best bet.

        Assign two people to cook dinner each evening — maybe mix it up so the guys do it one night, the women the next or guy guest and woman host etc etc. Discuss on arrival. Perhaps plan inexpensive meals. If they want stake take them to the store and let them buy it. Present the meal plan as a fun way to spend some one on one time with each other. And do this right away — have ingredients for the first meal and have the two guys do that one.

        Do not take them out to dinner or otherwise plan things you will pay for. THEY of course should be taking you out to dinner. If they suggest going out and you don’t want to ask them to host, make sure you ask for separate checks or to split the bill. Or you can just ask them ‘are you hosting? we don’t really have it in the budget this month for restaurant meals.’

        I’d let the messiness go unless it is in common spaces then it is ‘would you mind picking up your things and keeping them in your room’

        Car? Suggest they rent a car at the airport if they will need one. Before they come. And while they are there have a few activities of your own where you will need the car.

        But what you have here is boors; try it one more time and see if you are not doormats if they change their behavior. We had relatives when I was a kid who were like this.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Food: decide what you’re willing to do and address it before they come. “I’d love to cook you a big dinner when you arrive but let’s make our own plans the other nights. / I’m getting groceries for next week, are there any snacks you’d like me to pick up and you can Venmo me? / Let’s take turns prepping meals this time, we can do a grocery run together to pick up what we each need. / I’m so glad you’re staying but I can’t cover the groceries for two extra people. I’m making (meal) on Saturday but could you bring something for Sunday? / Please don’t eat the (things) / etc.” Don’t invite them out for nice meals if you’re going to be upset when they don’t reciprocate. Let them do the inviting or ask beforehand to split the check.

      Towels/laundry: probably doesn’t need to be discussed in advance. Are they leaving it in common areas? “Could you put that in your room?” Are they expecting you to wash their clothes? “The washer’s in here if you need it!” You should be providing a reasonable amount of clean towels but they shouldn’t be dumping stuff on the floor! “There are extra towels here if you need them. You can leave the dirty ones in the hamper over here, let me know if you run out!”

      Car: before they come. “I won’t be able to lend you the car this time so you should plan to rent one if you’ll be driving a lot / please let me know in advance if you’re going to be needing the car / would you mind chipping in for gas when we go places together?” (use the current prices as an excuse if that helps)

      Visitors: this is so rude I personally would not be hosting these people again at all, even without the other stuff! “I’d rather not have anyone else visit while you’re here / please don’t invite people over without checking first” (there’s still a pandemic, lean into that!)

    4. LemonLyman*

      It sounds like more communication upfront is needed. Here are some thoughts. If you’re a planner, this will be great. If you’re not, you’re going to want to tap into that skill for this one.

      1) When they arrive, have a conversation about meal planning. Perhaps the group will have breakfast food that can be grabbed in the morning at each person’s leisure. Maybe you’ll make dinner on specific days and go out for the other days. Plan ahead so the expectation is there. And if you make dinner at home, be sure to split up the responsibilities. If they aren’t cooks, then maybe you cook and they do dishes.

      2) Wait for them to arrive and after that convo before grocery shopping. Go shopping with at least one of them “Now that we have meals planned, which of you would like to come shopping with me?” Then act as of course you’re splitting the cost of the group’s groceries.

      3) Let some things go. This is hard. I had guests over this past summer. We are all our meals at my outdoor table in the shade and hung out there when their toddler napped. But they pretty much only walked around outside barefoot but then also walked around inside with their very dirty bare feet. It was annoying because I had cleaned the whole house including floors before they arrived but I also knew I was going to be cleaning my floors when they left anyways (because, toddler and extra dog), so I let it go.

      4) Don’t feel bad about asking them to do simple polite things like putting their dirty dishes in the sink (“Go ahead and stack your dirty dishes in the sink and I will load the dishwasher”) or picking up their wet towels (“Are you done with the bathroom? I’m going to take a shower in 5 minutes. Would you please grab your towels off the floor/hang up your towels before I go in?”).

      5) Feel free to pay for dinner if you want, but don’t expect them to buy you dinner. They haven’t in the past, so they’ve shown you their hand. But also, it’s ok if you don’t buy them dinner and just split it. Or, be open about it “Would you prefer to split it or we can get tonight and you can get tomorrow.” Personally, I’d just split the bill.

      1. Artemesia*

        oh yeah breakfasts. We had one visitor who just sat at the table in the morning expecting someone to cook him a big breakfast. We don’t even do that ourselves — my husband and I manage our own breakfasts and lunches and then take turns cooking dinner. So have cereal, breakfast breads, juice and coffee and tea available and let everyone help themselves. Put the stuff out in the evening.

        1. KateM*

          My parents are almost like that (not sitting at table but waiting for us to come and join them). In their case, it isn’t “come and cook for us” but “come and tell us what we are allowed to eat – we won’t be taking stuff out of your fridge/cupboard on their own”. And those are MY PARENTS who are our most frequent guests. Other people feel even more like guests who will absolutely NOT on their own open fridge or cupboards in our kitchen – at most they would take a cup for water from where these are drying on counter rack.

          1. LemonLyman*

            This is why communication is so important as well as the joint grocery shopping. Feels more like “our food” when we went together to get it.

    5. JustForThis*

      There is a letter addressing a somewhat similar situation (though not quite the same) on Captain Awkward. Maybe the Captain’s answer is also helpful for you. The title of the post is “#1339: Tired of “Moocher” Son-In-Law”; I’ll post the link in the reply.

      And yes, definitely set expectations beforehand!

    6. Rainy Day*

      If they act like this, I honestly wonder if inviting them to stay with you is even such a good idea. Suggesting they get a hotel sounds like a much better idea for when they come to stay, especially if they treat your house like one anyway.

      1. Deborah*

        That’s where I’m landing: “We’re really excited to see you but (insert reason here) we can’t host you. Here are some nearby motels/BNBs/etc. you might be interested in.” Then you don’t have to put up with their behavior. We had one friend who behaved like that (although she went out with mutual friends without telling us until she came back; that was the rudeness that pushed me over the edge) and when she announced the next year she was coming back, we were unavailable to put her up. It’s been 10 years and she hasn’t been back (not for lack of hinting; I’m not taking the bait). Good luck with whatever you decide.

        1. the cat's ass*

          Yup, I have had friends like that, too. The wife of one couple totally got how irritated i was at her never-take-a-dish-to-the-sink husband when we talked about it (he’s not interested in changing and I’m not interested in picking up after him)that they now stay at an air B&B down the street and we meet up and do stuff together or not together. She comes over and cooks, and i go over there and cook, and we take each other out to dinner and museums, etc. We’re looking forward to seeing them next summer!

          The other couple, well, they were really interested in coming and staying with us and “eating in” (our food) and “doing things “(on our dime and in our car), and never ever reciprocated, so we let them know we weren’t available to host them anymore in our home and that friendship magically dried up. Which was perfectly ok!

          It’s worth having a chat and setting some boundaries with these folks, who sound pretty thoughtless. Good luck!

        2. PollyQ*

          Or maybe even just: “We’re really excited to see you but we can’t host you.” These people sound awful, and I suspect that any attempt to lay out rules or communicate expectations will be at least as damaging to the friendship as simply not having them stay.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Suggesting a hotel is the best idea. Tell them NOW what your new boundaries are.
        For YEARS, we hosted multiple relatives with kids for THEIR vacations when we worked full time. We took vacation time to host them. They all just wanted free room and board for a week. In the years after, they acted like we didn’t exist until they wanted to “see us” again. Obviously, they weren’t interested in us.
        Now I’m just too tired to host ANYONE for even overnight. When we get a request, we send them a list of hotels in various price ranges. What you did in the past is not what you have to do now. It’s perfectly okay to tell would-be visitors you’d love to see them but you can’t host them in your home. YOU decide what your limits are.
        Best of Luck.

    7. Cordelia*

      It sounds like you’re at the stage where, if this visit goes like the previous ones, it’ll be the last visit and the end of a friendship that you want to keep. So, perhaps it’s time to be completely frank and tell them how you felt about last time they visited, and what you are worried about this time. Show them this letter?

    8. Bumblebeee*

      Wow. I would not invite these people again. They are shockingly ignorant of such basic manners you’d have to be very blunt with them. I know someone who was so sick of hosting that when she was asked she would bluntly say, “You’re not coming empty handed right? Bring X to contribute towards your stay. I’m also not cooking for you and you need to do Y and Z chores if you want to stay at my house.” She got a reputation for being rude but she didn’t care because people decided they didn’t like her conditions and stopped staying at her house.

      I’m sure it must be difficult to spell out to friends to clean up after themselves. It’s weird because you shouldn’t have the task of educating such basic etiquette to adults in the first place – they should know. But since they don’t, either you tell them specifically what they need to do – or accept feeling resentful. (Or just don’t host them again).

      1. KateM*

        “I’m not cooking for you” means what? 1) I should eat outside your house only 2) I should rummage around in your kitchen looking for pots and pans and other things 3) I should bring my own cooker and dishes?
        In our visits between families, it has been that the guests are basically in the status of family teens when it comes to chores – meaning that the host decides what to eat and directs the forces, the guests would help with manual labor.
        Also, it may be that it wasn’t that people didn’t like her conditions, but that they concluded from the *way* she said it that they are welcome and, well, I’m for one not going to press myself to be a guest to someone who doesn’t want me, no matter what I think of the conditions.

    9. Bazza7*

      These friends, have had cheap holidays at your expense. They just had to pay for their flights or petrol and that’s it. They didn’t spend any money in relation to you, even a thank you, nothing. You are not this desperate for these type of friends.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Personally I would be using the pandemic as an excuse to not have them stay with me. Find an Airbnb near me, and just say we’ve gotten too used to having lots of personal space.
      Another option, I might suggest that both families rent adjoining motel rooms so that someone else does all the cleaning and cooking.

    11. Red panda*

      I would tell them to stay in a hotel and that I’ll be happy to meet them for a meal in a restaurant while they’re here. And probably I’d ask for separate checks.

      I don’t know why you would even want to host them again after the last two terrible visits. It’s not like you’re the only housing available in the area.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      So you need new house rules.

      1) Guests must help with food costs. I’d add in that they must help with meal prep.
      2) The only meals eaten in restaurants are the ones THEY pay for. “Sorry, we are budgeting. We have lots of food at home.”
      3) [Laundry basket/hamper/whatever] is provided. All laundry can be placed in this container that has been provided.
      4)Check with us about the availability of the use of the car. If the car is available we need to you to replace the gas you have used.
      5)Check with us before inviting someone over. If the visit involves eating we need you to help with the cost of that food.

      It strikes me that these people are stunningly RUDE and you are concerned about being rude yourself???
      Basically if you are going to have these people over, you will have to teach them how to be house guests.

      These people sound like users to me. If you are afraid that they will stop showing up if you set down rules, that itself can be a warning flag.

      I stayed with an elderly aunt. She said the only reason I could stay with her was because I was a working guest. I brought food and bought more food at the store. I cooked most meals. I stripped the bed, gathered the towels and brought them down to the washer. I did the lion’s share of the dishes. I replaced burned out light bulbs and other small tasks that can be difficult for an older person.
      She provided a bed and a shower. She drove me around to various places. She bought dinner out a couple times.

      I had someone who used to visit me here. I gave too much, I can admit that now. What happened was my life changed and I was no longer able to provide full meals for someone other than myself. My budget included watching how much gas I used in my car. Hey, crap happens and we have to make adjustments. So this person stopped showing up in my life and stopped staying here entirely. I feel used, but I try to talk myself down from that. I think what I did was not expect anything in return- I just gave and gave and never asked for anything from this person. I let this person think I was absorbing all these hidden costs and hidden labor and I was totally fine with it, when actually I was not totally fine with it.

      Friendship is a two way street. If a friend is doing something for me, I become extra attentive to see what I can do for them as a means of saying thank you and as means of adding to their quality of life as they have done for me.

    13. IrishEm*

      Don’t do anything with/for them that costs money, (unless you actively want to treat them as a one-off).
      When they arrive you can let them know that there’s a laundry basket/washing machine in x part of the house. You will get around to washing the towels/linens/whatever in your own time and if they need stuff washed/dried sooner they know how to use the machine(s).
      And if they want to eat your food get money *before* you shop and give them their change/receipt (aka pay for their requests separately with heir money) or else bring them grocery shopping and have separate trollies so they pay their own damn way.

      Exmples from my life.
      I have an auntie who *loves* to go food shopping in the Fancy (pricey) grocery shop near my home so when she comes over she takes us there but we do separate trollies, and I get her a coffee or coke or something as a gesture towards petrol money (I don’t drive).
      I have other relations for whom mum insists I bend over backwards to entertain and clean the house for them when they come and who had me stay one (1) time at theirs and I was literally handed a bottle of bleach and told to use it (on the shower) any time I had a shower. I now stay at a nearby hotel if I’m going to visit them. That way I don’t have to do housework and boundaries can be maintained. And I get a taxi if we go out as a group unless they specify that a lift doesn’t require me to give petrol money back after.

      Different people require different types of boundaries. I have also stopped cleaning the house for the relatives since they weren’t arsed about cleaning my accommodation and put the onus on me to clean up after myself. I found it rude but also, their house, their rules and I abided by it.

      Also seconding Captain Awkward’s advice to the moocher sil. I hope you are able to have a productive and happy visit with your friends.

    14. BlueSwimmer*

      I have a different take on this than the other commenters. To me, if you invite someone to stay in your home, you don’t ask them to pay for groceries or expenses because they are your guests. I would not take them out for meals since they have shown they don’t reciprocate, but providing food to your guests you have invited to your home is part of being a good host. Asking people to chip in when you have invited them to stay seems ungenerous to me.

      Being messy around the house– I would let that go. It’s annoying but calling them out on it could drive a wedge in your friendship. I would tell them ahead of time that they need to make plans to rent a car because you will need yours or that with the high price of gas, they will need to pay for gas if you are willing to let them use your car. I would also email or message them ahead of time and ask them to please clear it with you first if they plan to invite someone over to your house.

      1. Lila*

        Yeah, I agree with this, and think there are probably some family/cultural/class dynamics at play with how you view this. Unless it was for more than a couple nights I wouldn’t expect a houseguest to chip in for food although would expect to be taken out for a meal. But I also totally agree in the need to communicate your boundaries and if you need/want guests to chip in then it’s absolutely fine to say. These folks don’t seem like dream guests but some people are viewing them in a really harsh manner.

        1. Rose*

          It of course is very cultural and depends on the length and reason for the stay. If a friend came for a week just to spend time, I wouldn’t dream of asking them for grocery money. They took on the time and expense of travel so that we could be together!

          Leaving dirty towels on the floor, not asking to borrow the car, having guests over without asking are all pretty unequivocally rude on all of the areas of the US I’ve lived in, and across the very rich friends I have from school and very poor friends I have from home.

          I know there are non-US readers here too! Maybe there are people in the US who think leaving dirty laundry on the floor for someone else to deal with and borrowing a car without asking is ok? I’m genuinely not sure, but some of this seems fine and some of it seems beyond a normal hosting ask.

          1. Pennyworth*

            I would find it difficult to ask for money but I would expect my friends to offer to buy some groceries or take me out for a meal unless they were suffering financial hardship.

      2. Batgirl*

        I was also thinking this might just be different expectations of hosting! However you’d expect them to reciprocate with an invitation to their own home where they’d be similarly generous. You simply can’t expect someone to feed you and transport you around without any reciprocation. I might say I don’t have the time or money budget to host like I did last time, but if they can pitch in with tasks and shopping I’d love to see them. I think their response to that might be quite telling.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Agreed – we wouldn’t ask for contributions because we’d most likely only be hosting people who’d return the favour.

          If I lived in a tourist hotspot and had frequent visitors as a result, I think I would have different boundaries. Are you coming to visit *me*, or the city I live in?

          The rule at my grandfather’s house when he was very old was that if you visit, you cook *and fill the freezer with leftovers*. That was still a spectacularly good deal compared to eg Airbnb, and as he had a large family it meant he was always well stocked with homemade TV dinners.

          1. Caroline Bowman*

            I love this, your grandfather sounds wonderful! What a great and gracious way to reciprocate that very few people couldn’t afford / manage.

            I will be stealing this as and when it ever becomes applicable to my life.

      3. KateM*

        This really depends in our family on the length and purpose of the stay. If I visit a family member over weekend, staying just one night because driving there and back one day would be too much, it is usually a party and of course the host provides food. If I visit a family member for a week or more, it’s vacation and of course I chip in money and work.
        About laundry, generally each family has their own “laundry basket” and queues up to washing machine (for longer stays only, of course). Mostly it’s just a plastic bag reused for their dirty clothes.

        1. KateM*

          Also, funny maybe, but the one time I felt like guests are using my home as a free hotel was when they came for just one night and DID bring their own food and cooked it for themselves – I felt like they didn’t even come to interact with us.

        2. LDN Layabout*

          If I visited family, even for a week, and offered money to cover food? That would be grave insult territory. Bringing gifts and paying for a meal out would be fine, but it all boils down to family norms and everyone has different ones.

          1. KateM*

            Yes, our family doesn’t want to take money, either, but “my sister and I left our husbands to mind lunch and children and went shopping together, and BTW isn’t it my turn to pay for groceries?” goes down fine. Also, we are there to be with our other family members, so of course we cook together, do dishes together, dig in garden together, go shopping together all while chatting away. Or go for a walk or visit a sight together. Not leave them cooking/working at home while we run around in their car…

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Family norms are funny for sure – every time my parents come to visit, my dad used to go frantically digging through his about-to-expire-before-he-can-use-them coupons to see if there’s something he can pick up and bring me because he knows I’m a grown adult and can take care of myself, but there’s a tiny bit in the corner of his head that almost wishes that wasn’t the case because he likes feeling important, and providing necessities for people is how he reminds himself that he is important to them. (So I told him that most of the local grocery stores that I shop at seem to have stopped carrying my favorite Crystal Light flavor, which is true, and he pounced on that and brings me 8-10 boxes every time now. Win win.) If we go out for dinner, there’s a silent staring war over the check (and we end up taking turns, but dad gets to go first, he insists) but if they just handed me money, I wouldn’t take it. (And they haven’t hidden cash under my keyboard for me to find when they left in ten years. :P )

          3. londonedit*

            Yeah, I’d never offer money for food, even when I’m staying with my parents or my sister. But I always turn up with a couple of bottles of wine, maybe some flowers or a homemade cake or some jam or something, and at Christmas I’ll offer to bring some of the things we’ll need (last year I was in charge of bringing extra crisps and I also brought some nice chutneys and crackers from the deli near me). Plus I’ll always cook dinner a few times during my stay and generally make sure I tidy up after myself. And that’s with family – with friends I’d absolutely offer to take everyone out for dinner one night or pay for a couple of rounds of drinks, and I’d definitely ask before using anything.

      4. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I think it really depends on how often they come and how long they stay. I would never ask a visiting friend to chip in if they were only visiting sporadically or only for a few days. But then, I’m also sure my friends would never come empty handed and would insist on paying for dinner if went out so I would also not feel taken advantage of.
        On the other hand, I’ve had family visit from overseas for several weeks at a time and in that situation I’ve found that ground rules absolutely need to be set. With one family member we agreed to a “kitty”. Everyone puts in the same amount at a time and it’s used for groceries, entertainment, meals out etc. When the kitty runs dry everyone tops it up equally again. End of visit, leftovers are equally divided. Without it, we were forfeiting our own annual holiday every year just in providing them with food and entertainment.
        The car issue is a bit different – I would tell them to get a hire car straight off the bat this time. We’re a one car household, we don’t always use it but we do need it and I’ve been left stranded when I tried to get to work only to find an empty garage because the guests just decided to help themselves without asking. It’s infuriatingly beyond rude.
        Between the car and the extra uninvited guest, it does read like snickers’ guests are taking the piss a little. I think it’s fair to start setting some boundaries.

      5. ecnaseener*

        I definitely agree on expenses. I’ve never heard of houseguests chipping in on expenses, unless it was a really long stay.

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          True, me neither BUT then where I’m from, it is just an expectation that guests take hosts for a nice meal, definitely only use the car having asked first and leave it full of petrol, keep the place habitable, bring nice wine or desserts or whatever.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Oh, I don’t think I’ve heard of guests taking hosts out for a meal either! If everyone goes out for a meal and starts wrestling over the check, the guests might say “you’ve been feeding us all week, let us get it” but the host would be just as likely to say “you’re our guests, let us get it”

      6. Coke float*

        I completely agree with you. Sounds like cultural differences, I am Asian and (for better or for worse) most of the suggestions here would not be considered the right thing to do in our family. But we do expect to reciprocate the hospitality, doesn’t look like that is happening in this case.

      7. FrozenSky*

        I agree. It does depend a bit on the length of the stay and how close we are (tbh I wouldn’t have anyone I’m not close to stay any longer than a night or two) but making people feel welcome and comfortable in my home is important to me. That means that I will let things like messiness slide, I will have foods and snacks in the house that I know they like, and won’t expect them to help out a ton. I’ve never had guests though that just expected everything to be done for them, people always offer to help with washing up or by chipping in etc, so maybe I’d feel differently in OP’s shoes!

        1. Alexis Rosay*

          Yeah, I can’t imagine people behaving this way as guests. To me, the most important thing is being appreciated for hosting, it’s less important how exactly I’m appreciated or the exact $ value. Something as small as a gift of chocolate or a bottle of wine from their home city/region can say “I didn’t take this for granted.” Others may take us out to dinner or do something more elaborate if it’s within their means.

          What OP has experienced is a complete lack of appreciation, so rather than set ground rules, I’d simply ask them to stay elsewhere.

      8. Artemesia*

        Not sure these guests were invited, but I take your point. One way to manage is to plan relatively inexpensive meals like spaghetti and salad or burgers but to set up a schedule for cooking. Years ago on a family vacation where I had rented a condo at the beach, my daughter set up a rota for dinner prep. We had a 6 mos old and didn’t really want to eat in restaurants. We all lived in different cities and she noted that it was a chance to spend one on one time with people we don’t see often. So she and her Dad cooked on night, and I cooked with my son another, then my son and daughter, I and my son in law etc etc. It was fun; the people who cooked planned what to have; we had good meals and the work was fun.

      9. allathian*

        Yes, but there’s a big difference when you’re inviting someone to stay, and the “friends” basically inviting themselves over. This happens all the time with people who have a vacation home. I’m in Finland; and there are more than 500,000 vacation homes and with a population of about 5,600,000, most vacation home owners are solidly middle class rather than wealthy enough to have large numbers of people staying for free. It also happens to people who live in a touristy location. My family doesn’t have a vacation home, we think that a suburban one-family house is enough work. But I try to be a good guest when I’m visiting.

    15. Lady Whistledown*

      This is hard! At my age I would struggle not to deeply resent this kind of behavior. I love the poster above who put things into categories. Basically make your house feel like anything *but* a hotel. Make all labor extremely visible.

      1) Stuff to stop doing:
      – Release yourself from cleaning a ton before they arrive. Scrub no toilets for these people
      – Feel free to strip the bed and put out clean sheets for *them* to put on the bed. Don’t leave out towels. Tell them to grab them from the closet
      – Do not take them out to eat
      – Do not do their dishes or laundry. Heck, give them a refresher “tour” of the house on arrival that explains how the dishwasher and the washer/dryer work. Like you would a lovely visiting niece or nephew who you wanted to understand how to be in your space

      2) Stuff to do
      – Downgrade your pantry. Take all your favorite snacks to your room. 100% do not stock their favorite items. Do they hate raisins? Looks like our only sweets are oatmeal raisin cookies! Leave some cereal and maybe splurge for extra milk and eggs.
      – Go grocery shopping together. Get 2 carts and cheerfully fill them separately. Choose separate checkout lanes
      – Leave a bare minimum of gas in the car. Better yet, hide the keys OR give them a heads up that the car is giving you issues (it IS giving you issues. Them using it is an issue!) and that they should plan to rent if they’ll be moving around
      – Cook foods they don’t like. I am the only one in my house who will eat mushroom risotto. When I want my food plus every scrap of leftovers, it’s what I cook and everyone knows to forage for themselves.
      – Ask for help with house repairs/maintenance. This is not an AirBnB, this is your home that they’re staying at for free. Use those extra hands to haul something down from the attic or move some furniture.

      I think you can cheerfully walk them through your new house routine. Give them a clean slate and then see how they do. Rude or snarky comments or obvious resistance to you not performing significant mental and physical labor on their behalf may be a sign that they’re not clueless, they’re just regular jerks.

      Wishing you much luck for a lovely visit!

      1. KateM*

        Eh, I would not want guests going to my linen closet, so I put both towels and bedlinen out on beds.

      2. FrozenSky*

        I hope this is a bit tongue in cheek… much easier to not invite them at all than go to such lengths to make them feel unwelcome!

        1. KateM*

          I agree. If I got house rules, especially the way the tone feels to be, I’d just be thinking “couldn’t you politely say you don’t want to have us visit you??”.

          1. Caroline Bowman*

            Well, yes and no, but one could adjust according to situation. I mean, I’d make up the bed myself, leave the towels I wanted them to use, but I’d say ”please can you strip the bed on your last day?” for example. Setting out basic and not-onerous expectations of guests is not unkind, I don’t think.

            I’d definitely use my words carefully though, and in a pleasant but direct way. When discussing the upcoming trip, I’d say I was planning a nice welcome meal at home, but will be quite busy Tues-Thurs, so if they could plan to sort out their own meals on those days, that would be great. With the car, I’d let them use it, since it’s not an inconvenience, but when handing them the keys, I’d say ”here you go, enjoy, please just leave the same amount of gas in when you’re done”, which I think is fair.

            For the rest, I’d let it go. I most definitely would not be suggesting meals out where I pay for everything, that’s just a hard no.

        2. Lady Whistledown*

          Ah that’s fair and worth clarifying since I wrote the initial post quite early in the morning.

          My strong preference would be to not host these folks. Their behavior is well past the line that could be plausibly explained through different cultural/family expectations.

          If, however, LW does not feel able to *not* host them this trip, it will be essential to scale back their investment (physical, financial, emotional) so that they don’t become resentful. I wouldn’t recommend any of the tactics above over a direct conversation, but if a conversation feels impossible, these tactics will have a similar effect (ie guests who either pitch in or self select out of future mooching visits).

          You can warm up the whole process by being very cheerful while still matter of fact about the need for XYZ.

    16. WellRed*

      Why on earth are you inviting them to stay? This isn’t simple careless leaving a few dishes in the sink.

    17. Rose*

      These aren’t people you should be hosting. Get out of it if you can, and if you can’t, don’t do it again. Point out the behavior as it bothers you and tell yourself internally you’ll never have to deal with this again. Your expectations about what that should look like are just incredibly far off. I’m sure it’s cultural but basically everyone I know wouldn’t find their behavior reasonable, at all.

      Stop treating them to dinner. Is your family in a far, far better situation finically than theirs? I just can’t imagine someone hosting me and then me allowing them to pay for my meals too. A lot of this is over the top.

    18. Squidhead*

      The experience of hosting them sounds exhausting! But if you’re going to do it anyway…keep it short, if the dates aren’t already set. Everything is easier with an end in sight. Give yourself a day or two after they leave to reclaim your space.

      I personally wouldn’t expect short-term guests to pay for general groceries, but I also wouldn’t personally pay (or offer to pay) for things that are beyond our budget. So when we have guests we usually ask about allergies and specific needs in advance, especially focused on the first 18 hours of their stay: “we were planning to have tacos the night you get here so everyone can assemble their own. We don’t do formal breakfast together but is there anything you’d like us to have on hand? We have cereal, milk, and eggs, as well as coffee and tea but I can get a few more things.” Then, depending on how long the visit is, I’d say “we can go out to the store the day after you get here if you think of things you need” or if the visit is going to be packed with activities I don’t offer this at all and I say “We can bring sandwiches for our outing to the park or all fend for ourselves at the concession stands. Your second night we’ll be near X so we’d be happy to take you to [restaurant near X that we’re wiling to pay for].”

      As a host I generally figure that if we offer something, we have to mean it. If we can’t (or don’t want to) offer it full-heartedly, we shouldn’t offer it at all. This is our way of managing our own expectations about reciprocity and generosity. However, your guests sound like they are a few steps beyond what I would consider general politeness! You can’t fix their behavior (who leaves towels on the floor of someone else’s house?!); all you can do is extend the amount of generosity you are comfortable with. And keep the visit short!

    19. Workerbee*

      There is still time to say there’s been a change of plans on your side, you won’t be able to host them, here are Names of Affordable Hotels Close By.

      Because look at what you wrote: You remember acutely all the boorish things they did and it’s been a few years! You still feel resentment. You also feel compelled to justify them potentially doing the exact same things as they did not once, but twice, by saying you “really do like them.”

      You can still really like them away from your actual home and with keeping your needs and well-being taken care of and intact.

      Reasonable people will pivot to booking an actual hotel. Unreasonable people will give you grief for daring not to let them use you as an unpaid hotel.

      Good luck with these people!

    20. Endorable*

      I have NO idea why you still like these people, they seem absolutely horrible! But I have to ask.. do you visit them, and how do you behave? Maybe they need a taste of what’s sauce for the goose etc :). But clearly they need a wake up call after using your home as an all-inclusive resort!

    21. Koala dreams*

      Actually, the fact that there’s been a few years since the last visit makes it easier to set expectations. You can tell them what you want and plan things as if it’s their first visit. In your shoes I would probably use the high food prices right now as an excuse and ask if they want to pay food money up front or if we should go shopping when they get here, recommend a car rental place and tell them where to put towels (please hang your towels here and put your clothes over there).

      Next time, you can tell them it won’t be possible for them to stay at your home, and recommend a hotel or b&b. When I have friends staying in a nearby hotel, I like to have a meal or two at the hotel together, and if they stay longer, have coffee or dinner at my place once or twice.

      1. Pennyworth*

        The elapsed time gives a perfect opportunity to introduce the to the ‘house rules’ that have been instituted since their last visit, perhaps due to some imaginary horror guests. Even print it up and email it to them, as though this is what you hand out to all guests. Include things like
        Our car is not available, please hire one if necessary
        We will prepare dinner every second night. Please feed us on the alternate nights (this will give them the choice of cooking for you or taking you out, and makes it clear you are not taking them out).
        Our kitchen supplies are pretty basic (make sure they are during the visit), please bring anything special you would like for breakfast or snacks.
        Our house is not a hotel, please don’t treat it (and us) as though it is.

    22. StellaBella*

      I have a family member like this, a cousin, who is notorious for wanting to stay for free, go out to eat and order fancy stuff but not pay, etc. It only took once, when I lived in a different place…and I will not have him at my house ever again. In fact when he wanted to visit a few years ago I only had to say, ‘sorry, I have a studio apartment with no room for guests, there are hotels all over the city’. I really do not think you should invite them. Plus we are still in a pandemic. Are they vaxxed/safe/been tested that week with negative results/wear masks?

    23. Virginia Plain*

      I’d try to get in early with what you do want rather than figure out how to say what you don’t want, eg:
      Can you put your laundry in this hamper please, it really helps me
      You can hang up towels on this rail/hook until they need washing in which case it’s the same hamper
      We thought of doing/will have to spend money on [thing], would you be able to chip in?
      Are you planning on catching up with any friends in town? You can have them over just let me know so I can tell you if it’s convenient.

      You can’t undo the assuming but you can indicate you have now learnt from it .

      Also don’t offer to take them out to dinner; let them suggest it if they want to, and pay. They are in your dinner-debt!

      You can use softening language if you like – for the laundry stuff “I’m trying to keep on top of the housework a bit better these days” and for dinner out or other expenses, well you are budgeting more carefully given the current economical climate.

    24. Caroline Bowman*

      Definitely do set expectations well before they come, but not TOO far before.

      Decide what you are in fact happy to just let go – the car use for example – so that it doesn’t feel like you’re bombarding them (which, to be clear, you wouldn’t be, they sound rude and entitled, apologies, I know you’re fond of them, but on paper, there would be no third visit to my house), and decide what you really won’t tolerate.

      I would leave out clean linen and towels for them and simply let them work out to make their own bed. If towels got left on the floor, well, then their towels will be wet and gross when they next come to use them. No need to say anything. If stuff gets left in common areas, just deal with it as and when ”hey guys, you’ve left a whole lot of washing up, I know you’re off out today, please could you get it square before you go?” etcetera.

      As far as groceries go, that’s a bit tougher. If they were only staying a week or less, I’d say I was planning a really nice meal to welcome them, would they like that the day they arrive or on a different day and is there anyone they’d like to invite, just so I could plan numbers. I’d say I was going to be quite busy with work /book club / philately on Wed and Thurs, so everyone can do their own thing for dinner, and then do not buy too many special groceries or anything they’re likely to polish off. If they mention going out – in your car, no less – ask if they could grab milk and eggs or whatever en route home. Be ready to do this, really casually, like you would anyone else. Obviously they should be taking you out, cooking for you, bringing a nice gift, but this type of kind-firm boundary setting will leave you feeling less resentful, without being pointedly nasty in a way that you don’t want to be. Crucial is to be cheerful, direct and chatty.

    25. Sooda Nym*

      If you are looking for ways to get the conversation started, maybe something like this: “We really enjoy seeing you and are so glad you are thinking of coming for a visit. Unfortunately at this point in our lives we aren’t able to act as true hosts for any longer than a weekend. If you are planning to stay for more than two nights with us, we should talk about ‘house rules’ for how we plan to handle meals, laundry, car usage, and visitors. Does that sound okay?” A more assertive ending (if you want) would be: “Does that sound okay or would you rather spend just the weekend with us and then move to a hotel?” There’s lots of good comments already about ways to set up boundaries and house rules, but sometimes the hardest thing is getting the conversation started. By making it about your ability to “host” you won’t feel like you are calling out their behavior as guests, which might help you be comfortable saying something.

    26. Trixie B*

      They sound horrible. I would decline hosting them. Something came up. Sounds like they have other friends in the area to stay with, let them. I question if they are really friends sound more like mooches.

    27. snickers the great*

      Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! We do like these friends, they’re messy and kind of obtuse about social norms but they’ve been very kind to us over the years and they are dear to us, problems aside. I think I am going to tell them ahead of time to rent a car and will be more assertive about asking them to pick up after themselves. We will probably not take them to dinner this time because of covid anyway and I think I will ask if they would like to cook for us all one of the nights they are here.

      1. allathian*

        Good luck! I hope you have a great visit with them. Be clear about your expectations, and don’t overextend yourself to be a great host (rather than merely a good one), and you’ll avoid most of the resentment.

    28. Esmeralda*

      Lots of great suggestions. I’ll just say that although you like them, they’re still boors.

      You’re very nice to see this as a communication problem — but the problem truly is that these folks are rude guests.

    29. Gnome*

      “of course you probably remember nowhere everything is, but since it’s been a while, as a reminder please rehang your towels and before you leave we’d appreciate it if you put them and your linens in the hamper in the hall. We have work obligations from X to Y but are looking forward to seeing you in the evenings/whatever makes sense. We are still being a bit cautious about COVID, so we know you’ll understand our request to not bring any additional guest over without talking to us first. Also, we’re happy to lend you our car, although we need it on Tuesday. Please just refill the tank when you are done.”

  2. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I FINALLY have a cellphone that will make phone calls! Lost my old phone and had to get a new one but there was trouble when I attempted to activate it. Successfully activated it this week, and I really like the case I picked out.

    Also the new Disney Pixar movie “Tutning Red” on Disney Plus was also in my opinion quite lovely and worth the watch.

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. allathian*

      Glad you have a cellphone that works!

      I had a lovely birthday last week, my mom and sister, as well as my MIL and her husband visited, and the chocolate cake I baked was perfect, even if I haven’t baked for years.

      The days are getting noticeably longer. I love to watch the sunrise as I’m having my breakfast at 6.30.

    2. Princess Xena*

      Oh, it’s come out? For some reason I thought that would be out in May! I’ve been waiting to watch it.

      I’ve taken the plunge and asked my friend circle if anyone would be interested in attending a class I’d host on making traditional Slavic Easter eggs (Pysanky) and have gotten some really positive responses already, so I’m excited to put that together.

    3. Princess Deviant*

      I got my ‘new’ couch and it’s great, and my house no longer smells of cat wee LOL. Small wins but I’m made up. The couch is super comfortable as well, I had a nap on it on Thursday evening.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I went to the aquarium today and my favorite animals there (octopus and otters) were all super active and fun to watch :)

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        My daughter adores otters. She’s at college near our city’s aquarium now, so I got us a family membership partly so she can go watch the otters any time she needs a study break.

    5. Not Australian*

      Saw ‘Death on the Nile’ on Monday, and although I am biased in favour of Kenneth Branagh I thought this was a *really* good film (although the bit with French and Saunders had me calling him a ‘cheeky b****r’ afterwards). Looking forward to the DVD release later in the year.

      Also, have disposed of two large household items via Freecycle, which gives us a considerable chunk of our house back. I would ordinarily have donated them somewhere, but they are a bit too specialised and would likely have caused problems for any charity receiving them.

      Plus I’ve received two new quilt patterns and a box of vintage sewing thread from eBay and I’m now happily plotting my next patchwork project…

      1. Pennyworth*

        Glad to know you enjoyed Death on the Nile, because the critics haven’t been very kind about it, but they are often out of sync with cinema goers. I saw his other film, Belfast, last week, and loved it.

      2. allathian*

        I saw it a couple weeks ago, and while it got to a rather slow start (almost an hour’s running time before the first murder), I enjoyed this one more than Murder on the Orient Express. I think Branagh did a decent job with the role, although it has to be said that there’s only one true Poirot for me, and that’s David Suchet…

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Bluebird news! I spotted a female checking out the birdhouse. She sat on its roof, flew to the wire overhead, and came back down to peek into the hole.
      I saw flashes of vivid blue in the woods later, too, so I suspect her mate is also around.

    7. UKDancer*

      I have booked for a ballet workshop next month with one of my favourite dancers the absolutely gorgeous Vadim Muntagirov who has impossibly long legs, amazing turnout and beautiful eyes. I went to one last year and not only was he a great teacher who taught me a lot he was also incredibly nice and I always like it when the people I crush on have a good nature.

      I’ve also booked for a ballet performance being hosted to raise money for the DEC appeal for Ukraine which has some of my favourite performers on it. It took ages to get through on the phone but I managed to score a ticket.

        1. CrazyPlantLady*

          Rome, Cinque Terre, and Florence! It was hard to pick, so many wonderful places. Also looking to do some day trips from Rome/Florence

          1. UKDancer*

            Florence is lovely. If you’re planning day trips then I recommend Siena and San Gimignano. It’s my favourite part of Italy I think, so beautiful with nice wine and lovely people.

            I’ve only been to Rome on business so have had limited sightseeing time. The Roman remains are seriously impressive though. I had some free time on one trip and went to the Villa Doria Pamphili museum which has nice gardens and an amazing art collection. The thing I loved was the sheer randomness of the buildings, you had Roman remains, later bits and modern bits all next to each other because the city kind of evolved rather than being specifically built to much of a plan.

          2. Lifelong student*

            If you have a chance- I recommend the Galleria Borghese in Rome. A bit off the beaten path and you may need to make reservations- but so worth it!!

          3. Artemesia*

            35 years ago I saw a picture of Vernazza on a calendar and said ‘let’s go there’ and we did. There were literally no other tourists on the trail — just a class of Italian 14 year olds and their teachers. It was before Rick Steves turned it into Disneyland. It was just one of my favorite trips and memories every — that whole day walking the trail from Riomaggiore to Monterosso.

            1. CrazyPlantLady*

              It looks so divine! I had the same thing happen, saw a photo and made it my goal to go there some day

          4. Caroline Bowman*

            Ooh, go to Pisa!! We did that, just because of the tower, but the city itself and the complex where the tower is, was a total revelation. Stunning town, absolutely gorgeous, with a LOT more to see where the tower is, than just the tower. It’s very doable from Florence for a day trip, a train will take you there quickly.

    8. IrishEm*

      I got a delivery of my favourite sweets from Switzerland after realising that I am an adult earning money and I can choose to spend it on exorbitant customs charges if I want to, and I am enjoying a taste of happy childhood memories.

      My girlfriend (I am so happy I can say that) got her tickets for her upcoming trip, she’s coming to Ireland in the summer to stay for a month and I’m trying to plan at least one low-energy trip out of Dublin (chronic pain and chronic fatigue suck so bad) to a place I love so I can show her my Ireland. Torn between Westport, Cork city and Belfast (I want to see the Titanic museum so much. Also the Thai restaurant Tanic. Because Thai Tanic. Geddit? She loves Dad humour.)

      1. fposte*

        This all sounds lovely, and I’m sure I’m not the only commenter curious which Swiss sweets you’re sweet on. I immediately think of chocolate myself but it sounds like you’re talking something else?

    9. The OG Sleepless*

      I found a very early AAM post that was an off-topic discussion of everybody’s favorite online things; maybe one of the forerunners to the weekend threads? Anyway, somebody mentioned Geoguessr. The amount of happiness I’ve gotten from playing the daily challenge there this week is absolutely ridiculous. I love puzzles, I love maps, and when I travel I love moving around in the very ordinary spaces in unfamiliar locales. I keep feeling like I’ve really been to all of these spots for a few minutes.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Must look into Geoguessr. I enjoy doing daily WORLDLE, where you have six goes to guess which country’s outline is displayed. They tell you which direction and how far away you are from the target.

      2. Daffodilly*

        I also love GeoGuessr (enough that I pay $25/year for unlimited games!) and on occasion I’ve been traveling and found myself somewhere I’d been “dropped” in Geoguessr and it’s fun to find that familiarity.

    10. Voluptuousfire*

      I’m going to a wedding next weekend and I’m flying for the first time since 2018. Since it’s a new trip, I decided to buy myself a new weekender bag. I ended up seeing a really nice fake leather one online, so I got it yesterday. It’s actually really nice, considering it was $40 on Amazon! I’m attempting to pack lightly (for me), so that should do it.

    11. Hotdog not dog*

      We are having a “bomb cyclone” storm today (US, northeast) so all of everyone’s activities were canceled. We’re just hanging out as a family with our books, snacks, games, and no schedule. It’s so nice to have no pressure for the day!

    12. Jay*

      We went to our first Broadway show since the beforetimes – “Company” – and it was amazing.

      I cancelled my part-time work on Tuesday to have lunch with a friend and got to see her amazing new house and then take a long walk by the water while we talked about All The Things.

      My husband installed shelves in our guest room closet so a lot of the crap that had accumulated on the floor of that room is now tidily put away.

    13. GoryDetails*

      Watching my big ginger cat trying to get one of the little-black-cat siblings to play with him. [The cats have been having some ups and downs in their relationship lately, requiring a fair amount of care in feeding and spacing and timeouts, so it was really charming to see Chess rolling on his side and gently batting his paws in that “aw, come on, play with me!” gesture.]

    14. StellaBella*

      2 jos this week. the first was buying and planting a bunch of flowers on my porch, lavender, sunflowers, foxglove, grape hyacinths, hyacinths, tulips, parsley, and also planting potatoes. And I bought 2 indoor plants too to go with my lonely aloe vera. I also took Friday off, did a bunch of errands, and spent 4 hours with a friend in her garden weeding and planting.

    15. Elle Woods*

      The end of the MLB lockout brought me a whole lot of job this week. I’ve had one of the worst weeks of my life, so the return of baseball was huge for me. I can’t wait to get back to the ballpark this season to take in some games!

    16. Girasol*

      I tried the Merlin app on the phone to identify birds by song alone and met a Say’s Phoebe. Also, the kildeers are back.

    17. ecnaseener*

      After many failed attempts I finally got decent coffee out of my grandmother’s vintage percolator! (I spent way too long following the directions to use 1 tbsp of coffee per cup of water, and thinking the results were a timing problem – screw that, whoever wrote the directions must like their coffee so weak it might as well be tea, but I don’t!)

      It’s a bittersweet feeling, I wish I could’ve gotten it right in time to tell her before she died in January. But bittersweet is appropriate for coffee, I guess.

      1. Endorable*

        I love my percolator! I’ve had various coffee makers throughout the years but I always go back to my old faithful. Actually right now I’m using an imitation of the Revere copper clad pot because unfortunately it doesn’t work with my induction stove (copper is too thick), so I have a very vintage coffee pot living on top of a high tech stove :). And if you haven’t already discovered this, percolators are excellent for cooking asparagus! Stand the stalks in a couple of inches of water, and the tougher ends boil and the tips steam :)

    18. the cat's ass*

      Second Turning Red-it’s delightful!

      Got my tix to fly to OR to help a friend set up house and OMG realized it’s the first trip ive taken by myself in EIGHTEEN YEARS.

      Last GS cookie booth tonite-all of the girls hit their cookie goals!

      1. Rara Avis*

        I watched Turning Red with my 13 yo daughter. She said she thought the kids were portrayed too young for 13; I didn’t comment that when I watch her group of friends that’s how they look to me!

    19. Deborah*

      My rescue dog won a new title in a Scent Trial: Novice Interior. You really can teach old(er) dogs new tricks! I’m chuffed!

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        How amazing!! You’re clearly an excellent fur parent, because those skills are not massively easy to train for, let alone with an older, rescue dog.

    20. Rara Avis*

      This is a big joy. And also bittersweet. My grandfather was born in Ukraine in 1908. Due to recent events, my cousin has become interested in finding out more about his childhood before the family emigrated in 1921. Although he lived to 94, heis not still with us, so my parents dug out a cassette tape of an interview I did with my grandparents in the early 90’s. I just spent 45 minutes in a room with my grandparents, whose voices I haven’t heard in 15 and 20 years. Despite the poor quality of the recording (it’s amazing the cassette tape survived to be digitized), it was magical. And also made me miss them very much.

    21. E. Chauvelin*

      I was looking up the website of a theater where I was taking a friend last week to see what it said about parking (it’s in a smallish city but it’s right in the middle of one of those historic downtown areas where sometimes you have to work to find a lot, and I hadn’t been there in years) and discovered that a band I’ve loved since I was a child and I hadn’t seen for ages even in the Before Times has a show there tonight that wasn’t listed on the band’s own page. So I’m going to that tonight.

    22. Llama face!*

      Today was much warmer than yesterday (yesterday was -31°C with windchill and today is -3°C with windchill) and I just enjoyed some time sitting outside in my backyard watching the clouds go by and enjoying the sunshine. Also, my body tends to throw a hissy fit at these big temp/air pressure changes and yesterday was rough thataways but today I feel fine. Today it feels like Spring may finally be starting to win over lingering Winter. :)

    23. Ashkela*

      I recently started picking up new people to follow on Twitter due to joining a new fandom. Imagine my surprise when a person I started following tweeted out a picture of merch they had just finished making and I recognized them as someone I’d bought merch from at a convention on the other side of the country last October. I’d lost the baggie with all the business cards from that weekend so hadn’t been able to connect and possibly make friends or buy more stuff or both. So now new friend, fellow Critter, and dice bag maker!

    24. WoodswomanWrites*

      My brother shared that he’s getting a new camera and giving me his current high-end DSLR camera body. It’s the first DSLR I’ve had in decades and will no doubt be a step up from my fancy point and shoot.

    25. Laura Petrie*

      I went to a pre-maternity leave get together for someone I used to work with. I’d not seen anyone for around 2 years . It was a lovely catch up and also made me very glad I decided to leave that employer when I did!

      I got up to 3rd gear and 30mph on my driving lesson and also drove home along a very scary main road. Considering I really don’t want to have to learn to drive, I’m pleased with my progress.

      I went to a meet up for women who like or work in beer on Tuesday. Met some lovely new people and hopefully it will become a regular thing.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I was very reluctant to learn to drive and didn’t get my license until I was 40, learning on a manual transmission. I know what a big deal this is especially driving a stick. Congratulations on your progress!

    26. ExecPuppyAssist*

      My husband and I adopted a second dog! Our local shelter’s been full for weeks, so they started running a promo to waive all fees. So now we’ve got Bacchus and Doberge, and they’re already BFFs.

    27. Polopoly*

      Mt 4y/old crawled into bed this morning, patted my face and said “mama, I love you and preciate you”. Out of nowhere :-)

  3. Little beans*

    How does a non-design oriented person have a nice looking house? My brain can do many things well but it just can’t envision what should go on that wall, or which piece of furniture will look good where. I don’t want to hire a professional, or spend a lot of money on fancy things. I just want a normal house that looks “put together” but I don’t even know where to start.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      How about looking at house and home type magazines? Bearing in mind that a lot of them are aspurational rather than practically possible given the average person’s budget, but it might give you ideas of colour schemes and placements of furniture etc.

      1. Virginia Plain*

        Agree, when I had my first flat I bought Ideal Homes magazine several times – no way I was buying the stuff it showed from the higher end places but it gave me pictures to look at so I could go, oh I like that, and find a cheaper version/pull my ikea furniture into the same arrangement.

    2. TechWorker*

      Agree with suggestions to look at design magazines, there’s also loads of ideas on Pinterest. If budget is tighter or working out how to apply the ideas feels overwhelming, there are also entire subreddits where people enjoy looking at photos of rooms and helping to reorganise/redesign them.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      Is there someone in your family or friends whose home you like? Like, if I was in your situation, I would ask my sister-in-law.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m an accountant by trade, so the design thing isn’t quite up my alley! I took a piece of graph paper, used one square for one foot and drew out my rooms. Then I cut out pieces of furniture and rugs and stuff from a different piece of graph paper and then played around with the layout. Once I had the furniture actually in the room the way I liked, the placement of the pictures on the wall and stuff came kind of easily, since there were only so many ways that made sense. I’m sure if I were more artistic my place might be cooler or more hip, but it works well and I like it now. Hope this helps!!

      1. Llellayena*

        I’m an architect and I do this too! It helps so much with space planning. But for art on walls and color combinations, make sure to pick things YOU like, but take advantage of your friends in figuring out placement. And if you look at what they suggest and don’t like it for any reason, change it. Eventually as you try a few things out, you’ll find what works for you, which is what is important.

      2. Trawna*

        I’m a very keen amateur interior designer, and this is exactly what I do, too.

        What most people do wrong is scale. For example, a big sectional doesn’t create comfortable living if it blocks the doorways and takes up all the floor space. A two-seater plus a chair or two and ottomans is more versatile.

    5. IrishEm*

      I look at what sparks joy for me, also some places have people on staff you can talk with to generate ideas. When I was getting the kitchen/dining room/sitting room done up last summer I went to stillorgan Décor and had an appointment with their lovely design advisor, who gave me great ideas for wall colours and themes and stuff.

      One thing that worked out surprisingly well was this: I have a painting that I love, in pride of place on the wall behind me, and I picked out two colours from it to put on the walls and soft furnishings, so I have pale orange walls with one purple feature wall, my chairs are upholstered in purple and my curtains are purple, and they all tone in together.

      Also Pinterest has some decent options if you want to scroll for things that spark joy for the different rooms.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Keep it simple so you can keep it neat. Just keeping a place with low clutter or no clutter can really make a place look nice.

      Stick with color groups. This also is helpful in limiting the clutter as I have to limit my choices according to the colors I have picked. For example, I have one room with pumpkin walls, olive carpet and dashes of purple. So those are my three colors that I use mostly. The curtains in that room have purple flowers with olive colored stems and a cream colored background. A friend said it looked like a magazine. I am not sure about that but the room feels cozy and not stressful to me.

      Set your rooms up so they are easy to use. A table near a door way might become a trip and fall hazard. A lamp that is hard to reach and therefore hard to turn on and off is not helpful.

      It’s possible to buy a piece of furniture that fits a spot, looks great but the piece is absolutely useless because it does not function the way you need it to function. Do think about how you will use a piece of furniture. For example, if you want a dresser to hold your 100 sweaters, then a three drawer dresser is probably not going to do the job.

      Don’t be afraid to buy some cheap second hand pieces to carry you over until you finalize your choices. These pieces can help you learn about what you want and what works. One thing I learned about my choices is that I need to go with a shade lighter than what I think I want. Every time I pick that slightly lighter shade I end up very happy with my choice. Same deal with furniture size. I’ll pick out a large piece of furniture and later find out that something slightly smaller would have been better.

      One comment that influenced me a lot was a comment attributed to Jackie Kennedy. I won’t even try to give an exact quote but the gist was that decorating is a self-discipline, you set limits for yourself and you stick to those limits. I started setting my limits according to ease of use and color groups.

    7. Expiring Cat Memes*

      As a design-oriented person, I always approach it as a logic problem rather than a creative one. Firstly, start with your knowns and then problem solve from there. Eg: couch only fits on that wall, I want the comfiest seat to be facing the fireplace/view, I need x amount of space to walk past here, that cupboard has to go near the door because that’s where shoes go, etc. Above all else consider the fixed elements that you must incorporate and the functional aspects you need to feel completely comfortable in the space and use it well.
      Secondly, think about auxiliary placement. Eg: I need a side table close to the couch, a place for keys near the shoe cupboard, I want to screen the workspace from view in the living space etc.
      Thirdly, think about bringing it together to be visually harmonious: a rug can bring an awkwardly floating seating area together, the right colour scheme and accessories can bring disparate furniture together, plants can soften protruding edges, an artwork can bring together mismatched colours.

      I think often where it goes wrong and looks weird is the tendency to start at the last step, thinking decoration is the answer to a room’s woes. But the answer isn’t having more stuff or different stuff, it’s having considered stuff in considered places. And if you’re considered about it, you’ll be surprised how organically the whole space stays relatively neat and tidy because you’ve set it all up for how it’s meant to be used.

      The process is easier if you have the luxury of being able to completely empty a room and start by literally bringing in your must-haves first, rearranging till you’re happy and then carefully and deliberately adding to it, than it is to shuffle the entire contents of a full room around and trying to find a spot for everything. You’ll probably end up doing some decluttering in the process!

    8. I'm Done*

      Join a Facebook group that specializes in House and Home Decor. You will get a lot of ideas from the other posters and you can save the photos you like to your phone in case you want to replicate the look. Much cheaper than design magazines. They have groups for every kind of style. Farmhouse, shabby chic, mid century.

    9. Artemesia*

      This is me. If you don’t want to hire a designer then look at rooms on line and see what appeals to you. Used to look at architecture and design magazines — you can do those at the library, but there are lots of pictures on line of various rooms.

    10. Melon*

      Modsy is actually pretty helpful for this. It’s a low cost – they make their money if you buy furnishings through their portal but there’s no obligation – and it helps you visualize what’s possible. Once you have a game plan then you can slowly start getting items. I feel like things look better when you slowly collect, and knowing what you’d want (a chair will eventually go here) it helps your brain fill in those spaces and feel less stressed about finding those pieces

    11. Wishing You Well*

      You start with what you can’t change or what would be very difficult to change – a brick wall or big fireplace, for example. Then choose items that coordinate with it. Choose paint color last because you can choose any color. Also, almost everyone needs to de-clutter for rooms to look better.
      I’m not an interior decor expert nor do I want to spend years becoming one. In my area there are people who, for a small fee, will come to your place and give you advice. Some big furniture stores will advise you for free but they’ll expect a purchase.

    12. Virginia Plain*

      A tip I got from an old interiors tv prog in the 90s (Changing Rooms, for any brits) was to base a room like a lounge or bedroom around a Thing that you have and love. So maybe a picture in your living room where you could draw out the colours and the feel (is it a calm serene watercolour or a high-impact modern art print?) Or oil a bedroom maybe you have a patchwork quilt your gran made so you extend that theme to go for a summery vintage country effect.
      Also remember you don’t have to go all out and commit 100% to a theme. My living room has a couple of antique bits and a vintage feel but it also has a TV, laminate flooring, and a bookcase from Homebase (I think that’s like Home Depot).

      1. Virginia Plain*

        Sorry typo. Do not oil your bedroom (unless you have stripped hardwood flooring).

    13. HannahS*

      As a non-design-oriented person who got more design-oriented with time, the answer is unfortunately that either you have to spend time learning about design or you can pay someone to do it. I know it’s obvious, but it’s worth keeping in mind that design is hard! People go to school for it and professionals are paid to do it. It takes skill to make a home both functional and attractive.

      There are definitely good basic design books that will tell you basic “rules” for how to set up a room, and google-ing around will lead you to helpful charts (literally google “How to Set Up a Living Room” and read around). If your home has a living room, there are charts that will show you different possible layouts, appropriate rug sizes, how to hang curtains, etc.

    14. Ebb*

      I follow a lot of interior designers on Instagram and I’m always amazed at their instincts for the visuals. We’ve been living in our space for 8 years and I think I’ve improved it a lot in that time — people really seem to like my house and decorating — but I wouldn’t stack myself up against actual interior designers in any way. My favorite accessible tips:

      Choose a color palette you like and try to buy things in that zone. We gravitate toward cool tones (greys, blues, greens, and lots of plants) with darker (walnut and cherry) wood and some white furniture. Nothing matches but we like all the pieces individually, and the fact that they all fall into a narrower range helps the rooms look cohesive without trying too hard.

      When in doubt, add plants. Most of our decor is plants.

      Think about “line of sight” and “line of movement” when arranging furniture. For example, we rearranged our bedroom a couple years ago. Previously the bed stuck out into the room at such an angle that it blocked the line of sight from the doorway; you couldn’t see half the floor space, so the room looked smaller. We moved it to a different wall and now when you walk into the room you see an open space instead of your eyeline being blocked by the bed. The furniture takes up the same exact amount of space but it FEELS way bigger. Similarly, in our living room we took the leap to move furniture into the middle of the room instead of pushing it all against the walls, but we made sure to keep our line of movement (the path we travel from the front door to the kitchen) clear, and now we have a much more functional space.

      When it comes to art, organic shapes fill space more than framed or rectangular art. We have a few framed pieces of art we’ve collected over time, but about half of what’s on our walls is decorative rugs, an arrangement of hats/baskets, a macrame hanging, a tapestry, a round embroidery, etc. They’re beautiful, cheaper than fine art, and they occupy the eye nicely. Even just a nice-looking scarf from the thrift shop can be a placeholder until you find a piece you really like.

      Don’t be afraid to go big. Rooms look more lush and cohesive when you choose furniture, art, and rugs that are the MAXIMUM size your space can handle. It has to do with how the eye travels, but even in a small space you can make those big impactful moments by investing in larger pieces that you like.

      Also, it just takes a long time. You can invest your time and energy into improving your house, but it’s not going to get done immediately. Living in the space and seeing how you use it will offer you the best inspiration. Good luck! Having a beautiful home base is such a pleasure.

    15. Bike shorts*

      So much excellent advice. One thing I didn’t see mentioned, which I have personally messed up, is making sure your whole home is cohesive. I went with too many bold colors, that might have looked great on their own, but walking from room to room felt like tumbling out of a crayola box. Now that I’m in a new space, I am trying to visually connect any room I can see from another.

    16. Thanksforthefish*

      This is me! I finally broke down and bought into a “course”(?) on Facebook called Designer in a Binder and just the closed Facebook group has been worth it for me. I’m on the super-slow plan due to budget and continuous life changes, but it has absolutely changed how I look at decorating every space and I’ve set up really nice spaces in a couple rooms that make me so happy!

      1. Thanksforthefish*

        I just realized this sounds like an ad so I want to clarify that I have zero connection to this other than as a user of it who totally relates to the OP feeling lost decorating a home.

  4. Wilde*

    Hello crafty folks!

    I’m seeking a hobby to be a small creative outlet in my season of parenting very small people. I’m looking for something that requires low financial investment to get started, is easy to set up and clean up, and has a short turn around time for finishing a project. I already know knitting is not for me.

    What do you suggest? Show me (or describe) your finest crafty achievements!

    1. Princess Xena*

      How about cross stitch? The most expensive part is the fabric, the thread is common, and there’s ten zillion different little patterns for bookmarks, motifs, keychains, etc. Everything from geometrical to classic embroidery themes like pets and flowers to sayings and fun nerdy patterns.

      1. GraceC*

        Cross stitch and embroidery also both have the bonus of being able to easily buy relatively cheap kits (eg on Etsy or at a local craft shop) that come with all the supplies you need – pattern, fabric, needle, threads, hoop etc. Super easy to try out one pattern and see if you enjoy it, and then you already have the hoop and needle for future projects!

      2. Suprisingly ADHD*

        Cross stitch is a great idea, there are little project kits that come with everything they need. There’s 2 types, counted cross stitch starts with blank fabric and a pattern, but there are kits with the pattern printed right on the fabric, which is much easier with frequent interruptions (no need to worry about losing count).

    2. CatCat*

      You might have fun making “melt and pour” soap. You can experiment with colors and scents and enjoy using the fruits of your craft labors! The company Candle Science has a nice beginner kit.

      1. CatCat*

        I recommend melt and pour soap specifically since you do not have to work with any caustic chemicals to make it. So a lot safer when working with small humans around!

    3. Despachito*

      What about beadwork? That was something I used to do when the kids were small, there are lots of styles and techniques to pick from.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I started embroidery during the pandemic and it’s really open-ended because you can adapt size, complexity, etc based on your preferences. Hoops are cheap, fabric and floss can be cheap, there are free patterns online and TONS of blog and video tutorials for different stitches. There are all kinds of kits to choose from too or you can design your own patterns.

      1. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

        I second embroidery! I also picked it up during the pandemic, forgot about it, then picked it up again when I became a parent to a very small person. There are lots of patterns that use the more basic stitches that do go very fast but still look great! And it’s easy to keep contained and put away out of reach from little fingers.

    5. someone*

      You didn’t like knitting but have you tried crochet? Yarn and hooks are cheap. Small projects can be things like cute hats for the kids or stuffies (search for free amigurumi patterns).

      Modular Origami is also a hobby I enjoy. You can get origami paper but I used a lot of dollar store post it notes. Each piece can be made in tiny amounts of free time and the be put together when you have a bit more time.

        1. Wilde*

          Ooo I think this will be where I start. The babies (1 & 2yo) are in need of new beanies for winter play.

    6. Not Australian*

      Have you considered patchwork? You can start with a very low outlay – maybe buying pillow cases in thrift/charity shops to experiment with – and a project can be any size you like. The charity Project Linus in particular is always keen to receive cot-sized quilts, which can take a very short time to make if the pattern is not complicated. You don’t even need a sewing machine; my quilting group is made up of people who *only* hand-sew, which you can do more or less anywhere. Sharp scissors, needles and pins are the only dangerous items you need to have around.

      1. My Brain Is Exploding*

        Or a yo-yo quilt? Small pieces, you can buy remnants on sale, it’s a hand project.

    7. Marylynne7*

      Basket weaving was my favorite of my many serial hobbies, and it checks your boxes. I found a basket weaving guild and went to meetings to get started, but it’s easy to pick up from videos. Materials can be cheap or free – I was weaving ivy and dried up daylily leaves from my yard. You can make little ones that finish quickly if you don’t have space for big things. And the more rustic and odd your materials are, the cooler the basket turns out.

    8. The OG Sleepless*

      I got into baking during that season of my life, but it does require more cleanup than you may be looking for, and has the added disadvantage of filling your kitchen with delicious carbs. I had a lot of fun making bread and cakes, though.

    9. Lizy*

      If you’re willing to make a small investment in a Cricut or cutting machine, I’d say that. Make fun little signs or use the vinyl on cups, mugs, tumblers… You can also do it in stages, which I like. It’s easy to start and stop with minimal notice – like when the baby starts crying AGAIN after you just put them down for the night lol

    10. kina lillet*

      Needle felting—there are some kits that get you ready to go for very cheap, it requires very few materials, and there’s very little time between “I start a piece” and “the piece looks mostly how I want it.” You can make little 3D figures, or felt wool onto a flat surface to go a little more 2D….highly recommend.

    11. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Cut paper work? You need paper, an Xacto knife or small sharp scissors, a cutting board if using a knife, and some patterns to start with. It creates tons of tiny bits of paper, but they aren’t wet or sticky, just paper. Maybe an hour of time to finish for a normal piece.

      I’ll put a link for my favorite pattern maker in the reply.

      1. OrdinaryJoe*

        Paper cutting is my favorite!! I have a wonderful collection of antique ones from the 1870s – 1920s … cheap, interesting, and bit different. Most people haven’t seen this before.

    12. Polopoly*

      Origami ? You don’t specify how old your littles are, but there’s nothing dangerous and its very portable. Lots of simple to intricate designs. Even fancy / expensive paper is relatively cheap.

    13. Kate, short for Bob*

      Spindle yarn spinning. It’s frustrating to start, but once you get the hang of it it’s like a physical mediation and you get nice yarn at the end of it. Look up some YouTube videos – ASMR built in. You can probably make a spindle from stuff you’ve got lying around the house, or pick up a starter set including fibre for less than 20.

      Seriously, once your fingers know roughly what they’re doing it’s the most relaxing thing and you can pick up and put down in a hurry when you’re child wrangling.

    14. Fellow Traveller*

      I make greeting cards with watercolours. I find that because I’m working on a small project it takes very little time to complete a card. Using watercolour pencils is less messy than the tubes of paints, though I do prefer the tubes for their brighter colours. And then I send the card out and it doesn’t have to stay in the house!
      I also took a drawing class during the pandemic and lately have been trying out drawing on a tablet via an app, which lends it self to quick set up and put away.
      (My kids are 2, 5, and 10, for what it’s worth.)

    15. Nela*

      Art journaling in altered books.
      Basic supplies don’t need to be expensive: a few small jars/bottles of craft acrylic paint in your favorite colors, a basic flat brush, scissors, old magazines or catalogs to cut images from, and a Sharpie marker. You can use a book to work in from your own stash, or thrift for a used one. Or you can use a composition notebook.

      If you decide you really like it, you can then buy additional supplies like stamps, watersoluble crayons, stencils, etc.

      The great thing about this hobby is that you can share it with your little ones (depending on their age), and a lot of kids art supplies can be used to journal too.

      Maremi Small Art YouTube channel has hundreds of videos for how to art journal on a low budget.
      Alisa Burke also has inspirational videos, and affordable video classes.

      You don’t need to have any kind of talent. With just a few basic videos you can start creating lovely pages, and it’s super relaxing.

    16. Owler*

      Polymer (Fimo) clay. You can make something small, like a a miniature cat or dog or simply a bead for jewelry. Shape it out of clay and bake it ina toaster oven. It’s very soothing.

    17. GrilledCheezer*

      Felt stuffed animals! Felt fake food! Just needs needle, thread, felt, stuffing. All available at craft stores. You can go basic or go insane. Wool felt or polyester! Patterns or make it up! Cruise etsy & Pinterest for “felt stuffie plush” and whatever else you want – animal names, food, flowers, scenes, etc. Easy to transport, & your littles will love the results! You could even make some of their drawings into 3d characters!

    18. Second Breakfast*

      I really enjoy making felt toys, bean bags, and peg dolls for my own little one. I sprang for wool felt, which is pricier, but the $20 pack I bought has lasted over a year and supplied all sorts of random toys. She also loves being able to collaborate by requesting specific things. The last one was a beehive that her wooden bear could stick his head into so she could act out “Winnie the Pooh.”

    19. Virginia Plain*

      Calligraphy? The modern sort is not so strict, as it were. Not much needed for supplies and very soothing even just to practice your shapes.

    20. Sooda Nym*

      When my kids were those ages, I used digital scrapbooking as a creative outlet. It’s not so much hands-on “crafty” but very much satisfied my urge to “create” something with the added benefit that all my mess was contained in my laptop. Close the lid, and it’s all cleaned up…

      I invested in the lowest version of photoshop at that time, found a package deal online of background”papers” and embellishments, had fun moving pictures and text around the page until I had enough pages to make a book, and then used an online publisher (I used lulu-dot-com) to print the books (similar to something like shutterfly but allowed more creativity on my end, and was significantly less expensive). Don’t overlook “digital” as a way to be creative with less mess.

    21. noncommital pseudonym*

      Origami? All you need is paper and there are tons on online tutorials. It can go from super-simple to incredibly complex, and it’s good for developing fine motor skills for small people.

  5. Bibliovore*

    Meeting with the contractor this week to renovate the bathroom. I’m thinking about a Japanese soaking tub. Anyone have something like that? Concerns? Brands?
    I think we will need to move a wall and expand the space. Are there questions I should ask?
    A friend will be with me.

    1. Bazza7*

      Nothing to add, but very excited for you that bathroom renovation is in the planning stages!

    2. ShinyPenny*

      Are you on a septic system? If so, maybe confirm it can handle soaking-tub water volumes?
      My house only has showers, and I recall being told that if we planned to put in a tub, the septic tank would need to be bigger. (Maybe a soaking tub is not actually bigger than what you have. Sounds luxurious though!)

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Confirm the location is designed for that much weight and whether or not the wall is structural.
      Installing a support pole or two is easy when everything is level. Even a new beam. Fixing a house that has started sagging is much more expensive.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, if that is a load bearing wall you may not want to move it. Additionally the floor beneath the tub could probably use some additional support.
        Be willing to consider placing it another way. If the contractor says do not do this, ask for ideas of what you could do so the tub would fit in the room.

        I had a big surprise here, when I found out that the floor was not supporting the tub I have in place. I had to have the floor shored up just to keep the tub I had. Thank goodness the problem was caught before it became a disaster.
        I have a friend who does a lot of work on houses. One of the bigger problems he faced was a customer who had their heart set on something that was just not doable. If he said no then he lost the work because someone else would go ahead and put the item in EVEN knowing it was not going to work out. If my friend went ahead and did it, then later when it failed somehow that was his fault. But reality is it was the customer who stomped their feet and pouted, “But I waaaant this!” after being told it was not wise to proceed.

    4. WellRed*

      I’m in agreement with others on things to consider but my first thought is: as you age, will you be able to get in and out of it safely?

    5. Bibliovore*

      The plan.
      I fell in love with Japanese soaking tubs on a trip to Japan. They are mostly vertical and you sit upright with hot water to your neck.
      This is the basement bathroom so there is not a load-bearing issue.
      Many grab bars.
      Yes have given thought about getting in and out. A built in ledge so I can sit and swing my feet/legs in.
      Space- yes if the wall cant move there may be a few issues, not the least that a tub might not fit.
      Plan b. short deep Kohler tub, shower.

    6. Sundial*

      We have a corner Jacuzzi in the master en suite, and the previous owners had to rip out the bathroom windows/exterior wall to get the tub into the room. So I’d look into not only how it will fit within the room, but how you’ll get it in there in the first place.

    7. pieforbreakfast*

      A friend got a soaking tub with their bathroom reno. Before planning they hadn’t thought about hot water capacity with their electric water heater. They ended up getting a tankless water heater installed just for the tub.

    8. Anono-me*

      Might want to check on the bathroom vent fan. Definitely suggest checking to see that it is vented properly and in good working order. Maybe look into a replacement while everything else is torn up . If replacing, please consider adding a timer on the fan and possibly getting a combination fan, light and heater (If the wiring is okay for it.).

    1. Mid*

      Sorry, I’m taking a leave for mental health reasons, I didn’t think that would break the weekend rules.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It did read as pretty work-focused, but also the “update on my life” style posts were banned a while back. (Posts should ask a question or seek to discuss ideas.)

  6. AnonyMom for this*

    Please help me navigate this:

    My friend and I have daughters who have been good friends since childhood. However, some time ago, my daughter (Edna) started avoiding my friends’ daughter (Jane) to the point it sometimes came across as rude (stopped every contact with Jane and even refused to acknowledge her presence when she met her on the street). My friend, Jane’ s mum, is expressing concern about it, says Jane is unhappy and keeps asking what happened.

    My daughter is quite secretive so for a long time she did not say where is the problem, but recently she did and it resulted that:
    1) she had been helping Jane for a year with schoolwork, while Jane requested that Edna wrote the entire work for her (instead of helping Jane write it, which Edna would be happy to do) and threatened suicide if Edna refuses
    2) when Edna tried to say something to Jane’s mother (my friend) to warn her, my friend refused to listen
    3) when Edna and Jane went together to the movies or the like, Jane requested that Edna pays for everything “because your family has more money than ours”.

    And my question is: what do I say to my friend when she asks again what happened between the girls, now that I know (and the result is not positive for her daughter Jane)?

    I know it is a very sensitive thing to say something bad about her own child, and potentially about herself. I absolutely believe Edna that these things did happen and she perceived them as she told, but I also know that Edna has had extremely strong reactions to very slight triggers. I was not there and I think that in some situations (as the refusal to listen about her potentially suicidal child) there must have been some misunderstanding between my friend and Edna (I know my friend for many years and I do not think she is as callous as to dismiss Edna’s concerns and pretend to me that nothing happened).

    My question is: what do I say to my friend to make her understand that what happened between Edna and Jane is beyond repair, without accusing Jane or herself, and potentially harming our friendship?

    1. Bazza7*

      Do you believe and protect your daughter from these people or do you believe your friend? Your friends daughters comes across at the minimum, lazy and the maximum, manipulative. It’s up to you whether you stay friends, but your daughter is your priority, not your friendship.

      1. AnonyMom for this*

        I do believe that Jane’s behaviour was manipulative, and I fully understand Edna she does not want to have any contact with her, and I am absolutely willing to support her in that.

        On the other hand, I perceive my friendship with Jane’s mum as a separate thing. I also believe that Jane’s mum was not aware of what was going on (the only strange thing is the refusal to acknowledge Edna’s warnings, but there could be some misunderstanding), the same as I was not aware for a long time before Edna told me.

        1. Artemesia*

          ‘Didn’t Edna tell you of the issues she was having with Jane? Being asked to pay her way to things and do all her homework or she would kill herself? She told me she warned you about it because she was concerned?’ First have Edna tell you precisely when and what she said. A softer version is to just say ‘Edna told me that she told you about the issues with Jane that concerned her; I don’t really have anything to add.’

          Because your friend ASKED you can be open about this if you choose. Alternatively you can certainly just let it go and protect Edna from attempts to rope her into social things with Jane. ‘Oh I think their friendship has run its course.’

          1. the cat's ass*

            yeah, we had something happen that was sort of adjacent to this; my DD’s bestie from grade school became school phobic/v anxious and depressed and basically dropped out of DD’s life. I was on good terms with the mom, but we weren’t tight. Kid ghosted my kid, who was devastated, and when i touched base with the mom, she wanted to leave it up to the kids, and that was that. My DD has made other really terrific friends, but that was her first taste of broken friendship and it was terribly hard to watch. Friendships do run their course for all sorts of reasons, some more worrisome than others.

            1. AnonyMom for this*

              This seems a bit different – it looks like your DD’s bestie had her own issues that overwhelmed her but your DD did not do anything to harm her.

              I am thinking about what can a parent realistically do in this situation – you mentioned that the other girl suffered from depression and anxiety, and that means that her mum was probably more worried about her state than about the state of your kid for the lost friendship.

              I feel for you and your DD, it must have hurt a lot, but I doubt the bestie’s mother could have done much more than she did, and I feel for her and her daughter, too.

            2. Jora Malli*

              I was the “bestie” in a situation almost exactly like the one you described. I had been through a series of bad experiences that caused poor mental health outcomes, and my friend was being really unsupportive and dismissive of my needs, so I ended the friendship. I think we were probably equally heartbroken.

              And I’m so, so, so grateful that my mom handled it the way your daughter’s friend’s mom did. Basically, she told my friend’s mom “the girls’ relationship is their own, and unless my daughter asks me for advice, I’m going to leave it to her to manage.”

              And that’s my advice to AnonyMom. If Edna says she wants you to talk to your friend about it, then fine. But otherwise? “The girls’ relationship is their own, and unless Edna asks me for advice, I’m going to leave it to her to manage.”

    2. Bumblebeee*

      I would stay out of it and also refuse to discuss this with my friend. Let kids’ issues be kids’ issues. Too much potential for misunderstanding, miscommunication, and your own friendship going awry.

      1. AnonyMom for this*

        This is a bit what I am thinking, too.

        I incline towards telling my friend “what happened between them is serious enough to support cutting contacts” for her to know that there is a good reason for Edna to do what she is doing and she is not rude but not be more specific (because this would be accusing Jane and I do not want to get into this).

        But if the friend asks “so what happened”? it would be a legitimate question and I am at a loss whether / what to tell her (for the very reasons you are stating).

        1. ShinyPenny*

          The minute you say anything that implies you know “a secret something” about her kid/your kid/the whole kid question, you have upped the drama potential so much. That seems like the worst thing to do if you want your friendship not to be affected.
          If just you stick to,”Gosh who knows? Kids change so much as they grow up, right? How’s your [garden/dog/car] doing these days?” you model the idea that kids, appropriatly enough, have their own lives.

        2. Bumblebeee*

          It’s okay to decline to discuss. I wouldn’t say the “serious enough” phrase because it sounds too alarming for your friend to not probe. I would just shrug and say something like, “we can’t decide our kids’ friendships; if my daughter chooses not to be friends with someone for any reason – whether that’s serious or trivial – I let her decide.” Which is essentially what we should be doing as parents anyway. Beyond teaching kids to be generally kind and respectful we can’t force friendships on them. If your friend has a problem with your daughter ignoring Jane I would similarly go for a vague but empathic response. Maybe, “I would feel upset in your shoes too. Since I don’t want it affecting our friendship let’s deal with it separately with our own kid.”

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely. I mean children don’t always get on because their parents do. My mother had a friend and I played with her daughter Jane. We had nothing in common and I thought Jane was really dull (and she probably wasn’t wild on me either) but we were able to spend time together while our mothers had tea without hugely enjoying the experience. Once I got old enough to have an opinion I told my mother I’d rather not go over while she had tea so she stopped bringing me and she just said I was busy with other things.

            Mum said her mother tried to force her to play with her cousins when she hated them so she wouldn’t inflict the same on me.

          2. AnonyMom for this*

            This was my concern as well (that to say “something serious happened that justifies Edna not wanting to talk to Jane ever again, but I am not telling what” is potentially worse than to say nothing). But on the other hand, it’s bothering me that my friend keeps slightly hinting that Edna did not say hello to Jane and turned the other way when she accidentally met her on the street, and overall cut contact with Jane, as if it were more Edna’s problem. It is logical from her point of view because what she sees is probably “Edna completely cut off Jane and I do not know why”, and if you do not know the reasons, which I myself didn’t until recently, I can see how it can come across as rude.

            But knowing what I know now, it seems perfectly logical. Now I have the missing part of the puzzle but Jane’s mother doesn’t, and I am weighing the pros and cons of providing it to her.

            I do not see any possible chance – or reason of restoring the relation between Edna and Jane. I agree with Edna’s solution never to talk to Jane again. The suicide question is no longer in play (it’s a few years back and Jane’s in a different school), so I do not feel this is for me to solve.

            I think my problem now is how much to tell Jane’s mother to convey the thought that I think what Edna did was logical and I am not willing to change it, but without wanting to stir drama or accuse Jane or my friend.

            1. FrozenSky*

              The hinting and subtext would bother me too. Perhaps you should have a conversation with your friend where you ask her to stop doing that, and agree that you both need to accept that neither of you will ever know exactly what happened. I think you want to stand up for your daughter a bit, and I think you should, but you can simply ask your friend to respect the fact that Edna is putting up boundaries, even if she’s not doing it in the most sophisticated way.

              Your friend should also explain to Jane that sometimes other people don’t want to hang out with us, and that’s ok, we can’t make them.

            2. tangerineRose*

              She might not believe you, but I think if I were Jane’s mother, I’d want to know what Jane had done because her behavior seems like it could use adult intervention.

            3. Fellow Traveller*

              My sister in law has a phrase that she uses often when talking of her daughter’s issues- “It’s not my story to tell.” Then she sticks firm to that and lets her daughter (my niece) speak of the issue to me if she wants. Does Edna want you to say something to your friend? I feel like your responsibility is to your daughter’s wishes more than to your friend’a curiosity. Maybe you can tell your friend that you want to let the girls make their decisions on their own.

    3. Bumblebeee*

      I would stay out of it and also refuse to discuss this with my friend. Let kids’ issues be kids’ issues. Too much potential for misunderstanding, miscommunication, and your own friendship going awry.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      “when Edna tried to say something to Jane’s mother (my friend) to warn her, my friend refused to listen”

      Your friend already knows what happened! Either her kid is having suicidal ideation, or she’s pretending to in order to scare and control another kid. Both options are really troubling, and it’s completely reasonable that Edna would be uncomfortable and need some distance.

      I would just tell her that you support Edna setting boundaries when Jane does things that upset her, and that both you and Edna are really concerned about the suicidal comments. Offer *your* support to your friend in helping her kid, to whatever extent you’re comfortable with, but absolutely no part of that should involve Edna being a similar support system for Jane.

      It’s worth damaging an adult friendship to protect both kids.

      1. AnonyMom for this*

        I have to clarify that all this happened several years ago, and Edna has been refusing contact with Jane for the whole time but she only recently told us what really happened. Jane has switched schools since so I think there is no risk of suicide at present (if I knew by the time it happened, I’d certainly warn Jane’s mother).

        Also, the Edna’s boundaries with Jane are now a solid stonewall, and I think and understand they will stay that way.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Ah, that makes it feel a little less urgent and more like you don’t need to get involved. It’s obnoxious that your friend is still asking about it! Friendships change and end for much less concerning/justified reasons than this one.

    5. Emma2*

      I think you should speak to Edna before doing anything. For most of this you should stay out of it, but I think you need to speak to Jane’s mom about the suicide threats. These should never be dismissed (and well done to Edna for being smart enough and mature enough to try to speak to Jane’s mother about this).
      Edna has shared a confidence with you so I think you owe it to her to have a discussion before you break that confidence. I would thank her for sharing, and tell her she did the right thing when she tried to speak to Jane’s mom. I would explain that because suicide threats are so serious and because Jane’s mom did not seem to understand what Edna was telling her, I feel the need to speak to her about that specific point again, but I will not disclose the rest of our conversation.
      I would tell Jane’s mom that she should speak to Jane about what happened between the girls, but talk to her about the suicide issue. I would specifically say that I think any other issues are for the girls to figure out. Even if Jane’s mom pushes for details about the other issues or has some one sided information from Jane, do not breach Edna’s confidence- you can say something like – “I think you will find there is more to it than that, why don’t you speak to Jane”. To my mind the most important things here are (1) to protect Jane is she might be thinking about suicide; (2) that Edna trusts she can confide in you about problems and that you will not break her trust.

      1. InputIng Edna toTheSarchasm*

        Based on your daughter’s explanation, Jane probably knew exactly why Edna cut her off (unless she is very self-unaware) and was acting all wide-eyed and innocent about it, leaving Edna in the hot seat to tell all to explain her actions or keep her silence, take the heat and walk away. It sounds like you let her walk away and did not get very involved, seems to have been the right choice

      2. Sue*

        I do not think Jane would tell her mom the truth, tbh… Who would tell their mother this:
        1) she had been helping Jane for a year with schoolwork, while Jane requested that Edna wrote the entire work for her (instead of helping Jane write it, which Edna would be happy to do) and threatened suicide if Edna refuses
        3) when Edna and Jane went together to the movies or the like, Jane requested that Edna pays for everything “because your family has more money than ours”.
        If Jane even registers these things as “reasons we are not friends anymore”, she will just remember the negative feeling of not getting her way. Sorry, I am cynical today.

        1. AnonyMom for this*

          No, you are not cynical, and I have been thinking along these lines, too.

          I consider it highly unlikely that Jane would ever disclose this to her mother, or perhaps even realize it herself.

          And I do not want to be the one to tell her mom, either. It would do no good (who likes to hear bad things about their own child? I certainly wouldn’t) would not repair the friendship and is very likely to harm my relationship with Jane’s mom.

    6. Scotlibrarian*

      I’ve had the same thing. My child cut contact (for *reasons*). My friend asked on several occasions why, and that her child was sad about it. I said that it was my child’s choice and they had reasons. My friend tried to bring it up 3 times, and each time I said, ‘child’s choice, sorry your child feels sad, anyway how’s *change of subject*’. Decide what you want to say, be as brief as possible, say it once, say nothing else, don’t get into an overcomplicated apology / explanation / embarrassed too much talk

      1. AnonyMom for this*

        This is exactly my situation, and that is how I’ve solved it until now (answering effusively and changing the subject but this was when I did not know what really happened).

        Now I do know but perhaps this would still be the best way to handle it.

        1. Blue Eagle*

          But you really don’t know. There is your child’s view, there is her child’s view and there is the actual view from a third party observer. The events happened a couple of years ago so stay out of it. Nothing good can come of your betraying your daughter’s confidence. If you tell your friend and there is any blowback on your daughter, be prepared for your daughter to never tell you anything again.

          Listen to all of the commenters who tell you to stay out of it.

          1. AnonyMom for this*

            I never meant to betray Edna’s confidence, and as another commenter mentioned above, I’d never tell anything without her consent.

        2. Batgirl*

          I think the only new detail that’s relevant is that Edna tried to speak your friend about it. It would not be breaking a confidence to say: “Actually, Edna said she once tried to speak to you about it; that she was worried about Jane and worried about their friendship overall. Do you remember? It’s the only detail I have but it wasn’t clear exactly.” If she doesn’t remember, I would go back to saying other than that you don’t really know exactly why they aren’t friends because Edna is a private person, and because you are a person who respects private decisions.

    7. sequined histories*

      I do think you should mention the suicide threat to the other parent, even though it happened a few years ago. My perspective is surely influenced by the fact that I’m a mandatory reporter at my job, but I think once an adult hears of something like that, it’s a bad idea to keep such a thing to yourself. Chances are that Jane will deny ever having made such a threat and that even bringing it up might contribute to an estrangement from the mom, sure. Losing a friend is no fun, and being involved in another family’s drama is no fun, but how will you feel if Jane does make a suicide attempt some day and you never told her mother of this threat?

      1. AnonyMom for this*

        Given the situation (I heard it second-hand from Edna several years after it was made, I assume that the threat was something like “if you stop writing my homework, I will fail the exams and kill myself”, but Jane has changed schools and thus got rid of this problematic subject long time ago, and knowing Jane tends to be manipulative), I do not see this as a realistic risk now.

        If I heard it by the time she was saying this, I’d certainly tell Jane’s mother but I do not see it as an imminent danger anymore.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Since this has been going on for a while, I think you can use that fact in your favor. “Friend, this has been going on for a while now. I think it’s too late to change whatever has happened.”

      I feel bad for Edna that she had to carry that secret for so long. But I remember being a kid and how many secrets I carried– stories of abuse, wanting to run away etc. Children can be very involved in what should be adult topics- but somehow the kids are on their own. And that has something to do with the kid-code, don’t rat on each other and it has something to do with getting adults to believe them. You have a component of disbelief also when you say that Edna has strong reactions to very slight triggers. So in a sense Edna was correct about adults not believing her.

      I was 5 when my cousin taught me how to shoot up. He was 4. I never, ever told an adult. I automatically knew that no one would believe me. To this day I believe my 4 year old cousin knew what he was talking about. By 15-16 he was a hard-core user. He left home and never returned. The adults around me were shocked. But I knew all along. I knew at age FIVE.

      My punchline here is to have a chat with Edna about what to do when a friend mentions suicide. This will require a little research so you can have a meaningful conversation. But you can start by saying this is too big a secret to carry on her own. Explain to her that even adults have difficulty with this secret. But there are places to call to report such a concern she does not have to carry this by herself.

      From my own story, I am not surprised Edna has strong reactions to things. I did, too. And it was because the adults around me only reacted to my level of reaction. I had to accelerate to get them to pay attention. I remember have the b*** squad come into our school to dismantle a device. If I told my parents about it they would say, “Oh that’s nice dear.” They never heard a word I said. I am not saying you are doing this– I am just pointing out that kids can randomly decide that adults will not listen and they apply that to all adults.

      1. AnonyMom for this*

        This is a very interesting point of view.

        I also feel sorry for Edna that she felt she had to carry the secret for so long. However, she did do the right thing by trying to inform Jane’s mum right away. But she did not tell us until now, and feels that Jane’s mum refused to listen.

        The thing with the triggers is real, and we have not been able to resolve it yet (it is getting better though as Edna ages). It is possible we are doing something wrong and Edna also thinks we do not listen to her but we are trying to do our best, as most parents (which does not mean we are doing the right thing).

        1. WellRed*

          Well, kindly, Edna has moved on, literally even. A different school. Yet This is still coming up. And if it’s been a couple years, that’s crazy (I’m not unsympathetic to the pain of losing a friend, childhood or otherwise). Why does this keep coming up. Is it your friend? Is it Jane?

          1. AnonyMom for this*

            It’s Jane who changed schools, not Edna.

            It’s Jane’s mum who mentions it once in a while. And asks why my other daughter (Doris) does not call Jane, or answer Jane’s texts. We asked Doris whether she had issues with Jane too, and she said yes, although not so serious as Edna.

            And I had Jane’s take before Edna told us what really happened, which was like “We were a bunch of friends but recently Edna cut me off and prefers to go out with Lucy”. When Edna confided in us she told us that when Jane’s mom dismissed her concerns she also thought that Edna was under Lucy’s influence.

            But those are already too intricate details I do not want to get into with either Jane or her mum as I think this would result in “she said-she said” and not help to resolve anything but worsen things.

            Thank you all for the opportunity of clarifying this in my own head. Jane might or might not be aware of what caused the rupture but it does not matter now. Neither Edna nor Doris would want to contact her, it’s their decision and I fully respect it.

            I think perhaps the best solution would be not to be specific towards Jane’s mother (as there is nothing to be saved in terms of the girls’ friendships), not to go into any details but to say that I am sorry the girls do not get along anymore but the decision is theirs and there is nothing I can do about it.

            1. Observer*

              not to go into any details but to say that I am sorry the girls do not get along anymore but the decision is theirs and there is nothing I can do about it.

              That’s pretty much the only reasonable path forward.

              If your friend is reasonable she’ll let it drop.

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      What do you expect Jane’s mom to do with the information? If it’s “understand that the kids aren’t friends anymore” seems simpler just to say the kids aren’t friends anymore. If you want her to correct her kid, seems like it’s a bit too late.

      Also, unless there is still more that happened, this does not sound like a bit enough deal to be at “refuse to greet someone when you run into them” level. “I don’t want to be friends anymore” level, definitely. But not the cut direct! So maybe have a chat with Edna about not being friends anymore doesn’t mean it’s ok to be extremely rude.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I think that’s just typical teen awkwardness, though. I had a huge falling out with a friend at that age and we barely acknowledged each other afterwards despite going to the same school. I remember one time we were part of a group together and fully avoided eye contact and talking to each other while still interacting normally with the rest of the group.

        It would be polite for Edna to at least nod acknowledgement when they’re passing each other on the street but it’s really not a big deal if she doesn’t, especially if she’s afraid that any warming of the current situation will encourage Jane to push for more interaction. If she’s not bullying Jane (glaring, saying rude things, spreading gossip) then leave it alone.

        1. AnonyMom for this*

          I would not blame Edna for not wanting to acknowledge Jane. And if it comes across as rude, so be it.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Sure it’s typical teen awkwardness. But part of parenting a teen is gently correcting them on that sort of thing, so they become less awkward. Adults should know how to be polite but not cordial to acquaintances they dislike, so teens should be learning how to do so.

          If it rises to the level of actually abusive, then it’s totally ok to pretend that person doesn’t exist. But it doesn’t sound like it was that bad.

          1. Despachito*

            In this case, I feel that Edna’s interests prevail over formal politeness, and I would not want to force her to greet Jane if she does not want to.

            I do not think we OWE politeness to someone we think deeply hurt us. As adults, we often (but not always) do learn to set the boundary so that we are able to greet the person who we perceive slighted us and to be formally polite to them but not let them steamroll over us again, but I am not sure Edna would manage this, and I am absolutely not going to risk it.

          2. MEH Squared*

            We don’t know what else Jane said/did to Edna. And threatening to commit suicide as a way to get someone to do what you want IS abusive. Trying to manipulate them into paying for you because they have more money can be bullying as well depending on tone/context/persistence. Bottom line is that Edna doesn’t want anything to do with Jane, which I think is a fine boundary to have.

            1. Dark Macadamia*

              Yeah, what AnonyMom shared here is plenty to justify full avoidance, and that’s just the summary she was willing to share here, of what Edna was willing to share with her *several years after the falling out.*

              I do value politeness and social niceties but I think there’s a tendency to overemphasize “keeping the peace” beyond what’s necessary/good for the person setting the boundary. They’re not coworkers, they don’t go to school together anymore, who cares if they have a frostier neighbor-in-passing relationship than they would with random strangers or acquaintances?

      2. Salymander*

        I don’t think giving the cut direct in this case is extreme at all. Jane threatened to hurt someone (herself) if Edna didn’t do her homework for her. That is really scary! Even the most generous interpretation of Jane’s behavior is that she threatened suicide as a way to manipulate someone into helping her cheat at school. Edna also was manipulative in other ways in order to get things she wanted. That is really serious and concerning behavior, and I don’t blame Edna for completely avoiding contact with Jane.

        1. Salymander*

          Sorry, I said Edna was manipulative. I meant that Jane was manipulative.

          In any case, Jane is justified in cutting off contact. She can stop being friends with someone if she wants to, she doesn’t have to have a reason that others think is good enough. Given Jane’s behavior, Edna really does have a very good reason indeed.

    10. Not A Manager*

      Haven’t read the other replies, but I feel strongly about this one. The way to make your friend understand that what happened between Edna and Jane is beyond repair is by telling her that EDNA has decided it’s beyond repair. This isn’t up for a vote. It certainly sounds like Edna has some pretty good reasons, but that’s irrelevant to the larger issue which is that she gets to decide what she feels and who she wants to socialize with.

      Telling the mother that the friendship is over doesn’t require sharing ANY of Edna’s reasoning, and if she’s so super-duper secretive, I think you’d better get her explicit permission before sharing anything that she told you, anyway. There’s no better recipe for closing off all communication than to betray your child’s confidences.

      I suggest that you say to your friend, “Edna tells me that the friendship is definitely over. It’s possible that Jane really does have some idea of what might have happened, but in any event I don’t have any more information to share with you.”

    11. Midwestern Scientist*

      Tbh the worst thing is for the moms to be involved. I was college roommates with a friend (and our moms are good friends) but eventually the friendship ended (for a lot of reasons). Her mom got involved and even as a semi adult, it definitely increased tensions every time her kom had something to say about it. The rest of our moms stayed out of it (other than offering 1-1 advice) and that was much better

      1. Salymander*

        I agree that it will likely bring more complications if the mom’s get involved. Also, it seems like this is just another example of Jane being manipulative, if she is acting all wide eyed innocent about the ending of their aquaintance. Good for Edna to have recognized a toxic situation and gotten herself out of it. Many adults can’t do that. She clearly has a good head on her shoulders.

        1. AnonyMom for this*

          Yes, I agree.

          As I said, I once had an opportunity to talk about it with Jane and her mother before I knew what happened from Edna, and Jane was indeed wide-eyed innocent and outgoing, to the extent I thought for myself (and I am now ashamed of it) that I’d wish a piece of Jane’s personality for Edna.

          1. Salymander*

            My child had a friend like this, and it is easy to be fooled by the sweet facade. My child’s former friend put on a great act in front of adults, and especially went out of her way to court my favor. We were taken in by it too, or at least we were at first. Eventually my kid told us what was going on. I was so glad when this girl’s family moved away because it turned out she was quite mean. I am glad for Edna’s sake that Jane is going to a different school.

        2. Salymander*

          Oh for goodness sake. My phone is automatically autocorrecting and adding apostrophes in the wrong place. I typed moms and what I got was mom’s. So annoying. It is like fingernails scraping on a chalkboard, but in text form.

    12. AnonyMom for this*

      Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and insights.

      So far, I think I will do this:

      – when interacting with Edna, I’ll confirm that I fully support and understand how she behaved, and tell her I am sorry she had to endure this. It must have been an extremely heavy burden for her to carry for so long.

      – when interacting with Jane’s mother and she starts talking about it, I’ll tell her that I am sorry that the girls do not get along but their relation is between them and that I will leave it that way. I will consult with Edna whether she wants me to do something else but unless she expressly does, I think I would not go into any details, just be adamant and repeat that this is her decision to make and that I respect it. If she starts again with that Edna or Doris do not contact Jane, and what a pity it is, I’ll repeat that it is up to them to manage their relationship. I feel it a bit manipulative too, but I think I am giving her a benefit of doubt (as I have information she doesn’t but revealing it will get us into unnecessary drama that would do good neither of us . )

      – when interacting with Jane herself, I’d be polite to her but as above – “I am sorry it didn’t work out but it is Edna’s, not my call to make”. I am struggling a bit here – on the one hand, what she did to Edna was awful, on the other hand, she was a child herself and a lot of things could have got “lost in translation”. So the result for me, as I feel it, would be “polite but distant”.

      Something in me is asking whether I am not sort of betraying Edna, now when I know what happened, by not cutting off Jane who hurt her so much, but then I think that the theory that each of us is responsible for their own choices, and the same as Edna is free to act as she wants towards Jane without me interfering, the same holds for me.

      1. allathian*

        This sounds like a good plan. Next time Jane’s mom brings this up, in your shoes I’d say that Edna and Doris no longer want to be friends with Jane, and that you support them in their right to make that decision. I’d also say that you’re no longer willing to discuss this subject with your friend, and tell her to please drop it. If she’s unwilling to do that, you might have to rethink your friendship. I’m not saying drop her completely, but maybe don’t initiate contact as often.

    13. RagingADHD*

      I would definitely always, always tell a parent if their kid is in danger (unless the parent is the danger, in which case I’d tell someone who could help). Suicide threats are dangerous, and it’s not the place of an unrelated non-professional to determine if they were “serious” or not.

      After informing her about the threat, I would say that Edna isn’t prepared to deal with a situation like that, and I totally understand where she’s coming from.

      Your friend needs to take Jane to the doctor, because that girl needs help. Threatening suicide over homework, even if the threat wasn’t sincere, is not healthy behavior.

      Depending on the state of our friendship, I might say that to her (might not, it depends). But either way, you can’t make her, so once you’ve said your piece, butt out and let it be.

      1. AnonyMom for this*

        The threat happened several years ago, and I became aware of it very recently, so I think it is not imminent anymore. If I learned about it by the time it was happening, I’d definitely inform my friend (and Edna tried to but to no avail).

        1. RagingADHD*

          I’d still say it. A lot of people talk about suicide or have ideation for a long time before they make an actual attempt.

          Even if it isn’t imminent, her kid has some messed up stuff going on in her head. And if she’s expressing concern about her daughter being sad, she needs to know where “sad” has led to in the past.

          1. allathian*

            That’s a fair point.

            I now think that AnonyMom is too invested in keeping the friendship with Jane’s mom. I’m not sure that’s even possible. In any case, Jane’s a troubled kid, or at least has been in the past. But if Jane’s mom wasn’t willing to hear it from Edna, there’s no guarantee she’d be willing to hear it from AnonyMom either.

        2. pancakes*

          If your kid had been threatening a classmate they’d kill themselves unless _______ happened you wouldn’t want to know unless and until it seemed like they were likely to actually go through with it? I don’t have kids myself, admittedly, but I find it pretty surprising how blasé most commenters are being about that part. It’s a pretty messed up and significant thing for this girl to have been saying to her friend whether or not she ever seemed to actually mean it seriously. It also seems like your friend didn’t want to listen to your daughter, which is important too, but that’s another matter.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.

    Sooo…I may have started with the basic outline for a new project…I’m hoping this will allow the idea to get out of my head instead of continuing to distract me, but I fear that this is exactly why I have trouble finishing projects…

    1. Not Australian*

      Still preparing stuff for republishing, so the only new writing I’m doing at the moment is non-fiction – my family history blog – but that’s relatively interesting at the moment as the two threads I’m running are from 60 and 105 years ago.

    2. Siege*

      Due to personal stress, I joined a couple of writing meetups a couple weeks ago, and it’s been great for actually getting writing done. I think I’m untangling the big knot in my current work and I’m getting ready to tune up a character in the work I’m trying to edit/rewrite, so I feel like finally there’s been some progress!

    3. Laura H.*

      The plot bunnies won’t produce on paper, but are wreaking (GOOD) havoc on my brain space. Hopefully I can knock some of this onto paper for my sanity’s sake.

    4. Maryn B.*

      I’m still churning out revisions based on great beta-reader feedback. First two books of the series are complete, and I’m maybe a quarter of the way into the third. Beta has hopes for a fourth. We’ll see.

  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 to including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.

    I’m still on Mark of the Ninja, and I’m actually getting quite good at it. Having more tools to play with always helps, of course ^^’.

    1. Endorable*

      After being AWOL for quite some time, I’ve gotten back into Second Life. It’s almost unbelievable how sophisticated it’s become! It always had a steep learning curve, but after 15 years in world, I feel like a noob again! I never realized before, that I might need a ‘breast deformer’… which sounds terrible but all it really does is add the appearance of weight and gravity to them, which makes them considerably more realistic. Is anyone else here escaping into a virtual world?

    2. The Dude Abides*

      A group of local players are heading to SCGCON in Indy, and I finally got the last card I’d ordered so that I could get it signed.

      With the Lurrus ban, I now have a 15th SB slot in one deck (Burn), and need to go back to the drawing board in another (Twiddlestorm).

    3. MEH Squared*

      Elden Ring. All day, every day! It’s everything I hoped for–and more. And it’s what I was expecting, yet also different! Open world, dark fantasy, intricate level designs, tough bosses–it has it all. The PC issues have smoothed out (for me at least). I have occasional mini-stuttering, but that’s it. I have a high-end graphics card, though, so that probably helps. I’m 70+ hours in and still only on the second legacy dungeon (of six, I think? That’s the main storyline). There is just so much to see and do. I think about it when I’m not playing it!

      On the word game side, I discovered octordle. It’s wordle, but with eight of them you solve simultaneously in thirteen tries or less. It’s so addictive!

    4. Forensic13*

      I started playing Unpacking last night, finally, and I love it so much! You unpack boxes of your stuff as you move in the game (it’s all 16-bit style) and you just have to organize it and put things in a logical spot. It’s so relaxing and satisfying!

    5. Jackalope*

      I shared last week about how I was prepping for my first D&D DM adventure. Well, the game was on Monday and it went well! Some moments where I wasn’t sure what to do, but the group I’m gaming with is made up of people I’m very close to and we’re all there to have a good time, so I knew they would be forgiving. And I think they liked their new characters. Plus I’m using a one-shot module (in a series of one-shot modules so we can keep going if we want), and it just so happened that the story worked perfectly with the back story of one of the PC characters. She was astonished & really happy. I felt like a wrung-out wet dishcloth by the end, but it was so much fun.

    6. Nessun*

      Still riding around Cantha for GW2 and super enjoying the new xpac. The soundtrack is so good, but I love the NPC interactions and side quests as well. I’ve done the story through once now and I’ll probably start it again with guildies next week! Haven’t managed to beat the last map meta yet but I think that will probably happen this weekend. Very pleased to with the new-player friendly vibe too, I hope we get lots of new joiners!

      1. Girasol*

        We love the Guild Wars music! And the new expansion has so much going on. I’ve finished the story but I feel I’ve hardly touched the surface of all the new things to do.

        1. Nessun*

          Oh my goodness yes – there is such a lot going on…we’ll be exploring for ages. Even the NPC interactions are fun. (Better than FFXIV, IMHO, given they’re spoken as well as read)

    7. Smol Book Wizard*

      Verdant Wind route of FE:3H! Claude is a sweet boy and I’m enjoying the additional worldbuilding info we are discovering together. I’m still working on getting Ashe and Bernadetta recruited and wouldn’t mind snagging Linhardt either…need to increase my stats.

      I comfort myself that if I don’t manage to recruit Bernadetta, I can at least write sad fanfic about her when we face her in battle. The poets will sing of our tragedy! One poet, anyway. On Tumblr.

    8. Nicki Name*

      Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. Just restarted it now that I feel like I have some idea of what I’m doing after playing some (most?) of chapter 1. My party is on the brink of total death a lot less this time through!

    9. Anima*

      Today in the evening there is a 10th anniversary event for Journey (by That Game Company, the one withe the carpet creatures). It’s quite late for me where I am, but I plan to at least take a bit part in it, it’s still my favourite game!

    10. LimeRoos*

      I’m still cleaning up my island in ACNH and leveling my Necromancer in Diablo 2 – I have an “entourage” of 30 now XD. Between my merc, golem, raised skeletons, skeleton mages, and newest power Revive (I can revive the enemies we kill), it is bonkers. Mr. Roos has been playing Triangle Strategy and loving it! Granted, he loves all things Final Fantasy, but has really enjoyed getting into this one.

      I did grab Wytchwood from a post a few weeks ago, haven’t started it yet, but it looks like so much fun. I was going to play it sooner, but we accidentally (not a true accident, it just happened way faster than we thought it would in this market) bought a house so now we’re freaking out and cleaning like crazy. So it’s going to have to wait a little longer til we’re moved and settled. But I can’t wait to play it.

      Also bonkers is my new favorite word.

    11. Cartographical*

      I’m trying Elder Scrolls Online and meh? It’s like a solo game in which a hundred of other people get the resources before you do and you have to turn local chat off unless you want to hear people fighting, playing bad rap music, throwing slurs, or screaming at their kids.

      The graphics are gorgeous, the story is interesting, the game play is utterly opaque and unexplained, the map is a nightmare to navigate, and the combat is uninspiring — it feels like just mashing buttons — so I’m incredibly bored with fighting but stealth isn’t really a viable strategy. I’m giving it a little time to see if I can’t find a decent guild and maybe that will change things.

      I loved Oblivion and Skyrim and I’ve really enjoyed Fallout 76 (which I did not expect at all) so I’m disappointed.

  9. Upcoming Road Trip*

    Good morning! I’m soon going on a whistlestop road trip on the west coast US (from overseas, LA to Seattle) and was hoping I could tap into the hive mind for a few food questions:

    We’re going to be in Portland OR for my son’s birthday, which is a city none of us knows at all. Could any locals recommend a somewhere to get him a great birthday cake? I’d rather not spend more than $50 and there’s only going to be 4 people eating it so it doesn’t need to be huge or elaborate. Happy to order in advance or just drop in.

    This question may sound silly but is giving us headaches at the moment … Our youngest child is kind of a fussy eater and we’re conscious that we won’t have access to our usual stores. If I need to get Raisin Bran in a hurry, will I be able to get it in pretty much any supermarket, or do I need to look out for anywhere in particular? There are memes about the difference between (say) Whole Foods and Walmart, but do they mostly sell the same stuff in reality?

    What should we absolutely 100% without fail eat for a genuine American experience? We’ve been told to look out for proper independent diners, but is there anything else you’d recommend that isn’t available outside the country?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. LemonLyman*

      there is definitely a difference between Whole Foods and Walmart. Both price and brands. They’ll both have – say – cereal, but the brands will be totally different. Raisin Bran, being a mass market brand of cereal, would be easy enough to find at most major general grocery stores (Krogers/Ralph’s, Albertsons, Vons) but not Whole Foods.

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        This is exactly the kind of tip I need, thank you. US cereals are the stuff of legend here but it’s good to know that something familiar and basic will be widely available in normal stores.

      2. Generic Name*

        Man, Walmart and Whole Foods may as well be on different planets, honestly. I suggest visiting both to get the full slice of America. The stuff they sell is completely different, and the each store has their own stereotypical shopper.

        1. LemonLyman*

          Yes! Do this! Definitely different experiences. It’s funny because I get annoyed when a foreigner visits one town and generalizes it to all of the US. I can’t imagine if they went to just Walmart or just Whole Foods and generalized that experience to all of US grocery stores! Ha!

    2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Raisin Bran should be available in every grocery store under various brands. As for American specialties, many of them are regional so they won’t be available where you are. But I’d suggest fried chicken, barbecue, hot dogs, potato salad, lemon meringue pie, grilled cheese sandwiches, brownies, baked beans or pork and beans, corn on the cob, meatloaf, chili, macaroni and cheese as the most common diner-type foods, besides hamburgers and fries. Slightly upper scale to that, salmon and shrimp dishes and steaks. Anything fancier, you’ll have to get suggestions from other people. Do try to find Native American food if you can. It’s very regional and dependent on location, so it varies a lot across the country. Most Americans eat a lot of Americanized Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, and other ethnic food. On the west coast, you’ll run into a lot of seafood and good fruits and vegetables (unless recent weather and fires affected crops). Enjoy it all!

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        Thank you! I’m definitely excited about being able to eat good fresh salmon – the children aren’t keen so we don’t have it often at home. I love the suggestion to try Native American foods as we have zero access to those at home (UK).

          1. ThatGirl*

            Unfortunately many regions of the country don’t have Indigenous food! I think the Southwest would be easy and I believe there’s a Navajo restaurant in Minneapolis but not so much the Pacific Northwest.

            1. LizB*

              The Native restaurant in Minneapolis is called Owamni, and the head chef & executive team are Lakota and Dakota. The Navajo people are generally from and live in the Southwest; most of the Native communities in MN are Lakota, Dakota, and Ojibwe.

              A little googling has taught me that there are very few restaurants serving Indigenous food in the Pacific Northwest, but there’s a food truck called Off the Rez that operates in Seattle and looks absolutely delicious!

              1. ThatGirl*

                (Also I’m embarrassed because I should have known it wasn’t Navajo, at least. Brain fart.)

                1. LizB*

                  (No need to be embarrassed! I live in Minneapolis and really want to go eat at Owamni, is why I spotted the error right away.)

          2. Jane*

            The only dish I can think of that one could easily find to try is succotash, a dish of beans+corn+animal fat (or at least the popularized version). Reports on provenance vary, but I always was told it was a Narragansett dish. My family always has it at Thanksgiving. It’s definitely popular up and down the East Coast; I’m not sure how popular it is on the West Coast. You might find it in a New England or Southern-themed restaurant.

          3. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

            I’m not sure if they will re-open in time for your trip, but there is mak’amham/Cafe Ohlone in Berkeley.

        1. RosyGlasses*

          I would not plan on this – there are no restaurants that I am aware of after living in Portland area for over 29 years that serve indigenous foods as there are over 20 different tribes just in our area.

        2. Reba*

          If you get up to the Olympic Peninsula area, there is a restaurant in La Push which is in the Quileute tribal lands called River’s Edge. It’s not like, so sophisticated a menu, but a great place to eat very local seafood including salmon, and watch eagles, ravens, and sea lions among picturesque rocks.

      2. LemonLyman*

        There is an actual brand of cereal from Kellogg’s call “Raisin Bran” (purple box) which I assume the OP is referring to. There are other cereals that have bran flakes and raisins, but Raisin Bran as a brand is a thing.

        1. Upcoming Road Trip*

          In the UK we have Sultana Bran to which I was informed Raisin Bran is equivalent. I may have to do more research!

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Regional hot dog toppings are a thing and usually sound horrifying but are a good tourist experience lol, for example Seattle-style dogs are served with cream cheese and grilled onions.

      Seattle also has a couple old-school eat-in-your-car diner chains, the more iconic one is probably Dick’s Drive-in but I prefer Burgermaster!

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        Cream cheese and fried onions sounds epic, and since our fusspot does like plain hotdogs that’s a great option for us. Thanks!

        1. LemonLyman*

          My spouse is originally from the UK! They traveled to California a to. When he was a young child and then moved as a family when he was about 11. He said his favorite thing when they’d come to visit was to get a hot dog (or a corn dog, he liked both).

    4. Endorable*

      Where are you coming from, so we’ll have some idea of what would be ‘different’ for you. I’m from BC (north end of your trip, and in Canada) but the food is all pretty much the same. Just expect HUGE portions at your lower-end restaurants! What they lack in quality, they make up in quantity! Consider sharing meals if you don’t have any way to deal with leftovers. If you’re taking the coastal route and not just zipping up the I5, look for seafood! Maybe your fussy son won’t like it, but fresh salmon and shellfish..to die for :)

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        We’re coming from the UK. I’m getting excited about the idea of the seafood and produce in general, particularly in sunny California.

        We will have some mini kitchen facilities at most of our overnight stops so I’m sure leftovers will feature.

        We had been hoping to cross the border but can’t get our younger children vaccinated here which makes it too difficult.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          In addition to other recommendations, I recommend getting Mexican food in the Los Angeles area.

          1. Upcoming Road Trip*

            We eat (anglicised) Mexican food regularly at home – carnitas tonight – so it would be great to share something more authentic. Thanks for the reminder!

            1. UKDancer*

              Mexican food in the US is much better than in the UK I think (proximity helps). I am now definitely craving it so it’s going to be tacos for dinner tonight.

              1. California Dreamin’*

                My oldest son spent a college semester abroad in London and good Mexican food was the thing he missed most! (He made up for it by eating good Indian.)

    5. mreasy*

      You can get Raisin Bran in any mainstream grocery BUT Whole Foods. Plus Target & Walmart undoubtedly. Desserts and cakes at Papa Haydn are legendary, though I haven’t been in a decade. I am confident in Portland you will be able to find a good bakery in most areas though! You’ll probably have to order ahead.

      I highly recommend going to an authentic parking lot taco truck in LA. It’s also a great bakery city – and something you have to do in California is get donuts from a little hole in the wall 24 hour donut spot. I live on the east coast now and Krispy Kreme can’t hold a candle to the donut shops of Cali! Seattle has a couple of good “fancy” donut shops too. The Accoutrements shop in Seattle is also worth a visit.

      SF and LA both have some good diner options that have been open a zillion years. I did just visit Clark Street Diner in LA which is new but has a classic menu including biscuits & gravy, which seems very American.

      Not sure where you’re stopping in California but I recommend a visit to the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo if you can swing it. Legendary kitsch icon and their cakes are incredible. Have a great & safe trip!

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Papa Haydns is still great! Salt and Straw ice cream and Voodoo or Blue Star donuts are a Portland must-try.

        Tons of restaurants, coffee shops, and places to tour. Pittock Mansion, Forest Park for hiking, Portland Zoo, OMSI science center are all great spots (OMSI and the Zoo especially for kids). Japanese Gardens (world renowned) and in the summer, the Rose Gardens are gorgeous.

        If you’re coming before July 4 plan on rainy season. It can start out gorgeous, rain mid day and then end up dry again. Locals generally don’t use umbrellas – we just have good raincoats.

        Be prepared for ALOT of homelessness, and even though masking requirements will be lifted this weekend, many shops will still ask for them to be worn in the city.

        Enjoy!! I have lived here for over 20 years and love the city for the most part.

        1. Former Oregonian*

          I second the OMSI suggestion. Only got to go there a couple of times as a kid but I remember loving all of it. This was probably 20 years ago now, but all the exhibits were interactive and approachable for most ages ranges.

          1. Upcoming Road Trip*

            Spouse is delighted as this was already on the list and we’re glad to hear it was a good guess. Thanks!

          2. tangerineRose*

            OMSI, the Oregon Zoo, the Japanese Gardens and the Rose Garden are *amazing*. If you like to read, Powell’s city of books in Portland is amazing too – a bookstore big enough to get lost in – literally!

            1. Bookworm/History and Science Buff*

              I was also going to recommend Powell’s. Any bookstore that requires a map to find your way around is worthy of a visit! Also “Voo Doo” donuts. OMSI is always a must do we we go as well.
              If there is time, a side trip to Eastern Washington would be another unique expereince. Walla Walla for Ft. Walla Walla for kids, downtown winery shops for the adults and the Tri-Cities – check to see if the B Reactor tours have begun. Currently suspended due to Covid.

              1. saf*

                Seconding Powell’s, But I prefer Blue Star doughnuts. Perhaps a comparative donut tour is in order.

        2. Upcoming Road Trip*

          Ah, I was going to ask about weather. I had looked up climate and worked out that it would be at least as wet as at home, but I hadn’t worked out whether it would be umbrella-wet like NYC, or too windy like at home. This is great intel, thanks.

        3. Melody Pond*

          I personally think Voodoo Doughnuts is overrated – but I think Nola Doughnuts in the Pearl district is a hidden gem. Croissants and doughnuts combined! *drools*

          I do agree Salt & Straw is great, as well.

      2. Upcoming Road Trip*

        Biscuits and gravy is ruthlessly memed. I feel like we should at least try…

        Thanks for the recommendations!

        1. LemonLyman*

          Biscuits and gravy are a southern thing and not super popular here on the west coast. Not saying you can’t get it (as comment or above mentions) but just be aware that it’s just not going to be the same as getting it at a restaurant in the Southern part of the US.

          1. Calliope*

            They’re very popular in Portland for whatever reason. I recommend Pine State Biscuits or Tin Shed on Alberta St.

            The Alberta Arts District in general is a lot of fun to poke around. Salt and Straw is there though it has a lot of locations – it’s all over the West Coast now but started in Portland. It’s “quirky” ice cream flavors but all good. It also has a lot of good restaurants and boutiques.

            In general the most Portland thing to do is food cart pods. Find a pod that has a bunch of different things to try. Hawthorne Asylum is centrally located and has a lot of good carts.

            Obviously Powells Books is mandatory.

            1. pancakes*

              I haven’t been to Seattle yet but I have Pine State bookmarked in maps. Also Hi-Spot Cafe, which looks like a great place for breakfast and has a non-traditional biscuits and gravy with chorizo on the menu. Geraldine’s Counter looks promising for breakfast, too, and they have a classic biscuits and gravy on the menu.

              I also want to go to Transom or The Butcher’s Table for steak, Spinasse, Tàvolata, or Vito’s for Italian, Lan Huê Sandwich & Bakery for bánh mì and baked goodies, Phở Ba for pho, Honey Court Seafood for dim sum, Slab Sandwich + Pie for both of those things, Ghost Note coffee, and The White Swan Public House, Taylor Shellfish Bar, and Matsu for seafood. I was going to say also the Center for Wooden Boats just because I like those, but apparently it has permanently closed.

              I bookmark a lot of places (and make lists by city, country, category, etc.) in Google Maps, which also has the advantage of having lots of pictures of the food for many restaurants. I love a good browse of a place I hope to visit.

              1. pancakes*

                Sorry, I don’t know where “Transom” came from. Typo swiftly grabbed by autocorrect, I suppose. I meant Bateau in Seattle.

    6. Miel*

      Would your son be open to a birthday donut?

      Voodoo Donuts is a well known Portland establishment. They’re pretty quirky! And fun! And they do birthday donuts!

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        He is very keen on donuts but we don’t really get interesting ones here. I shall ask him, thank you!

        1. GraceC*

          Here in the UK, Doughnotts (East Midlands small chain, I think there’s four shops now) does some pretty fancy doughnuts if you do take a liking to them!

        2. Calliope*

          Blue Star has better donuts. Voodoo is a Portland establishment but not the pinnacle of the form.

    7. Ali G*

      I don’t know if it’s still there, but there is a pizza place in Portland called A Pizza Scholls. I am from the east coast, and this is best pizza I’ve had outside of the Philly area where I grew up (I basically had a pizza place in my backyard run by a first generation Italian-American family that lived in my neighborhood).
      Warning: they only make a set amount of skins per day and when they run out, they close up. So go early!

      1. RosyGlasses*

        They are my favorite place! I don’t think they are doing dine in again yet – only to go.

        1. Upcoming Road Trip*

          Wow! I think dinner is sorted for Portland because birthday boy loves steak and spouse has secured a local steak recommendation, but I appreciate your suggestion, thank you.

          1. David*

            If you’re interested in pizza, there’s a place in the San Francisco Bay Area (specifically two locations in San Jose and Sunnyvale) called A Slice of New York that I would highly recommend. I also grew up on the East Coast and am very familiar with New York style pizza and this place is legit. (They also are worker-owned, have excellent customer service, and take COVID safety seriously, unlike some other restaurants I’ve been to, so they’re worth supporting.) But a word of advice: if you want the proper NY style pizza experience, go for something minimal, like a plain cheese pizza or a single topping. Pepperoni, mushroom, sausage, and olives are among the classic choices. The “specialty” pizzas on their menu that have like 5-8 different toppings are – I think – somewhat of a concession to doing business in California, where cramming a bunch of random toppings on is way more typical than in NY.

            And since you’re interested in American food in general, you should know that there are many different styles of pizza from different parts of the country: New York style, Chicago style, Detroit style, and so on. I’ll resist the temptation to convince you that one of these styles is the best ;-) and instead say that they really are distinctly different variations on pizza and it’d be worth your while to try as many of them as you have a chance to. (Not all on this trip, I mean in general.)

              1. pancakes*

                There’s a place in Portland called Seastar Bakery that has several breakfast pizzas available. I’ve had similar pizzas elsewhere and it can be really good!

            1. Bad at picking names*

              A Slice of New York! My NJ-born husband claims they’re the closest to NY pizza he’s been able to find on the Bay Area, after many years of looking. Definitely worth a try.

    8. California Dreamin’*

      I live in LA, and yes, your must-do here would be great Mexican food, especially tacos, or maybe tamales. I don’t think we’re particularly known for diners, but you could try Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles for great fried chicken and Southern food. Oh! Or you could go to Phillipe’s in downtown LA, home of the original French Dip.
      Raisin Bran will be everywhere except Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        Do you have any particular taco recommendations? Thanks for your suggestions!

        1. California Dreamin’*

          Your most authentic experience would be a taco truck on the street. But if you’d like something that’s more of a restaurant with a really lovely outdoor LA atmosphere, we like Salazar in Atwater Village. (Make a reservation.) Bear in mind Los Angeles is HUGE. So this might be really far from where you’re staying, but you can surely find something great near you.

      2. Jane*

        Diners I grew up going to in LA:

        1) Mel’s: a tourist trap that probably isn’t worth it anymore, but it is 1950s-themed.
        2) Cafe 101 (The 101 Coffee Shop): Kind of hipster. Used to be popular among certain celebrities, but I never saw any one more famous than a YouTube star there.
        3) House of Pies: generic diner, but you’ll finally understand that joke in Arrested Development about it?

        For tacos, all I’ll say is try tacos al pastor. Personally, I would also recommend trying to get Armenian and Persian food in LA. Zankou Chicken and Raffi’s.

        1. California Dreamin’*

          Oh, I live in Glendale and can’t believe I didn’t think of Armenian food! Raffi’s and Zankou are both great recommendations. Or Carousel.

    9. ObserverCN*

      Portland has a great food scene, and Oregon in general has really good local beer and wine. CBD drinks are popular too, if you’re into that.
      Fred Meyer is a prominent local grocery store that has just about everything, including Raisin Bran. Have fun!

    10. Dino*

      Portlander here! Jaciva’s on Hawthorne is spoken highly of for cake. Whole Foods won’t have name brand Raisin Bran (as far as I know, can’t afford to shop there heh) but Safeway or Fred Meyers will for sure. For restaurant suggestions, check out the website for our alt-weekly paper the Portland Mercury. They have a whole food and drink section and you’ll soon have a list too long of places to eat!

      One tip from someone who lives here: the pandemic has hit Portland hard. Don’t be surprised to see entire blocks where the sidewalk is just tents, especially around Chinatown. Unfortunately living on the streets is hard and some unhoused folks can be unstable/scary; if you encounter that, the best thing to do is not make eye contact and keep it moving. It’s a wonderful city with tons to eats, see, and do, but I wanted to put that out there.

      Safe and happy travels to you and yours, and please update us once you’re back home! I’m so curious to know what you think of American food.

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        I’ll look up Jaciva’s, thank you.

        Unfortunately I’ve already heard about the difficulties facing unhoused populations in several of the areas we’re visiting. I gather this was a problem even in the Before Times.

        1. Dino*

          There has always been a problem, for sure. Too little affordable housing, not enough good jobs, and a lack of social services. The pandemic multiplied all that by 100. I’m no fainting flower but the city is different now. I wouldn’t call it dangerous and I still love it here, but some friends visiting from out of the state said they would have appreciated a heads up before they came.

    11. Missb*

      Portlander here.

      Yes, Raisin Bran will be easy to find. Fred Meyers is usually a larger store, if you want a more compact store go for Safeway. Freds is usually a bit cheaper than Safeway. WinCo is even cheaper but unlikely to be near any area you stay in.

      If you want upscale fancy NW food, I like Jakes. For casual family dining consider trying one of the bigger McMenamins like Kennedy School or Edgefield. Edgefield is further out but really nice to wander around on a nice day. These all have websites so I won’t bother to link you but they’re worth looking at. A hidden gem that I personally love is Huber’s. They serve turkey dinners every night, and do a show of Spanish coffees. It’s a very old establishment that’s tucked away in the interior of building.

      Helen Bernhardt on Broadway in NE Portland has amazing cakes. They probably lean a bit spendy but imo it’s worth it. Someone else mentioned voodoo donuts and that’s good. But blue star is better. They have a lovely orange olive oil donut that cannot be properly described.

      I wouldn’t be a Portlander if I failed to mention Powells. If you like books at all, you should go there.

      Someone else has already flagged the homeless problem. It’s horrible, so sorry.

        1. Missb*

          Oh there are just so many spots! It’s hard to remember them all. I completely left off OMSI, but that’s a must do if they have kids.

          If they are staying downtown, they could take Max to the zoo.

          If they are here on a nice day and have a rental car, I’d recommend George Rogers park in lake Oswego, just a few minutes south of downtown Portland. The park wanders down to the river through a series of parking lots. It appears to end in a round grassy area but there are steps on the other side that take you down to a very long sandy beach at the Willamette River where you can dip your toes in if you want. It’s a large enough beach that you don’t feel crowded in. (And lake o doesn’t have a big homeless population atm). Foothills park is a bit north of there and is a lovely spot for a picnic. There are paths to walk that take you to some columns that are interesting. And you can get to the upper dock to look out over the river.

          I’m not sure what the parking situation is with Multnomah Falls, but the falls is impressive. They’ve gone to some sort of reservation system perhaps with the parking lot. There is public transit all the way out there via the bus but it’s ridiculously long.

          1. Upcoming Road Trip*

            We are indeed staying downtown. I’ll look out for these suggestions, thank you. Our Portland stay is between two sets of “too much driving” so active/outdoor ideas are useful.

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        Great stuff, thank you.

        You mentioned turkey dinners at Hubers – would that be like a scaled down thanksgiving dinner? Maybe they’ll even serve both types of rolls…

        1. Missb*

          Huber’s is just so well known for its turkey dinner! I think of turkey as a Thanksgiving thing but they do it year round. It is a scaled down version- turkey, mashed and gravy, veg or salad and cranberry sauce.

          It is a bit of a formal restaurant- I think you’d get a sense of it if you looked at it online. Huber’s Cafe.

    12. Squidhead*

      Re: Raisin Bran…most big stores will carry a “name brand” (like Kellogg’s) of a cereal and also will have a house/generic brand. They may (or may not) be fairly different: my parents both liked Raisin Bran a lot but preferred the generic brand because the raisins didn’t have sugar on them like the Kellogg’s did. (I don’t like raisins, so my perspective on this is second-hand; just something to be aware of.)

      As to Native American food-I’ve eaten it at very small places in AZ and NM. Sometimes literally stands on the side of the road, but we’re talking about 25 years ago so it might be either easier or harder to find now if you aren’t a local.

      Hope you have a great trip!

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        … the idea of putting sugar on raisins is making me blink. That’s something for me to look out for, thank you! Happy for the children to try the 99% marshmallow cereals if they want to, but we may need a familiar fallback which would want to be as familiar as possible.

    13. Former Oregonian*

      Not sure if the route your taking will go through/near Florence or Newport in Oregon, but Mo’s is a seafood restaurant with locations in both cities that’s mentioned on a few lists of nationally recommended restaurants.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Mo’s has lost its ability to claim best clam chowder (in my opinion). Some people either love it or don’t – we have found much better chowder at some hole in the wall spots but it is a “known” spot with several locales which makes it easy to find!

      2. Upcoming Road Trip*

        We’ll be flying into Portland from SFO and driving north, alas. Thank you for the suggestion though!

        1. Managing to Get By*

          That’s too bad as the northern california and oregon coasts are great for roadtrips.

      3. tangerineRose*

        Sorry you aren’t checking out Newport. I was going to recommend the Oregon Coast Aquarium – it’s great. I was even on a behind-the-scenes tour there once, and it’s impressive how well they care for and how much they care about their animals.

    14. Undine*

      The SF bay area has quite good bread and localish cheeses. For hard cheese, I personally still love a good cheddar, but cheese companies like cowgirl creamery, etc. make very good artisan cheese. (There’s something called the cheese trail you can look up). For bread you’re looking for something that is sold in a bakery, boutique grocery, or s high end grocery like while foods, that it unsliced and wrapped in paper. Types include baguettes, walnut levain, batarde…

      Trader Joe’s has various fun flavored snacks, like Chili lime pistachios. Local farmers markets are a good place not only to pick up produce but maybe to get some finger food. Coming from the UK, Mexican food is widely available throughout California and ranges from hole in the wall on up (watermelon-lime salad) and the peddlers selling helado (ice cream) out of a hand truck will have interesting flavors too (more chilli lime).

      Calimari, if you can get them fresh and small, are fantastic. Halibut excellent and local in season, but I think that’s winter. Artichokes can be local, there’s an artichoke festival in Monterey I think, and the famous garlic festival in Gilroy.

        1. Jen in Oregon*

          Not sure where you’ll be in Portland, but there’s a TJ’s just south of Portland right off of I-5, Lake Oswego Exit 292. Highly recommended for travel snacks!

          For a great fancy cake for not too much $$, there’s a little Mom & Pop bakery called Lux Sucre off of I-5 about 10 miles south of that, Wilsonville/Charbonneau Exit 282.

    15. Lady Alys*

      You might check out Roadfood (roadfood dot com), which started as guidebook in 1977 by Jane & Michael Stern, who drove around looking for the hole-in-the-wall places wherever they went. It’s since turned into a public television show.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes! I spotted them in a restaurant once years ago, a breakfast place in Connecticut known for its unusual clam hash. They used to live there; not sure if they still do.

    16. Jackalope*

      For other possible stops that you mentioned, I would suggest trying Pike Place Market in Seattle for both food and a fun experience. They have a wide variety of different food options and many of them are unique and different. That’s also right next to the Seattle waterfront which has several good seafood places. I don’t remember the names of them but I haven’t gone to any on the waterfront there that weren’t good. They generally have really good clam chowder and als good fish and chips.

      You didn’t ask about this but if you’re interested in zoos I recommend both Woodland Park in Seattle and Point Defiance in Tacoma. I personally prefer the Point Defiance Zoo more because it’s a more wieldy size – you can make it through the whole thing in a one- day excursion that is doable for littles (ie a couple of hours) – but both are lovely.

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        It would be interesting to see if WA fish and chips are like GB fish and chips. Pike Place Market sounds great, thanks.

        1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

          Comparing y’all’s fish and chips to Washington’s is like comparing your beer to our beer.
          Similarities stop at the name.

    17. Jackalope*

      For other possible stops that you mentioned, I would suggest trying Pike Place Market in Seattle for both food and a fun experience. They have a wide variety of different food options and many of them are unique and different. That’s also right next to the Seattle waterfront which has several good seafood places. I don’t remember the names of them but I haven’t gone to any on the waterfront there that weren’t good. They generally have really good clam chowder and als good fish and chips.

      You didn’t ask about this but if you’re interested in zoos I recommend both Woodland Park in Seattle and Point Defiance in Tacoma. I personally prefer the Point Defiance Zoo more because it’s a more wieldy size – you can make it through the whole thing in a one- day excursion that is doable for littles (ie a couple of hours) – but both are lovely.

      (I don’t know what the weather will be like or which areas you’re going through, but if you can get to a place to see Mt. Rainier up close that would be great.)

      1. RosyGlasses*

        Second the rec for Pike Place; and Greenlake Park is also an amazing place that has boats you can take out on the lake as well. We always like to take a long walk around the park when we visit. Hot Cakes is a chocolate cake shop that I discovered on a trip (they have a couple locations I believe – Seattle is broken up into neighborhoods and regions) and it is sooo yummy!!!

    18. the cat's ass*

      If you find yourself in Oakland CA, there is an Indigenous spot called Wahpepa’s Kitchen, and the chef/owner is up for a James Beard Award. And it’s FANTASTIC.

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        I don’t think we are, but spouse is sufficiently intrigued to be looking it up. Thanks for the suggestion!

    19. LemonLyman*

      I know I’ve commented a ton on this thread so maybe I’m just missing traveling and exploring right now! On your drive north from LA, I recommend stopping in the Santa Barbara area. It’s a cool area and was originally a weekend getaway area for the stars. Pismo Beach is also a cute stop along the ocean. Good for a cup of clam chowder (They’ll all advertise themselves as “World’s Best”!).

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        We’re flying that section, but thank you for the suggestion!

        (the trip is an odd mix of short flights and long drives, so we can fit enough in without taking too much time off work and out of school)

    20. Nicki Name*

      For a truly Portland food experience, you need to visit a food cart pod! One of the larger ones is the Cart Blocks, which happens to be just a few blocks down the hill from Powell’s.

      If you’re coming in June, be aware that that’s Rose Festival time. Lots of special events, but expect downtown to be full of crowds, mass transit to be packed, etc. Check rosefestival.org for the details.

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        The food truck pod appears to be a whole two blocks from our hotel, and we are expecting to arrive quite late. I see gyros on our horizon…

        Thank you!

    21. Tex*

      Whole Foods for the Berry Chantilly Cake – very light, smaller size. But probably similar to what you can get in the UK.

      If you want a non-traditional birthday treat and a very Portland experience and are willing to stand in line – Voodoo Donuts.

      Also, there is a food truck pod/court in the middle of Portland so you can sample all the city’s cuisines in one go.

      Gas Station/Drugstore for mini packs of 6 different kinds of boxed cereal in one pack. Explore all the sugar we have!

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        We have those selection boxes here too – Kelloggs and Nestle each do one. But they are a bit… austere here. I’ll look out for a flavor/color explosion!

      2. Upcoming Road Trip*

        A question from spouse: do food trucks tend to take cards/ contactless payment, or are they cash only? In the UK they are often now 100% contactless but I know US banking practices are very different.

        1. Reba*

          I don’t think it’s possible to generalize on this one, but in my city lots of trucks and stands do Square or similar card payments.

          That reminds me, little drive-through coffee stands are something pretty unique to the Pacific NW, do try some!

        2. Nicki Name*

          The majority of carts in Portland will take both cash and cards. A few are cash only. Occasionally there’s a nominal extra fee (like 50 cents) for using a card.

        3. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

          If they are cash only, they will most often have a large sign indicating such.

    22. Melody Pond*

      Would you be open to birthday cupcakes?? I personally got an assortment of AMAZING cupcakes for my last birthday, from a Portland place called Fat Cupcake. Sooo good!

    23. Laura Petrie*

      Are you visiting Crater Lake on your trip? I absolutely loved it there, one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been to.

      We also took a bus through the Columbia River Gorge and visited Multnomah Falls and Hood River.

      I love wandering round American supermarkets. It’s a completely different experience to the UK. I really like Goldfish crackers, Swedish Fish sweets and trying random chocolate bars. If you see a Trader Joe’s, they’re fab too.

      Portland rose garden is beautiful and easy to get to on public transport. We had a lovely walk through the woods too. You can get some nice city views from the aerial tramway and we had a random, but enjoyable visit to the railway museum. It’s quite small and run by volunteers, but they’re very enthusiastic and there are some interesting exhibits. We are transport nerds though!

      1. Upcoming Road Trip*

        The rose garden sounds amazing.

        Spouse used to bring Swedish Fish back from business trips to the US – I have fond memories of setting them into blue jelly (er, jell-o) for a pirate-themed birthday party.


    24. pancakes*

      I haven’t been to Portland yet but looking at my bookmarks, Pix Patisserie looks good and has some amazing looking cakes on its website. Will link separately. It is a French bakery that shares space with a tapas bar called Bar Vivant.

        1. Jen in Oregon*

          Cool thing about Pix is that they have a refrigerated vending machine out front so, technically, you can get something from there at any time, day or night. When using the above link, click out Pix-o-matic for more info.

      1. Jortina*

        You’ve gotten some great recommendations, just wanted to chime in on the weather in Portland: it could be rainy in late June/early July but it could just as easily be 100 degrees. Be prepared for either.
        Skip voo doo donuts and get blue star, I second Jacivas for cake, and Salt and Straw is great but if you find yourself in SE Portland I highly recommend Cloud City Ice Cream.

    25. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      Sorry I’m late, but welcome to my stomping grounds.
      Unless you are dead-set on having an actual cake, may I recommend one of Portland’s many indie doughnut shops? Voodoo Donuts is the most widely known, but Blue Star also makes amazing cake-y doughnuts and it would make it unique to the trip.
      As for unique places to eat, in Portland I would recommend Pine State Biscuits for breakfast. (And to be clear, biscuits here are fluffy, buttermilk bread, not confection sweets.) For dinner, I’d recommend McMenamin’s as a good, unique, and yet safe, solid place to eat.
      In Seattle, I’d say probably the most “Seattle” restaurant would be Ivar’s Seafood. They have a couple places in the area and are always really good (I’m not usually a seafood person, but I like it there too.)

      1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        Also: For the love of books, you must visit Powell’s City of Books in Portland and Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle. Two great indies.

  10. Bumblebeee*

    I don’t know if there are many AAMers in Russia, but I’ve been wondering what day to day life has been for Russians since the Ukraine invasion. I feel for ordinary Russian residents who had nothing to do with the war but are affected by the (totally appropriate) sanctions and universal condemnation of what Putin is doing. So politics aside, how are people doing in Russia?

    1. RussianInTexas*

      My mom and sisters seems to be ok. We talk, and I haven’t heard of any particular hardships as of yet.
      My fear is I won’t be able to help when hardships do start, because of the banking cut of.

      1. DC*

        If you’re willing to share, what is your family hearing about the war? Is truthful information available? Does the general public seem opposed to the invasion or supportive?

        1. RussianInTexas*

          My mom and aunt are on the older side and don’t speak English, so whatever they see/hear is what’s on the state – approved media. My mom fully believe that the invasion is justified, which is heartbreaking. My mom is a nice, sweet, caring, and smart person. This is a problem with the majority of the older people there, the isn’t much information available unless you are able to go to the English speaking non-russian websites.
          I don’t ask much about the general public, because I don’t want to hear about how the whole thing is necessary, and I don’t want to put anything in writing, because I don’t want to get anyone in trouble for “seditious” media.
          I read local news in Russian, and they of course are all gang ho, because they don’t have much of a choice.

          1. allathian*

            The Finnish public broadcaster Yle has a website in Russian (Russians and Russian-speaking Estonians and Ukrainians are our biggest linguistic minority). Google “Novosti Yle” for more info. The largest Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (hs.fi) is also currently publishing news about the crisis in Russian. Neither is behind a paywall, and at least unless and until Russia shuts down access to the rest of the internet, it’s a way to get news from sources that aren’t controlled by the Kremlin.

            Your situation is absolutely heartbreaking, I’m so sorry.

  11. WoodswomanWrites*

    Birding thread. What birds have you been seeing and what are they up to?

    I was on a road trip and made a stop at a wildlife refuge that’s a favorite destination when the wintering waterbird populations are peaking. It was past the peak season and most had left, but it was nice to a have one more unexpected visit to see some ducks and geese that hadn’t yet headed northward.

    Also, the red-tailed hawk I mentioned seeing a couple weeks ago once again made an appearance on the telephone pole across the street to the consternation of the local crows. Having not ever seen a red-tail in my neighborhood until a couple weeks ago, I’m psyched that the bird is apparently settling in.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I must have been writing my ‘little joy’ for this week’s thread when you were posting this question. My bluebird house has been discovered.
      I’ve also spotted a hawk eating in a tree nearby, unfortunately with too much coverage to identify. In other years this property has been visited by Red Tails, Ospreys, and what I think was a Cooper’s Hawk.
      Admittedly I’m now worried for the bluebirds!

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      We have our first red winged blackbirds of the season at our pond! There is also now a resident bald eagle in town that is making regular passes over our pond as well. He (she?) is HUGE. We had a great blue heron catch a fish yesterday evening. And the birds are singing every morning. I haven’t seen any bluebirds though. Fingers crossed they come. I keep putting up boxes, so I think they have plenty of inventory to choose from!

      1. Tea and Cake*

        The blue heron “honk” is fantastic! One caught me entirely by surprise flying over the back deck this week, I nearly spilled my tea.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Ours didn’t honk, but he pooped on the barn on his flight out of the yard. lol

      2. Laura Petrie*

        I saw a heron fly over the canal near my house earlier in the week. It was the honk that alerted me to its presence. They always look like they’re too big to fly, I love seeing them.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      I’ve had goldfinches and house finches on my finch feeder this week. I hope the goldfinches stick around; they tend to disappear around the time they get their summer plumage and I don’t know why. I’m seeing bluebirds and that makes me happy. We usually get 2 clutches of eggs in our bluebird house every year. The red-tailed hawks in our neighborhood have been incredibly vocal lately, so I wonder if it’s mating season. I heard a pair of great horned owls one night; we had a mated pair we heard for weeks in 2020 but we never heard them last year.

    4. Despachito*

      How appropriate question!

      Today we saw two turtledoves on our window sill, and they stayed there long enough for us to look at them and admire them.

      When they flew away we found out that there are several tiny branches they brought – apparently they are trying to build a nest.

      Unfortunately, we will have to not let this happen (big city where pigeons and turtledoves are more of a pest and carry diseases, and it is much more acceptable to throw away those few branches before they build a nest, we’d never destroy a nest with eggs) but I feel very sorry for that. They were so sweet.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      A pair of house finches have been scouting out real estate under the eaves outside my bathroom window. Last year that space was occupied by a lovely Eastern king bird family and it was fun to watch them. I’m looking forward to seeing who our new tenants will be!

    6. birdtripping*

      Yay, a birding thread! Here in S. Florida, we’re on the cusp of two seasons: Weird Duck Time is coming to an end, but they and many other snowbirds are still enjoying their winter digs. Spring migration of should begin in earnest next month, but we’ve just started seeing our first Swallow-tailed Kites (swoon) arriving from S. America; they breed here. Painted and Indigo Buntings are still around; we saw many last week, as well as an early Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

      And our resident species are getting their mating games started! Pairs are forming, songs are being sung, and many are donning their beautiful breeding plumages.

      Happy birding, all!

        1. Here for the Randomness*

          Look up the excellent Bird and Moon comic on the four seasons of bird watching. Basically, waterfowl that aren’t mallards are around in winter in the US such as Mergansers, buffleheads, and goldeneyes.

    7. Maryn B.*

      This past week, I saw a bald eagle circling over the quarry behind our neighborhood. There was another large bird flying nearby, mottled and without the white head–maybe Mrs. Eagle? I meant to look up what the females look like and until now, completely forgot.

      1. beep75*

        More likely it was an immature eagle. The male and female adult bald eagles are hard to tell apart except the female is usually bigger I think. For the first year or two, though the chicks are mottled with not much white.

    8. Girasol*

      Kildeers are just back today. Redwings came back a couple weeks ago. The house sparrows are singing their spring songs.

    9. Tea and Cake*

      At the end of a walk with my dog a bald eagle flew right over us, about 10 feet above our heads. It was impressively large.

    10. A Feast of Fools*

      I now have what I think is a mating pair of red-tailed hawks in my area. One was sitting in a tree, being harassed by crows and was so boring that the crows finally gave up and left. It stayed sitting for so long that I was beginning to wonder if it was injured.

      Then a shadow crossed over my yard and the hawk launched itself toward the incoming bird. Both hawks landed in another tree in my yard and took turns lightly preening/grooming each other.

      On the same day, I was tossing pecans up on top of my garage for a squirrel who was on the roof when the squirrel suddenly took off like it was shot out of a cannon. The thing that scared it was a Cooper’s hawk, who veered away from the garage and headed toward my fence, scaring the bejeebus out of the flock of doves that were eating sunflower seeds at the base of the fence. Cooper’s hawks aren’t very big, but they’re acrobatic and fierce. Pretty sure the only reason it didn’t get a snack out of my yard was because I was standing there. (And then trotting after it to try to get a picture. :-D )

  12. New Tutor*

    My niece has a speech impediment for which she’s been getting professional help. She’s in Kindergarten and lagging behind her peers due to her speech. I’ve started tutoring her two times a week for extra support. Does anyone have suggestions for free resources that are available online? I’ve found some on my own, but I wonder if anyone here has some hidden gems or suggestions on activities we can do together. Thanks!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Singing? I have seen people talk about using singing as a helper/assistant with talking.

    2. fposte*

      Teachers Pay Teachers (at teacherspayteachers dot com) requires a signup but is free to join. While most exercises have a charge there are plenty of free ones; I just looked and there’s a “speech therapy” subject and a bunch of free exercises under that heading.

    3. AspiringGardener*

      Wouldn’t her SLP be providing the specific homework/exercises she should be working on? This isn’t a area that I would go rogue

    4. Not A Manager*

      My child had speech therapy for a gazillion years and his therapist provided extensive homework for him. (Tu-tu-tu-tu. Ta-ta-ta-ta. Tee-tee-tee-tee. Put-Puh-Puh. Etc.) It was a full 15 minutes every day, which is a lot for a young kid. Later he had language therapy which also involved homework, mostly things like listing all of the words he could think of in a particular category, like “vegetables” or “parts of a car.”

      If I were you, I’d ask the parents to hook me up with the speech therapist and ask for specific homework you can do with the child that explicitly ties in with whatever they are currently working on.

    5. OtterB*

      I agree to have the mom ask the therapist or teacher if there’s something specific you should work on. But in general I would advise being as fun as possible with games rather than worksheets. I liked the books by Peggy Kaye on Games for Writing and Games for Reading.

    6. Susie*

      What exactly is she lagging behind in? In kindergarten the primary learning should be play based. It is really really important that she enjoys the time. If she is getting frustrated or upset, you could delay her progress even further.
      I echo earlier commenters that you need to collaborate with the speech therapist or teacher. They also might have access to programs you can use (like Lexia or Raz kids). While the pedagogical strategies used may not make sense to a non-teacher, there are strategies behind phonics instruction and math instruction that are built on in later years, so whatever you do definitely needs to reinforce the school work. Also, beside the speech element, is the teacher concerned or is the concern coming from her parents? Is there a person who does interventions at the school? Have they tried that process yet?

      One way to have fun with language learning is story telling. Maybe do an activity together and then have her draw a picture and tell a story about it. Is she can write a few words, great. If not write them for her. Maybe get some kindergarten level Bob books. But overall, it is kindergarten and learning has been incredibly disrupted for all kids. Support her being curious and having new experiences.

    7. LemonLyman*

      I think a lot of this is going to depend on what she’s receiving speech therapy for, but as a person with a degree in literacy development and teaching reading experience, I suggest rhyming games which can help with both speech and phonemic awareness. PA is a fundamental skill for reading.

    8. Batgirl*

      You should check if her teachers have paid for an account too. If they have bought Lexia for her to do phonics, for example you can just log on to it at home as well.

    9. New Tutor*

      Thank you for the suggestions. We’ve had two sessions so far. I read her favorite stories, and we talked about them. We also watched YouTube videos with songs covering phonics and the alphabet and sang along (she loves music, singing, and dancing). We ended both sessions with a creative game where she used many words. She seems to enjoy our sessions, and I know it’s important to keep it that way. I will ask my sister to speak to the speech therapist about activities that I can do with her to reinforce specific things they’re working on. I’ll also check out the resources mentioned here. Thank you!

    10. Sunshine*

      We got an outside speech professional in addition to what he gets at school. The progress has really been much quicker. It’s covered by our insurance. Ours is via zoom. They have a great time. I wish we would have done it a year ago. (Mines in first now). I don’t think school can recommend you look for outside support but they can tell you names of good ones if you ask.

  13. The Prettiest Curse*

    What’s the most ridiculous flouncing or attempted flouncing that you’ve ever witnessed in an online community? (Not this one.) I appreciate that this site is pretty low on dramatic flouncing attempts, but TV discussion boards in the late 90s were the opposite.

    My favorite flouncings were always the ones which resulted in the person quietly returning a week later – or coming back under a brand new username, but with a mysteriously identical writing style and opinions. Oh, and there was the discussion board admin who was secretly reading members’ direct messages, which taught me that nothing online is ever truly private. Fun times…

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      Parentsplace circa late 90s/early 2000s had some pretty great ones, complete with “Well, maybe I should just leave the board. Poll time: who thinks I should leave and who thinks I should stay?” Etiquette Hell was a magnet for that kind of thing as well, greatly enhanced by the host/mods and their wildly uneven enforcement of the rules. What an interesting place message boards were back then…

      1. fposte*

        I knew the creator of Etiquette Hell from Usenet, and wow, she was a drama cyclone. I was always amused that she founded an etiquette site.

      2. RagingADHD*

        The EHell owner flounced epically from her own board, including threatening (unspecified) legal action against pretty much all the users.

    2. fposte*

      This is sort of the opposite, but my favorite flounce is from NextDoor. A guy I actually rather like got caught in some stupid argument and finally said, “I’m quitting this stupid site. Find your own damn pets.” Since in my NextDoor, as in most, the majority of posts are about cats that haven’t come home and dogs that got out, this was just hilariously on target to me.

      In the old LiveJournal days there were the people who left in indignation and were then reported at death’s door by a loved one who typed just like them.

      1. Dino*

        That is the best NextDoor flounce I’ve heard of. Got a cackle out of me.

        Livejournal flounces we’re always like that! I still laugh thinking about the fakeljdeaths community.

          1. AGD*

            Oh heavens, I’m now remembering the young woman who claimed to be dying of cancer and the little group who figured out, by carefully fact-checking her stories about treatment, that she was making it up. She showed up with a smiley face about week after her supposed death.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Wow, the LiveJournal fake deaths thing is wild! If there was a whole site devoted to it, they must have been pretty incompetent fakers. And “find your own damn pets” made me laugh.

      3. the cat's ass*

        Next Door Flounces ALLLLLLLL the time. I finally removed the app b/c it got too flouncy! There was a mom website back in the early 2010’s that had a lot of butthurt, and i bailed without flouncing after i got dogpiled for adopting and not wanting to breastfeed (for the record, i was 52 at the time).

    3. Generic Name*

      Wow, this brought back a long buried memory. When I was pregnant with my now teenage son, I was very active in a message board on pregnancy.org. No idea if that site is even active anymore. There was this one woman on there who was very opinionated and outspoken and said both obnoxious and uncomfortably oversharing things. She had like 8 kids and at least 2 sets of identical twins. Her profile pic showed her whole family. She was eventually kicked off the boards (I guess this doesn’t count as flouncing), and the admin gave a reason that didn’t make sense to me at the time. Something about lying? I don’t really remember. She had pictures, so we assumed what she said was true. Maybe 6 months later I watched a show on TLC maybe about this family with multiple sets of twins, and it was this lady! Now I’m wondering if the account in the message board was spoofed or something. It felt very dramatic when it was going down, though.

    4. A Feast of Fools*

      My favorite flounces are the ones where someone dramatically declares they’re leaving because everyone else in the group is a degenerate loser. . . and then when someone says, “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” or “Bye, Felicia,” the Flouncer replies along the lines of “You’re not going to get rid of me that easily!!” as if the announced departure was a forced exit.

    5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      A friend just recently told me of a knit or crochet group that got surprisingly emotional with dramatic flounces. She was flounce flummoxed over that one.

    6. Virginia Plain*

      I will never forget a member of a forum/bulletin board for let’s say friends and family supporting people in a difficult profession. One person was arousing suspicion that they were a fake (being friend/family in this situation confers a sort of status, if you need to get a life) because some things they said just seemed a bit off, not quite right. Can’t remember details sadly. Anyway they were being politely challenged and called out, and it was getting awkward; they were running out of excuses. And then suddenly they had to go into hospital and their “spouse” used their account to tell us they “died”. Nobody believed this, I’m not being callous, it was preposterous. I quote “This is Jane’s spouse. She went in for the op. Something went wrong. She didn’t make it”. And that’s all she wrote.
      Would have just been a bit pathetic but a few months later having apparently been using the live chat attached to the boards, they posted “hey the girls in live chat said I should post in the main forum so here I am” etc FROM THE ORIGINAL ACCOUNT. With the number of posts already made from the account showing right there. It was comedy gold; more than one comment saying, hang on I thought you died? I found and quoted the original post under the same username. The account went quiet again very quickly then was banned. I can’t imagine why she thought we wouldn’t realise – it was for sure less than a year.

    7. Figgie*

      My favorite flounce story must have been 20 plus years ago. Don’t remember the name of the website anymore, but it was pretty epic, since the website owner thought their website was the equivalent of a curated library. Right before the person left, they removed ALL of their posts, going back years. Which left the website owner in a frothing rage as it didn’t appear that the owner had realized that people could remove their posts. It was changed to no removals after that.

      As far as I know, the person who left never came back. They just took their posts and walked away. :-)

      1. Theo*

        I’m a member of a special-interest forum that’s been going on for over fifteen years, and doesn’t allow users to delete their posts. However, the way we found out users could ESSENTIALLY delete their posts was by the antithesis of a flounce — a long-time user left for a reason I don’t remember, and she did it extremely quietly with pretty much no warning. But before she did, she edited every single one of her (thousands of) posts to “-“. No one found out for days. It was a huge piece of drama; I actually don’t know what the mods did about it, because you can’t remove the ability to edit posts!

  14. Inefficient Cat Herder*

    Thank you Alison, for recommending “A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking”. That one sent me into a rabbit hole of creative YA fantasy, which is perfect for stressful times!

    I am open to other suggestions as well (love Diana Wynne Jones, too)

    1. OtterB*

      I like those too for low stress. Have you read all of TKingfisher / Ursula Vernon’s YA/Middle Grade books? Minor Mage, Castle Hangnail, Summer in Orcus. I also recommend Jillian vs the Parasite Planet (blanking on author). The wizard books by Diane Duane beginning with So You Want to be a Wizard. The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper by AJ Fitzwater (a capybara runs away to sea to be a pirate). The Crater School series by Chaz Brenchley, classic British school stories taking place on a colonized Mars. The Guildmaster series by CE Murphy, ships and guilds and apprentices mastering their magic. Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer and sequel, about online friendships and who you can count on and, oh, an AI that likes cat pictures.

      1. Inefficient Cat Herder*

        I just finished Summer in Orcus this morning! I also have read ‘Minor Mage’ and ‘Raven and Reindeer’

        Thank you for the rest of the suggestions!

    2. Forensic13*

      Have you read Tamora Pierce? Her Circle of Magic series sounds like it would be especially up your alley!

    3. Smol Book Wizard*

      Kate Milford has some lovely lovely stuff for kids and teens but suitable and beautiful for all ages. A sort of alternate, magical history American New England town setting (I would love to visit her Nagspeake) with great descriptions and characters. Similar vibes to Diana Wynne Jones but with some nicer adults mostly.

  15. Seeking Second Childhood*

    A low- to no-stakes ethics question: if you’re not competing against anyone, is it OK to do some research when doing Internet quizzes?
    I’ve gotten hooked on geography quiz game “Worldle” (no not a typo, but a tribute patterned on the other game).
    Where I draw the line is that I may look at maps but not use any image-search tools.
    For me, it’s a fun way to rebuild my geographic knowledge. I have had a quirky interest in maps since childhood but like any other skill, country recognition fades when not used. Even out of practice, I’ve gotten it on the first answer a handful of times. I pull up a regional map to study when I don’t get it in 3.

    1. Angstrom*

      That’s fine. I look up things when I’m truly stumped on a crossword.

      I’ve found that putting a puzzle down for a while and then coming back to it gives my brain a reset, and I usually come up with a few more answers.

    2. Wordle love*

      I will use a dictionary site to help me if I get totally stuck in Wordle. If you’re playing for fun, then do whatever makes it fun for you! The only “ethics” I can see would be if you involved others and lied about getting help- like if you bragged on social media about how easy today’s Wordle was for you but declined to mention using a map.

    3. sswj*

      Sure, why not? I do something similar with the NYT crossword and other spelling games. For instance, I’m not much of a movie or TV person, so I look up a lot of cast lists to try and figure out clues. For Spelling Bee I’ll do a word search when I get stuck. It puts words in my vocabulary and prods my brain into more creative thinking.

      I figure that makes it not so much a competition (competing against yourself) and more of an educational thing, and learning something or making your brain work is never a bad idea.

      1. Despachito*

        I “cheat” like this all the time – I look at the maps/Wikipedia in Sporcle, and I even use a special Wordle unjumbler.

        As far as I only do it for fun and do not brag about my results, I do not see any ethical problem with it. And at least I finally learn where some countries lie (I have always sucked at geographics).

    4. Janet Pinkerton*

      I think it’s fine! You’re only ever competing against yourself with these sorts of games. (It’s crappy to use outside resources if you’re like, bragging on your scores without caveats.)

      I too really love maps and Worldle but I tell you, I have a hard time with the non-countries they choose. Just brutal. I’m also quite bad at island locations. But the game is getting me better!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          That’s one where it paid to be old… the 1980s US military base was covered in a current events unit in my social studies class. Still had to go to the globe before I remembered why I’d seen that weird shape…I was thinking nuclear test sites TBH.

    5. AY*

      I don’t cheat on the Monday and Tuesday crosswords, try really hard not to cheat on the Wednesday, but I do use google for the back half of the week. Google maps for figuring out what countries border the Caspian Sea, IMDb for looking up cast lists, that sort of stuff. I like to figure out the puns and wordplay clues myself, but if I don’t know what country is south of the Caspian Sea, then I just don’t know. I always admit to cheating, so I don’t feel bad about it.

    6. CatCat*

      It’s totally okay. It impacts no one but you. Play your game with whatever strategies make it enjoyable!

    7. Blue Eagle*

      I never heard of this game before so thanks for sharing. I just tried it and I don’t know how you could possibly guess Bouvet Island without a map to show you that this tiny island exists (plus looking the island up on the internet to see what it’s shape is).

      Looking forward to seeing what tomorrow’s country is.

    8. fposte*

      I *love* Worldle, and I’m a big “absolutely fine to look things up.” Hell, this morning on Worldle I had to go through several maps and then still assumed I was guessing wrong, because I hadn’t heard of the place.

      There’s no money or competition at stake in these. It’s about how you have fun. If you want to hack Wordle and have the wordlist at the ready, knock yourself out. Somebody above mentioned Geoguessr and I feel the same about that at the goofing around level.

      (I got Guernsey in *one* the other day on Worldle! As a USAn, I was very proud.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I got it in 2, because I second guessed myself. Figured I was imagining things because I still had a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on my nightstand.

        1. fposte*

          I’ve actually been there so I’ve been waiting for it or Jersey to come up. But other than that, I’m really bad at the islands, hence my delight.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I got Guernsey at 3, Diego Garcia at 3, but I got NAURU in one.
        I will forever brag about that one lol.
        *I have a geography degree, my professors would be proud of me using it exclusively in an online game*

    9. Courageous cat*

      Why… would it *not* be ok? If you’re not competing with anyone, then it’s entirely for your entertainment and you can do whatever you want.

    10. ecnaseener*

      Of course it’s okay. It’s a single-player game, the *only* point is to have fun. There is no omniscient umpire who is harmed by you breaking the rules. (Unless that’s your theology I guess!)

      I look at maps for worldle when I get stuck, sometimes without borders/labels but sometimes the whole google maps shebang. And for OG wordle (and squardle) I wrote a whole python script for guesses! Because that’s what’s fun for me. (And I tell people about it if we’re comparing scores of course)

    11. E. Chauvelin*

      People used to call the library to get help with crosswords all the time; I think of using whatever research methods you want to use on something non-competitive you’re doing just for fun is fine. As a matter of fact I sometimes use the website I used to use to help the crossword people out with Wordle if I’ve got a bit of a pattern but am stumped for guesses.

    12. HBJ*

      I think you can play any way you want, but, yes, I’d consider it cheating. I won’t use any outside resources for Wordle or crosswords or anything like that. It’s fine to use it as a study tool, but that’s not really playing.

    13. someone*

      I use the solvers for help when I find myself trying every combination of remaining letters. The game won’t let you guess fake words so it’s less frustrating then guessing yet another fake word.

    14. Hydrangea McDuff*

      If the only person I’m competing against is myself, I’m good with this. I also cheat at solitaire. But no false pretense posting about how good you are at said trivia or game!

    15. PollyQ*

      Sure, there’s no ethical question involved here at all. It’s a form of entertainment, so do whatever you like.

    16. Longtime Lurker*

      I Sporcle a lot, and figure that if I get enough quiz answers on my own with enough time to google the rest, it’s all well and good. No putting things on pause though!

    17. RagingADHD*

      You can play a game any way that’s fun for you. The Game Police aren’t going to come for you.

    18. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

      I like a certain degree of challenge, so I set rules for myself based on the type of puzzle.

      For letter-shuffle type games (wordle, nyt spelling bee, that old Yahoo Games game text twist) I generally don’t allow myself to use any external source for answers. On rare occasion I would look up just the six-letter answer for Text Twist to avoid breaking a good streak, since that game was on a short (2-minute?) timer so you can’t just put it down and come back later.

      For crosswords, I allow myself to reference anything within sight – so for example, since I have a world map hanging on the wall, I can get up and walk over there to examine it for an answer. Of course, since it’s a map from the 1980s, it’s not always terribly useful. :) I do not allow myself to dig *inside* items otherwise within sight – I can’t take a book off the shelf and flip through it, or open up the dictionary to look up a word.

      For jigsaw puzzles, I will only do them with the cover art completely hidden. No referencing the finished image to see how things fit together! Heck, I’d love it if jigsaws came in blank boxes so you didn’t even know what you were going to get.

      For me, these little rules keep things more fun because they keep me challenging myself mentally, rather than being anything related to ethics. My in-laws like to reference puzzle covers and that’s fine – they’re having fun, so they’re not doing anything wrong. Once I reach the point of not being able to progress in a puzzle, even after giving it some time to percolate in my brain, I’ll start to bend my rules in order to get going again.

  16. Teapot Translator*

    I would like to know what a typical day with a dog is like. Can fellow readers who have a dog describe a typical day (and specify the breed)?

    Context: I want to adopt an adult dog one day, but there’s a part of me that thinks that if I’m not focused on my future dog 24/7, I’m failing in my duty of care. And of course, that’s not realistic. I want to reset my expectations.

    Thank you.

    1. Swisa*

      We have 2 dogs, a medium mutt (50lbs, we think a jack Russell mix), and a large labrador (95lbs).

      At around 7:30 they wake up, and we let them out (we have an invisible fence). They come back in, we give them a treat, feed them breakfast (dry food in their bowls). Then we let them out again for some exploring. They come back in, we go to work.

      We get home at around 6, let them out. Let them in, give them a treat, feed them dinner (dry food + sometimes canned wet dog food). They hang out..if they want to go back out, we let them out as desired, with a final treat & last let out of the night at 9:30.

      We used to have 1 dog, but we now prefer 2, so they have companionship when we’re at work. They play together. We adopted both as adults. They each came with their issues (the lab jumps on visitors, and we haven’t been able to train it out of him, the mutt hates other dogs except the lab. The mutt also was destructive when we first got her, and chewed through some drywall during the first week, so we created her with a long & peanut butter when we went away, but no longer need to. She still will chew small child’s toys if they’re left out. And she used to have a lot of accidents inside because she wasn’t used to being such an inside dog, but now she’s fully potty trained).

      We allow them on furniture. They both rotate between sleeping on the couch and their big dog bed. We have a small box of dog toys on the floor that they love playing with. They’re sweet babies and we love them!

      When we go out of town, we have a neighborhood kid watch them or a local recent college grad.

      They are on monthly heartworm prevention medication, as well as monthly flea preventative.

      There is a lot of dog hair. It just is what it is! We find it worth it.

      1. Swisa*

        They do a lot of sleeping on the couch, and some playing together when we’re home.

        1 day a week I work from home, and one of them cuddles with me on the couch while I work on my laptop. The other dog likes proximity of humans but no cuddles.

      2. Swisa*

        And we do occasionally do walks, maybe once a week or once every other week. But working outside the home and having a small child all make that difficult. When I worked from home, we did a lot more walks.

        They do love walks. They also love car rides!

        1. fposte*

          My childhood dog was such a fan of car rides that yelling “Car ride!” was how to call her back when she bolted or in an emergency. Maybe the neighbors thought that was her name.

    2. Angstrom*

      For me, 2 galgos(greyhounds), have a fenced yard: Wake up, morning walk, feed, a quick out in the yard before going to work. Out in the yard at lunch(partner WFH full-time, many dogs do fine being in all day). Home, yard or walk, sometimes dog park. Dinner. Quick out before going to bed.

      They enjoy small bits of training sprinkled into the day. It reinforces good behavior and brainwork helps tire them out.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My context: I have a 50 pound boxer mix, about 7.5 years old, and everyone in my house works from home.

      I get up and go downstairs around 6:45 – sometimes she comes with me right away, sometimes she stays in bed a little longer and my husband lets her out of the bedroom a little later, but she’s pretty much always downstairs by 7:45. (Her) breakfast is at 8am, then she conks out somewhere in my office (sometimes in the chair with me, sometimes on a dog bed) and snoozes for a bit. My husband gets up around 9-9:30 and we go on a 15 minute walk before his workday starts at 10. She finds somewhere to lay (usually either in my office or in my husband’s office), with the occasional break to yell at the mailman (it’s fine, I don’t like him either) or go out back in our fenced yard and chase squirrels, until she starts getting antsy for another walk around 2:30. After that she – guess what – flops around somewhere again for a while. Sometimes we do a third walk after I’m done with work at 4:30, depending on the weather. Supper is between 5:30 and 6. Then she flops around until bedtime – if my husband is home, she “stays up” til midnight or so with him, if he’s not she goes to bed with me at 9.

      She’s a big couch potato, basically :) The walks are a recent addition — I used to go by myself, just to get some movement in during the workday, and she didn’t seem to have any interest, but one day I took her along just to see and she was HOOKED, haha. (She’s always had access to a big fenced yard.) When she wants attention, she definitely has no issues letting us know, but that never lasts long – like, she brings someone a toy, and we play tug for a few minutes, then she remembers that she really prefers to just chew on her toys instead of playing tug, so she settles down on her pillow and chews on it for a few minutes, then goes to sleep. She also makes it very plain when she wants to snuggle – like, she’ll come over to me on the couch and start patting my lap with her paw, until I rearrange myself and what I’m doing so she can jump up and snuggle with me.

    4. Dear liza dear liza*

      The age, breed, and evergreen level will make this extremely variable, but with most adult dogs, a 30-45 minute walk in the morning and after work are needed daily, plus time playing/training (I’d estimate 30 min- hour per day.) Older dogs tend to sleep a lot. It’s definitely a commitment, but you can have a life outside your dog. Oh, and if you do activities with your dog for fun (hiking, etc) then it’s more like having a companion than a burden.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        In the city where I live my friends with dogs do twice daily dog walks and some have pregular visits to do parks.

        Dog care seems to take an hour or more each day. I don’t understand why my extremely busy friends (who frequently talk about how busy and frazzled they are) did this to themselves with a recent dog adoption.

        1. Dear liza dear liza*

          I think “ 1 hour a day” doesn’t sound like a lot. And it’s not…until you get home and all you want to do is play that video game for 30 minutes, and you can’t because the pup needs you.

          We have a high energy adult dog who gets walks and dog park time every day. I’m lucky that my spouse, dear Henry, works from home and can be very flexible with his time. During the winter, when it’s dark by the time I get home, it would be tricky.

    5. sswj*

      A lot depends on your current living situation (house or apartment, rent or own, city or suburbs or rural, what you do for work, other people you may share a house with, etc. )

      I’m sure you’ll get lots of other answers, but this is my dog-life:
      I have 3 dogs, I have a mini-farm on several acres and the entire property is fenced. That means that I don’t have to actually walk my dogs for exercise, though I do go out and play with them a bit more or less daily. They go out 1st thing in the morning for a pee and a bit of an explore. They get breakfast at about 8 am, and then when I leave at 9:15 two dogs go out for the day (with a small frozen marrow bone to work on for a bit) and the third comes to work with me.

      In the evening when I get home my husband has generally gotten home first, and he’ll have a ball game with the older dog, and then bring them in to hang out in the house. When I get home I feed them dinner and then they come outside as I do evening chores. They get a final outing just before bed, and I go out with them to make sure everyone pees, because I don’t like having to get up at 3am to let a dog out for a potty emergency!

      In the house they pretty much can go where they want. I don’t allow them on the furniture unless invited, and they don’t sleep in my bedroom. This is mostly because I also have 12 cats, and there’s enough hair on the furniture and bodies on the bed as it is! I also started the bedroom as a dog-free zone when I had old cats and young puppies – the cats needed a safe zone.

      My house has a screened porch with a dog door and big cushy beds out there for the dogs, so even in horrible weather they can come in under cover. The big dogs don’t need coats (in in the southern US) but the little dog has a variety of outerwear for our occasional cold snaps and very wet days.

      All my dogs have had obedience training, partially because it’s fun and mostly because it makes everyone easier to live with. The key is consistency in training, and making everything pretty black and white. Dogs can usually deal with variations in schedule (they don’t always eat at 8 am, sometimes its 7 and sometimes it’s 9), and some days they’re out a long time and sometimes they’re in with me most of the day. They DO need clear boundaries about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior though. You don’t have to be harsh, just clear. As an example, when I make their meals they know now that they need to stay in one spot out of my way. It didn’t take long to teach, and it makes everything easier. They know the word “Out”, which means get out of this place and go over there. Very handy!

      I can’t imagine my life without animals, but I can’t lie, they are a good bit of work.

    6. Doctor is In*

      We have 2 mixed breed big dogs (60 and 80 pounds). They spend the night in a nice room in the basement. They spend the day while we are at work in an outdoor pen with a barn they can be inside. They spend the evening and weekends in the house with us, going out to their fenced yard several times. Be prepared for the expenses. Maintenance heart worm and flea meds cost us about $1000/ year, then there is cost of food, treats, boarding for vacations, etc. Worth it because they are our sweet babies.

      1. Not a cat*

        I have one dog, a deer head chihuahua (and two cats). I adopted her from a kill shelter and she was 6YO. She’s now 13YO. I’ve WFH since 2016, so she’s spoiled w/ attention. She’s got the run of the condo, but she “checks in” with me multiple times a day. She gets 4 walks a day and 3 small meals. I’m lucky that she’s smart and wants to please. If I scold her, she immediately rolls over and shows her belly. Leash training was easy (I think her software was pre-loaded by her original owner :) ) I try to bathe her biweekly when it’s warm (she HATES baths) She’s pretty energetic for her age, so the 4 walks keep her tired, happy, and out of mischief. Although, I sometimes complain that she runs the schedule, adopting her was one of the best things I’ve ever done. She’s my heart.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      We have one dog, 75 pounds, a neutered male Mountain Cur. We think he’s about 3 years old now. We adopted him in the summer of 2020 from a rescue. He had been abandoned and severely abused. SO, that being said, now that he is a lot better, our routine is that we all get up between 6 and 630. One of us takes him around our (3 acre) yard. Then we all have breakfast. He is currently sleeping in front of the fireplace right now. Then one or two of us take him for another round in the yard and he does business again. We’ll take a Chuckit with us this time so he can get some exercise.
      Then he likes to “go to work” with me. I go to my home office, he grabs whichever toy or treat he wants to bring. He lies on his bed and I cover him with a towel. He chews his toy, and then falls asleep so he can snore loudly through all my zoom meetings. :) Then another round in the yard at lunchtime, maybe more chuckit or stick throwing. Then more work, then another round in the yard. Then dinner and if my husband is in the tv room watching the news or something, the dog joins him on the sofa and snuggles. That sofa and the kids’ beds are the only furniture he’s allowed on. Then a quick yard time at 9:30 or 10pm. He generally sleeps on one of our kids’ beds, but if there is a storm, he sleeps in his bed on the floor in the master bedroom.
      If it’s a weekend and not winter, we’re usually outside in the yard and he’s with us supervising everything, sometimes chewing on a toy he brought with him. He likes to chase us down the hill if we go sledding in the winter. Sometimes he’ll even ride with us!
      We have very nice trails near us, which he isn’t enjoying because he’s become very reactive to other dogs. So we’ll be taking him to a training class specifically for that starting next Saturday. ($300 for six one hour classes) That will have the added benefit of giving him more time in the car. Hopefully this will result in us being able to take him on trail walks if not every morning, at least several times per week. And maybe we can take him to the doggie daycare where the training class is so he can make some friends and get some really good exercise.
      I think it’s way better to adopt dogs as adults. What you see is what you get with a 2+ year old dog and they’ll fit themselves into your schedule easier. And a lot of folks only want puppies, which I think is silly, but whatever, so there are always adult dogs up for adoption, poor things.
      He needs a vet (who comes to the house) once per year for vaccines etc, and we keep him on heartworm pills year-round (one chewable pill per month-easy). We renew his town dog license once per year, I think it’s $25. He has short hair, so that’s easy. He has three dog beds in various parts of the house. He has two bins of toys, one on each floor. He occasionally gets raw marrow bones from a local butcher shop, which he LOVES. He hates to have his nails clipped, so that is a work in process, but with previous dogs, I’d do them once a week or every other week.
      Hope this helps! Sorry it’s so long.

    8. Cj*

      I agree with everybody has said here. Adopting an adult dog is way different than getting a puppy. It’s better for you if you don’t want the 24/7 care, and also harder for adult dogs to get adopted, so that’s great on both ends.

      We currently have three dogs, and we’ve never had less then to. If you need to go to work 8 hours a day, plus commute time, maybe you should consider getting two, even a bonded pair which are hard to adopt out together.

      Unless you can take them running, biking, rollerblading, excetera, I would avoid dogs that are bred to run like Huskies. Other than that, I think you’ll be fine.

      1. Accountant*

        It’s also a much safer bet from a temperament standpoint – if you’re adopting out of a shelter or rescue (versus a good breeder) they really can’t tell you much about what a puppy will be like as an adult. A lot of the time they don’t even know the breed mix, it’s just a best guess based on coloring. (See our “Rottweiler mix” that turned out to be a terrier mix. Very different personality.) An adult dog, especially one over age 2 or so, is pretty much settled into its adult personality and temperament, so you can pick a dog that matches your lifestyle.

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      24/7 isn’t generally necessary. We adopted Best Good Dog when he was about 7. Initially he required a lot of attention, but once he became acclimated to his new surroundings (and as he has aged) he’s become pretty low maintenance. I usually wake him up for breakfast and a walk around 6:30, then he naps until around noon, when whoever is home will wake him up for a quick potty break. Then more napping until around 5:30, when I take him for another short walk. Then dinner, followed by playing with his toys, getting petted and fussed over, another potty break around 9, then he sleeps through the night. Until about 6 months ago, there was less napping. That time was occupied by playing, going for walks, or demanding belly rubs.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      You teach a dog how to “be” with you. You can redirect energy to dog toys. You can put a dog bed in the rooms you use most- that way the dog can “join” you in a quiet, appropriate manner.
      I have dog beds in my living room and bedroom. In the kitchen I have a rug under my kitchen table so he can “be” with me while I work in the kitchen.

      My dog has energy bursts that involve a lot of running around, bouncing and woofing at me. It’s silly behavior and he is inviting me to be silly with him. I tell him, “Where’s your toy?” He goes and gets his toy. Sometimes I toss the toy with him and sometimes I let him play on his own.

      The more regular you are then the more regular the dog will be. We eat around the same times each day. I feed him breakfast and dinner while my own food is cooking. Because he eats at regular times, it’s kind of predictable when he will need to go out.
      I go to bed around the same time each day. Now that my little buddy is older he will get up and go to bed about that time with or without me (lol). If I sleep in I can plan that he will need to go out about 5-6 am. But once he comes back in, I can tell him “bed time” and we go back to our respective beds.

      It’s super helpful to teach them names of activities so they know what to expect. Of course there’s meals- “breakfast!” and “dinner!”. I also have “nap time” and “bed time”. And then there’s “ride” and “walk”- which they learn pretty fast. “Let’s play” is a good one to teach them.

      Other activities fill in depending on the dog. One dog would help me find my cat. “Where’s Kitty?” and that dog would sniff around until he found her. He was never wrong. My current dog is good at “watch for company”, he will sit at the window and wait. When company pulls in he does a bark/cry to let me know.

      I am not sure what you mean by focused. There is some watching- I check to make sure that he finishes his food. I watch to make sure he is walking and acting normal. If he does get pukey or starts limping or something, I drop everything to see what is going on. We spend a little time playing together a couple times a day. I walk him when I can and I take him for rides when I can. I talk to him as I go about my day. They love being talked to, it’s almost necessary for them to hear our voices and see us interacting with them randomly.

      I had a shepherd mix (my previous dog) that wanted to be by my side all the time. For him I had more rugs and dog beds and I would point to the bed, “We are working in the den now, there’s your spot- you can lay down.” He could be a bit clingy, but I did not mind because I was crazy about that dog.

      My current dog is a husky mix. He is having a life and I am in the way. He picks where he wants to lay down and makes it his spot for hours. He is not clingy at all. He’s 13 now and he is just starting to get more interested in hanging out with me. (sigh) I have wandered my house looking for him. Mr. Independent.

      Mostly they adapt to whatever your time table is. When I babysat a friend’s dog, I could tell what time my friend got up because the dog just got up. Your focus level varies- when training that requires more focus and if they are sick/aging that will require a higher focus.

    11. Shiba Dad*

      In case it’s not obvious from my screen name, we have a Shiba Inu. She is ~30 pounds. We got her two years ago today. Tomorrow is her 6th birthday. She has turned out to be an awesome dog. We feel very lucky to have her.

      My wife works from home all the time and I generally WFH one day a week. My wife walks her before work M-F. I walk her after work and usually do all of the weekend walking. She is fed before her morning walk and after her evening walk. Usually the walks are 30-45 minutes.

      One thing to consider when getting a dog is how much time, money, etc. you need to put into grooming, which varies by breed. I joke that Shiba Inu is Japanese for “sheds a lot”. My wife brushes the dog 2-3 times a week. Sometimes there will be a small dog’s worth of hair off of her.

      Several years ago, while I was single, I got custody of one of my brother’s dogs after he and his wife split up. She was 11 when I got her and 15 when the rainbow bridge called. She was a Chocolate Lab/Norwegian Elkhound mix and was ~65 pounds.

      We already knew each other so that helped with rehoming her. She was pretty mellow so that helped too. As a single person, I was used to just doing things and going places without much forethought. After getting a dog I couldn’t do that anymore.

      Hope you get a doggo. I think it is rewarding.

    12. Missb*

      My oldest adopted a dog recently and they were overwhelmed last weekend.

      The dog is just under a year and is a medium breed that’s known for its energy though this particular pup is not at all high energy.

      My kid was ready for that. What they weren’t ready for is the feeling that they had to be there 24/7 for the pup. The pup was crate trained (note: hugely important! If you can get one that is, that will make your life so much easier). But they were worried about leaving their pup for even an hour to go out shopping.

      So now life is a bit better in balance this week. Pup goes in the kennel when kid runs to the grocery store or a coffee shop.

      At home, our two sleep in their crate in our bedroom. They go to bed around 9 and get up around 7. One is 100 lbs (lab mixed with every huge breed known to man) and the other is about 45 lbs (Brittany). We have a fenced yard. When they get up, they say hi to the person that didn’t let them out (because they’ve already greeted that one) and then make a beeline for the door because they have to peeeeee.

      They come in, find a couch and hang out until their walk at 8:30. Dh does their daily walk (my knee isn’t cooperating atm) and they’re gone for a half hour to an hour. During the work week, one of them listens closely to dh’s phone calls to figure out when he’s winding down the call and gets up to go see if it’s time for the walk yet.

      They come back, drink some water, rest. On nice days, they periodically go out and play together in the yard. On not nice days, they follow us around or bop us to say hi if we are working. But they are really couch potatoes during the day. Even on the porch in nice weather. They’re 1 and 3. Or they wrestle together. 2 dogs works well for us, kinda like having 2 kids. Lots of self entertainment. But big dog was content to hang with us when he was the only one.

      When we go somewhere, we kennel them or take them. I’m talking two hour trips- dinner out, etc. They are fine in their kennels.

      They eat once a day promptly at 5 pm. Big dog gets hangry but never wants lunch. They sometimes get a marrow bone or bully stick, which brightens their day. They want interactive play after we eat our dinner (usually eat 6:30-7). Then they hang out on the couch, piling on one or both of us.

      We take them on trips, if we are driving. We find plenty of nice hotels that take pets.

      1. Nicole76*

        I’ve been itching to go on vacation but the issue is I don’t want to leave my dog behind, so could you share how you find appropriate hotels? And do you leave the dog in the room while you go out exploring? If so, is it crated? I’d love to hear more about this and any tips you’d be willing to share.

        1. Tea and Cake*

          Check bringfido dot com. They have a lot of info for more than just lodging for dog friendly trips.

          Marriott has a lot of dog friendly properties, as well as vrbo if you prefer not-hotels.

          We typically take the dog with us out during the day on hikes or visiting local places. If we go out to dinner, and the place isn’t dog friendly, we have his crate and will let him decide if he wants to sleep in it while we are out.

        2. pancakes*

          I have traveled with a dog and, years later, a cat. Finding pet-friendly hotels is like finding hotels in general – I bookmark appealing possibilities that I’ve heard or read about in a map app for reference later (I do this with restaurants I want to try too), and if the general location has already been narrowed down I’ll look at everything that suits my tastes and budget and narrow down my choices from there. Whether the pet can be left in your room unattended depends on the hotel. Some don’t allow it; others do. An additional deposit is common and I’ve never had to argue about being credited for it, but then my pets have never caused any damage or noise complaints. Much is going to depend on the size and temperament of your pet. If the hotel allows dogs to be left in rooms, for example, but yours is really a barker, of course that’s not going to go over well in a lot of places.

        3. Missb*

          Often Hilton or Marriot will take them, but usually it involves just a bit more of a phone call to the local hotel. Many of the less expensive chains take them too- like the garden inns (which I think are hiltons). We stay in a boutique type hotel in Bozeman when visiting one of our kids. We bring kennels and that’s where they hang when we want to go to dinner. You kind of have to know your pup tho. Ours settle down in the kennels with zero issues.

          A lot of hotels don’t want you to leave your dog in the room alone. We kinda ignore that honestly. No one knows they’re there because they’re quietly sleeping in their kennels.

          A good solid walk before kennel time helps too!

          Also we tend to travel in the nice weather season so there’s always a cafe where we can sit outside and enjoy. At the hotel we stay at in Bozeman, they have an outdoor bbq for guests so we park ourselves out there for at least one meal.

          Also some of the hotels have a weight limit for dogs. We’ve never been turned away. We do mention it when booking.

    13. crookedglasses*

      I’ve got a 15 year old beagle/heeler mix. Our usual routine is:
      Get up, go for a morning walk (15-30 minutes). I give her morning meds and breakfast and then she usually bounces around at me while I eat breakfast. She generally mellows out before too long and will spend the morning/afternoon either sound asleep or earnestly following me around. In late afternoon she’ll start bouncing around at me again in anticipation of her afternoon walk and dinner. The pattern there is pretty similar to the morning, with walk then dinner then general bouncing and wanting to play. Depending on her energy levels, I’ll use puzzle feeders, play scent training games with her, or just do some light wrestling. When she was younger she liked playing with toys but it’s harder to get her to play with them now that she’s older.

      When she was younger, having mentally stimulating activities as well as high energy activities was really important. It’s still important now that she’s older, but it doesn’t take nearly as much to tucker her out as it used to!

    14. FisherCat*

      I have a Great Dane- not very energetic but he is very anxious. He absolutely has taken over my life, but I was open to that possibility. If you’re not, you probably want a smarter, more independent dog breed (or mix of breeds).

      But, I still have an office job and a life. He goes to doggy daycare some weekdays and has a dog walker on the others. I take him with me to dog-friendly social events. I think the biggest key in your decision is to find a type of dog (and the temperament of the individual dog) that fits your life best rather than finding the dog and molding your life to fit.

      1. HoundMom*

        My husband has a Great Dane and loves the fact that he is velcroed to him. I love hounds (hence the name) because they want to be near you, but not on you. I have had greyhounds, bassets, and my latest is a rescue, mostly bloodhound. Picking the breed that works for you is key. My hounds all loved to walk, especially in the woods. They slept by me as I work, read, watch TV.

        We like to have two dogs at a time for company. We generally give them a long walk in the morning and most nights, they get a shorter one.

        Honestly, we couldn’t survive without a dog, but that is just us.

      2. Accountant*

        I would actually recommend against a smart breed unless you want to spend a ton of time on enrichment or you have actual work for the dog to do. Smart dogs get *bored* very easily and bored dogs make their own fun.

    15. Stephanie*

      We have three dogs, two greyhounds and a greyhound/whippet mix. They were all adopted as adults, and they’re 3, 5, and 11 years old. They eat breakfast at around 7:00 am, dinner at 7:00 pm. My husband now works from home almost exclusively, and I work part time, so there’s almost always someone home with them, which they love. But it’s not necessary to be home with them all of the time, we’ve had three dogs for years and years (different combinations of three), and worked outside of the home and they were fine at home alone.
      My dogs are pretty lazy, they spend most of the day sleeping and lounging on their dog beds or the furniture. We have a fenced yard, so we just let them out when they need to go. They love walks, but we’re pretty sporadic about walking them, especially in the winter.
      A typical day goes like this: I get up and let them outside, then feed them breakfast. Two of them usually go back outside after breakfast, then they all go to their preferred lounging spot. I get ready for work, and my big male greyhound follows me around as I gather my work things together and watches me leave. Then he goes back to his bed. He greets me at the door when I get home, and I let all three outside again. Then it’s lounging time again. They usually get more active around 5:00, wanting in and out several times and playing with each other and/or their toys. They eat dinner at around 7:00, get some treats, and then go outside for a bit. Then it’s back to their beds or the couch with me or my husband. We let them out a final time before we go to bed, and that’s it. They all sleep in the living room on the main floor, while all of the bedrooms are upstairs. (Our dogs avoid our wood stairs, and that’s fine with me.)
      Adult dogs are a lot less work than puppies, but it does take patience, especially in the beginning when you and the dog are adjusting to each other and getting to know each other, and while the dog is learning the ins and outs of living in your house with you.

    16. 00ff00Claire*

      I know you’ve gotten a lot of replies, but most since I don’t see much about living with a small dog, I’ll share what our day with our 7-pound chihuahua is like. When we adopted her, she was between 2-3 yrs old, so she’s about 5 now. Our routine with her is:

      She wakes up on her own, usually a little after our alarms start going off in the morning. We let her into our bed while we snooze / wake up – until we get up for the day. She sleeps in while we are getting ready, or if I don’t have to be anywhere, I just get her up with me. She goes out into our fenced yard for a bathroom break (#1 & #2), has breakfast (dry food), and then she settles in on the couch for her morning nap. We feed her more dry food for lunch, she naps some more, and sometime in the afternoon there’s another potty break in the yard (#1) and time for her to just hang out or run around out there. Back inside for more lounging on the couch and a few barks to let us know when the mail arrives. We usually take her outside again before dinner for #1 & #2, then it’s dinner of her special canned food, and then another nap. We often watch TV after dinner, and she naps either beside me or in my lap then. We take her back out for one last #1 before bed, and then it’s bedtime in her crate.

      New/different things and being left alone make her anxious, so we don’t often do walks. She likes walking, but freaks out if we see other people or dogs, so she gets most of her exercise in the backyard. Pre-Covid we had been working with a trainer on that so we used to have “training time” built into our day to practice her skills. When we leave the house, she stays on the couch if we’re only gone a short while. If we will be gone longer, she hangs out in the bathroom, which might sound horrible, but it is 100% because that’s where she is comfortable. She also sleeps in her crate because that is where she feels safe. She loves small cozy places :).

    17. Generic Name*

      Here is our typical day with our 3 year old Aussie mix:
      6am husband gets up and lets the dog out
      645am husband walks the dog and then give her a scoop of kibble
      7am onward, dog is home with me as I work. She normally naps at my feet. I let her out throughout the day
      Mid-afternoon, I take a work break and walk her
      7:30 ish dog gets her dinner after the humans eat their dinner
      9pm we take her out one last time and go to bed

      When I was working in the office prepandemic, she would go to work with me. I had her pee before we went inside and I’d take her on a walk at noon. Sometimes she’d ask to go outside mid morning or mid afternoon, and I’d take her outside for a few mins for her to do her business

      She’s a “Velcro dog” and is always next to one of her humans, which we love. She is napping under the kitchen stool I’m sitting in as I type this. :)

      1. Generic Name*

        Forgot to include there’s lots of playtime for her in the afternoons when my son gets home from school and in the evenings. She also plays with one of our cats who she is very much Odie to his Garfield.

    18. Other Meredith*

      My dog is 3, and she’s a sharpei chihuahua mix (I did not know this when I adopted her, I just thought she looked sad). We go for a long walk in the morning, usually about an hour, then I go to work and am gone for about 9 hours. When I get home, we go for a short walk (15-20 minutes, mostly because she hates pooping in the yard. My last dog, we did the same in the morning, but just would go in the back yard after work). Then we usually spend some time playing or training, just for 10-15 minutes usually since we went for a walk. Then snuggles on the couch. I do try to take her for a car ride or to the park on the weekends as a fun change. Honestly, getting an adult dog is the 1st step to not needing to spend 24/7. Puppies are very needy, and adults know a lot more what they’re doing. My advice would be to try and adopt from a rescue where the dogs are in foster homes, so you know what kind of routine the dog already knows and is into.

    19. KR*

      I have a shepherd mix that’s about 45lbs. She’s 8. She gets up with me in the morning and gets a little breakfast when the cat gets fed. She gets a walk at some point in the day, usually morning, where she does all of her business and I let her out at various points to potty or lay outside in the sun. She alternatives between the couch and my bed to lounge and relax. She lays on the couch or her bed downstairs with me at night and then goes to bed when I go to bed. She has dog beds in each room I spend a lot of time in but prefers the couch or my bed at times. At least once a day I get on the floor with her and give her some belly rubs and pets. She doesn’t need 24/7 attention but she does hang out with me off and on all day and expect a walk every day. I highly recommend an older adult dog if you want a more chill dog that doesn’t require 24/7 attention and can afford future vet costs.

    20. Teapot Translator*

      Thanks everyone for sharing with me! This got a lot more comments than I was expecting, so I won’t answer each and everyone (it would feel like I’m cluttering the place).
      This helps reset the expectations of the anxious part of my brain.

    21. JenC*

      I wonder if it is possible for you to “borrow” a friend’s dog or visit with someone with a dog for a few days. It might help you to see a doggy routine. I have 4 kids and 2 dogs. We live a very routine life, meals and bedtimes are mostly at the same time, the dogs know pretty much to the minute what will happen next. However, as a result of all of this family life going on, coupled with one dog with complex issues (Aus shepherd, deaf/blind,prove to seizures) and a German shepherd who is very smart but also kind of reactive and unbearable to walk, means that I feel like my life is dominated by worries if I am being a good enough dog owner. This is kind of my personality anyway, and owning a dog brings out the worst of this perfectionism at times. What has helped is a vet and the doggy daycare who assured us that there is only so much you can do with reactivity, coupled with her breed, and our GS is actually mostly very well adjusted. I can’t say I love being a dog owner. Will not get more when these pass on. But I do my best for them and I try really hard. I have one on each heel for the entirety of every day. Apparently they love me. Dogs are hard but the right dog for you is easy to incorporate. My AS is an incredibly easy dog to look after. I think if I only had her I would not feel as ambivalent about dog ownership. One thing to note is that people are even more holier than thou about dogs than human babies. You have to absolutely not internalize the comments from “Mr I’m the best at dogs” who lives on the corner who will incessantly tell you what you should be doing. It sounds like you are thinking carefully about getting a dog, and it also sounds like an adult dog will be perfect for you. I hope my odd rambling answer is of some use.

  17. Swisa*

    And agreed that vet stuff is expensive, but for our two dogs, our heartworm/flea meds are probably $300-400/year. We get the meds from the vet. So there’s definitely a range!

    We have done flea meds sporadically in the past, but now do it year round because they got mites one time (which is awful but rare), and the flea meds prevent that.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Seconded – I get mine in six month packs for $65/pack, and I think the only thing it doesn’t cover is ticks because I don’t take my dog anywhere that ticks are a risk. (That phrasing sounds intentional – it’s not, it just works out that way, heh. I live in the suburbs and we don’t see them here locally, and we don’t go out in the woods or trail walking or anything like that.)

    2. Cj*

      The cost of the heartworm meds varied on the size of the dog, so it can be pretty expensive for our German Shepherd.

        1. Cj*

          Out German Shepherd is over 100 pounds so that puts him into the next level up for what he needs for heartworm prevention. We can have a couple dogs under a hundred pounds, and it’s not too bad for them. But I still think it’s over $65 a pack. I wish we could get it that cheap.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I think for my 70-pound bloodhound (51-100 pound dose) was like $85 the six pack? But I’m getting a Great Dane next month, so everything’s out the window then :)

    3. Holly the spa pro*

      I have a 90 lb pitbull and our vet has a medicine that is flea/tick/and heartworm that lasts one year and is 200-300 dollars so I feel like I’m getting off really easy here since all of those things are a big issue where I live

      1. Southern Girl*

        We could get ours cheaper on line but think of it as supporting our vet so he can give a price break to less fortunate people, plus he has been great about emergency issues, special accommodations for us.

    4. Ashloo*

      My vet encourages buying online through Chewy, and has supported generic heartworm drugs (Triguard Plus) over name brand (Heartgard Plus). It helps a little. Can’t wait for generic Nexgard or Bravecto. It’s so pricey.

    5. Accountant*

      There are 3x preventive chewables that cover fleas, ticks, and heartworm, and in general you do save money over buying all 3 separately.

  18. BalanceofThemis*

    I am hoping that my house hunt will be coming to an end soon. I am looking for furniture recommendations, house must-haves, and decorating ideas.

    1. Another_scientist*

      A plunger, mouse traps and duct tape are things I would not want to run to the store for in a moment of need.

      1. Girasol*

        Pre-move I go for shower curtains and rods if there aren’t any, and shelf paper, plus cleaning supplies. As for furniture, you can go the route of measuring each room as soon as you pick your place, drawing the floor plan on graph paper, then making a furniture layout on little rectangles of paper. Or you can wing it with a chair and a table to eat on and a bed, and then fill in as you find what you want. If you’re buying the furnishings you want at furniture stores like an interior designer, a proper layout is good. The minimal route is better if you’re going bohemian and creating the place from second hand items.

    2. Let me be dark and twisty*

      The best housewarming gift I received was a 6ft ladder, on the occasion of my first house.

      I had no idea how much I needed a proper ladder till I had one — changing lightbulbs, fixing smoke alarms, changing smoke alarm batteries, hanging curtains, painting, installing shelves, hanging art. I’d been making do with a footstool or a dining chair but once I got a ladder, there was no turning back.

      Now I give ladders for housewarming presents myself.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Great idea!

        As a very short person, one thing that I have found useful that cuts down on trying to change CO detector batteries that are out of my reach, even with a ladder, is getting some of those CO detectors with 10-year batteries. When they’re done, they’re done — buy another. I just wrote in marker on the outside what year and month I need to replace them.

        Same issue with lightbulbs that are very hard for me to reach to change — I got all long-lasting LEDs, and it has saved me a lot of hassle.

        I just need the same for a smoke alarm now, and I’m all set. I agree with the poster about making sure you have smoke alarm batteries in the house. No one wants to go out to the store in the middle of the night to get batteries when that darned thing starts chirping.

    3. the cat's ass*

      work gloves, batteries for fire radon and co2 detectors, tarps, one good 6 foot ladder. Good luck with the house hunt!

    4. Admin of Sys*

      If you’re in the us, habitat restores are great for odds and ends, seriously discounted nice lighting fixtures, and sometimes furniture. (Furniture is a bit hit or miss, and id avoid apholstered stuff, but they have great deals on tables sometimes)
      If you’re comfortable with basic electrical work like changing out Lights, getting a voltage detector is a definite must. They’re so much easier to use than proper multimeters. And on that note, before you move in any furniture, figure out what the switches and outlets all connect to, mark all the gfci outlets, and label all the breakers.

    5. Tea and Cake*

      When you pack up for the move, go through clothes, and save the things you would give away to use as rags for cleaning.

      Garbage cans for kitchen and bathrooms as well as bags always come in handy nearly immediately.

      Appliances are usually on sale a few times a year, if you can wait for the sale to replace old appliances you can usually get a good deal.

      Don’t feel like you need to furnish the whole house at once. A bed, a sofa, a dining table of some kind are all immediately useful, but you can figure out over time what would make your living situation better as you live in the space.

    6. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I moved three times in one year, and found that a small vacuum, a mop, a floor/reading lamp, a laundry basket or hamper, a humidifier, one large and one small sharp kitchen knife, a pasta pot, a skillet, two place settings, and a kettle were really the only house ‘must-haves’ I really needed in all three places.

      Tap water in one city was completely unpalatable, so I bought a large carboy and water cooler for drinking and cooking water. The town I live in now has extremely hard water but there are no water kiosks here, so I just buy bottled distilled water for the humidifier.

      Every place has had a dishwasher, which I made sure to clean thoroughly prior to my first use. Sometimes the previous owner or tenant didn’t remember to take the machine completely apart to get all the grunk out of the arms or scrub the gaskets.

      My last suggestion: a plant makes a place homey!

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        All great advice! I’d add that in addition to a floor/reading lamp, you probably want to get a bedside lamp so that you’re not totally in the dark when you turn off the overhead light and try to fumble across the room to go to bed. Or if they still sell the Clapper, I guess you could get one of those!

    7. Observer*

      If you are somewhat handy and are on a budget, I’ve found Ikea is a pretty good value for a lot of stuff.

      If you are doing electrical work, make sure that your light switches have either ground or neutral wires (preferably both). Smart switches generally need at least on of those wires and the switches can be extremely useful. More so (and more cost effective and flexible than smart bulbs for many situations.) Also, if you are putting in outlets, see if you can put in smart outlets – it’s more convenient than using the plugs.

      Don’t skimp on your thermostat. If your house is on the bigger side, or has uneven heating / cooling a smart thermostat with room sensors can really help keep things comfortable.

    8. HannahS*

      I think that every room deserves one nice thing. Our living/dining room has boring Ikea furniture and a very cool floor lamp. It’s one of the huge long-necked ones that arches over the dining table and it really anchors the room. Baby’s room is all second-hand and Ikea furniture but has a gallery wall–just a collection of various pieces that I’ve collected over the years, and not baby-themed, but all things that are special to me. Our bedroom is tiny and cramped and utilitarian but has really beautiful duvet covers. It’s great to enter a room in your own home and have your eye be drawn to One Nice Thing.

      Obviously, long-term, I’d love to love everything I have, but I moved four times in the last five years so it’s not the time of life for me to really settle into a space as my needs are always changing.

      I also thing it’s really important to live for a while in a space before settling into a furniture arrangement and buying new stuff. In every place I’ve lived, I’ve changed the placement of the furniture a few times before settling on what I like. I find that using my existing furniture to approximate what I want is helpful in the first few months, and then I can see over time what my needs are in the new space.

  19. Pocket Mouse*

    A thread for Circumventing Oppressive Rules (without requiring an employee to actively, knowingly break them).

    On Thursday’s thread about breaking the rules to do good in the world, commenter Have you tried sparkling at it? wrote about a doctor offering to draft a letter that would (hopefully) satisfy overly restrictive state requirements to change the sex/gender marker on a trans person’s driver’s license. It reminded me of my own brush with gender markers on ID, so in case it helps anyone out there…

    I’m a cis woman, and one time when getting a new license (moved states, applying with my previous state’s driving abstract) I had a brain fart and marked the wrong (for me) box for sex on the license application. I didn’t notice until days later and got a full-on license showing me as male. Apparently nothing was flagged as contradicting my previous paperwork, either in giving me a provisional paper license, or for producing the real deal a few weeks later.

    And then, to change it, I just walked back into the DMV and said there was a mistake on my new license, could we get it fixed, and pointed to my license with “see, the gender marker is wrong”. It was fixed. Quickly. And apparently based on how my gender came across, since the clerk initially thought I was talking about the organ donor piece and went searching for my paperwork to demonstrate I was in the wrong, but when I clarified I was talking about the sex marker, she stopped searching and was like ‘oh yeah, we’ll fix that now’. (To paint a fuller picture, I’m queer and not super feminine- my hair was a moderately unisex few inches long at the time. I hadn’t been misgendered recently but had been a handful of times in the past when it was even shorter. This took place in an overall queer/trans-friendly city and state.)

  20. Cj*

    I found out yesterday friend from high school’s son died in a car accident. We weren’t like best friends, always hanging out, and I haven’t seen her for a couple decades, but we were way more than acquaintances. I bought a sympathy card to send to her, but want to add a personal note. What the heck do I say?

    1. Miel*

      You can convey that you’re sorry, that you’re thinking of them, and (if appropriate/true) offer a specific action of help, like including a restaurant gift card or offering to drop off a lasagna for dinner.

      In reality, there’s nothing you can say that will bring her son back or erase her grief. The point of a card is letting her know that you care about her.

      The book “There’s No Good Card For This” was immensely helpful for me to learn how to handle situations like this. I would recommend!

      1. Cj*

        I will check that out. As I get older, I’ve found that I need to send more and more sympathy cards. When my friends parents die, it is sad,
        but the expected circle of life. Siblings dying is harder, but when it is a child I am totally lost.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I like the restaurant gift card idea, or maybe also just sending a condolence food basket from someplace like Harry and David. With the food basket, they don’t need to go anywhere, and they don’t need to be home for you to drop something off. It’s hard to cook and eat when you’re in shock, so things that they can just snack on with minimal work are good.

    2. kina lillet*

      How about, “It’s been a long while since we talked at high school graduation (or whatever), but thinking of you. Sending love.”

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      If you met the deceased: Share fond memories of them.
      If you never met the deceased but care about the bereaved: Share fond memories of your friend talking about the deceased.
      If you can’t pull up any such memories to share: I’m so sorry for your loss. If you’d like to talk I’m here. And whatever else is sincere.

      Bereavement is a common human experience and you don’t need to come up with a completely new and original thing to say. Ritual is there for common experiences.

    4. Jay*

      “Thinking of you.” There really isn’t anything to say. If you knew the person who died, a pleasant or funny memory would be lovely, but it sounds like you didn’t. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Send the card.

    5. fposte*

      Relieve yourself of the burden of saying the perfect thing. There isn’t one. Anything that has the subtext “Your loss matters” will suit the mission. It’s nice if you can say something about the young man himself, but you don’t need to stretch yourself if you didn’t know him.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Bingo. When my husband passed people had different things to say. It was very nice- what people said touch my heart in many different ways. I truly benefited from the diversity of comments/thoughts.
        Don’t worry about sounding like other people or picking the perfect thing to say. Probably what you pick will be perfect for who you are.

    6. PhyllisB*

      I would keep it simple and write something like this: Dear Jane, I just heard about Bob, and I’m so sorry. Please know you are in my thoughts. All My Best, Mary. She will appreciate you reaching out to her.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding, if there is the slightest chance she could have a brain fart and forget how she knows you just put something underneath your signature to trigger the connection.

        “Mary from science class junior year of high school” or “Mary from Retail Store we worked at in the 90s.”

        Your friend will be quietly grateful for the memory jog.

        1. Cj*

          I’m sure she’ll remember me, but that is a good idea a lot of cases. I will sign it with my husbands and my last name included. Her first name is the same as mine, and her husband’s first name is the same as my husbands. We live in the same town, and occasionally get each other’s mail. I’m actually wondering if we’ll end up with some of their sympathy cards.

    7. Cj*

      Thank you for all the suggestions. The card I got said there are no words on the outside and a you thinking of you a message on the inside. I added that we were shocked and saddened by their loss, and they were in our prayers.

    8. Rara Avis*

      When I was in college, the son of a high school teacher died of leukemia. I remember struggling to know what to write. It ended up mainly being “so sorry — thinking of you and your wife.”

    9. Kim*

      Honestly the best thing you can do for her is not now but later. Write the son’s date of death in your calendar and send a card next year as well.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        On that note, if she is someone you’d feel up to taking to coffee, maybe write yourself a reminder note to ask her to lunch or coffee a few months from now, when the helpful folks around her may have moved on to other things. You don’t have to talk about the death when you two go out unless she wants to — sometimes just being around someone friendly is helpful.

  21. Lizy*

    I’ve had some pretty crazy trauma / events in my personal life over the past year / 6 months. I have a doctor’s appointment this week and will probably talk to them about anti-anxiety and/or depression meds. But… part of the reason I haven’t really asked about it before is because I feel like this is my response to what’s happened. I have been diagnosed with depression and (mild) anxiety in the past, but there wasn’t even anything that *caused* it, if that makes sense. I just… was depressed. But now, I can tell you the exact day that everything changed. I’m probably overthinking it, but a big part of me is wondering if I really need help if my depression is a reaction/coping mechanism verses a “normal” chemical imbalance.

    Also, I’m really normally a very closed person and I don’t easily open up. My circle of close friends (confidants) is pretty small. Many of them are going through their own traumas right now and so while I’d normally lean on them, I feel incredibly guilty doing so. What kind of a crappy friend am I to add to their issues??

    1. Lila*

      It could be a coping mechanism but you’d still like things to be a little easier/less of a burden to deal with.

      1. ShinyPenny*

        I am open to the idea that some things are just too difficult to share, but personally I do have an expectation that my friends and I keep each other in the loop about our lives. I feel sad if that does not happen. I might not be able to DO anything, but I want the chance to say “I love you and I’m so sorry this is happening.” In my experience, friends struggling with depression especially seem to assume they… shouldn’t bother with it? Because it feels unfixable maybe? But I don’t think “able to fix it’ is the right threshold for sharing problems with friends. My role as a friend is to provide love and sympathy, and I have an unending supply of those, even if I have struggles also.
        If you are worried a friend might have an unhelpful “fix it!” impulse, and you know you don’t have the spoons to establish a boundary about that, then maybe not sharing is right for you and that specific person. But, “I don’t want to be a bother” can *look* like “I don’t feel close enough to you to share my real self.”

    2. Anonanona*

      I’m sorry to hear about your tough time! Only you and your doctor/mental health professionals can figure out what you need, but in my experience situational depression benefits from support too. During a tough time my doctor described taking anti-depressants as just letting a little air out of the otherwise extremely full balloon that was my life so that if I got hit with another thing to handle it wouldn’t pop. I can’t tell you if it was the meds or one of the other things that changed about my situation that helped most at that time but it was definitely part of the mix and I’m glad I went for it. Also have found therapy helpful even when I don’t have exactly the right therapist yet because it gives me a dedicated time and space to feel the feelings that I maybe can’t let out the rest of the time.

      On leaning on friends — maybe consider which friends you are both already somewhat close to opening up to and who you know you are able to give some support back to. As someone who is more open I’ve found it helps to have a number of people to lean on a little instead of relying on one person, but I understand that’s hard for a lot of people. I mostly only get frustrated with people who lean on me during my own hard times when I don’t feel there’s any reciprocity. There’s an ebb and flow always and you may need more than you can give right now, which is totally fine, just consider who you have been there for in the past and/or think you could be there for in the future.

      Sending good wishes!

    3. Despachito*

      I’d tell the doctor what you told us here, and discuss with them the need for the medication. I am no expert but when my friend who is suffering from depression had traumatic things in her life, she told her doctor and the doctor adjusted her medication and it helped, so I think this is definitely an option.

      I also think it can help to talk with your friends. I think even if they have their own problems, they will probably have some capacity to lend you an ear (and possibly, if you are able to do this, you can reciprocate).

      And please do not question your need to get help. It is absolutely not crappy to ask for it, and my experience is that if a friend confides in me, it does not add to my own issues too much.

      Best of luck to you, and please do not be shy to seek help.

    4. kina lillet*

      Maybe you don’t have chronic severe depression and anxiety, but you’re still experiencing it. Someone with asthma has a chronic condition that requires medication, rescue inhalers, etc—when I was recovering from pneumonia I got those things too, should I not have because it was an acute event with a definite cause?

      As for leaning on your friends, what would it look like for you to open that door a crack? Tell someone you’re having a tough time, but let’s change the subject; or yeah I’m still feeling those events from a while ago but trying to handle it. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing: you can just squeak the door open at first. I think you’ll be surprised at the light that floods through.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I was prescribed anxiety meds after my first visit to the oncologist (with a brand new cancer diagnosis out of a clear blue sky). No mystery as to the life event that set off the anxiety.

      Meds are to help if your brain is putting you in a bad space, and your normal ability to cope isn’t picking up the slack. The trigger can be biochemical (I’ve had depression as a reaction to stopping steroids without a taper) or obviously external or something else. If the trigger is obviously external it can make sense to wait for the initial shock to fade–but in some people it doesn’t and their brain clings to this new pattern and they need help out.

      “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a myth. Lots of things don’t kill you but do make it harder for you to function.

    6. Rabbit*

      I’m no expert, but depression can be due to an internal imbalance of some kind or it can develop in response to outside traumas/other triggers– neither is more “real depression” than the other. It can be both a reaction/coping mechanism and also a diagnosable (boy, that doesn’t look like a word) condition that’s worth talking to a doctor about. I’m sure you’ve thought about this already, but asking your doctor about a referral for some kind of counselor might be useful, and would certainly give you someone to talk to about the stuff you’re dealing with that wouldn’t feel like piling on friends who have their own issues.
      But as far as friends go– there are ways to support each other without necessarily spending a lot of time talking about painful things. Is there someone(s) you can call up and say “hey, we’ve both been going through some really ***** stuff lately, can we get together to watch movies and eat ice cream on the sofa?” (fill in your comfort activity of choice)
      Good luck, and please don’t talk yourself out of letting the doctor know about this. However the depression got started, you deserve help tackling it. I hope you feel better soon.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      If you need help then you need help. It should not matter what the cause is. If there is a chemical imbalance testing will show that.

    8. Dino*

      Hi there, me too. When we’ve got depression or anxiety when nothing is causing it, it makes it even more easy to fall into a depression or anxiety spell when there’s lots and lots to cause it. Our brains are already wired to go that way, so it’s only natural that trauma and stress will his us right into those thought patterns/brainwaves/chemical imbalances. “Overthinking” is indistinguishable from anxiety sometimes.

      Like you, I also have a small support circle that’s maxed out and struggling too. And the world hasn’t gone “back to normal” and there’s lots of instability and lack of previously available coping skills, and not a lot of bandwidth to incorporate the coping skills while everything is awful and that. That means it’s even more important to lean on your healthcare team. Get the help and the care you need <3

    9. Undine*

      There’s a name for this — adjustment disorder. It’s a stupid name but I think the idea is something horrible happened and you’re having a hard time adjusting.

    10. merope*

      If you took the mental illness/depression out of the problem, and restated it as a physical problem, would you have the same response? For example, let’s say you had a mildly sore back, and were in a steady state of low-grade pain. Then one day you were in an accident which required extensive recuperation time, and you continued to be in pain. Would you, afterwards, say, I probably don’t need help because I was in some pain before, so pain is probably just how I cope with all kinds of injuries?

      As for the second question, sharing your experiences with others can be a way of building connections and bonds with them. It might be helpful for them to be helpful to you by listening, just as you have supported them by listening to their traumas.

    11. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Even if your depression and anxiety is “a reaction/coping mechanism”, that doesn’t make it a /helpful/ one. If it’s interfering in your ability to cope, or manage your everyday life, it’s probably not a useful way of coping, even if it was caused by some specific time or event. Your doctor can help you figure out how to reach a better place, whether that’s through medication, therapy, or finding other specialists.

      For what it’s worth, depression and anxiety can actually interfere with your ability to make good judgements about your state of mind. I didn’t realize how bad it was for me, until I looked back after I had useful treatments. You said you’re wondering if you need help, and it’s quite likely that you do, regardless of how hard your brain is trying to talk you out of it. I wish you all the best, and I hope your situation gets better, and that you can find the resources you’re looking for.

    12. RagingADHD*

      It doesn’t matter where the depression came from, it matters how it’s affecting you. Like, when my mom was dying, I was overeating and couldn’t cry. My dad stopped eating or sleeping and turned into a zombie who just stared.

      I went to grief counseling. He needed meds ASAP because it was seriously threatening his health.

      Grief is a totally normal response to loss, but we needed different interventions based on the way it affected us. I don’t think the bar has to be that high, and if the first-line intervention of counseling didn’t help enough, I might have needed meds too.

      You certainly need some kind of help, and talking to your doctor is a great first step to see what your options are and what they recommend based on how it’s affecting you.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with all that.

    13. Salymander*

      A lot of times, I think having a friend confide about something traumatic gives me a chance to support them rather than having them support me. It isn’t a burden. Rather, it helps make things more of an equal sharing. I think you shouldn’t worry about confiding in your friends as long as you don’t go overboard. As you are this conscientious about it, I think you will not be likely to overburden them.

      It is perfectly reasonable to take meds to help with the aftermath of a trauma, especially since you have had anxiety and depression in the past. A lot of people have anxiety and depression as a result of trauma, and they seek therapy and take meds. I have done that myself. I don’t think it is necessary to draw a line between “trauma induced” depression/anxiety and “my brain chemistry is being a jerk” depression/anxiety. Just do what you feel you need to do and be kind to yourself. I’m sorry you are having a difficult time. I hope things improve very soon.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Agree on the equal sharing thing — with the right friends, this can be a great bonding thing where you both support each other through tough times.

  22. A Janet*

    What are some activities you do to relax? Someone asked me recently. I had some trouble answering, so I’m looking for ideas!

    1. AY*

      It’s the most boring answer, but it’s true: exercise. Whenever I’m feeling anxious or upset, exercise improves my mood and reduces my anxiety.

      If you’re talking about a more calming or soothing kind of relaxing, petting a cat can’t be beat.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Yeah swimming. The head in and out of water regulates my breathing and sorts out my headaches too.

    2. Holly the spa pro*

      I like to color in adult coloring books or just on a sketchpad with colored pencils. It gives my brain something to focus and is very comfy. Also easy to pick up and put down with out a l9t of time investment.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Walk the dog, crochet, read, garden. (Depending on the season; sometimes gardening means pulling weeds, and sometimes it means getting lost in seed catalogs or gardening websites.)

    4. Lizy*

      Now that I’m strong enough in my sense of self – literally any of my hobbies, depending on how I feel. And if you don’t feel like doing anything, clean the house and sit on your butt lol. But seriously- I always feel a lot better and am able to relax when the house is clean.

    5. Elle Woods*

      My big one lately is variety puzzle books. I picked up one a few years ago before a trip and now I’m hooked. The ones I get are from Penny Dell Puzzles have a wide variety of puzzles in them (sudoku, crossword, crostic, flower power, places please, logic, quotefalls, etc.). It helps me unwind at night to work on a puzzle or two (or ten).

    6. UKDancer*

      I dance, because that makes me feel best of all, full of life and potential and relaxes me. I enjoy putting something nice in the bath and pampering myself. Sometimes I give myself a facial, put a face mask on and put sweet smelling oils in the bath then wrap myself up in warm towels.

      I also find cooking is quite relaxing as there’s something soothing about chopping vegetables, making sauces and pulling together a meal which will nourish me.

      1. I take tea*

        Dancing is the best, I agree!
        Also reading, proper books, not just discussion threads, even through they are nice :-)

    7. Jora Malli*

      I play piano. Usually I just go through my music and pick whatever songs appeal to me. But sometimes if I really need to clear out my brain, I pick a song that’s just slightly too hard for me where I have to really focus on counting and getting the chords right, and then my brain is too busy to fixate on the thing that’s stressing me out.

    8. ThatGirl*

      Pet/cuddle the dog (rip)
      Exercise/go for a walk
      Take a bubble bath
      Play random mobile games or happycolor app
      Text a friend
      Have a drink

    9. CK*

      Snuggle up with my baby or husband on the couch or cook/bake something delicious when I do NOT have to rush

    10. Ashkela*

      I read old favorites. Things I’ve read so many times that I can (and do) recite lore facts to myself to fall asleep.

      I go looking on YouTube for reactions to my favorite movies or shows. Because I don’t necessarily want to rewatch it for the umpteenth time, but a reaction usually is going to have the best clips of whatever it is.

      I consume my preferred intoxicant (the one that’s legal where I am but not nationally) with my best friends next door and tell ridiculous stories for them to call me out on which is real and which isn’t.

    11. Excited Law Student*

      I really love to loom – it’s an easier version of knitting/crocheting. It’s very simple to do, and within an hour or two of first learning, you can put on a movie or a TV show, or just some music, and make scarf or a hat. The repetition helps ground me and calm me down sometimes.

    12. AGD*

      Sewing, knitting, drawing, reading, jigsaw puzzles, piano, writing, listening to music, yoga, video games, going for a long walk, taking long baths.

    13. Virginia Plain*

      Apart from crafty stuff, a simple old fashioned game of Patience (the card game for one; Solitaire in American) with physical cards not on the computer, I find very soothing.

    14. Salymander*

      Exercise with music, gardening, reading, drinking proper tea from a proper tea pot with little sandwiches and cookies laid out. Hiking.

    15. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Hot bath, cool drink, good book — preferably all at the same time. I bought one of those nifty tub trays.

  23. Louisa*

    Help! I had some friends over for an informal get together last night. We were gathered on the sofa/around my coffee table and another person arrived. My friend grabbed a chair that I pretty much just have at my table because it matches some other chairs. It’s wicker and starting to “give” but not yet break and last time some friends came over my friend told me her husband would prefer not to sit in it because it had been his chair last time and had been kind of starting to “give”. So in my mind that chair is one to avoid since it makes guests uncomfortable. I didn’t think to put it away because we weren’t sitting around the dining room table anyway.

    Without thinking I blurted out, “don’t sit in that chair! It’s broken! I would tell anyone not to sit in it!” I think that’s what I said? I had had a glass of wine so now I’m like, oh no was I tipsy and did I just totally make that a big deal when it didn’t have to be and embarrass my friend? I don’t remember exactly what I said but she put it back and sat on the couch. My friend is a little bigger but not obese or anything.

    Now I’m wondering if I should text and say, Omg I’m so sorry that I have a purely decorative chair in my house—very reasonable of you to assume it was for, you know, sitting! Or is that just making it a bigger deal that it needs to be yet again? I’m just mortified to think I made someone uncomfortable or embarrassed anyone. And it was not about weight but I’m afraid I made it sound like it was?? I went to college with this person but we were never super close but have reconnected recently and have been hanging out. Thoughts??

    1. Despachito*

      I see no reason for anyone to be embarrassed – you just warned the other person not to use a broken piece of furniture, and that’s it. If I was this friend I’d probably not give a second thought.

      I would not send any text, I think you are fine.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      No need to say anything.

      You should do something with the chair. Repair it, put it in the garage. Same as if you had a doorknob that, if grasped like a normal doorknob, would break off–you’d either fix it or put painters tape over it or otherwise make sure people didn’t do the obvious verb to it.

      I think this is an emerging from covid thing–if only residents use the house, which was common for more than a year, then there can be all sorts of literal missing stair problems where you just hop over the stair and everyone knows to do it no big deal, you don’t even think about it anymore. Then company comes and you’re like “Wait! Don’t put any weight on the 14th step!”

    3. kina lillet*

      Let it lie. But get rid of the chair. Texting an apology would put more of a burden on her than there needs to be. You and she both know that her size was very much on your mind, but it’s something for you to consider, not apologize for. And, the chair didn’t break—what a relief, that’s what truly would feel bad!

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      You’re totally overthinking it! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with warning someone not to sit in a chair that you know is rickety and might break if any normal human sits on it. And I’m sure they appreciate the warning over the embarrassment and pain of falling into a broken chair. Maybe they took it as being about their weight, maybe they didn’t, but if you apologise and make a big deal about it you’re most definitely going to make it about their weight.

      Also: it’s your home and you get to keep anything you want exactly where you want to have it. You absolutely do not need to apologise for owning a purely decorative chair.

      Signed, fellow owner of several decorative things that look like they’re meant for sitting but are actually not unless you are the weight of a pot plant or a small child.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Also: it’s your home and you get to keep anything you want exactly where you want to have it. You absolutely do not need to apologise for owning a purely decorative chair.

        Absolutely! That said, if you’re going to put it somewhere that it *looks* useful instead of purely decorative, you might want to put a decorative sign or something on it so people who might be grabbing a chair have a way of knowing that this chair is at the table for decoration, not for using. (At my dining room table, the chair I don’t want people sitting in is at the end away from any other sitting spaces and has a giant stuffed Stitch basically seat-belted into it – the ones that are fine to use are WAY easier to actually get to and sit on.)

    5. Courageous cat*

      You would be making it worse if you said anything imo. THAT is what’s going to make it sound like you’re making it about weight, because otherwise you’d never be thinking about your offhand comment about a chair.

    6. Fae Kamen*

      While I agree that it’s fine to tell someone not to sit in a broken chair, the part where you said “I’d tell anyone not to sit in it” is what I’m wondering about, since preemptively denying that it was about her specifically could have drawn attention to that possibility in the first place—in a “the lady doth protest too much” sort of way. It still could have been fine, though. So I would also suggest reflecting on what happened as/after you said that. Was there an awkward moment? Did anyone look embarrassed? Did you stammer a bunch?

      Also, have you and this friend talked about weight or body stuff before? That could inform how it came across in context.

      There’s still a good chance that it was fine, but I just wanted to pick up on some of the specific dynamics/nuances that had you worrying, which I think some of the other comments didn’t address.

  24. Cj*

    I totally agree with everybody has said here. Adopting an adult dog is way different than getting a puppy. It’s better for you if you don’t want the 24/7 care, and also harder for adult dogs to get adopted, so that’s great on both ends.

    We currently have three dogs, and we’ve never had less then to. If you need to go to work 8 hours a day, plus commute time, maybe you should consider getting two, even a bonded pair which are hard to adopt out together.

    Unless you can take them running, biking, rollerblading, excetera, I would avoid dogs that are bred to run like Huskies. Other than that, I think you’ll be fine.

  25. Scouty D*

    I just joined my town’s “friends of the library” committee. I’m going to be in charge of social media – they don’t have any right now. Any advice for running social media pages? Or ideas for growing our membership/supporting the library? This is all new to me.

    1. fposte*

      Look at ala dot org. It’s a bit of an unwieldy beast, so there’s information in more than one spot, but if you search for “social media” there’s at least one page for starting social media for a library. Additionally, research and imitate! Find a library doing it the way you think would work for yours and note what they do, where they do it, and how often.

    2. Book the Dream*

      I would say check out/have a conversation with whomever is running the library’s social media/outreach programs and do some style matching/content conversations. Namely discuss what the library can/can’t do with their accounts and take notes to discuss w the FoL about what y’all want to do/change/expand on. Also, be sure to get a full FoL schedule of events so you can pre-write/plan times/dates for posts. Do the same with the library’s schedule of events and boost those.

      Also, follow/boost other municipal events (park district/town council/civic engagement) and connect w them to start pushing library/FoL posts. I would also follow some other FoL or library accounts to see what is working for them.

      Honestly, libraries and library orgs need all the marketing help they can get.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If they belong to a consortium start there.
      Google near by libraries to see what they are doing or even go and talk with people at near by libraries.

      At some point it will become apparent who is the early adaptor library of those libraries around you. You can watch what that library is doing and think about what you see going on at yours.

      Our library has a way to donate online complete with QR code. We also have a drop down menu so people can designate how they want their donation used. (kids books, building project, teen activities, general fund, etc).

      It will take a bit but eventually you can post online about how to leave the library a donation as part of an estate. That post is down the road a ways, though.

      In terms of fund raising you are probably going to follow what the group wants. For example if the group wants to buy toys for kids to borrow- you might set up something online talking about that.

      But in terms of growing and supporting that will be talking about activities or things available at your library.
      Libraries have tax forms and some people still want the paper forms. Our library offers faxing and copying for a small charge. Then there is audio books. So you want to show what services are available from the library and you want to explain anything people need to know to use that service.

      Libraries do annual reports- these reports show what they have done for the community throughout the year. You def want at least a summary of that online. You’ll also want to post policies and rules for the library. Answer the question, “how do i get a library card?’.

    4. Sunshine*

      I am a non techy person who had to do social media for our sept for a while. Here is what I learned.
      Canva has great design pieces. Largely for free.
      Make a schedule. Are you planning daily, weekly or random posting. Have a day for informing people about programs, a day for general info etc. and try to post stuff that elicits response.
      keep a folder of post ideas to help in the days you dont have an idea.

    5. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Sign the library/friends committee up for an Amazon Smiles account and promote the heck out of it.

      My grandmother’s “Friends of the Library” set one up and while it’s not a lot of money, it’s enough to make a small difference that the library can stretch a very long way as far as programming or new books.

    6. NYCRefhead*

      Boston Public library has a pretty great Twitter feed, if you wanted to get some ideas.

  26. Southern Girl*

    Anybody else feel a little bad because this anonymous forum is one of their main “socializations”?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve been reading the site for years but didn’t comment much until the pandemic was really getting to me. I look forward to the weekend threads! I moved in 2020 so I have no local friends and very few internet friends I’ve met in person, so I appreciate the entertainment and camaraderie here quite a bit

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Only a little bit, because this forum is a good place to visit. :-)
      Also, it remained accessible during the pandemic quarantining.

    3. the cat's ass*

      No, because it’s filled with lovely, thoughtful, interesting and funny people. I discovered it during the panini and am forever grateful.

    4. comityoferrors*

      I don’t actively comment much, but I lurk a lot and especially enjoy the open threads. It can be hard to find people you click with or share interests with, and this forum represents a pretty diverse set of interests, hobbies, ages, life experiences… It’s also one of the more polite and supportive communities online. I wouldn’t feel bad about relying on this community for socialization. I’m glad I found it and grateful that Alison is willing to host a space for everyone to chat.

      1. AGD*

        Agreed. Things around here are almost always super friendly and almost always super interesting.

    5. Non*

      Kind of. There are some lovely people here, don’t get me wrong, and I’m not unhappy to be here, but I really need more as my main social outlet.

    6. LizB*

      No, but I get you. I’ve had online friends/been in online community spaces since I was a tween in the early 2000s, but it took me until a few years ago to shake the message I’d gotten that “the internet isn’t real life!!” and realize that, actually, it is? These are real conversations in a real community, and real friendships can result even if the people involved never see each other face to face. Chatting with someone in a weekend thread here isn’t that different from sitting down next to a stranger in a bar and talking with them, or striking up a conversation with your seat neighbor on a long flight. Those people don’t know your backstory, don’t know where you live, maybe you don’t even give them your whole name, but they’re still fine forms of companionship. You’re all good socializing here. :)

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        This is a great way to think about it! (And LOL I would never talk to a stranger in those situations)

        In general I talk more to FB friends I only know through FB than ones I met in person first and it sometimes feels a bit strange, but I figure those are the people I originally connected with based on interests rather than proximity so it makes sense we’d have more to talk about. I feel fortunate that I get to care about babies, graduations, promotions, etc that I would never even know about if I only had in-person friends!

    7. Double A*

      I joke that podcasts are my main friends these days. I don’t feel bad that I get a socialization hit from reading and occasionally participating in comment sections I enjoy but I do miss having more in person interaction.

    8. Salymander*

      I don’t feel bad :)

      I moved about 8 years ago, and haven’t met too many people I really click with in my new town. This site has been a great social outlet for me. You all are so kind and thoughtful to each other, and really try to help and support people. I think that I’ve learned a lot here, and it has made me a better person.

    9. Bibliovore*

      Not really. This site has been a lifesaver for me over the last 10 months since my husband died.
      I don’t actually feel like being with people even good friends.
      I’m still locked down due to underlying conditions.
      My grief councilor recommends distractions and I can say this is the best medicine.
      I appreciate how smart, kind, and full of humor of Alison and the commentariat.

    10. Squirrel Nutkin*

      No, I’m excited that for once in my life, I actually post on a forum, and one of the nicest forums there is! Thank you, Alison, for not making us make accounts — that’s what encouraged me to step up and comment.

  27. Ali G*

    Does anyone have (or did you have) a Green Pan? I need to get new pots and pans and I am trying to find something that will hold up better (and also be less toxic) than my old teflon stuff.
    Green Pans are consistently highly rated for it’s non-toxic qualities and non-stick surface; but the reviews on Amazon are terrible. People are reporting that they lose their non-stick in the span of months. These aren’t cheap – I am looking for something that has a decent life-span (like more than 5 years like teflon).
    I’m thinking of just foregoing “non-stick” and getting some All-Clad or something. At least you know what you are getting!
    Thoughts? Also, if anyone knows if there is a better way to dispose of the teflon pans other than adding them to the landfill, I would love to know.

    1. fposte*

      Any applied nonstick surface is going to fail eventually–there is no such thing as long-term Teflon. I fully support your All-Clad plan (love mine); another possibility to consider, at least for selected pans, is cast iron. Those can be impressively nonstick when well seasoned and will definitely last. I have shoulder challenges that mean I’m only comfortable with small ones because of weight, and they’re probably dicey on a glass cooktop, but they’re a go-to for a lot of serious cooks.

      1. BRR*

        I’d also recommend cast iron to replace non stick. You might also want to look at carbon steel as it’s similar and I believe it’s lighter.

        Non stick pans aren’t really built to last. I’ve always read to not spend a lot on one. And if you don’t want to make the larger investment for all clad, cuinsiart’s multi clad cookware is decent quality and a bit more affordable.

        1. fposte*

          I’ve been vaguely seeing mentions of carbon steel and wasn’t sure if it was just something that sounded cool or was actually useful. Have you cooked in it? Did you like it?

          1. BRR*

            I have not cooked in carbon steel yet (but I did just get a carbon steel wok this week and am excited to try it out!). It’s very similar to cast iron. From what I’ve read, if you have a lot of cast iron, you don’t really need to get a carbon steel pan. But they are lighter. The serious eats article I just read said a 12 inch skillet weighs 2 lbs less.

            1. fposte*

              Hmm, might be worth my considering then. I have a teeny cast-iron for steak but it might be nice to have something bigger.

              1. Charlotte Lucas*

                I love love love my cast iron pans. I have a set of 3 in graduated sizes. I recommend buying at a farm supply store if you live near one. They’re generally cheaper there.

                1. Clisby*

                  I do, too. I have 3 sizes of cast iron skillets, a dutch oven, and a stovetop grill/griddle thing (you can put it over two burners and cook on it).

              2. pancakes*

                Carbon steel has historically been used for crepe pans. The French know their cookware! I don’t own any but would definitely consider it if I needed to replace something. I have a lot of cast iron skillets and they’re great but the heaviness can be a little annoying. I do have one big non-stick pan by Misen that I’ve had for a few years. It’s holding up well.

            2. LemonLyman*

              I got a carbon steel wok for Christmas and have enjoyed using it. But it gets HOT and smokes out my kitchen, sets off the alarms, and freaks my dog. I need to learn temperature regulation. I bought it because Kenji Lopez-Alt uses his so much and love his YT channel. I am thinking of getting his new book “Wok”

              1. Fikly*

                My understanding is that this is why carbon steel is so good for woks, because woks are supposed to get screaming hot, that’s how wok dishes are designed to be cooked, very hot and fast (and frankly, most non-Asian and non-professional stoves aren’t even designed to put out the BTU needed to achieve that).

                What kind of oil are you using? You want to use one with a very high smoke point.

                1. LemonLyman*

                  I’m using a high smoke point oil. And, yes, this is the point so one can get the “wok hei”. But my kitchen doesn’t have the means for venting all that high heat/smoke, hence the alarms going off.

      2. Ali G*

        I do have cast iron! I love mine. Although I am having an issue where the coating has started coming off, so I need to probably strip them and re-season them. That’s a project for another day!

      3. Cpt Morgan*

        I’ve been switching to cast iron as my non-stick wears out because the idea of disposable pans is something I can’t stomach. And in all my reading, all non-stick is just various degrees of disposable.

    2. Asenath*

      I long, long ago gave up on non-stick cookware because the surface never really lasted. I’ve been using mostly Paderno pots and pans for years, and don’t find them hard to clean. If something does seem to stick, a bit of soaking usually loosens it sufficiently.

    3. Not A Manager*

      We have some Green Pans that have lasted quite well. Maybe because we don’t use them that much? I really like non-stick for something like fried eggs and maybe fish, so I like to have at least one pan that’s a truly non-stick surface.

    4. Sundial*

      I get about 2 years out of my Ozeri pans. I also struggle to find lasting nonstick. I can’t handle the weight of cast iron due to bad wrists.

    5. Water Everywhere*

      I bought a couple ceramic-coated pans for the same reasons and yeah, not great. The non-stick just doesn’t last and if you’re having to replace them every year that’s not exactly friendly to the environment. My plain mid-range stainless steel pan that I’ve had for 20+ years is much easier to clean than a worn-out ceramic pan.

    6. Swisa*

      Anything with a nonstick coating will last for awhile, but will ultimately be disposable. 5 years seems unrealistic, from what I’ve read, but maybe someone will have a solution for you.

      Cast iron eventually gets fairly nonstick. Bacon grease helps in the seasoning process. I like it because of the durability and sustainability. I also worry about the chemical residue in coated pans.

      1. Swisa*

        Oh! And it took me awhile to remember, but PFOAs are the chemicals that I found worrying. Apparently they’re in everything now, and have been wreaking havoc on the environment.

    7. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I’ve had a couple of Green Pans and they don’t last longer than any other nonstick pan. I’m not especially hard on them (no metal utensils, super high heat, or dishwasher washing) but I did use them often. I eventually replaced them with cast iron, but I know that’s not a great option for everybody.

      You might try going to a restaurant supply store that also sells to the public. They tend to have very knowledgeable staff. You can pick things up to test the weight and balance, and they can also advise you on how nonstick different materials are and how to keep them in good shape as long as possible.

    8. MeMo*

      I’m a fan of Great Jones (greatjonesgoods.com) bakeware and cookware. I consider their nonstick pans as the good ones at home, meaning the teenager is banned from using them. IDK if they’re more eco-friendly than the brand you mentioned.

      (Btw, first comment from a long time lurker)

    9. Chaordic One*

      I’ve given up on non-stick and rely upon my cast iron. That said, my mother loves teflon. She realizes that it is not very durable and when she buys teflon pans she does so with the expectation that they are only going to last for a year or two, maybe three if she is lucky. And the old pans are going to end up in the landfill.

    10. o_gal*

      I love non-stick pans. I have an Oxo Good Grips 12″ non-stick pan, and I’ve had it nearly 5 years now and it’s still as non-stick as when it arrived (ordered from Amazon). It can be used on the cooktop and also in the oven up to a certain temperature. Tonight I’m planning to make a fritata with it, so it will go in a hot oven for a few minutes. It cleans up beautifully and is really lasting a long time.

    11. Wishing You Well*

      We love our $20 Red Copper pan. Our previous, $60-80 ceramic-coated pan didn’t last.
      Best of Luck

    12. LizB*

      I have a set of Green Pans (the stackable ceramic ones) and I like them a lot! I’ve had them for a little over a year and the nonstick-ness is holding up just fine. They do seem to be prone to getting discolored, but I don’t particularly care about that.

    13. PollyQ*

      “People are reporting that they lose their non-stick in the span of months.”

      This was exactly my experience, and I’m skeptical on the “non-toxic” claim as well. I mean, it probably is, but also probably no more than any other commercially available pan.

    14. Imtheone*

      I look for T-fal pans (nonstick) on sale. They do fail after a while, but the investment is low. Tramontina is also good. We’re very careful to never use metal utensils with them.

      Well-seasoned cast-iron is great, and definitely “lower stick” than most other pans.

    15. KitchenQueen*

      I don’t know Green Pans but the Wire cutter has a great overview of recommended nonstick pans: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-nonstick-pan/amp/

      I’m surprised/impressed with all the people here who say cast iron eventually gets to be nonstick. I have had mine for 15 years and treat it well, but eggs still stick to it. I gave in and bought a new nonstick. Like the OP I was trying to be environmentally friendly but have just accepted having a clean release on eggs is important to me. I still try to use cast iron for as much as possible when the nonstick doesn’t matter as much, to extend the life of the cast iron.

      Also, pay attention to the care instructions for the nonstick to make the finishing last longer.

    16. Stephanie*

      I gave up on non-stick years ago because I was so tired of them wearing out. I have a set of Calphalon copper and stainless pans that we bought maybe 20 years ago. They were definitely a splurge, but we cook every day in them and other than the patina on the copper, they’re like new. If I’m cooking something like eggs, I just use a non-stick spray or a bit of butter or oil. We also have a cast iron skillet that we use several times a week. It’s a pretty good substitute for a non-stick pan, and as long as you take care of it, it will last forever.

  28. Coke float*

    I’ve recently lost interest in a major hobby of mine, and I can’t figure out how to get it back. Any suggestions from the AAM community? (Commiserations and personal stories are also welcome!)

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Is there a way to make it easier? My main hobby is embroidery but sometimes I lose steam on bigger projects so it helps to have an easy “back up project” I can just use to feel like I’m getting something done – either smaller, simpler, or a kit/pattern that allows me to basically follow along like a coloring book without thinking too much.

      1. Coke float*

        My hobby is actually also embroidery, what a coincidence :) having a backup project is a great idea. Gonna look for some simple patterns this weekend, please let me know if you have any recommendations!

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Last time I was in a rut I got a Zenbroidery kit which was just Zentangle style doodles printed on fabric. It was kind of low quality material and WAY bigger than I expected but really fun to basically just trace the design and switch colors whenever I felt like it, rather than needing it to look a specific way. I know they have smaller versions than the one I chose at Joann.

          I’ve also ordered the super tiny pendant hoops (about 1″ wide in different shapes) on Etsy and then sized down free DMC patterns or freehanded whatever I thought would look good with the hoop, which is a great way to get a whole project knocked out in a very short time (and they’re so cuuute). The shop I used was DiYOrder on Etsy but you can find the same ones all over.

    2. JustForThis*

      In my experience this just happens sometimes. I wouldn’t force myself at all to stick to the hobby you are used to. I’d instead use your newly won free time to discover something that interests you right now. It’s fun to expand one’s interests and discover new aspects of oneself! Your interest in your old hobby may come back on its own, as it did in my case.

    3. Southern Girl*

      I used to read a lot, all kinds of books. Since Covid lockdown, I just can’t concentrate as well and find myself re-reading Jane Austen. Hope things improve for y0u with time.

      1. the cat's ass*

        same-i love to read, but the library was closed and i was exhausted/frightened by working thru the panini. I would always devour the reading recommendations here, but found myself rereading a lot of older stuff and now i’m back to reading ‘new’ things.

        Sometimes our brains just need to recharge!

    4. Siege*

      Take a break! I would say sewing is my major hobby, and I realized yesterday I functionally haven’t touched it since Halloween. I started a coat and made a two-hour petticoat, but those don’t feel like they count for some reason. Sometimes I just walk away for a while. I often get back into it by making something I don’t have to think about, like a tote bag, which are mostly just big squares sewn together, which gives me the oomph and pleasure to be able to read a really complicated pattern step and actually do it rather than read it six times not understanding it. (I may have had that exact experience last night, trying to get back to the coat.)

      It’s a great time to pick up a secondary hobby. I bought a couple of DIY house kits over the holidays and I’ve been slowly working on one of them, a library room. Folding little paper books is a totally different experience. But pushing through the block often makes the block worse.

    5. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I never figured out how to stay interested in a hobby for very long, BUT I can cycle back and forth between a few over time. Right now I’m embroidering, but I also have a drawing project started, and one of those “diamond dotz” kits, ready to go when I get back into them!

    6. the very chocolate chip*

      Change hobbies for a bit? It’s ok to get a little done, wander away and come back to it a couple of years or decades later. I say this as someone who’s stockpiled a lot of wool, still has sweaters I’d like to make and … I’m ust not feeling it. It will come back. Or not, it’s all fine.

    7. Squidhead*

      Are you stuck with a partly-finished project? I cross-stitched a large pattern that I’m not totally happy with now and need to figure out how to enhance certain parts with stitches or techniques I don’t know how to do. At the same time, I feel like I’m not “allowed” to start another one until the first one is done. (This is entirely self-imposed, since I even have the floss and fabric for a new pattern.) But it has turned into a mental block of sorts, for sure! I did break through it by doing another small pattern, and now that one is finished and needs to be mounted, so now I have 2 unfinished things that I feel obligated to wrap up. Sheesh, brains are weird!

    8. Princess Xena*

      Hi fellow embroiderer!

      What works for me is switching to something different. I have a few things that I pick up seasonally (Pysanky in spring and cookie decorating in late fall/winter) that make for a refreshing break from my main hobby.

    9. Salymander*

      Just take a break from one hobby to explore another, maybe? I cycle through about a dozen or so hobbies. I get tired of one and just surf on over to the next one. Hobby surfing.

  29. birdtripping*

    New workplace TV series: Severance. Anyone else watching the “eerie, perversely thrilling corporate nightmare” on Apple TV? I’m equally entranced and horrified. It’s excellent if you can handle a series about a truly dystopian — not just toxic —workplace. Fantastic performances from stars Patricia Arquette, Adam Scott, Christopher Walken, and John Turturro, as directed by Ben Stiller.

    1. RosyGlasses*

      Yes! Altho we were traveling and haven’t caught the last two episodes yet – but it is so good!

    2. NancyDrew*

      We are OBSESSED with it. Just started listening to a Severance podcast (one of those “dissecting each episode” pods) to extend my enjoyment. It’s SO weird — at the last episode, my husband and I turned to each other at the same scene and said, “This is some Twin Peaks-level stuff!”

  30. I'm Done*

    Join a Facebook group that specializes in House and Home Decor. You will get a lot of ideas from the other posters and you can save the photos you like to your phone in case you want to replicate the look. Much cheaper than design magazines. They have groups for every kind of style. Farmhouse, shabby chic, mid century.

  31. Sundial*

    Our dishes REEK coming out of the dishwasher. I’ve:

    Cleaned the dishwasher
    Taken apart/scrubbed the dishwasher filters
    Changed the whole-house inline water filter
    Run hot water in the sink before starting the dishwasher

    Any other ideas?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Does the dishwasher itself smell funny when it’s empty? Or does it smell fine, but the dishes don’t smell fine?

      Do the dishes only smell when they first come out, or does the odor linger?

      1. Sundial*

        The dishwasher itself smells fine.

        The dishes retain the smell, even in the cabinets long after they’re dry. It’s hard to pinpoint the type of odor, it’s not garbage-y or chemical-y. It’s more like a gym locker funk, but not actually like BO.

        We use Cascade Platinum pods, and are on city water.

        1. fueled by coffee*

          Is it an older dishwasher? Older models aren’t always compatible with the pods (they don’t break down right), so you might try switching to liquid detergent instead. That doesn’t fully explain why your dishes smell *bad,* but it might explain why they aren’t being washed well.

          1. Sundial*

            It’s a KitchenAid from 2018, so I guess middle-aged as far as appliances go. But that’s interesting, I’ll try alternate formulas. TY!

    2. Melon*

      Try using a drain cleaner in the main kitchen sink drain. Usually the dishwasher is tied to that drain.

    3. Ali G*

      What kind of smell? Is it musty, like a damp basement? Is it just the dishes?
      Did you change soaps?

    4. LNLN*

      Check that the discharge pipe has a high loop (higher than the bottom of the sink) so the garbage disposal does not backflow into the dishwasher. But try different detergents, too.

    5. Generic Name*

      I’ve noticed that my dishwasher/drain smells really gross approximately once a month, but nobody else in my house can smell it. I eventually realized that my sense of smell peaks during ovulation, so I plan to run a cleaning cycle on my dishwasher and my drain around that time.

    6. Tea and Cake*

      Clean the filter trap in the bottom of the dishwasher. Then place a bowl filled with a cup of vinegar in the top shelf and run a full cycle with hot water.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Agree with this. You can also add some vinegar to each load if you need to – put it in a small bowl (facing up) on the top shelf.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I was going to suggest soaking the dishes in a water and vinegar mix before washing them. I’ve done that with clothes that smell funky, and that usually works.

    7. Ampersand*

      Is it a wet dog smell? Ours has this problem every few months and that’s when I know it’s time to clean the dishwasher (we run a cycle with a dishwasher cleanser/powder—I think it’s primarily citric acid, and it works). We also rinse the filter after every time we run the dishwasher—we use it every other day so it’s often. When it happens, the smell is most noticeable on our ceramic plates, bowls, and mugs; it permeates them, and it’s gross.

      My thoughts are:
      1. Is it only certain dishes smelling bad but not others? Can you hand wash those if needed? (I know, not having to hand wash dishes is why you have a dishwasher :)
      2. Try another detergent—I can’t remember what we were using before, but we use Cascade pods now and it happens less frequently.
      3. Try a citric acid-based dishwasher cleaner if you haven’t yet.

      I hope you find a solution soon! This problem sounds small but is maddening!

    8. the cat's ass*

      do you have a garbage disposal and is it working properly? Sometimes there can be backwash into the DW from that.

    9. Smol Book Wizard*

      My husband suggests to check inside the gaskets of the machine in case anything is stuck there or messy. Also perhaps adding pre-rinse?

    10. Reba*

      Check the drain line between the DW and the sink! Unhook it where it connects to your outbound drain pipe or disposal under the sink (with a bucket below). You can get in there with a drain snake from the hardware store and it may be… enlightening in an unpleasant way.

    11. Accountant*

      You might try one of those dishwasher cleaning tablets – the brand I know is Affresh but there may be others. They’re really cheap and have a few ingredients besides citric acid that specifically help break up old soap residue. The washing machine tablets completely eliminated the musty smell in our machine.

  32. Dino*

    Best automatic pet feeder for wet food?

    I’m living without roommates for the first time. I want to get back into taking weekend trips but gotta make sure my kitty is fed! She free-feeds dry food but she gets a small amount of wet food twice a day. Does anyone have a favorite wet food feeder? Lower tech/below $80 would be ideal, but I’m willing to pay more if it means the food stays good for a 48 hour period. Thank you in advance!

    1. Tea and Cake*

      I searched for something like this and tried a few but my cat is the pickiest cat in the world and would hunger strike until we returned when she could complain at the top of her lungs that she was starving. So now I just ask a neighbor or cat sitter to come by and give her a fresh can (or two!) in the morning for the duration of the trip. She still yells at us when we get back but at least now she does it while leaning on our shins so I think she’s just telling us about her vacation from us.

      1. A313*

        Ideally, someone would come by once a day to check on kitty, feed her, give her fresh water, scoop the box, and if she’s amenable, play a bit. Cats may not seem like it, but they can get lonely. And too long alone, and they can get into trouble. I know it’s “just” a weekend, but I know I would enjoy myself more on my trip if I knew my cats were being checked on, and sitters/friends/family can also send you updates and photos, if you’d like. Also, you’d likely come home to a happier kitty :)

        1. Dino*

          The plan is definitely to have her favorite person who isn’t me (my bestie) come on by once a day to spend a few hours with her. With my work schedule it means my kitty’s eating schedule is way too early for best friend to make the drive up here, so am automated option is what will work for us. Best friend also thinks wet food is gross (which, fair) so the less she has to fuss with it, the better!

          1. A313*

            Great plan and good to know! And yes, wet food is kind of icky — the smell! Enjoy your trip!

    2. Megan*

      I have the Petsafe Digital 2 Meal Pet Feeder and have been happy with it. It does come in a lower-tech version too (with a physical dial you turn vs. a digital screen to set the number of hours before the lid pops open). I wouldn’t use it for more than 2 days (max) and if I’m gone that long I’ll dump the wet food into the tray and freeze it, so the food will be thawed and cold, but at least still edible.

  33. The Dude Abides*

    Gum chewers, help!

    I chew gum so that I don’t chew my fingers/nails at work or while driving. My go-to is Trident White, but would prefer to not have to go to Walgreens/Walmart to get the 180ct bags.

    Any recs for vendors or other types of gum that I can procure easily without breaking the bank?

    1. KateM*

      Thanks for reminding me that I need to add some chewing gum to my next basket!
      But I don’t live in USA so I can’t help you. :(

      1. The Dude Abides*

        The local Target is out of the way, but having it delivered might be the best option.

        I looked on Amazon, and the cheapest I could find for a 180ct bag is $13, which is almost double what I normally pay.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I am unclear on the parameters of the question and your goal.

      It sounds like you currently have a source for your preferred brand at an acceptable price. Are you trying to:

      a) boycott those stores for some reason?

      b) find a more convenient store or a better price?

      c) avoid shopping in-store at all?

      If you don’t like the store’s labor practices or something, Amazon is no improvement. OTOH, if you just want something delivered, it will be hard to find grocery items cheaper online than in store.

      If you have a locally owned grocery, pharmacy, or convenience store, talk to them. They will normally order in items on request and start carrying things if a customer wants them.

  34. atla*

    Tips on looking more neutral, gender wise?

    I’m a cis women though am exploring gender a bit and overall feel ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ about the whole thing. My hair is shoulder-blade length and only getting longer—which I like. I hate short hair—so that’s out. I generally wear like, jeans/pants, tshirts, sweaters—nothing overtly feminine. But I still don’t feel like I’m hitting that “I’m not 100% sure what gender that person is” vibes.

    I think flannel is the only thing that like, helps the most but I’d like more tips please. Thanks!!

    1. Squidhead*

      Explore the cut of your clothes? I (cis female) wear mostly “men’s” jeans (not tapered or fitted; they are cheaper and have bigger pockets which is why I wear them) and often kind of boxy T-shirts. I have very long hair but it is always pulled back so from the front at a quick glance I get called “sir” sometimes. I don’t wear makeup and am fairly un-curvy, so that probably contributes, too!

      Also, shoes…not so much in terms of style but in terms of how they make you walk. I spent a long time wearing work boots and I walk fast; my gait is definitely different than many women’s (but I literally don’t know how to walk in heels and flats feel weird and flimsy to me.)

      I don’t mind being called “sir” but I have never tried for a specifically “neutral” look. I don’t love the idea that “neutral” and “masculine” get conflated, but I don’t know how to solve that.

    2. Another_scientist*

      Oxfords? I am not an androgynous dresser myself, but I’ve noticed that shoe in a lot of outfits in the non-obviously-gendered realm.

    3. Just another queer reader*

      Hello, from another gender- expression- exploring person :) Here are a few ideas.

      – experiment with wearing “men’s” clothes. (Sometimes slim fit shirts, and straight cut jeans, work well)
      – tailoring can make a huge difference, esp for men’s clothes. It sounds pretentious, but it really makes a huge difference! And if you buy clothes that will last a while (such as good quality clothes from a thrift store), it’s worth the investment. Common modifications include hemming the legs or sleeves, bringing in the waist, or bringing in the body of a shirt.
      – experiment with sports bras or a binder
      – experiment with button-up shirts, blazers/ jackets (jean, leather, whatever your style)
      – a classic transmasc trick is wearing several layers. Loose shirt loose with an open jacket/flannel on top, to kind of hide any curves
      – wear masculine shoes – I wear clunky steel toe boots everywhere and I love them
      – find a forum or group for tips, advice, and feedback!

      Ps it’s super common for trans men and masculine-presenting afab people to be mistaken for pre-teen boys! Happens to many of my friends, and even the illustrious Cameron Esposito. Apparently it happens up until, and after, you get gray hair and wrinkles lol.

      Best of luck on your journey!

    4. Puffle*

      I (cis woman) generally wear a mix of men’s and women’s clothes just based on what fits me better, which I think does give a more neutral shape. For me men’s t-shirts are more androgynous because they’re looser in fit, whereas women’s T-shirt designers seem determined to have them cut to emphasise body type/ figure. I’ll often wear men’s sweaters but in traditionally feminine colours ie pink/ purple

      Perhaps change the types of bag you carry? A backpack can be a more neutral option than something like a shoulder bag/ handbag, which we culturally code as ‘feminine’.

      Agree with other commenters that shoes can also make a difference in terms of both style and gait.

    5. beep beep*

      I also dislike overly short hair, but I found a side shave (I keep the rest shoulder length or a little longer) does wonders for helping you ping a “that’s a Gender” radar. It takes a little maintenance but you can do it yourself with an electric razor or have a roommate do it.

      Other than that, chunky shoes/boots, flannels- the kind of things that read as “butch” often also read as “???”, so possibly lean into that? If you have very feminine face (as I do) makeup can also do a lot of work.

      Good luck!

    6. Angstrom*

      Wear a plain leather belt with pants and jeans if the waist is visible.
      T-shirts always crew neck, never scoop or V.
      Jeans and pants that don’t hug the leg.
      Heavier weight fabrics.

      1. Angstrom*

        Forgot to add: For a belt to read as “male”(or at least not specifically female) it needs to be wide enough. Typically 1 1/8” to 1 1/4” for dress pants/slacks, 1 1/2” for jeans. If a straight-cut belt is uncomfortable there are contour-cut belts that work better for some people with curves.

  35. Miserly aunt*

    Gift-giving for young adults: What do you think? Our niece is 21. Her birthday is in a month. We have always given her birthday and Christmas presents, as well as a graduation present. She’s pleasant when we visit, but not overly-engaged with us. She almost never acknowledges gifts; often her mother (my SIL) will write “thank you from *niece” in a card thanking us for other seasonal gifts. When she was younger we sent toys/clothes/books etc but now it is usually money. If we send her a check, it might take her 2 months to cash it, leaving me wondering whether it arrived. Her mom says “oh, she’s very out-of-sight, out-of-mind and just forgets.” Her mom also says “don’t worry about giving her gifts.” (Her mom bears the burden of a LOT of executive function for their household, and this is part of my unease with the situation. I don’t want to put more things on her plate.)

    Here is where I am torn. I remember being 21 and cash was tight. We can afford the gifts (we’re talking $50 to 100) and I am sure she could use the money. I think back on various relatives who gave me gifts in the past and I appreciated them thinking of me, plus they really did help. But I always wrote a thank-you note. Always. My spouse and SIL grew up the same way, but a variety of challenging circumstances have meant that SIL didn’t push this particular point with *niece. I assume that if she hasn’t developed the habit of thanking people now, she probably isn’t going to. (I have no reason to believe that the actual act of writing or communicating is especially difficult for *niece.) All signs point to “stop giving gifts if I’m just getting annoyed about the lack of acknowledgement,” but I still feel bad. Should we stop giving gifts? If not, what sways you the other direction? Thank you!

    1. OTGW*

      I’m a little older than your niece. While my mom generally tried to instill the thank you cards, it never stuck and she was pretty laisse faire about it once I got to high school.

      I’ve never sent thank you cards to anyone—my aunt is pretty generous, but I send her a text. But between my friends and stuff, we never do thank you cards. I personally don’t understand sending cards for just a bday or christmas gift. Like…. a whole card is excessive and honestly, in my opinion, silly.

      However, your niece seems to be completely checked out of even acknowledging it which is a little rude! You absolutely can stop sending gifts if it bothers you—if that’s all you need to hear. But would you be okay with a text? Or like, idk, just telling the mom to stop sending the card and reach out to the niece directly to ask if she got the gift?

      1. Asenath*

        I think a text to say thank-you is perfectly acceptable – even my mother, who was very strict about gift-giving, taught that we didn’t always have to write a note; expressing our thanks in person or on the phone was fine. But you HAD to thank anyone who gave you anything. I do agree that Mother shouldn’t be doing the thank-yous for Niece at this point in Niece’s life. Maybe when she was an infant, that would be fine.

      2. Miserly aunt*

        A text would be fine, or a few sentences on notebook paper! (Commerical cards are definitely over-priced.) I’m looking for acknowledgement more than style, I guess. I have asked *niece a couple times about lingering checks and this does get a reply (with thanks) but I feel like she should be initiating this on her own in some format. I don’t have kids so I appreciate your perspective on how habits do (or don’t) stick!

        For reference- I write a note if I wasn’t with the giver when I opened the gift; with friends I am more likely to open the gift with them so in that case I probably wouldn’t write either.

        1. OTGW*

          Hmm, based on that info, then tbh I might just stop with the gifts save a card, like you mentioned. Maybe the thanks will come with age, but if she really isn’t initiating, that’s a little rude and I understand even more why you feel miffed.

          If you still feel really guilty and want to include something, a $20 doesn’t hurt—it’s not as generous as your previous gifts, but it’s still a little something.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I think the text is fine. “Write a note” arose as the rule when that was the only way you could communicate with someone you weren’t looking at right that minute. You can thank someone in person, over the phone, or by whatever electronic means is normal for you two.

        “Checked out of even acknowledging” is where it gets frustrating to keep gifting into a vacuum. The thanks functions to tell the person that the gift arrived, and that you are pleased they thought of you. (“Thanks! I will use it to get tacos!”)

        I think of stopping sending black hole gifts not as issuing a dire punishment for revenge, but as acknowledging that we seem to have moved beyond this exchange meaning much. It usually arises re one-way gifts. Which are fine! Young kids have changing needs, young adults tend to be short on cash, the older adults in the family don’t want any more stuff–the gift-giving can be unbalanced. But if you make yourself a black hole, your relatives may tire of launching money into it.

    2. Asenath*

      I’d say stop. And if you need to give a reason, you could make it a general rule that you don’t give gifts after children turn 21. One of my aunts (who, as far as I can remember, was always thanked for her gifts – our mother was very firm on this.) announced this around the time the oldest (me and a cousin) were reaching that age, that she wasn’t continuing after we turned 18. I don’t remember any resentment, or any greater poverty than was normal for a student. I was on good terms with the aunt (as much as I could be when we lived so far apart) until she died. And I’d say she couldn’t be that desperate for money if she delays cashing it!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I am still grateful to the brother in law who suggested we stop gift exchanges for anyone over 18.

        Gifts to my kids (the youngest on this side of the family) actually tapered off before that date, without them particularly noticing.

    3. fueled by coffee*

      My aunt and uncle stopped giving birthday gifts when I finished college (I think? Definitely early twenties), so around now is a totally appropriate time to stop if you’re not interested in continuing. They did mention this beforehand so it didn’t come out of the blue (phrased along the lines of ‘now that you’re an adult family member, we’re going to pull back on the cash except for major milestones’). They continue to send me cards for my birthday/holidays, but no cash/gifts. I’d send her a gift *this year,* but then mention that this is the end of the gifting; she’s an adult now.

      Two other thoughts:
      1. Have you mentioned to your niece (or her parents) that you would like to receive an acknowledgement of these gifts? If she’s been raised to believe that her mom will write a cursory thank-you note when she receives a gift, you might be doing her a kindness to let her know that that’s not the expected etiquette (of course this depends on your relationship with your niece and whether this kind of feedback would be appreciated or cause tension, so YMMV). But I would make this a separate conversation from stopping with the gifts – I agree with you that you don’t want to make it seem like pulling back on gifting is a punishment, even though the lack of acknowledgment is your main motivation for doing this.

      2. If it’s taking her 2 months to cash the checks, she’s not so strapped for cash that she desperately needs your birthday gift money.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On your #1 — yes, absolutely. My uncle gave us gifts all through my childhood that we thanked him in person or on the phone for (and the method in which this presented was, he gave my parents some money and they did all the gift selecting and wrapping, he was just as surprised at the gift openings as I was), and when I was 18, he abruptly stopped. No skin off my nose, so I didn’t worry about it, and when I was friggin THIRTY YEARS OLD, someone finally told me that my uncle had been cranky since I was like SIX because we never wrote him thank-you cards, and that was why he’d stopped sending us gifts or even birthday cards as soon as we hit adulthood and instead donated his gift budget to charity. I actually got a Christmas card from him that year, which was a little weird on the timing I thought (or maybe it was intentional, I dunno if Grandma told him she’d told us) and I wrote back like a 3 or 4 page letter, thanking him and just kinda filling him in on the state of me as we’d been out of contact for a couple years at that point. I never heard from him again, literally because not only did he never reply to it, but he passed away unexpectedly that summer. I was glad we got a chance to … not exactly clear the air, but at least seemingly patch up whatever happened? but it would’ve been nice if he’d said he wanted actual written thank-you cards a lot earlier.

    4. Raboot*

      You can stop! I have a relative I’m not very close to who always sends a nice amount for Hanukkah. I always say thank you and thus continue to receive it regardless of age. One of my siblings does not email or call to say thank you, so they have stopped receiving it. My sibling could use the money a lot more than I do, but it’s on them and I think the relative is right in their actions. It sounds like you’ve already floated this issue with your sister, and I don’t think you need to do more.

    5. Blue Eagle*

      A similar situation was in a very old “Dear Abby” letter where the grandmother was mentioning that her grandkids never came over. She solved the problem one Christmas by sending checks and ‘forgetting’ to sign them. All of her grandkids came over one family at a time to visit her (i.e. get their checks signed). Remembering this gave me a laugh!

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Yes, stop giving your niece gifts – and unburden her mother at the same time. Acknowledge Niece’s milestones with a message or card. At the very least, stop giving her checks that go uncashed for too long. (She could cash them using her phone – no trip to the bank required.) My rule is no cash gifts after age 18 unless they’re full-time students.
      The nieces and nephews who acknowledge receiving my gifts (or even thank me!) get gifts. The ones who don’t, don’t get gifts. It feels like my money and efforts fall into a black hole. There are plenty of other ways to express your love and affection.

    7. Laura H.*

      I sometimes forget about a check in an “I’ll do it tomorrow” on repeat for a week.

      However, I’m always appreciative of the gift. It usually comes when I could really use it.

      If I have a semi-immediate want/ need for that money, I usually shoot a text that amounts to “thank you for the gift-I’ll be spending some of it on some seminars that I need to take and maybe I’ll spend some on a treat.”

      I’m 31 for what it’s worth. I still like monetary gifts and while $50 ain’t what it was when I was 10, it still is super helpful.

      1. Laura H.*

        But expressing gratitude and use for the gifts has to be part of that for me to express.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        The thing about the black hole response is that it is exactly what you would do if you do not want precious figurines, have told your aunt to please please please not give you any more of them, and she keeps sending one on each gift-giving occasion, which you drop off at Goodwill.

    8. GoryDetails*

      Heh! My niblings – all over 25 now; where DOES the time go? – have been pretty good about thank-you notes, but what I’ve found helpful as they grew up was just asking them what they wanted. Gift cards to their favorite music store, books on favorite hobbies, consumables like regional snacks or (back in the days when it was easier to travel) something from a far-flung locale… Not everything landed with the same success, but in general we all seem to appreciate each other and our respective gift-ideas and thank-you habits.

      I would second the idea to write actual letters, possibly both in email and handwritten (or typed and printed out; some of us have handwriting that’s quite a chore to decipher!), but one or the other. Just be chatty, and with snail-mail one can include a colorful autumn leaf from one’s yard or other tangible-but-small souvenirs. If the current generation has no interest in physical mail, texts/emails/instagram pics showing that you’re thinking of them – or offering amusing glimpses of what *you’re* up to – can keep the connection going, with or without official birthday gifts.

    9. Washi*

      I’m a niece who kinda wishes my aunt and uncle would stop giving me gifts! Typically it’s ~$30 gift card, always to somewhere generic like Amazon. I’m a decade older than your niece and always write a thank you note because it’s been drilled into me, but something about it feels a bit forced and awkward. It’s like a physical acknowledgement that we don’t know each other well enough to get more personalized presents. In recent years I’ve muddied the water a bit though by getting gifts for their son, who is still a young child, but I wish we could set a rule that for extended family, only kids under 18 get presents!

      And to your point that she’s 21, therefore short on cash…well clearly not that short or she would cash the check a lot quicker! Now that mobile deposit exists, it’s not like she has to run around to find an ATM. I would just send a card for the sake of the connection but stop with the gifts.

    10. Koala dreams*

      Either stop, or ask the niece what she wants to do about gifts now that she’s an adult. Perhaps she doesn’t care for gifts, would rather do something else or has a specific wish. It makes sense to ask the parents about gifts for children, but with an adult niece you have better chance at a happy compromise without that extra step.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes gifts and holiday cards can become the only point of contact. If your goal is to remain in contact in some way then you might want to continue. I try not to get too hung up on being thanked- but dang!- where I finally landed was what the relationship as a whole looked like. I realized that being thanked was all about the fact that there was no other communication all year. At the same time I had budget reasons for not wanting to continue the gifts.

      You do have the option of saying “for now and may change later”. If a relationship flourished with me and my person I’d probably go back to small gifts at random times.

    12. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Stop giving the gifts. Your niece doesn’t seem interested in them and the lack of gratitude is annoying to you.

      On the lack of acknowledgment and gratitude: this is what I do intentionally because I don’t want the gift. In my situation I’ve been (and continue to be) very direct about it but I have certain people that still insist on giving me gifts anyway. Unfortunately I’ve found that ANY gratitude only encourages more gift-giving that I do not want, so being demonstrably unappreciative is the only thing I have left. They get annoyed, I get annoyed that they’re annoyed, it’s always a debacle.

      Not suggesting your gifting is at all reflective of the boundaries issue I have with my people, just sharing something from the other side of it. This might be her soft “no thanks, Aunty!” and perhaps thinking about it like that rather than something you’re denying her as retaliation will help you not feel bad about it. People who like gifts and gifting often assume that of course everyone must love them too. But us gift-haters are indeed out there :)

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Her mom also says “don’t worry about giving her gifts.”
      And she’s turning 21: It’s fine to have a broad “and as each neibling (or neibling in 1 family) turns 21, we stop with the gifts” rule. (I would say something to niece or mom so they know what’s happening.)

    14. The Present is a Gift*

      I read somewhere long ago that if you’re giving gifts with the expectation of gratitude, you’re doing it wrong. Gifts should be free of expectation, obligation, responses issued in a certain way, etc. Because that makes it far more about us and our wants and residual I-feel-good-about-what-I-just-did than it does about the person you are purportedly doing something for.

      That comes up against our ingrained desire to be acknowledged and thanked, of course, and in ways that we deem proper. I’ve seen many a tale of outraged relatives who received a thank-you text when it “should have been” a call, a call when it “should have been” a handwritten letter…we get caught up in tradition and should-haves and insular thinking and thus destroy any joy on either side.

      If not being acknowledged and thanked by the recipient impacts your desire and delight in giving to that recipient, you can just stop giving gifts to that person. No grand statement or announcement needed.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it can be less a grand statement and more “We’d like to make this shift and don’t want to surprise anyone.” The adult siblings in my family stopped exchanging gifts a while back, and there was a several-months-before-Xmas floating of the idea from my brother-in-law so no one was buying gifts.

        In practice, I disagree with the part about gifts being free of expectation.
        • Exchanging gifts, or gifting one direction (e.g. wealthier family members who don’t need more stuff to younger, poorer family members who could use stuff), is meant to be an expression of the underlying relationship. If the giftee has no contact with the gifter other than receiving gifts sent through the mail… that suggests there’s not much to the relationship.

        I’m sympathetic to the feeling that it’s actually tougher to end the gifts if they go off into a black hole (and so there’s no natural conversation in which to bring up your desire to change going forward).

        • I want to give a gift that is actually desired by the giftee, and some sort of response is where I get that information. If it’s a happy “Thanks for the check!!” then I figure that was a good choice and I should do it again in future. If it’s “Thanks for the Minecraft set; I wanted to pass on that Connor is moving out of that phase and more into painting now” then that’s helpful information. If it’s a pained “I really, really don’t need any more clothing” with implied “and I just drop your many bags of used clothing at Goodwill, which you could do without involving me” then that’s also useful.

    15. Miserly aunt*

      Thank you to all who have responded so far! I appreciate the perspectives that a) if she’s not cashing the check quickly, she can’t want the money that badly and b) that generally expecting acknowledgement of a gift isn’t unreasonable but c) giving a gift and expecting something in return might be pretty self-serving and says more about the giver than the recipient, who might really d) wish that this tradition would end because it feels too entangled or laden with unvoiced expectations (which, fair!).

      I don’t plan to make a big announcement about it, and we will still send her cards, regional treats like we send to the rest of the family (she lives with them), etc. Recalibration to “this is what we do for the other adults” seems like the right move. Thank you all for helping me tease out some of the threads!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        If you occasionally talk with her, say at a Thanksgiving gathering, then I think that’s a good time to toss off “Now that you’re 21, I figure you’ve outgrown the checks.”

        If you never talk to her and this is all carried out through her mom, then I get that it’s harder to shift things without feeling mean. (Also, I think it is totally normal for young adults to be fond of older relatives but neither side maintains much of a relationship until they happen to be occupying the same geographic space.)

    16. star*

      Slightly sideways but: my “auntie” (actually a family friend) told me that 21 was the cut off age for gifts from her, and gave me a nice cheque for my 21st. It’s a great time to add an age limit to your gifting and stop gracefully

    17. BarcodeReader*

      When I was younger, I use to ‘save’ checks and not cash them so I’d have emergency money for when I was really broke. I never realized that it messed with people’s accounting until way later. This doesn’t address the lack of acknowledgement in any way, but if you still wanna give her something but want to balance your checkbook, maybe a giftcard?

  36. Cimorene*

    Any suggestions for types of volunteer work that you can do with small kids? I’d like to start volunteering more regularly but between it being hard to get childcare and wanting my daughter to learn the value of giving back I’d like to find some thing that my four-year-old could potentially keep me company at or participate in. obviously I am not looking for specific organizations since that will be location specific but more categories of volunteering that tend to be amenable to bringing kids along. Or examples of what has worked well for other parents.

    1. PRM*

      Community kitchens (pre-pandemic) and food packaging and delivery (now). We love food and to eat and to bake and to cook and this helps us extend our passions and skills to our community.

    2. Fellow Traveller*

      We have a local diaper bank and they often need volunteers to breakdown and bundle packs of diapers. I often took my kids and they would help count diapers and take bundles to the sorting bins. But also the diaper bank has a play area that my kids can play in when they want.
      Park clean ups are also very child friendly- our parks and rec department has those a couple times a year.
      Delivering for Meals on wheels is also something that kids can tag along to.

      1. Clisby*

        Seconding park cleanups. We live across the street from a city park, and used to do those with our kids when they were smaller. These weren’t scheduled events; we’d just take some bags over, pick up trash, and dispose of it.

    3. Let me be dark and twisty*

      A food pantry? Whether with your church or your local community.

      When my brother and I were small, my family volunteered as sorters for our church’s food pantry. It was an hour or two every Sunday, once a month, where we’d sort all of the donations received that week and during services that weekend. It wasn’t hard work — it’s sorting food and shelving them so you’re putting cereal with cereal, pasta with pasta, toiletries with toiletries — but it taught us the value of giving back to the community and helping others who were less fortunate.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Also thinking food pantry. Also, if I make a meal for a family that needs it, my kid helps me cook & comes along to deliver it.

    4. Volunteer opportunities*

      In general I’ve found it difficult to find volunteer opportunities that allow young children to participate/attend (especially as young as 4 years old) but here are some possible ideas to explore. Volunteering at a diaper bank – my son did this with his class when he was 8 years old and had a wonderful experience. They worked together with adults creating smaller packages of diapers to distribute. Creating care packages of needed items for local homeless shelters. Looking for a local literacy organization that distributes children’s books and periodically going through your children’s books together to find books to donate. Some organizations need help from volunteers to distribute donations, so taking your child along in the car to make deliveries – an example in our area is a org that works with refugees who have relocated to our area, many of whom are low-income and do not have cars. Outdoor trash clean-up or volunteer weeding/gardening.

    5. LNLN*

      For several years, I watched a group of kids while their parents went to English learning classes. This was at a church (I was not a member) once a week. I planned activities, games and snacks. There were other volunteers I ended up supervising. If I’d had a child, I could have just brought her along. It was a great experience!

    6. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      There are probably insurance reasons that you can’t take young children with you to volunteer at animal shelters or rescues, but if you’re open to something in a less official capacity you could offer to walk neighborhood dogs for elderly/injured/ill(non-covid) neighbors. Even just helping brush them or play fetch in their own yard can be helpful for folks with arthritis and such. Since she can’t be vaccinated yet you’d probably want to stick with outdoor visits and passing the leash at the door, but it’s a possibility.

      As others mentioned, park and trail cleanup is a great option. My local Master Gardeners Association also organizes volunteer days to pull invasive weeds out of park areas. You may be able to find small groups that get together to cook meals for homeless and women’s shelters. I’ve found several listings for things like that on MeetUp.

    7. NYCRedhead*

      You might look for a local Lasagna Love group in your community, in which you make a lasagna at home for a local family.

      Sorting through gently used toys and clothes for donation might also be a possibility for a child this young.

      I also think it’s helpful for you and your family to talk about social issues and needs in your community in order to foster a sense of altruism and philanthropy.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      Habitat restoration is a good family activity. It can involve pulling weeds or planting. You can check with local parks, preserves, or nonprofits about possibilities. Sometimes these projects also have native plant nurseries where you can volunteer in the greenhouse to help care for seedlings or wash pots.

    9. Charlotte Lucas*

      Not exactly a volunteer opportunity, but I think it fits. For as long as we were old enough to make those kinds of decisions (so, about 4), my mom had the kids be responsible for going through old toys, books, & clothes to decide what we were too old for or didn’t want/need. If the condition was good enough, we donated them to charity.

      In adulthood, it’s affected how I clean out my closets, etc. And I am always surprised to find out when people throw perfectly usable items away instead of donating them.

  37. Potatoes gonna potate*

    What’s your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?

    Sometimes leftovers are eaten as is but sometimes I like to get creative.

    For me, leftover chicken (tandoori chicken or chicken tikka or rotisserie chicken) is either added to a soupy ramen with veggies & a soft boiled egg or shredded and mixed with a sauce to make a filling for a club sandwich, with traditional egg salad as the second layer of the sandwich.

    What about you?

    1. GoryDetails*

      My favorite is probably a frittata – or, if there’s only a small amount of leftover, an omelet. Primarily for leftover vegetables, but small quantities of meat can also work nicely.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      There’s a lot of leftovers that do really well on top of potatoes, either as stuffing for a jacket potato or on top of a bowl of mashed potatoes.

    3. WellRed*

      If I order a burger at a restaurant I only eat half. At home it gets chopped up and added to potatoes and corn for a “shepherds pie.” Or leftover chicken tenders get cut up, warmed and crisped with a bit of oil and spice in a frying pan and added to salad or turned into tacos.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s an amazing idea for chicken tenders. We always end up with so much after and I still have yet to get the hang of properly reheating fried foods.

    4. Admin of Sys*

      Things almost always end up in a stew of some sort, if there’s not enough to just reheat as is. With saag paneer or good bulgogi, I’ll usually try to match the flavors and just add more ingredients and spices to try to extend the dish, but everything else is usually chopped up, thrown into a pot with tomatoes and their veggies, and then shoved in a flavor direction with spices of some sort.
      Though fried rice usually becomes omurice the next morning.

    5. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Leftover chicken or steak make a nice quesedilla! Much quicker to chop leftovers than to cook it fresh that day.

    6. Aealias*

      I have some specific meals that go with leftovers.

      When I make waffles I do extra and eat them with veal cutlets the next day’s supper – this is a family oddity.

      Roast beef leftovers get sliced into ribbons and turned into lazy beef stroganoff (fry an onion, add the beef strips, all the leftover gravy, a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup and Worcestershire sauce to taste). I make rosy beef purely so I can have stroganoff.

      Roast chicken – I ALWAYS make a big pot of stock with the carcass (toss it back in the roaster with some herbs and veg and lots of water, throw it in the oven overnight at 250’, chill and lift off the hardened fat) and then use some of the stock and the leftover meat to make Jamie Oliver’s Humble Chicken Stew and Dumplings, which is delicious. If executive dysfunction overtakes me and the carcass doesn’t make it into the oven, I instead slice the chicken as thin as I can, mix up about 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise with a pressed garlic clove, and make myself truly epic sandwiches the next day.

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      That’s a great idea to incorporate it in ramen- I’m always looking for ways to bulk up my noodles!
      One thing I like to do with leftovers if I have rice and appropriate filling is to wrap it in nori and make sushi rolls.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I love bulking up ramen! My favorite go to is a soft boiled egg with spinach (fresh or frozen).

    8. The Wizard Rincewind*

      My go-to for “these leftovers don’t fill me with joy” is either to re-purpose them into a soup or slap a fried egg and suitable sauce on top. The type of food can dictate the sauce: stir-fry = sriracha/soy sauce/hoisin either separately or together; vinaigrette for something with a more western European bent; barbecue sauce for American cuisine. Either way, the extra sauce + gooey egg yolk transforms everything and makes it 100x more appealing.

  38. Anonymatic Yo Yo*

    My great uncle, the last alive of his generation, will shortly be turning 90. He’s now in a care home, and while the family does see him frequently, I thought it would be nice to send something more than a card to mark the occasion. He is mentally alert and can do just about anything except move easily, as he is a fall risk and in a wheelchair, but I can’t say he was ever a huge reader or had hobbies or anything like that, especially in recent years. I also have to arrange this from overseas, so if anyone has some good ideas or knows of a national company that does this stuff (US), I would love to hear about it!

    I was thinking balloons, but perhaps not? Is it worth contacting the care home to ask what is and isnt allowed?

    1. The Face*

      Yes, definitely contact the care home! They might have some suggestions for what to do as well as some names and contact details for local companies that can do it.

    2. Despachito*

      How about a self-made book with pictures of the family members with him over the years, and a little personal message from each member?

      When my dearly loved uncle turned 90, I made a book for him with photographs of the places he lived/worked in/went to school/were important to him, of him in different stages of his life, and the pictures of his family. I think he liked it.

      1. Anono-me*

        A great idea. A friend received something similar and loved it. The book was not homemade however; it was from a company that prints photos into albums. (Just be sure to use large and easy to read print in any writing. )

    3. Suprisingly ADHD*

      My mom and her siblings send their parents a fruit bouquet, Edible Arrangements is the company they prefer because they deliver. This year though, my grandma asked all of us to write down memories we have of them, we’re going to put them on index cards and decorate them with stickers so she’ll have a whole stack!

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      I would ask the care home to see what they recommend in general and also for him personally. He may have gotten into puzzles or something, or maybe can’t see well enough to do them. I used to send care packages to an aunt in a care home. She loved the scent of roses, so I would send rose soap, rose lotion, new slippers, a nice throw for her shoulders or lap, little packages of her favorite candy, that kind of stuff.
      It’s nice of you to do this!

    5. RosyGlasses*

      I bought my dad a skylight picture frame. It’s a bit spendy – but I can send him pictures and videos just by sending them to an email account and it auto posts. That might be a great way to engage other family in also sending video messages or pictures?