weekend open thread — June 1-2, 2024

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: I Hope This Finds You Well, by Natalie Sue. A not-well-liked office worker who sticks to herself accidentally gains access to all her coworkers’ emails. It’s a surprising combination of darkly funny and sweet.

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

{ 1,049 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    The weekend posts are for relatively light discussion and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s what happened to me today” personal-blog-style posts are not. We also can’t do medical advice here.

    Please give the full rules a re-read if it’s been a while!

  2. Green Goose*

    Hi all! This thread was SO helpful with slacks/jeans recs that I’m back for another. I’m a 5’10 female with an hourglass figure, I really like high-waisted jogger style sweats. I think they are cute and comfy, but I want them to go all the way to my ankles. I hate when the sweats end a few inches above my ankles. I got a pair of black jogger sweats from Target that I LOVE but… they are short on me. Any brands you all recommend that run long? TIA!

    1. A313*

      Athleta has a Balance Jogger that you might like, but it’s pricier than Target, unfortunately.

      1. Filosofickle*

        If Athleta is too pricey, Old Navy is an option — same brand family, with tall sizes available.

      2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I like going to expensive stores, trying on what I like to find my size, then looking the same product up on eBay.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      REI. Where we actually get women’s sweat pants for my husband, who has very long legs.

    3. Learned this from a tall friend*

      Women’s joggers are typically “7/8” length (so a bit short), while men’s joggers are typically full length. It could be worth seeing if a pair from the men’s section of whatever brand you like fits better!

      1. Green Goose*

        Oh thanks for the tip! That has funnily never occurred to me, but I’m going to start looking now. Maybe they’ll even be cheaper? I feel like women’s leisure clothes always cost more.

    4. J*

      I’m around the same height and shape and Athleta is consistently the best fit for me. You could also try American tall, long inseams at Duluth — both cheaper than athleta.

      1. MCL*

        I’m 5’10 size 20 and I have mostly had good luck with Duluth Trading Company’s Noga line. They do have a jogger style but I don’t have that one. They are very well made and have lots of pockets. Their leggings kind of fit me oddly but the sweatpants and shorts work well.

    5. Some People’s Children*

      I have a slightly opposite problem—I’m short but have long legs and a short torso so petite lengths can actually be a bit short. I really like both Athleta and Old Navy for sweats, leggings, and similar pants.

    6. Nihil Scio*

      I’ve had good luck at my favourite thrift shop
      (5’11”). Otherwise Reitman’s Carrie’s a tall section with comfy jeans and trousers

  3. word nerd*

    Reading thread! Comment about anything you’re reading or would like to recommend!

    I just read a blurb about Alison’s book rec earlier today and I immediately thought of Ask a Manager. The title caught my eye right off the bat, so it’s definitely in my to-read list.

    I just finished Miranda July’s new book All Fours, which my brain is still kind of reeling from. I picked it up because I’m also a woman in my 40s and I thought I could potentially relate, but I didn’t realize just how outrageous it would be. It was a trip, but I *think* a good one?

    And I’m late to this one, but I also read The Mysterious Benedict Society this week (I wanted to read it with my son, but he gave up saying it was too scary for him) and now I want to read the others in the series!

    1. chocolate muffins*

      I read Home by Marilynne Robinson and oh my goodness, I was not prepared. I *loved* this book especially because of the sparse way that it was told; a lot was communicated with not very much exposition which perfectly reflects how the main characters interact with each other, I think. Really happy to see that this author has written other books about these characters and especially that there’s a book focusing on Jack and Della, who were my favorite characters from Home, though all the characters were excellent and powerfully written.

      1. word nerd*

        I just read Home last week and enjoyed it, although Housekeeping is still by far my favorite Marilynne Robinson (who my husband got confused with Marianne Williamson, and I was like… no).

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m rereading Parable of the Sower! It’s been about a decade and I remembered vibes but not plot.

      I didn’t realize it was set in 2024 so it was shocking for a dystopian future book to be happening right here in the present. Sort of weirdly comforting to be like “oh, things aren’t nearly THAT bad yet” lol

      1. RC*

        Oh, wait til you get to Parable of the Talents where the dictator president literally runs on “Make America Great Again”…

        She was eerily prescient about a lot of things. The least plausible bit of it is that northern California will be far enough to escape crippling west coast drought conditions…

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I got inspired to re-read Mary Stewart by last week’s thread: specifically, Thornyhold, and some others of hers that I’ve re-read less than my favorites (Madam, Will You Walk and The Moon-Spinners, to name two.) I love her tart style and how her heroines aren’t looking for trouble, but when trouble finds them they stand up and show it not to mess with them.

      1. Happily Retired*

        I recently hunted down all her books to add to my library. 55 years after I first started reading her, I have really grown to appreciate her abhorrence of violence, which grew throughout her string of books. And there’s absolutely no bodice-ripping romance vibe, just gripping romantic suspense.

        1. UKDancer*

          I love her books. My favourite is “This Rough Magic” which is set in Greece. I just love the setting and the characters. “Touch not the Cat” is also very good in my opinion.

        2. Nervous Nellie*

          Yes! You have reminded me of the long-forgotten Airs Above the Ground, a mystery about a missing Lipizzan stallion. Non-violent, no real romance, just an unputdowneable story. And the children’s tale Ludo and the Star Horse, which follows through the 12 zodiac signs. Brilliant.

          1. karriegrace*

            Late to this thread, but ‘Airs Above the Ground’ is my favorite of her mysteries. Such a fun book. I reread it rvery year.

      2. kicking-k*

        I need to seek out more of hers – I’ve only read “Touch not the Cat” which surprised a d delighted me by being totally different from what I expected.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Some of them are kind of amusingly dated–in The Gabriel Hounds, much of the plot revolves around “smuggling” an amount of drugs that wouldn’t get an eyebrow lifted by customs nowadays, for instance. And there’s some “exotic othering” of some ethnic groups and countries. But for the most part she really cared most about her characters and that they reacted in a realistic and interesting way to their adventures. And she could be very touching–the end of Hooves Above the Ground made me tear up.

          She’s also quite well known for her Merlin quartet of novels if you’re into fantasy!

      3. anon for this*

        Lovely! I recently reread The Little Broomstick, a short novel she wrote for older children. Sparse, elegant writing. It was melancholy & as thrilling as I recall from my first read as a kid.

    4. Josame*

      I read “The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches” by Sangu Mandanna. I totally loved it! Now I need to read more of her books.

    5. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Shoutout to the person who recommended “A Wizard’s Guide To Defensive Baking” lo these many months ago. I just devoured it in one hilarious sitting and enjoyed it thoroughly. Also just finished “Rust In the Root” by Justina Ireland, set during the Depression in an alternate America where magic is commonplace. The heroine goes off with one of FDR’s mage corps to address a ‘blight’ that’s a lot more than it seems. And before she goes, another mage makes her a new wardrobe with Pockets of Holding. I want that magic!

      1. Might Be Spam*

        Ooh! I just borrowed “Rust in the Root.” I also loved “A Wizard’s Guide To Defensive Baking” and I’m so glad someone here suggested it.

      2. BikeWalkBarb*

        Have you read Justina Ireland’s great zombie-fighter books Dread Nation and Deathless Divide? Love those. For others, these are an alternate-history world that digs into racial discrimination with echoes of the real Indian boarding schools that were so horrible, with a smart, brave young Black girl as the central zombie-fighting character.

        1. Festively Dressed Earl*

          Yes! They’ve both had places on my bookshelf since I first read them, and they’re the reason why Justina Ireland books are automatic reads for me. Normally I don’t go in for zombie stories, but Dread Nation was a stellar exception to the rule. And a lot of the face-palm “Do you want zombie outbreaks?!” racist pseudo science in the books has equally ridiculous real-life historical counterparts.

    6. matcha123*

      Would any of you have recommendations for good horror/scary stories?
      Ones that I’ve read before that I would put in the above category include Jurassic Park and The Road.
      I am fine with gore, but it doesn’t need to be gory to be scary. And I tried Stephen King novels when I was younger, but his descriptions of female characters turned me off, so his are a pass for me.

      1. Six Feldspar*

        Horror is such a broad and subjective genre, can you pin down what about those two books you enjoyed. I’ve read Jurassic Park a long time ago but not The Road – is it the pacing, the slow burn of things going out of control, the science background, something else?

        1. matcha123*

          I liked the pacing for both, and the more reality-based science of Jurassic Park.
          I’ve re-read Jurassic Park multiple times in the decades (eek) since I first read it, and I enjoy it every time. I tend to read a book once and then never again, so, it’s one of the few that I go back to.

          But, hmm…the pacing was good, the language wasn’t overly flowery or too scientific-y. I was absolutely on the edge of my seat when the kids and Dr Grant were in the raft, or when the raptors were chewing through the steel bars.

          For whatever reason, I kind of stopped reading fiction after high school (aside from a handful of novels). I used to love getting into a good story and I want to go back to the days when I could get through a thick book in a few hours because I was so invested in the story. My reading since high school has mostly been things like what Malcolm Gladwell writes, “self-help” style books, and studies that look at race or class.

          I’ve started getting horror book recommendations on my Instagram and once I saw this thread I thought I might ask here.

          1. Six Feldspar*

            The Martian is not really horror, more hard sci-fi (beyond the existential horror of the premise) but the tension and pacing and mostly scientific language fits your criteria.

          2. Alyn*

            For science-based horror, I’d suggest Mira Grant – Feed is the first book of the Newsflesh trilogy about what happens *after* the zombie apocalypse. There’s Kingdom of Needle and Bone, which is a standalone. And Rolling in the Deep/Into the Drowning Deep with biologically plausible killer mermaids.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Huh. Jurassic Park is one of my favorite books, and I wouldn’t consider either of those examples to be horror or scary. But Matthew Reilly’s “Great Zoo of China” is specifically written in homage to Jurassic Park, with a female lead, and I enjoyed it immensely. Another option I’d categorize under science thriller is Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series.

        The Road (assuming Cormac McCarthy) is postapoc and there’s a ton of those around that range from good to terrible, but I didn’t like The Road at all so I’m not sure what to recommend in a similar vein. :)

        1. Suzanne*

          Thank you for the Great Zoo recommendation. I love JP and have reread it so many times. I am going to read the GZ! Looking forward to it.

        2. matcha123*

          It might be due to reading it at age 10? I couldn’t sleep for weeks after reading it. The scenes with the raptors and T-Rex had my heart pounding. Dr. Grant and the kids in the raft, the bungalow with the raptors, etc. It’s not “ghosts” scary, but, “I really feel like something like this could actually happen” scary.

          I read The Road once and never again, but I felt like the writing was excellent and the whole novel felt absolutely frightening to me.

          I suppose that neither are labeled “horror,” but both left me pretty scared.

      3. Excel-sior*

        i have suggested it previously; Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Ruin is primarily a sci-fi, but there is a stretch where it turns into a very good horror. i would advise to read Children of Memory first though. there are spiders throughout both (for those for whom such things matter).

        Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy is another one which straddles the sci-fi/horror border very effectively. much weirder, but no spiders i can remember.

        JG Ballard’s High Rise is quite dark, probably fits into your definition of horror as well, i think.

        1. trust me I'm a PhD*

          Assuming this is a typo, but it’s Children of TIME to read first. Children of Memory follows after Ruin and won’t make sense without it (specifically, without the horror bits of Ruin).

          Anyhow, I second, the Children series has been some of the best science fiction I’ve read in a long time.

      4. Retiring Academic*

        The Scottish writer and broadcaster Muriel Gray has written three very good horror novels: Furnace, The Trickster, and The Ancient. I was slightly disappointed by The Trickster and The Ancient compared to Furnace, which is terrific (in both senses), but they’re all page-turners, and more creepy than gory. She also wrote a very amusing book about mountain-climbing (hill-walking rather than mountaineering), called The First Fifty: Munro-bagging Without a Beard, but you may need to be British – perhaps even Scottish – to find it funny!

      5. Suzanne*

        Swan Song by Robert McCammon is supposed to be good (post apocalypse novel) but I haven’t read it.

      6. GoryDetails*

        Re horror/scary reads:

        There’s already been a mention of T. Kingfisher in this thread (for A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking – which has some creepy elements but is mostly light-hearted adventure); she’s done some more overt horror that I like a lot, including The Twisted Ones and The Hollow Places, each inspired by classic horror tales but with Kingfisher’s own blend of flawed-but-likeable characters, lots of banter, and some really surprising chills.

        I like Michelle Paver’s work too, from the creepy Arctic setting of Dark Matter to the ghosts-in-the-Himalayas of Thin Air – wonderfully effective.

        I’m also a fan of the stories of M. R. James and E. F. Benson.

        1. OtterB*

          I am not usually a horror fan, but I’m a T Kingfisher fan, so adding to this list What Moves the Dead, which is a retelling of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, and What Feasts at Night, which is a sequel with the same main character.

          1. matcha123*

            I remember seeing this author’s name before, thank you, I will give them a look!

        1. GoryDetails*

          Re The Ruins: I enjoyed that one, but the characters are quite annoying for the most part, and the story is very, very grisly; if body-horror isn’t your thing, maybe skip this one!

      7. goddessoftransitory*

        Hmmm…I might give King another go with his later short stories. He got a LOT better at writing women, especially in his collection Just After Sunset, with The Gingerbread Girl. I also really love N, a take on Lovcraftian horror, from that collection.

        His son Joe Hill is also an excellent writer; I love his collection 20th Century Ghosts, most especially Voluntary Committal, which is brilliantly done so that you slowly realize exactly what Morris can do and wonder how long other people have known it too. For gorier stuff, the opening story, Best New Horror, is terrific.

        For more old fashioned but brilliant work, Shirley Jackson. Her novels The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle are still unparalleled in their ability to conjure a state of mind that cannot easily leave you.

        (If you’re interested, I wrote an essay on the former, SPOILERS. Link in replies.)

      8. Festively Dressed Earl*

        I’ll second BikeWalkBarb’s Dread Nation shoutout above. Definitely horror, but definitely not your usual horror story.

      9. Angstrom*

        “Gideon the Ninth” by Tamsyn Muir was fun and creepy. Don’t know if I’d consider it horror.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Still hoping Alecto the Ninth will come out someday (liked Harrow the Ninth and Nona the Ninth).

      10. Jackalope*

        I can recommend Wichita Pass by Nick Dupont. It’s a slow burn horror novel about a werebeast in a small Alaskan town, and had very little gore. I will give the disclaimer up front that I’m related to the author, but I enjoyed it a lot and found it tense but not frightening. Also, the cat makes it.

    7. Lemonwhirl*

      I started “A Better World” by Sarah Langan – got 20% of the way in and had to stop. It was just too….repetitive? Like the main character keeps having the same thoughts and frets about the same thing. I’ll give some latitude for character development and scene setting, but my patience has limits. Disappointing because I really loved her first book.

      So yesterday I started “The Instruments of Darkness” by John Connolly, which is the 21st book in the Charlie Parker series. Really enjoying it so far. I love his books but often save them until I will have time because they are always doorstops.

      Also listened to “The Green Dot” by Madeline Gray, which was great. I’d tried to read the regular book, but it would not go into my eyes. Having it read to me was perfect, especially the Australian accent.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I tried two series and gave up on them. Feeling mildly guilty because they are executed well and I can’t point to problems other than “just not grabbing me.” For those looking for half-hearted recs (what missed for me might land for you):

        Cinder by Marissa Meyer asks what if Cinderella were a cyborg? Takes the baseline elements of the fairy tale* and places them in a future sci fi setting. Following books play off Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White.

        Arsenic and Adobo by Mia Manansala is squarely in the cozy-mystery-with-recipes genre. Setting is a Filipino-American community outside Chicago. Heroine Lila is frustrated that her life turned into a rom com (caught fiancé cheating; went back to hometown to help relative with struggling restaurant) and then bodies start piling up. Starting with her ex, who is a food critic.

        *Rec for the You’re Dead To Me podcast on fairy tales, and how they hit something in our dna. Included the observation that fairy tales are completely external–someone might cry, or laugh, but you never pop into their inner feelings about what is happening. Something I can’t unsee once it was pointed out, but would never have pulled out as a common thread.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        “Not go into my eyes” is a perfect descriptor. I’ve read so many things that I should like but just cannot get into my brain.

    8. Six Feldspar*

      Does anyone reread books at different times of the year?

      It’s the first day of winter here and I’m due to start again on Sunshine by Robin McKinley and Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett.

      1. Saturday Brunch*

        No, but I like that idea.

        My dad re-reads a different Dickens every winter.

      2. UKDancer*

        I love Reaper Man. It’s my favourite Pratchett. I like all the ones about Death because he’s such an interesting character.

        1. Six Feldspar*

          I read Hogfather every Christmas and it’s nice to have a winter counterpart, Death’s a very good character and Reaper Man introduces Death of Rats who I love. (I’m also an urban planner and the subplot in Reaper Man doesn’t seem too far off some days…)

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            There’s a very short fanfic of which Death comes for Peter Pettigrew.

            SQUEAK.

      3. anon for this*

        Yes – I read Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson every summer equinox, and Anne Frank’s diary every Christmas.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        Just Christmas stories (Connie Willis’s shorts, The Christmas Mystery by Gaarder).

        My favorite novella is probably Epiphany by Willis, about a minister (of the liberal protestant variety) who is preaching one morning in January and gets an epiphany that He has returned, and the minister should go west to find him. Which really captures that time of year, and that prophecies never mean what people think they do, and the uncertainty and weirdness of these convictions that sound so natural in an ancient story, and that you will trip yourself up if you claim you’ll be back in time for the interfaith counsel meeting when the church secretary knows you will find any reason to skip it.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I LOVE Epiphany! That and Inn are my Christmas go-tos in really capturing how I want to feel about the season. The last line just gets me.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Mine is Newsletter. Because if everyone starts being very reasonable, an invasion of mind-control aliens is clearly the explanation.

      5. Blackstock*

        I reread Tam Lin by Pamela Dean more autumns than not. It is a hit or miss — most people either find the characters insufferable and the pacing unwieldy or wildly adore it forever. (I’m the second of course.) But that pacing and the fact that it take place across 3.5 years of college (with a fairy tale ballad story hovering in the background until it comes together in a rush at the end) means that it has four autumns in it, and of course school stories always feel like fall.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I haven’t read it in ages! I should read it again. I thought the pacing felt right, like the pacing of college felt. Freshman year took forever when everything was new and strange and the rest of it went by in a blur.

        2. carcinization*

          Agreed about Tam Lin, after I read it I told my mom she’d really like it because she enjoys the genre and actually went to college more or less during the same time period, but she vastly preferred a children’s book series by the same author instead!

          1. Blackstock*

            Oh I also adore The Secret Country too! And I live in hope that Pamela Dean will finish the sequel soon and release it. Just recently reread the trilogy and The Dubious Hills.

            1. carcinization*

              I was not so much into The Secret Country, but to each his/her own of course! I didn’t like what happened to the people they replaced, I guess.

      6. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh yes. I have a whole list of fall/Halloween reading, and Christmas season reading.

        The former includes Dracula, lots of Bradbury, and tons of short stories. The latter Doomsday Book, A Christmas Carol, and again, tons of short stories.

        1. word nerd*

          Do you read Dandelion Wine in the summer? I read it last winter, and I think that was poor timing on my part.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Oh yes; that was the first book I remember reading that just “grabbed” me and whisked me off to a whole new place. It’s one I try to NOT reread too much to preserve that magic.

        2. Pam Adams*

          I reread A Night in the Lonesome October at Halloween. I’ve never been able to keep myself to the chapter per day model to make it last the whole month. It’s also a great audiobook.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I just got that last year after reading about it in this thread! Great book.

      7. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I read Hogfather every winter, as close to the solstice and Christmas as I can manage (northern hemisphere here, obviously).

        1. Six Feldspar*

          Me too! It’s not the proper spirit unless I’m up late on Christmas Eve trying to finish it.

      8. carcinization*

        Have you read Zelazney’s A Night in the Lonesome October? It’s kind of made for yearly reading.

        And Sunshine is a great book for sure!

        1. Six Feldspar*

          No but I’ll check it out, thanks!

          I love Sunshine, but I do have to be careful to make time to make cinnamon rolls when the craving strikes…

      9. PhyllisB*

        I generally read Christmas themed books from November thru January, and if I find them, summer themed or books with a beach setting in the summer, but I don’t seek these as much as I do the Christmas ones.

      10. the cat's pajamas*

        I love Reaper Man!

        I started listening to the audiobook of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater every year in October and aim to finish it around November 1st or early November.

        1. Virtual Light*

          The Scorpio Races! So good. Perfect autumnal audiobook. I was so glad to see your comment and know I’m not the only one!

    9. English Rose*

      Just finished Rev Richard Coles’ second crime fiction novel, A Death in the Parish.
      The amateur sleuth is Rev Daniel Clement.
      Set in the near past in an English village it is not as ‘cozy’ as it might first appear. There are interesting (to me at least) discussions of the different approaches to Christian faith (some more evangelical than others).
      I very nearly stopped at about the half way mark as there was a bit of a sense of ‘wading through’ but I’m delighted I finished as there are a lot of funny, unusual and sad themes running through the book.
      And the rising attraction of Rev Clement to one of the main characters ends… surprisingly.

    10. WellRed*

      I just read Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenbaum who wrote what Alison recommended last week. It kept me reading but the whole thing kind of collapsed at the end. I guess I’d recommend it?

    11. anon for this*

      Two for me, and wow are they good:

      George Mills by Stanley Elkin – finishing up this brick of a book. It’s a lively narrative of every George Mills born from the crusades to the modern day (published in 1982), and their failures at work and life overall, but their determination to keep plugging along. Witty, challenging – highly recommended.

      In Ascension by Martin MacInnes – A Dutch marine biologist joins a research team to explore a newly found trench in the Atlantic ocean, and there they find evidence of alien life. To their enormous surprise, they learn this is one of several instances worldwide. That draws the biologist to a space agency in the Mojave desert. I won’t spoil it – read the jacket blurb online and the breathless, awed reviews. Oh my goodness, we need a movie of this book immediately.

    12. GoryDetails*

      Just starting: “A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome” by Emma Southon, author of “Agrippina” which was mentioned in a previous weekend thread; a look at homicide in ancient Rome.

      And I’m re-reading Martha Grimes’ crime-in-poem-form, “Send Bygraves”: The “Bygraves” of the title is a mysterious detective whom no one appears to have actually met in person, and who communicates by means of notes left here and there:

      “A Note From Bygraves Found Under a Malt Vinegar Jug – The dark suspicions of a winter’s night: The missing hands of clocks. The poisoned chocolates in the heart-shaped box.”

      I find it very entertaining, combining little jabs at the many mystery-novel conventions with an intriguing puzzle (which I failed to solve – I never read mysteries with any idea that I’ll figure them out).

      And since I read Stephen Fry’s wonderful (and very funny) book about poetry, “The Ode Less Travelled,” I have more of an appreciation for the different styles of poems included in Grimes’ book. Fry’s examples of villanelles, sestinas, and pantoums helped me to better appreciate Grimes’ examples of those forms.

    13. GoryDetails*

      Another one I’ve just started, but am enjoying:

      “A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees” by Dave Goulson – it’s by a self-taught naturalist whose early fascination with all forms of life eventually led to a career as a conservationist. (Most of the bee-related books I’ve read have focused on honeybees, so it’s interesting to see things from the bumblebee perspective.)

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        Thanks for this recommendation. Seems like something I would also like.

    14. Seashell*

      I just started and am greatly enjoying Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein. It’s on Hoopla if anyone’s library gives them that app and likes that sort of thing.

    15. Bookworm in Stitches*

      I’m almost half-way through listening to the audiobook of The Husbands, which was recommended here. I’m loving it- both the story and the narrator’s accent. Highly recommend!

    16. Tortally HareBrained*

      Finished ‘A Most Agreeable Murder’ by Julia Seales last night. Described as a parody of Austen and Regency detective mysteries.

      The mystery was good and kept me following the whole book. The parody parts were often over the top for me personally along with details that never seemed to be relevant (glowing frogs). But it was a fun weekend read nonetheless.

  4. Mom of 4 (2 human, 2 feline)*

    Just adopted a tiny spayed female kitten and our 2yo spayed female cat is freeeeaaaaaking ooooouuuut. Anyone got any hot tips for getting big sis to cool her jets??

    1. Giz's Mom*

      It takes time. If you have the space to keep them in separate rooms and introduce them slowly it helps. Depending on how tiny the kitten is, she may need to be segregated when no one is watching her so she doesn’t get into trouble (and oh can kittens get into trouble!).

      Also, they may never be best friends. When my husband and I moved in together, we each brought along a cat. They learned to tolerate each other, which generally meant that each decided to ignore that the other existed. But it worked.

    2. Six Feldspar*

      As with human siblings, make sure the first cat gets attention and alone time without the baby!

    3. Dancing Otter*

      Rub both kitten and adult with your used towel, so they can smell you on each other.
      TWO litter boxes.
      Feliway disperser. Don’t wait until enmity has settled in for keeps.
      Time.

      1. Charley*

        Feliway seemed to make our two male cats kinda wired and more aggressive, but I have heard it worked for some people.

        Wand toys were useful for us, so we could distract them from a distance when they were getting spicy and encourage them to turn that energy towards play.

        Still, it took about 3 months until we could leave them unsupervised together. There’s no substitute for patience, alas.

        Jackson Galaxy has a video for introducing adult cats I found useful at the time, and it looks like he has one specifically for kittens as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DlJYcfiRu4

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Even more litter boxes if you can manage it and cleaning won’t take too long!

    4. ReallyBadPerson*

      Purina Calming Care prebiotic powder, sprinkled on their wet food, really helps. And Composure cat treats. I’d just do these for the older cat. Also, I second the towel rubbing and two litter boxes.

    5. hazel herds cats*

      Two litter boxes IN TWO LOCATIONS! Second the Feliway recommendation; get a Multicat sixpack with three diffusers (comes as a kit). That way you can have one near where they eat, one near where you sleep and one near one of the litter boxes. Multicat replicates the pheromone nursing queens mark their kittens with that tell the kittens that they are littermates. It’s invaluable.

      Evaluate the space in your home like a cat does: think three dimensionally. The best advice I ever got for doing this was to think of cats as cliff dwellers. They need nests on many levels to be truly comfy.

      Cats are colony animals, they aren’t solitary by nature. Your older cat needs time and space to work on its atrophied social skills. I have 4 cats at the moment: my cat number is 4 to 5. Mine get along famously. We (the cats and I) foster from time to time, usually feral kittens as we have had tremendous success at socializing them for placement in forever homes. I have 6 litter boxes in 3 locations for my cats: 4 of the stainless steel (which don’t retain odor) and 2 top entry.

    6. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Our tiny kitten lived in a cat tent in the living room for a couple of months. She had litter, food, water, toys, and boxes to hide/sleep in, and our big cat could observe her safely. They got acclimatized through the mesh, and played chase with each other from opposite sides of the mesh when the kitten was feeling up to it. The kitten wasn’t let out of arms reach until she could both run competently and seek out shelter if she was spooked, and she wasn’t let out unsupervised until she could safely make it up the couches and bed and back down.
      We couldn’t set up the “opposite sides of a door” intro because of the layout of our house, but this worked for us.

    7. Cat and dog fosterer*

      There are lots of places online that offer the same advice about how to introduce cats over the course of a few weeks, where you initially exchange bedding (to acclimate to another scent), then switch rooms, then feed them with the door closed but near the door, then feed them in their area but with the door open, etc. It’s good advice, and as stated there’s no substitute for patience.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Time. Wouldn’t you freak out if someone dumped a toddler on you without notice? That’s basically what happened.

  5. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Please be advised that that cat previously announced as Teddy has actually turned out to be named Griffin. (He’s on the left above. Grendel is on the right.)

      1. Claire*

        We had a foster that we absolutely *had* to rename, because her paperwork was something like “Barb” or “Brittney” and it was so so obvious she was actually a Fiona. It wasn’t ever official, but we made sure her comments when she went to cattery mentioned that we called her Fiona.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Yep. When we first got Peanut and our dear late Harvey, the latter name worked brilliantly and we stuck with it. Peanut, however, came to us dubbed “Beyonce” because of his perfect guyliner.

          When he turned out to be a boy, we decided we just weren’t cool enough to have a male cat named after a pop singer, so we tried other names–we almost went with Pretzel, but then Peanut hit and was his name, no question. It wasn’t until much later we realized we’d named them after Harvey Birdman and his assistant.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Peanut is a fine name, but for another boy with guyliner consider 80s rockers as inspiration. Bowie, Mercury, and Jagger are stellar names…. or less obviously David Freddie, and Mick.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I look forward to the 37-book cozy mystery series starring the pair. In an idyllic English village, with a lot of tea and baked goods.

      1. RLC*

        Your comment reminded me how much I miss the late Lilian Jackson Braun and her “The Cat Who….” mystery series.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Maybe I missed an earlier comment, but what series is this? I love cozies and always looking for a good series.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          When Griffin and Grendel first appeared (Griffin under a pseudonym), commenters concluded that they looked ready to appear in a mystery series on BritBox. Tiny hats would be involved.

        2. RLC*

          “The Cat Who….” is a mystery series of 29 books by Lilian Jackson Braun, published between the mid 1960s and the mid 2000s. Protagonist is a journalist with two Siamese cats; together they solve mysteries in their small northern Midwest US town (the earliest books are set in a large city, though, as I recall).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          There was a series on Britbox, don’t remember the title but a classic: In an early episode the inspector’s wife wanted to follow up on a real estate flier about idyllic country living in an adorable village, and the inspector flatly refused. Those places are overrun with murderers and sex cults.

          1. Username required*

            That sounds like something the Inspector would say in Midsomer Murders.

    2. Cj*

      I miss the introduction of these two cats. are they permanent family members, or fosters? or fosters that will no doubt become permanent?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        They’re permanent! We planned to adopt one cat after Hank died, but the rescue said their greatest need was homes for shy bonded pairs. They turned out not to be very shy, though! We were told they were extremely shy recluses, but now that they’re comfortable they’ve turned out to be the friendliest cats in the house with visitors (even giving Wallace a run for his money). The bonded part was correct though; they’re always together and they like to travel around the house having adventures together.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          They like to travel around the house having adventures together.
          If your husband wants to produce the illustrated children’s book of these adventures, I would read it.

          1. the cat's ass*

            After a long week, this is just so soothing and delightful to read. Yes, please, a book!

        2. Cat and dog fosterer*

          I don’t doubt they were shy when in foster care, yet the right home can make all the difference! Shy cats will often mimic friendly cats, so clearly Wallace has been a great influence. Thank you again for taking them in <3

        3. I take tea*

          We adopted a shy cat, who sat under a table and squeked. She would not come and say Hi. But surprisingly fast she started demanding pets and has become a very forward cat, except with most guests. But she still has a very squekey miaow.

  6. chocolate muffins*

    Hi parents! Toddler parent here wondering what parenting wisdom you have acquired from others and/or from your own experiences that you can share with me, so that I can learn from you instead of from first-hand experience.

    I don’t have a specific question, more wondering what others have learned that I wouldn’t even think to ask. For instance, when I was pregnant someone told me that if I like something, or I don’t like something, it will change soon regardless, so enjoy the stuff I like about whatever stage of parenting I’m at and don’t fret too much about the stuff I don’t like because it will soon be replaced by something else. That was a helpful mantra for me when my son was a newborn and I had someone else’s voice in my head reminding me that he would sleep through the night eventually. So now I turn to you all in the hopes of more wisdom :)

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      When my kid was three a friend told me “sometimes you have to let the Wookiee win.” That was really helpful at the time – three was hands-down the age/stage I struggled with most, and my daughter is now 24, so that includes her adolescence. This is a version of “choose your battles” which has been my mantra throughout her life. Don’t set the limit unless you’re prepared to enforce the limit. If you get into a power struggle with your kid, you have already lost, especially if it’s about eating/sleeping/toileting and eventually when it’s about clothes/sex/rock’n’roll.

      The other guiding principle for me has been to focus on the relationship. I knew when it came down to the real risks of adolescence, I couldn’t control her behavior. The best weapon I had to try and keep her safe and sane was building and maintaining a relationship in a way that meant she could come to me if/when things went wrong. That didn’t mean I was a pushover – I was not. The thing about choosing your battles early on is that it teaches the kid that you mean what you say. We had rules and I set limits and she knew those were for real – and she also knew that we were open to discussion if she approached us thoughtfully and that we didn’t make rules just to make rules.

      She may still not realize that there were a number of things I didn’t say “no” to – I just declined to facilitate them. “Oh, you want to go to a music festival an hour away that lets out at 1:00 AM? How are you getting home? You can’t drive after 11:00 PM.” I never said “no.” She never went.

      1. drawer full of t-shirts*

        Mum to a 20-yr-old, and second all of this. The other things I’d say are let the kids fail -at least sometimes (let them feel the consequences of their actions).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Failing is a skill to practice like any other. It’s not easy to be failing for the first time in high school or college. No resiliency developed.

        2. Nihil Scio*

          Failing and consequences…
          Instead of *letting them feel the consequences of their actions *, how about celebrating that they tried, and let them learn from the failure how to do better the next time?

          1. Observer*

            No.

            Sure, celebrate the effort, and figure out lessons learned. But Part of that is *feeling those consequences.* Because one of the most important, consequential and influential lessons a person can learn is that there are ALWAYS effects from the things you do. Sometimes they are good, and sometimes they are not good, and often you cannot escape them.

            Better to learn those things in a relatively safe space, with a safety net than when someone is in their first job and living on their own or a similar high stakes situation.

            1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

              Agreed. And teach how to have self-compassion along with accountability. Often we swing too far one way or the other, but both are completely necessary.

      2. NimJ*

        The not realising that there were a number of things you didn’t say no to resonates so much with me. My parent were very much like you, the rules were clear but not rigid and always explained and they were good about picking their battles.

        How good was made clear by a conversation I had with my mom when I was in my early twenties. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but the gist was that they were such chill parents that they wouldn’t have minded if I’d have wanted to go out every weekend when I was still a teenager. She replied: I would have minded, but you didn’t want to. Blew my mind.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Remember that it’s just as hard to BE a toddler as it is to parent a toddler. And don’t expect that they will be able to be in complete control when they’re just learning how to be a person.

      1. Sarah BRB*

        In addition to this (it’s tough being a toddler!): they won’t remember it, but you will! Give yourself grace, and sometimes space away. The meltdowns are usually because they are tired, or hungry, or don’t understand (or all three). And they are trying to exert control over their environment, so sometimes it’s ok to give them that mastery, autonomy, and purpose (from Daniel Pink!) even just for little things.

        1. FridayNightLights*

          This!
          I don’t have kids yet, but my mom would give us options like “Do you want to wear the red shirt or green shirt?” Also, she had a list of all our regular meals and would let us pick 3-5 meals that we were guaranteed to have during the month. This let us still pick what we liked, but expanded our palate!

          1. Little tiny people*

            And remember strategies don’t always work. We’d offer our tiny toddler lawyer 2 options and she’d try to choose a third.

            1. HBJ*

              Yea, people say to do that, and it just doesn’t work, at least for my kids. “Do you want pb&j or quesadilla for lunch?” “I want leftovers.” “We have pb&j or quesadilla.” “I want leftovers.”

              “Do you want to put on real pants or stay inside?” “I want leggings.” “No, o asked if you want real pants or if you just want to say inside.” “I want to wear leggings outside!” *wail* And repeat.

              1. Shakti*

                Yes!! This I was told just give a couple of options it’ll work out and it’s like well I’m glad that worked for you, but my children are out here offering 12 other options that don’t even exist lol be kind and remember you and your toddler are on the same team!! The toddler will feel better when it knows and is secure in knowing you love them and want them to be happy and healthy and thriving. Will that help when they’re crying about not having cookies not necessarily, but I find everything works better when they see you are connected and love each other. Maintain that baseline of love and support and it’s easier to get through it

              2. Generic Name*

                I know. This tactic never worked with my son either. I read How to Talk so Your Preschooler Will Listen, and almost threw the book in frustration, as I was already doing what the book suggested and my son’s behavior was let’s say not ideal.

              3. Falling Diphthong*

                Time outs worked on my kids for opposite reasons (one was deprived of an audience; one sincerely needed to sit under the table alone working through their big feelings) and so I believed parents who found it just didn’t register on their kids.

                I really like the image of a toddler lawyer. Just because you can’t employ adult logic yet doesn’t mean you can’t have an adult level of impassioned faith in your convictions about not wearing pants.

              4. PhyllisB*

                True it doesn’t always work, but it’s still better than open ended questions. Asking a toddler what they want to wear or eat without laying out a few options is asking for trouble. They can never decide. Even if they decide on an option you didn’t list that’s okay. You can agree to their request if it’s reasonable and possible. Now if you ask do you want Mommy or Daddy to drive you to school and they say they want the dog to drive them, you may have a problem. (Yes, this sounds ridiculous, but this did happen to a friend of mine.)

            2. Double A*

              Ah, yes.

              “Do you want this or that?”

              “No.”

              And you sit there wondering if you’ve been outsmarted by a toddler (the thing is, choices don’t work before a cert age for some kids).

          2. tangerineRose*

            Kids can feel like they have very few choices or control over their environment – I think giving them choices when possible helps.

        2. OtterB*

          The “tired or hungry” stage lasted until age 10 or thereabouts for my daughter (and, to be honest, is still true for me too.) But I remember when she was old enough to reason with telling her “We’re not going to discuss this any more until after you’ve eaten something. You can get a snack, I can make you a sandwich, but eat something.” And half an hour after she ate something, the insurmountable obstacle, whatever it was, dissolved.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            String cheese, THEN discussion is a very good life rule in general.

            There’s a reason the “I’m Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry” tee shirt sells so well.

      2. ReallyBadPerson*

        Purina Calming Care prebiotic powder, sprinkled on their wet food, really helps. And Composure cat treats. I’d just do these for the older cat. Also, I second the towel rubbing and two litter boxes.

          1. chocolate muffins*

            I am definitely going to sprinkle prebiotic powder on my toddler’s wet food now though! Thank you for the belly laugh.

          2. Double A*

            Seriously. I’m dying laughing.

            Although to be fair our song was VERY persistent about eating the cat food. So “the cat food won’t kill him” is a mantra I embraced (while trying to mostly keep him away from it).

            1. Blueprint blues*

              my parents used to have a photo of: me, the cat, and the pet budgie all eating cat food from the cat’s bowl. no probiotic powder employed, though.

              1. Clisby*

                My son used to eat the cat food (Meow Mix, maybe?) Possibly in revenge, our cat would eat the Cheerios my son scattered on the floor.

                They lived.

              2. PhyllisB*

                I sat my two-year-old daughter in the kitchen floor to give her an ice cream cone one time and walked away to get something out of the other room. Came back in and she and the dog were sharing it. She took a lick then offered to dog who took a lick. Was impressed with both of them showing such good manners.

      3. Clisby*

        Yes! I think the toddler years are when they first fully realize that they’re at the mercy of unreasonable giants who can force them to do things they don’t want to. They are not happy about this. They’ll get over it.

    3. Hypatia*

      Behavior is communication. So if your little one is acting weird or rudely, take a minute to think about what they’re really about. Don’t assume it’s about defiance or a power struggle.
      Don’t make a promise/consequence you don’t want to follow through on. Take the toy away for an hour/day, not for years. Don’t say you’ll turn the car around and go home if they don’t behave, if you won’t actually do that.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      The one piece of non-obvious advice that really resonated for me with toddlers was not to say “no” when I meant “maybe.” Because sometimes on five minutes’ reflection I really didn’t care about whatever it was, but then I was stuck enforcing “Whining never works.” Save your energy for holding a “no” you actually do care about.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Yes! And when I said “maybe – let me think about it” and she kept pushing, I would tell her “If you demand an answer now, it will be ‘no.’ If you give me ten minutes to sort things out, it might be ‘yes.’ “

    5. Artemesia*

      You probably do this, but the single best things we did with ours was cook with them from age two on. Whoever was making dinner put the toddler on a stool and gave him or her a task — sometimes it was mostly tasting. But they very soon are gung ho about measuring things and breaking eggs and stirring pots. We both worked and were exhausted in the evening and this was a real bonding time with the kids since we had to eat and someone was cooking. And then whomever cooked would do baths and bed while the other one cleaned the kitchen.

      Toddlerhood is when they learn how the world is supposed to be and it a great time to establish routines. If X always happens at Y and this is how we do Z then there are not continuous arguments about it.

      I have watched my daughter with hers establish a family practice of always planning a fun outing every weekend. They both have crazy hours and demanding jobs but every weekend, they are at the apple farm, or kayaking or going to the zoo or going on a hike and picnic — so the kids are growing up with a family that always does fun stuff.

      1. allathian*

        If your kid is a picky eater, they’re much more likely to try a new food if they’ve helped you cook it.

        I hope your grandkids also get the chance to experience boredom sometimes. An outing every weekend sounds like my idea of hell. I’ve always needed a lot of downtime (introvert), even if it seems like the older I get, the more downtime I need.

        Sometimes kids get cranky because they’re overscheduled.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          I mean, going to the apple farm sounds like it would take maybe 3 hours? Being seriously affected by spending 3 hours out of 60 doing a particular activity would be unusual, I think.

          I still need something to DO at the weekend – spending the whole time doing nothing in particular makes me grumpy because I don’t know where the time went.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I’m a quiet introvert with kids now in graduate school, and I think one family outing/weekend is very reasonable to shoot for. Somewhat along the lines of family dinner–everyone right now is going to put aside their to-do list and focus on interacting with the rest of the family.

      2. tangerineRose*

        Cooking can also be a good way to get kids used to fractions. It’s cooking, not math, but you still have half cups, 1/4 cup, etc.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      A book from the 90s I found really helpful: Magic Trees of the Mind by Hopson and Diamond. About brain development in infants and children. When my daughter hit the 2s and her attention span dropped to two minutes, which was really frustrating for her when it had been 20 minutes, I could frame her meltdown as “Poor thing, her brain is at maximum lifetime interconnectedness and that’s why she can’t focus on anything.”

    7. overcomposer*

      So you know how in improv comedy, there’s the rule of “yes, and…”? As in, you build on the reality your fellow comedians are creating, and keep adding to it? Once my toddlers started doing make-believe play, I made the “yes, and” rule of parenting. It’s always easier to get them to do something if you’re working with their “reality” instead of interrupting it. E.g. they say “I’m a spy and I’m spying on you!” -> instead of “okay, time to go brush teeth!” you say like “spy! You’ll get your next instructions once you brush your teeth! Hurry before the message timer runs out!” It’s pretty fun!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I don’t have kids but oh my gosh I love this. Does it usually work?

        1. Shiara*

          Can confirm this works well. Nothing works 100%, but it’s definitely easier to fit your to-do list into their fantasy game than to try to interrupt the fantasy game. If there’s particular favorite pretends, you can sometimes initiate it to get them to do what you want. It continues to work through early elementary school ages as well.

          Another thing that works sometimes (in small doses) is playing the “don’t do it” game. We tell our kids to do the opposite of what we want them to do and then say “nooooo” as they giggle wildly and brush their teeth/put pyjamas on/etc. It’s best for slightly older than toddlers though.

          1. overcomposer*

            Yeah I would have said exactly this! Nothing works all the time, but it has a decently high success rate!

            I recommend the book “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen” for similar tactics.

            1. PhyllisB*

              On role playing, I tried this with my oldest daughter (didn’t work with the other two kids.) One day we had been going around and around about…who knows what, and I finally I said you be me and let me be you so you can understand. (She had very good reasoning skills.) She agreed and so we started the game. I said I want ice cream for dinner (or whatever) and she said, okay. I said no, you have to be Mommy and answer like I would. She thought for a minute and then gave me the answer I would have. I answered her back like she would. It only took a minute or two and I could see the light go on. She stopped and said okay I understand. And Whatever was never an issue again. Now you have to have a child with good verbal skills and good deductive reasoning for this to work and she did. My other two didn’t have the patience for this so I had to use other techniques with them.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            I agree with fitting your to do list into their fantasy game.

            I recall a teacher who reached a struggling student by framing all instruction in terms of tanks. He really really liked tanks.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              My friend discovered her son actually liked to read when it was jet airplane manuals, and she stole their vocabulary for things. Communication got way easier.

          3. Fellow Traveller*

            There is a book I love called Playful Parenting which emphasizes the importance of play and humor to get buy in from your kid. I know every kid/parent combination has its own dynamic, but i’ve used a lot of the strategies with all three of my kids and it is pretty solid advice. I find the tactics do take a lot of energy, because I have to be constantly engaged with my kids.

    8. Mephyle*

      This is more of a specific one than a general principle: if there’s a behaviour happening right now that you need to curb, it may be useful to tell them what to do instead of what not to do. As an example, instead of ”don’t touch those [fragile things]”, I often said “Put your hands behind your back. Look at the [thing] with your eyes, not your hands.”

      1. Observer*

        if there’s a behaviour happening right now that you need to curb, it may be useful to tell them what to do instead of what not to do. As an example, instead of ”don’t touch those [fragile things]”, I often said “Put your hands behind your back. Look at the [thing] with your eyes, not your hands.

        I’m repeating because it is SUCH good advice. And not just for toddlers.

    9. Lady Kelvin*

      I have a 2-year old and a 5 year old. Two things I’ve learned from the first that seem to hold reasonably true for the second:
      1. If they are upset, try feeding them.
      2. If they are crankier/quicker to temper than normal, try giving them some Tylenol or Motrin. Often something is bothering them (growing pains, teeth, etc.) that we cant see and they can’t explain.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        We have the “Disney rule”. If someone gets upset while on a family thing, we all sit down and eat something (discovered it at the theme park and used it for other things).

    10. Fellow Traveller*

      I once read an essay where the parent wrote about having a really tough morning with her child and they were running late and everyone was stressed out, and it all ended with her sitting on the floor giving her crying toddler a big hug and her saying to herself, “Well, I guess we’ll just be fifteen minutes late.” And that really stuck with me – I feel like I’m always rushing to get places and to do things (hurry up and finish your dinner! Put your clothes on right now! Etc…) that sometimes I lose sight of when my kids (or spouse) need connection. So I have to remind myself, that it’s okay to be fifteen minutes late- not in a cavalier way or anything, but rather sometimes being on time to something isn’t the most important thing and I can slow down and take the time we all need.
      The other things I think comes from a parenting podcast where the host said, “Remember good kids sometimes make bad choices.” And I thought about that phrase and realized that it applied to grown ups too- Good parents also sometimes make bad choices. It made me realize that I had to give myself the same grace that I give my children, and not beat myself up too hard when I feel like I’m failing at the parenting things. I’m allowed to make mistakes too.
      Oh also along those lines- “If you are even wondering if something makes you a bad parent, then you are not being a bad parent. “

      1. PhyllisB*

        Love this about connection. Another thing I learned when I was parenting grandchildren is the day morning went so much better when I woke up 30 minutes to an hour before they did so I wasn’t so stressed. That gave me time to have my coffee and get dressed for work before I got them up. When my own children were young I stayed up too late at night just to have some time to myself and then would sleep until the last minute. It made for a really bad start to the day. If you’re not stressed, chances are they won’t be either (or not as much.)
        It also helps to have breakfast supplies handy. If they eat cereal, have cereal boxes bowls and spoons on the counter. If you cook breakfast, have your supplies where you can grab them out of fridge/freezer quickly.

    11. Forensic13*

      I try to never lie to my kid. This is because the times I want to lie to her are for my own convenience, because the thing I want to lie to her about is going to make her angry/frustrate her. But if I don’t give her chances to be angry/frustrated, then she can’t learn to deal with that! So I tell her the truth and deal with the consequences.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        So much this one. It can be hard on the daily, but then it creates this bond of trust that you and your child can rely on. We’ve always told our son that trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets.

    12. Two cents*

      A gem from my mother that has been so useful: You don’t have to win the argument, you just have to outlast them. By that I mean: the end goal of an argument with your toddler is not to convince them or force them to see that you are right. It is only to have your boundary and enforce it by not doing the thing/not facilitating the thing/keeping them from doing the thing/not tolerating that behavior/whatever. The toddler may throw a royal fit, but they can’t and won’t sustain that forever. (This is not to say that you shouldn’t explain. Of course, state your case. But your kid will have a different perspective and success cannot be measured by having your kid adopt yours.)

      Apparently that works well for teens, too.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I actually just applied a variation on this concept at work too. “I’m never going to agree with your logic but I said we can do things your way, why are you still having the argument.”

      2. allathian*

        Yes, and adults up to a point. You’re allowed to do your thing and maintain your boundaries even if others disapprove.

        As a parent you have a lot of authority to make your kids do stuff they hate. But they’re still allowed to hate whatever it is (a new food, getting up early to go to daycare/school, going to bed, brushing their teeth…). Parents who try to change how their kid feels about things are abusive and dismissive of theirkid’s legitimate emotions. Obviously children have to learn that some ways of showing their emotions are more acceptable than others. Like a toddler is allowed to “hate” their small sibling but not hit them. The advantage of toddler emotions is that they’re intense while they last but they don’t last very long.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        When my niece was around three or four I told her we had to hold hands in the parking lot because she was too small for the driver of the car to see her. BUT! She demonstrated that she was actually a couple of inches taller than the hoods of most cars, so not holding hands should be fine. I needed to enforce the boundary, not come up with a winning argument that rested on my real-world experience of driving cars at different speeds while sitting in the front seat.

        It’s good to remember that toddlers literally cannot reason in an adult manner–that kicks in around four. Having a two year old admit that they have thought over your excellent reasoning and realized that you are correct is really not the goal here.

      4. Clisby*

        And recognize that often the only reason you need to state is “Because that’s what I want.” Because, honestly, a whole lot of parental decisions are for the convenience of the parents – there’s no right or wrong involved.

        For example, when my children were young, their bedtime was 8 p.m. That’s not because 8 is more virtuous or better for children than 9 or 10 – it’s because 8 pm is what I wanted, and that’s how it was going to be. They could sleep or not sleep, but they were going to be in their bedrooms at 8 pm. If they happened to visit friends and watched TV, that’s fine. If they came home asking us to get a TV the answer was no. We didn’t want a TV, so we didn’t get one.

        On the other hand, if they were complaining because we wouldn’t let them cross the street without us, we could give a reason other than our preference – “You could get killed.”

    13. BookMom*

      Toddlers are so excited about literally everything because it’s all new to them. Lean into that and share their wonder. They absorb that what’s important to them is important to you (building groundwork of trust), and you get to have a lot of silly fun that adults are usually not “allowed” to. Assume everything will take longer to do than it “should” so build cushion into your schedule. (Parent of 3 and former toddler daycare teacher)

    14. PhyllisB*

      The main thing I learned was not to sweat the smell stuff. A couple of examples: kids can get extremely messy and dirty. Just remember that dirt washes off. There were many days I hosed my kids off in the yard before bringing them in and throwing in the tub. (Not literally throwing of course) Don’t make a big issue of food. Give them small servings of nutritious foods and let them ask for more if they want it. Don’t make a big issue of likes and dislikes. Offer a variety and encourage them to at least try it.. This worked very well and my kids grew up with very few food aversion. We all have at least a couple of things we dislike, but as long as they’re not rejecting whole food groups it’s fine.
      On food, I didn’t learn this one until I had grandchildren: when we would go to Wednesday church supper he liked to get his meal and dessert at the same time and would eat a bite of…whatever and a bite of dessert. At first I would scold and tell him he needed to finish his meal before eating dessert, but one day it occurred to me that he was eating everything so it didn’t matter what order he ate it in. Several of the Church Ladies got upset when they would see him doing that and tell me I shouldn’t let him do that, and I reminded them he was eating his full meal so what did it matter? They had to concede I was correct. This wasn’t an issue at home because we didn’t serve that way.
      Bottom line here: do what feels right to you and don’t let others sway you. Decide what hills you’re willing to die on and what’s not worth a hill or beans. My mother for example was horrified at my approach to dirty kids (she only had girls and we didn’t tend to get dirty) but she was more lax in other ways.

      1. Katara's side braids*

        “sweat the smell stuff” followed by examples of messy/dirty kids might be my favorite typo ever

    15. PhyllisB*

      Another thing I thought of: this is more for mothers of infants, but when you are getting ready to go somewhere, try to slip your clothes on at the last minute, because I can guarantee that they will spit up all over you right before you leave. I’m sure everyone knows to carry extra clothes for child, but it doesn’t hurt to have an extra shirt/blouse for yourself because same thing. I learned to wear separates and carry a shirt that would match anything and it was a lifesaver.

    16. Clisby*

      Perhaps weirdly, I look back and think every age has been the perfect age. (Mine are now 28 and 22.)

    17. Sailor Susie*

      Extremely niche but: people taste things differently. Something that is bitter to one person might not be to another.

      Source: my kids taste artificial sweeteners, like in baby acetaminophen, as bitter. Bought the sugared stuff and they took it happily.

    18. Double A*

      I saw a talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson where he said something like, “You didn’t have kids so your house would be quiet and clean.” I definitely remind myself of this when overwhelmed by the mess, because mess means we’re busy and doing stuff.

      1. word nerd*

        Ha, you’re just making me realize that I could probably read some symbolic significance into my thought process when I (as a pediatrician) saw little kids with bruises on their shins during their checkup and took that as a sign that they were doing normal little kid stuff and exploring and running around :P.

    19. chocolate muffins*

      Thank you all for all the wisdom in this thread! I have really appreciated reading through it today.

    20. Quinalla*

      This may be obvious to some, but don’t get kids a choice if they don’t have a choice. It’s better to be authoritarian then pretend to give a choice and then say “Actually, you need to do X!” And the best compromise for this when you can is to give two choices that are both fine. Gives the kid some autonomy that is limited by adult wisdom. Like “You can have two carrots or two celery with your lunch, which one do you want?” or “You can put your shoes on now or in five minutes, which do you prefer?” or “You can pick any shirt in your closet to school, but you have to wear a shirt.” But sometimes you just have to lay down the law and say “You have to wear your coat when we go outside today.” They can have whatever feelings they want and you can even sympathize (authentically) “Yeah, I don’t like having to put on a heavy coat sometimes too, but we need to wear coats today.” but when it comes to health & safety, it’s ok to be authoritative.

  7. TennisFan*

    Anyone else paying attention to the French Open? If so, favorite match so far? Biggest disappointment? Anything else you want to discuss?

    1. TennisFan*

      I have never been much of a fan of hers, but I was gutted when Osaka lost to Swiatek. I think that was the best she’s ever played at the French Open until close to the very end.

      I really enjoyed Zverev-Nadal, but today’s match between Ons Jabeur and Leylah Fernandez was spectacular. I won’t mention who won in case anyone plans to watch on replay.

    2. Hatchet*

      I’m loving all of these close matches, especially between these incredible players (though I’m sure the players don’t). Swiatek-Osaka, Jabeur-Fernandez, Zverev-Griekspoor. I’m enjoying seeing Osaka coming back after having her daughter. I wish Andy Murray had made it further in the tournament – it feels like the end of an era almost.

    3. Kaleidoscope*

      Zverev being slowed to play at all. the rain. the schedule. best match? Iga Vs Naomi.

    4. Square Root of Minus One*

      The Swiatek-Osaka match made up for the letdown that was Zverev-Nadal.
      Yesterday’s matches were great, more so than today, especially with Iga Swiatek so incredibly ruthless she was done with her match faster than my partner was done with his breakfast.

  8. TennisFan*

    I have never been much of a fan of hers, but I was gutted when Osaka lost to Swiatek. I think that was the best she’s ever played at the French Open until close to the very end.

    I really enjoyed Zverev-Nadal, but today’s match between Ons Jabeur and Leylah Fernandez was spectacular. I won’t mention who won in case anyone plans to watch on replay.

  9. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I got a big pile of dirt that I’m using in my raised beds, and I’m digging out a pile of invasive plants with plans to fill in that area with natives. The raised beds are full of tomatoes and strawberries, and I also have asparagus and beans. I’m accomplishing much more this year than I have in the past few years and it feels really good!

    1. Clara Bowe*

      I had to redo my roughneck planters because our tuckpointing team dropped something on them from a height. It was probably time anyway, but my chives are STRUGGLING. Poor things got super smashed.

      I am waiting for this weekend to put in the basil and parsley. The hot sun is coming, and those really need that to thrive. I am also gonna get the mint in ASAP. Containers for mint 5vah.

      The green onions are going gangbusters tho. They seem to really love having tea leavings mixed in to the soil.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m wondering how much effort I should put into saving my jalapeños. I live in the Phoenix metro area and planted this lone jalapeño in January. It struggled all year and finally put out one pepper which is now turning red and growing. But suddenly it is producing buds like crazy and growing a bunch. There is another tiny pepper that just presented itself and I don’t know if it’ll make it. The other flower buds look like contenders for producing fruit. It is now 101 and I see 110 on my 10 day forecast. Should I shade it and only allow morning sun?

      1. Venus*

        Unfortunately I can’t seem to grow peppers so I don’t know what works well for them, sorry!

      2. GoryDetails*

        The heat could very well be a problem. Even plants that thrive in warmer weather may not set fruit if it’s TOO hot at blossom-time. Balancing the necessary hours of sunlight with the extreme temperatures might be tricky. Good luck! [Side note: you could try getting an Aerogarden or equivalent and attempt growing peppers indoors; I mainly use mine for leafy greens, but they do sell jalapeno seed-kits, and it’d certainly protect your plants from the extreme heat.]

    3. Professor Plum*

      I’ve been growing greens and herbs indoors in aerogardens and I’m enjoying it very much! Snipping off bok choy and tatsoi leaves to cook with my eggs or add to a salad. Fresh basil and dill to add to whatever I’m cooking. Or making frsh basil/greek yogurt dressing. No place to plant outside, but this is working so well to have fresh homegrown food. I’ve been able to find good used aerogardens at thrift stores and on marketplace so it’s been an economical hobby as well.

      1. Spacewoman Spiff*

        I’ve always wondered about those! How long have you been using the aero garden? (I have a very small yard and can’t plant food in the soil—lots of smelters used to be in the neighborhood—so I’ve been toying with either a vertical planter outdoors, or an Aerogarden indoors so I can have herbs etc year-round.)

        1. GoryDetails*

          I love Aerogardens! In winter the light and greenery brightens the house, and even in summer, when I can plant things outside, I like having nice, fresh, and CLEAN lettuce and herbs ready at hand. The units come in different sizes, so if you wanted you could start small and see if you like them. (You do have to pay SOME attention, regarding water-level and biweekly fertilizing, but they’re very easy to use.)

          Not all things work equally well in them, but I definitely recommend them for leafy greens and leafy herbs (basil, cilantro, etc.). Have also had success growing stocks, which bloomed for months!

        2. Professor Plum*

          Do it! I started buying them last year and finally started growing in February. Now I’ve just gotten shelves so that I can get them off the countertops. I’ve got one sprout—with 3 spaces, one bounty—with 9 spaces, and several harvests—with 6 spaces. I’ve paid $12-$25 for each because I’ve been buying them used.

          Here’s info on a very helpful site about the different models: https://littletechgirl.com/2024/01/30/choosing-the-right-aerogarden-model/

          I also like the YouTube channel Aerogarden Experiments for practical advice.

    4. Lemonwhirl*

      Last week, we planted flowers in the troughs my husband built and also planted them in the mulch circles that we put around our 4 cherry trees.

      We didn’t plant the troughs last year because we had a newish puppy, who is now 18 months old, so we thought it would be safe. We were fools because he tore through the flowers a day later. He chomped most of them and tore up two of them.

      So….beside constant vigilance and no unaccompanied yard time (both of which are difficult to do because life), anyone have any ideas for keeping dogs out of flowerbeds. He’s not digging them – he’s never been a digger. But he’s a labrador and thinks the whole world is his salad bar.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My Dane (same age roughly) routinely plays with sticks that are bigger than my tree saplings and also uprooted several newly planted blackberry bushes, I feel it. We got some decorative metal fencing (about 28” high I think) last year and used it to surround what we wanted to keep her out of. It’s mostly a visual boundary – she can totally jump over it if she wants to – but it’s done the trick. (It also kept the lawn kid from mowing over baby bushes and trees.)

        1. Venus*

          I ended up with a fence too, for the same reason. It’s more visual as the pup could break through if he tried, but it works.

    5. BellaStella*

      I have a balcony garden with some garlic and basil and sunflowers so far. It has rained so much this month tho. They are in containers so they get moved to not waterlog the soil but ugh. The rains are good for the forests tho so am not sad there to stave off I hope the fire season.

    6. MissGirl*

      Everything I’m trying to grow from a seed is failing. My potato plants seem to be thriving.

    7. Six Feldspar*

      It’s the first day of winter and we’re getting cold nights but not endless weeks of rain yet so I have to make myself garden while the weather’s nice:
      – I need to split the greens and root veggies in the foam boxes I currently have, and get some more started
      – need to gather whatever summer produce is left (still a few chillis growing)
      – ideally I’d grab whatever autumn leaves are left around and put them on the lawn to try to smother it, but I think I’ve missed the window for any more easy leaf pickings and nice weather for it (and the lawn came back swinging last season, so at some point I’ll have to get the professionals in.) In the meantime raking leaves is my favourite autumn exercise :)

    8. Grits McGee*

      I’ve gotten 4 tick bites in the past 2 weeks in the process of trying to pull out all of the invasive air potato vines that have taken over the backyard due to my landlord’s neglect. :(

      Is there anyone else in the DC area that’s having a worse-then-normal slug problem this year? I’ve tried manually picking them off and slug traps, but I finally gave up and sprayed all of my seedlings yesterday while I still had leaves left.

    9. allathian*

      We’re having unreasonably hot weather, and most of our plants are dying in spite of daily watering. I’m tryingvto save the potatoes we planted two weeks ago, though.

    10. Spacewoman Spiff*

      This is my first summer is my new house and so my first summer with a little garden! Some perennials had run wild for years, so I’ve been busy digging them out…think I got most of them, but now I’m running into roots from this monstrous trumpet creeper vine that’s taken over my neighbor’s yard/the alley behind my house. It just seems to go on and on but I’m hoping I can finish my excavation (which I’m sure will have to be repeated every year…) this weekend and get some flowers in next weekend. :)

    11. the cat's ass*

      my tomatoes are in, thank you Carol and Eric! Next is the zucchini. Alas, my 30 year old Meyer Lemon tree has root rot so badly i don’t think i can being it back, so i will remove and replace it.

    12. Texan In Exile*

      I tried winter sowing – where you start the seeds outdoors in the winter – and it’s going great, except the Oriental Poppies that I finally got to germinate have been attacked by rabbits now that I have transplanted them.

      But I am way ahead on my potted nasturtiums and on lettuce and basil.

      (I will put a link to how to do winter sowing below. But basically, you cut a milk jug almost all the way in half, put 4″ of potting soil in the bottom, sprinkle seeds on top, tape the whole thing shut, and leave it outdoors. In. The. Snow. Stuff germinates in this tiny little greenhouses and you don’t have to harden the plants!)

    13. MissB*

      I spent a lot of time last weekend cutting bamboo for my teepee structures around my tomatoes. 12 indeterminate plants, four poles per plant.

      Our whole backyard was torn up this spring, massive transformation. The contractors understood the assignment, get my garden space usable by Memorial Day. And they did! I don’t have irrigation yet but they’ve been working on that too.

      Dh and I moved the raised beds back in place, moved a ton of dirt and I was able to plant all of my seedlings by/on Memorial Day weekend. I have 7 of the tall raised beds along the back of the garden, with 4’ between them. My original idea was to do arches between each bed.

      Two. Two arches installed and Dh and I both said, eh, enough for this year. But I have solar lights on all the beds and the irrigation to each bed will eventually get connected. Best of all I have level ground and plenty of room to move around.

      I did plant seeds for things like beans and cukes after we set up the beds. I was putting some stuff away near the house and heard the flapping of wings, looked out and watched a crow take off from the bed. He’d nosed out all of the seeds I just planted, lol.

  10. The Other Sage*

    How do you do it to let go of past situations? As an example, when someone has hurt me and I kicked that person out of my life, I still spend a lot of time ruminating at the injustice that person has done to me. I know it’s only hurting me and that the best I can do is to learn and think forwards, but on an emotional level I get stuck for a long time.

    Does someone have any tips for me? Right now I still have this with my ex-employer, despite having a new job that looks promising, and where I don’t feel the need to pretend to be someone else towards my coworkers.

    1. The Other Sage*

      I want to point out that I have written this here because it’s a problem I have in general, not only with work related stuff.

    2. Green Goose*

      I know this might sound boilerplate but therapy has helped a lot with that for me. I think it can be useful to talk something through that is one-sided (meaning you can’t really resolve it with the other party, it’s something you have to resolve on your end alone).
      I was having issues with a close family member and it was causing me so much grief, keeping me up at night, and I kept trying to reason with the person but we just could not see eye to eye on things. My significant other told me at one point that they could no longer be the sounding board for my complaints about this family member, and though my first instinct was to be offended, I then realized that the issue with the family member was impacting me so deeply that it was seeping into my own life and making it worse. Also, super not fair to my S/O.

      I ended up getting a therapist who had a background in the specific issues I was experiencing with my family member and it really helped me have a set time each week where I could talk about the problems and I even got some really good action steps that I still use. And eventually I didn’t need to go to that therapist anymore. My family member is still challenging and is not sorting out that issue, but it only affects me about 10% of what it used to.

      1. Nope*

        I spent months ruminating on a situation that gave me serious trust issues but the people responsible are now out of my life and it’s over but angry thoughts kept rotating in my brain without stopping.

        It’s not a perfect solution but they eased somewhat after I was pushed to think about WHY I had such a strong reaction to this happening or which specific insecurities of mine their actions triggered. I know I was in a more vulnerable state than I realized which made it feel like a bigger violation of trust for example. It helped me see myself as a fuller person who had something bad done to them at a particularly bad time and it helped me have more compassion for myself and feel more detached from the wrongdoers (the latter particularly feels amazing like they’re of smaller consequences than I had imagined).

        It hasn’t gone away completely but those thoughts have less power over me. I don’t know if this applies to you or helps you in any way but still. Good luck!

    3. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I definitely do this too and have a real issue when I perceive some sort of injustice or unfairness about how a person has treated me (and they can be totally unaware of how I feel and that makes you even more annoyed).

      Do you journal or could you write a letter that you never send to get all the feelings out? I find that helpful sometimes.

      You could also try to have something different to switch your mind to every time you get started ruminating, so you stop getting the emotional feedback loop. I’m religious so I find prayer can be useful for me, but you could use a mantra/saying or even something totally frivolous, like what you would do if you win a ridiculous amount of money in the lottery (one of my mum’s favourite daydreams, which I have inherited without the actual buying a ticket thing!)

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Write each grievance on a separate piece of paper and put them in a shoebox. (Make a posting slot in the lid and tape the box shut.) Each new snippet of grievance that you recall or feel over time, use a new piece of paper, put it in the shoebox. When you can’t ram any more in, start a new shoebox. This will “externalise” your thoughts and feelings about the ex employer and your old job, and you won’t have to keep going over them in your mind – you can reassure yourself that the details are all written down, have been recorded and kept safely. You can keep these shoeboxes forever, if you want, or have a ceremonial shoebox burning when you have been at the new job for a full year.
      Unlike the sealed shoebox, a different thing to also do is to get a new notebook which you write in each workday and in which you detail something pleasing about your new colleagues or work or the environment. This notebook is something which you can re-read easily to remind yourself of the good aspects of this job.
      Good wishes to you, and congratulations on moving towards better experiences!

      1. Christmas Carol*

        But when you use a shoebox, instead if a notebook, it gives you a reason to go buy a new pair of shoes.

    5. Florence Reese*

      In addition to the other great suggestions already given, I’ve found that affirmative self-talk in the moment can really help for ruminating. It’s not great during an active conflict/injustice, but once you have some distance and realize you’re looping the same negative feelings, you can identify the positive spin on those. In this example, you know that you don’t *want* to be with your ex-employer, that you’re in a better and more hopeful spot, and that staying stuck is just hurting you. So if you start ruminating about that job, you can very intentionally interrupt your thoughts — even just briefly! — to tell yourself, “Hey, [boss] was a jerk and it’s their loss. I’m in a better place now. I deserve to be treated better than that. I’m glad for the change.”

      You might keep looping and that’s fine! I approach it sort of like meditation: if my brain wants to fixate on that hurt, I’ll let it, I’ll just also inject some reminders that are more in line with how I’d like to see the situation over time. If I’m especially worked up, I’ll sometimes literally stop myself, unclench my jaw and hands, take a deep breath, and say my little reminder out loud. In those cases I’m almost certainly going through a few cycles of ruminating and reminding myself, but it feels like it takes some of the punch out of my emotions. It also does seem to make those reminders more easily accessed over time, so the ruminating isn’t fixed immediately but I’m chipping away bit by bit until the hurt loses its power and I’m left with “I’m glad for this change.”

      1. Zweisatz*

        Jumping off of these thoughts, I know this stuff is not logical, but sometimes logic still helps: Consider that every time you’re ruminating on how your old employer has wronged you, you are feeling bad about a situation that you escaped.
        What I’m trying to say: When you were still there it was kind of inevitable that you got mistreated because they sucked. But now that you left, these rumination sessions are what’s hurting you and you are basically letting this old employer hurt you for free even though you won, you’re out.

        I super duper acknowledge it’s not as easy as knowing things logically and then you can just stop. But maybe having this line of reasoning in your back pocket will make it easier to employ one of the strategies the other commenters mentioned to get the feelings out and redirect.

      2. I take tea*

        I’ve done something similar, when I start beating myself up because I haven’t done enough during a certain time. I stop and actively list all things I did get done and it helps a lot. I have even written it down sometimes. I hadn’t thought of trying it in these kind of situations, but I will next time! Thank you.

    6. Anon Today*

      Seconding some of the other suggestions as well as adding my own.

      1. Therapy. And be honest about how bad it is. (If relevant. I just know I took a while to accept how badly my rumination was affecting me.)

      2. Write it down. Externalizing it does help sooo much, I promise!

      3. Consider when the rumination is triggered. Do you think of it more when you interact with people who remind you of the person? Or read articles about work? Or watch TV shows about your industry? Maybe just take a break from that for a while. Not to be avoided forever, but sometimes it’s good to put the brain on something else for a while.

      4. Consider if you’re getting anything out of the ruminating. For me, I ruminate when I feel like I could have handled the situation better. When I know I also acted badly or feel like I could have been braver. Instead of trying to rewrite the story, I try to forgive myself for that (easier said than done).

    7. SarahKay*

      I’ve had some success with actually saying things out loud, rather than just thinking them. I don’t mean to the person who hurt you, just to yourself, but for me something about saying audibly (eg) “I really hated that Joey stole my ice-cream and lied about it and no-one believed me” can sometimes make a big difference in helping me let go.

    8. radish*

      This might not work for you, but for me, it honestly helps for me to focus on bigger-picture issues outside myself and my life, that make me realize that these little things are so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. And I think about the things that will matter in 5-10 years, and if this instance is one of those things. If it is, it’s fine to be upset, but if not, try to thing bigger and long term.

    9. I heart Paul Buchman*

      I find it helpful to reframe this as an intrusive thought. so if I start ruminating I can say (out loud is good) “[my name] you are having a lot of intrusive thoughts about X”. I then tell myself (out loud) what I am going to do : “it’s time to let that thought go”. My visualisation is to put the thoughts in a box and then tie them to a balloon and watch them soar up into the sky and out of sight. I actively stop myself every time the thoughts pop up and go through this process. Over time, that happens less and less.

      I have heard that the best approach for this is to make sure you have the following steps:
      1) use your name in your thoughts and externalise the thoughts as outside of you.
      2) use a visualisation that works for you
      3) follow up with a ritual you find soothing (I make a cup of tea, or say a prayer, whatever familiar routine soothes you)

      Good luck, it’s a lot of work but it pays off in the end many times over.

    10. anonymous xyz*

      Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) helps me with ruminating. Ideally, it’s administered by a therapist, but there are worksheets or apos you can find online. It’s a way to find your thought patterns like black and white thinking, all or nothing thinking, self blame, etc. It’s not a cure all but can help with descalating and refocusing when you’re spiraling. I have an app where it prompts you to write down what happened, then identify the negative thought pattern and work through it. It’s kind of like targeted journaling.

    11. Observer*

      As an example, when someone has hurt me and I kicked that person out of my life, I still spend a lot of time ruminating at the injustice that person has done to me

      Does this line resonate with you at all:

      Carrying a grudge is like letting someone live in your head rent free.

      The line that I first thought of when I read this is :
      Carrying a grudge is like taking poison and hoping your enemy gets sick.

      These are both definitely cliched, but they reached that status because they embody real truths. And if they resonate with you, simply reminding yourself of them when you get started can help you break out of the pattern.

    12. The Other Sage*

      I want to thank you all for your kind answers and your excellent ideas and thoughts. This weekend I went to play sport in the outside, with some friends, and this alone helped a lot to break out of my misery. I’m also collecting your ideas, and I will be trying them out and see what works best for me.

      My guess is that when I’m that angry at someone or something, it’s because there lays some unhealed wound behind of that, so I will have to decide how to handle that in the long term.

      Again, thank you all so much for your answers!

  11. Teapot Translator*

    What hidden gems have you found on Britbox? I’ve been watching Rosemary and Thyme. It’s different from the usual cozy murder mysteries!

    1. Radar’s Glasses*

      Reilly, Ace of Spies. Sam O’Neill and cream of British actors, including the late Ian Charleson (Chariots of Fire).
      New Tricks. Modern day police drama-comedy.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Every spring I get a subscription for a month or two and watch Death in Paradise. Then I cast about for anything else: so far the only thing to stick was Shakespeare and Hathaway, about a pair of private detectives.

      1. Kathy the Librarian*

        We just finished Death in Paradise. We’re going to watch Beyond Paradise next. It’s more Humphrey and his girlfriend back in the UK.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Death in Paradise is an odd duck in which the individual elements are medium but the combination is magical. (Somewhat like Oreo cookies.) I tried Beyond Paradise and it just didn’t sing without the setting and other characters. I was so glad when the actress who plays Martha showed up on Ted Lasso as a billionaire who dates Keeley because I did not enjoy generating conflict by dumping bad things on poor Martha.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I love Death in Paradise and secretly believe Selwyn and I are meant to be united.

    3. CTT*

      Not cozy but loved Karen Pirie! They just did a read through for season 2 and I’m stoked.

      1. Helvetica*

        Karen Pirie is excellent! It’s not cozy indeed but the story is intriguing and I love her character. Very excited to hear season 2 is coming.

    4. Morning Dew*

      The shows I have enjoyed:

      Grace
      Shetland
      McDonald & Dodds
      The Bay
      The Tower
      Vera
      Blue Murder
      Inside No. 9
      Lewis
      Line of Duty
      Luther
      No Offense
      Scott & Bailey

    5. Miss Dove*

      I second New Tricks, Pie in the Sky and Lewis. I also like Death in Paradise and its spinoff, Beyond Paradise. I am happy to see there’s a new season of McDonald and Dodds. I found an old show called The Last Detective with Peter Davidson that is fabulous. Jonathon Creek with Alan Davies is good. Blue Murder wasn’t bad. The Gil Mayo Mysteries was very good. I love Vera and Sr. Boniface.

      In terms of non-mysteries, I like QI and Would I Lie to You – absolutely hilarious panel shows.

        1. WellRed*

          Hmm, I’m two episodes into After the Flood and wondering if I should continue. I was already in disbelief what the main character was doing but I then it turned out she lied to her husband about her due date, my eyes rolled so hard I’m surprised they didn’t fall
          Out of my head.

    6. Chaordic One*

      If you occasionally go for Britcoms, “To the Manor Born,” was an entertaining tale of the budding romance between two atypical middle-aged characters; down-on-her-luck, upper class widow, Audrey fforbes-Hamilton and nouveau riche immigrant businessman and widower Richard DeVere. The show ran more than 40 years ago, but it has (mostly) held up well and the characters (especially Audrey as played by Penelope Keith) get to spout some great one-liners.

    7. Username required*

      Without a Clue – old movie with Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley – spoof of Sherlock Holmes.

    8. Anglophile*

      I LOVE “Rosemary and Thyme”! Beautiful gardens and estates and a body here or there.

      If you can find “Good Neighbors”, that is a very funny show. Also “To the Manor Born” and “Yes, Minister”.

      I am very fond of “Midsomer Murders”. And I will take either DCI Barnaby.

      I also found “The Autistic Gardener” series to be very interesting and fun.

  12. Giz's Mom*

    Any recommendations on office set up when you have carpal tunnel? I’ve had surgery but apparently recovery is going to be a slow haul. I’ve tried regular, vertical and trackball mice, sitting desk, standing desk, lap desk, wrist rest, no wrist rest, to minimal results. I can get 2-3 hours of work done before I have to retreat. Any ideas on setup or hardware that might help?

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Would voice control work with your work? I haven’t used it myself (trackball was what worked best for me) but I had a colleague who used dictation software so they didn’t have to type or use a mouse often.

      1. MeepMeep123*

        I second that one! I used dictation software extensively when I had an RSI and it helped a lot. I’m sure dictation software is much better now than it was when I had to use it.

    2. acmx*

      Maybe you could get something similar to a wacom pen? I used one decades ago and it was a pen + special “mouse” pad but the newer versions look to be more like pen+tablet.

      Maybe one of these (that you didn’t already try) ergonomictrends .com/best-regular-mouse-alternatives/

    3. office hobbit*

      I don’t know if these would help, but they’re less common mouse options that aren’t on your list, so I’ll mention them in case you haven’t looked into them: a joystick mouse? Or, more outside the box, a drawing tablet (like those by Wacom, not like an ipad)?

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this!

      1. KKR*

        A colleague of mine once had this mouse that she controlled via a roller bar on the bottom of her keyboard right below the space bar. It was there niftyest thing and very comfortable!

    4. Annie*

      For me, the flatter my wrist is relative to the hand using an input device, the better. Maybe that’s your experience, too, maybe that’s not.

      Setup wise, make sure you have a space to do stretches when you do have to retreat. I found that pushups against a sturdy wall work to relax the muscles that get bunched up when working at a desk. Perhaps your healthcare team recommends other stretches, too?

    5. Reba*

      You didn’t mention your keyboard.
      There are a couple fairly inexpensive ergonomic keyboards on the market. (You don’t want the ones that just look wavy, you need the ones with the keys divided.)
      I have used the wireless Microsoft split keyboard for a while, there are also some similar Logitech models. I just switched to a Mistel that is in two separate halves so the hand position is totally adjustable.
      There are even more advanced configurable keyboards where you can customize the angle of tenting (tilting) and non conventional hand positions… The world of keyboards is vaster than I knew lol.
      It was a little odd to set up but I like the Mistel!

      1. office hobbit*

        Definitely seconding the keyboard. I use the Microsoft Sculpt and the Logitech model that looks similar. Kinesis makes a lot of ergo keyboards with LOTS of options for positioning and tenting, but I haven’t tried them yet myself. (I hadn’t heard of Mistel before–thanks for the tip!)

    6. hazel herds cats*

      I switched to a split keyboard (two separate halves) 20+ years ago. It’s kept me from needing surgery, just made all the difference. I also use a sit/stand desk, with a drafting chair.

    7. Generic Name*

      Do you have carpal tunnel on just one wrist? If so, you might try mousing with your other wrist. It will take some time to get used to mousing with your non dominant hand, but it can be done.

    8. KKR*

      If you use Windows, the Windows Key + H brings up a dictation feature that is built right into the OS. Kind of like talk to text. It works well!!

    9. Dancing Otter*

      This is a behavioral rather than a hardware fix, but…
      Did your surgeon or physical therapist give you any exercises to follow the surgery? Rather than doing them all once a day, try doing a few minutes at a time throughout your workday.
      My hands haven’t reached the point of needing surgery yet, but they definitely cramp up if I don’t stop and flex them periodically.

    10. MeepMeep123*

      When I hurt my hands, I used a foot mouse. Got a big huge trackball, stuck some foam on the buttons to make them easier to find with the feet, and put it on the floor under my desk. I also used dictation software for typing.

  13. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been reading and give or request recs. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I’ve been playing a bit of Skyrim again. We just downloaded the extra content that came out on their anniversary and I’ve been enjoying it. I had a ton of quests appear all of a sudden when the download kicked in.

    1. YNWA*

      Skyrim is my go-to game for the most part but this summer I dug out my PS2 and am playing Simpson’s Hit and Run and the X-Men Legends series. On my PS4 I’m playing Kingdom Hearts III for the first time. The game play is fun but the Disney characters are super annoying. Also, I’m working on Assassin’s Creed Mirage since that’s my favorite franchise.

    2. Giz's Mom*

      Question – What’s the difference between Skyrim and Elder Scrolls online? Is Skyrim the single player version of ESO? I moved to Elder Scrolls from World of Warcraft, but never understood the difference between it and Skyrim.

      1. Jackalope*

        I’ve never played Elder Scrolls online, but my understanding from talking to people who have is that you are correct. The plot and quest lines are different but I think they’re both in the same world.

    3. SparklingBlue*

      I finally found my Switch, got it recharged, and ordered the remake of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. Since I missed out on the GameCube version, I have been avoiding video of the Switch version so I can go in surprised when it arrives.

    4. Mid*

      I’ve been looping back to Nier Automata and it’s so beautiful and I love the story and play style.

  14. Cj*

    I’m hoping there’s a wildlife expert here that can answer this question for me. I haven’t been able to find the answer by researching it on the internet.

    we had a woodchuck show up on our acreage last summer that took up residence in our old Quonset shed. of course we named them Chucky. a couple days ago we saw a couple of baby Chucky’s. we don’t mind having one around, even though they’ve dug holes in the dirt floor of the shed, but we really don’t want more of them, because as adorable and fun to watch as they are, we think that would be too destructive.

    my research showed that they are solitary animals that only come together during mating season, but I can’t find anything that says whether or not the young ones eventually leave the territory they were born in, so that we would just have one again. does anybody know the answer to this question?

    We absolutely don’t want to shoot them. it’s legal to relocate them in my state, but apparently if you do that their survival rate isn’t great.

    1. Writerling*

      Ohh, they’re adorable alright! We had a baby one too a couple years ago, never dug up anything in our yard(s, including neighbors’) because it lived just beyond in a… I think they dare call it a “forested” area. Anyway the baby grew but then we stopped seeing any of them and it’s been a few years now :( Maybe someone did end up putting rocks in their burrows…

      Not quite an answer to your question but we never saw more than one, even mom leaves once the young’s old enough. Curious to see what others have to say.

    2. Squidhead*

      From what I can tell they establish a stable population in an area. Each summer we seem to have 2 to 4 around in our suburban yard. It seems like one lives under the neighbor’s shed and the others live locally but not under the same shed. By mid-summer I don’t see the babies hanging around an adult any longer but they’re often still around (if we notice particular markings, etc). They’re pretty destructive in terms of digging and also eating garden plants. They can dig under and climb over wire fencing so if you have the option to relocate an adult I would do it, or at least keep an eye out for the burrows (had one tunnel out under our porch supports).

    3. Hyaline*

      I will say—we’ve always had woodchucks on our property and they’ve rarely been destructive. One had to be discouraged from digging under a shed but for the most part they prefer under woodpiles and near the tree line. This years babies will probably venture afield and as long as no one decides to dig under a foundation they probably won’t cause any issues!

    4. Non-profit drone*

      I have had a wandering woodchuck for maybe four or five years; I think it’s the same one. He shows up in July and sticks around til mid-August or so. I’ve never seen two together, or even any young/small ones. I expect mine is a male because it’s so big and fat, so maybe the offspring stay with the mother for a little while? I love my woodchuck. He does not dig any holes at all but lives underneath our shed. There is some sort of weed that grows in our yard that he absolutely loves. We don’t have flowers or vegetables so he is welcome in my yard. :)

    5. Ricotta*

      Woodchucks are vicious. The ones in our yard violently eviscerated a litter of kittens, the sole survivor of which we adopted (after coaxing her shaking body out from under the shed). She was traumatized and needed me to stand guard while she ate for her entire life.

      1. Cj*

        I’m not sure if you went back to this post this late on a Sunday, but that really surprises me. I’ve read several articles that say that woodchucks are only aggressive if they feel threatened, and I can’t imagine a tiny kitten would be threatening to them. The articles were by the DNR and other places I should be able to trust.

        They are rodents, and herbivores, not carnivores, so again, what you said is surprising.

        I wonder if the woodchuck in question had rabies or some other disease that made it aggressive. It’s unclear from your post whether or not the survivor that you rescued had been attacked, because if the woodchuck had rabies, the kitten probably would have gotten it too.

        I’m so sorry that they woodchuck you had was so vicious. and I’m glad the one we have just hangs out by the Quonset shed eating grass and weeds, and roams around for a while in the early morning. and dusk.

  15. NewReader*

    New reader with question about the blog:
    Alison mentions she gets a lot of emails and can’t answer them all. How many does she tend to get compared to how many she answers, and how long before the answer is posted?

    1. Past Lurker*

      She answered part of your question once, I’ll post the link in another comment – comments work links go into moderation so they take longer to post

  16. Scouring pads*

    Scouring pads are a humble kitchen item, but I’m at a loss for what kind I should get to scrub stainless-steel pots and pans. Typically, whatever food I was sauteing stuck to some degree to the bottom of a stainless-steel pan, and soaking the scorched pot goes only so far. Simmering baking soda and water is usually good for stuck-on food but less good for scorch marks, and I still need a scouring pad.

    The options appear to be Heavy Duty Scotch-Brite green pads, Dobies, and Skoy pads. Heavy-duty S-B looks and feels really harsh, like it would scratch stainless steel surfaces if I scrubbed as vigorously as I often have to. Dobies and Skoy pads don’t look strong enough to do the job. Is there an effective scouring pad between those extremes, available in the US?

    What do you use? Are you satisfied with it?

    1. Kitchen Friend*

      I use scrub-daddy’s for nearly everything. If something is really stuck/burnt on, look at Barkeeper’s Friend (powder or liquid) and use that with your scour pad of choice. Just don’t use it for cast iron. You can probably get it at your grocery store, or look at Target, Amazon, or Home Depot in the cleaning section.

      1. Elle Woods*

        I second Scrub Daddy sponges. They’ve also really expanded the line of products, so now they have a steel Scrub Daddy sponge, which works wonders on stainless steel pots and pans. I’ve seen their power paste in the store too but am waiting for my Bar Keepers Friend to run out first.

        1. Jay*

          I’ve gotten one of their Scrub Daddies and it’s the best heavy duty scrubber I’ve ever used. Also, it’s not left a mark on my Stainless. Haven’t had to resort to the Barkeepers Friend since!

    2. Happily Retired*

      I use two: a “chain-mail” type scrubber to get the heavy stuff off, and then a Brillo pad to grind down the rest. The chain-mail scrubber does not have a built-in cleanser like Brillo – it’s just to muscle off the crud. You might see them sold as chain mail scrubbers for cast iron – heresy!!

    3. Not A Manager*

      Try adding some blue dawn dish soap to your baking soda & boiling water. Let it stand until completely cool. I find this works even on scorching.

    4. Lady Kelvin*

      I use bar keeper’s friend and a regular dish cloth. It will even get the cooked on oil from the bottom of your pans off without scratching the pans.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Barkeepers friend is great but make sure to follow the instructions and rinse well.

    5. RLC*

      I use “The Pink Stuff” with Scotch Brite blue “non scratch scrub sponges”. Works on most stains on my early 1950s Revere stainless steel. Some stains will also be lessened by boiling plain white culinary vinegar in the pan. A few stains simply won’t budge, I consider those part of the history of my much loved cookware.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        I also use the Pink Stuff!

        And – Something I learned stupidly late: To keep my stovetop super clean! I have a ceramic induction top, and actually using that ceramic top cleaning stuff almost every time means that there is very little stuff to actually stick to the bottom of my pans!

        If Pink Stuff doesn’t work, it’s time to break out the kitchen steel wool (brand based local availability).

    6. Lissajous*

      I keep cheap white vinegar (the kind that comes in 2 litre bottles – I think of it as cleaning vinegar) on hand to deglaze the pan before I start cleaning, if I haven’t done so as part of whatever I’m cooking with wine etc.

    7. Sopranistin*

      I have a skoy scrubber and I think it’s amazing! It works on everything. Definitely recommend.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      I like scrub daddy sponges.
      Also, for scouring, highly recommend The Barkeeper’s Friend cleaner. I got the liquid “gentle” one and it works wonders for stainless steel and ceramic.

    9. Squidhead*

      I use the SB pads and I wouldn’t say they scratch the SS surface but none of our SS has a mirror finish (if it ever did). They probably buff/dull it, but the pans all still work fine.

      Full-strength Simple Green cleaner is pretty good for baked-on oils if you let it sit. I like the smell of the yellow better than the green but they seem to work the same. In an extreme case I’ve sprayed a pan with oven cleaner and parked it in the (cold) oven overnight. The goop just wiped right off! But I don’t think there are any non-toxic oven cleaners out there so this isn’t a great solution.

    10. just here for the scripts*

      We love dobbies—they last longer than you think and really do a great job. We use Dawn or Ajax dish soap, hot water, a short soak and then elbow grease (actually that’s hubby’s recipe. I use a MUCH longer soak and way less elbow grease). All comes out great!

    11. PhyllisB*

      Another trick that works is to put the pot/dish in the refrigerator or freezer overnight. Gunk comes right out without a lot of heavy duty scrubbing. Another trick I’ve heard is run some warm water in and add a dryer sheet and let it soak a while. I’ve never tried this because I don’t use dryer sheets.

    12. Non-profit drone*

      I use the copper Chore-Boys to scrub everything. They don’t rust or shed slivers, and they don’t hurt your hands to use them.

    13. Double A*

      I use Tawashi scrubbers, they are made of coconut fiber. Found them when I was looking for reasonably priced non-plastic sponges. They last forever and are both softish to hold and do a great job being both tough and gentle. You can get them for about $5 each and they last forever.

    14. Reba*

      One technique you can adopt is to deglaze the pan while it’s still hot! this has made a big difference to my dishwashing.

      For scouring I prefer a powder product like Bon Ami or Mrs Meyers over a plastic scrubber.

    15. Samwise*

      I get stainless steel scrubbers (like a ball of curly thin metal coils) from our local Chinese supermarket. Only thing that got up the burned on popcorn…

  17. Natalie*

    Several months ago, I left a weekend comment her asking for some advice of the commentariat. A good friend was dying of cancer, and I was trying to send her a card every couple weeks, but was having trouble figuring out what to say. I didn’t want to focus on the cancer, but I felt like I would always freeze up when I picked up a pen.
    Everyone was so kind and wise and helpful.
    I used a lot of the advice I got, and wrote several notes, and postcards, and letters. (Extra thank you for the person who suggested Em and Friends. I didn’t end up buying their cards, but they helped me find the tone that I wanted for my own thoughts.)
    I wrote my last one a couple of weeks ago, and apparently it was on her bedside, along with lots of other notes and books and flowers from well wishers, when she passed away.
    I wanted to tell people thank you for helping me when I couldn’t find the words to tell a friend how much I loved her. I’m going to miss her so much, but I’m glad I was able to let her know that before it was too late, thanks partially to the wisdom and kindess here.
    Thank you all.

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I am so sorry about your friend. I’m glad you were able to let her know how much you loved her.

    2. English Rose*

      This is beautiful to read and such a good example of the value of online communities such as this one. I’m sorry about your friend.

    3. chocolate muffins*

      I am glad you got helpful advice here and so sorry for your loss. What a special thing for your friend to have gotten your words and to have had your friendship.

    4. Elle Woods*

      I’m so sorry about your friend. I’m glad you were able to tell her how much she meant to you before it was too late. Sending virtual hugs.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I suggested Em and Friends, because when the counselor leading the group session for people in cancer treatment brought it up the response was so positive.

      I’m glad you were able to bring your friend some happiness in this time. That’s the thing that’s in our capacity to do, often. It’s a time when the message “thinking of you” can mean the world.

    6. Daily Fan*

      Can you link back to your original post? I also write to a hospital bound friend and would like to read through the suggestions. My friend may be there for a long time.

      1. Silent E*

        I missed it and wanted to read it too! Some great suggestions there. It’s in the Nov 11-12, 2023 Weekend Thread. I’ll put the link in a reply to this comment.

    7. Zweisatz*

      I’m glad you kept in touch. I believe that means a lot.

      (Content note: death from cancer)
      A friend’s father died of cancer and several people in his life were in denial about it (to be fair he also pulled back) and thus didn’t get to say the goodbye that would have probably been good for everyone. (My friend however did take great care of him.)

  18. Messy housemate*

    Question for youall. I’ve seen many blogs, advice column responses, and so on about what to do if you live with someone who isn’t pulling their weight in terms of housework/yard work/etc., but what do you do if you’re told that you’re that person? I live with my spouse and a friend, and both of them have recently told me (separately and I’m pretty sure they didn’t talk about it beforehand, for what it’s worth) that they feel like I’m not doing my share of work around the house and in the yard. One of them added that they feel like my depression is keeping me from doing lots of things I used to do, which may or may not be true, but I often feel like my executive functioning is down. (I’m currently working with doctors on that piece so don’t need further advice in that direction but I mention it since it’s probably relevant.) Also we are all middle-aged and I just don’t have the energy I used to.

    So how do I move towards fixing this? I hate the idea that the people I live with would both feel this way, and I want to pull my weight. At the same time I’m having such a hard time figuring out how to make this better. I’m the couple of weeks since the first person said something I’ve been pushing myself to do more around the house and have been doing a decent job due to shame, but that’s not a good motivator. Any ideas on how to make this a long-term successful project? And how to find balance with the others? One other detail is that for about a year and a half they were both going through serious health issues and I was the only one who could do much of any sort of chores, and I got burned out. When they got better I just kind of… stopped for awhile, and I guess didn’t start up again enough. But now we’re all mostly healthy and well enough that with one or two exceptions we can do all the things.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Time for a house meeting maybe, to redistribute the chore load across all three of you? It’s often easier to keep up with a specific list of “these are my chores and I will do them to this schedule and that routine” or whatever than to try to keep everything balanced on the fly. As the one who ended up doing it all, my boys were much better (still not perfect :-P ) about doing chores when they had their list and their cadence to follow. It also let us negotiate our “please don’t make me” chores so we all felt the division was mostly fair and nobody got stuck with the thing they hate most.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree that now that all three of you are in a better place health wise, it’s time for a “Review and Refresh” meeting of chores in general–not only who does what but what actually needs doing. I have a feeling everyone’s energy may be being channeled into stuff that can be cut back while not going to what actually needs attention after a long period of survival mode.

        There’s everyday chores like dishes that need a constant rotation, longer term stuff like full dust/vacuum or communal laundry, and big stuff like deep cleaning. Once the rotation is worked out for the first list it will be easier to move on to stuff like shopping and cooking, then to bigger project things like cleaning the fridge, and so on.

    2. Lady Kelvin*

      Try reading “How to Keep House While Drowning”. She has ADHD and two toddlers, but I found applying some of her suggestions really helped when at my most depressed. Things like, dishes are now my partner’s responsibility so no guilt for not doing them, but I like my partner so I actually do them more often because I am doing them a favor. Pretty simple things that just change your mindset can really help.

    3. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Maybe try to talk as a household about what pieces are most important to each of you? Like my husband gets really irritated by stuff on the floors and wants to vacuum all the time; I’m less fussed about that but really like to have everything clean and neat in the kitchen. Maybe you can all meet halfway about the things that collectively you decide HAVE to get done, or that would mean the most to each other, and which can maybe slide. And then build up from there.

      A schedule or some kind of rota can also help. I think there was a thread on here a few weeks ago about apps for scheduling regular tasks, etc. that people seemed to find helpful. It might be worth comparing with your housemates about whether you prefer cleaning all at once or doing a little each day.

      Obviously there’s also the option of hiring a cleaner, even if it’s only once and a while, but I know that’s not always financially an option.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Having distinct responsibilities is so important for this! Like you’re in charge of scrubbing the hall bathroom and Anne does the one upstairs, while Diana does all the vacuuming.
      Maybe you make a rotation for who cleans the kitchen. Sundays and Wednesdays you do a basic “make sure all the dishes are washed, counters are wiped down, and floors are swept. Mondays & Thursdays are Anne’s turn for that basic clean, and Diana takes Tuesdays and Fridays. On Saturday you all pitch in on a deeper scrub of the kitchen. (Mopping, scoring the sink, clean out the fridge, that kind of thing)
      Expecting three people to have a good balance with just seeing what needs to be done and doing it isn’t terribly realistic.

    5. office hobbit*

      I agree with the house meeting to reallocate the chores and set clear expectations. Maybe there are some things that are easier for you to do that the others would be happy to put on your plate, in exchange for you taking some chores that are harder for you.

      I do think also, since when they were sick you stepped up while they did less, there could be some agreement that, now that you’re sick, you will do a little less. You can set a date to revisit the arrangement in x months and decide if it’s still working or if you’re healthier then and able to take on more.

      I will also, as a chronic messy person, suggest that it may be possible to reevaluate some chores to see if they could be done less frequently or less thoroughly. Even if there is some downside to that, it might be less than the downside of some of you feeling resentful and others feeling ashamed.

      I assume that if budget allowed for a cleaning or yard service it would already be on the table, so I won’t mention that except to say that it may be worth keeping in the back of your mind that if things get really off the rails, you can often pay for a one-time clean to help you reset.

      1. Messy Housemate*

        We have logistical reasons for not having a cleaner or yard service. The yard service was that even though we love in a medium city, we couldn’t find someone who was willing to co on a regular, scheduled basis to do just basic mowing and maybe weeding (I know we’re not good at lots of yard maintenance so we go for a lot of local plants that need little care after the first month or so). I was down for anyone from local teens wanting to make some money (I looked up prices in my area and added a quarter again as much, so I feel safe in saying that I was offering enough money) to yard maintenance companies, and no luck. It was the weirdest thing. The housecleaning is more that we have a number of allergies to different cleaning products and it feels too risky to have a stranger coming in with products we can’t vet beforehand. (One of us also works right in the middle of everything and there’s no way a cleaner could be in the house on any of the weekdays because almost every room touches on their home “office”.) I haven found a good option for getting around this yet.

        1. WellRed*

          You can hire cleaners that use your products, in case that’s an option in the future.

          1. acmx*

            Agree with WellRed but also I think any cleaner would go ahead and use your products.

            Why can’t the cleaner come regardless of them working in the middle of everything? I work at home and have a cleaner. This past time I had her skip my office because it was a mess (moved out a shelf and things were still on the floor) but I just relocate when it comes time for her to clean the floor.

            Try again for the lawn and you could also call for one offs. Alternately, you could get a robot mower.

        2. Jay (no, the other one)*

          We have a fragrance-free house and a lovely housecleaner who uses our products or now (after a few years) has her own stash of products that meet our needs. And we’ve hired various teenagers over the years to mow the lawn – maybe you could check with a local high school to see if they have any kind of job board?

        3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          The cleaners come when I’m WFH and it’s really not a problem. I move to another part of the house, or go sit outside on the back deck, when they clean upstairs (where my office is). Or if the timing works out I’ll have lunch outside while they’re cleaning upstairs.

    6. Anono-me*

      1. Make a list of chores and assign times to do them. When you are dealing with anything heavy, as a survival skill, the non urgently critical stuff fades into the background. For example: Don’t try to make yourself see that the living room needs dusting, just dust it every Saturday.
      2. Use technology. Don’t work harder than you need to. Get a robot vacuum &/or mop. Use daily show spray to keep the shower (and sink and toilet bowl) clean longer. Hang clothes on hangers to air dry without wrinkles. (Bonus they can go straight into the closet without folding. ) There are a million more ideas on the internet, find as many as will work to make your life easier (and that fit in your budget).

    7. Messy Housemate*

      One of the questions that is coming up for me as I’m reading your (very helpful!) comments is how to figure out fairness in considering all the things. Like for example, our housemate cooks the most and makes the most complicated meals; does that count as more work than the nights when I’m so exhausted that I pull a thing out of the freezer and toss it in a pan and cook it for 10 minutes. Both of those things are cooking dinner, but one is a lot more work and creativity. My spouse generally washes dishes the most often, but I spend more time when I do and get most of them done, whereas spouse will wash for a few minutes, clear some things up, and then leave the rest for later. Both jobs are “washing dishes”, but hard to compare. I do a lot of the one-off jobs; I call for repair people, paint the rooms, shampoo the rugs, replace the pet furniture, and so on; how does an intense burst of activity every few weeks compare to vacuuming the living room twice a week? And how do we compare activities that are housework but not for everyone (for example it takes time and energy to clean the litter boxes and everyone needs it to be done, but that also isn’t housemate’s job when the cats belong to spouse and me)?

      Youall are right on in suggesting that we should discuss this as a household at this point rather than just hoping that it all works out. Especially since it’s clearly not. I’m just not sure what guidelines to use to make it fair.

      1. WellRed*

        For cooking I think it’s fair. Some people like to whip up gourmet meals, others prefer quick and convenient. As long as you aren’t serving only tv dinners or frozen pizza when your turn, I think it’s valid.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I was really struck by a line in a mystery novel about how the house rule was that the person who cooks also cleans. Because it made you think “Is this dish worth the cleanup it would entail?” Worth applying to some household tasks.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I find it really helps to separate “kitchen cleanup dishes” from “meal dishes.” That way the cook doesn’t get too extravagant with various utensils and the dishwasher isn’t overwhelmed in a filthy kitchen.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Our rule is that husband does hand-wash-only dishes, I start the dishwasher when it’s full and empty it when it’s clean, and everyone puts their own dishes into the dishwasher, which includes whoever cooked putting the cooking dishes into the dishwasher. And I absolutely made the last section of that rule because I am a cooking minimalist, in terms of dirtying dishes, while my husband thinks he is starring on a cooking show and measures every quarter teaspoon of everything into a separate bowl and somehow dirties every dish we own in the process of making like, a peanut butter sandwich. :P

      2. office hobbit*

        These can also be things to discuss in your meeting. For the dishes, I think time spent is a good way to track it (like 15 min or 30 min). Your husband can do three 5min bursts if he prefers. For the meals, I think that’s fair if the task is “provide dinner for everyone.” Your gourmet housemate may feel differently, so you all can discuss that and decide if the meals that take longer count as extra “chore credit” or if it’s just housemate’s hobby. I think cleaning the litter box should count towards general household chore credit because if it wasn’t done that would sure affect the whole house. The one-off tasks will also be up to discussion, which I know isn’t a super helpful answer. Personally I would hugely value having someone who made the phone calls and painted rooms. Maybe look at making chores even over the course of a month, not a week, to allow for one-offs?

        Also, this is starting to sound very transactional, so I think an overarching principle to keep in mind is that you all like each other and enjoy living together (I assume), and nickel and diming each other over precise chore allocation can really drain that. Of course, one person feeling they do everything can also drain that. It’s a balance.

        And secondly also, if people in your household are vacuuming 2x weekly and shampooing rugs/painting rooms often enough for it to come up, maybe y’all can take a step back? Or is it the allergies that require such frequent cleaning?

        1. Redaly22*

          I would say, though, that only some non-cat owners are going to be up for cleaning the catbox in a non-emergency setting, so don’t assume they’ll be ok putting it into the rota like everything else. In all but one of my previous houses it was very clearly understood that ALL chores related to an animal were owned by the animal’s owner, because many pet chores are often objectively pretty gross. And in that one house where that wasn’t explicitly the agreement, the catbox was always a source of arguments because the non cat owners would avoid cleaning it or do it badly while being angry that they had to do it at all.

      3. Hyaline*

        IMO tasks should come with “minimum expectations” and if those are met, the task is complete. If the task is cooking dinner, everyone is fed is the minimum expectation. If someone wants to go beyond that, that’s their choice. If the task is “clean hallway” the minimum is vacuuming and wiping down door handles and if someone wants to dust all the pictures go nuts. And honestly nothing will ever be 100% even stevens and even if everyone is pulling their weight it can look like some people have heavier loads—but different things weigh out differently to different people. I hate calling repair people. Deep cleaning for an hour is a lighter task to me than one five minute call. If we were roomies I’d be happy shouldering way more scrubbing if you handled the phone calls—all of this is so individual that you have to really trust your housemates on if things feel fair and talk them through.

      4. Glomarization, Esq.*

        I would consider letting go of any strong feeling about making the end results “fair”. There will be some (or many) tasks that nobody particularly enjoys or wants to do. Comparing the tasks will be apples and oranges. It’s always been my experience, anyway, that housework chores vary so much as to how long they take to finish, how often they need to be done, and how disgusting they are. So it can be impossible to allocate chores “fairly”.

        For example, Mr. Glomarization and I have settled into a deal where the person who hates the task less, or the person who cares more as to how it’s done, is the person who does that task. So bathrooms are my bailiwick because I’m more picky about them, and vacuuming is his because I hate vacuuming with the force of 1,000 suns. Is it “fair” that I do the more disgusting job of cleaning the bathrooms, while he does the more time-consuming job of vacuuming? Unanswerable because they’re not really comparable tasks, I don’t think.

        1. Messy Housemate*

          I’ve never cared too much about this with this particular household, although I’ve definitely had moments when I felt like I was doing all the work or none of the work. It’s just been a bit of a blow that both people I live with feel like I’m not pulling my weight and that makes me feel more like it’s probably true? But I’ve also spent the weeks since the conversation with the first person who said this constantly a bit on edge trying to make sure I’m doing enough. And that’s not really fair to me or to them. So when I say I want it to be fair I don’t really need it to be absolutely perfect, I just want something we can all be okay with. It’s going to be flexible, since that’s how life works. But I’ve got to have some sort of guideline now even if it’s not a chore chart or something like that (although maybe we will go with a chore chart; I am open to ideas, and several people have recommended it for a reason).

      5. Rosyglasses*

        One thing that helped in my household (spouse and 22 year old) is I have a laminated weekly chart that I made and had laminated (so it is custom for us). It includes things like feeding the dog and cats (because we get up at different times or are not sure when the dog was fed last without it), and it has daily chores in a column, weekly and monthly. Each day has a spot for dinners as well and we use a dry erase pen.

        That way we can see communally — is the dishwasher clean or dirty? Did someone clean the cat litter boxes already? We have a pretty good routine we have settled into but it does take regular conversations as seasons change and busy-ness of one partner changes.

    8. Six Feldspar*

      Definitely need a house meeting, talk through your needs, your wants and your resources. My last sharehouse had a system where we tried to keep the common areas clean and relatively tidy, and then whatever happened in your private space was your business.

      Questions to potentially ask:
      – top priorities for cleaning (I would guess the kitchen/bathroom) and what can be dropped (the lounge room carpet will not be destroyed if it gets vacuumed once month instead of once a week)
      – difference between clean vs tidy and what people prioritise
      – how often you clean (can everyone agree to wipe the kitchen benches daily as needed, and then do big list of cleaning chores once a month, or can people do their tasks weekly whenever they’ve got time)

    9. Overthinking it*

      These are all great suggestions. Sounds like your household is a little too loosey-goosey! Structure is often very helpful for depression!

      I’d say make 5 lists: a list of chores assigned to persons, more or less permanently (definitely litter box goes to the cat owners!); a list of “retake turns on these”; a list of “we do these as a together (washing the car, raking leaves, etc); a list of we hire these out (each if these may a a chore to list one – like, we pay some one to change the oil, or do the laundry: so who takes car to the garage, or clothes to the laundromat); and finally: “we let these chores go to hell” because nobody’s life/home is perfect (wahing windows, maybe?)

    10. allx*

      Captain Awkward has written on division of labor for household chores among roommates/partners. I recall one in particular that actually gets into the nuts and bolts of how to set it up. Check out her site archive.

        1. KitCaliKat*

          My husband and I used Fair Play six or seven years ago. He actually went into it thinking the whole thing was ridiculous, and we spent the first half hour sorting through the cards in an argument — the cards made it clear that the bulk of the housework and childcare was falling on me, which made him feel guilty, and it also came out that he thought my cleaning standards were too high.

          But! By the time we’d gotten through Fair Play, we had a system for housework and childcare in place that truly was more fair. My stress level and frustration with my husband decreased enormously, and he picked up two major chores — grocery shopping and cooking dinner — that I despised but he loved. As we’ve changed jobs over the years and our kids have grown, we’ve regularly sat down to reconfigure who does what at our house, and we both generally feel like we’re on equal footing when it comes to managing our household.

          So, yeah, I highly recommend Fair Play.

    11. Jay*

      Also, a big part of divvying up the tasks is to get a really good handle on who is doing them NOW.
      A much younger me was the “messy” roommate, except that when we actually got together to codify all the needed household tasks I was the primary cleaner. It just tended to be the case that I would handle the less immediately visible things and do them when other people weren’t around as much (I worked odd hours at the time).
      I’m a guy, but when I’ve mentioned this to my female friends it’s something they’ve all gotten multiple times in their lives.
      Apparently this is a very, very bad habit that some guys fall into all too easily. They overvalue their own contributions by a lot, while undervaluing other peoples and this gets much worse when one of those people is female.
      Hopefully the OP’s boys are better than this, but it’s something to look out for.

      1. Sloanicota*

        With house stuff (also kid and relationship stuff) something that really resonated with me was sometimes that *everybody* may feel like they’re doing 150%. I think big things like households just take unimaginable amounts of effort sometimes. I honestly can’t believe how much work it is to run my house, and I live alone – it feels like a fulltime job on its own! (which is not at all to invalidate that many people, slanted towards one gender, are more likely to be doing 10% and thinking it’s 150).

    12. Double A*

      As the person who carries more weight, if my partner came to me and said, “I don’t feel like I’m doing my fair share, can we sit down and figure this out?” I would cry tears of relief and joy.

    13. Festively Dressed Earl*

      One way I get past the executive dysfunction part of the problem is to add ’15 minutes cleaning’ to my daily habit tracker. Personally, I’ll freeze if I know I have 12 chores that need to be done that each have 5 steps with 10 smaller steps and that’s 600 tiny decisions I have to make and oh God I need a nap already. So, I just find a mess, set a timer for 15 minutes, put on some music, and start chipping away at it with the mindset that something is better than nothing. That’s long enough to make a visible difference, I get the dopamine rush of having done a thing!, and sometimes hyperfocus kicks in allowing me to keep going.

      P.S. I printed out a spring cleaning sheet that’s hanging where I can see it. When I can’t decide on something to start on, I will literally just roll a die and go.

    14. Part time lab tech*

      Lots of good suggestions here and I second the suggestion of working out what everyone is currently doing then house meeting.
      I am the messier person in any household and also resent when I feel things are unfair or I am being assigned jobs as opposed to negotiated. I have lived in shared households previously and mostly pulled my weight. I have divided jobs by room or by task, different people prefer different systems.
      I have also been clear that I will clean my job once a week but I simply won’t get around to it more than that. We also said the dishes had to be done by lunchtime the next day. People were responsible for their private belongings and spaces.

    15. ElastiGirl*

      The book Fair Play by Eve Rodsky is an excellent resource for figuring out how to divvy up household tasks fairly.

    16. MeepMeep123*

      I live with someone like this. The things we are doing are these:

      1. We use an app called Sweepy to distribute the chores between the three people who live in the house (two adults and one child). You can set the workload for each person. We assigned a lighter load to the child than to the two adults, and the app figures it out from there.

      2. For dishes, we use a “dish lottery” after each meal. I have a little wheel-of-fortune app on my phone with our three names on it.

      That seems to help, and I’m no longer pissed off at my spouse for leaving me to do all the chores by myself.

  19. Beware of geeks bearing gifs?*

    This question feels very meta, as I’m asking a group of (very friendly and helpful) internet strangers about downloading something from an internet stranger.

    I use my checking account for almost all of my financial transactions and it’s way overdue for me to convert the paper register to an Excel spreadsheet, but my Excel skills aren’t up to it. I saw a YouTube video on how to create such a spreadsheet, and the person who made the video offers to let you download it from his website if you don’t want to or can’t follow his very detailed instructions.

    I would love to get his spreadsheet, but I am worried about what I might be exposing my laptop and myself to. What do you think? Or do you know a safe site that offers or sells a trustable check-register Excel spreadsheet file?

    I’m looking online because I spent many hours last week creating this kind of file using Microsoft’s Excel Check Register template, and after I had laboriously keyed in about 140 entries, I did something to break it — the formula for updating the balance stopped working. Their template had other limitations and I am looking for a better way.

    1. David*

      Good question… well, it *is* true that computer viruses can spread through macros (mini-programs) embedded in a Word document or Excel spreadsheet. This used to be very common about 20 years ago, but not so much anymore because there are easier ways to spread viruses these days, but it’s still a risk. The main way to deal with that is pretty much the same way you’d evaluate any other file that a random internet person makes available for download: do some research on the person and the file, and see what the rest of the internet has to say about their reputation. If there’s a virus in the file, or something else untrustworthy about it or about the person who offers it, you’ll probably find somebody complaining about it on some other website. Conversely, if you find many reports of happy users of the file and positive feedback toward the person, that leans toward it being okay. Of course you have to take all this with a grain of salt because people can lie on the internet, but hopefully at least some (and probably most) of what you find should be true.

      Another thing you can do is use a program other than Excel to open the file. For example, Google Sheets or LibreOffice are both spreadsheet programs that can load Excel files somewhat more “safely”, since they won’t execute macros. But these other programs can’t do all the things Excel does, so it is possible that the file won’t work in them.

      And if you haven’t already, you might also want to consider software that’s specifically meant for keeping financial records. E.g. I think QuickBooks does that, and there are also websites that do it, like mint.com. (Fair warning, I haven’t personally used either; I’ve used alternatives called GnuCash and KMyMoney, but those are kind of niche programs that probably wouldn’t work for your situation.) Of course that kind of comes down to the same problem of whether you can trust this thing that you’re going to put a bunch of your financial information into, but QuickBooks and mint.com are much more widely known and have much stronger reputations than an Excel spreadsheet posted by some random person, so you should find it easier to decide whether you want to trust them.

      Also FWIW QuickBooks and mint.com are both Intuit products, and personally I’m kind of mad at Intuit for the part they’ve played in overcomplicating the US tax code, so I would try to avoid their products, but that’s just me :-)

      Anyway, the bottom line is, there are some things you can do to make it less dangerous to open a random file, but ultimately it comes down to how much you can trust the source. As with so much else on the internet.

      1. Observer*

        You don’t even need QuickBooks – Quicken can do a lot of the stuff you want.

    2. mreasy*

      Can you find one that’s shared in Google sheets that you’re meant to duplicate? Then you can save your own version and either export to Excel or use in Sheets. No downloading needed.

    3. acmx*

      The balance formula should just be using the Sum formula.
      Formulas>and then autosum should be the main choice. If your dollar amounts are in column E then the formula would be similar to = Sum ( E1:E5 ) No spaces and E1 would be replaced with the first cell that contains your amount and E5 is the last cell with an amount. You place that at the bottom of your column.

      Check the balance cell on your spreadsheet and if the last cell in the formula (E5 in the example above) is not the same as the last cell of your last line item amount then you exceeded the range set in the formula (example: your last amount is in E7. Change to = Sum (E1: E7)

      But this is very basic tracking of debit and credit. Sounds like you may be tracking other things, too?

    4. office hobbit*

      I think this guy’s Excel sheet may be just as likely to get accidentally broken as the template you tried. Maybe look for softwares with more safeguards (like QuickBooks as someone suggested), or a simpler Excel sheet that you can fix if it breaks? Or look into learning the Excel skills you would need just for this? Your library or community college might have classes.

      Also, consider what you hope to gain by going digital. A lot of people cite timesavings, but if it’s going to take a lot of legwork to get the digital method set up, the paper system may be more efficient in your case. (You may have some other reason that will be worth this hassle, in which case ignore this.)

      1. ronda*

        yes. if you don’t know how to use excel, you are pretty likely to ‘break’ the next template too. So learning excel in general is probably better. (google sheets would work just as well as excel)
        also, you mention you input lots of transactions. you should be able to download those from your bank website. then you only need to input transactions that have not hit the bank yet, which shouldn’t be too many. If you import the download (csv file) into a google sheet or excel you can then set up your file to be in the same format and easier to use with the download from the bank.

        but I never balance or reconcile my checking account. Instead I look at the transactions that show up and make sure they make sense. And I have “the cushion”. I keep a large amount of money in checking so I will always have enough for whatever I spend. I do download transactions to review what I am spending on a few times a year.

        but if that is not for you, maybe try ynab(you need a budget). It will allow you to import/link to your bank info and allocate your money to what you want to spend. you have to pay for this software, but it seems to have helped a lot of people manage their money. this software focus is on budgeting, but it does have a check register if that is your main concern.

    5. Rick Tq*

      Intuit has two lines of products: Quicken for home/personal accounting and QuickBooks for business accounting. I started with a spreadsheet a long time ago but Quicken makes things a LOT easier, including having separate accounts/registers for my different Credit Union accounts and credit cards, etc.

      One nice feature (if you want to go that way) is to link Quicken to your accounts (with usernames and passwords) so it can go out and download transactions on command to save you all the data entry.

      Quicken CAN be set up to run 100% locally if you are worried about security. I’ve been running it that way for many years.

    6. radish*

      I recommend asking ChatGPT to help you. It may not be perfect, but it will literally write the code for the cells out.

      1. Observer*

        Please don’t do that. Sure, it could give you a great set of macros, but also a lot of junk or otherwise problematic stuff. And you don’t know enough to check it through.

    7. Pretty as a Princess*

      Do you really need Excel for this purpose? I think a lot of banks now have pretty good functionality for basic day to day account management.

      My bank allows me to enter scheduled transactions – like when I write the check for our property taxes, I can enter it in right away. I can always see the “current balance” and “projected balance” that projects balance based on the scheduled items that have not yet cleared. I can enter recurring transactions, I can update characterizations/categories so it learns them over time if needed. (I can also export all of the data Excel whenever I want – if you are concerned about being sure you periodically have an offline record, this would be a good compromise.)

      I don’t know the rest of your situation obviously, just wanted to toss this out there in case there’s a way to reduce the work for you!

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        And if the issue is multiple accounts, we use Buxfer to aggregate them all. I don’t use it to enter transactions – I don’t know if it does that, but I don’t need it for that purpose. It does download all the transactions for all your linked accounts.

        It sounds to me like you were just asking about managing a single account, vs establishing a financial dashboard. But if you are thinking about a dashboard, I’d still think about what you want the dashboard for: visibility of all your accounts, vs actually entering transactions etc.

  20. talos*

    I’m closing on a condo next week! (The move is scheduled for a couple weeks out). What’s your best non-obvious advice?

    1. Aphrodite*

      If you can take things over there before you actually move in that will be very helpful on moving day. For example, move all of your food (pantry and refrigerated/frozen), most of your towels and clothes / shoes / accessories, make-up, shampoo & conditioner, laundry soap, sheets, lamps, etc. Think about the rooms you want to have working immediately upon moving in. That would include the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Have quick meals ready to heat up or eat cold whether you make them yourself or buy them ready-to go. It is so tiring so you want to think about how to make as much as you can as easy as you can for the first week or so.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Seconded. As I advised another poster last week, make sure your bed is set up and made up, with PJs ready, and your bathroom is ready to use (not all decorated, but shower curtain up, toiletries unpacked, towels on the rack.) You will be so, so tired and having a shower and snuggly bed will work wonders.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I packed a suitcase as if I was taking a week long trip. Clothes, toiletries, meds, etc. I lived out if it until I was more settled.

      1. SarahKay*

        Huge second to the suitcase.
        I also make sure mine included a mug, a set of cutlery, a bottle opener / corkscrew and a tin opener. I was happy to eat out of a takeaway carton, or off a paper plate, but I’m really not a fan of any sort of disposable cutlery and it’s not like a single set takes up much space. The mug I used for all my drinks – morning coffee through afternoon soda to nighttime water.
        While the kitchen was absolutely my first priority it took the pressure off me to have the basics to hand before I’d opened any boxes at all.

      2. Elle Woods*

        I agree with what’s been said above and definitely agree with packing a suitcase as though you’re taking a week-long trip. My other bit advice is that when you move furniture over, set up your bed first thing. Moving can be exhausting and the last thing you’re going to want to do after spending a long day moving and unpacking is have to set up your bed.

    3. Jackalope*

      If you are having a group of friends and/or family helping you move, make sure you feed them. Ordering pizza or sub sandwiches is generally a good idea. This includes both moving your things from point A to point B as well as helping pack and/or unpack. (One of my first moves as an adult post-college was from one apartment to another in the same building, and I had some friends putting my kitchen in boxes, other friends putting the stuff away in cabinets and then giving the boxes back to be refilled. It was so helpful and beyond the call of duty.) Do not under any circumstances plan to cook this food on a moving day.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Be sure to ask for plates, cutlery, cups, etc when you order food! I’ve taken so many moving day orders and when I suggest paper plates you can hear the penny drop that nothing is unpacked yet and if they don’t want to eat off the floor they need that stuff!

    4. Zona the Great*

      I sill avoid some deep corners of my home because the funk there is not my funk. Drawers, cabinets, baseboards, etc. I’d clean those before moving too much in.

    5. Anono-me*

      Paint your closets right away. You will never want to clean them out 100% again, so paint now.)

      Put an extension in and outlets that will have heavy furniture in front of them, even if you don’t have anything to plug in right now.

      Have a survival kit: TP, light bulbs, basic cleaning supplies, lots of trash bags duct tape.

      Set up a donation bin by the front door. Anything you find yourself asking ‘Why did I pack this?” goes in the bin and out the door.

      Ask if the seller can leave paint, carpet and tile leftovers and/or names. Even if you are going to renovate,unless you are going to do a 100% renovation on day one, you will need to touch up stuff at some point.

      If you don’t have one, consider asking if a home buyer’s warranty can be added into the deal without derailing the whole deal. (It is similar to a car warranty. ) The first year is usually very cheap.

      Print out the real estate add for your condo. Use it to start you house folder. (House folder is a list of everything you might suddenly need to know about your home. Room dimensions, when the hot water heater was installed, the size of the furnace filter, window dimensions, paint colors, the stove warranty and receipt, phone numbers of repair people and a million more details. )

      1. Overthinking it*

        If you didn’t negotiate the warranty into the deal from the beginning, it’s not fair to ask it of the seller, and will only create ill-will! But you or your agent can order the warranty and have it added to YOUR side of the settlement at closing. If the seller agreed to pay a certain amount toward you closing costs and that sum hasn’t been used up on other things, yeah, then the warranty could be included in that sum. And I believe the warranty can be ordered up to 30 days after closing for the same price you’d pay for a new purchase (usually higher if it ordered for a home you already own.) Remember to get the condo version of the warranty, as the HOA covers a lot of stuff slready.

      2. Sequoia*

        This is great advice!

        I’d add to make sure you pack your current bills/important papers in the main suitcase, so that after you move you don’t also have a panic attack because you can’t find the medical bill and your car tab renewal that arrived the day before the moving truck did.

      3. Sloanicota*

        I agree with your closet concept; maybe tackle one or two projects right away before your stuff comes in, while you’re still full of energy and optimism. I have the floors refinished right after closing. It was wonderful and I would never have done it after I was moved in. But if I’d been smarter, I might have painted the walls first. I didn’t have enough time to do everything before I had to be out of my old place, and I’m very indecisive on wall colors, but it would have been smart.

    6. Six Feldspar*

      If anything leapt out at you to fix, it’s much easier to do it now with the condo empty. I bought a place with very loose carpet and had it tightened before I moved in, that would have been a massive pain to do with furniture!

      1. Observer*

        Definitely. Especially plumbing.

        And if you are doing electrical work anyway, think about all of the unlikely places you *might* need outlets, and get as many is as you can. And do space them out. The issue is not so much how many outlets you have but where they are. If you want to do something in the nook near the window, it’s not going to help you if you have a bank of 8 outlets across the room. Also, see if your light switches have at least 3 wires. Smart lighting is not everyone’s thing, but they can be surprisingly helpful. But *switches* tend to be far more useful that bulbs / lights in many cases, especially if you have a household with kids / people who don’t have a smartphone and / or you tend to have a lot of guests. If you have the correct wiring in place, getting switches at any point is easy and not too expensive.

    7. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Congrats!! Buy some little leak detectors and stick them under your sinks, anywhere you might spring a leak. (I just moved to my new house and honestly have had a run of bad luck with water…but these leak detectors helped me figure out I had a sewer line problem, AND that one of my neighbor’s water lines floods my basement, AND—just last night—alerted me to a little leak under the kitchen sink, so I was able to stick a mug under it and save the cabinet from damage.) I got the YoLink brand on amazon and, honestly, best $100 I’ve spent, though hopefully you won’t have the same need for them!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        YES oh my god get the screamers and put them everywhere. (Why does the sump pump always overflow at 3am.)

    8. Can't Sit Still*

      If your condo only has windows on one side, figure out if and where you’ll need additional lighting. (My condo is north facing and I didn’t have nearly enough lamps when I moved in.)

      Make sure you know where the trash/recycling/compost are and what the rules are for large item disposal.

      Buy a fire extinguisher for your kitchen. Oh, and if you do burn something in the kitchen and the front door is right next to the kitchen and opens into a hallway, DO NOT open the front door! That will set off the building’s fire alarms. Open a window instead.

      I’m sure you’ve already heard this, but change the locks. That should be one of the first things you do once you take possession.

      If this is a new build in the US, keep copious notes and documentation of any issues for a potential lawsuit. Seriously. It’s very likely with a new build that the HOA will be suing the builders at some point and you may as well be aware and keep track right from the beginning.

    9. just here for the scripts*

      Check—and label—which fuse switches go with which outlets—and test every single one as the ones you think are in a line most likely are not actually related (ask me how/when I learned this after living in the apartment for 20 years)! Easier to do this without furniture and with a single light/phone/clock plugged into each outlet. Note the amperage for each switch (fridges and stoves are likely 20, the rest may be 15 or lower).

    10. Liminality*

      If you live in an area with invasive critters it’s agood idea to have a professional pest control company come out to review/treat the property while it’s still empty. (E.g. before furniture/stuff is moved in)

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        If the prior owner had pets, check for fleas! I once moved into an apartment where they had replaced the carpet, so hadn’t treated for fleas, and the place was crawling with fleas the day I moved in. Watching my clothes literally turn black with fleas when the movers were going to be there in 15 minutes was definitely a bad moment. I have never, ever seen fleas so bad before or since. Fortunately, my cat was being boarded at the vet on moving day!

        1. Jackalope*

          I would do the flea check regardless of whether the prior owner(s) had pets. I remember moving into an apartment once that had had a fair amount of work done between the prior resident and me (all of the walls painted, etc., since they’d been there for awhile). Turns out the maintenance worker who’d done all of that work also had a dog who accompanied them on their work days (later saw the dog when they were working on other apartments in the complex), and said dog apparently brought some fleas. Not too much of an issue thankfully but my cats were still not happy about it.

    11. ElastiGirl*

      Move your hanging clothes yourself. No need for a moving company’s wardrobe boxes and no need to take them off the hangers. Just pull a big trash bag up around the clothes from the bottom and cinch the tie tight around the necks of the hangers. Then you can just plop them on the racks in your new closet and cut the bags away, and all your clothes are ready to go and hanging in the right order

    12. kalli*

      set up your furniture first!

      I moved a few months ago and I still can’t unpack because all the boxes have to be moved back out so the furniture can go in. Housemate is extremely maddened by this situation (they moved me and wouldn’t let me help and created the situation but that doesn’t matter) but if you have the furniture in you can unpack a box at a time, or sort stuff as you go – if you have to leave everything in boxes so you can move it all back out to make room like some super advanced Tower of Hanoi, you have a few more days of heavy lifting and not having access to your stuff to go.

      Even if you put boxes on the truck and then the furniture so that the furniture is the first thing to come out, or you take furniture first then take your boxes in your car etc…

  21. Past Lurker*

    Have you ever had something mundane mysteriously disappear? Did you ever find it? I was opening a box using scissors and I placed the scissors on a shelf while I took out the contents of the box. When I went to grab the scissors again, they were gone! There was nobody else around, no critters nearby that could have moved them, and I looked everywhere for them. Even on the floor, though I’m pretty sure I would have heard them fall.
    Maybe I’ll find them again as soon as I buy a new pair of scissors.

    1. Forensic13*

      An 8’11” picture! I know I owned it. I MOVED and physically packed everything in the apartment; not a big place. So where did it go?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        In a frame? I tend to “safekeep” stuff like that in books and such to keep them flat, stick the book on the shelf, and rediscover my carefully protected thing a year later.

    2. office hobbit*

      Also scissors! I noticed them in a weird spot, thought “oh that’s a weird spot for them, but it’s so weird that I’ll remember,” and when I looked again they weren’t there. Did I move them after all? Did I remember the wrong weird spot?

      1. Liminality*

        Ooooh, the curse of the “weird spot”!
        I am Convinced that the “weird spot” is a portal to another dimension. Now, when I hear myself thinking “oh, that’s a weird spot for them…” there’s an almost audible record scratch and an immediate backtrack where I deliberately add myself
        “Where will I look for these when I need them again?”
        Then I go put it there.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Check the box. I’ve recovered many, many pair of scissors from boxes I’d put in the garage to be recycled. And I’ve even *twice* accidentally mailed scissors and once shipping tape with other stuff I was mailing to people. Still have no idea how I managed to seal the box and mail it with the shipping tape inside, lol!

      1. Past Lurker*

        Thanks! I checked the box, but they weren’t there. So the mystery continues.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Was there bubble wrap or other packing material they could have snuck into?

    4. anon24*

      Not quite what you’re asking, but this just happened last night, so I’ll add it!

      I’m an EMT and last night we were wheeling a patient through the emergency room of the hospital. My partner and a student were pushing/pulling the stretcher, and I reached to get some paperwork off the back. We very distinctly heard something fall off the stretcher and hit the floor, and stopped to look for it. A staff member of the hospital was sitting at a nearby desk and said she saw something fall to the ground and hit the floor.

      There was nothing. Nothing was missing off our stretcher. There was nothing on or around our stretcher 15 feet in either direction. We even opened doors to the rooms that were nearby and checked and never found anything. It was so weird.

      And then tonight I was wheeling the empty stretcher through the hospital, heard something hit the floor again, turned, and there was a hospital issue baby pacifier on the floor in the corner of the hall. It definitely didn’t come from my equipment!

    5. BikeWalkBarb*

      Aaaalll the time. My mom taught me a trick I use that sometimes works. I go back to the last place I’m sure I had it, pantomime holding it in my hand, and walk around to retrace my steps to remind me of what I did while I was holding the item. I’ll get an occasional eureka moment: “Aha! I went to the closet to toss that towel into the hamper!” and there the scissors will be where I set them down to take off the hamper lid.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        But do you mime opening and closing the scissors so that they know it’s them you’re looking for? I don’t know if it actually helps, but it’s hard not to do it!

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          If it’s a coffee cup (which it often is) I curl my fingers into the shape they make holding the cup. Some form of sympathetic magic, ha ha. Fine, it works.

        2. fposte*

          I do that all the time. What amuses me is that the invisible scissors have to be opened and closed so much more often than the physical scissors.

    6. talos*

      I had a full sheet of forever stamps, mailed one thing, put the stamps away…and couldn’t find them for a year and a half.

      I just today found the stamps in an otherwise empty envelope at the bottom of my Pile of Mail to Get Rid Of. I have no idea why they were in an envelope. I don’t remember doing that.

      1. Rolling Stone*

        I had a similar experience. I was mailing some birthday cards right before a trip out of state, so I got the stamps out for the cards and thought I put them back in the shallow drawer in the middle of my desk where I usually keep them. Couldn’t find them when I returned from the trip. Ended up emptying out my entire desk the next time I needed stamps. They were under the hanging folders in my file drawer.

    7. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My old favourite cheap black leggings mysteriously disappeared years ago. I was living in a very small flat at the time, and only kept gym clothes in one specific drawer, and they never even reappeared when I moved. My theory is I must have realised they had a hole and threw them away, but I usually remember when that happens, and was convinced they were intact when I last wore them.

      Your last sentence resonates a lot too! It happened with a nail file (I now have no use for the second one I bought), and recently with my eyeliner pencil, which I keep in a very uncrowded storage basket I searched multiple times. And yet, weeks after deciding it was lost, I found it in its rightful place.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I bought a milk pot for making hot chocolate, and my Mum came to visit and decided to tidy the kitchen.

        The milk pot has never been seen again, but Mum swears she didn’t throw it away. Now I have to heat milk in an ordinary saucepan, which negates the whole point of the milk pot in the first place.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I lost a book I was reading. Looked everywhere in my apartment, car, even at work. After four days I gave up and stopped at the used bookstore and found another copy on the dollar rack. I got home and the original copy was there, with my bookmark and all, square on my pillow where I could not possibly have missed it for four days. I lived alone in a 175 sqft studio apartment. :-P

      1. Square Root of Minus One*

        That’s scary but I wish your ghost would visit me.
        You made me remember it: I lost my favorite book when I moved.
        I can’t explain it. I have several books from this author, all on a tiny shelf, which I would have put in one pile in a box because that’s only logical.
        I found all the others in one pile at my new place. But my fave was, and still is, nowhere to be found.

    9. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

      I moved to my current home almost 2 years ago. I cannot find any of my bottom sheets. I have all the top sheets and pillow cases, but no bottom sheets. I bought a few new sheet sets, so I use those now, but I still have all the old top sheets. I do have boxes in the guest room that I have not unpacked yet (going to do that this summer) and I’m still hoping to find all the bottom sheets.

    10. Myrin*

      Yes! I lost my oldest headband about two months ago and it’s been driving me bonkers!

      It’s nothing special at all – it’s black, velvet-y, unfashionably broad, and rolls up weirdly at the sides. But I could stretch it as much as I like with my huge head and intricate bun, and it was warming but not so warm that I’d start to sweat. I don’t even know where it came from originally, I certainly didn’t buy it; I think I found it between my mum’s old gloves and hats and just started using it.

      In any case, it was definitely still with me when I moved into my current flat in January. It was on my coat rack’s very left hook, always, together with my thick, fluffy winter headband. It got warm here pretty early this year and I hadn’t used it for quite a while already when suddenly, a mild cold front hit and I thought “better take it with me to work, just as a precaution”. I remember not wearing it and then I forgot all about it because the cold front had passed.

      Weeks later, I visited my mum and sister and when I returned home, I suddenly realised the headband was gone. I thought I might’ve left it at my mum’s even though I was 95% sure I hadn’t even had it with me. My mum searched their whole warderobe and clothes rack – nothing. I searched everything – which thankfully wasn’t much since I still don’t have a lot of furniture in my new flat – but it wasn’t anywhere. I have literally no memory of it going anywhere, I don’t even know if that time I took it with me to work is chronologically the last time I definitely had it or if it’s just the only time I remember.

      My only explanation is that I was hit by a cold wind when exiting the bus from work and grabbed my gloves from my bag, unintentionally grabbing the headband along with them and pulling it out without realising, thereby losing it. This has happened before – and I distinctly remember this specific situation up until the gloves-getting – but I always realised the second item was coming along out of my bag and I could put it back, but it’s possible that I didn’t this time. What’s strange is that it’s a three minute walk to the bus stop from home which I take at least twice every day, and it’s customary here to hang lost items on a fence or somewhere similar when you find them, and I didn’t see anything like that at all. I almost can’t imagine someone finding my old headband and deciding to take it with them but what else could’ve happened?

      My sister is weirdly sure that I left it at theirs but, seeing how I’m almost certain I never even brought it with me, I can’t really get myself to hope that they’ll find it. I’m in equal parts annoyed and mystified by this whole situation, especially since losing it, I could’ve used it several times already.

      1. Messy Housemate*

        I have the opposite. I have a magical headband whose superpower is always coming back to me no matter what happens. I’ve had it for over 20 years and no matter where it’s gets left it always comes back to me. The best story was when I was visiting a friend living overseas. We did a day trip in a car belonging to some of her friends. Weeks later they got in touch with her to tell her they had my headband. She gave it to another friend she knew who was briefly there and flying back to our home country. He brought it back with him and mailed it to me. This sort of thing has happened a number of times, and honestly I will never get rid of it until it’s in shreds. (I don’t think I *can* get rid of it, even. It’s bonded to me.)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          My dad had a cheap pair of aviator sunglasses (like Biden wears) that followed him everywhere for nigh unto forty years. He bought dozens of pairs of fancy sunglasses, all will-o-the-wisps that flitted off to the void within weeks. Meanwhile, that one cheap pair stuck to him like glue–through multiple moves, cross country car trips, visits to Disneyland–there was nowhere he could go that they weren’t there.

    11. Helvetica*

      I’ve lost the perfect pair of summer shorts that I only bought last year. The only reasonable conclusion is that in my last wardrobe purge, I accidentally included them with the stuff I was getting rid of, though I am very meticulous about checking that I give away the correct stuff. So I keep hoping for them to turn up still.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I thought I did that once with a SIGNED copy of Good Omens during a book purge! Thank goodness I found it wedged in a bookshelf weeks after I’d given up and bought another copy. So the shorts may yet appear!

    12. Irish Teacher.*

      Yes, a folder of a student’s work. It makes no sense whatsoever. It was up on a cabinet in an office with other folders. I can’t imagine anybody taking it and anyway, it was in a kind of awkward place where it wouldn’t immediately be noticeable. And it’s large enough that it wouldn’t be picked up by accident (plus you know, not a place where people would be normally) or accidentally thrown out or anything.

      I moved the cabinet and all, in case it had fallen down behind, checked all the surrounding rooms in case I had forgotten to put it back after adding work to it and it is nowhere to be found.

    13. Enough*

      A set of keys. It has been a good 35 years and I suspect they got through out in the trash. My son was at the age to “help” and I had found my wallet in the kitchen trash can once. Don’t need the keys anymore as I don’t have that car any more and have changed the lock to my house twice since then but I really wanted the key ring. It had my initial and was the first mother’s day present from my son.

    14. BellaStella*

      OK. I firmly believe in elves and the Never Never. In March I lost a necklace with a pendant on it of glass. Eventually decided I likely had accidentally tossed it in the recycling with papers etc that were in my bag as I cleaned it out. 5 weeks later I parked my car where I always park on our communal garage. Got out and oddly looked down. It was on the ground. Clearly I dropped it but in my head the elves used it a while then returned it.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        I believe that too! I usually look around the room, say, “OK, elves, where’d you put it? You have 30 seconds,” then leave the room for a moment. I walk back in and there it is. Really what’s happening is I am retracing my steps and pinning down where to look for something I absentmindedly set down, but I like the game of pretending something is playing a mischievous game. Then I find it, say, “Thank you. Stop laughing,” and then I chuckle and get on with it. Imagining little creatures are all around adds a nice touch to everyday life.

        Next time tell the elves to drop it at your door. It could have been raining!

        1. Cordelia*

          no they’re not elves, they’re Borrowers! There’s an old English series of children’s books about The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, they are a family of tiny people who live in the walls of an ordinary family’s house and use their things to make their home. It’s a lovely series of books

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            YES! You are absolutely right. I reread that not long ago – all 4 books. Their matchbox beds thrilled me when I was small. I will have a word with Pod next time something vanishes.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I think that these kinds of incidents have to do with there being rifts in the time-space continuum and that certain items accidentally fall into other dimensions, only to fall out of them again at various times.

        Or maybe they can be attributed to glitches in the matrix?

    15. Southern Girl*

      Lost my whole set of house keys. Replaced all of them and then found the old ones in a deep pocket of my purse where they should not have been. I had searched the purse multiple times and missed them. By the way I own at least 8 pairs of scissors so there is always one handy when I need them.

    16. Lore*

      Most recent: my favorite kitchen knife. I know it was in the dish rack the morning of a day my partner did dinner dishes. Either he put it away absentmindedly in a place so counterintuitive it has not surfaced in six months or it somehow ended up in the trash. (Only annoying because the brand no longer exists; it wasn’t expensive.)
      Most mysterious: my favorite bathing suit went AWOL when I was a teenager in that span between August and family travel for winter break where a northeasterner never needs a swimsuit. Gave it up for lost and packed something else for vacation. It was found sitting in the middle of the guest room bed six months later. The guest room was also where the family computer lived so someone was in there all the time, the bathing suit was bright blue, and the bedcover was white, so there’s no way it had been there the whole time. One of many occurrences that had us joking the house was haunted.

    17. Overthinking it*

      I’m pretty sure things do dematerislize! They say we understand “object permanace” by the age of one year or so, but I’m not sold.

      Also, some objects – like the office staplerss – goboff in private to breed. There’s two, then there are none, then a few days later there are three! Tape dispensers, binders, and especially empty file folders hanging quietly in unopened drawers!

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        And black pens turn into red pens. A scientist friend once told me that they must be adapting to the environment – so presumbly everything in the evironment is wrong!

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        Maybe it’s that we think we have mastered object permanence when we’re babies, but the objects themselves never quite grasp the concept.

    18. Inkhorn*

      I once went to the shelves in search of a particular book and couldn’t see it. So I looked again more closely: no book. Checked the entire shelf, not just the section where I expected it to be: no book. Checked the surrounding shelves: no book. Took every. single. book. off the shelf to check between and inside them (it was an extremely slim volume): STILL no book. At that point I conceded defeat and went away thoroughly baffled.

      Some time later – months? A year? – I finally found it.

      On that shelf, in its accustomed place, exactly where it ought to have been all along but very definitely hadn’t.

      It’s since survived two house moves and spent some fifteen years behaving itself, but every now and then I still double-check to make sure it hasn’t wandered off.

    19. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I love this thread so much, because this is my life, and it is comforting to know it’s not just me. One of my most uttered sentence-starters is “Where did I put ….?” progressing to “damn it, where did I put …” as the frustration grows. I try to reassure myself that things generally turn up, but sometimes they really stay lost, so I can’t convince myself not to fret when it happens.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        I used to utter those sentences to my late husband who was a genius at finding what I had lost, but now I say them to the walls, which have not lifted a finger to help me find anything.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I remember an old Sylvia cartoon where she’s writing one of her ads: “Forgot where you put your car keys or that Coke you were drinking before the phone rang? Call “1-800-Where The Heck Did I Put It?”

    20. Falling Diphthong*

      My thin black travel sweater from REI. (Folds up small, right on that line where it works with both casual and dressy.) It was gone for a few years, and then poof it turned up on the shelf where I expected it.

    21. Jay*

      As a scientist I always hate it when the most rational explanation for my problem is ‘Gnomes’.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I love how we’re dismissing all this evidence of shifting between alternate timelines.

        Like on Orphan Black, no one ever thought “Alison’s hair and outfit completely changed from when I saw her earlier–must be clones.”

    22. PhyllisB*

      A book on my nightstand. It’s been there for a while and and had finally started reading it…then it disappeared!! I asked hubby if he might have moved it while changing the sheets or knocked it on the floor, and he said no. I have looked EVERYWHERE and it’s not to be found. Luckily all I had read was the introduction so no big loss, but how does a book just vanish into thin air?

    23. SuprisinglyADHD*

      11 fancy glass cups! My mom has a service for 12 of various types of glasses, tumblers, stemware, etc. The short cups are gone, we eventually found 1 of them but the rest have been missing for years, despite cleaning out every cabinet, storage space, and closet since then.

    24. Chaordic One*

      I used to wear contact lenses. (They were the hard lenses, soft lenses didn’t work for my prescription.) I had to quit wearing them because of recurring dry eyes and related infections of the tear ducts. I would still wear them every once in a while for short periods of time on special occasions. And then they disappeared. I still have the contact lens cases, but they are empty and I have no idea what might have happened to the contact lenses.

      1. The first thing*

        Ha, I mysteriously FOUND two hard contact lenses in the middle of my floor one time. I don’t wear them, and I have no idea how they magically appeared on my carpet in my tiny apartment. This was like twenty years ago, but maybe your contacts fell through space and time.

    25. Non-profit drone*

      Ha! I am going to see a play this week. For the past two weeks I’ve been getting very nervous because I thought my ticket hadn’t arrived yet. I was all set to go to the box office on Monday, when I flipped my calendar this morning to June – and found that I had paperclipped the ticket onto the June page. A true forehead-smacking moment, for sure!

    26. Accidental Itinerant Teacher*

      Oh yes, scissors seem to pop in and out of existence at our house pretty regularly.

      The most mystifying at the moment is my sewing scissors. I’m left handed and my mom had gotten me a pair of lefthanded sewing scissors that I used for many years. I lost them at some point about two years ago and replaced them. I went to do some serious sewing last week and found that I now appear to have 4 pairs of left handed sewing scissors…. and, much to my sister’s annoyance, zero pairs of right handed sewing scissors.

      We’ve joked for many years about having a mischievous spirit living with us. His favorite trick seems to be swapping out seam rippers. I’ll be working on a project, set them ripper down and when I go to pick it up find nothings there. I look all around trying to find where it’s gotten knocked and just as I’m about to give up: I find a completely different seam ripper.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        And if you listen very carefully when that happens, you’ll hear giggling…..

      2. Dancing Otter*

        I feel so sorry for you if you need to rip out your stitching that much. I have multiples, but they’re all different sizes and designs.

        This morning I was checking the price of replacement water filters on Amazon, because I was about to use the last one and the local price seemed high. (And it was! Twice as much for half as many!) When I used “Buy It Again”, it said I just got some delivered last week.

        Spent half an hour at least searching every kitchen cabinet AND the empty boxes waiting to be recycled – found some veerrrry old dry goods, but no filters. Then I went back to the cabinet where it belonged. I swear by all that’s holy, those filters had not been there half an hour ago!

        At least I hadn’t actually placed the order for more. And if I had, they would have gotten used eventually, unlike the three wall calendars I inadvertently bought one year.

    27. Pocket Mouse*

      1. On the first day of (high) school one year I was playing a fall sport and brought clothes to wear to practice in my backpack. School ends and it’s time for practice: no clothes. I searched my backpack EIGHT TIMES and did not find them, so I had to miss practice. I got home and prepped my backpack for the next day, and there they were in my backpack all along. How on earth could I simply not see an entire change of clothes in a Jansport?!

      2. I misplaced a very distinctive pair of pants. Over the course of months I looked for them in all the places I could think of and did not find them. Then I had a dream in which I had a lightbulb moment about where they might be, and found them there. When I woke up I went to look in that place, and sure enough, there they were.

    28. Rolling Stone*

      I’ve heard of people losing socks before and always thought it was weird because how do you lose a sock? They go from your feet, to the hamper, to the washer/dryer, and then back in your sock drawer. Then it finally happened to me. Couldn’t find it in the hamper, couldn’t find it on the floor anywhere, couldn’t find it in the washer or dryer. Counted and recounted my clean socks. Just could not find the missing one. Ended up finding it hidden in a sports bra a few weeks later.

      1. Girasol*

        I lost a wool sock for months. I found one single one in the camping gear box and couldn’t find the other. So I put it in the sock drawer to wait for its mate to show up. Then I found the other in the camping box. But then there wasn’t one in the sock drawer. For ages that one sock would migrate back and forth but its mate never turned up. Then one day I was out with friends climbing in quite a rugged area. After a few hours everyone decided to go back to camp. Climbing up over a lip I found one little woolly sock sitting on a rock, all clean and fresh, no sign of how it had gotten there. I put it in my pack and when I got home its mate was waiting. All I can think is that static electricity had stuck it to the inside of my clothing and it had shaken out on the way in.

    29. goddessoftransitory*

      I can understand tiny things, like say, thumbtacks or rings or such–physics seems to work an entirely different way in how they bounce and spin and where they land. Bigger stuff I am convinced is actually mobile and sneaks about snickering just to mess with me.

      I had the WORST time finding the little screw on bobbles that went on the tops of our old bedside lamps–both were loose and jumped merrily off and into the void. I HEARD each one hit the floor! And yet for weeks and weeks the damn things had disappeared from the earth!

    30. TX_Trucker*

      Two instances this year. A friend mailed me a yo-yo. I tried it a few times, then got up to throw away the padded envelope in the kitchen trash can. I came back and the yo-yo was gone and never to be seen away. I even emptied the trash can thinking I might of placed it in the trash by accident, but nothing.

      A friend asked to borrow a book I thought I had. But I could not find it. Admittedly I hadn’t used that book in years, so I figured I had gotten rid of it at some point. I decided to order 2 new copies of the book, one for me and one as a gift for my friend. When they arrived and I went to put them on my bookshelf, there was the missing copy of the “lost” book.

    31. ampersand*

      Loop ear plugs. I put them in my pants pocket one day and never saw them again. My best guess is they fell out, though it seems like I would have noticed that. I looked through all the pockets on every pair of pants and shorts (and skirts, and dresses…) I own and they never turned up. Thought they’d reappear when I packed and moved a few months ago…nope. Had to buy another pair. Lesson learned; I no longer put them in my pockets!

    32. Ricotta*

      A pair of sandals. I have no understanding how this happened. Nobody broke in. I did not come home barefoot. My husband is the only other person in the home, and he obviously didn’t wear them.

      It’s been years and I was so pissed because they were cute as hell, with badass chrome spikes on the vamp.

    33. Filosofickle*

      Neither is mundane, but…
      1) A dress disappeared out of my closet. Brand new little black dress, with tags, in a garment bag straight from the retailer. Because I have a history of acting things out in my sleep, I checked the ground outside my balconies and doors and in all the trash cans multiple times. Never found it.
      2) A wooden sculpture disappeared in a move. I spent four years in the next home and fully unpacked everything, no boxes were left in a closet. When I moved again, I found it while unpacking.

    34. Part time lab tech*

      My husband puts things away rather than down so rarely loses things. We drove home and he lost the keys. We searched, even turned the couch upside down in case they had fallen out of his pocket. They disappeared and since they have to be in the house, I wonder if they will turn up when we move.
      I, on the other hand, put things down but would generally find things within the first three places I looked. Until I got married and my husband would put it away, then kids upped the randomness factor.

    35. carcinization*

      The beaters from my hand-mixer disappeared while I was making a complicated multi-step cake recipe for my husband’s birthday. Nope, not in the trash or any other likely or unlikely place (and he enjoys my baking/no-one else lives with us, so not a sabotage). That was 10 years or so ago and is still a head-scratcher!

    36. Jackalope*

      Opposite direction: when we got our kittens a few years ago, one of them was magical about finding screws lying around the house. For some reason she thought they were one of the best toys ever, and we didn’t want her playing with them because we were reasonably sure that screws would not be friendly to kitten insides (and of course at that age she would try to swallow them). We don’t normally do diy projects or anything like that and we keep all of our hardware in a room that the cats don’t have access to. And yet it kept happening over and over for months. I think she finally stopped finding them at one point and moved on to something else, but it was a long spell of hearing the familiar screw-on-wood-floor sound as she batted it around and rushing to get it out of her mouth where she had of course picked it up.

    37. ElastiGirl*

      My rice spade. One day it was just missing. Not in the wrong drawer, not in the sink, not in the dishwasher, not in the trash.

      I griped, then bought a new, far inferior one.

      Years later, I was packing cookbooks to move house. My ancient copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking felt oddly lumpy. I opened it. There was my rice spade. My daughter had used it as a bookmark, apparently, when experimenting with cooking something elaborate. Glad to have it back

  22. guilty as charged*

    Has anyone retroactively realized they behaved wrongfully in the past and feel guilty about it? I just recently went through a reflective episode where I realized that for a period of time about 7-8 years ago, I was not on my best behavior in a situation (don’t want to get too specific). It’s not terrible behavior – mostly immature, although I was already in my late-twenties at that point. I’m now feeling bad and ashamed about it, but I no longer keep in contact with the people affected by my behavior so we’re way past the point of an apology.

    1. tea and cookies*

      yep, sadly I torture myself sometimes about my behaviour in my teens’20’s. 50’s now. I try to learn an do better, but some people out there rightfully think I’m a jerk.

    2. Writerling*

      Yep, same here. I still have some emails but I’m not sure it’d do anyone any good to apologize (me first and foremost!) I’ll overthink their lack of response or over-analyze what could come back. Until I get a therapist who tells me otherwise, I’m not touching it. Ruminating just feeds the narrative and as hard as it is, give your younger self a pat on the head and a “it already happened.” Mistakes were made, lessons were learned, we’re ideally not that person anymore and strive to do better.

    3. Six Feldspar*

      Don’t beat yourself up over and over, but it’s worth going over what you’re feeling guilty about, trying to work out why and learning from it as you move on. Growth can be painful and embarrassing sometimes to look back (I have a lot of memories as a teen and young adult I’m not proud of) but it’s done, you can’t go back and change it, you can only move forward and let it teach you what not to do next time.

    4. AGD*

      I had a neighbor in college that I thought was really sarcastic and passive-aggressive. In retrospect, I realize that it was because a couple of things I said to her were microaggressions (I’m white, she’s Asian) and she verbally rolled her eyes and I got defensive. I regret that I had nothing to go on back then except ‘I will never be overtly racist’ and ‘gonna try my best to treat everyone the same’. This wasn’t enough for me not to make mistakes that selectively affected people of color.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I admit, the thing I beat myself up most about was a time that I was not sufficiently sensitive on a racial issue. I displayed some really characteristic white fragility behaviors that are basically textbook, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Basically I was caught up and wasn’t watching the most important part of the conversation (which was about how the other person felt). I feel like I’ve learned so much more now about how to Do Better but I can’t ever go back and fix that time for this person. We’re not in touch now and I doubt they would want to be. My reaching out now would just be asking for them to do more emotional labor for me, so I have resolved to make a financial commitment to a related cause in addition to striving to do so much better in future.

        1. AGD*

          That’s a wonderful thought/suggestion! I was well-educated on Explicit Racism is Bad, but not at all on Being Actively Anti-Racist – I try to remind myself that this is about an insidious system of inequity trying to sustain itself even in the absence of ill will. I incorporate my lesson into my teaching now, though most of my young-adult students are so aware of this stuff now that it’s often unnecessary. Which is a mix of heartening (they’re incredibly well-informed, and going out there and making change!) and frustrating (I’m in my mid-thirties – how was I so clueless not very long ago?).

        2. Zweisatz*

          absolutely second your conclusions. reaching out now wouldn’t do THEM any good. The best for the world at large is to learn from these mistakes and see how you can materially improve the world for people of color NOW.

    5. UKDancer*

      I don’t think apologising really helps years later. It can be disruptive for the people you’re wanting to apologise to. (A while ago I had a university ex get in touch with me to apologise for being a pillock because he had started therapy) and I wasn’t pleased. It stirred up a lot of feelings in me and didn’t make me feel any better or more kindly disposed towards him. I had forgotten most of it and it reminded me of less good times. I’d have strongly preferred him to leave me alone and do his personal growth on his own.

      I think the best thing to do is to promise to yourself that you’ll learn, forgive yourself and do better next time.

      1. AGD*

        I said something unpleasant to a friend one year (meant to be a joke but it came out wrong) and it haunted me after. When I apologized, it had been 6 years and my baffled friend said they had no idea what I was talking about. They also ended up having to calm me down a bit, which involved some emotional labor.

        Part of what was going on here was that I’d decided that relying on my initial plan – ‘don’t worry, they’ll forget!’ – was cowardly.

        1. Sloanicota*

          My friend did that to me once! And I literally could not remember the incident, although I believe her that it happened. She was a funny one – she also held on to some grudges for things she said I did that I again do not recall (and sound out of character for me, although I’m sure I did do or say something that hurt her feelings). A very sensitive soul.

        2. UKDancer*

          I think people often do forget. I mean I had forgotten most of the crap my ex did until he got in touch and reminded me of why he was a jerk. Because I’d moved on, my life was fun and I didn’t dwell on the past except when it gave me pleasure. I think it’s important not to make people do extra emotional work.

          I had one friend who spent a lot of time dwelling on conversations, digging into them for their inner meanings and wanting to go through what someone might have meant at length or why they responded in the way they did. I realised after listening to her a lot that I actually don’t. I can remember things people have done that upset me in broad terms but I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them or ruminating on the situation. I find it best not to give them headspace and move on.

      2. kalli*

        This is one of the massive flaws of AA but even with that, they have the addendum “where doing so would not cause injury or harm to others”. Usually, bringing up a past trauma for someone for your own personal benefit would cause harm. Some people get hung up on the “wherever possible” and think that means that if they can track down their twelfth grade girlfriend’s sibling and apologise for hitting on them, they should. But the point of the step is to acknowledge where the behaviour caused harm to others, take responsibility for not doing that again going forward, and to preserve existing relationships or relationships that are necessary or wanted in future – family, job, housemates etc.

        So unless someone you have harmed (accidentally, because structural racism wasn’t super well understood, because of addiction or abuse or lack of social skills, whatever) is still currently in one’s life and will stay in one’s life moving forward, the prime consideration is “will it cause harm for me to bring this up to them for my benefit”.

        It is very rare that an apology benefits the victim, and even more so when it’s delayed. The point is rarely to make the victim feel better or whole, especially when it’s to tick a box or part of a disciplinary process. There’s a reason restorative justice is opt-in. But part of the processes around this are to encourage the self-awareness in someone to go ‘will this cause harm if I do this’ and step back if the answer is yes, instead of doing the blithe ‘I’m sorry’ to everyone with the exact same lack of interest and awareness that caused the harm in the first place.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yep, and I wait it out and it passes. Partly because the people I wronged, we are not part of each other’s lives anymore, and to be honest, if they’re still hung up on me, then I don’t want to stir anything up for either of us. But if they’re not, then we’ve all moved on and I still don’t need to stir anything up.

    7. Knighthope*

      At our 45th high school reunion, a classmate apologized profusely for “What I did to you.” No idea what he was talking about. I think his apology may have been intended for another person. But it was puzzling and concerning.
      You now know better and presumably do better

    8. Princess Peach*

      Oh yes. On bad days, I go into useless shame spirals about a number of things in the past and worry about what I’m screwing up now.

      On better days, I’m glad that I’ve grown and matured enough to recognize my poor behavior and do better. I’d rather be embarrassed and guilty than a stagnant jerk.

      I’ve apologized to a couple relevant people, but most are well out of my life now (Just time and circumstance, nothing dramatic). It’s been a good incentive to have patience with or forgive other people’s immaturities and bad days though.

    9. Elle Woods*

      I did. I had a falling out with a group of friends in my mid-20s and it ended in spectacular fashion. With the benefit of hindsight, time, and maturity, I realized the friendships had run their course, I behaved like kind of a jerk, and I have strived to do better.

    10. Liminality*

      Someone told me that cringing at those kinds of memories is a sign that you are no longer the kind of person who would do that thing. Recognize and celebrate that growth!
      It’s okay to wish you’d known better or done better but, unless you actually build a time machine about it, the only thing you can do now is recognize that you Have Changed.
      Also, statute of limitations. There are some places that, by law, of you’d lit an entire building fire that long ago it’d be too late to prosecute you now.
      Go, be free.

    11. Texan In Exile*

      Yes. I have tracked people down so I can apologize. These apologies have been in writing on FB or in a letter. I have not gotten responses to most of them, but I do hope they either didn’t even remember the thing or they accepted my apology.

      (One was a high-school friend who came to visit me from St Louis when I lived in Miami. She kept asking when we were going to the beach and I hate going to the beach, so I kept putting her off. We finally went to the beach in the evening and when I took her back to the airport, she was in tears, saying that this trip had been her Christmas present from her husband and all she had wanted to do was sit on the beach and get sunburned. This was almost 30 years ago and I still feel awful.)

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      When thinking about an apology, it’s not necessarily a question of time. It’s a question of whether the apology would be helpful or hurtful to the other person. The Anonymous traditions have a lot to say about making amends – sometimes to the person, sometimes in an in-kind manner. But changed behavior is always the best. Good luck.

    13. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      YES. Absolutely. The only thing that has ever helped me in this case is to imagine I’m going back in time as current me (or best version of me), and doing a redo or a repair of the situation. Apologizing to the people for example. Facing my own shame and accepting compassion, and then forgiveness. It’s been remarkably powerful and studies show it helps with PTSD-type memories, moving them from the part of the brain which processes things that are currently happening, to the part of the brain where experiences are stored.

    14. Chauncy Gardener*

      Just realized my folding handsaw and several blade sharpeners have vanished from my shed. No idea where they are!

  23. Le le lemon*

    Question about developing useful DIY skills: how do I develop this? How did you develop your DIY skills?

    I didn’t grow up with a person showing me how to use a power drill, change the oil in my car, build a this, fix a that. I don’t currently have any one in my life who’s handy either. Now, I’m happy to pay professionals – but also, some things seem so simple (let’s save time/$$!), and yet I lack the confidence and experience to tackle it. I’d like to be more skilled.
    Examples: fixing the toilet; replacing a fly screen; build wooden frames for beading; staving off flaking paint and fixing dents and in walls and floors.

    Good qualities I have? I’m inquisitive and process-driven, good at googling, and generally logical enough I can follow a YT video and spot when something doesn’t make sense or might need more care. I can pull apart and repair basic machines, and I’m good at following instructions (champion at Ikea flatpacks)

    1. Might Be Spam*

      Being able to follow directions gets you off to a great start. Videos and asking people at the local hardware store, has helped me a lot. Start with smaller projects to build your confidence. Now that I have made space to work on things, I’m more likely to try something new.
      When you have a project, think about what the worst outcome might be. When fixing the toilet, maybe you waste 20 bucks on parts before calling a plumber. I took a chance when I fixed the switch on an electric kettle, because it was going to end up in the garbage anyway. (BTW it works great now.)

    2. Six Feldspar*

      My local hardware store does little workshops every now and then so you might learn basic skills that way, if there’s a tool library that’s also been a great way for me to try tools out and get advice.

    3. UKDancer*

      Is there a further educational or technical college in your area? I mean somewhere that teaches plumbers, sparks, brickies etc how to do their job and takes apprentices through the more formal parts of their learning as they join the trades? A lot of them run general DIY classes for adults which are quite good.

    4. Professor Plum*

      Look for a tool library nearby to see if they offer classes in how to use those tools.

    5. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      YouTube is a great resource for this. If you have a specific task to do, no matter how simple or complex, it is virtually guaranteed someone somewhere has made a video of how to do it.

      1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        Oops I see you already use YouTube. Should have read more carefully….

    6. The teapots are on fire*

      Honestly, what you’re doing now seems like exactly the right way. Maybe connect with another non-handy friend and screw up the toilet together. Also don’t overlook “handyman” books like the Reader’s Digest one. You’ll get enough general principles that you can use your existing skills to figure out what you want to do.

      As long as you are confident the water or power is off you can get the project either done, or put it in a safe state of limbo until a pro can fix it.

      1. Le le lemon*

        This is pretty much where my head’s at: do enough that I can’t *really* break it, keep detailed notes of what I’ve done, and do it on a weekday where it’s less urgent/easier to get a plumber in. Also – I miss those “how things work” kids books! Simple diagrams help me most.

    7. hazel herds cats*

      Check your local community colleges and high schools. Here in California we have adult education classes on all that stuff in the evenings. Best of all, it’s either free or at nominal (e.g. $8 for a six week class) cost.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      YouTube videos.

      My spouse did grow up with that person, and is really handy. But that experience was on old things and so when he needs to, say, do something with the Prius battery he goes to YouTube.

      When we were building a deck YouTube videos were what finally demonstrated hurricane ties in a way I could understand, which was not coming across at all from drawings. Also for recharging the Yankee Spinner bird feeder, where a charge would last just long enough for me to completely forget how to do it.

    9. Jay*

      Just doing things.
      Watch a couple of safety videos, then try stuff out.
      Buy a few cheap pieces of lumber that you won’t mind destroying and see what happens when you use your new say/drill/hammer/whatever on them.
      It takes a lot of the fear/mystery/hesitation out of things.
      Then it’s a good time to try the instructional videos.

    10. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Wikihow has been a lifesaver for me, generally there’s several methods, the directions are clear and granular, and the illustrations are useful. I struggle so much with video how-tos, I keep needing to watch the same 5 seconds over and over and backing it up precisely is impossible and the auto-generated captions are incorrect. Two written sentences and an illustration convey so much more to me than a 10 minute (plus ads) video with a sponsorship in the middle.
      The exception for me is simple car repair videos. There’s a few channels on youtube that are just mechanics walking through how to do [x] for [specific vehicle], pointing out potential mistakes or dangers.
      For extremely specific help, you can try a relevant subreddit! Lately I’ve been having the best success adding “reddit” to the end of my internet search because there’s almost always someone in the last 7 or so years who had the exact same problem and got help on Reddit. Failing that, I’ve gotten very good advice by making my own post, even if that advice is “don’t try that yourself” or “that’s not something that CAN be fixed”.

    11. Accidental Itinerant Teacher*

      As others have mentioned you’re already mostly there.
      Knowing where to find information and being good at following directions is a great start.
      Beyond that, I find it’s mostly just learning to look at projects and think, “I bet I could do that”
      You just have to try things out and be willing to make a mistake or two along the way.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      I find reading the directions is still the best bet in achieving competence in stuff like assembling furniture and using tools. Not “read as you go,” sit down and study the manual or assembly sheet and get an idea in your head as to how things work.

      1. Charley*

        For another Internet personality to follow, I love The Trans Handy Ma’am.

        I personally struggle to learn things from videos though, so it’s been helpful to seek out workshops and ‘repair cafes.’ I would check your local libraries. Our local solid waste & recycling center also holds repair workshops to reduce waste from things like appliances.

    13. Le le lemon*

      Commentariat, you all are fantastic! Thank you so much for chiming in. You’ve given me some great ideas of where-to next, and I’m appreciative of your encouragement. Internet hugs, high 5’s or subtle nods to you all!

  24. Zweisatz*

    I was debating which thread is the right one for this question, but I think ultimately it’s about not-work so here goes.

    As a person who’s struggling to keep up with their household, how to clean efficiently and effectively so things don’t descend into chaos, do people who clean or have cleaned professionally struggle less with their household? Is it a skill that translates, or are you too tired from work that it doesn’t matter anyway?

    1. Mid*

      For me, it’s been a combo of outsourcing, getting rid of stuff, and learning how to work with my energy levels. So, if I had the urge and energy to clean, I would immediately do it, but also not force myself to continue past the point of tired/done, even if the task wasn’t complete. I also worked really hard to minimize my stuff, so I had less things to clean and organize. And finally, I called on friends and hired professional cleaners to help me when things reached health hazard bad. Otherwise it was giving myself a lot of slack and kindness when I was “failing” to keep up on housework.

    2. Yikes Stripes*

      I’m not a professional cleaner, but I am an in-home care provider and a lot of what I do is strongly related or overlaps. I’m extremely good at keeping my client’s homes clean, organized, and running smoothly. My own home is clean but not well organized and it runs in a very higgledy-piggledy fashion.

      I find having a running to do list is really helpful both at work and at home and I give my very tired self a lot of grace – clean is the most important thing. Organized is fun when I have energy, and once something is organized in a way that works it tends to stay that way. All of it happens when I’m not dragging ass from work.

    3. Lynn*

      The difference between cleaning/organizing for someone else and doing it for yourself (ESPECIALLY) if you have kids is: at someone else’s house it’s done and finished. You leave and the house is clean. Very satisfying.

      At my house it’s never clean all at once. For one, I can almost never give it 3 hours uninterrupted because other things come up, and also there are multiple people messing it up as I go.

      I think the “how to notice dirt” skills transfer, but the practical side of it means my house gets cleaned but almost never all at once.

      1. Lynn*

        Oh! And also- yes I do get overwhelmed by it sometimes. When that happens I set a timer: 5 minutes for each room. And I clean as fast as I can in that room for 5 minutes. When times up- all done with that room and move to the next one. It gamifies it somewhat, and also 5 minutes is short enough to trick my brain into being on board.

    4. MeetMoot*

      I worked as a cleaner and for a long time it didn’t translate for two reasons:
      1. The houses I cleaned didn’t need to be tidied first. So the workload from the start is already greater at home.
      2. There was no financial incentive to clean my own home.

      I cleaned my home, obviously, but it was always much harder than my job as a cleaner.

      That said, I now use a lot of the tricks I learned back then, such as how to order tasks to maximise efficiency and result.

      1. Zweisatz*

        That makes sense about the “invisible tasks” before cleaning. Would you mind sharing some of your tricks?

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I like FLYlady’s approach! Highly recommended. She has a website and email distro on her site if you google it.

  25. Middle Name Jane*

    I’m in over my head and not sure what to do. I have a friend in rural Texas (DFW area). She escaped an abusive relationship and has been staying with her stepdad, but he has served her with an eviction notice. Her mom is dead, and she has no other relatives or friends. Because she was in an abusive relationship so long, she doesn’t have a work history or skills to get a job that will pay enough so she can support herself.

    I live over a thousand miles away in another state. I want to help, but I don’t know how–and honestly, she doesn’t seem to want help or be willing to go to a shelter. She thinks her only options are suicide or live in her car.

    I’m horrified and not sure what to do. I feel guilty for not offering to pay for her to come live with me, but I can’t afford to support her in what I suspect would become a permanent roommate situation.

    How do you help a person who doesn’t want help? Or, how do you respect their wishes to not help but live with the guilt? I’ve researched shelters and assistance programs where she lives in case she’s willing to get help, but so far she has said no.

    1. Six Feldspar*

      I’m so sorry you’re in this situation, please take care of yourself too.

      I think at this point the most important thing is keeping the communication open and letting her know that you care about her and you’re thinking of her, like a regular text. She’s in a very overwhelming situation right now, in a few days or weeks she might be ready for the next steps but for now I think just the reminder that someone cares is the baseline, unless she asks for other help.

    2. AGD*

      I had a friend in a very similar situation. I’d recommend doing a bit of research and sending her the most helpful links (e.g. a directory of social workers or a few you’ve selected from such a thing).

      1. Middle Name Jane*

        I’ve done the research, but she doesn’t want the info. She rejects whatever ideas I suggest, so I had stopped.

    3. Forensic13*

      Are you by any chance able to support her to stay in a hotel or airbnb for a few days/a week? Maybe a few days of respite will give her a chance to see things forward? Obviously understandable if not the case.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      Could she call a domestic violence hotline and get some resources for her area? I’m thinking they might provide some basic employment opportunities, temporary housing, etc., but most importantly counseling so she can improve her mental health and begin to be able to think about helping herself. Please don’t feel guilty, you can’t force her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Also, if she is always talking about her situation with you and it’s overwhelming (because she won’t/can’t actually do anything about it) then you can tell her you aren’t willing to listen to her that much/decrease contact/etc. That sounds harsher than I would actually say it, but I hope you get the drift.

      1. Middle Name Jane*

        She won’t call. She claims there isn’t anything in her area because it’s rural, but I easily found a list of possibilities to at least try. But she won’t. She’ll shut down if I send her links or phone numbers.

        It is a lot. We text daily, and I’ve had to limit phone because she’ll talk for hours like I’m her therapist. I can’t handle it. But I’m afraid to pull back more. I’m afraid she’ll harm herself. I get that this is manipulative behavior on her part, but I feel stuck.

        1. Gyne*

          It absolutely is manipulative (abusive, even) behavior on her part. You are 100% not responsible for her actions. It sounds like she has pretty clearly told you she doesn’t want help getting plugged in to whatever local resources you have found for her, which is fine. It’s her life to live how she wants, and you can’t make her do anything. It sounds like your real question is how do you set boundaries with this friend?

          1. Middle Name Jane*

            I appreciate it. I know you’re right. So far, I’ve limited phone calls since she’ll talk for hours. I also don’t answer texts immediately and don’t let the texting go on and on. I feel bad because she’s had a hard life and was abused for years. She needs help, but I can’t make her. She has to take the initiative. I know that. It’s just hard to know there’s nothing much I can do.

        2. Hyaline*

          Two things can be true at once—that someone is desperate and sad and needs help AND is being manipulative. Setting a boundary might actually be more conducive to her getting the help she really needs than letting her continue to use your compassion and kindness as a stand-in for real pragmatic steps and self-advocacy.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This so describes my mooching relative. And yes, when a boundary is erected they are suddenly able to do the stuff that was impossible.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          It sounds cruel, but the truth is: you can’t stop her if she’s really intent on ending her life. Even if you sold everything you owned and sent her every penny, it wouldn’t stop her.

          I’m assuming she’s not a sociopath, so–her manipulation is her attempt to try to feel in control in a horrible situation, with a person who she knows and trusts. She may feel overwhelmed at trying to explain the enormity of her problems to a total stranger and just can’t face the HUGENESS of it all, so she channels her stress into phone calls to you. She’s not doing it “on purpose” or to hurt you, but it’s not helping anything either.

          We all have limits, and are not bad people for having them. You won’t “make” her harm herself if you gently, kindly say something like “I am so sorry for all this and how badly things are going for you. But I’ve reached the limit of what I can do on my end without input as to what you need. Can we talk a bit about one or two things that might make things better? If not, I do have to hang up now because I feel like I’m not helping at this point.”

          It’s so awful. You will FEEL awful. But you aren’t doing anything wrong–you can’t live her life or make her choices.

    5. WellRed*

      How good of a friend is she? If she’s best level status and you are able time and money wise, can you go out there and help her follow up on local resources ( might be less daunting than going by herself). That’s assuming she wants your help which is unclear.

      1. WellRed*

        I just saw your update. You might need to disengage (after you tell her that if she threatens to harm herself you’ll have to report it somehow).

    6. Venus*

      It sounds like she wants you to be a free therapist more than a friend. I completely agree with Gyne that you need to sort out boundaries about what you’re willing to discuss. Captain Awkward’s blog might be a good place for suggestions on wording.

    7. Unkempt Flatware*

      Based on what you have said here, updates included, I think you need to say goodbye to this friend. Threatening suicide (which, to friends and loved ones, casual mentions of such are absolutely a threat), refusing to take advice, shutting down, scare tactics, etc. are all shitty ways to treat someone. My father played this game with me to the point where I was seeking therapy just to deal with his daily phone calls. When I put it together that he was getting exactly what he wanted at the expense of my health and peace, I, well, peaced TF out of there. I think the kindest thing you can do for this friend is wish her luck and protect your peace.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Threatening suicide is effectively taking a hostage and threatening to hurt them if the person won’t do what you want. (Young person in the family had a break-up where the other person kept threatening suicide and it was so hard. And setting and holding a boundary to not engage any more was what finally worked.)

    8. Silent E*

      This is a really difficult situation for you as well as your friend. You are being a good friend by sharing resources with her that you’ve found. You are also doing the right thing by recognizing and abiding by your own limitiations. It is so normal to feel guilty in a situation like this! Please remember that it does no good if you overextend yourself; you need to take care of yourself first. Also, things a person does when leaving an abusive relationship or once out of one may not make sense to others.

      You may find this book to be helpful to you (and by extent, helpful for your friend): _Helping Her Get Free_ by Susan Brewster. But please continue to keep your own limits in mind. I only suggest this book as a source of some insight – not to say that you should be doing more for your friend.

      There have been a couple of discussions on this site about abusive relationships and how to help someone in one, which may also be of interest to you even though they are mostly about coworkers. I’ll put the links I have in a follow-up comment.

      Good luck to you and your friend. You are in my thoughts.

    9. Samwise*

      You cannot know whether her talk of suicide is her being “dramatic “ or “manipulative “ or genuine. You can’t. I would take every instance as genuine and call for a wellness check. You can tell her you’re going to do so — [name], I love you/care about you/you’re my friend, so when you talk about suicide I get really worried. I’m going to call [town] police/other resource to check on you

      If she says not to, you still should do it.

      If she doesn’t mean it, this might make her stop (especially if you do it more than once). If she does mean it, she may get help.

      And you will know you did the right thing, whatever happens next.

          1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            I’m very curious about your perspective, and which data you reviewed to make the claim that it’s nonsense and ridiculous to consider calling the cops to help a Black person.

          2. Pretty as a Princess*

            It is very wise counsel, is what it is.

            You do not have to look hard in the US to find news stories *on the regular* of people of color who have been significantly harmed or killed within minutes or seconds of arrival when police respond to a call for someone in a mental health crisis.

          3. Sad Texan*

            Before you go on about how “ridiculous” this is, you should google Atatiana Jefferson and see how she died. Especially considering she lived in Ft Worth when she was shot and the OP’s friend is in the DFW area.

        1. H.Regalis*

          Zona, or anyone else, what would you suggest as an alternative for this? OP can’t take on being her friend’s personal suicide watch, but the threat of her friend being murdered by the police during a wellness check is real too.

          1. H.Regalis*

            And also for situations where there could be imminent danger like, “My friend is at XYZ location and called me to say she is going to jump off the bridge.” Does anyone have any idea what to do in situations like this?

            1. Observer*

              That’s when you try 988. If they say that they can’t do anything (they may not have staffing in a particular area), you do have to all 911. It’s one of the few situations where you really don’t have better options. Because while the tragedies do happen, it’s not the majority of cases.

      1. Observer*

        You cannot know whether her talk of suicide is her being “dramatic “ or “manipulative “ or genuine. You can’t. I would take every instance as genuine and call for a wellness check.

        Nope. You are right that no one, including @Middle Name Jane, knows whether these threats are genuine or not. But, at best calling in a wellness check is not going to help. Even if you call 988 rather than the police, it’s just not going to be useful unless she threatens to kill herself RIGHT NOW (as soon as I get off the phone, etc.) Even with that, it may not help.

        What’s worse is that the best case is not a given, and the damage that can be done (especially if you wind up in an area where 988 is not properly staffed, and the call winds up with the – not appropriately trained – police) can be extensive.

        Also, this sounds punitive, and that’s just the worst approach to the whole situation. It sounds like you are saying “If she’s for real, you need that wellness check, and if she’s not this will teach her to stop playing games.” And neither half is true.

    10. Quadra*

      I went through something similar with one of my best friends during her “rock bottom” with alcoholism. As she was becoming homeless, she asked to stay at our house temporarily. I told her that my spouse wasn’t comfortable with that, but I never consulted him – I knew that help like that wouldn’t actually help my friend resolve her situation. It would only prolong the inevitable and likely would have ruined our 20+ year old friendship when (I’m sure) I would have had to ask her to leave.

      I learned so much from this experience:
      -I have a boundary and I knew not to cross it
      -All I could offer was friendship. I checked on her, would take her to restaurants that she missed, checked in with her (non-local) mother, came to visit her in halfway houses, went to AA meetings to support her. Anything I could do as a friend, I did.
      -I also accepted that my friend might die as a result of her alcoholism and there wasn’t much that I could do about it, beyond being a safe space and place without judgement.

      Happy to say that, 10 years later, she is thriving.

    11. WoodswomanWrites*

      I can only speak to how I might respond if I were in your situation. I would consider visiting for a few days to accompany her in person to places where she can get help. And if she refused, I would then draw the kinds of boundaries you’re saying you need. But that’s just me and you may already be past that point. Sorry you’re in this difficult situation.

    12. musical chairs*

      I appreciate that you’re reaching out for help. I will say, as a long time reader of this site and comment section, this is a great place to get very bad, potentially dangerous advice about dealing with a domestic violence situation. A lot of people without experience in this make judgment calls based what they would hypothetically do or want. They offer advice that feels intuitive to them, with no acknowledgment about how their depth they are. The advice often flies directly in the face of the wisdom of those with experience. It is especially bad on this site.

      Seek the counsel of the national DV hotline; don’t do anything you read here without vetting it with them first as you figure out how to secure support for her. Even if only at a distance for now.

      I hope things get better for you and your friend!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I used to staff a hotline for people in difficult situations related to a different issue. This is outstanding advice and a good reminder for me, as someone who has no actual experience or training related to domestic violence. Thank you!

  26. BellaStella*

    Tell me your tales of getting rid of things you held onto for far too long and they went to charity or a friend etc to be loved by another person.

    Today I am taking a large clean wool rug (5ftx4ft), grandmothers fur coat, scuba gear, old cat carrier, four bags of clothes and a bag of housewares to local charity. I am reducing stuff I have hung onto for far too long because I may need to move in January and cannot face another move of stuff I have rarely used or not ever used (fur coat).

    How did you feel after all of this?

    1. Six Feldspar*

      Much lighter and relieved! I get almost all my stuff second hand these days and it’s helped me donate things I don’t need any more or that I only need periodically. Most things (except for handmade gifts or family heirlooms etc) are not one of a kind and can be replaced even if it’s not the exact copy, there’s no shortage of cabinets or wool jumpers (my two current weaknesses).

      1. BellaStella*

        Same on second hand clothes. I got a cashmere sweater on Wednesday at charity shop in town for 7$.

    2. AGD*

      I inherited a LOT of fancy clothes. Most of them were from the 1990s and barely worn! My relative was petite and I am average, but I fit into about half of the items. Some were my style and some weren’t, but a few were veritable works of art. I cannot imagine how much this stuff cost, and suddenly there were 3 clothing racks’ worth of it in my house

      I kept a few items and I treasure them. The rest I didn’t want. Absolutely nobody else in the family wanted these things either. We looked into selling all these clothes locally to high end vintage resellers but everyone called the stuff ‘dated’ (even the timeless or adventurous items). I made an attempt at eBaying it all but nothing went. There was even a film prop and costume company I talked to that was looking for nice old clothes, but they declared every item ‘not of interest at present’.

      It had been 5 years with these racks of clothing that were stunning that were taking up space in my house. Finally I loaded it all into the car and took it to a charity shop serving homeless people. I probably should have done that to begin with.

      1. BellaStella*

        I hear you! I held onto stuff for over 40 years. Now it is going to new people! Time for more purging!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        The eBay detail is comforting to me because we just brought down 4 boxes labeled “extraneous teacups” when cleaning the attic, which I am happy to get rid of. I would have gotten rid of them sight unseen. And my spouse thinks the small amount of good china could be worth, say, $10 per teacup/saucer on eBay based on a quick search, and I’m like “Add in shipping and that’s gone. It is not worth $60 minus shipping to me.”

        I think my spouse wants me to be sentimental about saving stuff. “I’ve agreed that logically we should keep all these things” rather than “I don’t want it, but we can keep it if you want it.”

        1. AGD*

          ‘Extraneous teacups’ just made me laugh out loud! That’s wonderful.

          I know the feeling. To be fair, I was an eBay newbie and probably could have picked more on-the-nose titles/keywords, but also…there is so much stuff on eBay and I’m pretty sure sellers do much better when they can plan to put out their nets and wait a long time. I just wanted all those clothes gone, and the listings were only up for (as I recall) a couple of months before I lost all patience and yanked them.

      3. PhyllisB*

        I can relate. My mother just passed away and I had the “pleasure” of trying to find a new home for all her clothes and shoes. My husband bought a clothes rack for them because there were so many. She was also extremely petite.
        Daughter took the clothes to give to friend to take to a nursing home. But now she can’t bear to give them away because they “smell like Mama.” I still have all the shoes. All size 6. No clue what to do with them. I tell you, it’s ridiculous for one person to have so many clothes and shoes.

        1. WellRed*

          Are they vintage or just old? If the latter, toss them. No one wants old shoes. If they are fun vintage shoes you might find a consignment or other market for them.

    3. WellRed*

      You’ve motivated me! I’ve done good at rehoming but I have three or four drones in the basement that belonged to my brother. They take up so much mental space. I’m going to see what can be done with them ( kitchen items etc are much more in my rehome/sell wheelhouse).

      1. BellaStella*

        I am glad! I am starting on another small bag of housewares to donate. I took a carful as above to the charity shop already today. Good luck!

    4. Dancing Otter*

      The only thing I have ever regretted giving away wasn’t even me. My mother donated a coat once that had her car keys in the pocket. We tore the house apart looking for those keys before she remembered. By then, of course, AmVets or whoever had picked up the bundles, and everything was long gone.
      Lesson: check all pockets twice. Purses, backpacks, tote bags, too, though the most she lost there might have been some stale cough drops or Kleenex.

      1. BellaStella*

        Gah! One time in college I accidentally donated a full trash bag of what I thought were old clothes. Instead it was a load of very nice fabric and sewing supplies I needed. Definitely learned a lesson and yes to checking all pockets!

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’ve downsized a lot and it feels great 99.99% of the time. I especially like it when a friend or family member wants something, and I know that they are loving and enjoying the item that was just taking up physical and mental space for me. And that helps me when I do donate things anonymously – I can more easily imagine that the ultimate recipient is benefitting from the item as well.

      There is a .01% of the time when I miss the thing I got rid of, and it makes me sad. I had a lot of “one of a kind” sentimental items that I inherited, and I chose not to keep all of them in storage forever. What helps me then is remembering that if I’d kept the item, it would probably still be in storage/on a closet shelf/neglected in some way, and also that no process is error-free. The only way to avoid any regrets would have been to keep literally everything.

      1. BellaStella*

        This is true. At Christmas last year I was prepping to move to the small studio I am in now… I gave away so much stuff – clothes, my grandma’s teacups (saved one, gave one to a friend, donated 10 and saucers!), etc. The one small thing I wish I had kept was a candy dish (worth maybe 3$) but oh well! Someone else likely loves t now.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        I love what Marie Kondo recommends when you’re getting rid of something (either garbage or donating). She thanks the item for its service and I just love that. It somehow makes it easier to let things go.

      3. ElastiGirl*

        I gave away a lot of stuff when I moved two years ago. I took photos of the things I wanted to remember (mostly artwork). I haven’t looked at the photos once, but I’m happy I have them

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I felt lighter and relieved. Whew. More space.

      Some relatives moved into their retirement home and were able to take their time and bring just the amount of stuff they really wanted. Lived with it for a bit and concluded they must not want the other stuff, so got rid of it rather than set it in boxes in the basement forever. That is the model I want to follow.

      1. BellaStella*

        Same! Today I have found one more paper grocery bag of houseware stuff I can give away! And I went thru all my paperwork and put another grocery bag of papers aside for shredding! I feel a lot lighter and better off to be honest!

    7. Elle Woods*

      A few years ago, I did a really deep clean on one of the closets in our old house. Among the things that I found and donated were my old prom and bridesmaid’s dresses, a couple of winter coats, a rug, a set of Corelle dishes, some silverware, a set of sheets, towels, and some of my husband’s old clothes that he no longer wanted.

      It felt so good to send the stuff off to someone else to love.

      1. BellaStella*

        Exactly this. I finally got rid of some stuff that honestly I had never used or used once and was so relieved to clear some space out and feel lighter.

    8. Aphrodite*

      I always feel great! Even when the things I take to the thrift store or post on my Buy Nothing group are things I am really reluctant to let go of, I find I almost never miss them or even recall what they were once they are gone. I say “almost never” because there was one time I’ve given away something and still regret it. (I cannot remember what that is right now or I’d name it.) But that one loss was more than made up for by all that stuff being gone. God, it feels great. And other people get to love those things–because they are/were good, sometimes new and unused–so they are where they should be, being used and loved by appreciative new owners.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      I nearly took a bunch of wedding gifts of the fancy china/linen variety that have never been out of storage to donation once, but in the end I couldn’t go through with it. At least it’s all in one place for Swedish Death Cleaning.

    10. Filosofickle*

      I spent two years chipping away at my extra stuff, literally hundreds of things, in anticipation of a move. Occasionally there’s a piece I regret getting rid of, but 98% of the time giving things away pays off. Personally I do mostly Freecycle/Buy Nothing, or donate to smaller organizations that provide direct community support for causes I relate to. It easier to let go if i know that someone truly needs or wants my item, and I like knowing who it goes to!

      I held onto an inherited fur for entirely too long — I wore it exactly once to a new year’s party then moved to a place where furs simply don’t work due to weather and politics. Fifteen years later, didn’t even fit anymore! But it was vintage and high-quality and what do you even do with a fur?! One day I mentioned it to a visiting friend, and she said if she had one like it she would swan around the house in it. So it went home with her. I have no idea if she ever wore it, I never asked. I was just relieved to rehome it! Also just got rid of my great-grandmothers spoon collection. Not a good collection, I didn’t know her, they had no place in my home, and yet I was hanging onto them out of sentiment. Now they are in the hands of a kind woman who loves antiques, which is a better fate than remaining in my dusty garage! (I slightly regret letting the New Year 1905 spoon go, but how would i display one spoon?)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I remember on Mad Men where the main characters went to the funeral of a fellow ad exec. They all talked about how great a father/husband he was because he brought his wife and daughter a commemorative spoon from each business trip. There’s a shot of said wife and daughter and you can tell those spoons were in the trash the second they got home from the funeral parlor.

    11. radish*

      I love throwing things away, it’s so relieving. But I do regret throwing away certain things, like from my childhood or from late family members.

    12. RLC*

      A number of years ago, after my mom passed, I donated virtually all her clothing and costume jewellery to a charity which provides job interview appropriate outfits at no cost to women escaping domestic violence. The donation coordinator was soooo excited-Mom’s clothes all size 6-10 and most unworn. By the time it was all sorted the coordinator and I were both in tears as they rarely get medium size, current style clothing, in great condition. (My mom’s sister survived domestic violence, and Mom always supported women’s shelters. Logical choice of charity.)

      1. BellaStella*

        This is a nice story. My mom’s clothes went to a similar dress for success type charity for women in need. Thank you for sharing with us.

    13. Kaleidoscope*

      you can keep the stuff and not use it some more or you can gift it to people (personally I do a lot of pass it on/freebie stuff) and feel good that someone somewhere wants and needs my items. like, my cat died recently so I gifted on some stuff we still had (play tunnel, play stick toy, a brush etc) to a mum who was supervising her kid with a kitten later that day.

      I helped to clear out my in-laws garage a month ago – items that weren’t being used went to a sewing club, my kids daycare, someone who had just moved, a kid moving into his own grown up room etc. my in-law grandparent is in his late 80s, I said look at the amazing places they’ve gone to instead of staying in the garage doing nothing.

  27. Berlin calling*

    I have two small-scale vices that I tend to spend too much on – buying coffee on the way to work rather than making my own at home, and getting lunch from a little cafe across the road rather than our (subsidised) in-house cafeteria.

    I want to give myself a weekly budget for these so I’m more disciplined, but can’t think of an easy way to track this. Are there any simple apps you’d recommend that would show me something like: This week, there’s still 8 euros left out of your 25 euro lunch & coffee budget? I know I’ll only stick to this if tracking it is easy and not too much effort. Thanks a lot for any suggestions!

      1. Berlin Calling*

        Thanks but that doesn’t really work since pay for both the coffee and the lunch is cashless.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, everything is cashless here too. I can’t actually remember when I last paid cash for anything.

        2. anxiousGrad*

          A cashless equivalent of this strategy could be to buy a Visa gift card with the amount of your lunch/coffee budget.

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      This is a tough one! Can you sub in some other kind of reward? New sparkly nail polish or an extra long nature walk on days you don’t buy the coffee?

      Is there a way to make the on-site lunch more enjoyable? You always sit with your best work pal or you read/listen to a book/podcast you are really into?

      My only other idea is to restrict yourself to one of these treats per day, not both, for a while, and then try to cut down from there so you only do four days a week, etc. Hope this helps.

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      This may not work for you but several years ago, I sealed a small box, decorated, and put a slit in the top to use it as a piggy bank. I carried some extra cash with me. And at the end of each day, if I didn’t buy the coffee or expensive pastry or whatever, I put the rough equivalent cash in the box. I think I did this for like 6 months? Then at the end I opened it up and used half of whatever was in there towards something more substantial. I donated half to charity which was a really big treat for me because this was at a time when my finances were so tight I didn’t feel like I could afford to donate.

      It was cool not knowing how much was in there until the end and then counting out the huge heap of bills. The exercise made quite tangible how small savings can add up.

    3. Forensic13*

      Is there a way to make it easier/more enjoyable to do these things the way you want? Can you make iced coffee the night before or have the hot coffee supplies standing ready to go? Do you enjoy the food at the cafeteria? Is there a way to make a tastier meal out of it? To make whatever you get from the cafe?

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        i was thinking this. I’ve stopped buying coffee out because of a good coffee maker (aeropress), a really nice travel mug, and “splurging” on good creamer (still cheaper than buying out)

    4. office hobbit*

      I don’t know about apps, but what I do is just record the expense on a note (paper or phone works) right after I purchase it. For a coffee, you can enter it while you’re waiting for them to make your drink. Then you have a record: Monday I spent 3 and 7, Tuesday I spent 4, that means I have 11 left for the next three days. Since it sounds like you only want to track within the week, something simple like this may be all you need.

    5. RagingADHD*

      If you always get the same or similar things, then you could give yourself a “budget”of uses rather than money. Or certain days of the week: Only on Tuesday and Friday, or whatever.

      Days of the week is probably easiest, because then you don’t have to track or check anything at all.

    6. fposte*

      Question from a different angle: is “too much” an amount that is cutting into other budget needs or is it just more than you feel you should? Because if it’s the latter, you could also own these as pleasures you find worth the money. Sometimes there are societal measures about “bad” spending that can shadow perfectly legitimate decisions.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        This was my thinking, too! If it’s genuinely cutting into other financial goals you have for yourself, then by all means look for ways to reduce it. But if it’s just a general feeling that you “shouldn’t” be treating yourself, maybe reexamine that? I remember Alison did an interview with a financial planner/money coach and she expressly mentioned a client she had who loved breakfast burritos, so she planned them into her budget and never had to feel guilty about it again. I definitely took that as an example when I set my own budget, lol!

    7. ronda*

      the app that comes to mind is ynab (you need a budget). it cost money, and is focused on tracking all your spending, so might be a little overkill.

      otherwise, maybe a notes app, like google keep?

      1. Roland*

        Yeah, imo a notes app is fine here since opening it and updating the total will take as much time as updating something in some dedicated app. Round all amounts to the nearest dollar to make it even faster.

    8. Aphrodite*

      Use cash only.

      Take out the amount of money you have determined ahead of time you want to spend each week. Put it into an envelope or jar or special place in your wallet.You can watch it go down each day. You’ll always know what you have left to spend and every choice you make will be a determined one and therefore a better one.

      1. Berlin Calling*

        Thanks to everyone – notes seems like an obvious answer now, thanks for nudging me in the right direction!

        Also thanks for the comment about actually needing to spend less vs. feeling societal pressure to not spend money on something “frivolous”. For me, it’s a bit of both – our rent went up significantly as of last month, but I’m lucky to still have money for little “luxuries” here and there. I think setting a fixed budget will actually help me enjoy these more if and when I do indulge.

    9. Part time lab tech*

      At one point I had a budget for two lunches/ 4 hot drinks a week ($20). I kept track of it loosely via both $ and events.

    10. strawberry lemonade*

      Highly recommend the app YNAB (aka You Need A Budget). It’s the “envelope” system but hooks up your credit card/ account so you can keep track of digital purchases.

      It definitely doesn’t work for everyone—you basically assign every dollar you have to some budget category, and every purchase comes from a budget category. I don’t use it anymore because my husband REALLY REALLY doesn’t click with it, but I found it incredibly helpful for a while.

  28. Anima*

    A few weeks ago (or months ago, what is time anyway) we had a thread about a thing you regretted not buying. I talked about some Roman replica earrings and guess what – I found them! Just waiting for the next paycheck to hit (so I don’t dive into my savings) and then they are *mine*.
    What is a thing you regret not buying?
    Or tell me you success story in finding said thing after the fact!

    1. Myrin*

      That was my thread (and really, truly, what IS time?) and I remember your comment. YAY for a success story, I’m so happy for you!

    2. Helvetica*

      A couple of weeks ago, I tried a skirt at a second-hand luxury goods store that was basically a print of Paul Gauguin and it was gorgeous. Unfortunately, too small for me.
      I foolishly did not take a picture of the designer name, and now the skirt is sold. The internet finally found the original for me, for of course double the price, and it was pricy even as second-hand, so I will forever miss it.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Hiking in a slate gorge and found a fossilized fern. I took the motto “take only pictures” too much to heart and left it for others to enjoy, rather than bring it home. Either someone else took it home, or it broke when more slate fell from the top of the gorge onto the piece.

      I love fossils, and this is one I found myself, and it was another example of too many goody two shoes instincts when I should have thought through outcomes.

    4. Hatchet*

      I’m so happy you found your earrings! (I’m a sucker for beautiful jewelry, especially earrings, so I totally get where you’re coming from.)
      Semi-regret – a few years ago I was in an antique store and found a gorgeous pair of pearl earrings, but they were way out of even the upper limit of my price range (and I really didn’t need them/wouldn’t wear them often enough to justify the price). I have yet to find them, or a similar pair, but I have fun browsing online to find something like them :-)

      Success – an incredible agate bowl at a different antique store. (Though in this case, it was less finding it after the fact, and more of not grabbing it when I first saw it. But I did go back and get it before we left the store.) It now sits on my sofa table and I continue to love it!

    5. Past Lurker*

      A gold ring several decades ago. I got the silver version and almost got the gold version too, but changed my mind at the last minute. Last time I checked, the gold version wasn’t available anymore. It would probably be outside my budget at this point, since the price of gold went up so much.

    6. Filosofickle*

      Years ago I saw a sculpture on display in a museum and fell in love with it. 5 years after that, on a trip to another state, I found some similar pieces for sale by that artist — not terribly expensive but I was broke and it felt irresponsible to buy. Regretted that for 10 freaking years! Not long ago on a trip to yet another state, I found a piece by that artist again and this time I brought it home with me. It delights me every day, 100% worth it. Seems so unlikely I kept running across this artist, but I did, and now I want more :D

  29. NeonFireworks*

    I’d like to hear stories about people deciding that something they thought they enjoyed doing had become a problem, for whatever reason(s). Did you cut down on the thing, or stop doing it altogether? How did you feel afterward?

    I’ve reached this point with a blog I follow. I used to enjoy it so much, but the content has slowly declined into clickbait, doomscrolling, gossip, etc. and I think I’ll be better off if I stop reading it. The amount of time I put into it isn’t worth it anymore. Intellectually this makes sense to me, and I’m enjoying not hearing about the vicious circle of drama and outrage for no reason. But my brain is crying out for that quick shot of dopamine and wants me to go back because what if things have become better as of today? (Spoiler warning: they never are.)

    1. Hyaline*

      What if you took a week off and started visiting the blog once a week? If you find yourself still enjoying parts of it, maybe it can just take up weekly rather than daily space in your life. And if you find you’re not missing it, you can phase it out completely.

    2. BikeWalkBarb*

      Oh yeah, phone games. I had one pointless one in particular that I excused by saying my brain works really hard all day in my job and I deserve to do something mindless. I don’t find most TV programs or movies fully engaging so I’d play while I watched with my husband. I could end up having the game open for a couple of hours. This spilled over into playing it at other times.

      I kept reminding myself that I genuinely felt crappy after extended play. The dopamine hits of racking up the free helper things, all the psychology they build into gamified apps, were definitely working on me during the game but not after–it felt more like a hangover, groggy and unpleasant.

      I tried restricting to weekends only but then I’d use part of a day playing instead of other things I wanted to get done. I do okay with 30-day challenges of various kinds so I set a goal of not playing for 30 days. I’d been tracking this in my journal in the “bad habits” section and it was satisfying to go day after day without using the red marker I’d assigned to it. At the end of the month I didn’t even hesitate; I deleted the app and never looked back. I really hate that every time my phone’s software updates it reinstalls a bunch of games. I quickly delete those.

      I like Hyaline’s suggestion of visiting only weekly. Gentle withdrawal might help, similar to my 30-day restriction.

    3. Squidhead*

      I made it inconvenient to get to a couple of sites from my phone (deleted the saved login/deleted the relevant app) so I can only easily check them from the desktop which I rarely use. Whenever I go back in, nothing has changed even if it’s a few weeks in between. I can visit out of idle curiosity without expecting any dopamine.

    4. Flower*

      I don’t go to live concerts anymore. Everyone in the audience talks through them! I really miss them.

    5. Jay*

      I used to play a couple of online games.
      They were innovative, fun, had great communities, etc.
      Eventually they ended up on life support, the people who made playing worth it wandered off, the innovative gameplay was patched out in favor of something more generic. Creativity was sidelined in favor of endless microtransactions and features that had been core parts of the game for years were now paid exclusives.
      I took a look around me and realized that I felt nothing but boredom and general misery while playing. All of the good things were in the past and very much never coming back. Just trying to have even a little fun was costing me money I couldn’t afford to spend.
      That’s when I walked (well, scrolled and clicked) away.
      These days I watch myself better so I don’t fall into that position again.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Comment section with a bully. I eventually realized that I was spending way too much time fulminating when the thing I could do was go somewhere else.

    7. HannahS*

      Tumblr. What happened was that I could no longer read any of the blogs without having the app, and I refused to install the app. So then I couldn’t use it anymore. Wow, I don’t miss it.

      1. carcinization*

        I used to look at it on my laptop and occasionally re-post art pieces or funny stuff or the like from people I followed. People were posting less and less so I looked at it less and less as well. I looked at it awhile back after not doing so for several months, and about 95% of my feed or whatever it’s called there was either advertisements or suggested posts. So I’m never looking at it again I guess!

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Soda at work. We don’t buy it at home, but we used to have a fountain drink machine in the break room that made it easy to grab “just a little” during a shift.

      Finally the ancient machine went the way of all things, and going downstairs to the restaurant for a soda is juuuuust annoying enough to give it a pass, except on weekends when I have a lunch break and treat myself.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        On a more extended note: I used to post on Television Without Pity and later the Bravo site after they bought it. I wrote a LOT; doing extensive posts about a couple of shows that people really seemed to like.

        But then I was asked to be a moderator and all the fun went out of it–the shows became more and more reality-leaning (not that those are bad but they aren’t my thing) and I had to monitor the boards for stuff I never watched. I never really understood what I was doing and it became this unpaid job that stressed me out.

        I finally quit, and felt ten times lighter. I still miss writing the fun posts, but not the rest, for sure.

        1. Midwinter*

          Oh I miss Television Without Pity so much! Even though I also stayed past the point of enjoyment. I managed to wean myself off of it in the move to Bravo.

          For things where I pulled myself away without an external nudge (crappy snacks, chronic lateness, and screen games) what really helped was noticing how I felt while doing them and after I’d stopped and had a chance to recover.

    9. Sloanicota*

      I will just say, I truly believed quitting twitter would give me so much of my time back – plus, it was a fairly high-stakes community where any thoughtless comment might end up taken out of context and you’d go viral for being a jerk. So when it Got Musked I stopped logging in, went through some withdrawal, and now that it’s practically unusable it’s probably been a year since I posted. However, I will say, it did not cure me at all of wasting time online. It turns out Hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.

      1. Zweisatz*

        In the book Laziness Does Not Exist the author pointed out that a certain amount of diddling around online is completely normal.
        It has made me more relaxed about surfing aimlessly. I just try to notice when it starts to feel excessive/like it’s ruining my mood.

      2. A Girl Named Fred*

        I did similarly – I took a month off of Twitter to reset how much time I spent on it, right before Musk took it over, so I just never went back. I miss that I haven’t found a decent replacement, but Twitter itself had started being bad for me.

        Also Instagram. I had never been into Reels, but I finally poked my head into them one time and before I knew it I was spending 1-2 hour stretches scrolling reels even while my brain actively screamed “I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS ANY MORE, STOP IT!” I finally deleted the app cold turkey (after another two hour session during which I was supposed to make dinner….) and went a couple months only checking my DMs once a week or so using the desktop app. I realized that I missed the “trade memes back and forth with friends” aspect, so I reinstalled it but have set a daily limit on my phone so it kicks me out after I hit a certain point. That break and the limit have been just enough to help stop me from going back to the endless scrolling habit, and I have my indie artists/creators and friend memes back now. :)

    10. kalli*

      I quit fandom because the people in my fandoms were not interested in the same things as me, and when I tried to keep my hand in in various other fandoms and events over time I kept coming up against unwritten rules I didn’t know about and the same kind of ‘you should do it like this’ and ‘how dare you be disabled and not able to engage like me’ that I’d pulled back from in the first place.

      I ended up replacing it with another creative endeavour, helped by not having internet for three months.

      The closest I get to fandom engagement now are places like here (where there is a high crossover due to demographic) and Reddit (where the demographic is different enough but also the communities tend to be much larger or super tiny, influencing the types of interactions) where I can limit exposure, there are different priorities or liberally block bad actors.

      I won’t say it’s the best decision of my life because it ended up not being a deliberate decision, just something I didn’t prioritise over other things when brown stuff started flying, but if I do wander past I find myself wondering how I put up with that kind of environment.

      So my suggestion is you replace that blog (which honestly sounds a bit like this one sometimes) with something else that fills the role that it used to have.

    11. The OG Sleepless*

      I stopped following a blog I had followed for years for similar reasons. I made myself just leave. It was SO hard for a few weeks, and then it got easier, and then it was just something in my memory that I associated with that period of my life but had nothing to do with me any more.

  30. Kate*

    Seeking suggestions for books by African authors!

    VERY IMPORTANT: should be cheesy, pulpy, and maybe even fun.

    For the most part, the internet keeps recommending the same pieces of Great African Literature. This is *great* for newbies who are realizing that the continent has a wealth of great authors with great stories to tell, but I have been there, done that, many times over with Chinua Achebe, Cry the Beloved Country, Americanah…

    Send me your recommendations for the romances, the bumbling spy books, the cozy mysteries! Not everything should be The English Patient, West Africa edition.

    1. Helvetica*

      “My Sister, the Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite – it is witty, unpredictable and superbly chilling in the terror of mundane things. Like, yes, it is about the main character’s sister who is the serial killer but the “regular” things that happen around them, to them, are much more disturbing and horrid.

      1. PX*

        I wanted to like this book SO MUCH (the premise is so good!) but I just found everyone a bit unlikeable in it alas. Although they were unlikeable in very realistic ways so perhaps the problem was that it hit too close to home (other than the serial killing lol).

    2. Teapot Translator*

      The only author I can think of is Sally Andrew (Tannie Maria books). I’ll be keeping a watch on this thread!

    3. BellaStella*

      No specific recs but a rec for many books: if on Instagram you can find the person @melanatedreader (C. Forte) she has loads of recommendations.

      Buzzfeed has an article called, 16 African Romance Novels That Are Bound To Keep You Warm And Cozy This Winter:
      1.Love Happens Eventually by Feyi Aina
      2. The Naive Wife: Rachel’s Choice by Ufuomaee
      3 you noted already
      4. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
      5. The Christmas Ultimatum by Unoma Nwankor
      6. Bound To Liberty by Kiru Tyler
      7. Imperfect Arrangements by Frances Mensah Williams
      8. His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
      9. One More Night by Rosemary Okafor
      10. Men of Valor by Kiru Taye
      11. Fine Wine by Emem Bassey.
      12. In Dependence by Sarah Ladipo Manyika
      13. A Little Bit of Love’s Magic by Bambo Deen
      14. When You Let Go by Unoma Nwankor
      15. Not Just Another Interlude by Lara T. Kareem
      16. Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

      1. Jessica*

        I read #16 too; it was interesting and pretty good though I couldn’t relate to the protagonist much, but I bet some other people would click with this book more than I did. However, I don’t know in what universe it’s a romance novel. I wouldn’t have described it that way in a million years.

    4. GoryDetails*

      I haven’t read this one yet but it sounds promising: an anthology called “Black Pulp”, “a collection of stories featuring characters of African origin, or descent, in stories that run the gamut of genre fiction”.

      And I just finished A Universe of Wishes, a speculative-fiction anthology featuring diverse authors – some very good stories in that one.

    5. Hyaline*

      Not cheesy, but good, original , weird (and fun!) sci-fi—Tade Thompson’s Rosewater books. (He lives in England now but grew up in Nigeria.)

    6. PhyllisB*

      I’ll have to check the author’s name, but if you like cozies, you might like Death by Chicken and Waffles and Death by Macaroni and Cheese. They’re humorous. However, if you do what she did and put a cast iron skillet into a sink of sudsy water to soak, I will have to hunt you down and hurt you.
      Another one is Real Men Knit. I have a couple more ideas but will have to check titles/authors and report back.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Oh, and how could I forget: The Number One Women’s Detective mysteries by Alexander McCall Smith. The author is white, but the series is about people of color in Botswana. Lovely books.

    7. Lady Alys*

      You could check out the “African Sci-Fi Looks to a Future Climate” episode of the “Imaginary Worlds” podcast for some author suggestions.

      1. vulturestalker*

        I loved this book! It’s not light or cozy, but it’s modern, sci-fi, realistic, fun.

    8. allx*

      Bassey Ikpi, I’m Telling the Truth Buy I’m Lying (Nigerian slam poet/spoken word artist’s essays on deciphering that she had bipolar disorder. Much of it fun, all of it beautifully written.)

      JM Coetzee (in order of favorites), (i) Diary of a Bad Year; (ii) Disgrace; (iii) Waiting for the Barbarians (and others) (well-written, possibly not altogether “fun” but certain themes/books may hit the “campy” range; Booker and Nobel prize winner, so YMMV if that’s not your thing)

      Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard (Written in 1950s, tells a folkloric quest tale of an alcohol addict who is rich enough to have his own personal wine-brewer, but the brewer dies, cutting his access to the wine, so the narrator follows him to Dead Town (afterlife/place of the dead) to bring him back. Some magical/supernatural elements and quest-based tests to overcome.)

    9. Jessica*

      I don’t know if you’re open to nonfiction, but I guess if you hated advice columns you wouldn’t be here, so… I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, by Luvvie Ajayi (2016), who is an opinionated Nigerian blogger. She’s funny and sassy and usually on point.

    1. BellaStella*

      Cleaning and donating stuff (see above comment), a day out at a spa, resting a lot.

    2. allathian*

      Celebrating my son’s 15th birthday, yay! I’m also enjoying the July heat, and our heat pump AC.

    3. chocolate muffins*

      Meeting an excellent, new-to-me novel (Home – I wrote about it above in the book thread). The warm weather and working outside on my porch. Connecting with a friend.

    4. Bethlam*

      BIG JOY (hence the capital letters): PET scan on Tuesday, Dr. on Wednesday, and I am officially in remission!

      Still need results of my bone marrow biopsy (small joy: it wasn’t nearly as painful as I expected), and still need my immune system to finish rebounding before I’m able to fully rejoin society, but I am thrilled beyond measure.

      1. Elle Woods*

        OHMYGOODNESS! What wonderful news! Congrats on being in remission. Keeping my fingers crossed what your biopsy results bring good news too.

      2. Once too Often*

        Hurray!
        Been thinking about you, & am just thrilled at your great news! Thank you for letting us know.

      3. Bethlam*

        Thanks everyone. I have a rare type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma that has been challenging to treat, so the last 6 months have been a series of ups and downs, with a questionable outcome, so getting good news was a huge relief.

    5. Elle Woods*

      I had bloodwork done this week to see how the changes my doctor had me make were working out. Good news: stuff that was too low was now well within normal range and stuff that was too high was now just barely outside the upper limit of normal. It was nice to know my hard work was paying off!

    6. BikeWalkBarb*

      Walking in the sunshine and feeling actual warmth.

      The garden bins I planted with greens are really going wild. I love cutting fresh leafies to add to salads.

      Taking myself out to lunch at a vegan cafe that makes the most wonderful comfort food! French dip sandwich (seasoned soy curls and mushrooms) and sesame slaw, yum. I got some of their mac/cheez to eat later and it’s so wonderful.

    7. Can't Sit Still*

      I’m working on downsizing. I donated two pickup truck loads of stuff and tossed quite a bit more. I feel like I live in a home again, instead of a storage locker. I still need to do some refinements, but I’m very happy with where I am this weekend.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Living in a home rather than storage locker resonates a lot for me. Good on you!

      2. Writerling*

        Awesome! Any tips on how to get started? A parent keeps telling me she needs my help selling some things (and donating the rest), but doesn’t get around to actually tackling anything yet.

        1. Zweisatz*

          I did like Mary Kondo’s book. Even if I don’t go by category of thing generally, it was both motivating to read and gave me concrete ideas how to tackle specific problems.
          Now I’m much quicker to throw out old unused stuff I come across in a cupboard or the pantry.

          1. Writerling*

            I love her book too. Maybe I’ll not so conspicuously leave it on her pillow… haha

    8. AGD*

      Had two wonderful catch-ups with friends. Also, discovered that a supermarket I don’t usually go to stocks a kind of candy that I didn’t think was still made!

    9. star*

      my crush kissed me! feeling all topsy-turvy with the possibility and uncertainty and definitely not like the grown ass person I usually think I am!

    10. Rara Avis*

      We went to the farmers’ market for the first time in months! Summer fruit is in, and I really enjoyed my drippy sweet peach with lunch.

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      My main joy is politically based, I’ll just say.

      Otherwise, Peanut cat seems over the worst of his barfing episodes and fully enjoying his food! It took a lot of diet updating and mealtimes adjusting to get him back on track but it’s worth it. He’s seventeen but with a terrific constitution and we want him to enjoy life as much as possible.

    12. The Other Dawn*

      I discovered we have a family of foxes living under our shed. There are four kits and an adult, which I assume is the mom. Or maybe mom and dad are there, and I just can’t tell the difference when I see them. The kits are adorable! They come out in the mornings and evenings before sunset to play in the back yard. They have so much energy, running around, chasing each other, wrestling, and playing. They also like to jump in and out of our barn window (it’s broken). Our neighbor enjoys watching them, too. He came over to tell us we have foxes living under the shed, thinking we didn’t know. He said the kits spend a lot of time playing out under the apple trees (he can see it from his yard, but I can’t from my house).

      We also have a gaggle of geese, which we have every year. We have three adult pairs, though we only ever see the goslings from one pair. They tend to spend their time going back and forth between my yard where there’s a small brook and a little pond, and the neighbor across the street who has a large pond in his front yard. I like to feed them deer corn and they have me trained. LOL. The minute I come out of the house, they race across the lawn or the street for me to feed them.

    13. carcinization*

      Went to the drive-in to see “Furiosa,” and the truck battery didn’t die! (The theatre does have a little rescue vehicle to jump people off, but it’s still a hassle when it happens.)

    14. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Sat in front of a deserted section of the beach and watched birds, and I successfully identified a laughing gull! That is, I remembered what the bird looked like well enough to find it again in my field guide at home.

      Usually, I am very bad at that (maybe the same issue causing my face blindness?), but this time, the bird’s markings were simple enough that I could hold them in my head long enough to remember them later.

      Sparrows, on the other hand, . . . . I feel like there are SO many different sparrows!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Ha, I’m the same with sparrows. I recognize the same three species I’ve known for years and have some kind of mental block for learning the others even after repeated help with identification.

    15. Chauncy Gardener*

      My son came home and helped me get LOTS of stuff done in the garden. Woot! Now I’m just in maintenance mode. Whew!

    16. Firebird*

      I had a nice lunch with my sister and we made plans to get together again. I come from a large family with many estranged siblings. She kind of disappeared from the family to avoid the nastiness. I eventually did the same, and we decided that we still want to be connected, even if we go low or no contact with the rest. I’m looking forward to having a sister again.

  31. An Omynous*

    Weird question for bird/wildlife connoisseurs (cw graphic description)

    I saw a dead bird (young I think, not many/big feathers) in a driveway with one hole in its torso (missing heart?). Do you know what animal would do that and leave the rest?

    1. Morning Reading*

      Not sure I know the correct answer, but, a book i read recently about the destructive environmental effects of the lack of large, apex predators, mentioned that one of the reasons domestic cats have such a devastating impact on bird and small animal populations when allowed outside to hunt, is that the tame cats hunt but don’t usually eat their prey. So they take the small things out of the food chain.
      Based on this, I’d guess a cat did it.
      The book was “Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators,” by Will Stolzenburg.

      1. An Omynous*

        True, cats are terrible for any ecosystem they’re not native to, but I feel like those they hunt for fun aren’t usually open? Either got killed by a bite or snapped bone? It’s definitely a possibility but we haven’t seen the “stray”/outdoor cat for a few years now so I’m more inclined to another type of predator…
        Thanks for the book rec! I’ll add it to my list

      2. Morning Reading*

        On the possibility of birds: something else I read recently mentioned that bigger siblings in the nest sometimes attack the smaller ones. Push them out of the nest before fledging or just kill and eat. Also, cuckoos in the nest get rid of their “siblings.” If the bird was very young, that might be it.

        1. An Omynous*

          Ohh yeah good point. Nature’s rough :(

          The adult (blue jay, I was right :( ) was staying close and vocalizing a lot this morning but I don’t *think* the bird was young enough to be pushed out of a nest. Then again I don’t know where it was nesting but the area I found it wasn’t close to any tree.
          I think Jay below is probably right that it’s another bird (a neighbor said maybe a crow).

    2. Hyaline*

      This is gross but as decomposition sets in bugs get involved and sometimes holes are from critters eating their way out, not in. It would be kind of unusual for a predator to manage a precision removal of an organ (most will eat an entire area of the body even if they don’t eat the whole thing—usually they start with the head).

      1. An Omynous*

        Hmm. I don’t think it was at the decomp stage yet, it looked… like a relatively fresh kill? No bugs on it aside a flew flies. And if it was in decomp I’m not how it would’ve landed where it wasn’t yesterday. Aghh.
        But yeah I’ve seen decapitated squirrels (or pieces) which was maybe a bigger bird (fox would’ve eaten it all, I feel?) but this is new to me…

        1. Squidhead*

          Watched a hawk consume a prey bird until almost nothing was left but it probably took 90 minutes. My guess would be a predator that got interrupted.

    3. BikeWalkBarb*

      A human. Any chance this was caused by someone with a BB gun? I can sadly imagining some kid killing it, then poking at it a bit out of morbid curiosity but getting called in for dinner before they could do a full post-mortem.

    4. Jay*

      A single hole in the chest?
      The most likely culprit, in my experience, would be another bird.
      It could be a territory thing, a competition thing, or a meal that got away only to die of it’s injuries later.
      Seagulls will do this to other types of birds, if they can. So will crows/ravens.

      1. office hobbit*

        Agree, I’ve seen a hawk do this (kill a prey bird and leave the body largely intact) twice. Not sure if the hawk got bored or was interrupted.

      2. An Omynous*

        Huh. Yeah a neighbor said maybe a crow, for some reason? I’m still :( about it, I forget nature’s brutal…

      3. An Omynous*

        Wait I forgot to mention, your name is very apt! The bird *was* a young blue jay :'(

  32. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    I saw a condo yesterday that I really liked but absolutely has a ghost or a curse or something, because it is far too cheap for the location & condition. The condo association seems rough around the edges (the basement is awful, they can’t tell me how old the roof is, they don’t keep minutes of meetings), but am I insane for considering making an offer anyway?

    1. just here for the scripts*

      Run away!!!! If they can’t answer your questions when you’re new and want to give them money, what do you think they’ll do when you’re less interesting to them/already a trapped homeowner?

      1. Elle Woods*

        Seconding this. You don’t want to find out the hard way why the place is too cheap for the location & condition.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Run! There is definitely a missing inconvenience they aren’t telling you about. IME the most popular one is noise (maybe a garbage truck comes every 4AM in the alley behind it. Maybe someone set up an unofficial garage next door and you get to listen to drilling all day. Maybe some neighbor loves parties that go on forever and the cops don’t care or the are technically within the law, “just” ruining every day until 9PM).

      Or there is some huge assessment for repairs a-coming

      1. Observer*

        There is definitely a missing inconvenience they aren’t telling you about

        Or a major safety issue.

        Or there is some huge assessment for repairs a-coming

        At least if they make the repairs that would improve whatever it is. The even bigger risk is that they don’t do it in time to prevent even bigger problems.

    3. Sitting Pretty*

      Yeah run. Condos are hard enough to manage and maintain even when you have a spectacular COA. I can’t imagine the nightmares you’ll face if you don’t have a well-run association.

    4. WellRed*

      Run. An organization that takes your money but can’t account for it is not one to give your money to.

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      Run! Run far and run fast! Too cheap means there is something seriously wrong, likely with both the COA and the building itself. No meeting minutes is a bad, bad sign. The COA is either hiding serious issues with the complex or their financial difficulties.

      If you are still tempted, get the financial statements and find out what the reserves look like, as well as the replacement schedule for the infrastructure. If you, for some reason, make an offer after that, do NOT waive any contingencies and get a thorough inspection done. You want someone who specializes in inspecting condos and townhomes, which can take a little longer than normal.

      But really, don’t do any of that and run like the wind!

    6. Venus*

      Cheap condos almost always have really high condo fees so you’ll end up paying ‘full price’ in the long run because your money will disappear into repairs.

    7. BikeWalkBarb*

      Run faster. If they don’t have minutes what can they tell you about the state of their financial affairs? You’re going to get a stinger of a surprise assessment when it’s time for roof replacement or some other major thing not covered by your dues because they haven’t been planning ahead.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Read up on the Champlain Towers condo collapse in Surfside (Miami), Florida. This is what happens when a condo association is so dysfunctional that it doesn’t take care of the building.

    9. Anono-me*

      The Financials are probably also a total mess, which 99.9999% of the time means huge special assessments.

      If you can not get it out of your head, go back with your realtor and find a friendly resident to talk to. (People like to brag and to complain about their personal bug.)

    10. Middle Name Jane*

      Echoing the responses here. Run! You don’t want to get tangled up with a dodgy condo association. There’s definitely something suspicious about why this place is priced lower. Keep looking, as tempting as the price might be for this condo.

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      DON’T DO IT. This is a classic “too good to be true” situation.
      Awful never improves.

    12. Filosofickle*

      I bought this condo once, and it was a mistake. When the association doesn’t have paperwork, maintenance info, or professional management — and, mostly likely, reserves — that leaves you incredibly vulnerable. Right before closing I got a hold of hidden paperwork and learned about major necessary repairs that should have made me walk away, but I didn’t. I remember my realtor saying the other owners wouldn’t let the building fall down but the reality is the other owners simply didn’t have the money to fix things whether they wanted to or not, and reserves were nearly non-existent. We got one big repair job done, and that required more than half the units to refi so nothing else was getting fixed for a long long time. I got out, but it was rough. (We at least kept minutes — not having minutes at all is a MASSIVE red flag. That means there is never any proof of what you’ve agreed to, and probably means nothing gets done.)

      I would consider a condo again, but only if it had stellar management, maintenance records/plan, and reserves.

      1. Observer*

        I remember my realtor saying the other owners wouldn’t let the building fall down

        I know that the realtor was not being literal, but this actually *literally* what happened to the Champlain Towers in Surfside FL (Miami).

        The building had massive structural issues and had gotten a report 2 years prior detailing the issues and what needed to be done, and the Association and residents dillied and dallied for all the same reasons and the building just fell down. Killed 98 people.

    13. Observer*

      but am I insane for considering making an offer anyway?

      To be very blunt, yes.

      (the basement is awful, they can’t tell me how old the roof is, they don’t keep minutes of meetings

      In other words, there is a good chance that there are a lot of*significant* issues with the building, some of which the board knows about but are hiding the evidence of.

      I don’t mean to catastrophize, but Google “surfside condo collapse”. 98 people dead, millions of dollars in losses. And although I don’t think there is a final finding of causes, we do know that the association was well aware of some of the relevant issues.

  33. A. Noni Mouse*

    TL;DR: Any suggestions on how to attach a fabric screen to the concrete base of a balcony?

    I rent a condo that was built in the 70’s and the balcony is definitely not up to code. That’s not something that’s able to be changed — the HOA simply will not allow modifications and while my landlord is great, he wouldn’t be interested in picking a fight with them. So I’m stuck with the balcony design I have. There is a 7 inch gap underneath the lower foot rail that the railing spindles surrounding the balcony attach to and the balcony itself. I have a young toddler (and a second on the way) and it terrifies me every time she plays out there because she could easily slip through that gap and fall. But she loves being out there and especially moving into summer, I want her to be able to enjoy the little outdoor space we have.

    The HOA approved a fabric screen that I’ve placed all around the rail, which I’ve zip-tied to cover the 5 inch gaps between the spindles, but I’m having trouble figuring out a way to attach the base of the fabric screen to the balcony floor itself. That means the screen can still be lifted up and the large lower gap exposed. The balcony is made of concrete, but has a thin turf on it. I’ve tried nails, which obviously didn’t work with the concrete. I also have tried a staple gun, but the turf isn’t solid enough for the staples to grip. I’ve tried 3M Command-like Velcro as well, but it can’t hold up to the weather.

    I can’t make any major modifications to the unit (which I think might include drilling into the concrete). I do remind my daughter every time she goes near the screen that she’s not allowed to touch it, but it still scares me to think what could easily happen in a fraction of a second. Does anyone have any ideas for how I might be able to attach the fabric screen to a balcony base of concrete/thin turf?

    1. Squidhead*

      Can you attach some long pieces of wood to the spindles so that they trap the screen? I’m picturing: the screen is long enough to cover the whole open vertical space, plus a couple of inches to fold and lie on the floor/turf. Lay a piece of wood in that 90-degree angle. Staple the screen to the bottom side of the wood with your staple gun. Zip tie the wood to whatever you can if possible, but if it’s stapled to the screen and the screen is attached to the railing at the top then it’ll be hard to lift up anyway especially if the wood makes a 3-sided shape (ie: the balcony perimeter).

      1. Squidhead*

        Imagine you are making baseboard molding out of the wood, but you can buy pine 1×3 and cut it with a handsaw.

    2. Sitting Pretty*

      The thing that makes me nervous about what you’re describing is that even if you do find a way to attach it, it’s not going to stand up to a determined toddler. It might give you a dangerous false sense of security. All I can imagine is somehow attaching wide planks of wood to the bottom using metal brackets drilled in from the outside and gripping the metal railing. Ugly but probably sturdier. Anything fabric or mesh or whatever is not going to be safe (my condo association doesn’t allow any screens, chicken wire, or fencing added to the balconies for exactly this reason).

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Did you try outdoor Velcro? It’s much sturdier than regular Velcro. I used it to attach solar lights on my fence and it has held up for more than 2 years.

    4. Morning Reading*

      With a similar issue with a catio, I put a row of bricks along the bottom. Too heavy for cats to push out of the way, but for a toddler you’d have to affix them somehow. I’m picturing a wide hem at the base of your fabric filled with bricks or big rocks. Too big for a toddler to move unless she is Pippi Longstocking.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        This makes me think of basic CMU cement blocks. You’d have to be sure they didn’t give her enough of a climbing opportunity to go up (sorry about the graphic nature of this).

        I’m wondering about a combination of Super Glue and stitching the base of the screen down to the turf with something pretty heavy duty like fishing line, seriously knotted and tied off every so often so even if your child got an end loose it wouldn’t open up much of a gap.

        You’ve probably already investigated whether this meets building code and whether your landlord and the condo association would be liable if anything happened. That kind of information could be mind-changing about the need to change the design.

    5. AGD*

      I’m a knitter, and what I’m envisioning is buying heavy cord and wrapping it around each spindle on the way to the other side, then turning around and going the other way, and repeating until the gap is filled. It might be pretty ugly, though, and securing the cord at the end could be a challenge and might require a bit of creativity. But maybe?

    6. I just really can’t think of a name*

      When we had baby gates, we zip tied a piece of wood to one of the bannisters at the top of the stairs, so that the gate could be screwed into the wood without damaging the banister. I’m wondering if you zip tied 1x4s (or something) to several of the existing spindles, if you could then attach the screen to the wood from floor to top? Ours was very sturdy – the zip tied wood did not move and a toddler falling into the gate it was attached to did not cause it to fail.

  34. Shopping Help Please*

    Maybe someone can make a recommendation about where to buy a particular item. I’m looking for men’s white handkerchiefs made from 100% cotton that are perfectly flat and that DO NOT have any ribbing on them. The only ones I can find all have ribbing

      1. Chaordic One*

        I see the ribbing sometimes referred to as “stripes” even though they are same color as the rest of the handkerchief. I mean the raised stripe-like patterns that are woven into the fabric of the handkerchiefs about an inch from the edge and about an inch wide themselves.

  35. Forensic13*

    I don’t think this counts as medical advice but of course please delete if so!

    Does anyone have any advice for strengthening fingernails? I have a bad nail-biting problem, so it’s always exciting when I grow them out. But inevitably they break once they’re a bit longer, and then I go back to gnawing on them. If they didn’t break as often, I would be more capable of leaving them alone.

    (No anti-nail-biting advice, please; it’s the ADHD and I can’t train myself out of being neurodivergent!)

    1. Elle Woods*

      I’ve had problems off and on with weak fingernails. Two things that have worked for me are CND’s Rescue RXx daily keratin treatment and Essie’s Hard to Resist nail strengthener.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        +1 for Essie

        I use Essie Hard To Resist – a clear varnish that makes my nails super strong. Also doesn’t show if it gets a bit chipped. I top it up every 5 days or so, when I bother.

    2. WellRed*

      I like a product called nailtiques ( drugstore) that layers on protein. They have a couple different formulas. I also like Sally Hansen hard as nails. It should protect your nails from breaking as easily. Also, it’s less tempting (?) to gnaw on nail polish.

    3. Liminality*

      Jello, biotin, etc…
      But really. The best thing I ever did for my nails was to get a little clipper and a small file for my wallet, for my bedside table, for my work desk drawer, etc…
      It’s the jaggedy edge that makes me attack my nails. Being able to immediately clip / file it smooth stopped the compulsive need to keep ripping it back down to the nub. And, as the tools are generally always accessible I can preemptively trim an individual nail that is starting to reach the ‘danger zone’ before it breaks.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Are you by any chance…me? I cannot leave a rough edge alone! I also carry nail clippers and files everywhere.

        As a bonus they occasionally come in handy as a tool if I need to cut or stab a package I can’t get open. Because of course I wouldn’t want to *break a nail* trying to get into something that’s packaged too robustly for the contents.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        That jagged edge! I keep a file in my bag just for those little snag-arrific bits.

    4. BikeWalkBarb*

      I’m writing down the products recommended. I generally have thin nails and one was damaged in a bloody door-slamming incident when I was a kid so it’s really hard to grow them no matter what. I end up with a few long ones, get all excited, then they start breaking. I finally trained myself to cut the others back to a consistent length when that happens because it’s like they’re dominos–when one breaks the others fall soon after.

      I’m a vegetarian now so I wouldn’t be able to use the idea of supplementing my diet with gelatin, but have you done that? I remember the ads for Knox Gelatin as a nail strengthener. I went looking for research and found a People’s Pharmacy piece I’ll put in a reply to this.

      They also note that nail polish remover can weaken the nails so if you do paint them with clear polish (which is one of the things I do), find a non-acetone remover.

    5. TPS reporter*

      bitter polish helped me stop biting initially. then to keep the nails decent I do a clear strengthening polish and also have a nail file in almost every room plus my purse and car.

    6. AGD*

      This is anecdotal, but my nails were weak and brittle for years before I rearranged my diet to include more calcium.

      1. just here for the scripts*

        For me it was protein—particularly fish. After spending 3 weeks in Japan in my early 20s, a lot of the thin/splitting nail problems were solved for a number of years. Also keeping them out of abrasive cleaning solutions (including vinegar ) .

      2. WS*

        Calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin B deficiencies all contribute to weak nails. So does iron deficiency, but usually not until you’re extremely anemic.

    7. Grits McGee*

      I found a generic b-complex vitamin (which includes biotin) did the trick to stop my nails from splitting. It also stopped my hair from breaking once it hit an inch or 2 below my shoulders.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I take biotin gummies and have noted improvements in both my hair and nails. Not suddenly Amazonian or anything, but definitely better.

    9. radish*

      Jojoba oil for health, do your own dip polish for strength. Biotin will do nothing for you, don’t waste your money.

  36. Rolling Stone*

    Do I need to keep giving a gift card to my older sibling when I travel across the country to visit them?

    For background, my sibling and their spouse used to live in a tiny house, so me and my mother would stay in a hotel when we visited them once a year. A few years ago, my sibling had to move to another state for work reasons and happily bought a much bigger house, which included a room they use as a guestroom. When we visit now my mom stays in the guestroom and I sleep on the couch.

    When sibling first moved, I sent them some gifts and a few hundred dollars in gift cards as a house warming thing. My mom sent them some gifts and a check for a couple hundred dollars too. The first time we visited them at their new home, my mom insisted we split a two hundred dollar gift card to send as a thank you for hosting us afterwards since sibling had to buy furniture/linen/whatever for the guest room.

    The next year, she wanted us to split a $100 gift card as a thank you for hosting us. We just visited, and she wants to do the $100 gift card again, but is also talking about us visiting at the end of the year because she’s “getting older and who knows how many years she has left.”

    I don’t have a well paying job and am getting stressed about how expensive the trips are, and then adding gift cards on top of it.

    I feel like we’ve already been generous with the gifts/money and don’t need to keep sending more. My mom insists we need to continue sending a gift card because sibling got a bigger house and we’re saving money by not having to stay at a hotel now, we eat sibling’s food while we’re there (nothing fancy, just easy meals like milk and cereal, sandwiches, spaghetti), and sibling is buying things for us to use while there (like board games that they use when we’re not there too).

    But we’re each spending about $700 for plane tickets and we each put out about $150 to pay for everyone to dine out a few times. My sibling has three dogs that they’re not comfortable getting pet sitters for or using pet hotels for, so they never visit us and are saving money in that way.

    If you were in my situation, would you feel sending gift cards after visits was necessary?

    1. WellRed*

      Not if you are also taking them out to dinner a few times while they are there. Can you visit less if it’s a financial burden?

        1. Rolling Stone*

          I could buy groceries, but then I wouldn’t be able to pay for dining out as well. (Buying groceries would be much cheaper, but I feel weird buying things they might already have or buying things and expecting them to make room in the fridge/freezer/pantry, especially if I couldn’t finish eating everything.)

          1. kalli*

            The key is to buy just fresh stuff as you want to make it – say if you want to make bolognaise for everyone from relatively scratch, you’d buy the meat/substitute, tomatoes, onion, garlic, maybe a bottle of wine and packet of spaghetti (or bag of potatoes w/e you’re doing with the bolognese), and use spices, sugar, pasta sauce and stock from the pantry.

            If you’re clearing a menu with the host/visitors to ensure it’s dietary-requirement-friendly you also have the opportunity to check brands and the pantry and pick up anything they don’t have, even if you get a smaller version for you to use while you’re there and then take home, or replace what you use by buying a new one for their pantry. You can also make do with pre-mixed alternatives, e.g. my dad is visiting his brother atm and his brother doesn’t cook, so my dad bought a jar of mixed spices instead of tins of individual spices, or for the bolognese above you could just buy a jar of pre-made pasta sauce and if there’s any over, use it for pizza to eat stuff up on the last night.

            They are usually still eating while you’re there, often with you, so naturally they’re going to need food. If it’s cheaper and less stressful for you to buy groceries and make food at home, especially if you enjoy cooking or you end up cooking together and hanging out, then just include them in it! And then you also aren’t limited to restaurant closing times, someone having to stay sober to drive home/public transport still running, having to buy and eat a whole restaurant serving etc.

    2. office hobbit*

      No. You’ve paid the cost to get yourself there, your sibling pays for the groceries or whatever to accommodate you. This is how my sibling and visiting friends and I have always done it. If you were crashing with friends while your real mission was to visit their city as a tourist, then the calculation would be different, but the goal here is to spend time with family. There’s no reason for the entire cost of that to be on you and your mom if your sibling is able to host you without it being a financial burden. (Of course, if your mom wants to give your sibling gift cards on her own, that’s fine! But that’s a mom thing, not a guest thing.)

      1. Rolling Stone*

        As far as I know, it’s not a financial burden on sibling. (They have a much better paying job than me.)

        1. office hobbit*

          Then you’re fine! Stop feeling you ought to give them gift cards. If I were in your sibling’s shoes, I would not expect or want them.

    3. Morning Reading*

      Never heard of giving gift cards to your hosts. Taking them out to dinner, or paying for a shared excursion, is standard. On the host side, I expect to feed and entertain guests to some extent and I decline offers to “pay me back” or pay for more than one outing because they have spent time and money coming to visit me.

      Perhaps you should suggest to your sister that she give you gift cards to offset your transportation costs. /s
      But seriously maybe they could use a credit card with points they could give you, or something like that to even up your visiting expenses.

      1. Rolling Stone*

        That’s a good point that we’re spending time to go see them! We have to spend time packing. It takes half an hour to get to the airport. We have to be at the airport two hours early. Then the flight is six hours. Then we have to walk through the airport and wait for our luggage. It’s kind of a whole day affair to get there and then return. Whereas sibling and their spouse just have to vacuum dog hair before we arrive and wash the sheets after we leave.

    4. BikeWalkBarb*

      No I wouldn’t. And your mom’s early rationale that they had to buy furniture and linens for the guest room? Unless these are dedicated for your mom’s use, they benefit from having those for other guests too. Families aren’t running hotels and you don’t need to leave cash on the pillow when you check out.

      Buying dinner for your host plus the cost of getting yourself there is more than enough. They’re choosing their dogs’ comfort over the option of traveling to visit you and bearing the expenses on their end so this isn’t a balanced equation. It gets more out of balance when you add a gift card to the travel and dining-out expenses.

      Your mom can do what she wants; she can’t make you do something you can’t afford. With her comment about how many more times she can make the journey she’s also guilt-tripping you. While it’s true, that doesn’t put money in your bank account to cover these expenses.

      Not giving your sibling money is not a reflection of whether you love them either, in case that comes up.

      1. Rolling Stone*

        You are correct that they have other guests besides us too. (And the spouse uses that room too. They take naps there because it’s darker on that side of the house when it’s sunny. It’s not a completely empty room–the spouse has various belongings in there.)

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      Relationships like this shouldn’t be transactional. I can’t imagine accepting a gift card or cash from my brother just for hosting him and his family. He hosts me when I’m in town. This is simply part of the social contract we have with our family. Unless she’s being put out financially from hosting you, I can’t believe this dynamic has gone on so long. Your sister, presumably, also wants to see her sibling and mother. She gets to do so without the airfare and travel time. When my brother comes here, I actually host him which never means accepting payment. Tell your mother you’re opting out of the gift thing and if she says you owe your sister, remind her that your relationship with your sister exists independently and outside of her relationship with her daughter.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      No, no you do not.

      I am still cranky about the thousands of dollars Mr T and I spent flying to visit his parents (including renting a car because they didn’t want to pick us up), even though we didn’t want to visit them at all.

      They didn’t eat lunch and didn’t feel like they needed to provide lunch for lunch-eating guests, so I learned to pack my own food. Mr T and I did household chores the entire time we were there, including Mr T vacuuming the closets because they didn’t feel comfortable asking their weekly cleaning lady to open the closet doors and vacuum. Mr T also cleaned out the litter boxes for the three cats and the area around the boxes, which, if you have ever had elderly cats, know what I mean.

      When people visit me, I do not expect them to pay me and would frankly be a bit offended. You are my guest. I will put you in a clean room with clean sheets (someone actually asked on Carolyn Hax, I think, if she had to change the sheets between guests), offer you a clean bathroom, and feed you. You have made the effort to come to my house and I am happy to have you.

      1. Rolling Stone*

        “Someone actually asked on Carolyn Hax, I think, if she had to change the sheets between guests.”

        Wow. It’s disturbing to think that there are people with guest rooms that do not wash sheets between guests.

      2. Esprit de l'escalier*

        I think it was Miss Manners, with the shortest (and only) possible answer to “Can I leave the previous guests’ sheets on the bed for the next guest,” namely, No.

    7. ronda*

      I dont think you need to. I would not for my siblings and I am now staying with one of them for 2 months a year :)

      but

      if your mother is so fixated on this, it might be easier to do it and not argue with her. or say, she can do it, but you can’t contribute.

      It doesn’t sound like your sibling is asking for this gift card, so no reason to be upset with them about this particular thing. But if it is hard for you and your mom to travel, you might tell them that you think it would really mean a lot to your mom and you if they sometimes they traveled to you.

      1. Rolling Stone*

        Traveling to see us isn’t an option only because they’d have to bring the dogs, otherwise that would have been greatly appreciated. I really hate the long plane trips. (They said they can’t take the dogs on an airplane, so they’d have to drive here with them. It’s about six hours to fly by plane, so I think it might take a few days to drive here!)

    8. RagingADHD*

      I have never heard of such a thing and would feel really weird about it. My sibling and sibs in law would refuse and look at me like I had a duck on my head.

      When we visit each other, the guest usually takes the host family out for a meal, or for a longer visit, chips in on groceries and helps with cooking.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Do you have the sort of relationship with your sibling where you can ask straight up what they would appreciate?

      Because I could see everything from “Hosting takes effort and money and I expect something to help out” to “Please don’t give me more stuff to deal with. We just want to see you.”

    10. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Maybe your sibling isn’t insulted at being paid for providing hospitality, since they have accepted these gifts, but maybe it’s bc they know it’s pointless to argue with your mother and really are not okay with it. You would have a better sense of that dynamic. But either way, you can stop giving in to your mother’s emotional blackmail on this issue. Tell her “If you want to pay Sibling to stay with them, that’s up to you, but I am not going to keep doing it.” Don’t give a reason, just announce your position and stick to it, nicely of course :)

      1. Rolling Stone*

        I’m sure they appreciate the gift cards since they are gifts, but I don’t think they expect the gifts. You point out that the gift cards are like “paying” them for their hospitality. I don’t think they expect us to pay them at all and thinking of it that way does make it seem very weird. Maybe I can explain it to my mom that way.

        (Hypothetically, if sibling and their spouse didn’t have dogs and could visit us, I can’t imagine my mom expecting any gift cards or gifts after their visit.)

    11. Still*

      1) It sounds like it’s a burden for you to visit again at the end of the year. Can’t your mum go by herself?
      2) This is so culture-dependent, but I firmy believe that if two people who live far away from each other want to spend time together, person A’s contribution is hosting, and person B’s contribution is the time and money spent travelling. Groceries and eating out can be split but there’s no need for a gift on top of that!

      1. Rolling Stone*

        Mom finds traveling by plane to be very stressful/scary, so I don’t know that she would want to travel alone. She also packs a checked luggage bag and a carry-on, both of which are crammed with stuff and actually rather heavy–I don’t think she could get the carry-on into the overhead bin or lift her luggage bag from the moving luggage carousel herself (I do it for her).

        I’m definitely going to point out that our “contribution is the time and money spent traveling.” If I’m going to pay for roundtrip airline tickets twice in one year, it ridiculous to expect me to pay for two gift cards too.

        1. office hobbit*

          Flight attendants and airport staff can help with the luggage problems, at least. It’s not uncommon for people to need help with their bags.

          1. Sad Texan*

            No, they don’t. It is not covered on their workman’s comp if they injure themselves by lifting a suitcase up to the overhead bin.

        2. Anono-me*

          Most airports will allow you to escort someone who needs a little extra help to the boarding area, but not on the actual plane. (Call your/sibling’s airport to find out how, but mine just needs me to ask at the check-in desk and have appropriate ID.)
          The heavy carryon may be an issue, as my airline specifically restricts flight attendants from helping lift. (It gets gatechecked if you can’t stow it yourself. However, typically someone stuck behind the person struggling to lift the carryon will help.) Maybe you can convince your Mom to do a little underneath carryon and max out the checked bag.
          When she lands, she can have a wheelchair attendant escort her to the baggage claim and then the waiting area if her health issues require it. Otherwise lots of airlines have skycaps will help from baggage to pickup.

    12. Anono-me*

      No more gift cards.

      I second all the people saying that receiving a gift card after hosting someone woild feel transacional.

      But also, it sounds like your sibling has a little bit of the ‘but this way is easier for me’ syndrome going on. In which case a gift card is definitely over the top. While it sounds like you like your sibling well enough, I think you would be happy with about 1/2 as many visits to see them. It sounds like the reason you go as often as you do is so that your mom can visit your sibling. I would say the $1000.00 + that you spend to shepherd your Mom to visit your sibling is a pretty d–n nice gift. Not to mention using up you vacation time and sleeping on a couch. Especially since you sibling and spouse can’t be bothered to visit your Mom and you. (Yes I know-they have dogs. I have had lots of dogs. Part of having a dog is figuring out how to do things and take care of the dog. Sibling could visit without spouse, while spouse cares for dogs. or they could hire or trade off with an in home pet sitter. Doggie spa.)

    13. allathian*

      No, I don’t think you should send gift cards anymore. Tell your mom that it’s a financial hardship for you.

      Why couldn’t your sibling visit you while their spouse stays at home with the dogs?

  37. Gyne*

    No, and I think you mom is being weird trying to rope you into giving your sibling money (or gift cards, whatever.)

  38. Pharmgirl*

    I usually bring a gift or gift card the first time I visit/stay with someone, but on subsequent visits I usually will just pay for a meal out with my hosts. They don’t expect anything but I feel like doing something for them would be a nice gesture especially if I’m saving on a hotel, food etc. So I think what you’re doing already with the dinner out is sufficient, but it would also depend on how long you and your mother are staying. It sounds like even though your sister isn’t spending money to travel to you, she’s still spending money on you while you’re there.

    1. Rolling Stone*

      We only stay for a few days, so not long. (My best friend’s Father In Law visits her family for six weeks each year, which she does not enjoy. I have to ask her if he contributes/gifts her anything for the long stay.)

      1. Pharmgirl*

        For a few days I think what you’re doing is great. If your mother wants to gift additional money that’s up to her, I don’t think you need to join in.

  39. Can't Sit Still*

    What tricks have your pets taught themselves?

    My youngest cat has taught me how to play fetch. When she wants to play, she gets her stormtrooper mouse (only the stormtrooper mouse, no others will do! Chewy has them.), brings it to me and spits it out into my hand. I then throw it for her as many times as she wants to retrieve it, generally at a dead run. Once she’s done, she drops the mouse where I can’t reach it and flops down. We both enjoy it immensely, although my older cats are confused. Neither of them see the thrill, nor do they enjoy it when she mows them down chasing her mouse.

    1. Animal worker*

      My cockatoo loves to play ‘catch’. She’ll pick up something lightweight – anything from a small toy, to a sock, rolled up paper, whatever – and toss it ‘towards’ me. I catch (or retrieve) it and toss it towards her feet and she will pretty much keep doing it as long as I will. It’s pretty hysterical, she gets very excited and wound up. She definitely invented it/taught herself.

    2. Morning Reading*

      My cat fetches too! I think he discovered it as a kitten; he does it less frequently now that he’s almost 2. A specific type of sparkly ball, no others wi