Drop-in Guests

by Grace aka costofcollege

Imagine that a friend is in your neighborhood and decides to stop by your house for a quick hello. Since it’s a last-minute thing, they may or may not call or text you ahead of time.  Is your home visitor-friendly, clean and clutter-free?  What is your reaction?

A)  My house is a mess and I’m in the middle of a million things that have to get done, so I’ll tell them it’s not a good time.  Please just go away.

B)  As I open the door I’m trying to manage a smile to hide my annoyance at an unexpected guest.  I hope they don’t stay long.

C)  I have a ton of things to do, but they’re not more important than a chance to catch up with a friend.  Mi casa es tu casa, anytime.  What a nice surprise.

Now that the visitor is at your house, what snack or drink will you offer?  Do you have a stand-by stash of snacks to offer guests?  Or do you figure offering refreshment will only encourage this kind of uncivilized social behavior?  How often do you get unexpected visitors?

What about the kids?
When my kids were younger, neighborhood friends would sometimes drop by unannounced.  But now there’s usually texting before FTF visiting takes place.  However, it’s not unusual to have a group of teens converge on my house at the last minute, and it can be a challenge to feed them.  Seltzer, popcorn, cookies, nacho fixings, and boxed mac-n-cheese are easy to keep in the pantry.  Take-out pizza is almost always welcome.  What do you feed young guests?


194 thoughts on “Drop-in Guests

  1. We have the elementary aged kids over routinely. I will serve whatever fruit or vegetables are on hand. Smoothies are popular. This is the standard snack rule for our house. Anyone who wants to stay for dinner can. They will get whatever the family is having. I am curious to see how it works with teen kids, so will be following this thread closely.

  2. 1. (C) I stopped caring what the house looks like once I realized I never judge other people for what their houses look like when I’m there. If anything, I’ve been to dinner parties or drinks or meetings or whatever in messy houses and thought, Wow, good for them to not care at all. Same with parents who let their kids go out in crazy outfits. More power to anyone who doesn’t waste an ounce of time worrying about that kind of thing.
    2. I used to keep frozen pizzas on hand for when kids dropped by. Now, I just order Domino’s delivery. Or I send them out to buy something. DS has a “NOTgirlfriend” who lives across the street. She orders Jimmy John’s for both of them from her place, walks over here, meets the delivery guy at the door and brings the food in with her. Love this girl.

  3. Since it’s a last-minute thing, they may or may not call or text you ahead of time.

    I can’t envision any scenario where someone would drop by first without txting unless it was the most dire emergency.

  4. Varies between 1B and 1C, depending on what I’ve got going on. Usually I am more than happy to chat, and I’d like to think I’m a friendly person. But the reality is that when I’m trying to focus on something, I don’t like getting thrown off-track, and there are days/times I just need to get stuff done before a call/getting the kids/leaving for the dr’s/etc. So I’m not always as nice as I’d like to be if I could get my head out of my own stuff.

    Food is no problem. There are snacks aplenty in the cupboard/fridge, and a bakery a block away. And it’s a rare dinner when I don’t have extra food planned, so everyone just eats what I made and is polite about it. Only issue would be allergies, but the one friend whose son has severe nut allergies always brings his snacks and never leaves him anyway, and meals are either eating out or takeout, so it ends up not being an issue.

  5. A parent – I served snacks like you do, when they were little. Now, I just let them have free reign in the kitchen. We always have a bowl of fresh fruit and 2 crisper drawers of veggies. Two of them will always raid the crisper for fruits and veggies first when they have friends over. Another will ignore the crisper but bring out all the cans of peaches from the pantry and hand out spoons to the guests. But, both of the crisper raiders will also bake an entire box of brownies or a batch of cookies, and those will get eaten along with the fruit. The tinned peaches guy will also order pizza. Another will make mac & cheese.

  6. CoC, are you using “seltzer” as a generic term for soda? I think of seltzer as the clear flavorless fizzy stuff used in mixed drinks and I can’t imagine teenagers wanting to drink it.

  7. I think of seltzer as the clear flavorless fizzy stuff

    You use it to water down the orange juice you server with the selection of dessert tomatoes and cookie halves.

  8. Yes, our kids and guests drink seltzer all the time. Most of the time it has a tinge of flavor. They would probably choose soft drinks over seltzer most of the time, and we also serve those.

    “Now, I just order Domino’s delivery.” — The most horrible pizza in the world, but the kids do seem to like it.

  9. “As I open the door I’m trying to manage a smile to hide my annoyance at an unexpected guest. I hope they don’t stay long.”

    This is me. DH used to see neighbors walking down the street and randomly invite them over. I put a stop to this. : ) Now he checks with me first.

    For adults, we always have wine/beer, cheese, sausage and crackers. For kids, its usually milk and Oreos or soda and chips. Risley: NEITHER of my kids would ever dream to serve their friends fruit or vegetables! I will usually order pizza if we’re having kids for dinner. They are usually so picky that pizza is the easiest thing.

  10. “But, both of the crisper raiders will also bake an entire box of brownies or a batch of cookies, and those will get eaten along with the fruit.” — Yeah, that. My voracious teen has also become pretty self-sufficient in feeding that voraciousness. Her afternoons with friends most typically involve shutting themselves in the kitchen with the music blaring while they bake brownies or cookies. Multiple birds, single stone.

  11. I will usually order pizza if we’re having kids for dinner.

    Finn is going to be all over that comment.

  12. There’s usually one or two kids that will take fruit from the bowl or eat carrots from the fridge, but most of the kids avoid that stuff.

  13. Our visitors are mostly elementary age kids so we mostly have fruit, yogurt, or granola bars and those visits are usually planned. For sleepovers it’s almost always pizza for dinner. My daughter has one friend whose mother is Italian and she always asks for either fruit or wants nothing, not a big snacker and she has another friend who always wants pancakes for snack (which I usually have in the freezer). DD loves going to her best friend’s house because her mom stocks the best snacks.

    I don’t mind unannounced visitors but always feel it’s necessary to apologize for the state of my house. We’re generally neat people but even I can’t be bothered to pick up all of the toys every day.

  14. “Now, I just order Domino’s delivery.” — The most horrible pizza in the world, but the kids do seem to like it.

    Blackjack is much worse.

  15. Because of where kids’ friends live and that none of them can drive yet, none ever show up unnanounced. They will call/text at a minimum. Other than two people in our neighborhood, they would call/text first, again because it would be a wasted trip if we aren’t here. The two in our neighborhood are welcome regardless of what the house looks like and they do not expect to be served anything. We often have a fairly bare pantry/frig/freezer.

    Our house is usually about 15 minutes away from “presentable”, not the clean it would be if we new the day before they were coming. With a call or text 15 min in advance, we can do a quick tidy-up and an adult can make a quick trip to the store for food/drink if needed.

    We have several friends who will not answer their door if you have not called/texted first.

  16. We feed pizza to DS and his friends–given the quantity that they eat, we go for the cheap stuff. Generally with soda, although we do splurge on Izzes. And with what DS and his friends call my “brownies of magical deliciousness “. To clarify, They are not magical in the way that Denver and Rocky could serve them.
    I’m happy for people to stop by any time as long as they don’t go in the kitchen.

  17. We RARELY have kids over – if they GTG with friends our nanny arranges it usually so I don’t see the kids bc I’m at work. Otherwise it is a whole family coming over on a weekend or something – always planned in advance.

    We have one neighbor family in which the mom/dad and some/all of the kids will stop by, but they always call first. If we did have people drop in unannounced, I would be most like option C.

  18. Risley I kind of like that Domino’s “artisan pizza” too – the one with the veggies and “salumi”(hanging head in shame).

  19. Ditto on the cheap pizza. We usually go for Pizza Hut, which we actually enjoy. For drinks, everyone usually prefers Gatorade, water, or chocolate milk. As long as they stay away from my Diet Cokes, it’s all good.

  20. If kids stay for dinner here, they eat what I’m making.

    Which will be ZOODLES tonight btw — zucchini turned into noodles with my new Spiralizer! The Lady is all about spiralizing veggies. I’ve planned an entire week and weekend of spiralized things – zucchini, summer squash, carrots, etc. Wahoo!

  21. veggies

    You know how some people hate the word moist? I hate the word veggies. Something about makes my skin crawl.

  22. Rarely do we have adults drop by who want to actually come in just to chat. One set of friends down the street maybe, but for them mi casa es su casa; no guilt or explanations re the state of being necessary or expected by anyone. Almost all of the time people are coming by to drop something off or pick something up. Maybe they’ll come into the foyer for a couple of minutes at most.

    Kids a plenty over the past few years once they got to driving age. We just asked ours to let us know if someone or more was/were coming over. Not that we’d do anything about it since there’s always plenty of chips/pretzels/cookies/soda in the house and we figured their houses were as neat (messy) as ours and they really didn’t care anyway. Lots of times they’d stop at Chipotle/Moe’s/local quality food place before getting here and bring their own. If we knew a bunch were coming over, like to just hang out and watch a hockey game on TV we’d order a sheet pizza for them to have during.

    With only the 15yo at home now the kids have to be driven everywhere so it’ll be another year or so before things return to the above.

  23. Pizza Hut just narrowed their delivery guidelines to exclude our house and they were, I think, the last place that delivered here. I had an unfortunate 90 minute carry out experience there a couple weeks ago.
    So I suspect I’ll be stocking frozen goods from Costco in a few years.

  24. We rarely have had this happen and it being NYC, we often simply say, “Great! Glad you’re in the neighborhood. Why don’t we meet up at so-and-so [restaurant, bar, coffee shop]?”

    My home is not fit for guests, other than family who are inured to the mess.

    We’re not yet in the “friends of kids stopping by/hanging out” stage, but are taking mental notes for future reference.

  25. I know there’s still a bit of a conversation going on re SAE @ OU on yesterday’s post, and I am not trying to hijack this one, but in the spirit of “experienced parenting” I want to post this:

    1) thanks to Rio for her post at 959 today on yesterday’s thread
    2) I took it to heart and plagiarized most of it and sent it to my two college kids:
    Re: SAE at OU
    “I am sure you both have heard about this; if not google it.
    Taking parenting seriously without accusation or insinuation, my observation:
    Alcohol and peer pressure can make people participate in awful things. Most of those guys probably don’t think of themselves as racists but went along with something horrible trying to fit in. And how if they aren’t careful something similar could happen to them. Maybe not racist chants, but perhaps vandalism. Or the plethora of other life-altering bad decisions 18-20 year olds can make.
    Enjoy yourselves, but remember there are often unforseen consequences to what some may think are “innocent pranks.”
    Love, Dad

    3) Here’s what I got back from them:
    “got your email. I get it.” via text from the one who is actually in a frat
    “Thanks for the email. I try to keep myself in line even when I’m involved in a large group but I understand I need to be careful.” via email from the other who attends a school known by some for being a place where a good party is never far away. Love,

    Communicate with your kids.

  26. DD had quite a few gatherings when she was home for Christmas break. I usually keep inexpensive stuff around for this purpose: a big jug of salsa from BJ’s,. chips, microwave popcorn, pretzels, bottled water and a couple of gallons of Arnold Palmer, etc. If they want pizza, they usually pool their own $ and have it delivered. What took some time getting used to was spur of the moment gatherings, usually at night, with a bunch of kids that I’ve never seen before traipsing through my house. We laid down a few ground rules and we got passed that: if it’s someone I haven’t met before, I want to be introduced. I need couple of hours of advance warning that she wants to have friends over, and the party needs to wrap up by 11 on weeknights, especially if they’re outside hanging around the fire pit because that can get loud.

    When the two DSs are heading to a friend’s house, I’ll sometimes give them something to take over with them like Arnold Palmer, a snack, etc. I’m still amazed at how much teenagers eat.

  27. Thanks Fred. That is a great idea; it really never crossed my mind until you mentioned it.

  28. I rarely have unexpected guests so c) in my heart, but maybe b) in my head sometimes. One time I thought a mom was going to drop off her kids, but she stayed during the playdate and that screwed up my afternoon plans.

    I would stock up on guest snacks, but I think my DH would just eat it all before anyone stopped by. I guess I could get stuff he doesn’t like!

    I hope my DS and his friends want to hang out at our house when they get older.

  29. Risley, I want to make zoodles! If I just use a mandolin (or did we decide it was mandoline?) slicer, do you think that would work ok?

  30. Does anyone else use spaghetti squash in place of pasta? It really comes out amazingly well.

  31. Can anybody help with a little travel workaround? Nanny is taking parent (from out of country)to Las Vegas. It seems that all of the big, cheap hotels require the registering adult to be 21 – Nanny is 20.9. Parent does not have a valid credit card, so cannot be the registering adult.

  32. Parent does not have a valid credit card, so cannot be the registering adult.

    Not even a debit card or a prepaid card?

  33. Ada – how much lead time do you have? Can you add the parent as an authorized user on your credit card, so they can register? Probably you need a week.
    Typically, and I know this because I have added my college kids to my VISA cards, the account number and the 3-digit code on the back are the same on all cards on the account, so while you wait for the card to come in you can make the reservation with your card.

  34. We have one neighbor who stops by – usually bringing in an ethnic home made snack. We do the same – bring a home made something to her house. I forget how the exchange started. We don’t keep count otherwise it’s too much of an obligation to cook up something. Other than that, most neighbors chat and catch up outside their houses as they run/walk their dogs, except for a few who are closer and hang out together.
    The neighborhood is big on different houses handing out popsicles in the summer. I tried to buy the fancy popsicles but it seems that the plain ones will do. It is sort of an unwritten rule to stick to popsicles (otherwise you would have at least ten kids wanting a snack) and a few kids do back home to ask whether they can have one, if it is close to dinner time the answer is no.

  35. Even if this is his/her only trip, sign them up for the frequent stayer program. Might result in a room upgrade or free Wi-Fi.

  36. Fred — that might actually work.

    Rhett — shocking, but according to the nanny, no one from her country has cards for daily use (at least among the middle class). When she flew to the US there were many on her 6 hour flight (including self) who could not purchase any food — the “cashless cabin” is not a great plan for flights from a cash-economy.

  37. Add parent to nanny’s credit card. Have the credit card sent to the nanny’s address (assuming it is not the same as parent’s). As soon as the parent is added to the card on the phone, the nanny should be able to register.

    Otherwise, put the adults bdate on the nanny’s name. It will all be “legal” when they actually check in.

  38. “Finn is going to be all over that comment.”

    Thanks to you, it’s not necessary.

  39. Fred – you’ve always reminded me of my Dad. In a good way.

    Adults don’t drop by uninvited. Maybe the closest we get to that is someone picking up their kid, and we end up talking for a while. As for kids coming by on their own, it’s only started just a little with some neighbors, and it had never occurred to us that we should stick certain foods for that purpose.

    I’ve found a nice compromise between Coke and flavorless seltzer. I buy the seltzer and add a little of the sugared syrup, usually vanilla flavor. It makes a very light cream soda.

    We also get the LaCroix brand cherry lime and the coconut flavored seltzers from Target.

    I don’t do artificial sweeteners because they taste like pool water chlorine to me.

  40. RE: drop ins – don’t really have that here. I could offer coffee or water. If someone else is going to join us for dinner, I need to know in advance. I hate leftovers and I hate wasted food, so each meal for the week is purchased and planned for on Sunday. I am AMAZED at people who have extra meals around their house, just in their fridge. So foreign to me. If kids are having friends over I shop for that – transportation problems mean there are no drop ins of the kid variety. I also don’t get how people seem to need to be fed and watered all the time. Every gathering has to include food and beverages. I went to a meeting at 9 am and there was coffee, donuts, bagels and fruit like we didn’t all just have breakfast.

    Fred/Rio – perfection and right on. It is easy to let yourself do things you wouldn’t normally do that upon further reflection you would like to take back. I have to say, I am glad to see that the reaction to this is so swift and unanimous, but I sure wish the response to threatening/assaulting women was as enthusiastic. I seem to think it took many months for anyone to respond to those jerks at Yale who chanted “No means yes and yes means anal.” Funny what a difference a video makes. Like if something isn’t on tape, it didn’t happen.

  41. ” If I just use a mandolin (or did we decide it was mandoline?) slicer”

    Mandolin slicer = bandsaw

    A mandoline is typically used to slice food.

  42. “Does anyone else use spaghetti squash in place of pasta? It really comes out amazingly well.”

    Yes, it does, and from a nutritional standpoint may be superior, especially relative to pasta made with refined flour.

    I used to do this, but haven’t done it for a long time. I don’t usually see it at the places where we do our grocery shopping.

  43. I think pretty much any Walgreens or CVS sells these and you don’t need a SS# or anything.


    Convenience of a nationwide MoneyGram reload network (more than 30,000 agent locations in the US)

    ID options for customers without a Social Security Number (foreign passport, national ID, including matricula consular or cedula)

    Worldwide access to the Debit MasterCard network, including more than 900,000 ATMs and millions of merchant locations

    The ability to make purchases online or over the phone

    I’d call the hotel and make sure they accept them. AFAIK as long as they can put a hold on the card for the room and $100/day for incidentals as long as the prepaid card authorizes those charges they should be fine.

  44. When I was in college, I cooked a lot and there seemed to always be extra people around. Instead of 2 there were usually 4-6 people. I eventually began cooking for 6, which meant sometimes we had leftovers. We had a basket in the hall with a little sign that said in a cute way, if you are eating here you need to contribute to the food budget, your dinner isn’t free. In general, the contributions paid for slightly more than the groceries. Though one day, I came home and found a dozen farm fresh eggs and a loaf of homemade bread next to the basket.

  45. This conversation reminds me of my colleagues with college age kids at the local university. Some of my colleagues wind up buying groceries for post-finals movie parties. As one guy commented, “They come and eat my groceries and watch my TV and drink my beer.” But the parents don’t really seem to mind, because it’s [mostly] only after finals and they like getting to meet/know their kids’ friends, and having the party somewhere OTHER than the college student dorm/house/apartment means people who still have finals/projects can focus on work.

  46. I can’t stand spaghetti squash in lieu of pasta. Ruins perfectly good sauce. BTW I also tend to hate all those “good-for-you” pastas (i.e. whole wheat, the kind made from vegetables — I don’t mean the artisan spinach fettucini or traditional tri-colore that have been around for eons — I mean the recent additions). I’m not picky about brand, but just give me regular pasta, dried in a box, quasi-fresh from the refrigerated section, or really fresh, either homemade or from the specialty store.

  47. One advantage and disadvantage of living on a high floor in a secured apartment building- no one is ever around to just “drop by.”

    This discussion makes me nostalgic for the dorm days of college and everyone leaving their doors open.

  48. Risley, I’ve been so close to buying a Spiralizer, but then I resist out of concern for adding another appliance that will get very little use. Now you’re comment has me thinking about it again . . .

    I like spaghetti squash prepared simply with olive oil, lemon, and Parmesan cheese. I use Martha Stewart’s whole squash roasting method because trying to cut it first is almost impossible for me.

  49. hate all those “good-for-you” pastas (i.e. whole wheat,

    Oh, I totally agree. That’s just gross. But, I really do like the spaghetti squash.

  50. Thanks for sharing your emails, Fred. It is so easy to get caught up in doing dangerous and harmful stuff.

  51. Rio- My neighbor occasionally stops by (and I’m in a condo). Even better, she lets my kids visit her and gives them stuff to do (crafts, board games, etc.). She’s a little like another Grandma, but without any real obligations to us or the kids. We try not to take too much advantage of her.

  52. EUR/USD is down to 1.05. Anyone else thinking of pulling the trigger on trip to Europe?

  53. @Rhett – we actually just got back from Europe. I changed jobs and negotiated 2 weeks of vacation. We usually do a trip to FL to warm up, but took a look at the weather (which was not great when we were thinking of going) and decided to spring for Europe. It weirdly worked out to be very similar pricing.

  54. Rio, it is funny that you think that about apartment buildings because I ALWAYS used to just ring my neighbor’s bell as a drop by child. I grew up in apartment buildings, and my first home with stairs was in college. No ability to text in the “old” days, AND busy signals on the phone due to no call waiting. No call waiting, and no text = drop by. We sometimes played in the hallways until someone yelled at us. NO arranged play dates, and there were very few after school activities and sports as compared to today, so were often running in and out of each other’s apartments in the bad weather.

    I never had the type of arrangement as an adult that they had on Friends, but I definitely knew some of my neighbors when I first moved into the same apartment building in Manhattan as several college friends. I still know a lot of people in the apartment buildings that my parents live in now.

  55. “I like spaghetti squash prepared simply with olive oil, lemon, and Parmesan cheese. ”

    And garlic.

  56. The Spiralizer is so much fun! I just returned home with my DD and DSD and DD’s friend. We did a big Spiralizing event and ended up with this fantastically colorful collection of bowls – carrots, zucchini, summer squash, beets. Or Coodles, Zoodles, Squoodles and Boodles. They are beautiful!

    The kids had a blast making these. I’ll make a sauce tonight and sautee the oodles of various sorts. I’ll also do some regular pasta and kids can mix that in with the Voodles (vegetable noodles). DH and I will go all Voodles and kids will end up w/ a ratio of some kind. I think these will be less mushy than spaghetti squash. I’ll Spiralize the onion for the sauce, just because.

    Tomorrow, I’m doing Poodles (potatoes).

  57. Interestingly, the Spiralizer creates a core with an attached end, of whatever you’re Spiralizing. We had a plate of what could only be described as “vegetable penises.” DH walked out of the office and into the kitchen, was offered vegetable penises, turned on his heel and walked right back into the office. Smart man.

  58. Tangent, perhaps for Ivy: We’re visiting my parents and flying back out of O’Hare the Wednesday after Memorial Day. Due to frequent flier tickets/airline changes after we bought our tickets, Mr WCE has to leave with the twins about 7 hours before I leave with DS1 (8) and Baby WCE. Is it reasonable to take DS1 to the aquarium (or possibly Museum of Science and Industry) and take public transportation (L?) to O’Hare with a Graco stroller and carseat? DS1 can hold the baby if I have to carry the stroller up/down stairs. Any recommendations for an 8 year old who has never visited big city museums? Any safety concerns/cultural concerns about nursing a baby in public at a museum?

  59. Vegetable penises is a culinary option I should avoid right now… we have enough of that sort of discussion at the table already.

  60. On the SAE thing, DS came home for lunch and brought this up. I told him exactly what some of you had said earlier — that this sort of thing can happen w/ teens and booze and a group mentality — and warned him to really watch for this and make sure he doesn’t get sucked into this kind of thing when he’s at college.

  61. Our couch has (mostly folded) laundry all over it and there’s some other clutter so we wouldn’t be ready for drop-in guests without at least a few minutes to bundle it into the bedroom. However, we do always have plenty of beer, wine, or those Pellegrino fruit sparklers around, and things like cans of mac nuts or cheese straws that we can open. It would be very unusual for an adult friend to drop by without notice and be prepared to stay and chat, though — showing up just to drop something off, occasionally, but dropping in for a visit, doesn’t happen. Kids will sometimes show up, and I have stopped worrying about what they think of the state of the house. We do have food around for them, but they’re mostly not here to eat.

    In the U.S. generally, I think that dropping by a friend’s or neighbor’s place without prior arrangement is less socially accepted than it once was, although I’m sure there are exceptions, especially where you have a lot of people at home during the day (SAHPs or retirees, for instance) and houses are close together with sidewalks. There were social rules a hundred years ago or so about when it was appropriate to call on someone (in the afternoons, typically, and it might be that people would have a specific afternoon or afternoons as their “at-home” days when callers were welcome — so the visiting card would read “At home Tuesday and Thursday” and afternoon was understood). This would allow the lady of the house to get some housework done in the mornings and to run errands or pay calls on other people on the off-days, without fear that the minister’s wife would drop in for a chat while she and the hired girl were in the middle of laundry day. My understanding is that this practice gradually faded over the next fifty years or so.

    I think our problem nowadays is that with both halves of a couple working outside the house, the evenings and weekends are crowded with housework and errands as well as personal time, so a drop-in visitor is likely to appear at an inconvenient time, but we’ve lost the practice of setting up a regular time when we’re free and available to welcome visitors. So we end up needing to make prior arrangements for any visit to avoid the visitor finding that the visitee is away from home, or in the shower, or in the middle of a pile of laundry, or just embarrassed to have a cluttered room and no refreshments around.

  62. Grocery Bags – someone on The Lady’s FB page was saying that they do all of her spiralizer recipes just using a vegetable peeler, so I’m sure you could use a mandolin. But I have to tell you, these Voodles are GORGEOUS. Long and curly and beautiful. I think the Spiralizer I bought was about $45 or so. It’s Paderno, and I think it’s normally $65+ but it was on sale.

  63. Good kids note, Rio and Fred. I’ve also sent something similar to my kids.

    I just got into spaghetti squash this year. I cheat and use Trader Joe’s Simply Bolognaise Sauce and it makes for a simple meal on a weeknight. I’ll try the olive oil, lemon, parm and garlic version but I don’t see spaghetti squash in the grocery store anymore. It must be a late summer / fall item.

    Unless we’re cooking something like steak or salmon with individualized portions, there is always enough to accommodate an extra person for dinner or it becomes the next day’s lunch or snack. My family loves leftovers.

  64. Dollar/yen is up to 121.46. Anyone thinking about pulling the trigger on a trip to Japan?

  65. We’re thinking about both Japan and Europe, but not for this summer b/c we already have plans for a domestic trip. We’ll just have to hope the dollar stays strong.

  66. On the FOREX questions:
    Europe, maybe…for us easier to do. But DW has a lot of travel this year, unusual for her, so may be tougher than I think. Japan, no.

    Risley – with the US$ now = $1.27 $CDN any comments from friends / relatives of that impact? For me, I might just buy some Blue Jays tickets after all though the schedule does not appeal to me and I really dislike the stadium.

  67. on topic

    B) As I open the door I’m trying to manage a smile to hide my annoyance at an unexpected guest. I hope they don’t stay long.

    I think (in most cases) it is very rude to just drop by. now, for neighbors that is different, but for say the MIL to just stop by without a call or text= rude

  68. I apologized about the mess to our 6 year old neighbor that plays with DS, she said something like “I’m used to it” or “it is always messy” LOL

  69. Ada, is there some reason the nanny can’t make the reservation in the parent’s name and use her credit card? Every time I’ve made a hotel reservation online, there’s always a separate place to put the name on the card.

  70. We’ve been trying to find a travel destination for this summer- thanks for the idea, Finn!

  71. WCE, of the two, the Aquarium is the better bet for convenience–the Museum of S&I is down in Hyde Park which will add a level of complexity because the L is not close by. You could take the Metra but it will be much more of a hike–from the Aquarium you can quickly cab or maybe even walk to one of the blue line stations to go to O’Hare.

  72. For east coasters, Europe is more accessible, but for many of us in the western US, Japan is more accessible. And also currently on sale.

    Thus, we are very close to pulling the trigger; we’re just waiting for a date, at least tentative, for a college preview event for DS so we can schedule around that. It’s a pretty cool concept– the school gets a bunch of recent alums together to talk to juniors and seniors about their ongoing college experiences. Sounds like as much fun for the recent alums, who get to see a lot of their HS diaspora, as it is interesting for the juniors and seniors.

  73. BTW, speaking of our domestic trip, thank you to Denver Dad for suggesting Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park a while back.

  74. On the OP, I’d say that I’m mostly a C, although I struggle with guilt about the clutter. Our house growing up was spotless and virtually always company-ready–my mom stayed at home and it was a big priority for her. With both of us working outside the home, we just don’t have the time/energy/desire to maintain that level of preparedness. Intellectually I’m okay with that but I still have moments of feeling vaguely guilty for not meeting the same standard.

  75. DH and I both come from families of hoarders. We try to tame the clutter. At least we do better about it than our parents :)

  76. Fred – it hasn’t come up. When I was younger, it was a lot more dramatic. They’re all likely hoping that doesn’t happen. With DD talking about going to school in ON, I’m hoping it reaches that craziness again. Would be such a huge discount. We’re headed to London for a week in April, all 6 of us. Would love it if we could get away with a cheaper time there than we’ve been anticipating. DH and I are gearing up for seven days of sticker shock.

  77. On unannounced, drop-in visitors, I think I’ve mentioned on here before that when we first moved to Texas, my MIL would tell us she was going to come visit, arriving by car on Monday. Then she would show up on Friday morning. She never called to tell us of the change of plan, and my SIL who lived with her and occasionally visited with her, would also never bother to give us a heads up. That is when we had babies/young kids, and both worked in the office. The house was rarely company-ready, and I found it so difficult to be welcoming and nice. When she got a little older, we started insisting that she fly, for safety sake, and I would take care of all her travel arrangements, so that cut down on that. But she occasionally ended up at the wrong airport (changed planes in Dallas and flew to Hobby instead of IAH) in the days before cell phones, so that didn’t always go more smoothly.

  78. Rhett, would love to go to Europe. Kicking around ideas. For some reason – not terribly inspired by the idea. I think I would like Vancouver more. We’ll see.

  79. Ris – Oh, I thought you meant Ontario, seriously. Given your geographic residence and my question.

  80. Our summer vacation is a road trip from Houston to Nashville to NYC to Philly. DH is very excited about the idea of a road trip. Having not been on many road trips, I’m nervous.

    Question: Where is the best place to buy discount Broadway tickets in NYC? DS wants to see Lion King and not sure if standing in line at TKTS is still the best way.

  81. Risley: Have fun in London! Yes, it will be insanely expensive, but what an awesome thing to do with your whole family! Please give us a detailed trip report because next year’s summer vacation will likely be to London.

  82. My MIL lives several blocks away and will just drop by. She has the key to the house, and so will just let herself in–won’t ring the doorbell. Freaks me out to hear someone unexpected enter the house. Still not used to it, but culturally, I cannot ask her to text before she comes.

  83. BTW, speaking of our domestic trip, thank you to Denver Dad for suggesting Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park a while back.

    I’m glad you liked it!

  84. Fred – I thought you might think that.

    Houston – we’re so psyched. I’ll report back. So far, we’ve done little but book flights and a place to stay. I ended up renting us a house. If anyone has ideas of “must dos” w/ 4 teens, I’m all ears.

  85. Denver Dad — Nanny’s mom is visiting from the home country and has no credit card. She works full-time, has a house and car in her own name, but no plastic. Mind boggling.

  86. I’m probably somewhere between B and C. That said, if someone comes and I’m trying to work, I end up shooing them out because I’m really not available. I don’t get adult drop ins though. The rare kid drop in sometimes, which I hope will increase some as they get bigger.

    Houston– She has a key? That’s be really tough for me to imagine, though I get it. Hopefully she doesn’t overuse it!

  87. “Question: Where is the best place to buy discount Broadway tickets in NYC? DS wants to see Lion King and not sure if standing in line at TKTS is still the best way.”

    I’d rather pay full price than spend my limited time in NYC standing in line.

  88. Risley – the Churchill War Museum is a must see in my book, and I’m sure they would love to go on the London Eye.

    Houston – here is my suggestion on your MIL coming into your home: add an extra lock (a chain or another deadbolt) and use it. When she tries to enter your home, she won’t be able to. She’ll have to ring the bell or you will hear her trying to get in, and you can say something like “oh you scared me, I thought you were a burglar.” If she asks about the extra locks tell her it is for your safety. Don’t give her a key to the new lock (or put in a chain).

  89. Risley – I would buy a transit pass (Oyster card??) for everyone so that they can go on the tube and I believe the buses as well. That way you and your DH can go off to whatever museums or sights you want to see, and they can as well – and you meet up for dinner!

  90. I use Broadwaybox.com for legit discounts. I’m not sure of your dates, but it isn’t always easy to get discounts to Lion King. It seems like it should have a discount because it’s been around forever, but it still sells out on certain dates.

  91. Risley – I like evensong at St. Paul’s or Westminster Abbey (check which choir is in residence at the time), and the National Gallery (also has a good cafe/tea room). Windsor Castle is also close and v neat (and close to Eton, if prep schools that look like Hogwarts float anyone’s boat). Harrod’s and Liberty (get the boys ties!). Fortnum & Mason for tea. I would also go to a West End show – they could vote on which one they would like best. The London Eye is cool but VERY expensive. And the original Globe theatre is v neat.

  92. Thanks Lauren! That is exactly what I’m looking for. Grocery Bags is right–standing in line for discounted tickets is not optimal.

  93. ssk – thanks. I’ve spent too much time comparing the London Pass to the Oyster Card. Go w/ the latter, you think? I read about the war rooms – those sound awesome. And the Eye is the one request we’ve had from the kids so we’re a yes on that. Seems like fun, and maybe a boat tour from there after the Eye ride?

  94. Risley: I regret not going to Stonehenge the last time I was in London. This next time, I won’t miss it!

  95. Oh! And there is an Indian food section of town (similar to 6th St in NYC) but I can’t remember where it is. VERY good food. We also liked Wagamama (they are over here now but I am not sure if they are in your area or not).

  96. ssk: Great idea. We do have a deadbolt on the door, but I rarely use it. I’ll start using it more.

  97. ssk: Great idea.

    I agree. She’ll still have access to your house to water your plants when you are gone. :)

  98. Risley – I don’t really remember all of the options, but we ended up getting Oyster passes for our week there, and it was really convenient.

    I am so envious of you!!!!

  99. Wow Houston – that would drive me insane. My mom has a key to my house but wouldn’t dream of just showing up unannounced and would definitely knock. Funny how I just let myself into their house anytime without calling ahead, as do my brothers. Likely because I grew up in the house. I asked her once if it bothered her and she said it hadn’t occurred to her to mind as we had all been doing it since we first moved out on our own. Since we all live pretty close we can easily be “in the neighborhood” so we stop by to chat. But she would never do it to us.

  100. The London Pass is different from the Oyster card. Everyone will need an Oyster card to use tube and buses. The London pass lets you pass the lines and get into certain attractions at a very discounted rate.

    I use public transit a lot, so I get 7 day Oyster card unlimited. You have to determine if it’s worth it. You keep the card and you can add value to it the next time you go to London.

    You have to figure out where you want to visit before buying London pass. If you want it, there are specials with the oyster card.

  101. Ages ago I took a bus tour to Stonehenge when I was visiting London, and it’s totally worth the trip if you and the various teens are remotely interested. I’ve heard people grumble about “why bother” but I thought it was cool to experience.

  102. Risley, what about the Victoria and Albert Museum? If they are interested by things like what people wear and the objects they use in everyday life, and how that’s changed through history, it’s the museum to go to. And while the British Museum is great, most cities have a museum with art and ancient artifacts, so in a way the British Museum is a particularly fine example of a category that they’ve probably seen before, while the V&A is a different category of museum that you don’t find in every city.

  103. Tower of London – impressive but I would go at opening time, so you don’t have to wait in line so much. I think we got one of those on-off bus tours that take you to many of the ‘important’ locations.

  104. Trying again without the link:

    I remember basically living by the paper version of this (it was a weekly) that summer I spent there during college, so your teens may want to check out what looks interesting in the time they’re there: [google Time Out London and follow link]

  105. Some attractions such as V and A, London Museum, Tate are free. You skip line with London Pass at certain free attractions. Check list.

    At other attractions that have a fee, but are part of London Pass, there will be a separate express line for pass holders because you’ve essentially paid already.

  106. Milo: Visit relative who will just have had baby. Grand Ol’ Opry. Maybe tour Vanderbilt. You just visited, I think–I’d certainly welcome recommendations.

  107. Definitely the Opry. Get tickets early. Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame next, and if you have time, do the tour Studio 1A (iirc). You take a bus to where all the studios are, and you’re in the famous one where Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, etc. recorded. Some of the same instruments are still there, it’s preserved and unchanged, and still smells like the 1960s, like an old high school room or something.

    If you have time, go to a couple bars afterward–some younger people were in at least one when we were there–and hear the amateurs trying to get their big break.

    You can do all of that in one day. If you’re there longer, for Totebaggy educational touring, you can drive out to Andrew Jackson’s plantation. I made DW do that.

  108. Rio – DS and I checked out that Parthenon. Cool.

    L/Lauren/HM/Tulip/ssk – thank you! Will add all of these ideas to the list!

  109. PS – had to report back about the Zoodles and Squoodles we had for dinner. Fantastic! You don’t cook the Voodles – just put the sauce over them. So, they don’t get mushy. I did a sauce w/ ground beef, tomatoes, onion, garlic and a bowl of trimmings from the Spiralizer — carrots, zucchini, summer squash and beets. So, so good. I forgot to make plain noodles for the kids so they could titrate in the vegetables, but got no complaints.

  110. Thanks Rio. The Parthenon was not on my list–now it is.

    Milo: Good advice on Opry tickets. Will do. I think we’ll skip Jackson’s plantation–he was never my favorite president.

  111. Waah. Now I want to go to Europe. I have two stupid church-related weeklong trips to Kansas (woo hoo — like I didn’t spend enough time in Kansas in my old job) and then a 10 day trip to Glacier in August using the travel company that Mémé has recommended. I don’t actually want to do that trip, but DH does.

    Am I the only one who HATES leaving the pets for that long? The dog goes to doggy day care with sleepovers, and the cat has a visiting cat sitter, but I still hate it.

  112. Houston, you mentioned Vandy (which you probably know would get my attention).

    Is part of the reason for the trip taking DS to see some colleges? Which ones will you visit? You know I’m interested in hearing about any campus visits.

    In the past, I’ve worked with a couple of engineering grads from Vandy, which is supposed to be like the Northwestern of the SEC.

  113. Rocky–I’m in KC. And I think I’m offended:). But I agree about Wichita. I’d love to get coffee. Do you have an anonymous gmail? Mine might “out” me.
    Also I think there’s another very occasional commenter near here as well. Speak up if you want to join us!

  114. Finn–I have never connected you with Vandy. I thought you went to a certain university in California. I’m obviously wrong.

    This is a family vacation, with a couple of college tours tacked on. They are more for example–this is an example of a SLAC, this is an example of an urban university (Columbia). DS is not targeting these schools, per se (yet). We will more seriously tour schools next year.

    Likewise on the college tour reports. Would love to hear any insight that you have.

  115. Houston, we visited Columbia this past summer. Its location makes it easy to tuck it into a visit to NYC. It’s a very nice campus, IMO well worth visiting just for its location and prominence.

    I’ve never been to Philly, but I understand Penn is another example of an urban campus. If I ever visit Philly, I will visit Penn, even if my kids are out of school by then.

    BTW, I like your approach. It’ll help kids narrow down their choices if they know they have generic preferences, e.g., urban vs. rural, SLAC vs. humongous research U.

  116. Anon, sure! I’m rockymountainstepmom @ outlook.com . And KC isn’t that bad, I know. I’ve just spent a lot of time in the convention center there, and now I’m going to spend more in June/July.

  117. “Why would you be”

    Visit relatives. They moved out there decades ago and never looked back. And they make ribs and brisket and pulled pork better than any restaurant I’ve ever been to.

    If you haven’t been to the ginormous Cabela’s, it’s quite a sight to see. And you might find something for DH and his fishing trips.

  118. I did not realize Cabela’s was a big chain. I’d always thought of them as a mail order place, going back to when I was a kid, and would see their ads in the magazines my uncle read (e.g., Popular Mechanics, Popular Science).

    In future trips to the continent, I will see if there are any of their stores near where our plalns take us.

  119. My mother was born in Kansas City Kansas at home, and spent the next nine years in Kansas City MO. My great grandparents are buried in St. Joe. Of course, one of Mom’s favorite childhood stories is about the neighbor kid who always was hanging around and said, may I have some? my momma doesn’t make she-eny food (hyphen just in case WordPress has a screening program with archaic ethnic slurs in it)

  120. Houston – you know, you can probably do the SLAC, Private, Research etc school thing right in your hometown if you want, or close-enough-by. By all means throw in a few special places when traveling, too.

  121. So many fun travel plans . . .

    Risley, we visited London last year with a teen and a college student. We enjoyed some of the the “usual suspects” already mentioned. We used Ric Steves’ walking tours from his guide books to plan some of our days, and some have podcast narrations that can be uploaded on your phone.. We had fun marching along with the queen’s guards from St. James Palace to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. A tour of Parliament was a highlight — walking among the green and red back-benches.was a thrill. Along with Stonehenge, another less common day trip that we enjoyed was a visit to the site of the Battle of Hastings. We didn’t make it to Abbey Road, but I think that would have been fun.

    The Oyster Card is convenient, and if purchased at the right stations gives you a 2-for-1 discount for some attractions, IIRC. If you don’t have one already, you may want to get a pin-and-chip credit card to make Underground purchases by machines.

  122. A number of my high school friends used to live in KC right after graduating from KU, so I used to go up and visit. I loved the statues at the entrance to every neighborhood, and The Plaza area. I was at that age where I enjoyed going out no matter where I was, but I always came away with a favorable opinion of KC. We had the opportunity to transfer there at one point, and I was excited about the thought of having a basement. (Damning with faint praise? – you can have a basement! )

  123. Risley, I’m not sure if my link is in moderation or my comment didn’t post. Check out the website buy a gift (all one word) dot co dot UK.

  124. We were in London last April and loved it. To save on admission fees, google National Rail Days Out 2 for 1 program. We bought a National Rail weekly pass for zones 1 & 2 and that got us 2 for 1 admission to a lot of places. DS 1 was 13, so he was admitted as a child. The kids liked climbing to the top of St. Paul’s. They also liked Windsor Castle, The Tower, Churchill War Rooms and riding the upper level of the buses. We rented a flat. Although we ate out a couple of times, the kids liked it best when we had dinner at the flat. After running around all day, they just wanted to chillax and use the WiFi. Marks & Spencer had pretty good meals that required minimal effort. And the prices were reasonable. For example, £10 got you a whole chicken (totally prepped), side, dessert and a bottle of wine. Two of those fed our family of 5.

    Have Fun! Wish I were going, too!

  125. Houston – we rented a flat when we visited several years ago. The name of the company is: “A Place like Home”, and then there was an offshoot called “Uniquely a Place Like Home” which may have been fancier apartments.

  126. Fantastic tips on London, everyone – thank you! HM – yes, we’ll be fairly close to Portobello Road and will def go.

    Houston – I stumbled upon the house rental idea via Trip Advisor. Was looking for 2 hotel rooms, which we usually get, and couldn’t find a 2d big enough for the kids. I was considering 3 rooms. The site must know this will happen b/c suddenly, all these house/flat rentals were popping up. I used a combination of a few rental agencies, my cousin and my UK editor to narrow it down (I’d have had no idea) and got a place in a terrific location – 5 BR, a patio, and obviously living room space, etc for a very reasonable amount and far less than what the 3 hotel rooms would have cost. 5 min walk from a Tube station, close to grocer, bars, restaurants, shops, etc. Even an Anglican church nearby for Easter Sunday. :) If they have a boy’s choir and if they sing Jerusalem, my trip will be made on the 2d day.

    Finn – DS toured about 7 California schools last summer, and USC was one of them. He did some of the tours on his own and did some w/ his dad, after his dad arrived in the state. USC was one they did together. DS had mono at the time, so I believe that’s one of the tours they had to cut fairly short. Or DS may have napped in the car while his dad finished the tour, or something like that.

    I took him to Vandy. Definitely worth checking out, Houston, if you’ll be in Nashville.

  127. Denver Dad — Nanny’s mom is visiting from the home country and has no credit card. She works full-time, has a house and car in her own name, but no plastic. Mind boggling.

    Ada, I got that. Why cant they use her name for the reservation and use daughter’s credit card?

  128. Dang it! Just tried to post re London and am stuck in moderation. Breaking up the post into chunks with just one link per.

    Risley, here are a few of my favorites from that site I was trying to post from my phone. They have normal things like places to stay, walking tours focused on Downton Abby or Jack the Ripper or whatever, Shard and Eye tickets, but I’d probably do something a little bit more strange:

    Cruise down the river and see London’s iconic landmarks, then have Basil, Sybil and Manuel serve you a three-course dinner at the 4* Amba Charing Cross Hotel


  129. The London Dungeon is a unique visitor attraction that brings together an amazing cast of theatrical actors, special effects, stages, scenes and rides in a truly unique and exciting walkthrough experience that you see, hear, touch, smell and feel. It’s hilarious fun and sometimes a bit scary.
    Your 90 minute journey will take you through 1000 years of London’s dark history. Guided by a full cast of actors, you and your companions walk through The Dungeon, moving from show to show. Shows are based on real London history, minus the boring bits! http://www.buyagift.co.uk/Days-Out/London-Dungeon-Tickets-Off-Peak-Entry-BR-1108349.aspx?cm_sp=Product_List-_-5-_-1108349&cm_re=-_-product_list-_-5-_-1108349&search=true

  130. And I bet your Flyboy would like this
    Become Bond for the day at the Spy Academy! Get taught the tricks of the trade by those who have been there and done it, as you take tutelage from ex-police and Special Forces agents. First you’ll learn how to tackle the weapons of choice for secret agents; a telescopic sniper rifle, air soft machine gun and 6mm BB. The it’s onto the non-combat skills, including the use of bugs and covert cameras. You’ll also have some fun as you learn the skills of axe throwing and take control of an infra-red laser weapon. At the end of the session you will have the chance to put what you have learned to the test as you take part in a team battle using the laser weapons, followed by a quick draw one on one. The only thing left to do now is fill out that MI6 application!


  131. Risley, I suggest taking one of the boats going up the Thames to Greenwich. Nerdy folks like my husband and I enjoyed the observatory and the ever popular photo opportunity of one foot on each side of the Meridian Line. London has lots of parks if you get tired of the crowds. Depending on the type of shopping you like to do, there’s Borough market for the foodies, Camden and Portobello markets for flea market type shopping and Oxford Street for the major retailers. Day trips outside of London include Stonehenge, Bath, Canterbury, and Oxford our Cambridge.

  132. This, DD:

    Primary guest must be 21 and bring ID.

    I think if Nanny booked the room with her own card, she would be the primary guest, no? And she is not 21. Her mom can’t be the primary guest without a card, right?

    Not trying to be overly argumentative — maybe this is much simpler than I thought to solve?

  133. Ada, why can’t you or the nanny buy her mom a prepaid card? Or you could help her open up a joint checking account/debit card with her mom and use that.

  134. @Risley – If you want to do a day trip outside London – try Bath (with ancient Roman baths). Loved the town. Other countryside day trips are Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s birthplace). I think it is worth doing one day out of London just to see the countryside.
    Since you are quite a few in your party it might be worth doing a private tour of the landmarks and going to museums/department store food halls/other things on your own.

    Westminster Abbey – don’t think it was mentioned. I loved the Victoria and Albert Museum and National Gallery and RAF Museum. I loved the Harrod’s food hall.

  135. If you go to Westminster Abbey, I highly recommend the verger led tour. It’s a few £ extra pp but definitely worth it.

  136. Risley – if you email me to remind me, I will ask my British friends about the choirs at the churches near where you are staying. ;) Fun fact – one of my friends was a choirboy at Westminster, and another at Windsor.

  137. SM — I’ll try to put comments on the travel page for anyone who gives explicit approval to have their comments placed on a permanent page that will not be deleted. Maybe it’s time for a travel planning post, if anyone wants to submit one.

  138. “We had a plate of what could only be described as “vegetable penises.”” — OK, now I clearly need one of these. And here I was patting myself on the back last night for being done with kitchen appliance upgrades (received my InstantPot yesterday, got my deep fryer for the artichokes last week, threw out sufficient other stuff to make room for the new arrivals, barely).

    I am jealous of the London trip! We had planned on England/Scotland for this summer, but then we had a couple of family command performances come up (ILs over spring break, beach with my dad this summer for his 70th, my Granny’s 90th over Thanksgiving, etc,), and we just don’t have vacation time/$$ to throw in another week or two abroad. I’m disappointed, because the following year is back to Italy (not that that’s a hardship), which means that the “go see the teensy island where half of my relatives came from” trip is at least two years out. And the exchange rate is just freaking salt in the wound!

  139. Do you remember a poster from TOS that lived in London and had twins? I can’t remember her handle, but I enjoyed her posts.

  140. I thought she left us, when she moved back to the States. I hope she’s still here under a different handle.

    Everyone: Thanks so much for the wonderful suggestions. London is now at the top of the list for next year’s summer vacation.

  141. Finn- we have a Bass Pro Shop and a Cabela’s in the Louisville area. The Cabela’s is somewhat new, I haven’t been to it yet

  142. Now I miss traveling. :( Even if the kids were older, I feel like I don’t get enough vacation to do ANY traveling – all of my vacation time is taken up by the 2 weeks in the summer that we vacation with my ILs and then with my parents, and by the maybe 2 days that I take off at Xmas. I technically get 4 weeks of vacation but I never take it all (billable hours!). Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  143. L -we’re in the same boat. We are taking half of a week to go to Florida over spring break but the rest is family visiting over the summer. DH gets four weeks, but yeah, you really can’t take all that.

  144. Lauren/Meme, I loved SHV’s witty posts! If she is here under a different name, she must be making a serious effort to hide her light under a bushel.

  145. Risley – Another piece of advice for London (probably true in any wonderful city) is to go to your favorite stuff early. Visiting the Churchill Museum and the Tower of London were relaxing and delightful because we went there right when they opened. Our visits to Westminster Abbey and Harrods were later in the day and they were mobbed. At Westminster Abbey I basically was carried along with the crowd and had to fight my way to certain nooks and crannies. Sometimes this is inevitable because you only have so many days to visit all of the good stuff, but you may want to think about where you want to wander and take time versus where you are fine to just get an overall picture of a place.

    On my next trip to London I guess I will reverse the order of everything!

  146. I think if Nanny booked the room with her own card, she would be the primary guest, no? And she is not 21. Her mom can’t be the primary guest without a card, right?

    Not trying to be overly argumentative — maybe this is much simpler than I thought to solve?

    No, she sholldn’t have to be. Every time I’ve booked a hotel room online, I put in the guest information for the reservation. Then when I enter the credit card info, I have to enter the name on the credit card, which doesn’t have to be the same as the name on the reservation. I think it really is this simple – put the mother’s name for the reservation and use the daughter’s card.

  147. I took a look and picked the Luxor at random and it doesn’t give you a separate place for the credit card name, so it does appear that the reservation and credit card have to be in the same name. However, it just says “You must be 21 years of age to check into the Luxor” which to me means that as long as you have someone over 21 with you when you check in, you should be fine. So IMO, daughter can make the reservation in her name and use the credit card, and then as long as mother is there when they check in they should be fine.

  148. Risley, Houston, et al, if you’re willing, please share your college visit experiences. There are others here (e.g., me) with HS kids who are or will be going through that soon, and it’s just not possible to visit every campus in which our kids have interest. Of course we’re all free to withhold any part of our experience that is too personal or for any other reason.

    I’ve been to a few with my family, and I’d be glad to share our experiences and thoughts.

    Risley, I’m wondering specifically about USC, and what your DS liked about that school. We visited the summer before last, and besides the obvious concern about safety in the neighborhood, there were things we liked (variety of programs, strong engineering school).

  149. L, our experience of the timeline of 3-kid family travel has been

    Years and years: We’ll just go visit family again this year; when the kids are older we’ll do more real traveling
    Finally: Hey, they’re old enough now for us to try a real trip! Let’s go to ___
    Five seconds after that trip: Well, they’re not fully civilized but they’re mostly there — we can try that again — and holy ^&(# we have how many more years till the oldest goes off to college? And we have how many trips we’ve talked about taking as a family? From now on, we must do All The Travel!

  150. I just looked out the window and saw my youngest with his backpack on heading off to school. (He’s got nearly an hour till school starts and it’s a 10 minute walk.) Good thing I noticed, or I’d really be wondering in about 20 minutes’ time where he’d disappeared to.

  151. A little late, but we loved Hampton Court and Cambridge when in London. If you have any harry Potter fans, I think they do customized HP tours that some of your group may like. Have a marvelous time!

  152. Finn – specifically what do you want to know about college visits? They are all kind of the same. One thing for sure, our (my) experience in going on these with my kids is that the tour guide you get (random chance) will make a lot of difference in the opinion(s) you form. At one place, the guide said something like “that’s the science building over there…I’m a history major so I never go near the place and don’t really know much about it.” Just reflected poorly on both him and the school overall.

    They show you what they want you to see / think you want to see, including the newest dining hall, the great workout facilities, the best close-in dorm (not that your kid will get in that one, more likely the one at the top of the hill after a long walk), the library, the performing arts center/arena, 1-2 classroom buildings, almost always to include the state-of-the-art Wall St. trading room if they have an AACSB business program. Anything else specific you want to see, you’ll probably have to do separate from the scheduled tour. Some schools are more accommodating than others on that. At one place my kid met with the chairman of what would be his department who seemed to take a real interest in doing that kind of thing.

  153. Fred, I guess what I’m most interested in is your personal impressions, and your kids’. What did you like, and not like, about the school? What concerns would you have with your kid going there? How did it compare to other schools you’ve visited?

    I’d also appreciate being able to discuss things and compare notes. E.g., Risley and I have both visited USC, so we can compare notes.

  154. You guys comparing notes on campuses you’ve both been to is useful to the next wave of us to get a feel for who sees things how. I’m not putting too much thought into colleges yet, because my guy is still working out what kind of student he wants to be.

  155. Finn,

    I have one specific college visit that comes to mind. DD and I went to look at Notre Dame when we were in the Midwest. That is probably the only school she (and I) did not like. I apologize to anyone who went to Notre Dame, I am not being critical of your school, just reporting on our perceptions. I know that there are many diehard ND fans out there, and I’m sure it is wonderful, but she did not care for it at all.

    Top reasons:

    Campus location – out in the middle of nowhere. Now, it didn’t help that we were there in early April and it was still winter, but even if it had been mid-September it would have felt very remote. I believe Chicago is about 2 hours away.

    The town of South Bend, at least what we saw of it, did not have much to recommend itself. It was not really the quaint/charming type of small town you sometimes find far away from a city.

    Football – I love football, and I went to all of the home games at my school, even though we usually were defeated. At Notre Dame it was almost too much. The tickets to the games were extremely expensive, even for students (this may be the way of the world though because the school DD chose did not have inexpensive student tickets). If you were not a football fan I think you would feel left out on those Saturday afternoons. Now, a school like USC is also football crazy, but at least you have other options if you aren’t into the game.

    Food – the only non-cafeteria food we saw was a food court with places like Pizza Hut and Burger King. DD has a milk allergy which severely limits what kind of fast food she can eat, and this turned her off in a big way.

    I don’t remember much about the academic side of things, so I’m sure that part was all great, but it was the little stuff that isn’t part of studying that turned her off. I had always heard Notre Dame spoken about in mystical/mythical terms, and it was a surprise to me that I disliked it so much.

    If we have a separate post on school visits I can re post this – it may be too late to get much viewing at this point!

  156. SSK, thanks for the detail. An example of things read differently by different people: my university sold (and my parents bought) the distance to the nearest city as an advantage, helping students get more into and out of the undergrad experience.

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