Open thread

We have an open thread all day today.

Last week I started a 30-day challenge to improve my balance.  I selected some daily exercises, including standing on one leg and  a One-Legged Squat Reach.  But the one-legged squat proved too challenging (especially for my left leg), so instead I bought a Wobble Balance Board and am trying out a few basic exercises with it.

Last year I was successful with my 30-day plank challenge so I have high hopes for this balance project.  If anyone wants to do a group 30-day challenge similar to the one we did last year let me know and I can set it up.  In the meantime I’ll post periodic updates on my progress.

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116 thoughts on “Open thread

  1. July – I sent in a post (graduatestudentlife at gmail…) a few days ago. Did you receive it?

  2. I’m up for a new 30 day challenge! I have a big project at work, which has given me an “excuse” to slack off at home. I need a reboot. I might do the 30 day plank challenge.

  3. Has anyone been diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica or know someone who has? What is the treatment plan and how long did it take their meds to kick in and are they feeling substantially better?

  4. July – one way I’ve improved my balance is to stand on one foot while I’m brushing my teeth. That gives me two minutes on each foot – but doesn’t take any additional time out of my day. Once my balance improved, I started doing it with my eyes closed. Bonus feature – it provides entertainment for the rest of my family :-)

    Another suggestion that I’m going to try is to get in the habit of putting on your running socks and shoes while balancing on one foot. Socks will be easy – but the shoes may be a little more challenging. I tried it this morning and was successful except for being able to tie my shoes tightly enough.

  5. Rhode, I received your topic and it should be coming up later this week.

    Okay, I’ll set up a 30-day challenge.

    SSM — So I’m getting that a goal is to be able to do things while standing on one foot without having to focus on balancing. I’m not there yet but I’m confident I can make it happen. Just in a few days I’ve improved. As a side note, I saw a few minutes of American Ninja Warrior last night and I’m in awe of those folks. (I should have watched while balancing on one foot!)

  6. My wobble board is a disc with a bump in the middle on one side. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get it to balance. I can do the one-legged squats fine. Warrior III and squats in that pose also help balance. I hear you on being intimidated by something that seems too far along to start, but maybe at the end of doing the wobble board, you could see how far down you can go.

    My sister and I made a dinner last night. It was a recipe I’d wanted to make. It was yummy, but making it together wasn’t as fun as we’d hoped. We were just out of sync with each other. Partway through, Mom decided to empty the dishwasher. I didn’t say anything, just thought it was one more minor irritation. But after dinner, I was so glad to be able to get going with the clean up. I told her that, and she said “yes, my ‘never start a meal with a full dishwasher’ rule paid off”. That must be a new one for her–used to be the D/W ran every night while we slept and she emptied it while we kids got ready for school. That got me thinking about rules for myself and routines. Have any of you added new ways of doing things to smooth your days?

  7. OLD MOM – My mom had polymyalgia rheumatica and lived with it for more than 25 years. The treatment was steriods – prednisone. I don’t recall the initial dosage when she was first diagnosed – early 1990s. The dosage starts higher and then they taper it down to the lowest possible without triggering more pain. She eventually she was down to 2 mg per day. But, if she had a major illness, it would trigger pain and they’d up the dosage to about 5 mg and then wean her back down. In conjunction, she took osteo-biflex.

    Yes, she felt substantially better, but still had some morning aches. She would take the meds first thing and then not plan anything strenous for the first hour until it kicked in. The doctor also increased her calcium as it gets depleted when you are on long-term steriod use. Also, if you have decreased your physical activity due to the pain, you may be able to get your doctor to recommend some PT to (1) get you back up to “normal” and (2) show you modifications for things that are too painful to do “normally”.

    Lastly, if you find yourself in a hospital, you and/or your MPOA should ask for PT as soon as possible. When we were in the ER and they told us she would be admitted, I asked for the admitting doctor to order PT. It was the fastest way to figure out if she was in more pain from the ploymyalgia rheumatica and to keep her as mobile as possible.

  8. I would love a 40 day challenge. I have started doing the 7-minute workout the last couple of weeks to work into adding more strength training, and I find it gives me a good mental boost while not overwhelming my inherent slothfulness. I am going to add in your balance suggestions. I frequently twist my ankle so need to do something to prevent it.

    Saac I also (make someone in my family) empty the dishwasher before dinner. From around four years old on, I made my kids clear their plates and put the in the dishwasher after meals. Watching my sister try to retain her high school kids to clear the table and load the dishwasher when they are perfectly happy with how things have always been done makes me glad for this routine. I also empty the fridge of old food for the trash day that comes before the day I grocery shop. It makes it much easier to see what I need, and to fit everything in the fridge when I get it home.

  9. Becky, yep, the fridge clean before shopping rule is a huge help–I just figured that one out earlier this year. Growing up, we sometimes were expected to help clean up after dinner, but not always, and even when we did put our own things in the machine, my dad somehow never did. I think the rules are different when there’s a SAHM/W in the household.

  10. And some of those rules are a bridge too far. Storing the trash bags in the bottom of the big can and putting in a new liner whenever you take out the old one works. Putting a whole bunch of them in at once, one inside the other, so you just take out the current one and the rest are there, ready to go, does not. For us, at least, it just results in a slippery mess, so more than one gets used at a time, as they all slide around on each other.

  11. Routines –
    Our dishwasher is emptied first thing in the morning and dishes are put in throughout the day. There are almost never enough to run it until after dinner. Our old one was so loud, we never ran it until we went to bed and this habit has stuck.

    Now that I work from home I have my “Friday Cleaning” Routine for my work space. I put everything away, and, because I am the custodial staff, I take out the trash/shred trash as needed, dust off my space, do my timesheet, and make a list of things I need to remember to do on Monday/next week. It means I don’t have go into the office on the weekend when I am tidying the rest of the house, which makes me feel that I really do get away from work, and Monday feels more organized.

    We get a bit out of sorts with routines in the summer as we don’t have as regular of a schedule, but when school is in we have several in place that make life easier.

  12. Since I was a kid, I have always found it easy to stand on one foot. I mean, I actually prefer to stand that way when doing things like brushing my teeth. I always thought that was some weirdness of my own – and then I realized my oldest son does the exact same thing. Same pose (one leg bent and resting on the other). He has the same feet that I have – extremely narrow and tend to turn out. Maybe it is something in our foot or leg structure?

  13. Old Mom – My mother was treated for polymyalgia as well for the last 12 years of her life. (She was not a complainer and put up with a lot of pain, so she might have had it for years before that.) The treatment was prednisone and one of those bone density pills. No celebrex or other similar strong pain medicine was effective and they tried a lot of them. She was in her 80s when the treatment started, so the steroids had a lot of side effects and only got her back to not miserable – never to comfortable. I firmly believe that they shortened her life, but since she made it to 93 with only a couple of poor years at the end, I am not sure that is relevant.

  14. MM – like tree pose? Where do you put your foot? Curious bc my yoga teachers always say not to put your foot on your opposite knee.

  15. Also, July, I sent in several posts in the past couple of days, wanted to make sure you received those as well.

  16. I am so sick of seeing people in my facebook feed push Roden & Fields, Plexus, those stupid leggings, etc. Is there a way to block certain terms? I don’t always want to block the person entirely, just the annoying posts.

  17. ARGH just got off the phone with Verizon. They just increased my bill by $20 and would only take $10 off going forward. Then I looked up Comcast and they don’t offer service in my area. Grrrrrrrrrr.

  18. Middle DS has been working for my employer this summer. Big org, completely unrelated to what I do and we’ve been commuting in together. Every aspect of this has worked great. I get up about 45 min earlier than I might otherwise, we leave the house at 7, I drop him off and get into my office before 730 (so I’m shifted an hour early vs our normal office hours). My parking is between where he works and my office so he walks to the car when he finishes at 4 and comes to get me. Then we go to the gym.

    Two big positives about going together to the gym: he wants to go every day, so I’ve been getting 5 weekdays + 1 weekend day in for the past ~9 weeks, and he works out longer than I usually do so I’ve extended mine also, now doing ~55min vs 40. Result – finally a breakthrough to below the multiple of 10lbs that has been my barrier for a long time.

    And we get plenty of car time to talk about sports, health care politics, the Russians, money, his plans for grad school, etc.

    All in all great.

    Separately, DS3 has been working for Taco Bell for about a month now. Typically 4-5hr shifts and he seems to actually like it. I think working around that food makes him not want to eat it, even with a 50% employee discount, so that’s also a positive. One thing he especially likes is getting paid every Tuesday (direct deposit so he sees it in his account on Tues a.m.).

  19. One thing he especially likes is getting paid every Tuesday (direct deposit so he sees it in his account on Tues a.m.).

    Yeah, that whole “getting paid” thing is addictive.

  20. L you dodged a bullet. Trust me you do not want Comcast. It is like the corporate version of an abusive relationship. One of the happiest days of my life was when FIOS came and I got to break up with Comcast. You may not pay as much in dollars for Comcast but you will pay with your time and your sanity. Trust me.

  21. L, welcome to the world of “At least I can get high speed Internet at my residence.” High speed Internet availability was one of our criteria when house shopping 17 years ago, and yes, we have Comcast.

  22. “even with a 50% employee discount”

    That’s horseshit. When I worked at McDonald’s, it was all-you-can-eat.

  23. I dunno, we have had both Verizon and Comcast and both of them are equally bad IMO. I took satisfaction in giving the person a 1 star review on the survey.

  24. Update on the flood. They came and removed all the carpet and padding and set up the dryers. DD slept in our room while we were in NYC and now is at the elderly grandparents for a few days. Today they removed the baseboards, tested all the walls and only had to cut away 2 1/2 feet of drywall on the back wall and remove the soaked insulation (the side wall is underground – slope with walk out in the rear. They left the dehumidifier and drying fan and expect to remove them tomorrow or Thursday. Basement is safe for occupancy, but we will not put everything back until we figure out the flooring timing. I got the bill, too. a bit less than 2500, which was fully itemized and seems fair for the amount of work they did. There was tons of furniture to move around. And when they removed the drywall they did not screw up the Fios box.

    Although I think polished concrete would be the best flooring option, I realistically am not going to get a contractor to commit to it until November when they can’t pour outside anymore. So I will likely go to the flooring company who put in my Marmoleum, overpay a bit for tile, and they will be able to get someone in to level and patch the concrete as a subcontractor before they lay tile that will survive in five years when there is another flood (likely not nearly so bad as this one. Dry wall and insulation replacement are cheap and fairly easy if it happens again. With any luck it will be all fixed up by Labor Day.

  25. L, I did receive your posts. Thank you!

    MM, maybe you’re part flamingo?

    Tomorrow my house is getting professionally power washed and I just checked and locked all the windows as instructed. We really need it, especially on the north side where mildew patches are quite unsightly. They will take the screens off the windows and wash them, too. Yay! I got a preview today because my neighbor, who referred the contractor to us, is getting his house done.

  26. We have Optimum. It’s now owned by Altice because Cablevision (nightmare) sold to Altice. I find the service to be much better since two things happened. We finally have wires for Fios and Altice is 100% better than Cablevision.

    We haven’t switched to Fios yet because DD begged us not to give up our DVRs. She rarely watches regular TV, but she has some shows and episodes that she watches on our DVR.

    I hate Verizon for many (many) reasons, but I would be willing to switch for two years because we would save almost $1000. Optimum gave us a small break, but it’s nothing compared to the craziness of Verizon plus I still have a land line with Verizon. We are going to talk to her when she gets home because it’s just too much money bs the guarantee from Verizon for the first two years.

    I mentioned on another post that I joined Club Pilates for a month with unlimited classes. I have one week left and I have to decide what to do next because I don’t want to give it up after the summer special is over. It definitely helps with balance.

  27. “That’s horseshit. When I worked at McDonald’s, it was all-you-can-eat.”

    Really? Wow, when I worked there, you got a meal credit which was enough for a burger and fries.

  28. Lauren, I want to do Pilates. Is this place good? Close? Can you PM me?

  29. When I worked at McDonald’s, it was all-you-can-eat.”

    I assume that was the policy of the franchisee not McDonalds corporate?

  30. Thank you Austin Mom and Meme for the information. This is the diagnosis my primary thinks the most likely – waiting on results and also consulting with a rheumatologist.

  31. We only need internet. The internet plus local TV is now $60. The internet only is $90. WTF? I would love to get cable/DVR back so I could watch the Red Sox and SYTYCD (that would be $110 or so/month) but we haven’t had it since we moved and don’t really want to start now.

  32. “Really? Wow, when I worked there, you got a meal credit which was enough for a burger and fries.”

    This was the go-go 90s. Tech stocks were booming. The McMansion craze was really heating up with 6,000-square-foot houses popping up like mushrooms all across the land. Ace of Base topped the music charts with “The Sign.” And moviegoers across the country were captivated by the pithy, home-spun common sense of a decent, simpleminded man named Forrest Gump.

  33. “I assume that was the policy of the franchisee not McDonalds corporate?”

    Perhaps.

  34. “When I worked at McDonald’s, it was all-you-can-eat.”

    Well, times do change. It’s all-you-can-eat if he gets called in (asked) to cover someone at the last minute, IOW, work when it’s not his regular scheduled shift.

  35. Hmm, now that my promotional rate has expired, we’re paying $175 for cable with two X1 DVRs, internet, and phone.

    We watch a lot of American Ninja Warrior. And my kids have discovered the Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island (in addition to Andy Griffith). They’re watching in syndication the same shows that I watched only in syndication.

  36. Old Mom – My mom’s rheumatologist was the one who helped her manage her condition. Good luck!

  37. “Casey Kasum-style post about the 90s.”

    1994 in particular. The Simpsons will usually parody the style when they go back in time.

  38. Since this is an open thread, I’ll announce that TLC baby #5 was born on the 3rd. He’s a plump, healthy, handsome little guy. As far as challenges go, I just signed up for 90 days of weight watchers and will hopefully start chipping away at the 50# I need to lose in order to get back down to pre baby weight (pre baby #4 that is).

  39. Congrats, TLC!
    Thanks, Fred, but my last child just graduated from potty training school. I’m done till grandchildren.

  40. congratulations TLC! I hope you, Mr. TLC, baby #5 and his adoring older siblings are all doing well!

  41. 5!!! Wowza, that is impressive. I stand in awe.

    On weight watchers, I shared recently that I have lost 70 pounds on that program (and still losing). I don’t know that I would have had the bandwidth to try it within two weeks of giving birth, but I think being a mom of five means you are stronger than the average bear! Best of luck on that goal.

  42. RMS, DS1 is 9. DD is 6. DS2 is 4. DS3 is 15 months and then the new baby. So far, dealing with thw big baby and the little baby at the same time has been the hardest part. Hats off to all you moms of twins.

  43. TLC, congrats!!! My neighbors have five kids. A lot of work, but also a lot of fun.

  44. Congratulations TLC! Feel free to send over couple of kids to keep my singleton some company!

  45. Wow, huge congrats TLC!

    Y’all know my new routine: Crossfit. I was originally PO’d that the camp bus schedule made me give up the 4:30 PM class and move to all 6 AM, but honestly, given our 92-degrees-and-%-humidity days of late, I am seeing a significant upside now. :-) And I’m pretty used to it now and am liking the energy boost for my morning (although today sucked, I swear it’s like they designed the workout to take out my inflexible wrists). The big bonus is that over the past couple of weeks, I have finally gotten my deadlift over 200 lbs and my bench press over 100 lbs, which feels pretty awesome. But more than that, it’s really really nice to have my mind fixate on the cool new shit I can do (quads! I have quads!) instead of the old mental rut of weight/appearance.

    @July: I do what SSM does and play a game with myself that once I pick a foot up, I’m not allowed to put it down again until the pants leg is on/the sock and shoe are on/the [whatever] is completed. I have no clue if it helps with balance, it just entertains me during boring stuff. :-)

    Oh: and the rescue kittens are now officially out for adoption, so I was able to sleep past 4:30 this AM. So sad + yay. Now another week or so for mom, and we will be back to our normal household.

  46. TLC — Congratulations on the good news! WW with 5 kids under 9? You’re in a class by yourself!

  47. TLC – congratulations!

    Fred and Sunshine – way to go on the extra gym time (Fred) and weight loss (both).

    One summer routine I’ve been quite enjoying is my AM What’sApp chats w/ DD, who is 6 hours ahead, and my PM phone calls w/ DS, who is 4 hours behind. Lovely bookends to my days.

  48. We are in the grossest part of summer here. Too hot and humid for outdoor activity. I’ve given up my morning walk.

    Good news: My latest foster rescue dog (a blind 7 year old Llasa Apso mix) has been adopted by a retired couple (i.e. empty nesters). Yay! I need to get past a large project at work and then I can start looking for my next foster dog.

  49. Fred – she was in Madrid for the first 10 days or so and is in La Antilla now, and for the remainder of her time there.

  50. That’s pretty remote as things go! I hope she has the opportunity to go to Faro, Portugal, about 50 miles to the west. It’s a cool town and the feel of Portugal is different than Spain.

  51. Fred – doubtful. She’s actually working a ton and has had zero chance to travel other than one weekend trip w/ the family while they were still in Madrid. The entire thing has gone very differently than she anticipated, and not in a good way. She’s been counting down the days until she comes home (30, as of today). I thought I’d be chatting her up about all the great places she’s seeing on her time off. Instead, I’ve been coaching her on topics such as “You can’t always choose your situation, but you can always choose how you respond to your situation.” I just read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl and have practically recited it all back to her over text in the past 10 days. Learning/growing experience for her, to be sure, but not much of a traveling one.

  52. That’s too bad. I hope she doesn’t hate Spain for that experience. There’s a lot of cool stuff (obv. to be done on her own).

  53. Fred – I don’t think she will. Mostly, it’s an issue of generations and communication, I think. She was hired by the dad, who seems lovely and wants her to have a great time, complete with days off. But he works/lives in Madrid, and she’s in La Antilla with the kids and the grandparents (who don’t really speak English). I think the grandparents see her as less an au pair there to have an experience and more an indentured servant. She has discussed the situation w/ the dad, who then speaks to his parents about it, though not always to great effect. The dad arrives today for 11 days, and hopefully, that will change things quite a bit for DD–she’s been counting down days to this event as well.

  54. Ris — where’s the Mamá? I’m not sure speaking better Spanish would help — if the grandparents view her as “the help” I’m not sure what she could say to them to convince them otherwise. Are they insisting that she cook and clean and stuff?

  55. It’s an issue of generations and communication

    Or cultural. Is this a well to do family that is used to having help? I don’t know about Spain but in South America they treat the help like the help whereas in America we try to at least pretend to be somewhat equal.

  56. RMS – the mom is with the dad in Madrid. No cooking/cleaning but 24/7 responsibility for 3 kids. The grandparents go out for breakfast, take naps during siesta, go out for coffee in the afternoons, etc, while DD stays w/ the kids. She works until after midnight each day b/c the kids don’t go to bed until then. If they get up in the night, she’s the one who comforts them. When she asks if she can take bit of time to herself, the answer is no. In Madrid, they have a daily cook and a daily housekeeper – I think they’re just used to having help, like you’ve said, and don’t really get that the summer American au pair is a little different.

    When none of this changed when DD was diagnosed w/ double ear infections and tonsillitis and was begging to sleep in or go to bed early or take a nap herself during siesta, I started threatening to hobble on over there and crack some skulls. Or to at least email the dad myself and let him know what I thought of the entire situation. But DD wanted to handle it herself, so I’ve been seething in silence over here. She is slowly making the dad see that things need to change and I’m hopeful that once he’s on the ground there, he’ll actually be able to make the changes permanent, so her remaining month will be much better than the last 1.5 has been.

  57. “I think the grandparents see her as less an au pair there to have an experience and more an indentured servant.”

    Back when people would talk about au pairs on TOS (including some of the WSJ contributors), I got the sense that they saw them more as cost-effective childcare than as someone there to have an experience.

    On the spectrum between “exchange student” and “full time nanny,” I’ve always thought Americans saw au pairs as being 95% of the way toward the nanny end.

  58. When she asks if she can take bit of time to herself, the answer is no.

    Why can’t she just tell them rather than ask them?

  59. Milo/Rhett – the way the dad talked to DD via Skype and email before she went over there, it really seemed like he saw her as a kid there to help with the kids AND to have a great summer. DD was under the impression she would have evenings and weekends off*, and was making plans to travel on weekends. We almost booked a week there ourselves, thinking we’d have all this time with her, and friends of hers were close to doing the same. Luckily we didn’t, as we’d have been lucky to catch a glimpse of her between midnight and 12:05am.

    *I don’t know if he told her she’d have weekends and evenings off or if she simply assumed this. I expect it was the latter, as she has not complained about him going back on his word, and has only said, “This isn’t what I expected, and if I’d known it would be like this, I wouldn’t have taken the job.” For my part, I assumed he had told her this expressly, because of how often she said it. Seems she and I have both learned a lot about making assumptions. I feel terrible that I didn’t push on this and get her to ask him to put her hours in writing. She wanted to handle the entire thing but I should’ve given her that advice at least – to get a definite commitment about hours.

  60. @Rhett: FWIW, I think I misread your comment about not wanting your kids to do better than you. I thought you were saying Totebaggers actively do not want their kids to be more financially successful than they were. After catching up on that thread, I think you were saying that Totebaggers do not prioritize having their kids be more financially successful than they were, especially to the degree recent immigrants do. ITA with that latter point.

    I am off this evening to Alsace for the riesling festival on the Route du Vin this weekend with my mom and sister. Could be a fantastic few days to catch up, could be freaking miserable, we shall see. :-)

  61. Rhett at 8:34 – not sure I’d have had the guts to do that at 17, and DD is a lot nicer than I was.

  62. I agree with Rhett that, since she has wealthy parents, she can simply declare to the grandparents that she’s taking more time for herself, and they probably won’t be in a position to object.

    Obviously, she can just quit. But it does sound like she’s learning a valuable lesson, and one that wouldn’t have happened if you’d micromanaged the employment arrangements. So maybe just feel good about that.

    It’s only a few more weeks, right? You can do anything for a few weeks.

  63. @Risley: is she on an official au pair program, or was this something that came up through a friend-of-a-friend type of thing? I know in the US, there are very strict limits on how much the kids can be required to work (I think it’s like 35 hrs/wk, which is why we never went that route), so if this is via a program, that would be the best resource to start with.

    But ITA that this is a good learning experience, even though it is not exactly fun to live through it. Learning how not to let people take advantage of you is a truly critical life skill.

  64. Rhett at 8:34 – not sure I’d have had the guts to do that at 17, and DD is a lot nicer than I was.

    It might help her to know it’s an option. It’s certainly a good life lesson.

  65. Risley – it doesn’t seem like the situation is going to get too much better. I don’t think any of the adults do hands on child care. They probably had a full time nanny that went everywhere the kids went prior to your DD arriving there.

  66. Totally unrelated — anyone ever used the Legacy Box service for digitizing VHS or photos?

  67. Scarlett – No, but I’ve used Costco to put old time Wonder Years-style 8mm film reels onto DVD.

  68. LfB – friend of the family she babysits for here. I think if the parents here knew what they’d gotten her into, they’d be horrified. They’re actually sending their 8yo over next week to spend the last 3 weeks there and then she’ll fly home w/ DD. That has been the thing keeping DD from quitting – she doesn’t want to ruin the 8yo’s chance at having 3 weeks in Spain (the parents wouldn’t send the kid if DD weren’t there).

    Milo/LfB – totally agree that in the end, it’s a great learning experience and a huge leap for her in terms of emotional growth. I told DD this and she totally agreed. And yes, “I was miserable for 2.5 months in Spain one summer” is hardly a Victor Frankl story — DD herself pointed that out to me the other day. “I *chose* to come here and I know I’ll get to be home soon — he had no choice about any of it, and didn’t even know if he’d live or die.” Perspective, the kid certainly has. She’s learning to find joy in her circumstances no matter what they may be. It’s all good, from a 30,000-foot view.

    On more minor notes, DH points out that (1) DD is not likely to be homesick at college this fall, having gotten that out of her system and (2) it’s a rite of passage to have a significant illness when you’re on your own away from home, and now she’s gotten that out of the way, too.

  69. Sorry Risley I missed your whole thread. Such a disappointment for your DD. I hope that there is time when she returns for a nice period of pampering from mom. Something for her to look forward to.

  70. I think she should quit and come home early. Standing up for yourself is another life lesson.

    So sorry this is happening!

  71. Part of me agrees with Houston. Or she should at least say, this past month has not worked out as anticipated. I will no longer be available between the hours of 10pm and 7am, and Saturday/Sundays. If that’s not acceptable to you, let’s go ahead and terminate this arrangement effective (2 days from now).

  72. Risley – I hope she can have a short vacation before college.
    Over here days at the beach are a cure for all of life’s ills. If you ask anyone about vacation, they say they went to the beach. Then you solemnly nod and smile, glad that they done the appropriate thing for their own well being.

  73. Houston – I’ve given her that option but she’s determined not to ruin the 8yo American’s chance to have 3 weeks in Spain.

    Scarlett – oh yes, and in fact, it’s already begun. I’ve done a little retail therapy for her (she also has no Internet). Once she made it clear she intends to remain for the sake of the 8yo, I told her if she can make herself feel 5% better about her situation on any given day, I’ll order x, y or z for her (she had a list of things she was saving for).

    The kid needs to learn a little guile — some days, she’ll say, “I definitely feel better than I did yesterday, BUT NOT 5% BETTER.” Dude – skip the complete honesty and take the Birks/Hunters/etc!

  74. Lark – I haven’t actually suggested that approach to her, but I love it. Will pass that along.

    Louise – she has 6 days b/w Spain and college. And my permission to spend those days doing pretty much whatever the hell she wants.

  75. Lark – just realized despite the excellence of your idea, it won’t work for her as she is unwilling to follow through and quit, b/c of the 8yo. Can’t make a threat you’re not willing to carry out. But if it weren’t for the 8yo, that would be a great strategy.

  76. @Risley: I think she can — and should — still use Lark’s idea, just softer. There is huge, huge, HUGE life value in learning to ask forgiveness instead of permission. I.e., don’t ask the grandparents if she can take time off some evening, tell them that she will be out Thursday after 7 PM. Or say “I need one weekend day off to take care of things on my own, so would you prefer that to be Saturday or Sunday?” Or “let’s discuss which three weeknights would be most convenient for me to be off this week.” Or “which weekend is more convenient for me to travel to X?” Etc. etc. etc. And then if she gets pushback, she just calmly says, “I’m sorry, that won’t work for me, I need one of those days/that night/that weekend/etc.”

    It’s exactly like managing a toddler — they are fundamentally unreasonable creatures, and so you don’t give them unlimited choices and expect them to make a rational choice, or argue/engage with them about why they can’t wear their bathing suit to preschool. You don’t ask which shirt they want to wear, you ask whether they want the red shirt or the blue shirt, and if they fuss, you just smile and nod and repeat your question.

    Tl;dr: your DD has the power here, she just doesn’t realize it — what are they going to do, fire her and lose their cheap-ass nanny? She is being more than accommodating, and so she *does not need to feel guilty or to justify or explain herself to people who are treating her unreasonably*. She needs to state what she wants, politely, and then simply stick with it without arguing or getting upset or expecting them to understand. To channel Dear Abby, no one can abuse you without your permission.

  77. I totally agree with LfB. There is no way that if she says, “I’m taking Saturday off” that they will fire her. It just ain’t goinna’ happen. The GPs will complain to the parents and the parents will tell them to suck it up and the GPs will sulk but fuck ’em.

  78. Maybe Fred can translate, “I’m not asking you to take Saturday off. I’m telling you I’m taking Saturday off.”

  79. LfB/Rhettt – that’s an excellent point, and I’ll suggest that to her. A Lark Lite approach. Rhett, thank you for driving that home until I finally got it.

  80. Voy a tomar el sabado (domingo) que viene como descanso.
    (I am taking this coming Saturday (Sunday) off)

    Buena suerte. (good luck)

  81. To be clear, she has done a good job (relatively speaking) of putting her foot down with the dad, and as a result, he has spoken to the grandparents and forced them to make changes. She has not faced off with the grandparents directly, as she felt she should go through the dad. This may have been a mistake — she likely should have been more forceful with them, too.

    I believe things will be better for the next 11 days while the dad is there (we shall see, but I am hopeful, given his talks with DD). But I think that in the 3 weeks after he leaves, when she’s again alone w/ the grandparents, she should consider the Lark Lite / Rhett / LfB approach of telling, not asking, about time off, and that’s what I’ll tell her. (And of course, if I’m wrong and things aren’t way better in these next 11 days w/ the dad there, I’ll suggest she consider implementing that strategy immediately).

    Shall report back. Thanks for your concern, all.

  82. “No soy una esclava, hijos de puta” might be another good one. But that’s just me.

  83. Risley – one outcome would be she and kids going back to Madrid because the grandparents don’t want to do any child care.

  84. Madrid in the summer is hot. The beach is much nicer, as long as los abuelos aren’t treating her like crap.

  85. Rocky – while seemingly appropriate that does not address what’s happening on Saturday.

  86. RMS – haven’t translated, but I have a pretty good guess. ;)

    She certainly had a lovely time in Madrid when it was just her, the parents and the kids.

  87. I’m sorry to have missed this thread. No one ever want to engage in Au Pair (or AP Art) discussion except when I’m not looking!

    LfB (not surprisingly) gave great advice. I will add that Au Pair rules are very different in the US. Max 45h per week, max 10h per day, 1.5 days of per week. You have to have an agency to get the visa to come over, and the agency has to have a local rep. So, even though families violate the rules, it is not as flagrant and the Au Pairs do have a local advocate. Also, it probably helps that we sign (every year) a contract that specifies the rules in our living room with the agency rep. At least we can’t claim we didn’t know what we are doing.

    There is a website (AuPairMom) that has a ton of Au Pair parent kvetching and support. There is a frequent letter that gets written in: “Dear Au Pair Mom, I’m an American who went to Europe to be an Au Pair and now I have to take care of the kids at the summer house while the parents work in town all week. I don’t have a contract and we never put my hours in writing.” I don’t know if the family was willfully taking advantage, but it seems to be very common with the summer American nanny.

    (Alternatively, people tell me all the time: “Oh! You can go away for the weekend whenever you want, you have an Au Pair.” Which doesn’t work if I want to keep having an Au Pair. Though we do leave the kids with the Au Pair and the grandma 1-2 x per year, grandma is very aware of the hours rules. I hope.)

  88. Risley, perhaps while the parents are there she can reset the parameters and expectations of her service, e.g., as Lark suggested, retire by 10 each night, and not be available until 7.

    Since your DD’s agreement is with the Dad, an option is to come up with a more firm agreement with the Dad on what her responsibilities are, perhaps during the time he’s there, and when GPs want her to do more, have her step aside and let them take it up with the Dad.

    I agree with Louise that it sounds like the GPs are used to having a full-time nanny and don’t want to do any child care. It also sounds like it might be an issue between the parents and GPs, and DD is caught in the middle; perhaps GPs told parents they would to some childcare to placate parents, but are taking advantage of DD to avoid it.

  89. “I think if the parents here knew what they’d gotten her into, they’d be horrified. They’re actually sending their 8yo over next week to spend the last 3 weeks there and then she’ll fly home w/ DD. That has been the thing keeping DD from quitting – she doesn’t.want to ruin the 8yo’s chance at having 3 weeks in Spain (the parents wouldn’t send the kid if DD weren’t there).”
    Uh, shouldn’t someone tell these parents that they are planning to send their 8 year old to stay for 3 weeks with inattentive and uninterested grandparents who are overworking the teenage au pair who will be providing all care for their daughter and multiple other kids?
    I don’t think I’m that overprotective but this seems sketchy to me.

  90. “anyone ever used the Legacy Box service for digitizing VHS or photos?”

    Like Milo, I’ve used Costco to convert old 8mm video to DVD. I’ve been quite happy with the results.

    To digitize VHS and video from camcorder tapes, I have a DVD recorder I bought a while back. The input to the recorder is from the VHS player or the camcorder, and the DVD recorder converts in real time. Not the greatest way to do it, but at least we preserved some priceless family video, like 3yo DD singing along with her GP.

    Based on my experience with Costco, I’d trust them with digitizing VHS.

    To digitize photos, I use a scanner, but I can see where that could take a long time for a lot of photos.

  91. Also, I know this thread is pretty dead right now, but I don’t think that it is appropriate to refuse to be available from 10p-7a. — that is inadequate “off time” She really should not be expected to work more than 10 hours per day, and less if she is working most days of the week. I could get behind being unavailable from 9p-11a. That gives her time to actually sight-see and be a tourist a bit.

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