Follow-up Friday

by Finn

Many of us have consulted with The Totebag for thoughts and advice on various situations, or mentioned new things in their lives. What did you end up doing, and how did that work out? What would you advise fellow Totebaggers who might find themselves in similar situations?

Sky, how’s your DS’ math program? Allie, how’s your motorcycle? Minca, how’s the wine making? Mooshi, what sort of window treatment did you buy for your bedroom window? What headphones did you end up getting? Did you ever figure out how to play CDs through speakers? DD, how’s your volunteer gig as a college coach? Meme, how’s the Cam Newton signing working out?

130 thoughts on “Follow-up Friday

  1. Regulars know my SO is older (70+) and had a recent bout of cancer, and that I have often struggled dealing with the combination of physical and mental health changes. The advice given about recognizing the extent of his “recovery” may have been reached and accepting a new normal have been extremely helpful.
    My ceasing to expect more and working to create routines/division of duties for us that reflect that have made my life less stressful, though I often feel more like a caregiver than a partner. I am looking forward to declining COVID cases in our area to the point I can outsource more things (especially housecleaning) without feeling like we are placing him at a higher risk.

  2. Due to the fires and smoke taint, we did not make any wine this year (DH or family). We (family business) are bottling the rest of the 2018s in a few weeks, so won’t feel the gap in product pipeline for awhile. On a positive note, we’ve hosted some really fun virtual tastings and now have olive oil for sale.

  3. Unfortunately, I have bad follow up. I went anon for advice on how to help extended family with a young teen in an mental health crisis. Child went to inpatient therapy in late Feb/early March after a well-planned and executed suicide attempt, then released as Covid restrictions were ramping up. Schools here closed mid-March so that child did not have to return to school in person.

    Parents had to revamp their home, locking ALL medications, removed an antique shotgun, locked up all knives in the kitchen, scissors, anything sharp, etc.

    Child was doing well over the summer on a 2nd anti-anxiety medication, as the first did not seem to help.

    Last week, Child found a blade from a sibling’s pencil sharpener that family had overlooked, used it for cutting. Child also found ibuprofen in a parent’s work bag and took all that were there. Tho Child did not like their time in inpatient settimg in Feb, Child is adamant that it is needed.

    What we’ve learned: we may think that we’ve made a home secure but small lapses in security can be dangerous. We have learned that setbacks can and will occur. We have learned that the holidays have fallen to rock bottom in importance (we had planned to hunker down for two weeks then join in person for Thanksgiving) as compared to the long term health and well-being of Child.

    I am thankful for what has gone well.

  4. Anon, I am so sorry.

    And Austin – thank you for sharing your update. While I imagine reaching some level of acceptance makes it “easier,” I know it must still be hard.

  5. Ditto what Seattle said, Austin.

    On the cat litter front–Arm & Hammer has a baking soda based litter deodorizer that has helped, as has running the vent fan in the bathroom (thanks to the brilliant person who suggested this!).

  6. I never got the window treatments. I had some samples sent to me, and wasn’t really sure about any of them. Then the semester started and I had no more time or mental bandwidth to think about windows or traipse to the stores to get quotes and look at stuff. The limited hours of those stores didn’t help.
    Semester ends in two weeks, so I plan to revisit the window treatments.

  7. Anon, I am really sorry. Depression and anxiety in a teen is a long haul thing. I have had some personal experiences with sibs who had similar situations so I know how hard it is for the family

  8. Anon – that’s sobering. It must be so hard on the parents and other family members as they keep alert for a setback, including one that would be the most devastating result. I’ve heard this same story from other parents, including one friend who had resigned himself to losing his son at some point and tried to mentally prepare himself for it. I’m sorry you all are going through this.

  9. AustinMom – just do what you can do and keep positive.

    Anon – really sorry to hear this. It is unfortunately a life long challenge and ongoing treatment is also expensive.

  10. I had asked about sharing the costs for removing a neighbor’s tree that crashed into our yard during a storm. It turned out my H wanted to pay the higher amount, which was the cost split among three neighbors. I did not agree, especially because the tree detritus was spread across four backyards. But H thought it was worth it to keep good relations with the tree owner in case we ever need his cooperation in some matter so I went along with it.

    Also, it struck me that perhaps part of the dynamics involved was similar to a man finding more satisfaction in picking up the dinner tab than a woman. ;) That was part of a totebag discussion at the time.

  11. Anon,
    That is so horrendous.
    The child’s parents must be very grateful for your presence and support. It is a lonely and difficult process.

  12. In happier update news, the pup is on the mend. He still refuses to walk and prefers to eat while sitting on my lap but is much, much better. We’re all very relieved.

  13. Anon- I am also very sorry to hear your update. I’m sure it means more than you know to the parents that you are able to support in whatever way you can.

    We are fully moved into our new house (same neighborhood) and very, very much enjoying the extra room. The old place is under contract & is moving steadily without conflict toward being sold before the end of the year. After much worry about whether or not we were being rash – I am very glad we took the risk and the effort of moving. So I take back anything I said in the past about living in a small space (although this is still small by suburban standards). I especially love having a dedicated office space which also has room for a sectional for lounging/reading, and open space to put down my yoga mat and do Zoom workouts. DS loves having a big hangout space that is not his bedroom. DH loves having an attached garage with an extra stall. I have yet to take a Constanza-style workday nap on my office couch, but it will have to be added to the bucket list.

  14. Finn, if the Patriots claw their way into the playoffs, they will be the Wild Card team no one wants to play. Cam has been a hard worker and good leader, as well as a talented player, and considering the alternatives at QB, has kept the fans tuning in every week. That is enough right now.

  15. Ivy, on time we moved within the same neighborhood and never regretted it. You will love having more space as your DS grows up!

    Anon, I’m so sorry to hear about Child. Blessings to you and your loved ones.

    Our mountain house’s completion date has been “two more weeks” for the last 10 weeks. You guys advised me on appliances back in May, but in the end, appliances came down to “whatever you can get, Mr. Builder, install that.” I did get the Speed Queen “laundry center” I chose for the closet that only accomodates a stacked single unit system. I made the appliance lady’s day when I said I wanted to order that!

  16. Anon, thank you for sharing.

    AustinMom, you can always write to me via my blog email address for any reason.

  17. Houston – not sure what triggered it, but a horrendous case of hemorrhagic diarrhea and vomiting. He spent a day/night at the ER Vet hospital getting fluids and IV meds, came home with a bunch of oral meds, and then had a follow up visit to our regular vet for more meds and prescription food. He is slowly on the mend and doing much better. Hard to believe it’s been a week since our ER visit.

  18. Mémé, I thought the Newton signing was another coup, and his early season performance was consistent with that.

    I’m wondering how much his covid bout affected his performance. Perhaps he’ll get back to his earlier season performance level as he recovers.

  19. My update on ScholarMatch. I was finally matched with a student in September. He lives in Queens and wants to go into nursing. He goes to a performing arts school and plays several instruments. He is applying to Wisconsin, UCLA, a few other schools, and taking a shot at Penn. He hasn’t needed much help so far. He asked me to review his Common App essay and then some essays for some of the specific schools. He hasn’t asked for help with anything else yet. I’m not a fan of his writing style so it was a bit challenging to give advice but still make sure he is keeping his voice.

  20. Anon,

    I’m very sorry to hear that. I just worry that your extended family is feeling guilt or shame about it. They is no reason for that. They are dealing with a major biological malfunction no different than cancer cells growing out of control in someone’s pancreas. It’s not anyone’s fault. No one did anything wrong.

    When my sister was growing up she had nose tubes and chest tubes and pic lines and heparin flushes and drains and things would go wrong. Providing that level of care is difficult in an ICU let alone trying to do that at home. In a similar way your extended family is trying to provide inpatient psychiatric care at home. It’s very hard. But not different just because the malfunction is in the brain vs. elsewhere in the body.

  21. Houston – it was! And of course when things are at their worst is when they give you the cost estimate. You’ll agree to pay anything at that point!

  22. On another lighter note, I asked about replacement windows a while ago. Earlier today, I signed a contract for ten new windows. After a couple of non-starts with local contractors, I tried the Finn approach, and went through Home Depot. So far the process has been great. I booked a consultation online, and was able to specify my desired date and time. Yesterday, a nice young man called me to confirm the appointment, and today he came to measure and give me a quote. After hearing what I wanted, he suggested Andersen 400 Series windows, which is what I thought I wanted based on some research. So, I went ahead and ordered.

    The sales rep said not to expect the installation for another couple of months, though, because they have a lot of orders and because things are not being manufactured as quickly as usual due to Covid.

    It’s a lot of money to spend, but I am looking forward to not having to put massive amounts of rope caulk around my windows to try to keep the outside air from coming in.

  23. NoB, please update us as your window replacement project proceeds.

    I’m glad my shared experience has helped you find a way forward and hope it works well for you.

  24. Anon, very sorry to hear. This a very challenging situation.

    DD stayed in AP Psych. Yes, you guys were right about her other AP classes being more important. She loves AP Bio, but it is a ton of work.

    She stayed because she spoke to the assistant principal, college advisor and guidance counselor. All 3 told her to stay until the end of the first quarter because she could drop at any time before grades are posted. The teacher is getting a lot of coaching and help. Some kids have dropped the class so that made the class smaller. He isn’t good, but he is 24 in his first full time teaching job. It isn’t a pleasure and it is boring, but she is learning from the textbook. It is better to have an extra AP vs dropping it and having a hole in her schedule. There was absolutely nothing to fill it with and there is no where to go during covid. the gym and the library are locked.

  25. ”I never got the window treatments… the semester started and I had no more time or mental bandwidth”

    Mooshi, I can empathize.

    We also have a bunch of home projects that we think about, but some never get done, and others take a while to get to.

    For example, I’ve been largely WFH for almost 8 months now, but it was only a couple of weeks ago that I finally made some changes to my home workspace to make it more comfortable.

    I’d been using a keyboard on a desk drawer that was too high to be comfortable, so I’d been compensating by moving my chair higher, but that left my feet dangling. I had to mull over that issue for a while before I finally figured out a way to install a keyboard tray on that desk. Then I had to gather up the materials, then every time I was ready to actually install the tray, something came up.

    Finally things at work slowed down during Veterans Day week, with a lot of people taking some of their use/lose leave that week, and I was able to install it.

  26. I am assuming this is a safe space for a kid brag….
    My DD just got her first quarter grades, and drum roll please: All A’s. Her grades have been steadily going up since last year, but straight A’s is a first for her. And she is in honors history (which is actually AP Global spread over two years) and honors ELA, which have really high expectations and a ton of work.
    This is the kid who, as late as 7th grade, was placed in “support seminar” for ELA ( special support class for struggling kids).
    This remote learning has been really good for her :-)

  27. Mooshi, that’s awesome! This is definitely the place to brag about it!

    DD got her SAT score, she was up 20 points but still 10 points below her brother. Oh well.

  28. “but that left my feet dangling.”

    I have a foot stool under my desk both in my home office and in my office office. They’re absolutely essential to my comfort and well-being while I’m working.

  29. Anon, your share is heartbreaking. I think Rhett offered some great advice, and know that you can always lean on us if you need to talk to someone other than the people living it with you.

    Great news MM!

    DH is still in the job hunt. It’s been two months, and in that time the number of job opportunities has been cut significantly. There were several opportunities that just disappeared midway through the interview process (in all those cases he knew people on the team or close enough to the team to know that management pulled the opening).

  30. DD, I’m sure that’s annoying for your daughter, but it sounds like she’s still doing great. And she has college acceptances in hand even with the previous scores! That must be a relief for her, even while she’s still waiting to hear from other schools.

  31. Thank Meme!

    Operation Bring College Students Home begins its first wave in 10 minutes when I leave for the airport to get DD#2. IF all goes to plan it will end on Wed, Dec. 9.

  32. Rocky, she’s fine :)

    Lemon, sending good vibes to your DH that something opens up for him.

  33. Kerri – I am glad your dog is doing better.
    Lemon – good luck to your DH.
    Congrats Mooshi to your DD.

  34. And in the opposite of an achievement/making progress, today I took DS shopping for hiking boots and learned that if he has to tie a pair of shoes, he still uses the bunny loop method. He mostly wears shoes that don’t require the tying of laces (he generally wears running shoes but is able to take them on/off without untying the laces). I feel we failed a little as parents in teaching this basic skill but oh well.

    On the plus side, it appears that DS’ feet have stopped growing (at least I hope that’s the case!).

  35. @Anon Also for Today, what a terrifying and sad situation. I agree with everything that Rhett posted. This is a sickness, just like cancer. No one is at fault and no one did anything wrong. Please try to remember that. My heart goes out to your extended family.

    About a year ago I posted as Going Anon and I shared that my son took his own life. Today would have been his 23rd birthday. There was no history of mental illness, depression, anxiety,
    whatever. He didn’t leave a note. Over the past year I have met so many wonderful, loving parents who are also dealing with the same earth shattering loss.

    In terms of an update, last year was so painful. I am grateful to have survived it and to be past it. I miss my son terribly, but I’ve been able to move beyond that raw, painful grieving. Most days, that is. I’ve met some really good people, and my extended family has been very supportive. The journey continues.

  36. Both anons – I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. I agree completely with Rhett – it is an illness and well outside your control. Hugs to you both, and please be kind to yourselves. These are hard days.

  37. To both anons, that’s so hard. My friend committed suicide a few years ago, and it’s been really difficult for me to come to terms with it – the only thing that has helped is thinking of that level of depression as a brain disease she didn’t choose.

  38. Update: DS1 loves his math program, and we are so happy he switched! The teacher is incredible, he’s made new friends, and he has learned so much even in only a few months of hybrid. I’m keeping DS2 in the public school in the hope that the program continues and DS2 can go in a few years. (DS2 is enjoying hybrid, but not covering the full curriculum. We put him in Kumon because he doesn’t want to do extra work assigned by Mom.)

    I’m doing my Christmas decorating early because covid cases are on the upswing here and I need something fun to look forward to, even if it’s baking a lot of Christmas cookies I don’t need to eat. The exercise routine of the first six months of the pandemic has ended after bouts of anemia and bursitis. Wondering if I should start to train as if there might be a mini triathlon next June (this year was canceled) or wait for 2022.

  39. Going anon – I am glad you have supportive people around you.

    I am happy to have the Totebaggers as a group. Many of us have been posters for a long time. We have had our highs and lows through the years. I find the different perspectives plus the geographic diversity to be very insightful.

  40. Going anon, many hugs. I am glad you met people that are helping you through such a hard time.

    Louise, I agree with you about the Totebag. It has been a part of my life for a long time and I am grateful for this group.

  41. “It has been a part of my life for a long time and I am grateful for this group.”


    Anons, thank you for sharing your stories.

  42. Experiences with hybrid – does anyone have the sense that teachers are assigning more homework/activities as a way to keep students engaged than in the before times? Or are kids just burning out from all the screen time and lack of casual interactions they’d normally get at school, but the amount of schoolwork is the same?

    As I alluded to earlier, teachers are setting all sorts of random times for assignments to be due – later that day, next day at 8 am, at 10 am, at 11:59 pm. My kids are having a hard time keeping on top of it all.

  43. My kids have had a harder time with tests and quizzes because they have had to transition to a partial mix of online and paper. Also the school is not conducting first semester exams so it’s been a lot more tests and quizzes in lieu of the exams.,
    The school started two weeks later and it has been a rush to get everything in. The fall stretch is always exhausting and the second quarter doesn’t end till mid Jan. They are in person plus some remote students and it’s been a huge learning curve for everyone. The school has managed to stay open, so far so good.

  44. Anons – thank you for sharing your stories. I’m sending virtual hugs to you.

    Lemon Tree – I’m thinking of your husband and will be on the lookout for any opportunities.

    I am grateful for the Totebag too.

  45. Finn, thanks so much for posting this! I also am glad to have hung out with this group for over a decade, since my own “before time”. I’d like it if this kind of catch-up/report back could be a regular feature, maybe monthly or quarterly.

    Anons, like others, I feel for you. It is so hard to see a kid you live be depressed, and losing your child must just rip part of your heart out. Please use us as a place to vent or let us know if there is anything we can do to help. Believe it or not, I can be a good listener. Email me at if you need someone to lend you an ear, and a shoulder.

  46. Kerri, I have noticed any change in DD’s workload. It’s just as low as it has always been :)

    I had to get bloodwork yesterday so my doctor added the COVID antibody test and I’m positive. Too bad that doesn’t get me out of the state requirement to get tested 2x/week.

  47. Going Anon, I am so, so sorry. My little brother committed suicide when he was just 20, and it was very hard on everyone, but especially my mother. There were clear warning signals from my brother, similar to what the other anon just described. He had been hospitalized after an attempt 6 months earlier. Back then, there were no background checks to purchase a gun and….
    To this day, I have many strong feelings about it. And there is no question, anxiety and depression is a brain disease, like any other disease. A very lethal disease. Hugs to you Going Anon, and I am glad you have supportive people around you.

  48. “Experiences with hybrid – does anyone have the sense that teachers are assigning more homework/activities as a way to keep students engaged than in the before times? ”

    Yes, yes, double yes. I think I have mentioned the Wednesday Firehose before? They don’t have Zoom classes on Wednesday, so the teachers hold office hours instead and are required to give them an assignment due by the end of the day. The assignments appear haphazardly so you have to watch Classroom like a hawk, and they have all kinds of odd due times. Some of them are quizzes, some are weird activities and some are things like papers that take too long. It is kind of like Whack-a-mole

    In my case, my DD is in many of the same classes, with the same teachers, that my boys had so I can do direct comparisons.

  49. DD – Very interesting. Seems like if you tested negative you were not infected but could have been possibly exposed and developed antibodies. Is this possible ?

  50. Mooshi – you should speak to the administration about Wack a Mole Wednesday. The teachers may not know how cumulatively they are creating chaos for the students.

  51. I think the workload is similar for my middle school sons but their inability to type proficiently combined with technical issues made the first several weeks challenging. They have weekly typing assignments and have improved enough that inability to type is no longer the threshold variable limiting timely schoolwork submission.

  52. We are full remote, but the workload seems about the same as last year. He has an hour or so of homework which was the same during the last school year. In The Before Times, he would generally do his homework at aftercare (and actually requested to stay in aftercare rather than coming straight home in order to do homework). This is for 7th grade (test-in accelerated program). The remote classes have been consistent and engaging. Virtual PT conferences went well. Feel lucky that we are having a decent experience this year – I don’t think he’s behind where he would have been with a “regular” school year, and maybe he’s even learning a little independence and organization making sure he’s logging in on his own & keeping track of things.

  53. DD, are you going to suggest that your family all get antibody tests now? Maybe you’ve all had it. That would be a momentary relief.

  54. Louise, I think the adminstration encourages it. They are afraid that if there aren’t a lot of assignments, parents will complain that the teachers are lazy.

  55. In theory, one day where there aren’t really any classes, just one assignment due for each subject, sounds like a relief and a chance for kids to be in control of their schedules for a day. Too bad the teachers much it up by turning it into whack-a-mole! Why can’t they be required to have the assignment available by the same time every week, and have a common turn-in time, say 8:00 am to 10 pm. Logging in, seeing what their assignments are, and setting up their day so they get through everything could be a good exercise for the kids every week. Mooshi, extra congrats to your daughter for pulling her grades way up *and* doing it in the middle of this!

  56. Muck. Much muck.
    And I don’t mean kids should work 14 hours, just that they should have extra time available to schedule in breaks or whatever.

  57. I didn’t start getting tested regularly until about 6 weeks ago. We were pretty sure DW had it back in April but she was never tested. I probably had it then as well and was asymptomatic. DD had some symptoms as well. I don’t see a need for any of them to do the antibody test.

  58. Denver, still can’t figure out what to say—sorry to hear you’ve had it? Glad your family seems to be among the lucky ones who breeze through it? Hope you all continue to be asymptomatic and don’t have a traumatic relapse to a thing you never knew you had? All of the above are true. On this folllow-up Friday, could you tell us how your wife is doing and what practical difference her illness makes in your daily life?

  59. “We were pretty sure DW had it back in April but she was never tested. I probably had it then as well and was asymptomatic.”

    Didn’t you get tested for antibodies sometime in the past several months, when you donated blood, and were found at that time to not have antibodies? Was that prior to April?

  60. “Denver, still can’t figure out what to say—sorry to hear you’ve had it?”

    How about, I trust you’ve been taking measures all along to prevent infecting others, especially your patients?

  61. Fin, I think that was in May or June, but that was a different test which, from the info I found, is not as sensitive as this one. So it could have been a false negative.

    SM, I appreciate your concern. Things are not much improved with DW. We are at the point where we should start seeing improvement from her surgery back in June, if it does help. There’s about a 1/3 chance there won’t be any improvement from it.

    As for the daily impact, the short answer is it sucks. She doesn’t have much energy to do things. This morning we went to a small farmer’s market (about 20 stalls), then she made a dish to freeze for t-day, and she was done for the day.

  62. “Seems like if you tested negative you were not infected but could have been possibly exposed and developed antibodies. Is this possible ?”

    It seems to me the most likely scenario is DD was asymptomatically infected at some point between the time he gave blood, which was tested negative for antibodies, and when he started getting regular testing for the virus.

  63. How about, I trust you’ve been taking measures all along to prevent infecting others, especially your patients?

    Of course.

  64. “The teachers may not know how cumulatively they are creating chaos for the students.”

    This reminds my of DS’ 7th grade open house, when his math teacher told the parents that the daily homework assignments shouldn’t take more than about 40 minutes, as if it wasn’t much. Many parents noted how he seemed oblivious to the kids’ cumulative loads.

    “He has an hour or so of homework which was the same during the last school year. In The Before Times, he would generally do his homework at aftercare (and actually requested to stay in aftercare rather than coming straight home in order to do homework). This is for 7th grade”

    Apparently, your DS’ teachers are more conscious of cumulative loading.

  65. “They are afraid that if there aren’t a lot of assignments, parents will complain that the teachers are lazy.”

    My sister the teacher has complained many times about the parents who complain about this. One of her complaints was that the complaining parents were often placated by assignment of a lot of busy work, indicating the parents were lazy about monitoring the actual homework.

  66. “Apparently, your DS’ teachers are more conscious of cumulative loading.”

    I suspect that DS is much more efficient at getting his homework done than some, but they do try to be cognizant of the cumulative loading. The teachers mentioned that specifically in our online “meet & greet” curriculum night at the beginning of school, and they do all work together quite a bit on setting schedules & standards. The Science and Social Studies teachers especially since the Math & ELA classes are supposed to be the biggest focus of the core subjects & have the largest workloads. Science & SS tend to have longer timeframes for their projects vs. the daily work of Math & ELA. The Spanish teacher is a bit of a flake and posts homework at odd times with odd due dates – but not the Core teachers.

    “One of her complaints was that the complaining parents were often placated by assignment of a lot of busy work, indicating the parents were lazy about monitoring the actual homework.”

    MIL (retired MS teacher) said the same. I was worried when we moved DS to public school for MS that we would encounter too much busy work homework, but I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe it would have been different when he was in younger grades – I’ve heard there is a lot of that in the early elementary grades because the program is supposed to be accelerated/special, and parents expect homework for the appearance of rigor.

  67. Going anon – I am so sorry for your loss. Absolutely heartbreaking. Rhett and Sky – your framing of mental health issues is very helpful. Thank you.

    Sky – I’m thinking of signing up for a virtual half-marathon as a way to motivate myself to go on some longer runs. I usually run a local half-marathon in March to force myself to keep doing long runs in the winter. I can’t imagine it will be held in person in 2021. The one plus of virtual marathons is you have more to pick from.

  68. My grocery store has plenty of paper towels and toilet rolls and soups but there are signs saying “2 per person”.

    I started watching Voices of Fire on Netflix yesterday. I like Gospel music, so it was very interesting to me. Some of the singers were so moving when they sang. I know there were singers of previous generations who sang movingly, but Whitney Houston who started singing in church had that type of gifted voice.

  69. Yesterday I was stopped by a security guard at a local high school athletic field and told to put on my mask. At the time I was checking if I could use the track to walk, as I have done many times in the past few months without wearing a mask since 6’ social distancing is easily accomplished. But now there was a game going on and they were strictly imposing the mask rule for everyone plus they were not allowing track walkers. At least two security guards were on duty. In Before Times they used to allow track walkers even when games were going on. Although I felt I could have safely walked the track, I liked that they were being strict about masks.

    I wear a mask when walking in local business districts, but not when walking the local trails or suburban streets unless I come across a group where social distancing is a problem.

  70. “ Although I felt I could have safely walked the track, I liked that they were being strict about masks.”

    Me too! I usually put mine on in congested areas. Now that it’s really chilly out all day long, I sometimes don’t mind just leaving it on all the time. Yesterday the reverse happened—forgot my mask at home, so had to pull my scarf up until I bought a new mask.

  71. The only thing more extra than the decor of that house is the style of the captions. Calm TF down, Ms McM

  72. Kim,I wish they would post the game schedules so that those of us who use the track can make plans. It has gotten really hard to use the track because the sports teams have practice until 5 or so after school, there are often games on weekends, and they close the track at 8. That has been really hard for me because I often work pretty late, and then want to go out for a run.

  73. Denver, there is no search going on, and that’s the crux of our disagreement. Over the summer, we did nothing because he said he was too busy with IB papers. Now he says the same thing about preparing for finals. The teacher who was supposedly guiding this is now on maternity leave. He has an idea every now and then about taking a stab in this direction or that, but when I said something about Naviance, he said he had no idea what it is. When I described it and asked what the tool his school uses is, he had no idea such things exist. I need to get the name of the one Fred mentioned again—set it aside when school said they have a tool. At the moment, he says nah, not NYU or Georgetown or Howard (all of which he had been thinking of), says he wants to apply to U of Miami, because of the weather. We are on fairly hard lockdown right now and have scarcely done any of the travel I wanted to do when we moved here. I think the way your kids have pulled their socks up and taken the necessary steps so they can get applications out is wonderful, but given how far behind he is in all of this, I’m throwing my support to finding good internships/projects here next year, possibly with some short ones elsewhere too. Part of why we didn’t travel before Covid was that, once he came out of depression, he was constantly jumping from one school to the next, always waiting until the last minute and skipping over plans to investigate the next school carefully, and then scrambling to get situated at the new school. I don’t want that to happen for college. My impression of legal/political careers—and I’d love to hear from people who know better than I do—is that work experiences matter. He has a pretty blank resume right now, so working/volunteering for a political party, elected official, or non-profit could make quite a difference. If he applies and gets in, that’s up to him—I’m not helping him do that at this point.

  74. Rocky – that house…wow. Truly something. As I was looking through the pictures, I thought the only thing that could make it better was if Rhett toured it and then shared the experience with us.

  75. My daughter’s high school just went remote until Dec. 4. Evidently someone tested positive yesterday, and so many teachers were exposed and have to quarantine that they can’t staff the school in person. I am actually glad because the school is our only real source of exposure risk, and there has been a steady drip drip drip of cases and cascading quarantines.

  76. S&M, usually Naviance access is through the school. Does his school have counselors? Contact them. My kids both found Naviance to be pretty useless though. DS2 knew which locations he preferred so he just focused on those places, and DS1 had such incongruence between GPA and test scores that Naviance couldn’t do any predictions for him.

  77. SM, if he’s motivated enough, he’ll do it. If not, he can take a year off like you said. He’s a smart kid, he’ll find his path when he’s ready.

  78. Denver, thanks! I just wish he would do the prep work. I think your comment about maturity/readiness is right on target.

    Mooshi, his school doesn’t have Naviance. We might be able to get into it through the county where we lived in the US—not sure. There is a difference tool his teacher told me the school has that is very similar. What I’d really like him to be able to do is play around with it as some people on here have mentioned, see what comes up when he enters different preferences, then check websites for the schools that pique his interest, look at videos not authorized by the schools, eventually visit some. You know, take some time with the whole process, look at it from different angles, in different moods, like it’s something that matters. Iirc, both your kids so far looked at schools fairly close to home. How did the one for whom Naviance was unhelpful come up with his shortlist?

    With the info that he has two herniated discs, in addition to the scoliosis and one leg longer than the other, we are starting to understand his back pain. He has orthotic insoles and is doing treatments for the rest, but now that all basketball is canceled because of Covid, he is enjoying not pushing himself that hard. His current coach’s son and some other kids from the team have gone pro in the Euroleague, so he could conceivably go somewhere with the basketball, but has decided not to. That’s one decision that makes it easier.

  79. S&M, Naviance is helpful for certain kids, but there are plenty of other places to start that are free

    College Navigator ( is a free consumer information resource provided by the U.S. Department of Education. The site has tools and search options that make it quick and easy to gather and compare data about most U.S. colleges and universities. The College Navigator site also has useful links to Federal government sites for financial aid and career planning.

    College Insight ( provides easy-to-use college profiles that include information about affordability, student debt, and diversity.

    Unigo ( provides “insider” reviews, videos and photos by actual students attending the college. You’ll also find institution-specific stats and rankings as well as forums that focus on specific topics and colleges. Unigo’s partnership with The Wall Street Journal provides additional content focused on getting accepted, choosing schools and paying for college.
    CollegeHunch (download from App store) Easy to navigate with information from average SAT scores, acceptance rates, freshman class size, tuition, notable alumni and popular majors. It also includes a feature where you can “favorite” schools, compare them, and set filters so the app can recommend more schools based on average GPA, test scores, and interests. 

  80. I think he would be better off just getting lists of schools in cities he would like to be in, narrowing by major, and reading the site. He can register for open houses too, although we are at the tail end of the open house season. Is this for next year? If so, the window is getting tight. In any case, it sounds like he has no idea what he wants in college, which is a major danger sign, so he might be far better off working for a year.

  81. In cumulative workload woes, DD was complaining about the three tests she has today and two tomorrow. What an outrage in a holiday week ;-). The teachers sure are Grinches !

  82. OK, AITA query here:

    We are still planning on hosting Thanksgiving, as invites went out several months ago when numbers looked much better. Food will be outside, with socially-distanced seating for the different bubbles. Guests are my mom, DD’s best friend from Hebrew school and her mom, one SIL and her family, and FIL coming up from FL (we have tried to persuade FIL to stay put, but he’s not listening). We’ve also told everyone that if they don’t feel safe coming, we will understand.

    SIL realizes Friend is coming, and it leads to this series of texts where she mentions that it makes her “incredibly sad” because it’s “not safe” for us to get together, but I have Friend in my bubble — basically, she’s upset that I have expanded my bubble to include A friend who is not her. I explain that this is the friend who has been going through a horrible divorce, so we expanded our bubble to include her because she needed my support. And I get “I’m glad you have people you see, I’m just sad we’re not in that group.”

    Now, it’s true that without the various kid events, we haven’t seen each other in months (not that we normally saw each other all the time, or that she was reaching out to schedule things, either). But I also haven’t thought about getting together because my sense was she WASN’T taking the social distancing thing that seriously. Last time we saw her, she was annoyed she couldn’t host a big birthday party, so she met us all for lunch at a restaurant, and then at the end mentioned that she was having a series of smaller get-togethers instead (and we weren’t the first). She’s also the one who wanted us all to rent a house for Thanksgiving, and then when that fell through, wanted to do T-day at her place — again, not leaving the impression that she cares much about social distancing. Friend and daughter, OTOH, have been incredibly cautious.

    So: AITA for not disinviting Friend to Thanksgiving? I feel like I *should* be empathetic to SIL’s concerns, because she feels excluded and she wants to make sure FIL is safe. But good Lord I’m just breaking the eye-roll emoji instead. I’m ignoring the texts right now, because if I respond, I definitely WILL be TA, and that won’t help.

  83. “SIL – As you know, we’re making accommodations to allow outdoor distancing at Thanksgiving, so you and [BIL and family] would have your own table. However, I totally understand if you feel that it’s too much of a risk, and we’ll look forward to the day when we can all get together again like the old times.


  84. LFB, so sorry to hear of this drama. I assume your DH has been on board with your plans to invite Friend? IMHO you can turn this over to DH to deal with his sister and her passive aggressive texts. It sounds like you have given everyone an out if they choose to take it. Not sure what more you can do, yourself. Good luck.

  85. I don’t know that anybody’s the asshole, really. She feels left out. She didn’t deal with that graciously, but on the other hand, don’t we tell people to “tell them how you feel”? I don’t even see it as passive aggressive.

    There are various options before you. The one that is most likely to preserve your relationship with your SIL is to tell her all about Friend’s horrible divorce (embroider the story if you have to) to try to get SIL’s sympathy engaged for Friend. “You, SIL, are so lucky to have this big group of people that you see [well, that’s a little passive-aggressive, so maybe not], but Friend’s husband Trevor was such a putz, let me tell you all about it, and see? She doesn’t have friends the way you do.”

    Then lay it on thick with how much you miss SIL and all the good times you’ve had, and make plans for the After Times. Be the bigger person. You are not TA, but I don’t know that SIL is TA either; it’s just a tough time with hurt feelings and people feeling left out. I personally HATE feeling left out, so I can understand.

    What I outlined above is the high road. It is super hard to choke your way through at the time you’re doing it, but it’s likely to be the best strategy long-term.

  86. LOL Milo — yeah, that’s where this all started. . . . But you’re right, just not engaging on the guilt-tugging is clearly the right answer.

    HFN — laughing at turning it over to DH. He’d flat-out tell her to go do something anatomically impossible. For better or worse, I get to be the mature one in this scenario (and I just wish y’all knew me well enough to understand exactly how ironic that is).

  87. LfB – I’m amazed you’re still hosting at all. Not sure I understand SIL’s view that she’s excluded. She’s invited too, yes?

    I agree with Milo’s suggestion.

  88. I agree with both Milo and RMS. I think “NAH” (no a-holes here). It’s all very touchy and frankly, 2020 sucks. Maybe she’s being whiny, but I think you just don’t engage on the guilt and re-emphasize the plan & that you can’t wait until things are “normal” again. Let her have her own pity party, don’t get sucked into it (we all have had many this year, no?).

  89. Milo’s response is perfect.
    There is no need to defend your guest list, and trying to do so only sucks you into your SIL’s issues, which are not your issues.

  90. We now have the ability to defer all the pesky relationship issues to the After Times ! See y’all in 2022 !

  91. LOL Louise — I’m just going to leave it with that. ;-)

    I’m realizing that I’m overreacting to SIL’s response because I’ve been struggling with isolation lately.* I’ve been pushing aside my own socialization needs for the greater good (DD’s college, DH’s ability to go to work), so I am particularly sensitive to the implication that it’s wrong of me to have even one friend — especially coming from Ms. Social Butterfly who decided to take things seriously only when FIL announced his visit. Since I’m being emotional too, best to just back away slowly so no one gets hurt.

    *I kind of had a meltdown late last week when my coach told me to stay away from the gym for the next couple of weeks because of my second concussion; apparently I have been relying on that gym time as a sanity-maintaining device, and taking it away really knocked the stuffing out of me.

  92. Going Anon, thinking of you. Thank you for posting your update.

    @ LfB – I think Milo’s email is right. Are there any other safety steps you can add? (“We’re also going to ask that when people do come inside to refresh drinks or use the bathroom that they put on a mask.”) Be as compassionate as possible, give her all the facts, and then let her make her own decision.

  93. Louise, DD is also slammed with work for this week.Two tests and bio lab due today and two tests tomorrow. She likes to attend school in person, but her high school had to cancel in person classes for this week due to some positive kids. She can sleep later when she is remote so she said it is easier to take the tests from home.

    One silver lining of all remote is that most of her friends are int he other cohort. It is a quirk of the alphabet, but she misses her friends. When they are all remote, everyone is online together so she feels more connected to her friends.

  94. my second concussion;

    You’ve had two diagnosed concussions? That’s not something to fuck around with at your age. Research indicates it could be a trigger for Alzheimer’s. And that’s if they happen in your late teens or early 20s there isn’t a lot of research on people getting multiple concussions in their 50s.

  95. Rhett: I have not gone to the doctor. But I had two hard cracks on the head within a month that resulted in several days of headaches and dizziness. And yeah, I know.

  96. LfB –
    In line with Lark’s thoughts of is there anything else you can do….I don’t recall if they are nearby or driving from further away, but if it’s close enough, perhaps they’d be more comfortable stopping by to visit but not eating, which is the riskier part of the day.

    We’re not gathering with anyone this year, but I have decided to do some curbside deliveries to MIL and FIL and my sister, who’s alone on Thanksgiving. it’s kind of making me excited and feeling slightly more useful in making the big meal knowing that I’m sharing so others have a better Thanksgiving also.

  97. Rhett – she needs more blue hair.

    Anons – my heart breaks for you both. Sending all my love to the universe for your families right now.

  98. Bahahaha! But yes LFB, be careful with yourself!!! Maybe wear a helmet when you go back to the gym? We had a good friend who had 2 concussions in succession (she was just recovering from the first when she had the second) and she took a YEAR to recover, and she had some personality changes consistent with TBI in the meantime. Very serious!

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