139 thoughts on “Advice Column Fridays!

  1. This is the one I wanted to post originally but I lost track of what site it was on:

    My husband never asks our daughter or son-in-law to pick up the kids by a certain time. The one thing he asked over the summer was that they have the kids at our house by 7:45 a.m. so he could take them out for a walk or a bike ride before it got too hot. Almost every morning, he had to call my son-in-law and ask what the kids’ status was, despite repeatedly stating this wish. He also mentioned it to our daughter, but there was still no consistency in getting them here on time.

    Is the bike ride or walk a way of heading off a behavior issue? Is it something he just wants to do? Is he big on arbitrary and annoying rules? When his daughter was a teenager was he banging on her door at 7:45am in the summer?

  2. My immediate thought is: everyone is struggling. Start by assuming the best instead of the worst — i.e., that right now, this stuff is just beyond the kids’ ability to manage for whatever reason — and adjust your own behavior as necessary. Giving too much? Ok, give less, until it feels more equal. Or keep giving and recognize that you’re doing it for the grandkids, expecting nothing from your own kids in return.

    I suspect a lot of this is the kids’ parents trying to set their own boundaries as an independent family and just not being clear about it, because they don’t want to cause a rift (and can’t afford to). It’s great to be close to your own parents, sure. But when your parents start acting like you’re still living at home — assuming without asking that you’d love to have dinner together, or that you should combine grocery orders, etc. — a lot of people will feel uncomfortable with that. But they also recognize how much the grandparents are doing and so feel guilty about the resentment and so struggle to talk about it — *particularly* when they actually need the grandparents to continue to provide childcare. So they assert their independence where they can, passive-aggressively, like a sulky teenager.

    Which means, of course, that the grandparents laying down the law will be completely counterproductive — “I need the kids by 7:45” will be seen as grandparents assuming their old role as head of the family and will breed more resentment and more distance. What the grandparents actually need to do is back off on their own expectations of togetherness — stop assuming dinners togther, stop offering to grocery shop, just run your own life and provide childcare as you need, and give your grown kids and their kids enough space to create and enjoy their own little nuclear family without you.

  3. Ok, as presented, those young adults have no idea how good they have it. But the writer presents themselves as kind of martyr-like and long-suffering, which would make anyone want to avoid a conversation. I am increasingly impatient with people who won’t communicate. A technique DD learned from a former employer is “the story I’m telling myself” as a way to communicate the explanation you are making up to explain someone’s behavior, which I think can be effective. (The story I’m telling myself is you have no interest in visiting my family for the holidays but you’re not telling me because you think I’ll get mad, which gives your spouse the opportunity to say I’m really focused on this work crisis and honestly haven’t given our holiday plans any thought at all. Can you give me a couple of days to get last this and then we’ll make a plan?) I have people on the fringes who want to emote about every interaction and why it was unsatisfying for them. I’d be interested to hear the daughter/SIL take on the situation. In general, though, I think anyone who is doing you incredible favors like watching your kids every day should be treated very deferentially.

  4. We here are all perfect, so of course the situation would never apply to any of us.

    +1 to LfB.

    But also, and maybe this is just my independent streak, maybe the parents (vs. the grandparents) should have thought more fully about the abutting backyards idea. Possibly I watch too many Everybody Loves Raymond reruns, (and they were across the street, not backyard-to-backyard) but I think a little more distance would serve them well. Too late for that now.

  5. But also, and maybe this is just my independent streak, maybe the parents (vs. the grandparents) should have thought more fully about the abutting backyards idea.

    Someone I know was in this position and some of these things you really wouldn’t think of before you’d actually experienced it. In their case the parents would show up at all hours and just walk in. And if their adult children had a long day and had just put the kids to bed and wanted some quite time the parents would expect them to drop everything and entertain them.

  6. “In their case the parents would show up at all hours and just walk in. And if their adult children had a long day and had just put the kids to bed and wanted some quite time the parents would expect them to drop everything and entertain them.”

    Like I said…Everybody Loves Raymond

  7. This piece has a lot of smaller issues/potential issues rolling up into one. First, many people thought this pandemic was going to be a few weeks or a couple of months, not 9 months plus long. Many people agreed (tacitly or overtly) to do things because they thought it was short-term and they could live with it short-term. But now it is going on and on and many people feel taken advantage of and find it hard to bring up the topic, because they did initially agree to do this thing.

    Second, details are left out. As Rhett said, do they need this outdoor activity in the morning so the grandfather can manage the children; can the children handle erratic meal times or are the grandparents tried to avoid hangry meltdowns; etc. Or as LfB said, are the parents trying to set boundaries with the grandparents.

    Third, I agree with the columnist, a conversation needs to take place, but if doesn’t, the grandparents can still even the equation. First by focusing on the kids needs. For example, Johnny’s behavior can be difficult for us to handle if he doesn’t get some morning exercise. We are happy to provide that if you can get him to us by 7:45 am, but if that’s too early, could you do some exercise with him before you bring him over? Or, Cindy starts getting hungry at 6 pm and starts to meltdown about 6:30 pm. We don’t want to feed her if you have dinner planned, but we also don’t want to send her home about to meltdown. What do you think the best solution is? Second by not offering to do more than the childcare.

  8. See, I think it’s funny that LfB assumes that the parents are pushing themselves on the adult children with the meal planning and offering to pick up groceries for them. While I immediately took the grandparents’ side and figure the kids are mooches – especially since they seem to be taking them up on it very frequently. It’s funny because my mind goes to a situation I am quite familiar with where an adult child is MORE than happy to mooch, be treated like a child, and take advantage of the grandparents – so my mind goes there.

    I definitely think they don’t know how good they have it. They are saving these people boatloads of cash on childcare. BOATLOADS of cash. I also think there are not enough boundaries, too much dependence, and not enough communication.

    I also wonder about the parents. Did the wife push the husband into living by her parents and he was really reluctant but put up with it and that’s why he’s rude? Did they think they’d be able to treat their parents like they would treat a paid nanny?

    I do feel sympathetic about trying to get the kids out of the house by a certain time, but my god – the grandparents are doing them such a massive favor. Nannies and daycare centers have rules too.

    I thought the actual answer was pretty good. I really liked the line about how even if you aren’t communicating, you really are communicating through action and attitude.

    This also illustrates to me why the Grandparent-as-FT-nanny situation often goes sour.

  9. “I am increasingly impatient with people who won’t communicate.”

    Me too. The grandparents have a legitimate reason for the early drop off, and it would be irritating if the kids’ parents were passive aggressive instead of explaining the issue. OTOH if I were the kids’ parents I might feel stuck because I’m relying on the grandparents for free babysitting service that comes with their rules, but hey I shouldn’t sabotage the good deal I’m getting. I need to suck it up or express what the problem is. I find it hard to rely on extended family for stuff like this and have tried to plan accordingly.

  10. “But also, and maybe this is just my independent streak, maybe the parents (vs. the grandparents) should have thought more fully about the abutting backyards idea. ”

    Never in a million years would I have done this. Never in a million years. I love & have good relationships with both my parents and IL’s. I’d like to keep it that way. But I also thought it would be a disaster to have grandparents as primary child care, and lots and lots of people fall into that trap too.

  11. So many answers to advice columns can be boiled down to: You need to talk with your ________ about the situation. Here: You need to talk with your daughter and son-in-law about the situation! In almost any question involving a romantic partner (barring abuse etc.): You need to talk with your romantic partner about the situation! For other family issues: You need to talk with your sister/brother/cousin/aunt about the situation! (Unless they are a narcissist, in which case the advice is: Hang up the phone/don’t open their emails/go no contact)

    Here I see both sides. It is totally possible that the LW is one of those martyr types who is always passive-aggressively looking for appreciation, approval, etc., from her daughter and meanwhile her daughter and son-in-law are EXHAUSTED because (waves hands at world) and dealing with mom’s little digs about the kids or the state of their house or the son-in-law on his phone, etc., is too much for them. However, it is ALSO totally possible that the kids are mooches and just take advantage of the grandparents however they can, and the grandparents are doormats and wouldn’t dream of complaining lest they be denied access to their grandchildren (catastrophizing on their behalf here!).

  12. I definitely think they don’t know how good they have it. They are saving these people boatloads of cash on childcare. BOATLOADS of cash.

    I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a spoken or unspoken agreement that the grandparents provide child care now and the parents provide eldercare in 10 or 15 years.

  13. My parents lived about 5 miles away. It was a good distance. We relied on them twice for care we needed vs. visits they wanted. One was when DD#2 was born and then DD#1 came down with a cold. DD#2 had some breathing issues and the pediatrician didn’t want DD#1 around her. DD#1 wasn’t sick enough to stay home from day care, so while she said at my parents for a 10 days, they only had her full-time one more weekend than planned. The second time was when we bought this house and needed to work on it. They would keep them about 9 am on Saturday until 3 pm on Sunday. SO worked on the house two full 8 – 10 hour days, and I would help after drop off and until pick up. It was almost 6 months, and not on weekends my mom had things planned. But, I think we were all ready for it to end. In hindsight, that is when the DDs really built the relationship with my mom.

  14. “Never in a million years would I have done this.”

    And that, I expect, is why your initial reaction is 180 degrees from mine. ;-) My mom is 6 houses away, so not quite so close. But she is an extrovert and I am an introvert; I am living in a house with 3 other people and she is living in a house on her own; and we are her only living blood relatives (and the stepkids are literally on the other coast). Oh: and I am working more than full time to deal with work stuff since Covid, while all her travel has stopped dead and her work is now cut back to periodic Zoom calls — and her pre-Covid hobbies were “work” and “travel.” And she’s a planner and I’m not, and that is now exacerbated on both sides by all her free time to plan and my rapidly-changing work crises. So we have very different needs, and they often conflict. Add on to that that I have to manage DH, who loves her but does NOT want to see even his own relatives very much at all, and that my mom struggles to be direct and I try not to be so direct I hurt her feelings, and it can get tough.

    Ex: she wanted to decorate the tree last weekend and so started to email me about it more than a week before about when. All I knew was that DD had exams Sat. and a last school project due Sunday, and I had work to do on my stained glass that also needed to work around DD’s school, so I said Sunday sounds good, DD has this project, so we need to figure out when DD can do it. She emailed me repeatedly — me, not DD! — over the course of the week, as I’m dealing with several serious work crises, so I think once I said “ask DD, can’t deal” and once I just ignored. By Friday, I got an email from her saying “I understand if this is too much of a burden, I remember how my mom always had all this forced Christmas merriment that I hated, I don’t want to be that person, so if you don’t want to do it, just say so.” !!!!!!! My frustration just shot through the roof. YES, I love you; YES, I want to do Christmas stuff; but NO, I do not know precisely when that will be, because I’m working around someone else’s schedule whom you haven’t even bothered to contact, and NO, I do NOT have the bandwidth to chase that down myself right this very instant. I know you are dealing with massive anxiety because of Covid, and that planning is the way you manage that, but MY GOD WOMAN, I just can’t right now.

    Of course, I didn’t say any of that. I was a good daughter, kept my eyeroll to myself, made DD pick a time, emailed my mom back that of course we wanted to and let’s say 2:30, and went on with my day.

    Now: take that and repeat weekly. Except put that back when the kids were in daycare and she was also routinely doing dropoff and pickup a couple of times a week, so I had the added guilt of owing her for that.

    I will now reiterate what Rocky has repeatedly said: Louise, you are a freaking saint.

  15. Never in a million years would I have done this. Never in a million years. I love & have good relationships with both my parents and IL’s. I’d like to keep it that way. But I also thought it would be a disaster to have grandparents as primary child care, and lots and lots of people fall into that trap too.

    Same here.

  16. I can not relate to this at all, as I’ve never been in a situation where free child care was so readily available. Like Ivy, never in a million years would I agree to a situation like that.

    I do wonder if the mom and dad are just under so much stress that they just don’t realize their behavior (I can relate), and I don’t think the grandma fully understands just how exhausting working full time with kids, also during a pandemic, with kids behavior not ideal because of said pandemic. Just thinking of my own experience and how much of a monster my youngest was in the spring.

    I have a friend that used her parents as after school childcare. Once Covid came the parents backed off for their own safety (not to mention there was no “after school” anymore). They are also in their late 70s & 80s, so watching children all day long would be too much. My friend has been bitter about it every since. Lack of communication and understanding.

  17. @DD: we’ve actually had the “nice” version of that conversation a number of times; in fact, her decision to email me directly to ask if I was trying to say I didn’t want to come is actually a HUGE improvement. It’s not a question of not understanding each others’ needs. It’s just that sometimes she needs interaction for her own needs/insecurity, and I just can’t do it, and I don’t even have the energy to engage in the discussion again.

  18. “I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a spoken or unspoken agreement that the grandparents provide child care now and the parents provide eldercare in 10 or 15 years.”

    That’s basically what’s happened with my husband’s family. His sister received free childcare for about twelve years, and now she and her husband have full responsibility for grandma’s care. Also, they moved into the grandparents home, which was another huge financial bonanza. So we don’t feel guilty about the caregiver burden they have. And I expect the burden will keep growing. We contribute financially and a little with errands and such. We sense they harbor some resentment because they were never as financially well off as we and another sibling are, but that’s fine. They consider us capitalist corporate sell-outs. Politically we’re very far apart so we avoid that as a topic at family functions.

  19. “I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a spoken or unspoken agreement that the grandparents provide child care now and the parents provide eldercare in 10 or 15 years.”

    Given this letter…if there is, it’s unspoken, and there’s no guarantee the kids actually do it.

    @LfB – that makes total sense. Meanwhile I think about the ungrateful people I know who take and take and take and refuse to be adults about anything. And to Rhett’s point – perhaps the parents think that these are the kids who will step up when they need them in return. But they never have to this point – well into adulthood – so they probably never will.

    @Austin – I am eternally grateful that the IL’s are close by and were healthy & willing to watch DS when he was younger. But it was always “for fun” not the drudgery of day-in-day-out childcare. That changes the whole equation. We didn’t much care if they followed our “rules” about naps, snacks, activities, screentime, bedtimes or whatever when it was a “fun sleepover at Grandma’s” every other month. And everyone benefited because it was great way for them to get time alone with him. They both have great memories of that. But if it was every single weekday? That is a whole different relationship.

    One year when SIL was on break from college, we had her as a nanny. That worked well because we paid her, so she was happy to pretty much act as a paid nanny and follow our “rules”. Not that we had tons of rules, but he was a toddler with a routine. And she put him down for naps at the time we requested and made him food we bought for him, etc. That would have been more fraught if we were asking MIL/FIL to watch him for free for 2 months.

  20. DH always liked to say, “free has its own price.” A consistent drop-off time seems like a cheap price to pay for free childcare. As mentioned by someone else above, paid daycare often had stringent rules on drop-off and pick-up times. I think a good way to frame the conversation is, “this has been going on for longer than expected, let’s have a conversation over dinner to discuss what is or isn’t working well so that this works for everyone on a long term basis.”

    I have an excellent relationship with both my mom and MIL and could probably live next door to either and be fine. DH, on the other hand….

  21. Both the parents and daughters family are trying to set boundaries but don’t want to communicate their wishes clearly.
    The parents offer of unlimited/very long hours of regular childcare is not the correct thing to do. I understand limited or emergency help. We had day care set up for our kids even with the grandparents living in our home. We didn’t want them to feel obligated to have to care for our kids full time. It’s tiring to care for kids the older you get.
    Meal prep, grocery shopping etc should be done separately as two households on a daily basis. Again if it’s an emergency help out.
    I think long term there could be a good meeting in the middle. Each family sees the other less frequently and gets together to have dinner together, have fun outings, with or without the kids but lead their own lives on a daily basis.

  22. I was astonished when SIL who does no cooking in her home always asked her mother to cook a ton of food and bring it over when we visited. We were ready to eat take out or step into the kitchen to cook but I hated to indirectly impose on her Mom. SIL would drop her kids at her mother’s frequently when they were little. I think my BIL has realized that his wife’s mother can’t do this for ever so now he has been stepping up to cook.

  23. @TLC – “Free has its own price.” Very true. I always think about that when I think of people who have significant support from others (parents, grandparents, rich uncles, whatever).

  24. My problem isn’t neighbors who don’t shovel, but those who shovel their excess snow on to the street. “It will melt” they say. Yeah, it melts eventually. But in the meantime as a walker I have to skirt around the icy patches in the street. I’ve asked my closest neighbor not to do it, but he’ll stop that one time and then do it again next time. I could call the police to ticket them, but I never went that far.

  25. @TLC – I like that phrase. I’ve always said, “there are a lot of costs with every child care solution”. We save thousands with Au Pairs vs nanny, but we paid in other ways.

  26. We don’t live close enough to our parents for them to provide childcare, but I have always thought that the ideal would be to have grandparents as backup care for snow days and random days off, but not to have the grandparents as regular childcare providers. My kids have good relationships with their grandparents and much of that is based on the fact that the grandparents are not in a disciplinarian role and can let them eat doughnuts for breakfast and cookies before dinner, and stay up late watching a movie without fuss from us because it is an infrequent event. If they provided regular and frequent childcare, the rules would have to be much more strict. I have happy memories of my grandfather “sneaking” me candy and $5 bills whenever I saw him. I want my kids to have the same sort of relaxed and fun relationship with their grandparents.

  27. “I can not relate to this at all, as I’ve never been in a situation where free child care was so readily available. Like Ivy, never in a million years would I agree to a situation like that.”

    Me neither, on both points. We chose to move away from our home towns and parents, so it was never an option. Maybe lawyers are better at identifying all of the ways a situation could go sideways, but the adjoining backyards seems to be asking for trouble. (And neither the grandparents nor the adult children seem to have considered how even a relatively minor medical situation with the oldsters could instantly eliminate the free child care.)

  28. Kim +100%. I was driving back from your area earlier today. The roads were generally clear EXCEPT in places where someone dumped their snow from their sidewalk or driveway into the road. This creates icy and dangerous situations. I am so sick of selfish people.

  29. “Maybe lawyers are better at identifying all of the ways a situation could go sideways”

    I didn’t really think about it that way, but that’s definitely a thought. I do risk assessment in my work too, and it always surprises me how others don’t.

  30. We moved from halfway across the country to live about a mile from my ILs. Right off the bat they wanted us to join them every Sunday for pasta dinner but I put the kibosh on that idea. They hinted at babysitting but we hired a nanny and only used them for emergency care, which was MUCH appreciated. However, before we had kids they did regularly babysit for our dog while we worked long hours. That worked out because they love dogs and already had one of their own. My H would drop our dog off every morning

  31. DH always liked to say, “free has its own price.”

    Not to get too far down into the just world fallacy but I generally agree. Per the walking in unannounced example, when the parents are providing a substantial down payment and helping with the mortgage putting ones foot down is a lot more fraught.

  32. I always shovel the snow off the sidewalk into the street. Everyone on our block does. People walk on the sidewalks, not in the street, and it doesn’t seem to take any longer to melt than the rest of the street, not to mention nobody drives that close to the curb.

  33. I didn’t really think about it that way, but that’s definitely a thought. I do risk assessment in my work too, and it always surprises me how others don’t.

    I think people are just wired differently in how they think about things. Some are more emotional, some more analytical, some only look at the up side, some only look at the down side, etc.

  34. “I always shovel the snow off the sidewalk into the street”

    I’m clutching my pearls! This is a huge no-no, and a ticketable offense. Clumps of shoveled snow freeze into little mounds, making driving over it a problem, not to mention a dangerous issue for cyclists. Of course, here, a snow that falls in December will be there until March….so you don’t any chance of melt.

  35. I will say – no one in this scenario sounds like a real A-hole in AITA form. It’s more like “these people need to have an actual conversation”. And maybe the grandparents are passive-aggressive and the parents are a bit spoiled and unappreciative. The drama is very normal & nothing is crazy. They love each other enough to want to live close to each other. This is a problem with a solution.

  36. @Kim – Are you sidewalks right up against the street? And people dump their snow there rather than onto their own grass on the other side? I think that’s a little weird. But our sidewalks aren’t right next to the curb – there is a strip of grass between the sidewalk and the curb with trees, etc. The snow goes there.

  37. Before we moved to Houston, we lived two miles from my parents. DD went to daycare, but my moms was retiring right as we got transferred. Her plan was to keep DD 1-2 days a week. I intended to still pay for a full week because I never wanted my child to feel like a chore to my parents. Having full time care arranged meany they didn’t have to feel guilty about vacation or days they just weren’t in the mood. They NEVER dropped by. They took it to such an extreme that they would hardly ever come even when invited. They were determined to not be “those parents” (consistent my whole life) but we would have been fine with seeing them more. My MIL was the opposite extreme, which is why I moved us out of her city before we had kids.

  38. I see this as almost completely one sided. (The adult kids are taking massive advantage!) That is a LOT of babysitting! And saying they will repay them with elder care, is not balancing that. They already owe that to their parents for raising her. They should be doing all kinds of things for the grandparents, maybe cooking for them, or doing their yard work or cleaning their house, buying them stuff, anything.

  39. Going back to the original advice question, the OP says, this all changed with the pandemic. While some of these things might have been going on pre-pandemic, they were exacerbated by the pandemic. It is much easier to start a conversation when you can blame an “third party” – the pandemic. Even the grandmother talking to her daughter – I know the pandemic is dragging on much longer and causing more stress than we thought back in March. I know we have all been doing the best we can to handle this situation and we want to support you, spouse and grandkids. But, as long as this has gone on, we need to make some adjustments before we burn out.

  40. The childcare I would’ve appreciated from my parents would’ve been for a week in August, which tended to be a busy time for a university instructor, particularly when I was starting new jobs. I learned from TOS that it was not a fluke that my son’s daycare closed then one year, and asked them to come then in future years. Nothing doing. They insisted on coming later in the fall, weren’t into time alone with their grandchild then either, even though the semester was getting busy for me. In my son’s early years, we had Christmas morning at home, then went to my parents. My sister, with similarly-aged kids, generally stayed around for a few days and didn’t mind watching mine while I got some work in. That’s a valuable time of year for academics. Unfortunately, our mom decided she didn’t like that, so she told me not to bring work the next few Christmases. In hindsight, I see very clearly that I should have stood up to her. Couldn’t make them visit when they didn’t want to, but woulda/coulda/shoulda laid down rules if they insisted on visiting at a busy time, and don’t see how the arrangement with my sister was any skin off our mom’s nose, other than that we were at her house.

  41. Off-topic: this is the closest Covid has gotten to me—the neighbor’s daughter, who I have never met but who works in HR & helped me with job apps, has it, as does her husband.

  42. This sounds like my life, except I would gladly send my children anywhere at 7:45 am and my parents live a bit further away.

    Pre-COVID my parents helped an hour in the morning and again in the afternoon, except when I got caught in traffic on the way home and they had to stay a bit longer.

    Initially with the lockdown we managed the kids by ourselves for a while, then my parents helped with school every morning, and then as rates climbed again this fall they stayed home.

    We go through phases where they feel they are doing too much, and phases when they are bored because they miss the kids (like now, when they can’t come over at all). In the long run, they know that I will be there for them and the rest of the family. When they travel or have an emergency, we either call in other members of the extended family or I work from home. Our addition was designed to allow someone to move in with us if that is ever necessary, and we live here to be near them.

    I did wonder if the son-in-law is just an introvert who doesn’t like to chat, and therefore he is not preparing big meals because his idea of relaxing is being as alone as possible. And the DIL may just be at her limit. Not that I have any experience with that ;)

  43. What I find interesting about the letter is that the person who may or may not have a grievance is the LW’s husband. We don’t actually know his perspective. It is possible he is much more a roll with it guy and the LW is the one who has a problem the drop off timing, etc. I can’t tell from the letter whether the LW is gone at work all day while her husband is the Manny. So I wonder if she’s a pot stirrer.

    This was interesting, too:
    “Although my husband routinely includes them in meal preparation, my son-in-law will sporadically decide to make a meal for his family without notifying my husband first—after my husband has started working on something else—and often doesn’t invite us to join them (and when he does, he makes so little food, we feel like we’re imposing).”
    It is so very obvious that the SIL wants a family life separate from the in-laws. My advice to the LW would be to stop trying to live a joint life with DIL and SIL. Deliver the kids back to their parents (across the back yard, so this isn’t hard) at whatever appointed time you decide your child care duties are up, say, 5:00. But I’m pretty sure that advice wouldn’t satisfy LW, because she wants a fantasy life that her daughter and her husband don’t want.

  44. Mafalda,

    Six years ago, my retired husband and I moved to be close to our grandkids, and three years ago, our daughter’s family and ours bought houses with adjoining backyards.

    That makes me think a lot of this is the grandparents living out their retirement dreams. And in so doing imposing their dreams on their kids. The kids could have been happy doing things on their own when mom and dad announced, “Now that we’re retired we want to move close to you to help raise our grandkids.”

  45. Rhett, that sounds likely. I’m reminded of a scenario—a very nice one—that went the other way. My college philosophy prof’s dad had been a missionary in China, so really didn’t have an adult life in the US. The son/my prof built/bought houses for his parents and his in-laws directly behind his home. I believe his kids were in high school when he did this; they were finishing college when I knew him. As far as I could tell, the point was for him and his wife to be able to take care of their aging parents.

  46. I’m clutching my pearls! This is a huge no-no, and a ticketable offense. Clumps of shoveled snow freeze into little mounds, making driving over it a problem, not to mention a dangerous issue for cyclists.

    How close do people drive to the curb there? Although like you said, it never melts until spring there so that’s why it’s more of an issue. But here, people drive at least a car width from the curb so they aren’t going over any of the stuff from the sidewalks.

  47. We all live in different places and the roads are different. No one should assume that sidewalks even exist or that a road is wide enough to accommodate two cars. For example, this county is not a planned community. The roads are sometimes narrow and winding – even major roads. The road that I was on today is a major road between the two towns. There are no sidewalks and parking is not permitted because the road barely accommodates two cars. So, when a foot of snow falls and there is no melting – every inch of space is needed in the road. If a road has snow packed on it and then you slide – it is dangerous. Why should all of the towns and village spend a lot of money to clear the roads and then someone just comes along and dumps snow into the street?

  48. Why should all of the towns and village spend a lot of money to clear the roads and then someone just comes along and dumps snow into the street?

    So where do you shovel it to? I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m just trying to understand how it works.

  49. I agree with the columnist’s assessment of the issue(s) but laughed at the idea of calling a family meeting. The “kids” clearly think this is all too much effort anyway. The husband/grandparents just need to start acting according to their words.

    If he wants to be out the door by 7:45, then either leave (without them) at that time or show up at the kiddies’ house at 7:30. No big explanation is necessary, beyond the already-familiar “I like to get outside before it’s hot out”.

    If they want to invite the youngers for dinner, then ask if they’d like to come to dinner. As I taught my son, maybe they’ll say yes & maybe they’ll say no. But expecting the dad to check if anyone else is making supper before he begins cooking in his own house is silly.

    I don’t know how these people manage their grocery-shopping. If both households make lists, it’d make Covid sense to set up a (rotating) trip to the store. It seems entirely possible, though, that the youngers would find that too much control. Stop picking stuff up for them. If that’s fine with them, fine. If they complain, say simply that you thought you had stepped back because you felt you’d been intrusive.

    Why do people make things complicated?

  50. “People walk on the sidewalks, not in the street, and it doesn’t seem to take any longer to melt than the rest of the street, not to mention nobody drives that close to the curb.”

    We don’t have sidewalks everywhere, so when it snows pedestrians use the streets. The streets are plowed so piles of snow shoveled from yards mess up the streets again and may not melt for days. Our streets are narrow so drivers are forced to drive close to the curb and the piles usually end up partly in the middle of the street. It’s a ticketable offense since it creates inconvenience and hazards for motorists and walkers. Obviously a different situation than in other locations.

    “And people dump their snow there rather than onto their own grass on the other side? I think that’s a little weird.”

    People dump their excess snow on the street because it’s easier than piling it up in their own yards next to the sidewalk or by their driveway. It ‘s easier to push it or blow it out to the street.

  51. “Your sidewalks must directly abut the street.”

    There’s usually a narrow strip, about a foot or two, of grass between the sidewalk and the street. But sometimes there’s no sidewalk and sometimes the sidewalk abuts the street.

  52. If there’s no sidewalk, what are they even shoveling? Their driveways? And then pushing the snow into the street? But then how do they even get their cars out if there is a big pile in the street by their driveways?

    I’m not trying to argue. This sounds annoying, and I have a lot of rage at the non-shovelers in my neighborhood. I just can’t even picture the scene here.

    I have always lived in places where the sidewalks are far enough from the street (like RMS’s photo) where it wouldn’t make any sense at all to shovel into the street. Meanwhile, the plows come through & make big mounds either at the curb (if no parked cars). That is what is super annoying when trying to walk in the snow – but not much to do about it.

  53. Rocky – If you have a sidewalk in front of your house, you’re supposed to shovel the snow onto the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street if there is a strip, otherwise onto your lawn. Our neighborhood does not have sidewalks so no shoveling of them required.

  54. My hypothesis from the full article was that daughter is Granddads favorite, they moved to the same town, then back to back, son in law and grandma acquiesced. Then Covid and everybody is stressed.

    I had 10 plus years of physical and emotional distance from each child between 18 and say 35. Not all at the same time, thank heavens. We got most of the kinks out the, although younger daughter needed a couple months with us very recently to finish the job. I believe that was a big part of making the 20 min away son w grandchildren and 100 ft away elder daughter work. Texting is very helpful. For those who dont recall, I did most of a year of frequent child care when DIL has cancer and youngest was baby/toddler, and a lot of child care in DILs first five mos back in the workforce, and back up after that for a while. I suppose I will be needy and difficult when I get old old and lonely, but so far so good.

  55. RMS,

    When I was a kid I though the streets that went street /grass/sidewalk/grass only existed in CA. As I only saw them on TV. Never in real life.

  56. Sky, are your kids naturally early risers? Mine was not—I would have hated to have to get him ready to go by 7:45 every day, especially because our mornings were usually very sweet with me getting some writing done while he slept or played (as early as 1 year), interspersed with happy little moments. On my wfh days, his sitter would show up on the patio at 9 (I think—it’s been a li but time) and he was happy to go with her. The days we had to rush off to doctor’s appointments or whatever, I really missed the usual start to our days, (especially because little kids sleep a lot, so you don’t get much time with them). When he was 6, we had to meet the pre-school’s shuttle at 8:15. Even if I brought him in myself, they wanted him in the building by start time. They insisted they were helping families by serving kids’ breakfast at school. I would’ve felt our family unit would’ve been better supported by being able to set morning routines that worked for us. As it turned out, my son had breakfast twice—once with me before we left the house for the day, and again at preschool.

    Laura, I get that you’re trying to illustrate an on-going issue with a single example, but it seems to me that you could’ve fought fire with fire by doing a little venting & whining about how demands from your work kept changing.

  57. Rhett, those look to me like “in town” pictures. There were no sidewalks on the road I grew up on. Are you used to set-ups like Berlins: small cobblestone, sidewalk, small cobblestone, asphalt or big cobblestone road?

  58. S&M,

    Like is?

    I only really herd about them in relation to the controversy over the memorial stones.

  59. There was a controversy over the tripping stones?

    That picture, with doors opening essentially onto the streets, isn’t what I am familiar with. Maybe it’s a really old street and/or little town?

    This is more what I’m thinking of. It’s a street I know, and also how I picture the city.

  60. I would NEVER drop in on a child without prior arrangement. We text first from 100 ft away. DD works from home lots of pod casts etc. ex. Last night I made chicken pot pie. Text to DD at 430. Just pulled from the oven. Needs to cool down. Let me know by 6 if you two want some for dinner. Otherwise going in the fridge. Last week From her. mom, I feel like a glass of wine do you have a bottle open? You can maintain privacy without losing closeness.

  61. PSA

    Roku and HBO Max made their deal, finally. Between that, Disney Plus, and Netflix, as well as your favorite international or specialized streaming service, you never have to go to a movie theater again.

  62. Rhett, our sidewalks our like the one in your 3:11 post. Everyone pushes the snow into the gutters because it’s easier than having to lift it up onto the grass.

    On the topic, it sounds like the LW is expecting to have essentially joint households, whereas the daughter and SIL want to have more more independence. The underlying issue as has been said is that nobody is talking directly about it.

  63. On the great sidewalk/snow debate: doesn’t snow in Denver melt multiple times throughout the winter, and then there’s a new snow cover for a little while until it melts? And in Boston, isn’t the situation more like in Minnesota, where once the snow starts falling, that’s it, you don’t really expect to see much grass or whatever is down there for several months? That would influence opinions about how important it is to get the snow in the right place.

  64. I’m wondering what the LW’s role is. Her DH is apparently the one doing all the child care and meal prep, and there’s no mention of how she spends her days while he’s doing that.

  65. “Her DH is apparently the one doing all the child care and meal prep”

    I would be very surprised if this were the case.

  66. “My retired husband and I” moved. I assume she works full time. Or for some other reason, perhaps disability, this is truly his gig.

  67. S&M, my kids rise around 6, even on weekends in the depths of winter in the pandemic times, when we won’t be leaving the house anyway.

    I can’t sleep in at all or nap myself, so it’s probably a genetic quirk.

    On the bright side, back in the Before Times when we still went anywhere for vacation, we could get them all up and out of the house by 4:45 or 5 in the morning and beat all the traffic.

  68. “I don’t think the grandma fully understands just how exhausting working full time with kids, also during a pandemic, with kids behavior not ideal because of said pandemic.”

    But the kids are with grandpa when the parents are working.

  69. “Never in a million years would I have done this. Never in a million years. I love & have good relationships with both my parents and IL’s. I’d like to keep it that way. But I also thought it would be a disaster to have grandparents as primary child care, and lots and lots of people fall into that trap too.”

    I’ve known quite a few families who rely on grandparents for primary child care, and it’s not always a disaster.

    My parents provided primary child care for my sister’s kids, and developed very close relationships with those grandkids.

    At this point, I wouldn’t rule out doing that for my grandkids.

  70. “I have a friend that used her parents as after school childcare. Once Covid came the parents backed off for their own safety (not to mention there was no “after school” anymore). They are also in their late 70s & 80s, so watching children all day long would be too much. My friend has been bitter about it every since. “

    I hope your friend’s bitterness isn’t directed at her parents.

    But it does seem like a lot of people need a person at whom to direct their bitterness/anger/etc, Even if the root cause of their bitterness/anger/etc is the virus, some people apparently are not able to accept that there isn’t some person responsible for their situations.

  71. Hijack—

    I’ve read numerous times about rental scams, usually online, in which someone unconnected to the owner of a property advertises it for rent, and collects first month’s rent and deposit, then disappears. Or sometimes if the property is unoccupied, the renter moves in, only for the property owner or the owner’s representative to show up.

    Any thoughts on how to avoid such a scam?

  72. Finn, do you mean as property owner or as someone looking for a place to rent? I think I’ve mentioned the time I nearly fell into this kind of scam. There was a classified ad for a furnished rental available for a few months. When I contacted the person listed, they said they were out of town, but I could pick up keys at a small shop that holds them for lots of air b&b type rentals. But because they were so far away and not able to have any control, they wanted a very large deposit to pick up the keys, possibly the entire rent (it’s been a while—I can’t remember). They claimed some kind of connection with Air B&B. When I tried to send them the money for the deposit, neither my bank nor Western Union would do it, because I didn’t have an address for the person I was sending money to. I called Air B&B to ask for assistance and learned that they offer no such service. The big red warning flag I had missed was the lack of physical address to send the money to.

  73. My parents provided primary child care for my sister’s kids, and developed very close relationships with those grandkids.

    At this point, I wouldn’t rule out doing that for my grandkids.

    It is far, far too early to tell, but my son and I have always assumed that I’ll be around when he has kids, and he knows that I’d like to be involved, but that it depends on his children’s as-yet entirely unknown mother. This winter he is insisting he will live somewhere warm, so I’ve been telling him he can visit me here when it’s too hot there, and that I’d like to visit him in the winter. The first time I said that, the idea of living so far from me was jarring to him.

    Another thought on the rental fraud topic—I was searching in the temp section of the main website for rentals in Germany. After my communication with the fraud dept at Air B&B I realized I should have asked for the listing number as soon as the phony renter mentioned their service. I also came across a couple other similar listings. When I googled them, I found them verbatim elsewhere, sometimes with different names, with people warning what had happened to them.

  74. A question for WCE and other math-loving engineers: we know a 17 year old who is quite good at math and would like to go to MIT. His parents can’t get past the sticker price and say that not being a US citizen makes him ineligible for financial aid. I’ve suggested they go to College Confidential for advice on merit scholarships. I also suggested he look at other schools like Roessler and Georgia Tech, and gave him the tools Lauren posted recently (College Navigator, College Insight, and unigo) to look for other schools that might interest him. His dad seems a bit torn—Germany’s engineering programs aren’t too shabby, and if he wants that MIT cache, he can do a Masters there after his free Bachelors here. Otoh, he’d like to support his son’s dream, and they both miss living in the USA (complicated story involving other family members). Any other advice I could pass on to them?

  75. SM, I’m thinking from the standpoint similar to yours, that of a potential renter trying to avoid being scammed by someone posing as a landlord.

  76. SM, my suggestion for that kid who’s good at math is to assess his chances at getting into MIT. I’m guessing this kid would be looking at fall 2022 admission, so if he can take the SAT, ACT, or SAT subject tests, that would give him a pretty good idea of whether getting accepted by MIT is a realistic possibility. For the purposes of a self-assessment, a practice test would work and can be done during a pandemic.

    If it is, I would suggest he go ahead and apply. IMO, his biggest obstacle to attending would probably be acceptance, and the chance of that would be zero if he doesn’t apply.

  77. My advice would be to come to MIT or other math/engineering focused colleges from overseas for a Masters. Cost of attending as an undergraduate is certainly a factor. Many countries have free undergraduate college. If the kid gets into a stellar undergrad program in Germany, take the GRE (get good scores) plus use that time to look at various programs and where they would like to end up. Also, using the time to make connections within their targeted colleges.
    I think there is stiffer competition at the undergraduate level, the cost of attendance is a factor and the whole resume aspect for holistic admissions is a factor which is absent at the Masters level.

  78. I would say that the standardized tests are a stumbling block for many international applicants. The solution if low scores is plenty of practice. It’s not that applicants cannot do the course work but many have not grown up with the format of standardized tests used in U.S. testing.

  79. Finn, a friend was almost taken in by such a .scam. The tells were a below market rent, owner said he was renting because he had to return to Germany suddenly, vague on whereabouts, listing on Craigslist, wanted security deposit and first month’s rent sent by Western Union. Turned out when she had a realtor friend check into it, the pictures of the adorable 2 bedroom house had been lifted from a previous listing. Realtor did a drive by and new owners were living there.

  80. I can’t predict what will happen for the class of 2022, but most “experts” think it will be another test optional year. If this is the case, it might be more challenging to get accepted to a HSS. This is playing out for the class of 2021. Everyone said that the algorithms and models wouldn’t work so admissions officers would have to fly blind for the class of 2021. These comments apply just for a small subset of schools, but I can see from DD’s high school – it wasn’t just the Ivy League that was overwhelmed with early applicants for the class of 2021. Defer is the word for the class of 2021. Many schools in the top 50-100 were overwhelmed with EA and ED applications. This includes large state schools. There are still the same number of admissions officers, but there is no standardized test so it is even more work to get through all of these applications. This is one reason that so many schools sent the early applicants to a deferral pile vs. reject pile. The other reason is yield. If the regular pool is just as large, they don’t want to admit too many students from the early pool. They can’t use the old models to predict how many kids will actually attend in fall 2021, so they have to be careful about how many acceptances they send out.

    Ivy League Colleges Report Dramatic Growth In Early-Admission Applicant Pools
    2020-12-18 16:24:41.488 GMT

    By Melissa Korn

    (Dow Jones) — Early-admission applications to Ivy League colleges skyrocketed
    this year, as anxious high-school seniors tried to boost their chances of
    getting into some of the most selective schools in the country.

    Binding early decision applications rose by 22% at Brown University, 23% at
    the University of Pennsylvania, 29% at Dartmouth College and 49% at Columbia
    University. At Yale University and Harvard University, applications under the
    restrictive early-action option jumped by about 38% and 57%, respectively.

    The massive jumps — and resultant declines in acceptance rates — illustrate
    just how chaotic this admissions cycle is shaping up to be. Because of the
    coronavirus pandemic, many prospective students were unable to take
    standardized tests, participate in extracurricular activities or even attend
    classes in their school buildings.

    More than 1,500 colleges and universities, including all eight Ivies, aren’t
    requiring SAT or ACT scores in application packages this year. For those with
    strong grades but poor testing records, some college counselors say, that may
    have made an Ivy seem more within reach. College officials say virtual
    outreach events also allowed them to connect with a wider audience than they
    could when relying mainly on campus visits.

    Early-round admission rates at some highly selective schools can be double or
    even triple the rates for regular decision in typical years, though that
    extreme advantage may be waning. Roughly one in 10 of those who applied early
    to Yale were admitted, compared with 14% last year. At Harvard, the early
    acceptance rate fell to 7.4% from 14%.

    The Ivy League’s spike in early applications may not represent broader
    admissions trends. There were 6% more Common Applications submitted by Dec. 2
    than at the same time last year. But the number of applicants slid by 2%,
    meaning fewer people applied, but they targeted longer lists of schools. That
    makes it harder for admissions officers to predict who will actually enroll,
    and how many they need to accept to hit their target class size.

    The share of seniors who submitted federal financial aid applications is down
    sharply from last year as well, with concern growing that many for whom
    college was already a stretch will opt out of postsecondary education
    entirely.

    As the application pool grows at some of the nation’s most coveted
    institutions, admissions deans must also account for the dozens or even
    hundreds of students who deferred their fall 2020 enrollments because of the
    pandemic. Administrators have said not all those who defer actually claim
    their spots later, and some schools may expand their first-year class to make
    up for a smaller sophomore class.

    Harvard accepted 747 of its 10,086 applicants this cycle, compared with 895
    admits from 6,424 applicants last year. It had 349 students from the fall 2020
    entering class defer their enrollment.

    The school said it is still too early to determine how the deferrals will
    affect this year’s admissions.

    “Given the high number of remarkable applicants to date, Harvard has taken a
    conservative approach” to early admissions, said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean
    of admissions and financial aid for Harvard College. That will “ensure proper
    review is given to applicants in the regular admissions cycle.”

    Princeton University suspended its early-admission option this year, saying it
    hoped to reduce pressure on applicants whose senior years were upended by the
    pandemic.

    Beginning last spring, Cornell University said it would no longer release
    detailed early or regular cycle application or admission numbers, though it
    does still report the figures annually to the federal government.

    In 2018, Stanford University was the first highly selective school to
    explicitly withhold its early-decision or regular-decision data, saying at the
    time that it wanted to de-emphasize the perceived value of low acceptance
    rates.

    (END) Dow Jones Newswires

  81. For those with strong grades but poor testing records, some college counselors say, that may have made an Ivy seem more within reach.

    I was wondering if this was a big factor, with more applicants thinking they have a better chance this year.

  82. Below market rent is a huge red flag. Over the summer some friends of ours had a “renter” move in next door. They live in a big suburban home, and rental homes are not common. The house was for sale and my friend thought it was odd these renters moved in, and it was obvious from her that this family would not be able to afford to live in the area (including a comment by the women that they were thrilled to find such a great deal in the school district). Another neighbor ended up calling the realtor and sure enough, the house was not for rent. The family had used Craig’s list to find the “rental”

  83. All I can say is that after all those articles on grit and resilience, the Class of 2020, 2021 and 2022 are finding out what those words really mean.

  84. LT, how awful for those would-be neighbors! Guess I’m lucky my situation was clarified before I ever made the payment or moved in.

    Louise, I hear a lot of people saying that about this year, don’t think it’s true for my kid.

  85. I thought this was an interesting and uplifting story.

    Buried Under Snow in a Car for 10 Hours. Who Would Come to the Rescue?
    The storm that blanketed a wide swath of upstate New York made one motorist’s car disappear until an ingenious state trooper found it.

    By Ed Shanahan
    Dec. 18, 2020
    It was around midnight Thursday, and the snow in upstate Owego, N.Y., was falling at what officials estimated was a rate of four inches an hour. By the time it stopped, there would be 40 inches on the ground.

    With the storm swirling around him, Kevin Kresen was in his car about 15 miles from home when, he said, a belt in his engine came loose, knocking out the power steering and forcing him off the road into a ditch.

    After trying unsuccessfully to fix the problem, he got back into the car and called 911. It was the first of several such calls he would make over the next 10 hours as the fierce snowfall trapped him in the unheated car and a passing plow sealed him in even further, officials said.

    Mr. Kresen was finally rescued by Jason Cawley, a State Police zone sergeant, who started his own day by getting stuck in the snow left by a nor’easter so severe it prompted Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to declare a state of emergency across a wide swath of New York.

    Sergeant Cawley said he believed that if he had not found Mr. Kresen when he did, it might have been another five hours before the next plow came through and cleared some of the snow off the car, making it visible. By then, he said, Mr. Kresen would probably have been dead.
    “I don’t think he would have made it another hour and a half,” the sergeant said.
    In addition to Mr. Kresen’s car being entombed in snow, law enforcement officers responding to his calls for help had been stymied in their efforts to find him because he was in an area with spotty cellphone service. The car’s location could only be narrowed to a three-mile stretch of state highway, officials said.

    “I realized at some point that his car was invisible,” Sergeant Cawley, a 22-year State Police veteran, said. “It was here. I just couldn’t see it.”

    He said he decided on a new tack: He drove to one end of the stretch he had been searching, got out of his vehicle and climbed up one side of the snowbank and down the other, looking for a sign of the missing car. He repeated the exercise every 100 yards, he said.

    After a time, he said, he learned from the 911 center that a call had just come in from Mr. Kresen’s phone but had almost immediately been cut short. The call center was, however, able to provide an address where the call appeared to have come from, and Sergeant Cawley said he used the computer in his car to confirm it.

    Arriving at the spot and getting out of his car, he said, he noticed a section of snowbank that was about six inches taller than the rest. Thinking it was a row of mailboxes, he began to dig away at the snow in hopes of determining that he had the right address. That, he said, was when he hit the car window.

    “My heart nearly jumped,” he said.

    As for Mr. Kresen’s reaction, the sergeant said, “He was excited as he could be.”

    Mr. Kresen told Sergeant Cawley through the window that he could not feel his feet. A passer-by helped dig away enough snow to get Mr. Kresen out of the car. Sergeant Cawley took him to a local ambulance corps; from there Mr. Kresen was taken to Ascension Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, where he was treated for frostbite and hypothermia and released.

    The spot where Mr. Kresen was trapped was not far from a house where he could have presumably sought help, but Sergeant Cawley said he might not have realized that because the house was white and did not stand out in the heavy snow.

    And in any case, the sergeant said, “He said he felt safer in the car.”

    Safe as he may have been, Mr. Kresen was clearly in distress when he was rescued.

    “When we pulled him out of the car, he wasn’t shivering and I took that as a good sign,” Sergeant Cawley said. But he soon realized it was actually a bad sign, and an indication of how far Mr. Kresen’s body temperature had fallen.

    Reached on Friday, Mr. Kresen, 58, who lives in Candor, N.Y., said he was “feeling pretty good” after his ordeal.

    He said he had been “nervous” but not scared as the hours passed with no help in sight. He played CDs until the car’s battery died and used the two phones he had only to call 911 so he could save power. Otherwise, he said, he just tried to stay awake.

    “I’m not afraid of death,” he said. “If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go, whether it’s hypothermia or whatever.”

    Still, he said he was “ecstatic” at the arrival of Sergeant Cawley, whose efforts he called “heroic.”

    “Oh my God, I was happy,” he said.

  86. I am currently frustrated by the USPS. I/we ordered several gift physical gift cards, some from big national companies, some from smaller places. All ordered 10+ days ago and sent to us via USPS to us and all have been in our area for the past couple of days at least. Tracking says delivery is yesterday/today but also “delayed”. Stuff from UPS/Fedex seems to be arriving on time/within a day of plan. These are gift cards, probably in something resembling a regular envelope! Christmas cards seem to be showing up just fine! And not worth my time to call/visit post office. If delayed beyond Monday maybe I’ll call/email the vendors expressing dissatisfaction with their choice of delivery company.

  87. I just saw an article describing how overwhelmed the post office is, and now here’s proof on the Rote Bag.

  88. I also saw an article about USPS. They don’t have the ability to hire as many seasonal workers like Fedex and UPS. Also, UPS and Fedex told major retailers that they are not accepting any more packages. This was done earlier than expected due to huge volume and a need to add planes and staff for the vaccine. Guess where all of those retailers had to turn? The only place that can’t say no – USPS. The problem is that USPS has no way to possibly sort all of that mail/packages – even without covid keeping part of the wok force at home due to illness or quarantine. I am not usually a defender of USPS, but these folks seem very overwhelmed.

  89. One side effect of the schools going test optional is the effect on merit aid because they have had to shift to using on GPA and not test scores. There are a lot of upset parents of Arizona applicants because U of A uses unweighted core GPA. Applicants with a lot of Bs in AP and honors classes are getting lower offers than applicants with As in regular classes. Kids who would’ve gotten $20k or $25k last year are now only getting $12k. If DS was applying this year, his scholarship would only be half of what it is. I’m sure a lot of this is by design because the school has less money to give.

    MSU changed how they award their WUE scholarship. It was going to be a simple 1260 SAT score or equivalent ACT score, and it seems like it is more holistic this year. It’s part of a larger scholarship application. DD should still get it, but there’s a bit of uncertainty now.

  90. I don’t think that USPS problems are either recent or the result of the pandemic. My daughter mailed* her tax return in April, it got to the IRS center in August, we got back the certified mail receipt two weeks ago.

    Also, someone in the certain sorting facility has had a tendency to bundle up all the mail is that is supposed to go to my town and sends it to a different town, with an entirely different town name, that is about a hundred miles away. Why? No one knows, least of all the beleaguered local postal staff who have to explain that no one is getting mail today.

    *Because she had income in two states and other reasons she had to file a paper return.

  91. DD, from an MSU acquaintance, the WUE scholarship doesn’t seem super-competitive. The engineering schools in the low population western states (Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, both Dakotas) have room for good students from elsewhere, unlike, say, UT Austin or UC Berkeley.

    I had this thought for Saac’s friend as well, if he wants to study engineering in the U.S. for a reasonable cost. The schools she listed (Rensselaer, Georgia Tech, MIT) likely have plenty of qualified applicants and no need to offer aid to international undergraduate students. Cost would be more reasonable at one of the above state schools, which all offer professors who can adequately teach the ABET curriculum.

  92. WCE, what do you think of Oregon’s engineering programs? They used to live in Portland. The dad is not an engineer at all, but is of the impression that public schools there are strong in engineering.

  93. WCE, I was just using it as an example of schools changing their scholarship/aid qualifications because of going test-optional this year.

  94. MSU WUE seemed comparable to Oregon and Colorado. Of course, once all the merit/WUE etc back and forth gets done, it seems like most college cost about the same.

    What do we all know about engineering at University of Alabama?

  95. S&M, I only know about the engineering programs at Oregon State and they are fine. The main distinction for me among the engineering programs is coop opportunities within a specific engineering major, which depends on industry ties in that department. For one engineering major at Oregon State, you had to have a 3.95 GPA to qualify (very few opportunities) so I’d encourage my kids to look elsewhere if they wanted that specific engineering major unless they were certain they didn’t want to coop.

    Portland State is more of a commuter school and generally considered less good but they have a good program in seismic building design, I think. University of Oregon doesn’t have an engineering school.

  96. “What do we all know about engineering at University of Alabama?”

    Excellent program. New buildings. Lots of money. Well respected. I tried to get DS to apply, but he was not interested.

  97. “What do we all know about engineering at University of Alabama?”

    IDK much about the engineering program there, but UA (RT), and its honors college, has become quite the destination for many NMF.

    At CC, I saw a lot of people discussing engineering at UA-Huntsville, and impressions were generally favorable.

  98. MSU WUE seemed comparable to Oregon and Colorado. Of course, once all the merit/WUE etc back and forth gets done, it seems like most college cost about the same.

    Oregon doesn’t do the WUE and even with the scholarship they offered DD, it is about $10k more than MSU with the non-WUE scholarship MSU is offering. The WUE should make MSU even a bit less. OSU does the WUE now and it’s quite a bit less than Oregon but still more than MSU. I don’t know how Colorado is for OOS, but for in-state it’s still more expensive than MSU would be for DD.

  99. Lauren- I’m not disagreeing with you but why isn’t the USPS able to hire seasonal workers like UPS and Fedex? Yeah I get they aren’t technically a government agency but the Commerce dept could hire seasonal census takers.

  100. Trump made it a priority to cut the funding of the post Office, Fred. He got a bee on his bonnet about their commercially competitive pricing in package delivery as a govt subsidy of his political enemy. Jeff Bezos of Amazon and the Washington Post. And there are long term funding issues of pensions.as well. It started early in his administration and not just about the election So post offices were closed, sorting machines mothballed, hiring freeze, etc.

  101. “Oregon doesn’t do the WUE”

    Are you referring to the University of Oregon, i.e., one specific university, as opposed the state or all public colleges in the state?

    “and even with the scholarship they offered DD, it is about $10k more than MSU with the non-WUE scholarship MSU is offering.”

    Do you mean $10k/year?

  102. I’ve had pretty good luck with USPS – and had a much worse experience with UPS this summer. I ordered a package from CA and paid for expedited shipping. UPS got the package to within 30 miles of Seattle – and then sent it on a cross country journey to Philadelphia. And then said it would take them a week to get it back from Philly to Seattle. I totally get that mistakes happen – but it really irritated me that UPS wasn’t willing to do anything to make up for their mistake (like send it back to Seattle overnight rather than taking a week).

  103. “it really irritated me that UPS wasn’t willing to do anything to make up for their mistake (like send it back to Seattle overnight rather than taking a week).”

    At an absolute minimum, they should’ve refunded what you paid for expedited shipping.

  104. I’ve been having better luck with USPS than UPS or FedEx. I ordered a pair of shoes on Nov 30 – they are expected to be delivered via FedEx on December 23rd. They haven’t even left the warehouse yet – caught up in the FedEx cut off for large retailers I think. Same with a pair of pants that I bought for DS – ordered Black Friday. Still not here. Expected December 23rd. That one is UPS. DH had a shipment from a large retailer sit in limbo for 4 weeks with a UPS tracking number and then get marked as “undeliverable”.

    Everything coming USPS has arrived on a timely basis. That’s mostly stuff from smaller retailers, personal packages, and regular mail.

  105. “Oregon doesn’t do the WUE”
    Are you referring to the University of Oregon, i.e., one specific university, as opposed the state or all public colleges in the state?

    Yes, the U of O. As I mentioned, OSU does it as do other schools in the state.

    “and even with the scholarship they offered DD, it is about $10k more than MSU with the non-WUE scholarship MSU is offering.”

    Do you mean $10k/year?

    Yes, per year.

  106. Those of you who have been filled with pity for me and my Christmas Card free home, may be delighted to hear that we have two (2!) cards as of today. One mailed from the east coast US Dec 1, one from the west coast Dec 1. Both with cheery family pics on one side and the whole family masked on the back.

    In the 1990s, I did a lot of mailing between the US and Europe. West coast to Sweden was 5-7 days.

  107. Regarding shoveling snow into the street, I’ve pulled a few of the quotes from a post yesterday on our town FB page. Yeah, it’s a thing. :)

    To the individuals who live on lxxx dr. Shoveling their driveway and sidewalk onto the street as cars pass by. It’s a busy intersection. Please stop, it’s illegal, and inconsiderate

    Wow, really who does that?

    “Article 1219 of New York State VTL prohibits plowing, shoveling or blowing snow into a street or highway. This law also covers other items likely to pose a hazard to motorists, including glass, nails, wire, cans, etc. Fines for a first offense include up to a $150 fine and/or 15 days in jail, plus applicable surcharges.”

  108. Ada, that sounds like the mail in the US. My friend lives in Connecticut and she mailed her cards the day after Thanksgiving. I received her card during the first week in December, but some of their friends and family in Florida and California still haven’t received their cards.

    My parents didn’t receive my cards even though I live within a few miles of their homes.

  109. I wasn’t feeling like sending cards this year but got cards out by Dec 4. Relatives in the home country have received them.

  110. I finished a rom com series on Netflix that was based on a YA book series called Dash & Lily. I am obsessed with seeing holiday decorations in Manhattan in a normal year and I haven’t been to the city since early November. This series helped feed the covid emptiness because it must have been filmed last year in NYC during the holidays. It happens to also be funny and cute, but I was so happy to see some of my favorite NYC holiday decor. I am working on DH to see if we can take a ride on Thursday or Friday night so we can see some of my favorites in midtown. We probably don’t even have to get out of the car.

  111. When I lived in Berlin in the 90s, mail took anywhere from 3 days to a week. Now we rarely mail things, because it is so unreliable.

  112. My sent me a few packages via USPS over two weeks ago. One box came on Friday. The other is “in transit”. My Christmas card to her took 10 days.. typically it only takes 3 days. However, for months now they’ve only been getting mail 2 or 3 times a week. They are at the end of a route and when it is quitting time they stop. And the next day the go back to the beginning of the route. When my mom complained she was told that she can come in and pick up the mail herself, which is what she has been doing when she goes three days without delivery.

    UPS has been just as bad for us. Many packages are delayed, or delivered late. On Nextdoor people have been complaining about UPS packages delivered after 10pm, no doorbell rings and then the package is stolen before morning.

  113. We started watching Dash and Lily this past weekend. DH loved more than the rest of us! What is D&L rated? Here is is 7+, but I don’t think I’d let an 8 year old watch it.

    So far we’ve only received 1 Christmas card, from the mother of a kid I went to kindergarten with. So random!

  114. Dash and Lily is rated PG-13 and I think that seems right. i am watching a couple of the shows with DH and I have to wait to watch those episodes so I am looking for something to watch while I am exercising/cleaning etc. I watched a couple of holiday movies, but they are all the same so I am looking around for a new series.

  115. I haven’t watched it yet, but several people have recommended Home for Christmas on Netflix.

  116. USPS: We ordered DS’ main Christmas present from Keshi 12/5. It was put in the mail 12/7. And has been “in transit” ever since. I don’t even know if it is still on the way or if it is lost somewhere — made it to ABQ 12/8, left there, and does not appear to have been seen again.

  117. LfB – did you call the company? I ordered some plates from PB around 11/15 and it was lost in transit (they kept updating the delivery date to the next day but the last scan was like 11/17 and then nothing) – I called PB several times and they sent out a replacement, which did actually arrive. Huge PITA, of course, but it did eventually work!

  118. L — no, been crossing my fingers that it gets here. Unfortunately Keshi sells one-of-a-kind items, so I’d have to ask for a refund, and then figure out something else for DS.

  119. LfB – I feel like the tracking from their end should be better, though, so at least they could look into it!

  120. LOVING Home for Christmas on Netflix! You have to be willing to read subtitles, and DH didn’t want to, so I’m watching it by myself.

  121. LfB – pretty sure they do, since they are the shipper – at least that was the case when I called PB.

  122. Thanks for the recommendation Louise – I will check it out. Looks like it might also appeal to DD and DS.

    Lauren, have you seen Call My Agent on Netflix? It’s excellent.

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