Wednesday’s TPS Report: Paige Jacquard Jacket

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Elie Tahari Paige Jacquard JacketOff Fifth has a great selection of workwear pieces right now, including this white jacquard blazer from Elie Tahari.  White blazers are one of my favorite summer staples, and I love the little details — the peplum, the jacquard, the fact that it clearly bears no resemblance to a lab coat.  The markdown is pretty great, too: the blazer was $398, but is now $104.  Elie Tahari Paige Jacquard Jacket

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Comments

  1. Flying Squirrel :

    Early TJ (after a long hiatus).

    Baby Squirrel is now two months, and things have been going well (albeit I’m still learning).

    Sadly, have to go back to work soon, and we’re in the process of hiring a nanny. Can any Bay Area ‘rettes point me to resources on background checks and how to set up payroll (we want to pay nanny on the books)? Also, I would appreciate any information on going rates (this is East Bay, not SF). She’s asking for $17/hr which seems reasonable. Do I have to pay 1.5 rate for any hours over 40? Also, any thoughts on putting a nanny on salary?

    TIA!

  2. Flying Squirrel :

    Early TJ (after a long hiatus).

    Baby Squirrel is now two months, and things have been going well (albeit I’m still learning).

    Sadly, have to go back to work soon, and we’re in the process of hiring a nanny. Can any Bay Area ‘r 3 ttes point me to resources on background checks and how to set up payroll (we want to pay nanny on the books)? Also, I would appreciate any information on going rates (this is East Bay, not SF). She’s asking for $17/hr which seems reasonable. Do I have to pay 1.5 rate for any hours over 40? Also, any thoughts on putting a nanny on salary?

    TIA!

    • We pay $15 an hour in Houston, so I think $17 sounds about right for your area. We just hired Breedlove & Associates (although we didn’t use care.com to hire our nanny), and it has been worth every single penny so far. They do payroll and all of the end-of-year taxes. We thought we could do her W-2 on our own, but it seemed way more complicated than I expected once I got into it.

    • Diana Barry :

      No idea re: background, but we use the Nanny Tax Company https://www.nannytaxprep.com/ and they are great.

      We are around Boston and pay around $18/hr for 3 kids.

      I haven’t heard of anyone using salary rather than hourly, but if your nanny is OK with it I would think it would be fine.

      Also, be careful to ask UP FRONT about on the books. We had a terrible time finding someone who was actually willing to be paid on the books, and we have to pay more/gross up because of it.

      • Diana Barry :

        Also, congrats! Are you getting any sleep?

        • Flying Squirrel :

          Thanks. Yes, some sleep, though less than pre-baby ;) She’s actually going one 6-7 hour stretch at night. I suck at the sleep when the baby sleeps thing during the day. Especially since she only takes short naps and feeds frequently during the day to make up for the longer stretch at night. Things are getting better, though. She was having weight gain and nursing issues, which seem to be more resolved (through a switch to pumping and one bottle of formula).

          Otherwise, she’s absolutely gorgeous! I’m completely in love…and I, personally, convinced I have the best baby in the world.

          Right now I’m trying to reluctantly plan my RTW:( I had a flexible back to work date (since I’m now unpaid after my initial STD leave), but now my boss is quitting and my group is being re-orged. So that’s a whole other thing I have to deal with!

          • AWww that’s so great, congrats I’m so happy for you!! ;o) And thanks again for sharing with us, I love hearing all the big life events from my internet friends!

      • I believe that only supervisory employees (those who count as management) can be paid salary. I believe it’s a risk to pay a salary, and would recommend paying time and a half for hours over 40. Your payroll consultant can also likely provide additional guidance, but most household employees are eligible for and must be paid overtime.

        • Diana Barry :

          Aha. Don’t listen to me! I’m not an employment lawyer! :)

        • Flying Squirrel :

          Thanks for this info. I didn’t know that.

        • You can pay salary, but you just also have to pay time and a half. So it really only benefits the employee because they still get a fixed paycheck even when they work fewer hours, and get the bump when they work over 40. So, it doesn’t really make sense to do it but it is *possible* to pay a salary so long as you also pay overtime (there are millions of salaried employees in this country who are non-exempt).

          • This.

            The distinction is between exempt (from overtime requirements) and non-exempt (from overtime requirements, not between salaried and hourly – although that’s often how the break out because exempt employees will get paid salary and non-exempt will get paid hourly because it’s easier to calculate overtime for the non-exempt that way.

      • Agree – we went through this when we hired our nanny. Ultimately, we agreed on a set hourly price, but worked it out with our nanny administrative company that the “hourly” pay is a little less than what we agreed, and the “overtime” component is a little more. In other words, we have a nannyshare, so we pay $10/hr for 50 hours of work. I want to say that it works out to like $8/hr for 40 hours a week, and somewhere in the $15/hr for 10 hours a week (this is inaccurate, just a guess). Technically, we are still paying her what amounts to $10/hr a week, but we are compliant with labor laws.

        Also, I highly recommend Breedlove. They are a little expensive (and we’ll probably move away from them as we get more comfortable with nannycare and just use a CPA), but they filed all taxes on our behalf, they did the “math” that I described above, and they administer a paycheck for us/our nanny. I really appreciated the hand-holding our first year, as we wanted to make sure everything was “by the books.”

        They also talked us out of paying her a set salary, even though that is what we functionally do. Again, our agreement with the nanny was that we guarantee she receives $10/hr for 50 hours of work/week, no matter what. I don’t pay her extra when I need some extra time at night, but I also let her leave early when I can get home early/take a day off.

        • Diana Barry :

          FYI ,we don’t have direct deposit through the nanny tax co – they only do the tax forms and we have to write a check every week. It works because we never pay overtime and don’t have to recalculate for more hours worked.

    • There are resources on the State Labor Dept site…generally non-exempt employees, including domestics, should be paid time and half for any work in excess of 8 hours on any day or 40 hrs in a week. I would consult an accountant to do the taxes. Some of this is federal, some specific to CA, but it is laid out there.

      • Federal requirement for overtime is any time over 40 hours in a regular 7 day period. Federal overtime law does NOT require overtime paid on more than 8 hours in a 24 hour (day) period. State laws may vary – you usually go with the more restrictive requirements.

    • Ciao, pues :
    • We use Nannychex, and they have been good for payroll. We tried to do it ourselves first, but it was so frustrating/time consuming to sort out that we decided to go with a service for the first year so at least we have a model to check ourselves against in the future.

      As far as rates and salary: We’re in the DC area and our nanny asked for $13/hour (1 child, started when 5 months old), but after a few weeks, she told us she preferred to be paid a salary rather than hourly rate+overtime. We agreed on $600/week, which we based on what she would have otherwise earned. She gets all federal holidays, 10 days of vacation (she has family abroad and will take all at once to visit them) and 4 sick days.

      I know domestic workes are required to be paid hourly/overtime, so I wasn’t happy about the salary arrangement, initially. I would have preferred to guarantee pay for a minimum number of hours or something like that, but it was difficult to explain with a minor language barrier, and I can totally understand how she just wants to have a predictable paycheck. In any case, it does make it a lot easier for everyone; she’s happy, we’re happy, and it’s working well. She’s gotten a lot of extra days off thanks to snow days and us taking a few trips, too… I’m sure that helps.

      Good luck returning to work! It’s rough at first, but it does get easier. I hope you find a great nanny; it made a big difference in my comfort level going back.

    • I wasn’t aware of the legal implications, but every family I know in my area employing a full time nanny pays salary weekly. The hourly rate usually comes in for extra hours, weekend or date night babysitting, etc.
      For occasional care, I pay $20/hr which is a typical rate here for experienced nannies, but for full time care families tend to negotiate it so it works out to between $15-17 depending on their experience. Less qualified nannies (i.e. more of household help/cooking plus babysitting) get paid on the lower end of that.
      I highly recommend care.com for finding a nanny – background checks, references etc. are a lot easier. They also now have a field indicating whether the nanny is willing to be paid on the books or not, and a link that streamlines payment (though I haven’t tried it). Also recommend working interviews or full-day trials with you present so you know how they interact with your baby.

    • Flying Squirrel :

      Thanks everyone! These are great resources to get started. I was wondering about time and a half since we will almost certainly need more than 40 hours due to commuting etc. It sounds like it may be possible to negotiate a slightly lower hourly rate (that works out closer to the rate she’s asking for) as long as we guarantee a certain number of hours. Part of the reason the nanny we’re talking to is looking to switch jobs is that her current employer is only part time since kids are in school. So I’m not sure her rate is based on the expectation of 1.5x rate.

      It’s so stressful trying to hire the person who will spend more waking week day hours with your child than you will!

    • This is what we do. We are also in the East Bay, FWIW, but have two kids and our nanny also does cooking, laundry, driving, and other household stuff for us. Our goals were to have predictability for her and for us and to pay her a fair wage on the books. The difficult part is the overtime. So what we ended up doing was this:
      1) She is available to work for us 50 hours per week.
      2) Regardless of how much she works, she is guaranteed to be paid for 50 hours per week.
      3) Her regular rate is $17/hr. Her overtime rate is $25/hr. (Those are approximates.) As a result, over the guaranteed 50 hours, her rate is $19/hr.
      4) Any additional time she works for us is compensated at the overtime rate.
      5) We also pay her share of SS and Medicare (Breedlove calls this “Employer-paid FICA”, I think).

      You’ll have to think through vacation time (does she accrue it? how much does she get?), and sick leave as well. We give two weeks vacation and 5 paid sick days. This is not a perfect system, but it’s the best we could come up with. Breedlove is very helpful and will hold your hand through all of this.

  3. TJ: would you be hesitant to wait for an offer from a company that keeps having delays in the process? I interviewed with this company several months ago and they’ve checked references, done paperwork, and done basically everything but actually make me the offer. There have been a lot of hints that it’s just around the corner or happening “today” or “tomorrow,” but so far, nothing has happened. In the meantime, a company I interviewed with less than two weeks ago has already made me an offer. Both jobs would be good choices, but the one that hasn’t made me an offer has a few desirable qualities (such as a good commute/slightly better pay) that the other lacks. I’m kind of conflicted – I don’t want to jeopardize the one offer I do have for the promise of another just around the corner. Any thoughts? I already contacted the company and let them know I have another offer. They said they should have “a decision today,” but that has been said so many times already. Would a company with this many delays make you hesitant to work for them?

    • My firm was like that, but I waited around for them, and I’m so glad I did! They move slowly in a lot of areas because they have a conservative outlook. They want to make sure we have the work before bringing on someone new. I like that.

      • Yay! I love Tahari and this jacket! Great pick Kat. I hope the manageing partner will approve this one for me!

        As for the OP, I agree with preganon. Waiting can pay off. It took the manageing partner 2 month’s to get me on board even tho he told me I would be hired. He had to get his dad, who is the manageing partner’s MANAGEING PARTNER, to agree, and his dad is old and retired, but still own’s the firm. So I had to tell everyone I was kind of hired, but not until the old guy aproved me. I had to go to his house on LI, where he was sitteing on a bench overlookeing the LI sound. He grilled me about all sort’s of thing’s like bills of attainder and replevin and other thing’s that I did NOT know anything about. In the end, he said that he would go with the manageing partner’s recomendation, even tho I did not know anything important. YAY!

        So wait and you should get rewarded. A good law firm like mine is hard to find. I still send the manageing partner’s dad a birthday card — he is over 90 year’s old! YAY!!!!!!

    • personally, I’ve found the hiring process to generally be disconnected from the reality of working somewhere and it wouldn’t influence me unless it was severely abnormal (I’m not reading that). That said, I would wait that long with another offer on the table – bird in the hand and all that. If you can give it a couple of days, great, but I wouldn’t risk the real offer if that’s getting stale.

    • I wish I had paid attention to these warning signs. Clearly speaking from my own experience, it’s a red flag to me regarding how decisions get made (or don’t get made) at this place.

    • OP here. The offer came in yesterday and I said I’d get back to them by Friday (after they said they’d like to hear “by the end of the week”). I definitely don’t want to wait any longer than that even if company 2 “promises” to have an offer on Monday.

      • DC Darling :

        I’m not familiar with your particular field but I would call place that hadn’t offered and let them know you had an offer from another company but would really like to get a decision from them as it’s your first choice. Include the deadline the other company gave you as well. There’s nothing wrong with letting them know they have competition and need to get their act together.

        • I agree with this! Especially since you aren’t bluffing or playing games. You really DO need to know. FWIW, I find that places that have these problems in the hiring process have the same problems in the promotion process. Just a thought.

        • OP here. Like I mentioned in the post, I did call and let them know – if they don’t come through today like they said they “should” be able to, maybe I should just accept that it isn’t going to happen in time?

          • You have a good offer. Don’t wait around for the one that hasn’t offered if they can’t get it to you in time to let the other company know by their deadline. You could end up without either one.

    • This would be a red flag to me – in my experience it does generally match up with the speed of decision making (and organization of general workflow) in an office.

    • My spouse went through this. Waited two months. Offer never materialized. They seemed to expect him to wait around indefinitely.

    • I swear I could have written the first part of it. They’ve made me a verbal offer but I’m yet to receive a formal written offer from a place I’ve interviewed back in Dec. I’m so disappointed by the end of everyday as all I’ve heard the last few months is “today” or “will be out very soon” or “end of this week.” Verbal offer was made 4 weeks ago. Bah.

  4. Anon for this :

    Sorry for the immediate TJ- but I have a two part wedding question (please feel free to skip)

    1. Suggestions for getting hitched in New Orleans? We would be planning the wedding from out of state, but all of my extended family is from Louisiana and I think it would be awesome. I’ve seen a few places that look promising (Race and Religious, Latrobe’s on Royal) but other suggestions would be great. Thinking downtown, urban vibe.

    2. Does anyone have experience getting married in a Catholic Church when, again, you’re getting married in a different state that you live in? We were both raised Catholic, but to be honest, rarely attend church. I know there is preparation/counseling/classes involved, and I don’t know how difficult it is to do from out of state, especially since I don’t have a relationship with any church in my current area.

    Thanks all!

    • Generations Hall in the Warehouse District could be a good place. I’ve been to an event there and it’s a nice venue. http://www.generationshall.com/

      Places in the Quarter would tend to be smaller. Deep End planned her wedding in N.O. last summer (from afar) so she might be able to help with recommendations. Let me know if I can make recommendations for other things (hair, makeup, flowers, etc.).

      • Anon for this :

        Of course you would know! Great, I will definitely keep that in mind for other vendors. I should have mentioned earlier that this will be about 125 people. I’ll look into Generations Hall.

        Thanks!

        • Ha! Well, I think it’s well known on here that I am not at all familiar with downtown or tourist venues in N.O. I’m not Catholic so I can’t help with that. My wedding reception (many years ago now), was at the Columns Hotel, which is an awesome venue (where Pretty Baby was filmed) but not downtown at all.

      • Oh, and another possibility would be the Marigny Opera House: http://www.marignyoperahouse.org/

        I’ve known a few people who were married there. If you’re not familiar with the city, the Marigny is right behind the Quarter.

      • Check out Audubon Park, there’s a gorgeous pavilion in there, the Elms Mansion on St Charles – it’s a mansion turned event space and is lovely, style me pretty regularly features Nola wedding venues too. On the church piece, contact Loyola university – it’s catholic and they probably have alums who want to come back and may be able to help with the out of town aspect.

        • The Elms is a beautiful venue and can be used for an outdoor wedding space. One of the most fun wedding receptions I’ve ever been to was at the Elms. But it’s decidedly Uptown.

          • Yes it is! I missed the downtown vibe part. A word of caution to OP, I am from Nola (moved away about 10 years ago though) and don’t really think of much outside the warehouse district as being very “downtown”. I’m not sure if space there is used for weddings. When I think of wedding venues there I think old, crumbly, classic. And I would also check out the columns hotel – an all time favorite space and great venue.

        • Anon for this :

          Actually, my dad went to Loyola and I totally forgot that they have a gorgeous church on campus!

        • Anon for this :

          I really should have said that I am not THAT familiar with New Orleans, and when I said “downtown” I really meant in town… so I think various areas in New Orleans proper would all be fair game!

        • My favorite park in NOLA! I lived in New Orleans for 10 years, and walked around here every morning. One thing to note about the park: It has a very active bird population that is crazy loud in spring.

    • Regarding the Catholic wedding–has a priest already agreed to perform the ceremony? In my experience–getting married in the Church but not being a regular churchgoer–finding a priest who would even consider performing the ceremony was the biggest challenge. Once you’ve got a priest, he should be able to put you in touch with a parish in your area where you can do your pre-cana. (You can do a weekend retreat instead, in which case I don’t think you’ll need to find a local parish.)

      One other thing to be aware of–if you aren’t (both?) confirmed, you’ll need to be. For us this meant finding a third parish where we could be confirmed since our “home” parish (the one of the priest) did not do adult confirmation the year that we got married. Adult confirmation classes are typically about two months long and only done once a year (around Easter) so if this is an issue, you should get it on it right away.

      Good luck!

      • Hmm, I think the confirmation aspect depends on the church. My sister married her non-converted/definitely non-confirmed Jewish husband in a Catholic Church.

        • Only one of the parties has to be confirmed.

          • How do you even prove that? I’m actually just curious not bring snarky. I was confirmed at 15 or 16, moved away, no record of it or certificate, etc. I’ve never looked into getting married in the church but would they just take your word for it?

          • Killer Kitten Heels :

            Typically, the local diocese keeps track of this, so you’d probably start by contacting the parish where you were confirmed. I believe the parish or diocese will issue a letter/certificate/writing of some sort to verify your confirmation.

          • The parish that performed the confirmation would have a record. Besides not sure if you’d want to get married in the church partially based on a lie.

          • Anonymous :

            They write it on the back of your baptismal record

      • annie n mous :

        A friend got married in New Orleans (Catholic ceremony) although neither she nor the groom was from there. They were married in the Cathedral, and what happened was her “home” priest contacted that diocese giving his permission(?) for them to be married by the NO diocese. I remember it took a fair amount of time and planning on her end. They did all their pre-cana classes and counselling in their home diocese.

        In their case, she was a fair Catholic and he was a Baptist, but they worked it out.

      • Anon for this :

        Hi there- Thanks for the info. We are both confirmed, fortunately. I think finding a priest to do the ceremony and another one to prepare us is my biggest concern, since we haven’t been the best catholics. So I guess I should contact the priest that would perform the ceremony (in or near New Orleans) and then he can put me in touch with one in my area. Thanks for the tip!

      • My experience (not out of state) with getting married in the church is that it will vary widely depending on the priest calling the shots. We actually had a somewhat long-distance old family priest sort of flake out on us – he said that he’d be around our town periodically and would let us know when he wanted to get together for counseling, but never really did, then suddenly said that it was too late to get started and he didn’t want to do the wedding anymore. It was a huge family ordeal. Then he did basically the same thing to my brother a few years later. I don’t get it, but I guess that he has issues. Anyway, though we weren’t regular churchgoers, we managed to find a local priest who was willing to officiate on one counseling meeting if we attended an engagement encounter weekend, so it all worked out – you might be able to find a priest who will agree to something similar.

        Re: Lola: my husband wasn’t confirmed (though he’d had the baptism and communion), and it wasn’t a problem. I’m not sure anyone asked about it, though (though I do think that we both had to dig out our baptismal certificates).

        Good luck!

        • I’m getting married locally, but not in the parish that I am a registered parishoner. It’s fairly easy (at least in NYC). I visited the websites of various churches and some specify if they are willing to marry Catholics who are not registered in the parish. In NYC, the diocese handles pre cana – there are engaged encouter weekends, or you can do two Saturdays, or after work for 4 weekdays. The church in which you are getting married handles collecting all the paperwork. You need to reach out to where you were baptized (and possibly confirmed) for your certificate. With respect to whether you attend church, live with your fiance, etc., I think this is really priest specific as to whether he has an issues with it or encourage syou to do anything differently (and in guidance with Church teaching). Neither the priest who is marrying us (from my FMIL’s parish), nor the priest at the church we are getting married, had any issues. I barely go to mass and my fiance is not relgious at all. The process for me then was (1) figure out which church I wanted to get married in, (2) meet with the priest at that church to go over pre cana requirements and other paperwork, (3) meet with the priest officiating to go over the ceremony, and (4) attend pre cana classes.

      • Parishes vary on pre-cana requirements so find out what the requirements are for the archdiocese in New Orleans.

    • Kontraktor :

      We had an out of town Catholic wedding. First step was interviewing churches. Some will not perform weddings for non-registered parishoners. Others will. Find one that will and that is in line with your philosophies in terms of giving you the style of ceremony you want. Meet with that priest. He will let you know how you can complete the pre-cana requirements. Options may include going to them at your local parish, doing it online (we did ours online, as both my husband and I were overseas in different countries at the time of planning) or attending retreats/events at the actual parish you will get married at. Some churches basically run weekend retreats that count as the prep, so if your marriage church did that, you could just head down there for a weekend and get it done.

      You will likely need all your church documents, which you can get by contacting the parishes that your sacraments were held at. ie, where you got baptised should be able to write you a baptismal certificate, same with confirmation. Those churches should be able to send the certificates to your marriage church.

      Regardless of the logistics, you will likely need to begin having a relationship with your local and marriage churches as a part of this process. If it seems cumbersome, I might think about why you prefer to get married in the Church at all. Your marriage priest will encourage (if not ‘mandate’) that you attend mass weekly as part of your marriage preparation, so I would expect that and try to make a good effort to start doing that. If anything it will make it easier to engage in the marriage prep classes at your local church if need be.

    • The Columns Hotel in Uptown is also nice for weddings. City Park has vastly improved, and the area of the park where they recently opened Morning Call is gorgeous. In New Orleans, I would definitely want an outdoor wedding.

  5. Miss Behaved :

    With the unrest in the Crimea and the missing Malaysian flight, #mcconnelling is making me happy: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/14/daily-show-mcconnelling_n_4964515.html

    Thank you, Jon Stewart. My tv boyfriend. Come back from your vacation soon.

    • I missed most of yesterday’s coffee break thread about how some people have no idea what’s going on in Russia or with the missing flight. I’d generally say that willful ignorance isn’t something people should brag about (“oh I never follow the news!”). Fortunately it seems like most people here don’t fit into that category! You never know who among your colleagues or friends might be personally affected by something in the international news – why advertise how little you care?

      And yes, Jon Stewart cures all!

      • anon-oh-no :

        probably for the same reason you are advertising how condescending you are.

        i just went back and read the thread from yesterday and i just dont agree with many of the opinions on it. i pay attention to some world news, but not all. i generally know whats going on, but not the details of it, and often not for a day or two after its “big news.” among the many things that occupy my time, i have two small children and am a partner at a law firm. i work out every day and i sit on two non-profit boards. sure, i could spend a little less time on this site, but it is generally more fun than reading up on all of the details of what is going on in russia. i am not stupid, nor am i willfully ignorant. i prioritize my time different that you do.

        • anonymama :

          Calm down, she wasn’t saying everyone has to be up-to-date on every aspect of current events, just that she doesn’t understand people who actively advertise/boast about how they don’t care or don’t know what is going on. She’s not judging the uninformed, but the loudly/proudly uninformed.

        • I think Anon’s point is that you shouldn’t brag about not following the news. Unless it’s required for your job, most people don’t have the time to follow all news stories in detail, but it’s better to just say “I’m sorry I haven’t followed these news” instead of bragging that you never follow the news or being defensive by saying you are too busy to do so. Someone you know may be impacted by some of these world developments and you are just going to come across as a jerk if you are dismissive about it or make a big deal about how busy you are.

        • Orangerie :

          Right, but even if you don’t follow all of the details, you are at minimum aware that there is a conflict in Ukraine and there is a Malaysian Airlines flight missing. To be completely, blithely, unaware of either event is much different than being aware that something is occurring but not reading each and every new development story that is published.

  6. CC Question :

    Looking for recommendations on a rewards credit card! Either travel or cash back, leaning towards travel because I’ve heard it’s a better deal, but open to advice either way. All stories of positive/negative experiences appreciated!

    • If you shop at Costco, consider their cash back no-annual-fee American Express.

    • I’m pretty happy with my Capital One Venture card. You get 2 cents (points) for every dollar you charge that are redeemable for flights, hotels, and other travel expenses. They also have a “purchase eraser” so if you don’t have enough points (dollars) for a flight, you just buy it on the credit card and if you get enough points to cover it within a certain amount of time, then you can retroactively apply the points to “erase” your purchase. We have successfully used that feature a couple of times in addition to purchasing flights or hotels outright through Capital One. We don’t travel a ton, but we like it.

    • Rewards- I’d recommend Chase Freedom. I have the Chase Sapphire and love it because when you call you immediately get a person and not a machine and it’s a visa signature so it comes with nice perks. That being said I had my husband sign up for the Freedom because while I get great services he gets better rewards. Both cards are great though.

      • I have this too, and love getting cash back. I like that there isn’t a fee, and it’s easy. Never had a problem.

      • Anonattorney :

        I just got the Chase Freedom! We’ll see how it works out.

        I just switched away from an airline rewards card because it’s total crap. I accumulated a bunch of miles, supposedly enough for a round-trip ticket in the US, but, alas, there simply are no flights available to my destination AT ANY TIME during the year if you’re using miles.

        • That’s what I’ve heard a lot of when researching travel cards. They said airlines are quick to give out travel miles but very reluctant to let you redeem them. I’d love to get airfare tickets as a reward but I’m not loyal enough to any airline that it’s worth it to me. You’re going to love your Chase Freedom!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Check out creditcardtuneup.com and it will make a personalized recommendation based on your spending.

      I read a bunch of frequent flier blogs and have been getting into this myself. Common recommendations for the best everyday spending cards are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Starwood Amex. Both have annual fees though. Sapphire Preferred lets you transfer your points to various airlines and hotels. The Starwood points can be used at their hotels, which is what I do, or transferred to a ton of different airlines and you get 5000 bonus miles if you transfer 20,000 miles at once. If you’re loyal to one airline or hotel chain, it might be worth looking into those branded cards.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        Oh and if you’re interested into digging into this more, there are some great blogs to check out. I find Million Mile Secrets, The Points Guy, and View from the Wing to be helpful and interesting.

      • If you are a frequent traveler on one airline, look at what other perks their card may offer. My Continental Card (RIP) gave me one free checked bag on domestic flights which probably didn’t save me a ton of money, but was just so very convenient. Some cards may also give you priority seating or other perks, which can be worth it if you travel a lot.

        • Sydney Bristow :

          I have a United card too because I got 50,000 bonus miles and get a free checked bag (for me and a companion I think). That easily covers the annual fee since I take at least 1 United round trip flight a year and normally 2-3. It puts me in boarding group 3 too, which seems to be just fine for getting overhead bin space if necessary.

          OP, if you travel internationally you should also consider which cards have no foreign transaction fees. The Sapphire Preferred and United cards don’t have any. My Starwood card does though so I won’t use it outside the US. I think the Capital One cards don’t either and Delta cards are going to start offering no foreign transaction fees.

      • +1 to all of this.

    • I like Amex for points, they have a giant catalogue of stuff plus travel options. I’ve found travel rewards alone hard to cash in due to restrictions on dates. I like the flexibility and usually use points to upgrade my electronics.

    • I recently switched from Cap One Venture (the free one with 1.5 points per dollar) to Chase Freedom (1% on everything, 5% on quarterly rotating categories, + $200 cash back bonus for spending $500 in the first two months, no annual fee). For me, the problem with the venture card was that you needed soooo many points to actually be able to book travel – 10,000 points was only $100. And the cash back rate wasn’t even that good. They also closed down their online “mall” where you could earn extra points per dollar for shopping at major online retailers. Chase still has that feature. Airline or hotel specific cards may be better for travel, but because I’m not loyal to one particular airline or chain, I’m happy with the switch to cash back for now.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        Online shopping portals are awesome! Most airlines have their own and as others have said many credit cards do as well. I’ve started racking up some significant miles this way and it’s so easy to do.

    • I’m happy with my Discover card, since you can use the reward $$ directly on Amazon – no need to turn it into gift cards or only wait for $50 or $100 increments. I basically save the reward money all year, then use it to buy most of our Christmas presents on Amazon.

      • So I have the Chase Amazon that technically lets you do this, but I think it’s a rip-off if your Discover card works the way my Amazon does. If I spend cash on Amazon, I get 3x points on my card, which is redeemable for cash (that, of course, can be used on anything, including more Amazon purchases). But if you use Amazon points to make a purchase, you get nothing. It’s really a psychological trick they’re playing on you to make it look like a good deal.

        • True, I don’t get points then on the Amazon purchases. I can also use the $ as a bill credit, but only in $50 chunks, I think. But I still prefer it to having to use the points only out of their catalog or only for gift cards.

        • Yes, but you can choose to get the cash as a statement credit instead of amazon points, at least with my Chase amazon card. Learnt that from thissite.

    • I really like AmEx Blue Cash Preferred. It offers 6% cash back on groceries, 3% on gas, and 1% on everything else. There is a $75 annual fee, but the amount of cash back rewards I receive far exceeds the $75 fee.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I have a Bank of America World Rewards Card. It has a low interest rate (comparatively), no annual fee, no penalty for making multiple payments per month (and they can all be made online). You earn one point per dollar spent generally. They do deals frequently though where you get 5x points on gas or groceries or something. There is also an online click through mall thing where you can get discounts and free shipping plus significant bonus points for your shopping.

      You can exchange points for travel or dollars. For the travel, there are some lucky tickets you can find in the $250-$400 range that cost 25,000 points (equivalent of $250 if you cashed out). The best deal would be to use the points for a high end ticket in that range but they don’t have many.

      I usually just book travel on my own and then use my points to “pay off” my credit card bill at $1 per point.

      I like that I can make lots of payments because I am more of a debit card person than a credit card person. If I make a big purchase I can use the credit card for points and then immediately make a payment for that amount so I don’t get surprised with a big bill at month end.

  7. US Air is my area’s dominant carrier. I have a family to fly to places and have saved a ton of money with their miles card (mainly through their 2-companion-fares for $99 each deal you get once a year) for family trips. I didn’t ever get anything out of miles when I was single, but b/w that and miles, I’ve gotten our family trips for a lot less out-of-pocket than I would just paying cash.

    On my last flight where I signed up for the card, I had a flight attendant tell me that she and everyone she works with has them for their families to help then travel mainly for the companion fares. I think they give you ton more miles if you sign up on the plane but you can sign up online too.

  8. So I’m pretty sure I need to see a therapist. Problem is I have a 9 to 9 job in NYC where I’ve heard it’s difficult to get in anywhere. Running out for an hour during the day isn’t an option in my micromanaged office. NYCers, how hard is it going to be to find someone early in the morning or on a weekend? Is this going to be like as difficult as trying to find an Obgyn with extra hours was? Alternatively has anyone tried or can recommend Skype therapy?

    • My friend from college is the CEO of Breakthrough, which does internet-based therapy and, is covered by some insurance plans. Check them out.

      Also, if you are a non-exempt employee, you should get lunch during a 12 hour day…by law. And you should be able to take a doctor break as your lunch. I’m just sayin….

      • Therapy Anon :

        I think many of us know that the law and the reality of one’s workplace are not often the same thing. At my old job, even though I was using my lunch hour to see a therapist (and it only took that hour), I still had to let everyone know that I had an appointment during my lunch and that’s why I was leaving the office — because heaven forbid they needed me during that time and I wasn’t eating lunch at my desk, like usual.

        • You are able to use FMLA leave in hourly increments, if FMLA applies to your employer. All you would need is a note from a doctor stating that you are in need of therapy. Mental health is SO IMPORTANT. I think it’s terrible that workplaces expect people to accommodate their needs with little effort to accommodate their employees’.

    • Is there a grad school near you that offers services? The therapists-in-training are up to date and are supervised. Had a great experience with this near me, and their hours were nights and weekends. They also charge by a sliding fee, but it is out of pocket.

    • NYC Patient :

      I found someone with evening availability (LATE evenings, we meet at 9pm) on my first try, and my local friends in therapy (I have 2) have similarly late appointments with different providers – I can’t say for sure that they had no issues finding someone, but they’ve never mentioned that it was a problem. I am pretty sure this is one where the rumors far overstate reality. Find out who your insurance covers, do a little Googling, and then start making calls.

      • My experience with insurers is that while psychotherapy is covered out of network, it’s very rare to find someone in-network. Just FYI.

        • This must depend on the insurer. I’m on my third insurance company in 7 years and I’ve always been able to use in-network providers. Now some of the plans had better coverage than others (cheaper co-pays, covered more visits in a calendar year, etc.), but I did not have to go out of network.

      • I didn’t have any difficulty finding a provider who offers night/weekend appointments through my insurer here in Boston. I suggest looking through your insurer, googling the providers, and then calling a few to ask about availability. Maybe I got lucky, but I imagine there are quite a few with night/weekend availability.

        From my experience, I wouldn’t recommend morning appointments because therapy can be draining and I really wouldn’t want to go to work afterwards.

        Good luck!

    • Therapy Anon :

      First, good for you for taking this step in helping yourself and getting care!

      I can’t speak specifically to the hours you’d need, but Psychology Today allows you to search for someone and you can narrow it down by providers Skype. That may enable someone to see you early/late or better fit it into your schedule. (I’m sure NYC therapists are more accustomed to clients with special considerations concerning scheduling, considering how many 9-9, etc. jobs there are. It might just take a bit of extra work to find one.)

      I believe The Fifth Avenue Counseling Center used to offer late appointments (and possibly early ones). They’re at 23rd btw. 5th and 6th.

    • Cornellian :

      This is probably not what you want to hear, but when I looked into this, New York was considering or had adopted legislation making skype therapy illegal…

      • There are also ethics concerns on the part of licensing boards because much of the law governing therapists’ practice varies by state, and when someone is on Skype it’s hard to verify what state they’re in and thus which laws apply. Just a heads up if you find people are hesitant.

      • As someone living in NYC and seeing my NYC therapist in person only occasionally due to a heavy work travel schedule, I’d like to say there are numerous providers who will do sessions via Skype. It’s actually become quite common. Although not all therapists will do it and not all patient problems will be appropriate for this type of counseling, it is a viable option for a lot of people. While there are some ethical issues, it is not currently illegal in NY. Some states (3, the last time I checked) have enacted laws to specify a practitioner’s obligations in an online counseling situation. Start with your insurance company’s list of approved providers. A little research online and a few phone calls can get you enough information regarding whether the provider offers Skype sessions, keeps early/late office hours, etc.

    • Dr. Shirin Ali. She keeps late hours – I think I’ve been to see her at 8 or 9pm. Tel: 646-706-7011. In the Union Square area. She doesn’t take insurance, but she’ll work with you to get you the forms you need to get some reimbursement from your insurance company.

    • Consider applying for intermittent FMLA (assuming you are eligible and your employer is covered). Then your employer has to allow you to take the time off for your appointments, and you are legally protected from retaliation.

      • I would not do this if your office is as bad as you say it is. Legally, you may be protected but there are still lots of ways this can hurt you if you don’t want your medical info broadcasted (as it likely will be in this type of office)

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Check out ZocDoc to see if there are any who take your insurance and have early or late hours. Obviously won’t include everyone you could potentially see with your insurance but it’s an easy place to start.

    • It might not be as common, but you might also look for early morning hours, like 8 am. Coming in an hour late for a “standing medical appointment” might not be such a problem as leaving early or mid-day, and the office is more likely to be running on time instead of behind early in the day. I used to try to take appointments over my lunch hour, but when the office is running almost an hour behind it would turn into a 2.5 hour chunk out of my day.

  9. Diana Barry :

    Hey ladies, my last remaining grandma just died. She had dementia and was very unwell, so it is kind of a relief, but I want to be able to support my mom in whatever way is best.

    She already told me not to come up this weekend, because they have plans, and I sent her some flowers. Should I just call more often for the next few weeks? Send her cards or funny emails? She has had depression in the past, so I am not sure whether this is a relief for her (she said it was) or if she will be at risk of falling back into depression because of it.

    • Anonforthis :

      My condolences to you and your family. Went through this last year, with a mom prone to depression. I checked in a bit more regularly by phone. I also booked one or two “special phonecalls” – let’s both get a tea or glass of wine and chat about X – redecorating my living room, her spring wardrobe overhaul, etc…
      When a bit of depression kicked in, I found a specific project for her to help me with that wasn’t taxing, but helped fill some of the time she would have spent looking after her mom. Good luck, and sending positive thoughts to your family.

    • No good answer, but condolences on your loss.

    • Ciao, pues :

      Sorry for your loss. The death may be both a relief and make her depressed, emotions are complicated that way. I think your instincts are good: call more frequently, and send cards and emails. See if you can plan that trip to visit soon. Even if she says she doesn’t need you to come, she might actually really appreciate having you close. I find that death makes me want to pull my loved ones in closer. Condolences.

    • Clementine :

      First, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss.

      Second- Is all of the above an option?? I have found that just letting someone know you’re there and you care and are thinking of them is the important part. Doing this through cards/emails/phone calls/ whatever way works are all right and good things to do.

    • I’m so sorry to hear this. I think your idea to reach out more to your mom via calls, emails, and cards is a good one. Condolences, and good thoughts in your direction.

      • Diana Barry :

        Thanks, ladies! I am definitely relieved and *think* that my mom should be relieved as well – it has been a long, hard road to death for my grandma. But depression is a funny thing, so it makes sense that she might be both relieved and depressed because of it.

        • I’m sorry for your loss. My father recently went through this, and I will say – watch for depression to pop up because mom does feel relief from the loss (it is difficult to grapple with the feeling of being “happy/relieved/whatever” that your parent has passed). Death is funny, but the advice handed to my family was to just “feel what you are feeling” and try not to let guilt muddle it (obviously an overly simplistic view and call in experts if you see the sadness or guilt start to deepen into depression).

        • Anon in NYC :

          I’m so sorry for your loss. My MIL will have to deal with the loss of her mother sometime in the next few years, and her mom has been increasingly out of it for the past 2 or so years. Not dementia per se – I think just old age. MIL has been put through the ringer with her mother. I think my MIL will feel a combination of relief and sadness, so I think it’s probably likely your mom feels similarly. I’d say recognize and expect the sadness, don’t minimize it (“now your life is easier!”), and share memories of your grandmother.

        • anonopotomus :

          I’m sorry for your loss. I also felt relief when my very sick mother died. It helped to remember that I lost her before she died. I mourned the loss of her, but felt relief at her death, which was a release.

    • Coach Laura :

      Diana B – I’m sorry for your loss. No time to type out ideas but hugs to you and your mom.

    • No real advice, but I’m so sorry for your loss.

  10. Anon For Job Question :

    Hi hive, TJ about when to follow up on job application.

    Here’s the situation: I sent in my resume for a position that would start in late May in early February, then had an phone interview with the head of the department in mid-February. The phone interview went very well, and I had to submit an Excel case. I submitted the case two weeks ago and the head of the department emailed me to say she thought I did well on the case, and she thinks I’d be a good fit for the position. She also said that she will follow up with her team “early next week” (i.e. last week) and will email me with more details then.

    I still haven’t heard anything. I’d like to email her tomorrow (1.5 weeks since her email) and follow up.

    Two questions:
    1. Should I wait until next week to follow up, ie. give her 2 weeks?
    2. How do I phrase the follow-up?

    • Ciao, pues :

      I think you can follow-up now. I think a week is standard and following-up sooner rather than later demonstrates your interest.

      As for wording, I suggest something like, “Thank you for your feedback on my work on the Excel case. I greatly enjoyed our discussion and remain highly interested in the position. Please let me know if there is anything further I can provide to you as you consider my candidacy.”

  11. Lovely jacket and the texture keeps it from looking like a lab coat. I’m happy with this one from Loft which is frequently on sale 40% off: http://www.loft.com/textured-open-jacket/329574?colorExplode=true&skuId=15607072&catid=catl000018&productPageType=fullPriceProducts&defaultColor=9044
    First item I’ve bought from Loft in a long time.

  12. Any suggestions for dealing with panic attacks at work? I haven’t found medication or therapy to be helpful.

    • Silvercurls :

      This topic appeared earlier this week on Ask a Manager. Discussion covered a variety of related subjects such as whether or not to disclose at work, identifying triggering stimuli, and self-calming techniques. Good luck to you. There is a solution–you just don’t know it yet.

    • Anonymous :

      Self help books. Panic attacks, in my experience, are not really random, so digging to figure out the cause will help. Also, “it’s just anxiety”. . . repeat over and over again.

    • i just brought up a similar question in a support group this week, and one suggestion was to write down (preemtively) a bunch of positive-thinking counter-thoughts to the things that normally go thru your head when you are having a panic attack. Kind of a “Read This” page for when you are in the middle of one. I have a nice, slim notebook I carry around and this is one of the things I’m going to write in it. Like “This is my anxiety talking, I am not a failure.” “This is not the end of the world” “I am smart and capable and I have been through difficult things before.” “I CAN do this.” “I will do my best and it will be okay.”

      Also, I would agree with Anonymous at 1:33 to spend time when you are NOT having an attack thinking about the causes. That way your ‘counter thoughts’ on your list can be specifically going to the causes not just the symptoms.

      • Anonymous :

        Thanks for the suggestions. I know the trigger (vicious personal attacks about me as a person, not my work; I am fine with constructive criticism), but it’s hard the get out of my head when it starts. I agree that having self-talk statements prepared in advance might help.

        • Well it’s good that you have narrowed down the specific thing that starts the spiral. That is actually a helpful step. I would definitely have an easy to access list of the positive talk to calm yourself down that respond to all of the bad thoughts that you usually have in these situations.

          I like the way Captain Awkward (dot com) talks about this stuff. She calls it your “Jerkbrain.” So part of the self-talk is just in BIG Letters: This is my Jerkbrain telling me that maybe they are right when they say vicious things. But my Jerkbrain is lying to me, that is not true. I know I am competent. And here is a list of people I know who also think I am competent.” And then have things you know you are good at that you can do to rebuild your confidence?

          Another advice columnist (i forget who) said to not be afraid to just say NO to bad thoughts and I wrote this down: “Don’t underestimate the power of simply saying F%CK YOU to them, pushing them away.” it kind of feels good to just write that on a piece of paper when i’m having a bad time. ;o)

          But the Captain Awkward site and the forums have a lot of people dealing with anxiety issues, and I have found some great advice and support there.

          I’m sorry you’ve been feeling like this! I hope you find a way to feel better. And if you ever just want to come here and tell us you are having an anxiety attack we can remind you you are awesome and tell your Jerkbrain to shut up! ;o) Hugs!

  13. Anon for this :

    Semi-regular poster, going anon for this one.

    So my shrink has suggested that I need to find something to do in my life that makes me happy – like, childlike run around giggling happy.

    Background is that I basically – can I say this without sounding obnoxious? – have it all – 2 healthy kids, a loving husband, a decently paid if boring job – but I feel like there is something lacking. Objectively, I know I should be happy but I’m just…stuck.

    I tried to think of things that make me happy. It used to be snowboarding or surfing (neither of which are possible on a very frequent basis anymore), or that rush from flirting (no longer appropriate!). And I can’t think of anything now.

    So what do other people here do that makes them happy?? Especially things that fit into an already busy schedule? Sports? Volunteering? Cross stitch? :)

    I might get flamed for this question but I don’t feel like I can ask anywhere else without sounding like an overprivileged punk!

    • Wildkitten :

      Skateboarding? (Its like snowboarding or surfing but doesn’t require special weather).

      • Wildkitten :

        Trampoline park!

        • This is one of my favorite activities that I do with my kids. I have a big age range between my kids (13, 5 and 3) and this is a place where we ALL have fun and is not overwhelming to do on my own with the kids when my husband is working late. It is contained, tires us all out, and is so fun to jump really high or get stuck in the foam pit.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        This seems like a good idea. Based on what you mentioned, it seems like something physical would work best, especially if it’s something you can do alone.

        What about going to a nearby playground and playing on the monkey bars? Look up parkour videos on YouTube for some playground inspiration.

        • Sydney Bristow :

          I had one more idea. It’s not exactly an activity, but I’m very influenced by scent and lighting a great smelling candle makes me feel happy. Not exactly childlike running around giggling happy but happy and at peace somehow.

    • For me, it’s mountain biking. It’s a little weather- and location-dependent but not as much as snowboarding or surfing. Once you get decent at it, you can replicate some of that skiing/snowboarding flow feeling.

      • OK, I will add a few. Travel can be a big pain with kids but it really brings me lots of happiness – I often recall beautiful places I’ve seen for years afterward when I need to boost my spirits. Really connecting with friends also makes me happy – even if it’s just 30 min over coffee. Finally, (and this one is veering off topic), reading Eugene O’Kelly’s book _Chasing Daylight_ made a big impact on me. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a tear-jerker (CEO of KPMG learns that he is dying of brain cancer), but his concept of “perfect moments” really resonated with me. I started thinking about and recording my “perfect moments” and those are another store of memories that I can use when I need a little boost. I guess I have spent more time thinking about this than I realized! Good luck!

    • If you have kids, running around and playing with them? Listening to my toddler shriek with happiness when I ‘find’ him as we’re playing hide and seek or laughing hysterically while we roughhouse is my happy place these days.

    • Do you go outside much? I feel like that is just an instant mood-lifter. Go unplugged, recenter, etc. Look up at the sky or at something growing.

    • Clementine :

      Sing in a choir. Hike (even if it’s just taking the wooded pseudo-paths in the town park). Listening to terrible pop music. Books on tape while I do housework. Cooking really exciting food. Going to places I’ve never been before- even if that means just trying out a new grocery store. Hanging out with my dog. Training for and then fininshing races. Watching horrible, horrible, cr*p TV while on the elliptical. Drinking a glass of wine in the shower/tub.

      • +1 to cooking. Or baking! Even if it doesn’t look like the recipe photo (see: Pinterest Fails), sometimes making something new and tasty is just the pickup you need. Especially if you have fun music playing. You can even get your kids involved.

        Recently, the hubs and I have started making homemade pizza together — he doesn’t cook, so for him, it’s a thrill to spread out the sauce, make a mess with the cheese, then get to the eat the fruits of his labor. We put on cheesy Italian music (think any Italian restaurant you’ve ever been to), make a mess in the kitchen, and it’s a great way to spend a Sunday evening.

    • dog park – something about seeing dogs flying around and playing so joyfully makes me really happy.

    • If you’re looking for childlike release, try doing kid things.
      Like that potholder weaving thing (or the loom bracelets, which is the same concept).
      Finger crocheting.
      Make a garden/ dirt garden and play in the dirt regularly.
      Coloring.
      Walking to a park and swinging.
      Eating ice cream for breakfast.
      Have a backwards day – sandwiches for breakfast, pancakes for dinner.
      Play playground games like red rover and four square and hopscotch and double dutch.

    • For me, child like happy comes after a yoga class or zumba class with a friend (or alone). Once you’ve taken a class or two, it could come during a zumba class too (the first time might be disorienting/frustrating). There is something about flailing your arms about and jumping around for 60 minutes that is super fun. It also helps when you get one of those instructors that smile while killing you (in a cardio way).

    • ContractsinTX :

      Have you thought about volunteering? You can do a regular family activity, or you can take on something yourself that might fit in with a busy schedule – like grant writing or mentoring a k-12 student during your lunch hour.

      One thing that always makes me feel better is a regular night with my girlfriends. Cooking and drinking wine together once a month. It’s something special for me outside of my darling family.

    • Anon in NYC :

      What was it about snowboarding or surfing that made you giddy happy? The adrenaline rush? Pushing yourself physically? And do you want something that you can do solo, or do you want to involve your husband and kids?

      Have you tried spin classes? Depending on where you are, things like Flywheel or Soul Cycle (or a variety of other indoor cycling studios that tie together music/motivation/hard physical exertion) could be a good option for both the adrenaline rush and pushing yourself physically. I LOVE them.

      Another option (although much more mellow in vibe) are pilates megaformer classes. Less adrenaline rush, but still physical.

    • This might not be quite what you are looking for, but I recently stumbled across this: http://100happydays.com/

      It is essentially a personal challenge to find and submit a photo each day of something that made you happy. I’ve been participating in the challenge for almost a month now and feel like its made me slow down a bit and appreciate some of the little moments/things in life. Not all the days that I’ve been participating in the challenge have been joyous ones, but challenging myself to come up with a picture of something that made me happy has also helped me re-frame my thinking on those otherwise crappy days.

    • You don’t sound obnoxious at all. Sometimes when we have a purpose in life and that ends (planning a wedding, finishing graduate school, having a baby, or even making a photo book, or planning a party) it may result in feelings of emptiness.
      Is it time to look for your next “project”? I have a friend who gets into things like photography, gardening, or some challenging project for a few months before tiring of it/accomplishing something and moving on.
      Another type of “project” is taking a class in something that interests you. Maybe even combine it with exercise and endorphins in the form of a dance class, or a new physical activity?

    • Lady gardening. Flirting with your husband. Joining a pool and taking your kids on the weekend. Reading a funny book.

    • ha, this totally outs me, so anon :

      I also have a short attention span, and I’ve realized it kind of makes me happy to just try new things every few months. Sometimes I keep them up, sometimes I say “that was fun!” and move on. Kids make it trickier; I’ve had to work out swapping deals with my husband so we can both get some time to ourselves for hobbies. I brought my baby to class with me, and play the piano with toddler banging on one end of it (and “dancing,” which is freaking adorable); I just pretend I can’t hear those notes. Also, thank goodness my gyms have free babysitting. Here are some of my favorites:

      Volunteer at the Zoo (cute animals ftw)
      Piano
      Sing in a choir
      Community college class
      Pole dancing (so fun, but alas, have changed jobs and the gym is prohibitively far from work and home)
      Rock climbing (in a gym, mostly)
      Biking
      Swimming
      Reading – preferably in a bathtub with a glass of wine. I go to the library every 2 weeks like clockwork.

      DH and I are going to start taking ballroom/latin dance lessons together, too. I’m sooo excited.

      I also love snowboarding and surfing and don’t live in a location suitable for either. It helps a little to plan a trip. Even if it’s only once or twice a year, you’ll get a month of enjoyment out of looking forward to it, too!

    • Bike riding – with kids if possible. Preferrably somewhere outdoors that’s green or open space

      Laughing – I read that kids laugh 100+ times a day and adults like 10-15. Rent funny movies – slapstick or something like “A Fish Called Wanda”. Comedy clubs aren’t my thing but maybe give it a try with your husband on date night? Or with your girlfriends ?

      Baking with kids – esp pizza or cookies

      Dancing – with kids or take a low-key dance exercise class. I don’t know much about zumba but NIA was something I enjoyed a few years ago.

      Put-put golf with the kids?

      Or maybe you and your husband could try something new each date night/weekend? (I don’t know how old your kids are but it could also include them.) Zip-lining, roller coasters, bouldering or rock climbing (outdoors or in a gym), kayaking. There is research to say that doing something new with one’s SO is a bonding experience.

      IMO it’s good to tackle this before stagnation sets in.

    • Best decision I made was to join a very casual theater group I found on craigslist. Meets once a week but if you can’t show up no big deal; performs a few times a year. My spouse plays in a local sports league, which serves the same purpose for him.

    • Go to the movies by yourself on a weeknight. I was feeling a little down last night, so I left the husband and kid at home and went to a movie. It was nice to have some “me” time and it was a good distraction from everything else. I think I may make it a regular Tuesday night thing.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        I really enjoy going to see a movie by myself. So many people think its a weird thing I do though!

      • Original Anon :

        Thanks everyone for the great ideas (and not making me feel like an ungrateful jerk!). Interestingly the one that immediately caught my eye and made me excited as the theater group idea. Haven’t done theater since early high school but I love the idea!! Appreciate the rest of the ideas as well, maybe I’ll try a happiness project style test and see what sticks.

        Am off to a women’s networking event tonight – drinks! Adults! I think it’ll be an uplifting activity. :)

        Thanks again!

        • Along the same lines, I have a friend that did theater that now is part of an improv class/group that he loves.

          I also went through a period where I put “happy silly time” on my phone calendar, and when the alarm went off that meant it was time to put on a goofy playlist and then dance/sing/tickle the kids for 15 minutes or so.

        • If you’re in NY I have a great theater suggestion for you. If yes, please leave me your email and I’ll send you the info!!

        • cardigans :

          If you’re in DC, let me know!

        • I’ve got improv suggestions for the Minneapolis area!

          • Aw this is so nice!! I’m actually not in any of these locations but thank you all for offering. I think volunteering somehow also needs to happen. And maybe Zumba. Running used to be my release but a bum knee means I’m off that (which is part of the problem I’m sure!) thanks again everyone!!

    • I’ve been planting a vegetable garden and it has been making me really, really happy. The combination of being outside, doing something physical, often being with my kids – it’s really working for me these days.

    • For me, martial arts is a thing that makes me feel completely involved and alive. Also cooking a new food that turns out delicious and eating it with a great bottle of wine!

    • anonymama :

      It sounds like something active/outdoors would do it for you. In my area they have exercise/crossfit classes outdoors by the water, it’s gorgeous and might give you an adrenaline rush. Or signing up for a recreational sports league, tennis lessons, or rock-climbing lessons, which gets you active, can give a bit of an adrenaline rush, and can be a good social outlet too.

    • Anonattorney :

      Go camping! Every time I’m out in the wilderness (and go to the wildneress, if you can, not just an RV campsite off the highway in some tiny park) I have such a sense of peace and joy. It’s amazing how therapeutic nature can be.

      And, for clarification, I’m not a super outdoorsy person. I tend to fight going camping often because it seems like a hassle, but when I actually pull the trigger and go, it’s so rewarding.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      My husband bought me an electric piano for Christmas. I hadn’t played since middle school. I was active in music my whole life (singing) but just don’t currently have the time to commit to a choir. We also spend a lot of our downtime just “hanging out” him playing video games and me surfing the net. Now the electric piano is next to his video games and I play while he plays. I LOVE it. It is also something I can do late at night with headphones or quickly first thing in the morning before work. I can play one song in 5 minutes. Right now, for a variety of reasons, it is moved upstairs near the kitchen temporarily. I play while waiting for the oven to preheat. I play between stirring things. (On the rare occasions I cook.) I play while waiting for my cat to finish eating so he can get his shot. It fills all those little “what can I do for 5 minutes” moments and makes me sooooo much happier than just staring at my smart phone for the 100th time.

    • DC Darling :

      Writing, Reading, Beaches, and Dancing.

      I read a lot for my job but try to keep the balance between work reading and pleasure reading. I wouldn’t say it makes me “bouncing off the walls happy” but I’m always calmer, contented, and happier after I’ve spent some time reading. Same goes for creative writing (also another big part of my job).

      I also love to dance. I go to a kicka$$ dance workout in the DC area and I’ve dragged more than a few of my friends with me. It’s seriously a kick butt workout.

      Planning and actually going on a vacation. Ideal would be reading on a warm sandy beach with my husband next to me.

    • Roller derby. :-)

      [Seriously. I was not an experienced skater at all, and pretty much tried out on a whim. Found an excellent sport, an awesome group of new friends (many of whom do have kids as well as full time jobs), and a really exciting hobby.]

  14. Outfit help! :

    I’m stumped: what should I wear to the symphony when I’m going with my SO, his boss, and his boss’s wife? I’ve never been to a symphony or anything resembling one, nor have I met SO’s boss. For what it’s worth, Boss and Boss’s wife (presumably) are significantly older than I. Also, they invited us, as they had two extra tickets. What would an appropriate thank you be? A note later? Any help would be greatly appreaciated. TIA!

    • Senior Attorney :

      I’d wear an LBD (not too sexy) and pumps.

      Thank them at the end of the evening, and a note later would be nice, too.

    • Famouscait :

      Part of this will depend on what city you’re in and also whether this is a weeknight, weekend, or matinee performance. But – something nice without being too c*ocktaily should be fine. I’d bring a jacket or wrap you can keep with you in case the concert hall is cold. A note afterwards acknowledging that you enjoyed (hopefully) your first symphony would be a nice touch.

    • LBD with some type of sweater or wrap as you might be cold. Sparkly earrings and/or necklace, statement necklace would be ok.

      I often wear a sleeveless black dress, sparkly cardigan sweater or wrap or dressy silk jacket.

    • Anastasia :

      I second everyone else’s suggestions – but the concert hall may also be too warm, so layers are key. Symphony crowds are usually older, the men usually wear jackets, and the women usually wear a skirt or dress. Think conservative, but dressy. As a point of reference, I most recently wore a blue sheath dress, black sweater with sparkly trim, and black tights and booties. Accessorized with some of my “real” jewelery. The booties were edgier than most of the symphony crowd, but I’m also half their age, so I figured it was still appropriate. No one looked twice. The girl who showed up in a slinky silver sequinned floor-length gown? She got some stares.

      Pro tip: Don’t start clapping until everyone else does. Symphonies have breaks between movements, but you don’t clap until the whole thing is finished.

      Enjoy!

  15. Is anyone familiar with European tailoring of blazers? I have a hard time finding jackets that fit my shoulders giving me a limited range of motion. I did some research online and if the arm holes of the blazer are higher up and or smaller, that allows for better range of motion but makes the jacket slightly more difficult to put on and take off. There isn’t much guidance on where I can find jackets like this for women, but of course there’s a ton of information on men’s jackets.

    Is this something a tailor can do?

    • Maybe? Armholes are really tough and so specifically placed, so this is something that’s better dealt with in the initial construction of the garment, rather than alteration after the fact. But, as with anything, your best bet is to talk directly to a tailor. Just be aware that this is probably advanced level tailoring – especially if you don’t want to change the length of the jacket overall.

      • I know it’s advanced which is why I’m hoping some of you may have info on suit jackets that are already made the way I need them to be. I’m kicking myself because I think I found a Benetton suit back in the day that fit nicely but I didn’t feel like I needed a suit at the time.. and now their only store in my area is so inconvenient to get to (mag mile chicago)

    • prof on a bike :

      The only brand that comes to mind that specifically cuts jackets this way is Chanel (which is probably not helpful!), but I can tell you that this is definitely not something a tailor can alter after the fact. If the jacket has princess seams (vertical seams running the length of the jacket), then they may be able to let out the jacket along those seams at the back for more room in the shoulders, but arm holes are not cut with enough extra seam allowance to be able to alter them much. Also, higher arm holes are going to allow you to raise your arms more, but aren’t going to do much about your ability to reach forward, so it depends where you feel your range of motion is being restricted. If it’s the reaching forward that’s the problem, you could try getting a larger size to give you more room across the back and having a tailor alter it as needed elsewhere.

      • It’s an issue with reaching forward but also lifting my arms higher than straight ahead parallel with the ground. It’s the weirdest thing. I’m tall and have wider shoulders but they don’t look exceptionally wide.. I’ve tried to size way up and it still doesn’t work unless the jacket has a lot of stretch. For instance I’m a 6 or 8 at BR and I sized up to a 12. Still no motion.

    • Your best bets are fabric with stretch and/ or a jacket with a larger fabric allowance under the arms, behind the shoulder and across the back (usually requiring a strong shoulder pad to provide some structure for all this extra fabric to hang elegantly off, otherwise it will all look somewhat batwing-y). You should also look for a pleat in the lining, down the back of the jacket, which will provide a bit of extra give. Armani is the archetype of this style of tailoring but you can find it with many Italian brands eg. Max Mara.

      A high tight arm-hole is great for a sleek slim look but is definitely going to feel more, not less, constricting with regard to arm movement. Or else it may be paired with a boxier fit, with the snug shoulder providing definition and the looser fit on the body allowing the garment to feel less constricting overall (this will be the classic ‘Chanel style’ cardigan jacket).

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