Coffee Break: Panama Leather Shoulder Tote

black leather work toteOoooh: nice. Sure, sure, I mostly like it because of that blue lining — but it’s a nice looking, lightweight bag. (It actually reminds me of a slightly more fancy version of Everlane’s leather tote, which is also very nice but definitely very plain.) The pictured bag has a flat base, and I like that the exterior zippered pocket is large enough for most tablets. It’s $345 at Nordstrom, available in black and light brown. Rebecca Minkoff ‘Panama’ Leather Shoulder Tote

Here’s a lower-priced tote.

(Fun question: Do you prefer leather or nylon for work totes and interview totes? Why? We’re gearing up for a Hunt on totes for work so I thought I’d ask…)

-------Sponsored Links--------

(L-all)

Comments

  1. Anonymous :

    Anybody had laser hair removal with a bout of razer burn?

    • Yes. I didn’t find that the laser irritated the razor burn any more than it already was irritated, and laser in general has greatly reduced the frequency of razor burn for me. As a bonus, it also lightened scars I had from prior razor burn!

  2. Extraction facials :

    Sunscreen is gunking up my pores. Is this where extractions might help get my skin back to dewy and glowing (instead of hot mess of lumpy clogged pores and blackheads)? Or is just paying a lot for the zip popping and skin squeezing that I could do on my own?

    • Anonymous :

      Is it all over or just in your T-zone? I’d try some biore strips and a good mask (glamglow mud mask) first.

      • Extraction facials :

        Worse in the T-zone, but it’s even on my cheeks and bad along my hairline (mix of sunscreen and sweat and hair product residue).

        • lawsuited :

          I’d stay away from extractions and zit-popping and get a chemical exfoliator (as opposed to a physical exfoliator with abrasive particles in it) with AHA or glycolic acid which will be gentler on your skin. Salicylic acid is particularly good for reducing blackheads and minimizing the look of pores in the T-zone.

    • Anonymous :

      Actually, the problem might be in the way you’re cleaning the sunscreen off – most sunscreens, especially the waterproof/sweatproof ones, need a lot of cleaning before they come all the way off. Have you tried using a micellar water or an oil-based cleanser before you use your face wash? That usually helps me get all the grunge off.

    • Have you tried using a BHA/salicylic acid product? I was using Paula’s choice, but now use Stridex pads (alcohol-free) in the morning after I wash my face and it seems to be working.

    • Goatsgoatsgoats :

      I had a similar problem until I found my favorite sunscreen, Biore Sarasara. It’s a Japanese sunscreen that I’ve only been able to find it on Amazon but it’s cheap and feels incredible on my skin – I actually look forward to putting it on every morning, and it doesn’t clog my pores at all.

  3. Anonymous :

    Would it kill them to put on a zipper at the top of a $300+ bag?

    • +1. I don’t want it falling and spilling everything I own.

      • Anonymous :

        That’s how I feel and will only buy bags with zippers, but I mentioned that to my best friend, and she said she is the opposite: she hates having to deal with zippers every time she needs something from her purse. So, this manufacturer is appealing to her type with this purse.

        • Anonymous :

          … your friend obviously does not live in a big city.
          +1000 to the zipper crowd.

          • I do and I’m anti-zipper!

          • Anonymous :

            Houston, so very big city but no public transportation to speak of.

          • Same, I am strongly pro-zipper and wish these pricey (to me) bags had RIFD protection.

            Zippers help to prevent theft, spills, and water damage due to getting caught in the rain without an umbrella.

          • lost academic :

            Also it’s not like you HAVE to use the zipper. If you leave it unzipped, it doesn’t get in the way (or never has in my experience at least) so it’s as if you didn’t have one.

            I hate it when I discover a bag I want doesn’t have a zip – or doesn’t actually close entirely on the top. I’m mostly worried about rain, and also dropping/tipping over the bag and losing all my stuff.

    • +a million. I only buy bags that zip completely closed.

      • Anonymous :

        I had such a hard time finding a decent bag with a zipper the last time I was looking for a tote, exactly because I don’t want my bag spilling out everything. Argh. If you don’t want to deal with a zipper, just don’t zip the bag?

    • Goatsgoatsgoats :

      This is exactly why I don’t have a L&S Pearl. I can’t travel with a bag where the main compartment doesn’t zip up!

  4. Plumbing question. Water started leaking out from the base of my toilet. A plumber came to fix it last Wednesday and charged me $250. He removed the toilet and used some machine to clear up the pipe going downstairs. A week later, and water has started pooling around the base of the toilet again. I’ve texted him to come back. Is he going to charge me another $250-$300, or will he consider it a part of the same problem and not charge me at all, or charge me less? Just curious. New homeowner here.

    • You should check Angie’s List.com because there are good plummers and bad plummers. Dad says you need a fresh NEW gasket, which he get’s at HOME DEPOT. If you have a LOWES, they also have Gasket’s for sale, and they are NOT expensive, he says. Dad says that when there is leakage, it should NOT smell, but ocasionaly it does b/c it is the toilet water that is leaking, and you do NOT want that ruining your floor’s. Rosa had an issue with her toilet’s b/c the kid’s are now toilet trained, but they are very rough on the toilet’s.

    • Also new homeowner, but if I paid someone $250 to fix a toilet that wasn’t fixed, I would only pay for extra parts needed the second time around, not labor.

    • Anonymous :

      That sounds like the wax seal is broken, not that there was a clog. Only way to know what the cost will be is to ask him and negotiate if you are unsatisfied.

      • anon a mouse :

        +1. And if he removed the base of the toilet, it would be obvious if the wax ring needs to be replaced. Look at videos online to educate yourself, and then call him back.

      • Honeycrisp :

        Alternatively, you could go to Lowe’s or Home Depot, ask about a “Better than Wax” ring, and install it yourself. I replaced a toilet in my house a few months ago and used this instead of the traditional wax ring. The part cost maybe $10, and was very easy to install (installation videos can be found on YouTube).

    • Anonymous :

      Also, there may be nothing actually wrong. If you have particularly cold tap water, you could be getting condensation on the outside of the toilet. So there’s a fun fact my plumber charged me $60 for that you can have for free.

    • This is getting ridiculous :

      Chances are high that you’ll be charged for it. And this is normal. You pay for what they do, and the time it takes to do it. His efforts may not have had the result you wanted, but he did what was agreed on.

      • Need a new name! :

        Ooops — My name above is a hold-over from a previous comment thread (about Ellen, of all things!). Not intended as a statement about the OP or plumbing. Although the cost of home repairs is admittedly always higher than anyone wants!

      • Need a new name! :

        Sorry – This is an old, holdover moniker from a previous comment. I’m not suggesting that the topic is ridiculous! Home repairs are always a pain, and often more pricey than expected.

  5. DC - where to sell furniture :

    We have a very beautiful and expensive Noguchi table (retails for $1800) in mint condition that we would like to sell. We have had really good luck with Craigs List in the past but was wondering if anyone in DC had other ideas for where to sell pricey furniture. Thanks!

  6. Dress advice? :

    My boyfriend and I have several things to celebrate recently, and he suggested a date night including dinner at a restaurant that we would both love to try. The restaurant is quite a bit more formal than I’m used to, and we’re both quite a bit younger than the restaurant’s typical crowd (slightly concerned about being laughed right out of the place!) so I’m requesting help- Could anyone suggest a rent the runway dress that would be appropriate at a restaurant where jackets are required throughout service for men, for a woman in her early/mid-20s? I know I’m over-thinking this, but having some suggestions would make me feel much more comfortable in my wardrobe choice. Thanks!

    • Anonymous :

      A DVF Reina with heels?

    • Anonymous :

      Wear something slightly dressy that you are comfortable in – even a little black sheath dress and fun statement necklace would be fine, I am sure.

      Don’t worry about being laughed out of the place! Good restaurant staff will LOVE having you experience their service for the first time! We love fine dining and have been going to fancy restaurants for many years now, but we fondly remember when we were a much younger couple just trying it out as a new thing. We have learned tons about wine and food from great professional servers and now proudly count some of them as our friends. We love watching them take care of newer clients. Just enjoy your evening and remember someday you will be much older and look back on this fondly!

    • Marshmallow :

      https://www.renttherunway.com/shop/designers/carven/marine_crepe_scallop_dress
      https://www.renttherunway.com/shop/designers/slate__willow/royal_blue_ice_cut_dress
      https://www.renttherunway.com/shop/designers/raoul/clementine_day_dress
      https://www.renttherunway.com/shop/designers/bailey_44/black_supercut_sheath
      https://www.renttherunway.com/shop/designers/4collective/becka_dress

      I would keep the colors neutral and the look tailored, with muted accessories. And don’t worry about being laughed out of there! Early/mid 20s is certainly old enough to have worked hard and earned a celebratory night out, and the restaurant will just be happy to have the business and want you to have a good experience.

      • pugsnbourbon :

        Marshmallow, you have a great eye!

      • All of those are beautiful, Marshmallow, and I think any of them would be perfect for what the OP is looking for. I would also encourage you to consider color and showing a bit of skin, if those are things you’re interested in–you’re celebrating and it’s okay to look festive! I have all of these saved on RTR, just looking for an occasion:

        https://www.renttherunway.com/shop/designers/nicholas/color_splash_dress

        https://www.renttherunway.com/shop/designers/theia/deep_midnight_sheath

        https://www.renttherunway.com/shop/designers/ml_monique_lhuillier/mulberry_lace_sheath_dress

      • Anonymous :

        I love that Bailey 44! All of those are beautiful though!

    • A simple LBD (think: sheath or A-line) in a nice fabric that you can dress up with heels and a nice wrap will be fine (these places always are airconditioned down to arctic tundra level). I wear palazzo pants, a beaded, sequinned or lace top, and a tuxedo type jacket to these places with limousine heels and call it good. Spending an entire night eating a chef’s tasting requires comfortable clothes!

    • Unless you guys looks like Beverly Hillbillies you will not be laughed out :)
      The rest will love the new clientele and hope you come in again. Nothing to be embarrassed about. And, any restaurant that makes you feel uncomfortable for being young are jerks and don’t deserve your money.

    • Dress advice? :

      Thank you all- these suggestions are so helpful! I’ll definitely make sure to enjoy my evening :)

      • Lyra Silvertongue :

        I would suggest something with a fuller or a-line skirt. A lot of rich food could give you a food baby or leave you otherwise uncomfortable in a tight dress. Additionally, if you look at clothing from the past century, when the older clientale was young themselves, someone in their early/mid20s would be much more likely to wear a fuller skirt, whereas fitted skirts were the province of more mature ladies. Up to you, but I love getting an old-world feel when I go to places like that, along with being comfy!

  7. Here’s the hypo: Couple with 10-year-old, living in the mid-Atlantic, wants to take a ski trip over spring break. Parents have some experience but only on little East Coast hills. Kid is a novice. Desired features of the vacation:

    -Hotel-style accommodations, not renting a private condo
    -Snow guaranteed in April (assuming this means we will have to go west)
    -Good ski school for adults and kids
    -Relatively economical but doesn’t have to be bare-bones
    -Probably in the U.S., but Canada might be a possibility
    -Avoiding car rental is a bonus but definitely not required
    -Good food

    Where would you go?

    • Beaver Creek hits all of these except for economical, and I’m not sure about avoiding car rental (we always rent a car b/c we don’t mind driving, but I think if you fly into the local airport you can probably shuttle?)

      • Anonymous :

        I went to Beaver Creek after not having skiied for 10+ years and we had an amazing time. I didn’t do ski school but wish I had, but we were only there for one day. They told me at the end that easy trails out in Colorado are like the moderate-difficult ones where I grew up (the poconos)

        It was not cheap though. One of my friends got us a room at the Westin with points and it was glorious, but I think it’s easily a $500-600 a night property.

    • I would look at Salt Lake City! Alta might be fun for you, actually, if everyone is skiing. There is a bus from SLC airport and downtown, I believe, to the various ski areas so you should be able to skip the rental car. Only thing is that I’m not sure about April. I’ve only been as late as mid-March. SLC has some amazing food options, but they would require a car unless you stay in Park City.

    • Bewitched :

      Consider Breckenridge. You would have to take a shuttle from Denver airport but I think it’s doable thereafter without a car. It has an amazing variety of terrain so should be great for everyone. We did Salt Lake City (Alta and Snowbird) and they are great too but Alta in particular seems geared towards more expert/serious skiers. It’s more economical than Vail/Beaver Creek.

      • Enthusiastic (but novice) skier :

        Second the Breckenridge suggestion. Steamboat Springs might also be a good option if you want to avoid the shuttle Breckenridge would require, as you can fly there. It’s probably pricier than Breckenridge, though. Not sure how it would compare to Beaver Creek.

      • Third Breckenridge, or Winter Park (also in Colorado).

    • Thanks!

  8. Anonymous :

    My SO and I are trying to plan a trip to Hawaii from Boston (with a likely pit stop of a few days in LA) for Jan/Feb of next year. We are totally overwhelmed by the options. We’d like a good mix of activities — beach, decent restaurants, whale watching or hiking, lovely views. We don’t care at all about the clubby, nightlife activities. Mostly we want a gorgeous vacation away from dreary winter. Any recommendations for a particular island, hotel, activity?

    • Anonymous :

      Grand Wailea on Maui. Do it. You won’t regret it.

    • Ally McBeal :

      Kauai or Maui would both get you what you want. (So would the Big Island but I haven’t been there so no recommendations.) In Maui, I stayed at the Westin on Kaanapaali (sp?) and it was fine – there are a ton of great hotels. Decent restaurants in Lahaina, lots of activities. The volcano is great, and we loved driving the road to Hana and staying in a yurt in Hana for a few nights. People also love staying at the Grand Wailea.

      In Kauai, we loved the whole place, including both the condo on the north shore and the B&B on the south side (closer to Waimea Canyon). Food is better in Maui, though.

      • Anonymous :

        This may be a dumb question, but you have to just pick one island and stick with it, right? We’re thinking 7 or 8 days. Would you recommend staying on one island the entire time, or moving around?

        • Anonymous :

          I’ve found it easy to add on an island (so would recommend Oahu or Maui if you aren’t already doing them). You just need to get to the airport pretty early, so it might limit your evening the night before. Don’t regret it at all.

      • I’ve only been to the Big Island but spent a solid chunk of time there, so while I can’t say how it stacks up to the others, I’m happy to provide some suggestions! It’s got everything that you’re looking for, OP, and I believe it has more geographic variation than the other islands, but everything is still driveable within a day. You can hike in the Volcanoes National Park (amazing), see the astronomical observation stations up in the mountains, and get your relaxation on at one of the beach resorts near Kailua Kona. I stayed in Waikoloa Beach and thought it was a great spot, as did a coworker; I can vouch for the Marriott (reviews are so-so but I really liked it, plus it’s supposed to have the best luau on the island) and my coworker loved the Hilton. The coolest thing I did while I was there was a horseback ride in Waimea with Paniolo Adventures, to get to see some of the ranching countryside. Highly recommend!

    • Anonymous :

      Allow me to vote for Oahu (but not Waikiki). I had binge-watched lot of Magnum PI and wanted to see all of the historic Old Hawaii places, but do some hiking and enjoy some beaches. I also found myself getting a bit twitchy about being off the East Coast and really liked having the city there. It seems to crazy that this is even part of the US and big buildings made it feel . . . homey? Seriously, Hawaii is just awesome and no island will be a bad choice coming from dreary East Cost in mid-winter.

      I loved the Aloha Bowl flea market if you need to buy stuff
      Manoa had a lot of places to eat for not too much $ (U of Hawaii is there)
      Banyan trees — they are crazy in a good way
      Even the airports in Hawaii are awesome — open air and with lei sellers!

      If you know any military people, on Oahu, they may be able to show you to awesome beaches (Bellows)

    • Mrs. Jones :

      My biggest piece of Hawaii advice is to stay on only one island.

      • We spent one week on Maui 2 years ago for our 20th anniversary and it was perfect. The perfect balance of doing stuff & relaxing. I would not have wanted to switch islands half way through the week.

    • Anonymous :

      I vote Sheraton Maui, or anywhere really along Kaanapali Beach.

      January can be a bit rainy. There will still be tons of whales in February – we have gone nearly every year towards the end of the month and never had bad weather.

      And sail with Trilogy – go north to Honolua Bay, or take a day trip over to Lanai. You’ll see lots of whales and their babies, turtles and if you’re lucky some spinner dolphins will come and swim with you.

    • I’ll put in a plug for the Big Island (Hawaii). DH and I went for 4 days last year after a week with extended family in Kauai and loved it. You could do other islands, but the Big Island has enough size and variety that you could do 7-8 days there without getting bored.

      Things I loved:
      – Volcano National Park is amazing, and I want to spend at least a night at the Volcano Lodge next time we go
      – There’s a green sand beach – seriously, like pesto colored – near the southern tip of the island that’s a bit of a hike or a ride in a local’s truck and totally worth seeing
      – Hilo is a funky college town with good food, and it’s cheaper than a lot of resort areas

      We didn’t get to the Kailua-Kona area, which has lovely beaches, or to Waimea in the north. They’re also both on the “next time” list. Also, it was foggy when we were there, so we didn’t do a Mauna Kea stargazing tour, but I would love to do that, too.

      • boston anon :

        big island is THE BEST! if you don’t care about nightlife, the big island is perfect. you get: the southernmost point of the US and green sand beaches, mauna kea observatory, a volcanic national park, pelnty of beaches to surf or snorkel in, hilo is fun and a temperate rainforest vibe, kona is a total beach town (great contrast in weather!). rent a car and it’s awesome.

    • I loved, loved, loved Kauai. I haven’t been to others, but here’s what I liked about Kauai:

      – It was super laid back and easy. Not crazy touristy. I was looking to relax and have adventure, and I got it.
      – It’s a small island so it’s not overwhelming. Seriously basically one road loops the whole island. But, it’s not so small that I ever felt bored.
      – Tons of hiking – both easy or more strenuous are available
      – Lots of variety – there is so much variety on things to do. You can go to what the “grand canyon of the pacific” while the island also is super lush in other areas. Tons of waterfalls available to hike to or simply drive to.
      – We did a coffee plantation tour and tasting
      – I went kayaking, hiking, beaching, napping, sailing, snorkeling, into a huge dry cave, surfer watching, etc. in various landscapes on a small island – I loved it.
      – if you’re a foodie, there are not a ton of options, but I love to try new things and good food and found enough to satisfy me. There’s one great restaurant on the southern side of the island and although I can’t recall the name, a quick google will turn it up easily.

  9. Hair Help! :

    Have any of you had luck with “natural” (like SLS and “cone” free) shampoos or conditioners?

    I’m a bit of a hippy and prefer to use “non-toxic” skin care and cleaning products, but the one thing I can’t figure out is hair care. I’ve tried several natural shampoos and conditioners over the course of a few years (including “no poo,” which was a disaster!), and my hair always seems to be slightly greasy and heavy even immediately after drying. I’m over it, and thinking about switching back to conventional products.

    When I have a big court appearance or meeting or whatever at work, I generally use a conventional shampoo and conditioner, and my hair looks fabulous for a day. I think that indicates the problem lies with my natural hair care routine rather than a hair defect I am doomed to live with forever! FWIW, I don’t really use other hair products, save for hair spray maybe once a month or something. (I should use a heat spray or something but my hair is gunky enough, so I don’t.) I have long, fine-ish hair of medium body, if that helps.

    Any tips or product recommendations? I would love to stay “natural” if possible, but I think I want clean-looking and bouncy hair more. (I’ve heard great things about beautycounter, anyone else?)

    • anon a mouse :

      You might be a good candidate for Living Proof products, particularly the perfect hair day. From drugstores, I’ve had good luck with the Shea Moisture line, but my hair is thicker and curlier than yours.

    • I really like the Nourish shampoo & conditioner from Everyone.

    • After a lot of trial and error I’ve landed on Nature’s Gate. What I can’t seem to figure out as “natural” is the product I put in after (wavy, slightly frizzy hair that I like to have dry smooth and a bit straighter). I’ve tried a ton and none are a good a the non-natural options I have.

    • Anonymous :

      I have hair like yours and Ellnet makes up for the lackluster -cone free products. We need alcohol and starch in our products (or just mousse). And a good blow dry.

      Ain’t nothing natural about me these days (and I am a hippie)

    • Desert Essence (available at Whole Foods and probably other places) has been good for my thick hair. I’ve tried a lot of other natural brands that have NOT worked at all – Desert Essence is really the only one that has been decent.

    • Anonymous :

      I like the degrease shampoo by Maple Holistics, followed by any conditioner.

    • I like the Citresse shampoo for oily hair that I get at health food store;.it might be the Desert Essence brand. I use the conditioner, too, but only on the bottom several inches of my long hair, not on the roots. It’s one of the best I’ve found for keeping my hair non-oily for two days.

    • Hair Help! :

      Thank you all, these are super helpful suggestions! I appreciate it!

    • Anne Elliott :

      Living proof is what I use, love it. Or the Organix line.

  10. Not Martha :

    Posted on the Moms site, but it’s a little late in the day to get comments and I need some creative ideas!

    I am feeling totally despondent about my housekeeping arrangements and need ideas. I work FT in BigLaw in a major West Coast City. Husband works FT in a job that has biglaw hours for a nonprofit salary. Two kids. Keeping up with my house is just defeating me. Just keeping up with the daily inflow of mail and kid crafts and art projects and backpacks and breakfast dishes and dinner dishes and laundry and magnatiles all over the living room floor and shoes all over the hall — it’s just too much. I can’t do it. And I feel like I spend so much time on basic housekeeping that I never get to do the bigger projects, like sorting through old toys or cleaning out the closets. I’m spending all this time on the kinds of housekeeping projects that give me the least amount of pleasure or satisfaction, and it’s frustrating.

    We have a housekeeping service once every other week, but I feel like I need more help than that. We used to live in NYC and outsourced laundry, which was hugely helpful, but it’s not as easy to do it in our new city.

    Help. What would you do?

    • Anonymous :

      I posted a reply on the moms site. In short – definitely hire more help and you’re managing amazing if you’ve survived with this little help so far.

    • Anon in NYC :

      Assuming that you cannot afford to have a housekeeper come more frequently (my first choice)…

      How old are your kids? Are there responsibilities that they can take over? My mom trained us from a young age that we had to clear our plates from the table/put them in the dishwasher.

      What about storage boxes for art projects/crafts, and the kids need to put their stuff away when they’re finished? Have a regular rotation where you display the newest artworks and store the older ones in the box.

      Get some entryway storage and designate that the area for shoes / backpacks. Shoes come off as soon as you come in the house and they stay there.

      Laundry hampers in every bedroom.

      Kids pick up toys every night or they lose them for a period of time.

      • “Kids pick up toys every night or they lose them for a period of time.”

        Kids, and husbands.

    • I would hire more help, but also figure out a better routine. As you check the mail–immediately toss/recycle/shred anything you don’t need. Also, sign up for paperless billing on most things to stop some of the mail from even coming.

      I am kind of ruthless with my kids school work. Every evening, I go through their backpacks and most things go in the recycle bin. Some stuff I save and either bring to work to hang in my office or it goes in a folder in our filing cabinet.

      I do breakfast dishes as I make dinner at night (I usually leave them soaking in the sink while we are gone or at least with some water in them so they don’t get hard food stuck on) and right after dinner we all clean up and then the dishwasher gets run with all dishes from the day.

      Kids have to take their shoes off and put them in the shoe spot (for us it is a ledge by the door) as soon as they get home. We all do a ten-minute pick up around the house every evening as well.

      • Anonymous :

        The secret is never, ever to set anything down in anything but its final place. For example, dirty dishes don’t go in the sink, they go right into the dishwasher unless they need to be hand-washed. Keep the dishwasher open while you cook so you can stick measuring spoons, etc. right in there.

        Paperless billing + autopay for everything possible. Dispose of all mail as soon as you walk through the door. If it needs to be dealt with but can’t be dealt with immediately (e.g., party invitations, doctor bills that still come on paper), dispose of the outer envelope and unnecessary inserts and put the bill and return envelope in a designated spot.

        Empty kids’ backpacks as soon as you get home. +1 on being ruthless with schoolwork. If it has a grade on it, the kid should file it immediately in an accordion file, to be kept until the report card comes. Special artwork gets hung in a designated spot for a while. Special pieces of written work can go in a box to be saved. Otherwise toss it immediately.

        If your kids are in day care and get home when you do, don’t allow them to get lots of toys out on weekdays. One toy or set of toys can be out while you are making dinner, which they must put away before dinner. If they are not in day care, the nanny should have them clean everything up before you get home.

        Kids put their shoes away as soon as they get home, even if “putting away” means tossing them in a basket.

  11. Gonna be anon for this one :

    [Reposted from the morning thread, because I posted late in the day and got bumped to page 2 – thanks SO much for the helpful comments I’ve gotten so far!]

    (Very regular poster, but anon for this because some know me in real life.)

    I am very seriously considering elective single motherhood – I’ll be thirty-six later this year, and I would very much like to try to have biological children (understanding that is never guaranteed). I know I don’t have all the time in the world to do that, and post-divorce (five years ago) I’ve had some relationships that have been good, but there’s nothing on the horizon right now in terms of a life partner, father of my children, etc. So I’m planning to make a decision at the end of this year about whether or not I’m ready to go ahead and start trying to get pregnant.

    I know this has been discussed on this site before, but I have some fairly specific questions that I’ve not seen addressed:

    -Folks who are parents, if you were contemplating this choice, what would you do in terms of preparation? Obviously, getting my estate documents in good order and figuring out my plans for childcare/backup childcare/etc. are important, but what are the less-obvious things you would do, with the benefit of hindsight?

    -Any thoughts on how to explain this at work? I am a partner in biglaw, so I’m not worried about getting fired or something like that…more just how much do you tell folks about why there’s no dad in the picture? I am not embarrassed about this, but know it may be awkward for others who will assume I have a husband/wife/SO.

    (I know it’ll be hard for folks to resist weighing in on whether or not this is the right choice for me, and I’d respectfully ask you to refrain if you can; I’ve thought through the options and am comfortable with my choice.)

    • Mrs. Jones :

      Just know that postpartum depression may kick your ass. Don’t be afraid to ask for meds, therapy, whatever, sooner rather than later.
      Honestly, it’s impossible to be completely prepared to have a child. Good luck and keep us posted!

    • Anonymous :

      I would say that you’re a single parent if it comes up and change the subject. I suspect it will no longer seem unusual to people once the kid is a toddler. Good luck!

    • Get a nanny (two nannies?). Do not do daycare, and I say this as someone who loves our daycare. I was working a ton of overtime and my husband was working a weird work schedule where we didn’t see him at all 4 days of the week, and didn’t see him until late afternoon on Saturday for the first 15 months of our daughter’s life. The constant illnesses brought home from daycare, all of which involved a minimum of two days out of work almost killed me. We had to hire babysitters any time I worked overtime on those particular days when he was unavailable. So yeah, get nannies.

      Simplify as much as you can from the start, even if it means making choices that aren’t what’s best for a SAHM. When I was solo parenting most of the time, I guiltlessly made decisions to do things that were best for our particular situation/ my self-preservation. I never once pumped at work, I gave formula during the day and nursed in the morning and evening. Our daughter’s bedtime routine takes 10 minutes, and we did a gentle version of CIO at 5 months after doing le pause from Bringing up Bebe from the start. I bought baby food from the store, I never used a cloth diaper once, and most of my baby gear decisions were based on “what’s the highest rated item on amazon in that category?” You can make yourself crazy with parenting but it doesnt have to be that way. Bringing Up Bebe really helped me understand that. Also, take care of yourself. That is so so important. It is hard, but you can definitely do this.

      • Anonymous :

        +1 to nanny. I am a big law senior associate with a husband who travels a lot for months at a time (and cannot return for weekends/holidays/when I get the flu and can’t move for 3 days/etc.). When my child was a baby, and I was effectively a single parent, it nearly broke me because of the craziness of trying to keep all the work balls in the air while being restricted to 10 hours for commuting and work. So nanny all the way.

      • Dangerfield :

        This is really good advice.

    • Anon in NYC :

      I would figure out how to automate my life as much as possible, and in your shoes, I would throw money at it. If you don’t already have a housekeeper, find one before the baby comes. Or have them come more frequently post-baby. Have someone do your and the baby’s laundry. Hire a dog walker (on a related note, if you have pets, be prepared for your feelings towards your pets to shift a little bit. I didn’t expect this.). Also, I enjoy cooking and it’s so much harder to motivate myself on weeknights, so I’d find ways to make that more workable (like do weekend prep while your family watches the baby).

      In terms of what to tell other people, I think you should just say that you’re a single parent. I don’t think you need to get into choosing single parenthood. If people ask about your SO, perhaps something like, “no, it’s just me. There’s nobody else in the picture at the moment” would suffice.

    • I don’t know if there is any way to really prepare for it. I was a single mother with my first child–not so much by choice, I was young, her father left, and I was committed to raising my daughter on my own. It was made more complicated by the fact that I didn’t have any money and was still in school. But we managed. The hardest thing for me was finding good back-up child care and then not feeling like I “deserved” any time “off” from being a mother. I was busy all the time and of course wanted to be with her when I wasn’t working or at school, but it is also good to take a break every now and then. It was also hard not really having a partner to discuss things with–which can also be a good thing. But maybe seek out other family members or friends who you can bounce things off of–everything from an issue with child care to should I take the baby to the dr. And also people you can celebrate milestones with! Someone to text a picture of the first little tooth popping through, etc. I often felt very alone, but much of that was because none of my friends were having kids yet. Now with my younger two, we are all at the same stage in life and it is nice to have people to talk with. So seek those people out. It sounds like you are in a much better place than I was. But even though it was hard, it was so rewarding and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

    • I’ve known women who did this, and the biggest thing they all did was to build a network of support. It’s not just childcare and backup childcare, it’s triple and quadruple backup childcare; it’s friends or family members who will drop by when you’re on mat leave bearing meals; it’s people who will listen to your fiftieth baby poop story; it’s neighbors who will mow your lawn without being asked.

      As far as what to say, your responses will vary with your level of comfort with each person, but I’d vote for openness whenever possible. “I wanted to be a mother, so I’m doing it on my own” is a strong statement. If someone is uncomfortable with that, that’s on them.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I can’t agree more with “throw money at it.”

      Honestly, as a single mom and BigLaw partner, you should expect to have 24-hour nanny coverage. And my biggest lesson from being a working mom: You are only as good as your backup child care. So make sure you have options that are two and even three deep.

      As far as explaining, you don’t have to explain. “I’m a single parent” is fine, and “I’m a single parent by choice” is also fine.

      Good luck!!

      • Anonymous :

        Agree with everyone above re: “throw money at it.” Backup childcare galore — bonus if your parents live near you, or if you have other family near you, particularly with kids. (As far as prep work goes, maybe ask yourself if you could live nearer to them, or if they could live nearer to you — if you don’t live close do you have an extra room in your place where they could stay if they make more regular visits than they have (that is not the baby’s room)?

        You may also want to check out this website: http://www.wealthysinglemommy.com/. It’s the most positive view of single motherhood I’ve seen in a while. (The author is divorced, but if memory serves her husband was somehow incapacitated/total personality change so he may not be around much for helping raise the kids.)

        • Gonna be anon for this one :

          Thanks! The website is helpful. My parents and sibling all live within 3 miles of me – I’m really fortunate in that respect.

    • Back up care. PERIOD. Lots of levels of it. What is your travel schedule like BTW? Are you in a dept where you suddenly need to get up and go to Toledo tonight for a client pitch tomorrow or go to Denver tomorrow for a depo? Bc you need multiple people there who can cover so you don’t say no to those things. I know you’re a partner, but depending on which firm — biglaw has its perception of mothers, even partners. Unless you’re a serious rainmaker or someone who is an expert in an area that your firm needs, nothing will get you sidetracked faster than being that female partner who wasn’t available to get to a depo 2-3 times or a client pitch; no one will say anything but you’ll see it in your comp the following year and even if you are solid financially, I know at my firm the way they get rid of partners is by dropping comp yr over yr so you have to be conscious of that slide.

      • Gonna be anon for this one :

        I’m fortunate from a career perspective – I don’t have a heavy travel schedule (and when I do travel, it’s never last-minute), and I have a strong practice in an in-demand niche area (i.e., they can’t afford to push me out, because they wouldn’t be able to replace me). If I didn’t have such a favorable job situation, I’d have to change jobs before I could even consider this – and candidly, part of the reason that I’m willing to is that I’m comfortable being an income partner my entire career (making equity isn’t important to me, and that’s acceptable at my firm). Even with that, though, I know I’ll have to have layers on layers of backup, especially for the early years.

    • 1.5 – 2 nannies, recruit relatives (parents, siblings with time) to help out and get to know the baby and routines; it helps to chillax about “routines” with multiple caregivers. Each will have his/her own way and trying to micromanage every aspect will drive everyone insane. I had to learn to trust that nannies and relatives have all handled multiple babies and that babies are flexible, resilient beings that won’t break. There are so many parenting rules out there, no one can follow them all, find what works for you and your village

    • Not directly on-topic, but there were a bunch of responses to your question on the previous thread and now they’re all gone. I was interested in the conversation but only made it through about half of them before I had to get back to work, and now I can’t find them. Were they all deleted for some reason?

      • They got pushed to the second page as there were so many comments – click on “newer comments”

        • No, they’re completely gone. As in gone from page 2.

          • Isn’t this them? As far as I know nothing was deleted.
            http://corporette.com/peserico-knitted-top-cardigan/comment-page-2/#comment-3547218

  12. No advice but following with interest as I’m in a very similar position (Biglaw, one year older than you and seriously considering this).

  13. Midnight oil :

    I am still pretty new at an MBB and everyone around me seems comfortable with the hours.
    I don’t expect to work less but I just don’t seem to manage my energy well.
    I start my day around 8:30 to 9 AM at client, leave client site at around 7:30 to 8 PM, go for team dinner and back to hotel around 9:30 pm and try to work between 10 PM to midnight, but it just seems that my brain slows down and I am extremely sleepy and distracted.
    Any tips to build my resistance to long working hours?
    I have hyperfocus ADD and insomnia which make things a bit worse as I don’t take meds for this.
    I should also be working out, but I haven’t done a thing in 3 years and I just don’t seem to have energy (vicious circle).

    • I highly recommend working out first thing in the morning. I’m so, so much more energetic on the days I work out early, and if you don’t start work until 830, you should have a little bit of time. I also recently started working 15-18 hour days consistently (including most weekends) and I find that it’s impossible for me to manage without coffee (even as a person with relatively high energy levels and not needing much sleep). I’d probably drink more if I were you.

    • Anonymous :

      Honestly, this just isn’t sustainable. That’s why you’re having issues. Can you skip the team dinner and nap instead for a bit if you want to keep working?

      • This. Skip the team dinner and get to bed early so you can get up and work out the next day. 7-8hrs sleep and regular workouts will make a difference.

    • I did 10 yrs in biglaw so the hours are similar but w/o the travel except when you relocate for months for a trial someplace. I get the importance of not bailing out of dinners — how often does your team do dinners? Is it expected 4 nights a week? Or less than that? Does it involve the client? I would not make it a habit of bailing if everyone is going esp. managers/partners and I’d never bail on a client dinner. But if it is just a bunch of juniors grabbing dinner nightly bc they do better if they re charge for 1-2 hrs before burning the midnight oil later in their hotel rooms, the bail 1x a week if you can. Just say you still need to do a few hrs of work and would rather not stay up until midnight. I think people will understand bc your first and foremost responsibility is billing time.

      • Also meant to add — this doesn’t help now — but it WILL get easier every yr that goes by. First you build up stamina. But secondly, people are less likely to question/raise an eyebrow as a senior associate who says they can’t make it to dinner – bc they recognize that you are the one running the matter day to day so you know for a fact whether or not you have time. Whereas when you’re junior and not going, the senior associates/partners can look at you and be thinking — really — we didn’t give you THAT much work, are you that inefficient?

    • Midnight oil :

      Thanks all.
      The hours are excluding travel. We travel Monday to and Thursday from client site (4 hours by car each way). Commuting to client from hotel is less than 30 min each way.
      The dinners are not client dinners and the partners don’t take part in them. Even managers start to skip. I am an industry hire so not at the bottom of the food chain. I guess the next steps for me would be to skip one dinner per week and try to carve in some workout time.
      I am scrutinizing my lifestyle because we recently had a training on stress management and for my self assessment, my diagnosis was that I was in the alarm zone. I’d rather address this early.

    • I did MBB for two years. Some thoughts:

      – MBB hours vary from project to project and person to person. From reading this site and hearing about BigLaw hours, I think having some semblance of lifestyle is more protected at MBB than in law (although it certainly varies depending on who you’re working with). Although it may seem like you need to work from 9pm-midnight every single night… you probably don’t actually have to. Especially if you’re not focused on the evenings – try just working for an hour, and then taking another hour or two to relax. Or occasionally work hard during the day, don’t report every thing you finished, and then take the night off. No need to report exactly how many hours you worked. As long as people know you are working hard and you’re delivering good work, that’s what matters. NYTimes had a great article to this effect, I”ll post the link if I can find it.

      – Prioritize and use all of the resources available to you. No one cares if you spent hours aligning all your slides perfectly or if the visual graphics team (or whatever outsourced resources you have) did it while you worked out. Figure out what really needs to get done and what’s probably unnecessary (at least while I was at MBB, there was a lot of work that was probably going to change anyways).

      – One of my early managers asked a great question of the team – “What gives you energy?” Think of your energy as a resource, just like time. Some activities give you energy, some activities sap your energy. For me – working on a really interesting problem or problem solving with my team gives me energy. I also need to have a good breakfast and lunch, at regular times, and I need to sleep enough early in the week otherwise I’m a zombie later in the week. I also need some alone time to recharge and definitely can’t do a team dinner every single night. Figure out what works for you and make it work – you need to look out for yourself!

      – Can you stay in a hotel closer to the client site? When my projects got busy, I would trade the nicer hotel for saving on commute time.

      – +1 on skipping some team dinners. No need to get dinner with your team every night (unless that’s what you really want to do and it gives you energy). I mean – definitely do some team dinners, especially at the beginning, and go when there’s a client/senior partner, but it’s very normal to have room service while finishing up work (even as the most junior member on the team).

      It’ll get better – you can do it!

    • Ally McBeal :

      One thing that’s helped me is cleaning up my food. I cut out sugar and grains and it’s really helped with my energy levels.

  14. Wildkitten :

    I might need to buy a car on short notice for 4 months. Obviously it will lose a ton of value, so I’d rather get the cheapest car I can, quick, that will be reliable and that I can then sell later. Any tips for how to pull off this absurd caper? I am not interested in rent-a-wreck.

    • Anonymous :

      Are you in NYC? I am trying to get rid of a totally functional but not desireable car (grandma’s buick).

    • boston anon :

      get a honda fit. get it used if need be. this was my starter car and it retains value way more than other cars. we sold it after ~5 years for 15k or so.

    • I’d get a used Honda Civic. Even a pretty old one will be reliable and resellable.

    • You can actually rent from Enterprise for the month for not that expensive…but I don’t know if you need a really nice car….

    • Can you lease one?

    • Anonymous :

      LeaseTrader.

    • From everything I know about it I think there are much, much better options than rushing to buy a car (it means a lot of up front money, insurance, inspection, headaches, etc). avis has some short term rentals, and lease trader has some good looking ones for you (I put in DC and found this

      http://www.leasetrader.com/2013_Mercedes-Benz_C250_Sport_Sedan_247562.xhtml

  15. Gift suggestions? For my to be 28 year old husband. He likes whiskey, cognac, unique liquors, fishing, Netflix, running, biking. He is trying to get a better tool collection going too. He already has a great bike with plenty of accessories, a great fishing pole with plenty of accessories, and many tools (and I know nothing about tools). Problem is, many subscription liquor services do not ship to my state and I have no other good ideas!

    I am stumped this year…and he is the best gift giver ever, so I feel extra pressure!

    • Wildkitten :

      Hydroflask products.

      • pugsnbourbon :

        +1, Hydroflask is a great brand.

        Is there a rare or special bottle he’s been searching for? Depending on where you are, some independent liquor stores might be able to point you to something unique.

    • Calibrachoa :

      Distillery tour of some kind with a whiskey tasting, if there are any in the area?

  16. Calibrachoa :

    I am waiting to hear the results of my interview for the promotion and as y’all know it’s agony. But seeing as it was internal at least they’ll have to get back to me about how it went rather than never call again!

  17. How do you leave a live in partner? In the words of Senior Attorney, he has a deal breaker (his inability to commit) which for me is not a price of admission thing. I’ve gotten my financial ducks in a row but what now? Do I tell him or just take a day off work and move out? I don’t really want to talk to him about it. He will either be awful to me or it will be the kick in the pants to propose. Neither of which I want to deal with. I’m not sad or anything. I just need logistical help. TIA

    • With the caveat that we don’t know the whole story, unless there’s something very toxic or abusive about your relationship, I think you should tell your live-in partner that you’re breaking up before you move out. You can say, “My mind is made up,” “This is not negotiable,” “I’m sad about it too, but this can’t be changed.” You can line up where you’re going to live next, schedule a day to move, rent a truck, etc. ahead of time. But, absent circumstances that you haven’t described in your post, it seems unusually harsh for your live-in partner to come home one day to find you gone with no notice.

      • My long comment to this effect got lost, but I agree 100% with SC. Think how you – and the commenters here – would react if a guy just vanished like this. You’ve got to woman up.

        One logistical idea: Take the day off, get your things out but be there when he gets home at the end of the day to have the discussion. Maybe arrange to have a friend or family member pick you up at an agreed time so that you have some back-up and have a reason to say that it’s time for you to go.

        This will be difficult but you can do it. Hugs and best wishes.

        • We actually *did* have a commenter here who went through that, I believe. Came home to a surprise move-out and a post-it note break up. That’s a cruel thing to do to a person (barring abuse/violence issues, of course).

          And yes, someone without the “balls” to propose deserves a humane break up. He doesn’t want to get married to you. Doesn’t sound like it’s an issue with balls, it’s an issue of wanting to. Not wanting to marry you is not abuse.

      • No abuse. However he has plenty of notice, I’ve made it clear over the years that our relationship will progress or end. We’ve had the conversation so many times and it won’t be any surprise I’m done waiting

        • I don’t know why my comments keep getting lost. But even if he knows in general that you’re unhappy, you need to woman up and tell him you’re moving out. I agree 100% with SC.

          • Does someone without the balls to propose deserve a proper break up?

          • I think so. Many, maybe most, long-term relationships that end do so because one partner isn’t willing to commit. It’s not that uncommon! But it sounds like things have gotten pretty acrimonious if you expect him to be “awful” to you. So you know, you do you – clearly there’s no law against just leaving. You know your relationship and the situation you’re in.

          • I mean, you need to do what you need to do to protect yourself. But in general yes- just because someone doesn’t want to get married doesn’t mean you don’t even tell them you are leaving.

          • lost academic :

            The proper break up is also for you as a person – don’t let this guy, whom you’re about to remove from your life, dictate how you want to go about handling yourself. The end result will be the same – his ass is gone.

        • Anonymous :

          Oh get over yourself. Yes obviously you tell him. It’s called being a decent person. You let this drag on for years. That’s on you not him.

      • Senior Attorney :

        I agree. Tell him. But you don’t have to give him a ton of notice. A week is plenty. But at least give him a weekend to process it.

    • I haven’t been in this situation, and you should post again in the morning for some more comments, it’s pretty late for the hive. But I would not just move out without telling him. You’re a grown-up, he is (presumably) and if you’ve been living together you owe him the courtesy and respect of telling him it’s over and why. Think about how you – and the commenters here – would react to a guy just vanishing without a conversation. (I would make an exception to this if you think he might be abusive, in which case you should do a total Katie Holmes.)

      Logistically how to do it? Maybe tell him the morning of the day you plan to leave, have the movers lined up and things as ready as possible and don’t leave too much time for discussion or argument. Or, probably a better alternative, take a day off, get your things moved out but be there when he gets home that evening to tell him what you have done and why. Then leave, perhaps with a friend or relative picking you up at an agreed time so you’ve got back-up and a reason to say you have to go now.

      However, this goes, it will be hard, so sending you hugs and good wishes.

      • Senior Attorney :

        This sounds good. I’ve been in the situation of living with someone for a period of time before moving out, and it’s pretty awful. Telling the day of sounds like a good compromise.

  18. Hey Boston ‘rettes!

    Thanks for all your advice on leasing agents and the big move. I’m happily settled (in the beacon hill area) and loving my new home.

    I am, however, totally friendless- any Boston ladies interested in grabbing a coffee or a drink one night and perhaps giving me the low down on fun things to do in the city?

    About me- I’m an early 30s professional, single, no kids and work in the medical field. Would love to meet some of you ladies in person (and maybe even make some new friends!).

    If you are interested please shoot me an email at [email protected]

    Hope to hear from some of you soon!

    • This week isn’t good for me – holiday, but I could probably do something in the next few weeks. I’m away most weekends so it would have to be mid-week.

      I’m in my mid-40s. Single, no kids and work for a university.

      • Sounds great-I would love to connect!

        If you email me at [email protected] I can give you my real email/phone number. I’m free most weeknights after work and would love to meet up.

  19. My sister went through this a few years ago (including sticking it out way too long before making the call to end it)and I was shocked at how many people advised her to pack up and leave before telling him.

    My advice to her went, line up your ducks, have people ready to come over and help in an hour or so, then sit down and tell him. Yes, he might say some shitty things (hence the lined up back up), yes he may try to convince you to stay (so be sure in your decision, also backup), but he wasn’t a bad person it was just a bad relationship. Be as kind as you can in ending it. Karma. I just broke off a 4 year relationship over a similar issue and friends are quick to call him an asshole. My mantra is he’s not a terrible person, he is a terrible boyfriend, they are different things.

    Actually it was three years ago to be exact, and my sister just got married last weekend to a really awesome guy.

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