Holiday Weekend Open Thread

Something on your mind? Chat about it here.

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Psst: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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  1. Anyone have any advice or encouragement to send my way? I’m going back to school in January (9 credits – night school) while working a 50 hour per week full time job. I’m also a mom of two elementary-age kids. I feel excited and confident to do this, but the shocked “you’re going to kill yourself” looks from acquaintances are starting to unnerve me.

    I have a great support system with a husband who knows he’ll have to step up and do almost everything for the kids and the house. My inlaws already watch the kids after school and can jump in for homework or help out my husband if he needs it. I’m prepared to embrace the suck–and also realize that life is probably going to fall apart but we (the family) can push through. We can do this!

    I’m thinking of prepping freezer meals…but beyond that, what can I do to prep for going back to school?

    • I just want to say that’s exciting. Remember to plan in some family time, which also helps with the stress. It sounds like you have a great support system.

    • I would get my doctor appts done now when I have more time. I would do the research now to find a good house cleaner and back up babysitter in case your in laws go on vacation or get sick and can’t help out with your kids. I would have some honest family meetings with your kids to explain about how life might be more stressful for a bit but explain why you are doing it and answer any of their questions. I would get my hair cut, eyebrows waxed, etc right before class starts to not have to think about that for a few weeks.

      • Re: Housecleaner – I’m making around $40K at current job, which is causing the big push for more education and a better job. I won’t be able to throw money at the problem–I’ll just have to handle it!

        But thanks for the hair appointment advice! I’m going to call and schedule a color/cut/brow wax for a few days before class!

    • Exciting! Of course you are getting those looks. You know it will be hard. But it will also be worth it, and it won’t last forever! Your kids are going to remember your dedication, and that is a great gift for them. Consider using some of your vacation time (now or after school starts) to give yourself some time to do the things that need to be done.

      • Rainbow Hair :

        Yes, this! Think of your kids knowing how hard you’re working for yourself and for them. That’s such an awesome thing for them to see!

      • Anonshmanon :

        people are just giving you these looks because ambition and women are still incompatible in most heads. This is their problem, not yours!

    • Anonymous :

      Lower your standards for house cleaning, meals, classroom involvement, etc. all of that kind of stuff. I had my daughter young and so she started kindergarten when I was in law school and I quickly realized that sometimes the house was going to have to stay a mess because I had to study for finals, or we were going to eat cereal or grilled cheese for dinner that night, and I might not be able to volunteer every week in her class like some of the other moms, but I can send in extra supplies or money to help the teacher.

      • Anon in Rural Oregon :

        Accept that just being good enough at some things is okay during this short-term phase.
        I am currently going to school full time (16 credits online) while working more than full time with a 15 year old very active in sports.
        It’s hard, very hard, but doable.

    • My sister does this – she’s going back to school to get her nursing degree while working full time (though she works a government job so her hours are less than 40 per week), and has two young kids. Her compromise seems to have been lots of takeout food and a messy house, and oh yeah, less sleep. I think she’s gained about 20 lb so far. It’s not surprising, it’s just a lot to try to handle.

      And your husband Definitely needs to step up, and you will probably need to be really, really specific about what you need from him. My sister’s hasn’t, at all, which has made her situation almost untenable.

      Just remember – perfect is the enemy of good. No one’s kids have been harmed by eating Cambpells soup for dinner on the regular.

      • Nursing school is intense. God bless your sister!

        I should hit Aldi and grab entire cardboard flats of canned soup and store it in the basement. Also cereal… I need to talk to my husband about WHAT DINNER MEANS. I’m not okay with the kids eating lots of frozen pizza, pizza bites, French fries. We also don’t have the funds for lots of takeout. It’s going to be tough, and he’s going to have to cook REAL FOOD.

        I’m cringing at the thought of gaining weight. I’ve had my fingers crossed that I’ll be too busy to feel snacky, and I’ll be energized and happy! And lose weight with my new life purpose! LOL

        • Aldi whole chickens in crockpot, shred – makes chicken tacos, bbq chicken sandwiches, chicken for chili/soup/rice and can be frozen.

          Aldi turkey ham can be used for traditional slices, ham and grilled cheese, ham and scrambled eggs, ham and potato soup. Most of these need just a little “cooking”. My kids love making the little ham sliders with Hawaiian rolls and it’s super easy.

          Aldi has precooked chicken and meatballs – add sauce. They have pre-made rice a roni type stuff, frozen veggies and rice, and other things that will take little “cooking” and mostly asssmble, heat, and serve.

          It may still not be what others consider healthy, but it’s real food, and better than takeout and frozen pizza.

          I was a teen mom with very little funds to make it through law school and I made it happen while working full time with kiddos. Aldi is your friend. You can do this!

        • Not sure whether you have a husband who would be responsive to this, but when I needed my husband to take over the cooking duties, but wanted to ensure we ate real food, I would meal plan for the entire week. I would then do the grocery shopping on the weekend and e-mail my husband the week’s “menu” complete with links to recipes that took no longer than 15 mins prep (pinterest is great for this) and he would have all the ingredients needed to make whatever it was. This would save me from the daily phone calls of “what are we eating?”

          Here is an example of a menu I’d send him with recipes if needed or just general dinner idea of he knew how to make it:

          Monday: Kielbasa & Squash

          Tuesday: asian chickenw/ rice and broccoli

          Wednesday: Baked Margarita Spaghetti Squash

          Thursday: Roasted Chicken and Vegetables w/rice

          Friday: Butternut Squash and Arugula Pasta

    • Think what a terrific example you’re setting for your kids about the importance of education! Remember that in your limited free time it’s more important to do things with your kids than for them. And be sure to let your husband know how much you appreciate his taking on the household work.

    • Anonymous :

      My mom went back to school to get her PhD (while working a full time job) when I was 10, and I was not supportive. I would wait for her to get home from night class crying, etc. But now, as an adult, I am so proud of her and so grateful she didn’t let my whining get in the way of her dedication. This is just to say that it may get really hard and you may feel guilty, but remember that kids are dramatic and you are doing the right thing. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for doing this and not spending every free moment with your kids.

    • Pile of kids :

      You can do this! I went to law school with three kids (youngest was 4 months old).

    • I’m in my 4th (and final!!!) year of night law school while working in a high-pressure job full-time and the advice to lower your standards is spot on! You’re not always going to get your readings done, you’re not always going to have a clean house, you’re not always going to be 100% on at work. In fact – you will rarely ever be 100% in all areas! Take care of yourself, get into a workout routine no matter how busy you are – that will help you stay healthy when you’re stressed and everyone in your office is sick the week before finals (which ALWAYS happens). Save some vacation (or comp) time so you can take off a few days for finals. Four years has been really hard and sometimes I wonder if it was worth “wasting” my mid-20s on this – but the payoff will be worth it in the end! Good luck in your program!!

    • You CAN do this. I did it with 2 kids and you can too.

      If you can afford it – buy 2 of everything when you run out (2 laundry detergents, 2 shampoo, etc..) so you don’t have to waste time on shopping.

      Amazon prime is your new best friend. Also use it to send yourself some nice hot tea, coffee, or healthy snacks for being on the go.

      A little bit of excersize and sleep will go a long way – for your health and sanity even when you think you don’t have time for it.

      Study with your kids. They will always remember “homework” time with their hardworking momma and they will be stronger because of it.

      Your kids and family are proud of you – even on days when you think you aren’t doing your best. Repeat that to yourself often.

      • Easy meals= instapot. Well worth the investment!!!!
        Buy kids clothes used and get a size or two in advance.
        Buy gift cards instead of gifts (friends, baby showers, weddings), as you will not have time to shop.
        Camera: tell your husband and in laws that u want them to take pics and let them know where camera is, or you may end up with just a few cell phone pics and have a big gap in your kids’ albums.
        Start new routine now: is dad going to put them to bed? Start now. That will ease them into the new normal.
        Has dad cooked meals shop, prep, cook, clean)? Print out and laminate 10 recipes – help set him up for success in his new role. Does he know where you keep things? Label label label.
        Have you got a system for knowing when you run out/grocery list? Things get crazy pretty fast. We use a white out board in kitchen. Our rule is don’t throw package in trash until you write it on list. Other times we use shared lists in iPhone.

        When balancing so much, networking can be missed. Be strategic about opportunities to be known during school.

        Last advice: don’t “blame” school when talking to kids about why things suck. You don’t want kids to hate school. Try to keep it positive and focus on learning.
        Go mama!

    • You can 100% do this. I’m doing it right now, and I work with students in the same situation.

      – Figure out when you feel most drained and when you have the most energy. Block out the times when you have the energy to study or complete homework.

      – You need to have three or four quick easy meals in rotation – we’re talking less than ten minutes from start to eating. Eggs on toast etc. There is no shame whatsoever in having sandwiches for dinner.

      – If you’re really not getting something, commandeer one of the kids and explain it. This is obviously age dependent, but my 8 year old has been surprisingly helpful. It’s always easier to understand something when you can explain it out loud, and sometimes the questions they ask help you realise what you’re missing.

      – Find out the rules your school has for attendance/absence, providing extensions or what happens if you can’t submit something now, before the work starts. Be 100% clear about what you’d do if a family disaster prevents you from submitting a coursework so that you can be prepared to contact the right people, get a doctor’s note etc.

      – The things my adult students find the most challenging: academic writing after 20+ years away from study, referencing and citation style, navigating online libraries to find journals etc. If you can get a headstart on those things you’ll be ahead of 50% of your classmates.

    • Anonymous :

      I am doing something similar. Try to line up someone who is really good at “computering” (not a typo) and the programs you will be using, on the system you will be using. Ask for an hour of instruction, and see if they are available for personal advice / help when you are stuck with computer / software problems and are approaching a deadline for a project. For instance, do you have access to a Best Buy Geek Squad / library / or similar. Find out who is the best person on that team for communication that you comprehend most easily. I wish somebody had told me this. Much as I like adding computer skills, at the moment I only want to add the ones that I really need and with least time away from my main aim!

  2. I’m thinking of switching to an online checking account. Any experience with Capital One 360 or Charles Schwab? Either of these would be great when traveling, and better in regards to fees when compared to my current bank.

    • Flats Only :

      I’ve had Capital One since back when they were ING. I started out with a savings account and then added the checking account. I’ve been very impressed. Good service over the phone when I needed it, website is great. And when I’ve needed a large amount of cash, I’ve just walked into a Capital One bank branch and cashed a check. I just got a Venture card, so now my savings, checking and cc are all together. Money clears immediately from the checking and savings accounts into each other, which makes paying bill easy.

      • +1 Capital One 360 for the no fees plus easy web interface that integrates well with their other products (such as cc’s).

    • Senior Attorney :

      I don’t know about those two but I have used Ally for years and been very happy with them.

    • Schwab FTW. Their customer service is amazing. You can deposit to your brokerage account in-town and transfer the next day, or do mobile deposit, if you ever need to cash a check. Their ATM reimbursement is seamless. I have had them for YEARS and cannot say enough wonderful things.

    • I have both. They are both good choices. I prefer schwab because I have a lot of investment $$ there as well, but I have no complaints at all about capital one 360. Their interest rate is very high, relatively speaking.

    • Anonymous :

      I’ve had several Capital One 360 accounts for the last 5 (?) years. I like them for all of the reasons already mentioned: great customer service, a slick web interface, and immediate transfers from account to account.

  3. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, thank you to all the wonderful people on this blog. I learn so much from all the commenters. You’ve helped me be more assertive and confident at work and helped me identify issues that I knew weren’t quite right. And I’ve gotten great recommendations for clothes, skincare, and makeup. Bottom line, I really appreciate this community and am so glad I stumbled across it a few years ago.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Hear, hear! You all are definitely on my gratitude list!

    • Never too many shoes... :

      Happy Thanksgiving to all! I am attending a Friendsgiving on Sunday, so even this Canadian ‘rette is getting in on the action.

  4. Anonymous :

    I lost my job in academia unexpectedly last week, I was a postdoctoral scientist. Now I’m thinking of applying for non-academic, most of my experience fits roles in environmental consulting. However, since I’ve been in academia I feel “underqualified” for some of the jobs that specifically mention experience with regulations and at the same time I’m not sure whether I fit the profile of a new graduate since some firms have this category.

    I’m thinking of contacting recruiters directly at companies that interest me, some are on LinkedIn. If there’s no specific job advertised does this technique work? While I know how to find jobs in academia, I’ve realised I’m not doing so well in the non-academic world.In short advice needed. Please help.

    • I think this is a case where you should really try to hit your network, even if the connections are a little distant. I’m also in an environmental science field, but still in academia, so definitely not an expert on this! I think everyone I know that works in environmental consulting either got a job right out of a MS program or had some sort of connection that got them in the door post-Ph.D. Otherwise, contacting recruiters probably isn’t a bad idea. Depending on your research expertise, this could be an easier or harder sell. I think what you want to be careful to avoid is making this look like a fallback after “flunking out” of academia (I say this being well aware of the MANY really good reasons to leave academia and the many things you have no control over as a postdoc, it just helps to convey they impression that this is a deliberate choice, even if that might not entirely be the case). Good luck!

    • I’m an environmental consultant, and I work with lots of Ph.Ds. It’s pretty normal to have people finish their Ph.D and start in an entry level-ish position. Do you know what field of environmental consulting you want to go into? When my office hires, we don’t generally hire for a specific position, instead we hire for general talent, assuming there’s enough work for them.

      My office doesn’t use recruiters, but I’m sure there are some that do. If I were you, I’d look up offices nearby, and see if you can talk to the manager of the office. If you search for “ENR Environmental Top 200”, you get a list of the highest ranked environmental firms. If you’re in a large city, there will probably be branch offices nearby.

    • Check with consulting groups that prepare health impact assessments. It’s a growing field and many parallels to academics.

    • There is also a website called “The Versatile PhD” – it is specifically targeted at getting a job outside of academia. They might have good resources. Also, I realize that you probably don’t want to share all the details on here, but normally there are protections for post docs on campuses. You might want to look into this if you feel your termination was unjust or if your employment ended earlier than your contract stipulated. I know a couple of post docs who were “fired” by their advisors (who were toxic and awful) but then it turns out that the advisor didn’t actually have the power to do that because post docs are employed by and paid through the university. True, their contracts weren’t renewed, but they at least had additional time to get something lined up. Just something to keep in mind.

  5. Anonymous :

    Drink of choice for spiking your hot chocolate?

  6. Bad Breath :

    I’m “working from home” today. So far I’ve made one awkward work phone call I’d been avoiding (I Did The Thing) and OK’d a project to go forward. I’m also still in my pajamas. I’m maybe/maybe not expecting a call from my boss to discuss a thing with a deadline, so that means I’m stuck at my home office desk until 5ish, doing very little because no one is around, not taking a shower until he calls because it would be just like him to call when I’m in the shower, and he is so not reachable on a return call.


    • Cornellian. :

      Can you do some body weight exercises near your desk or something? You can feel productive and maybe help your energy.

      • the boss called! I feel like he read my post! (big brother, is that you?)

        Now I can get to washing my china for tomorrow :)

  7. Does bourbon go bad?

    Wondering what I can do with excess bourbon (stocked up for Derby party years ago and then everyone also bought bourbon as hostess gifts). Most haven’t been opened. Some is really good stuff.

    Make a pound cake and then bourbon over it sort of like tres leches cakes?

    Too cold for juleps now.

    file away under: problemsididn’thaveinundergrad

    • It doesn’t “go bad” as in rotting or getting bacteria or anything. But if there’s just little left in an opened bottle, it can take on a lot of oxygen and not taste as good. Your closer-to-full bottles will taste better than your closer-to-empty bottles. It’s totally safe and you will not get sick, you just may not enjoy the taste.

      Your unopened bottles are fine for basically forever. You may consider giving them as gifts to bourbon lovers.

      I think using the opened stuff in recipes is a great idea. You can google rum cake and use bourbon instead, it’s yummy.

    • Anonymous :

      Oooh make bourbon caramel sauce or honey bourbon butter to go on cornbread. Tasting Table had a whole article on what to do with leftover Derby Day bourbon.

    • Anonymous :

      It won’t go bad. The quality will deteriorate over time and taste much different. If it is unopened, you are good. If it is opened, the alcohol will evaporate slowly. Oxidation will occur (the emptier the bottle and looser the cap, the faster this process will proceed). Unopened no worries–whatever the taste was on the day it was bottled, that will be the taste the day it was opened. If you have opened bottles that are old–dump em.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      send it to meeeeeeee

    • Senior Attorney :

      I feel the same way about “excess bourbon” that I feel about “extra gravy.” ;)

      I second the idea of gifting the unopened good stuff to the bourbon lovers in your life.

  8. Never too many shoes... :

    I am seriously tempted by the new Conair Meta e Meta curler/straightener combo – has anyone here tried it?

  9. Anonymous :

    Two recommendations for those who are interested:

    – I recently got a couple of pairs of Earth ankle boots, very similar to the ones in the recommendation above, on sale from Amazon – and I really, really love them. All-day comfort and current styling, it’s a winning combo for me.

    – We recently started using an app called RoosterMoney to manage our kid’s allowance, and it has been a game-changer for us. There are great features in both the free app and the paid version, but the paid version allows you to do automatic withdrawals to “savings” every week (just like we do, with automatic transfers to savings after we get paid), set an interest rate for their savings, and set up both mandatory jobs they have to do to get their allowance and extra jobs they can do to earn extra money. It’s a really awesome tool and a great step towards the eventual goal of our son having his own checking account that he manages (which he is totally not ready for yet).

  10. J.Crew PSA :

    In amongst all the catalogues and spam, I just got a J.Crew $50-off coupon in the mail that, unlike most such things, seems pretty free of restrictions — i.e., you can actually use it to buy a $54 item for $4 plus shipping. I have been playing around with the website, and some items are excluded but lots are not. Anyway, watch your mailbox!

    • Professional Gifter :

      I received thus coupon, too. Really excited to use it! I did see they announced today that a bunch of J. Crew stores are closing :/

    • Yup! I just bought a dress that was basically $5.

  11. Are there any bootie socks (I think they’re also called no-show socks?) that actually stay on your heels? Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but I can’t keep them on my feet inside my ankle booties!

    • I'm Just Me :

      If you are wearing ankle boots why not get quarter crew socks? They come up a little higher on the ankle, won’t show under ankle boots.

    • Anonymous :

      smartwool secret sleuth work for me (in my particular boots, even quarter crew sometimes show)

    • Anonymous :

      I just wear regular socks with booties. Those tiny little no-show “socks” never stay on my feet, so I tape them onto heels with fashion tape.

    • Nordstrom has some that have little silicone bits on the inner heel. They are genius!

  12. Husband: it’s just us this year, we need to pare down the thanksgiving menu
    me: OK should we drop the candied yams?
    Husband: no, not those, I love those!
    me: how about dropping the jello mold? (family tradition)
    Daughter: heck no, I love that stuff!
    me: the green bean casserole?
    Son: NO WAY
    me: Stuffing? mashed potatoes and gravy? turkey?
    Family: you’re joking, right?

    pray for me, y’all

    • It officially is eating pants season.

    • I’d be tempted to ditch anything that felt redundant and keep the more rare “once per year” dishes–all based on my executive opinion. For example, I’d ditch the mashed potatoes (I can make them anytime) and keep the stuffing (a once per year thing in my house). Keep the green bean casserole, but ditch the green salad. (Let’s not kid ourselves–everyone will dive at the fat and covered sugar vegetables while pushing the lettuce leaves around their plate.)

      But in reality, you’re probably going to have to make everything and then jam leftovers around in your fridge for the next two weeks while you scream, “I TOLD YOU WE DIDN’T NEED ALL THIS!”

      • That will be my husband screaming “I told you we didn’t need all this” while also refusing to drop any dishes….. it’s only once a year, deep breaths…..

        • Sounds like husband can cook the extra dishes if he wants to have them!

          • Actually it’s a family affair cooking the dinner – everyone has a favorite dish they like to put together – so I have more help than I really want :). My kitchen isn’t quite the size for four cooks.

            Happy thanksgiving everyone!

    • Nudibranch :

      Been there, done that.


    For the reading asking about shopping early than asking for price adjustments during the Black Friday sales: I JUST DID THIS!!! At Macy’s! Purchased on Monday, adjusted price this morning.

    They refunded $10 on a Clinique gift set, $20 on a men’s sport coat, and $5 off a kid’s dress. I’m thrilled! All I had to do was fill out an email form on the Macy website and they responded within the hour.

  14. I just have to say how much I love eBay. I had a favorite pair of shoes I loved and wore the heck out of, and was so sad to throw away when they got incredibly shabby (too shabby even to donate!)

    I found the exact shoes on eBay in my size for $39.99 – they were around $200 retail. They were advertised as EUC (excellent used condition) but the pics looked really good so I went for it.

    They just arrived in today’s mail and they look new. I can’t believe they have been worn. I have my favorite shoes back! Happy dance!

  15. Since I’m going to switch banking, I’m going to need to change auto payments, like for utilities and the house payment. I’m curious what others do. Do you put automatic monthly payments on your debit card, with a credit card, or tied to your checking account? Or is there a better method?

    • Anonymous :

      I put everything I can on a credit card, but many of our utilities charge a fee for using a credit card to pay so I put those on a debit card. I pay my credit card in full every month, so there’s not much difference except the debit card doesn’t contribute to rewards the way the credit card does.

      • Anonymous :

        Err I guess rather than a debit card, it’s drawn directly out of my bank account. That service is free, even for the utilities that charge for using credit cards.

    • I have a system that works really well for me! I use a separate checking account for all the auto pay stuff, and I have a spreadsheet that tracks the expected balances over the next six months. I direct deposit a portion of my paycheck into the account each week. It also serves as a fund for random expenses, because in the spreadsheet I round everything up to the closest $5, so when I need an expensive car repair I can usually raid the extra that has accumulated in my bill paying account instead of having to use “real” savings.

  16. What can I do about constant facial and nasal passage swelling? It’s really giving me wrinkles around my eyes that I hate. Which is the other problem. How do I get rid of those? Outside of starting to sleep on my back, which seems impossible.

    I’m doing an autoimmune diet, but even with that, I have issues. Is it safe to use something like Allegra every day?

    • Mineallmine :

      Facial and nasal passage sounds like environmental irritants or allergies, not autoimmunity. I’m sure you’ve already stopped wearing makeup or face creams and no soap to rule out contact dermatitis, so my guess it’s something inhaled, like a mold or pet allergy or some outgassing of your mattress or building materials. Do you feel better when you travel or are away from your home or office for a few days? Obviously you should talk to your doctor about that, but it doesn’t hurt to start thinking about what it could be, including things you didn’t used to be allergic to but have developed one (I developed an allergy to my cat that sounds a lot like this, but it was so gradual and subtle I didn’t realize it for years). Using a silk pillow case should help, and yes you can use over the counter allergies daily for relief, but it still would be useful to find the source of the problem.

  17. Looking for waterproof work appropriate booties (business casual office). I walk a little over a mile to and from work each day, so I want them to be comfortable to walk in as well. Are La Canadiennes worth the investment? I’m also considering Teva De La Vina Dos and Bernardo Peony if anyone has any opinions on those. Thanks!

    • Assistant Professor :

      I haven’t tried any of the boots you mentioned, but I bought a pair of Clarks “Allura Mystic” waterproof black leather ankle booties at the end of last winter, and they seem to be working well so far. I’m not sure Clarks carries them in stock anymore, but I got mine on Ebay, so it may be worth looking around for a pair if you like the look of them. They are warm enough for walking outside but not too warm for wearing inside, which I appreciate.

    • In case you are still reading, the fashion blogger “Une femme d’un certain âge” had a recent post, in the last month or two, on waterproof booties good for walking/traveling. Lots of suggestions from her and in the comments.

    • Thank you all!

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