Coffee Break: Pocket Travel Pillow

I’ve been meaning to post this pocket travel pillow since stocking-stuffer time back in December. It’s really interesting — it’s basically a little pillowcase (it folds up to 3″ x 3″) that you can put something into and use as a pillow. I think it’s brilliant — I’ve certainly tried to use big wraps and ponchos and ruanas as pillows, but this is a perfectly-sized place to put something like that into. It takes up virtually no space in your bag, and it has a lifetime guarantee. I suppose you could also sew something like this yourself, but it’s only $15 (at Tom Bihn). Pocket Travel Pillow

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  1. Rachel Green :

    Just found out we’re having a girl last week (4.5 months in). Spent last week on a babymoon and DH and I brainstormed baby names. We found one we both really like (a little quirky but still a traditional name) and nothing else came close (obviously were still going to think about it). Found out today that a former friend of mine had a baby yesterday and named her the same name. We still have a lot of friends in common. Would that deter you from choosing the name?

    • Not if I really, really liked the name. Also, if it will bother you to think about it then you don’t want that kind of reminder. Otherwise, go for it.

    • alphaanne :

      Not at all.

    • Anonymous :

      No. I’ve had the opposite situation. My father and grandfather have a common name. I have always loved that name. My husband’s brother-in-law has that name (and so on, in his family) and used it for my husband’s nephew (all of this predates my arrival into the family).

      When I was PG, there was much gnashing of teeth when I said that I wanted to use Name if I had had a boy. “But Nephew already has it.” Um, no.

      I was one of Jennifer Lynn #3 in my grade in a small town growing up (and my friends were all of the Jennifer Ann and Lori Ann and Elizabeth Ann names). We all wound up OK.

      • Anonymous :

        I have a cousin with the same first and middle names. The way it happened is a funny story and we all just kind of laugh about it now. We have different lasts and live states apart. If it were three identical names, I’d be concerned about identification issues. But it’s not.

        • Anonymous :

          one of my cousins has the same first and last as me, another just one different letter. Facebook also tells me there are at least 3 more people with the same first and last. It’s never been an issue within the family or beyond that.

    • Anonymous :

      Yeah, if it was someone I didn’t like anymore and had a bad association with.

    • Yeah, it would sway me against choosing the name.

    • It’s a former friend? Even less reason to care. You can’t let it bother you. It’s super annoying but it happens. I had something similar where coworker named her first child the name we had already picked for ours just 3 months before our daughter was born (and two months after DH and I settled on the name). And coworker had same first name as me, so that didn’t help. Our other coworkers laughed but I left that job two years later and it’s just a funny story now. Meanwhile I can’t imagine my daughter with any other name. It was name number 20? the year she was born, so not uncommon but she’s never been in a class or camp bunk with a girl with same name.

      • Yeah, I have the opposite – my parents picked a name I hate as a second choice because the name they originally picked (which it turns out I like) was too much like one of my father’s coworkers. Needless to say, they have had no contact with this person for at least 45 years, but I still have my second-choice name.

        • Senior Attorney :

          This. It is extremely unlikely that this will be an issue for very long at all. Pick the name you love.

    • Anonymous :

      Not even a little bit.

    • Anonymous :

      Nope. I wouldn’t use the baby name a very close friend or sibling used (without permission) but for a distant or former friend I wouldn’t think twice.

      • +1

      • Anonymous :

        I very cautiously approached a good but not lifelong friend who named her son the name I’d picked out for my son, when hers was a newborn and mine was several months before the due date. If she’d said she minded I’d have chosen another name, as I didn’t want conflict or hurt around the choice of my baby’s name.

        She looked at me like I was bonkers and said I should name my son whatever I wanted. :) We’re not in touch anymore (14 years later) but we enjoyed having two little guys with the same unusual name, and I’ve always thought it was really gracious and kind of her.

        If this is a former friend, it’s harder to have the conversation, but also less likely that your kids will cross paths a bunch. Feel free to borrow the “are you bonkers” look I got for yourself here.

    • I would 1000% use the name and not even think twice about it. Personally, the idea that you will associate your baby with your former friend’s baby seems crazy to me — for us, once it was our baby, that name was his. I sometimes forget that other people I know with that name actually share the same name, if that makes sense.

      • This sounds like something you’d see on AskaManager — “I”m expecting, and I announced that I’m naming my child XYZ, and one of my coworkers is very upset because she named her child XYZ / plans on naming her child XYZ.”

        No one owns the trademark on a name, and this is a former friend. Use it and move on.

    • If it is a super unique name or a made-up name (I know someone whose parents made up a name for her, and when you google her first name she is the only result) it might be a little weird. But if it’s a fairly common name, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    • Anonymous :

      Depends why she’s a former friend and how much contact you/your friends have with her. Like, if she’s your or DH’s ex maybe don’t use that name. Or if the friendship ended badly and she’s the kind of person who’s likely to take offense at your name choice and blow up at all your mutual friends and use it as an excuse to dredge up years-old nonsense… I’d probably avoid picking it just to avoid the drama.

    • Nope, not at all.

  2. Anonymous :

    Looking at dividend income on the 1099 and see two columns – one is paid in 2017 and the other is adjusted in 2018 for 2017. I am trying to match each line (investment) to transactions in the account to determine related dates, as I am splitting taxes between states.

    I was able to match anything paid in 2017 no problem. I can’t seem to do the same with items that have zero under paid in 2017 and values under adjusted in 2018. Does anyone know what latter column means?

    • Anonymous :

      Have you looked at the IRS website? They’re usually pretty good about having publications that kind of explain this stuff to the average taxpayer.

  3. Clementine :

    Venting so I don’t lose it at work. My whole office has been working flat out for a while. Late nights, all weekend, no lunch breaks, the whole deal. Most of the late nights are driven by external meetings rather than people not working at a decent pace.

    After a meeting (which ended 50 minutes early, BTW) a few people ended up chatting about an upcoming non-work event for literally 7 minutes. Big Boss just gave two coworkers and I a talking to in the hallway that it was absolutely unacceptable to be ‘hanging around like it’s a clubhouse’ and that we needed to immediately leave meetings and get back to work.

    Maybe it’s the exhaustion but I nearly started crying. Like, dude- I haven’t seen my friends in weeks. I guess I saw my spouse if you count the fact that he was in the house at the same time I took over the kitchen table with two laptops and a cellphone…? This is really the time to crack down on us? (This is why I’m looking for a new gig.)

  4. travel bag :

    Thinking about getting this one strap backpack (? can’t think of a better way to describe it) for an upcoming international trip:

    Thoughts? I don’t care as much about the RFID, etc. measures – I mostly like the idea of going hands free without worrying that someone can cut the strap on my normal crossbody bag (I’m traveling somewhere where that’s common). If you don’t like this bag, any other suggestions? I don’t need it to be gorgeous’ I’m mostly aiming for “unobtrusive looking.”

    • Anonymous :

      Two reservations: 1) Is your chest small enough for one strap to be comfortable, and 2) Are these attacks on mopeds or other vehicle? Because that could result in serious injury if someone does try to cut your bag off of you and snatch it from a moving vehicle. You could get dragged to your death.

      • travel bag :

        Good point about the strap comfort – I wear a lot of normal crossbody purses and it’s fine, but the thick strap might be a factor. I was sort of hoping that a thicker strap wouldn’t bisect my chest as much as a thin leather strap does, but I’d probably just have to try this one.

        And no mopeds this time around, just a lot of walking around, but I’ve done SE Asia trips to locations where that was a factor so point well taken.

    • Travelon makes crossbody bags with reinforced straps so they can’t be cut. I think they’re easier to get into than a backpack.

      For example:

    • Rainbow Hair :

      I had a bag like in your link (though kind of more sack shaped and less square) when I travelled and I loved it. If I was walking somewhere crowded/where people might be trying to swipe it, I could put the bag part in front so I could keep my eye on it, or I would kind of swing it around to be under my arm.

      I am well endowed in the chest area and the thick strap wasn’t a problem for me.

      • travel bag :

        Thanks! Being able to swing it around to the front was what I liked about it as well – I have some REI dividends burning a hole in my pocket so I think I’ll give it a try.

  5. Hello Hive:

    Need advice on dealing with my work situation.
    I’m a JD in a non-JD role. Co-worker was recently elevated to manage our group. I find NB exceedingly difficult to work with for a variety of reasons. In most interactions with her, I find her to be really aggressive in her questions. Usually: I explain a fact pattern to her; start to give some of my analysis; she interrupts me to ask why I don’t have a problem with the business’ proposal. The fundamental issue is that neither of us agrees with the other one’s analysis; I mostly think she’s punitive and micro-managerial. I try to remind myself that this is not about me, this is how she is; however, I find our interactions to range from irritating to infuriating. I’m already looking for another job. Advice on how to deal until I leave?

    • I find that looking for more intrinsic reasons behind people’s insufferable behaviors helps normalize them a bit. Is she doing this because she wants to assert control because deep down she feels not quite prepare for this role? Is she a micro-manager because she has a deep seethed feeling of failure? Even if you think no such reason exists, believe one does so she becomes more human.

      In the meanwhile, just breathe through the irritating and try your best to ignore the infuriating. Try to limit interactions by moving anything you can over email so you have time to prepare for her attitude and space away from her to react.

      If this continues, perhaps talk to her supervisor or a colleague about how specifically to deal with the ‘personality difference’

    • anon a mouse :

      +1 to communicating over email as much as possible.

      Also, if she’s cutting you off, she is sending you a signal that your facts & analysis are too long (whether she realizes it or not). Start thinking about briefing her in a very limited executive summary-style — like 3-5 bullets — and let her ask for more information if she needs it.

  6. This is awful — a former after school sports director of a sport my kids played was just arrested for s*xual contact with a minor. I don’t know anything more than that. They didn’t do the sport this school year but did it together 2 prior years together (and one year with just one kid in the program).

    I guess I get to have a talk after school today, sort of like:
    — it is very important to tell the truth
    — even if it is hard to say or you think I will be mad, I will always love you and I always want you to tell the truth even if it is hard or embarassing
    — even if you worry that you will get someone in trouble, you must always tell the truth
    — do you remember [Sport X]?
    — do you remember if you were ever alone with [Y]?
    — etc.
    — and note that other grownups may want to ask about Y or Sport X (which I’m not sure will happen, but might)

    Any thoughts? Advice?

    My kids always went to daycare, which means that I’ve been used to them not being 100% under my care/supervision, so we’ve generally had age-appropriate discussions about what is / isn’t OK, etc. So I’m not thinking that anything happened to them, but I will still recheck that assumption in light of the arrest.

    • It’s been pointed out that predators don’t pick victims randomly. They usually pick a troubled child, a child from a troubled family, or a child with distracted/inattentive/overwhelmed parents. They test boundaries, and if they are deflected, they move on to another potential victim. I don’t know if this makes you feel better, but you shouldn’t think that your child was automatically a victim or even a target.

      • I think it’s worth having a conversation about it though. Many predators may follow this pattern, but there are plenty of them like Larry Nassar who seemingly prey on everyone, even strong kids from good families like Aly Raisman.

        • I really bristle at using “good families” like that. Do you think the parents of other children who were victims of abuse are bad?

          • Elegant Giraffe :

            +1 unintentional, I’m sure – but it came out as a strong judgment

          • To be fair, she was responding to my comment that mentioned troubled families. It doesn’t mean that troubled families aren’t made up of good people, but there are situations in which a predator identifies a victim whose parents are likely to be uninvolved or absent.

            I don’t have personal experience with this but there was a powerful article about how Sandusky and others purposefully chose their victims in the New Yorker a while back.

          • I don’t think the opposite of troubled families is good families.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      I wonder if there are any resources out there for you, like “how to talk to a __ year old kid about [this topic]” … like maybe they’d have some scripts or pointers you haven’t thought of?

    • Anonymous :

      I would talk to the school or a professional with some experience in these types of situations before talking to your child. You don’t mention the age, but we recently had something similar happen in our district (although over a much shorter time frame). If I recall correctly, one of the parent communications said something about not directly asking your kids about it because younger kids will sometimes give an answer they think you are looking for regardless of whether or not it is true. I assume this is more true for younger kids, but since your kid hasn’t been in the program for over a year I don’t think it’s critical that you talk to them about it today (as opposed to later this week – not suggesting you just ignore it).

  7. Paging anon from this morning looking for a solution for bugs on the patio:

    If you’re primarily worried about mosquitos, this thing actually works really freaking well, and the odor is extremely faint. I use it on my patio in Houston and the mosquitoes leave me alone.

    • I didn’t see the original question, but I concur that Thermacells are great! I have this pretty one for my patio table.

    • Anonymous :

      related recommendation: A pitcher plant on the balcony helps with wasps!

  8. Marshmallow :

    Anybody have a recommendation for a small gas grill? We have a truly postage-stamp backyard but I’m dying to grill as soon as the weather turns nice. I don’t want to invest too much because our next move may be to somewhere without outdoor space.

    • JuniorMinion :

      Weber has a good line – I think their smallest is called the babyQ? I have the spirit which is slightly larger / more like a normal freestanding grill but 4 burners with flaps that fold down so you really only need a space that is 2-3 feet x 1.5 feet for it.

      • I have this Weber (the Spirit 210 I think) even though I have space for a larger one (but I don’t grill for a crowd really) and I love it.

      • Marshmallow :

        Thanks, both! $300 or so for the BabyQ is over our budget considering we may only get one or two seasons out of it before moving, but Target has some other Webers under $200. I will take a look at those.

        • anon a mouse :

          Consider whether they have decent resale value in your area — where I am, good small grills are always snapped up on our neighborhood listserv.

    • We bought this little grill for camping and ended up using it as our only grill for years and years, seriously.

      It’s the weber go-anywhere gas grill. If you google weber camping gas grill you’ll find it.

      Obviously, we didn’t use it on the ground, but it’s designed to sit on a table so that will work fine. In our case, we had a built-in ledge on the back stairs where it lived.

      We ended up buying a weber genesis A (two burners) and then eventually moving to a genesis B (three burners) as our family got older. Between the three grills we are talking 20 years and counting, so not bad.

    • Are you open to a charcoal grill? The Weber charcoal grill is about $70. We’ve accessorized ours with cast iron grates and a couple of baskets for wood chips or charcoal. We also use a chimney starter. All in, it probably cost us $100. It’s pretty easy to use, but it requires some lead time to get the charcoal hot.

  9. Lip stain :

    I am a lipbalm addict. I wear tinted lip balm for work and for 90% of my life. If I have a special event, I do bring out the actual adult lipstick for adults. I love the colors! I do not like that not-lip-balm feel, though. My absolute dream is a lipstain that will give me lipstick color and coverage but will hold up to endless applications of cherry chapstick. Is this a thing that even exists?

    • I have so little makeup experience, so take what I say with a grain of salt: I’ve found the Sephora brand lip stains are practically permanent and hold up to a lot.

      • Marshmallow :

        Yes, I came here to suggest these. Not a huge color range but they really feel like nothing and just stain your lips. It’s called “Rouge Lip Tint.” (Don’t be fooled by Sephora “Cream Lip Stain”– it is NOT a stain, it’s a liquid lipstick.)

        Re Glossier Generation G, I don’t get a staining effect from those. But if you like lip balm, you may have some success just replacing your lip balm with Gen G. It’s really just a tinted balm.

        • Oh, I think I’ve actually used the Cream Lip Stain. If OP is looking for lipstick color and coverage, that probably is what she wants.

          • Marshmallow :

            I like those but for different reasons– they’re very dry and really adhere to your lips. They kind of gum up when you put lip balm over them.

    • Anonymous :

      I haven’t tried multiple reapplications of lip balm, but really like Wet n Wild’s megaslicks balm stains – it feels like you’re wearing nothing once the initial balm wears off and I’ve never felt the urge to add more balm. You may also want to try Glossier’s Generation G, which I haven’t tried but I understand is supposed to be a balm texture that leaves a stain. And while this isn’t what you asked about, I love Sephora’s new lip stories lipsticks because they’re so incredibly moisturizing (even more so because I use MAC’s prep + prime balm underneath). I don’t think they’d hold up to lip balm application but they’re so moisturizing I don’t think you’d need it. The packaging kind of sucks even though it’s cute, so I keep it in my makeup tray instead of in a makeup bag.

    • I believe lip stains require something emollient like chapstick to remove them, so I’d be surprised if that works.

      I recommend this all the time, but try Laura Mercier Sheer Lipstick for your going-out look. It feels like lip balm. I am also hooked on having something on my lips, but the sheer lipstick checks that box for me. Not so with regular lipstick.

    • I use Benetint for this exact reason! If I were super concerned about looking made-up I would probably need to reapply toward the end of the day, fwiw.

  10. The thing with travel pillows is that they have to be able to prop your chin/support your neck. The regular square shape isn’t going to do that. You’d need some variation of the U shape. My current fav is the J pillow but I think I’ve accepted that flying economy will never be comfortable no matter what.

  11. nervous host :

    Fun afternoon question: what was the best dinner party you went to in the last 5 years? Why was it the best? How many people were there? What do you wish happened more at such parties?

    nervous about-to-be host in a new town

    • Cornellian :

      Honestly, I love getting invited to all dinner parties and am not picky. Even potlucks! I guess this means I should probably step up and host one. I’m sure yours will be great.

    • I went to a dinner party on the upper west side this weekend, and it was the best in the last 5 years! (it was also 1 of 2–the other being at Grandma Leyeh’s), if that count’s.

      But it was GOOD. There were about 7 investement bankers and their spouses (including 2 same sex partner’s), and 3 single guys, and the conversation was VERY high level. I did NOT understand the teck talk, but I was all over the political conversation about the new Showtime show about President Trump. Her firm is very much Democratic, and that was OK to a point but still, I did NOT like the deduction thing that Dad yells all the time about, so I told them and they agreed, b/c they were looseing money also on it. All of the single guys were ooogeling me and wanted me to date them. Evidently they do NOT get out much at the bank, and I agreed to go out on a group date with all of them and Myrna (as the Chaperone) next weekend. We will go to a basketball game so that should be OK. Myrna told me NOT to wear a dress to the game, so I won’t. YAY!!!

    • Friendsgiving that I hosted with a new baby. It was loud, full of laughter, really relaxed, tons of good food, and lots of people hanging out together happily. We had 32 (including 5 children). I love when everyone pitches in with final bits of cooking and prep. E.g., a friend’s husband carved the bird and the ham, another friend made the gravy, someone else was in charge of pulling things out of the oven and finding utensils for them. Drinks were self-serve. Makes it more fun and more collaborative, even for this type-A person who barely lets her husband tinker around in the kitchen unsupervised.

      Tips – set up glasses and beverages away from food prep. Have platters and serving dishes out and washed and ready to go. Set the table the day before. Pre-cook everything you can (even the day before) so it just needs to go into the oven to warm and you get to enjoy the party. Don’t serve too many appetizers or no one will eat dessert. And I love having cloth napkins (even with the “fancy” disposable plates from Costco). Makes everything seem classy.

      • Senior Attorney :

        I take it a step further and put a post-it on each serving dish/platter with the name of the thing that is going to go on/it it. (I’ve done this ever since I opened the microwave the day after Thanksgiving and found the corn pudding I forgot to serve…)

    • My best dinner party was one I hosted! It was very casual, with about 25 people coming and going over the course of the evening. Menu was southwestern themed – just appetizers, an easy, serve-yourself taco bar, beer and homemade sangria. The weather was perfect for spilling out onto the patio. We played a version of the game Taboo on my iPad. The casual vibe plus a group game made it comfortable and fun for everyone. Also, I was a very laid back host, which I think helped everyone else relax. Focus on having a good time and making everyone feel welcome; don’t worry about being perfect. Good luck!

    • Agreed that all dinner parties are fun, and I need to host them more often. Some thoughts that make them better (although all are still good):

      1) A place for kids to play that isn’t right on top of the adults, but still within earshot for the younger ones.
      2) Two places to congregate so you can have two convos at once. Even a table and a couch count.
      3) Variety of food and drinks – which is why I like potlucks. Either a couple random dishes or something that is easily customizable. You don’t want to serve only a carb-heavy casserole and then find out someone just started a keto diet or something. Or only have beer and find out someone is gluten free.

      That’s it. I don’t notice the background music or the state of the house or whether we took off our shoes or whether I was slightly cold. (I always dress in layers and always wear clean socks. I feel like that’s proper party guest etiquette.)

      • Forgot to say. If you’re hosting a bunch of people who don’t know each other, make a point of introducing everyone with some kind of tidbit they can ask each other about to keep a convo going. Sit down beforehand and think of points they might have in common with other guests, or interesting things about them. “Susie, do you know Maria? Maria has a first grader the same age as my oldest, they go to School X together. Susie lives just down the street, I met her walking our dogs! Susie, did your kids go to X?” “John, have you met Jane? Jane works for Big Corp. John just got back from Mexico. Where were you exactly, John? Oh I’ve got to go check on the chicken.”

    • Anonymous :

      Most people just want good food, plenty of it, and lots of booze. It always bothers me when the host of a dinner party is slaving away in the kitchen while all the guests are mingling, because I feel bad for them, so maybe make sure you prep/cook as much as you can beforehand.

    • Experienced hostess chiming in :) You’ll be great!

      A few tips –

      – No need to be ambitious with the menu. People love comfort food – they neither need nor want 8 different kinds of intricate hors d’oeuvres. My most popular party ever? A neighborhood cookout – I made pulled pork in 2 crock-pots, my husband grilled hot dogs and brats, we had two coolers out back: one with pop-ice and sodas for kids and another with beers for grown-ups – and friends and neighbors brought all the sides. Probably 50 people came and went and kids ran through the house with the screen doors slamming – just a ton of fun.

      – Offer people a drink when they walk in the door – alcohol, soda, whatever you’re serving, people feel more comfortable with a drink in their hands.

      – If you drink, buy more wine/beer than you think you’ll need.

      – People often don’t drink specialty cocktails – they just prefer wine and beer and water/seltzer

      – Have a fun spotify playlist going in the background to ease those awkward “I’m the first person here and it’s really quiet” moments

      – If you have skittish pets, put them somewhere quiet to reduce their stress

      – Make as much food ahead of time as you can – make it easy on yourself!

    • Anonymous :

      It’s the company more than anything else. If you’re inviting people who know each other then you don’t have anything to worry about. If people don’t know each other, have good icebreaker games like Apples to Apples (or CAH if your crowd is into that).

      Other than that, people appreciate little touches that make them feel welcome. Ask about food restrictions and accommodate if possible. I second the taco bar idea – it’s an easy way to accommodate allergies and preferences without doing a ton of work. Also kid friendly if that’s an issue. People love signature drinks too if you’re up to it, just make sure you make a lot! People are still talking about my winter sangria from like 3 years ago.

    • Birthday party for the husband of a friend. Husband made his famous jambalaya (he’s from NOLA but we all live on the west coast) and they had a bowl of spiked punch that was way, way too delicious. Their house was too small for the number of guests that showed up so we had conversations in the hallway and the pantry and on the freezing back deck but it was totally great. If you were a nervous host you might have thought this was a disaster but it was hella fun and I wish we could do it again this weekend.

      Don’t worry. If you’re feeding people, they will have a nice time.

    • Dinner Parties :

      Ooooh, a topic near and dear to my heart! My New Year’s resolution this year is to throw a dinner party every month because I love them so much. A lot of tips will depend on how many your hosting and whether they know each other.

      I went to a dinner party recently where each of three hosts invited 3-4 people who no one knew. Everyone submitted some discussion questions before the party. After we went around the room and introduced ourselves and told (1) our first screen name and (2) something others wouldn’t know by looking at us, we started on the discussion questions. The hosts picked a handful of questions and we had about 15 mins of discussion on 5-6 of the questions. The questions were about everything from family to love to career to medical marijuana. Everyone had a different point of view, but they’d purposely designed the guest list to be people who were respectful and who would enjoy these kinds of conversations. It was honestly one of the best evenings I’ve had in a long, long time. Of course, that was VERY structured, and I think it works best with a group that mostly doesn’t know each other.

      As for parties where most of the guests know each other, I like to host a group of about 9-10 at a time. Any larger, and the group doesn’t completely interact as a group, but it’s still big enough to get lots of voices out there. I open a couple of bottles of wine before people start arriving so it’s easy to just start pouring when they come in. I do VERY easy apps (i.e., just put on boards or serving platters), fairly easy dinners, and more involved desserts because the desserts are so easy to make ahead of time. Usually apps are a mixture of guacamole, salsa, chips, crackers, cheese, salami, olives, nuts, cream cheese with pepper jelly on top, and/or hummus. My favorite dinner is a taco bar because that can mostly be done in advance, too. I always set up the apps on the bar next to the kitchen and also some on the table so people can be in a couple of different areas, and if I mistime everything, I can actually chat with the guests while I’m pulling stuff out of the oven, etc. I just hosted one over the weekend where a few members of the group showed photos from recent vacations and told stories, and that was so fun. (I was sure to only invite people who I knew would like this kind of thing and who would show only a handful of photos at a time because it’s easy to get bored by others’ pics.)

      I try to always have a few fun questions in mind in case the conversation dies a little (which it tends to do right when dinner is being served).

      People always tend to remember the company and games and fellowship rather than the food, unless the meal is really something unique. So the more you can create a warm atmosphere and encourage people to talk and laugh, the better time they’re going to have.

    • I went to a Christmas/holiday party last year that was so much fun.

      What made it great:
      – The most genius thing was that the hostess had a bunch of plain cookies and cookie decorating supplies – and said that it was the job of the kids to decorate all the cookies for everyone to eat for dessert. There were around a half dozen kids from ages 8-12(ish?) and the hostess’s 14 year old daughter was the “supervisor”. The kids loved it and it was a great way to keep them occupied during cocktail hour.

      – Dinner was a variety of lasagnas – regular, spinach/mushroom, and a weird one I didn’t try – like maybe taco lasagna or something? And then garlic bread and some big bowls of salad. There were probably between 15 and 20 people there for dinner. Nowhere near enough space around the table so some people sat at the table, others stood around the kitchen counter, etc.

      – It just felt very welcoming and relaxed and fun. The hostess had everything so prepped ahead of time, when it was time to eat, she just pulled the lasagnas out of the oven and the salads out of the fridge. The most stressful thing that happened all night was that one of the littler kids didn’t understand that other people were going to eat “her” cookies. Agree with what everyone’s saying above that it’s always stressful when the host is obviously very tense.

    • Anonymous :

      My husband and I love hosting dinner parties. Here are my go to tricks:
      – I rent my linens. A basic solid black or white table cloth is $9 in my city to rent and the napkins are $0.50…. and i get to pick new color/colors, don’t have to worry about cleaning (or more importantly, ironing!!!!) any of it. So, for less than $20, I have a different dinner “theme” each time I host.
      – make/serve only a few foods, but have large quantities of them (e.g., if tacos, do chicken and beef, not chicken, beef, pork, fish, tofu…..)
      – pick one course that you aren’t going to make (e.g., dessert) and buy it. save yourself that stress.
      – never underestimate the importance of everyone having a water glass and having large glass bottles or pitchers of water on the table…..

    • Don’t try to make all of the food yourself! It’s okay to order some of the courses/apps/sides/dessert from a restaurant. No one cares if you didn’t make everything yourself, they are just happy to be invited.

  12. Anonymous :

    I have a side hustle doing consulting, and did a speaking event last week related to the side hustle. A person came up to me after my talk and expressed interest in having me work with his organization; he got my card and I got his. This is a great lead; I’d love to work with this business. How long do I wait to follow up with him? I don’t want to make it weird or look like a pest.

    • Take a peek at their website. Do they have any posting that you would qualify for? Then send him an email this week. “Hey, great meeting you at X event last week! I was thrilled to hear that you enjoyed my talk on [thing].” and if you found a role: “When you mentioned me potentially joining your org, I took a look and the [title] role seems like it’d be a great fit. What do you know about that role? Any words of advice as I prepare to apply?” and if you didn’t find anything: “I’d love to chat more about joining the organization. Do you have time for a coffee or quick phone chat to learn more about what types of roles you typically have available?”

      • If this is a consulting engagement, it’s probably not filling a particular role but rather advising on a particular topic or engaging for a specific project. I wouldn’t make any assumptions that he had a particular role in mind or that you’d be joining the organization in a full-time capacity. I think just a brief email that says you’re glad he enjoyed the talk and would love to set up some time in the next week or two to talk further and understand if there are areas where you could provide support.

        • Anonymous :

          Yeah, this would be for consulting – I have a great day job and wouldn’t leave it. But the business this guy works for is exactly the kind of business I love working with and if the work goes well, could open up a lot of opportunities to work with similar types of businesses in the future. I’ll wait till Wednesday and email him. Thanks for the advice, folks :-)

    • anon a mouse :

      This week is fine. You don’t want so much time to elapse that he doesn’t remember you. Just a quick hey, enjoyed meeting you, when would you like to talk about your organization’s needs?

    • The only time I would say it’s too soon to email a prospect/connection is while you’re literally still at the event where you met them. But I don’t think it’s strange at all to get a follow-up email or LinkedIn message very shortly after meeting them – I just assume that they like to process new contacts quickly while the conversation is at the front of their mind. I would definitely expect to hear from someone within a week in the circumstances you described.

  13. I just found out that I’m unexpectedly pregnant with a FWB’s child (had an IUD :|, which has been removed). Whenever this scenario crossed my mind, I’d always thought I’d keep it. Now that I’m actually in the midst of this, I’m freaking out a little.

    I do have a good job with 4 months paid mat leave and I am positioned OK financially for this. But this is such a life-changing thing and there are so many unanswered questions… I honestly have no idea how the baby daddy will react, nor my family, who are back home in an Asian country.

    Thoughts, suggestions, and referrals to SF family lawyers appreciated.

    • Don’t forget it’s ok to change your mind about keeping it. It sounds like you are thinking about moving forward, which is great, but don’t feel pressured to go through with it just because you always thought you would.

      • To what anon says above:
        A few years ago, I had to have my IUD removed for health reasons and despite using other methods became pregnant unexpectedly. Although in a committed relationship where kids were always part of the plan, I chose a termination because I could not handle the stress of this situation. Five months later I became pregnant on purpose and we now have a beautiful child. During that time span I got a big promotion, we bought a house, and I was ready. 20/20 – I would have likely been fine if I carried the first pregnancy but my mental state would have been very different.

    • Try not to worry about your family will react to the pregnancy. You don’t have to tell them right away if you don’t want to, and in general I think even people who aren’t supportive of your pregnancy (assuming you still want them in your life) will love the child once s/he arrives. If they don’t, that’s their loss. You’ve got this!

    • Anonymous :

      First off, I am sorry you’re going through this. None of us get an IUD thinking it won’t work. That totally sucks.

      If you just found out you’re pregnant, you have a small amount of time to think things through – you don’t have to figure out everything today. The biggest thing is: do you want to parent a child? This is different than “having a baby.” The “having a baby” thing is over relatively quickly compared to how long parenting continues afterward. Considering your support network is also critical. If your family is in another country, who will be your support system here, when you need it? What does the picture look like if your FWB doesn’t want to be involved? What if he wants to be really involved?

      Ulimately if you want to be a parent, you have the opportunity to do so. You also can choose not to parent this child, at this point in time, and still choose to have another child later (or not have children at all). I am not a single mom but I have plenty of friends who are (including one in a very similar situation to you) and it’s hard, but it’s worth it. You can’t think your way through this, this is all about feelings and how you would feel on either side of either choice. Good luck and Internet hugs to you.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      “Freaking out a little” is a normal reaction. You can do this! :) :) Internet hugs to you. If you’re worried about your family’s reaction, I would reach out to your friends for support first, emotionally, and practically especially if you have friends with kids. All the parents I know are happy to recommend obstetricians + pediatricians, day cares, strollers, sitters, etc, as well as to babysit and to pass on baby clothes and gear they’re not using. I can tell you “you can do this!” but it’ll obviously mean more to have your real friends on your team, and that should make it easier to talk to your family and to the baby’s father.

    • Life-changing things aren’t always bad; they can be amazing too. I can’t tell you what to do, but I do hope you won’t let fear of telling your family or the father affect your decision. This is one of those situations where you really do have to try to tune out that kind of noise and focus on people who support you no matter what.

    • So I used to be really involved in counseling people in unexpected pregnancy situations via a now-defunct online community. There is a really awesome nonprofit called All Options Pregnancy Support (formerly called the Backline). They have a phone number you can call to talk with a counselor who will truly be supportive of all options relating to unplanned pregnancy, from abortion to adoption to keeping the baby. If you need someone to talk through your feelings and questions with, I really recommend them. They don’t have an agenda other than supporting you to make a completely free choice about how you move forward (and helping you identify the right options and resources once you’ve made a decision).

      If you have a faith background and want to talk to a clergy person, All Options also has a helpline (called Faith Aloud) that will put you together with a member of the clergy who understands the faith challenges this can pose and will not try to talk you into making any particular choice.

      I’m thinking of you. I know that the idea of solo parenting can be scary, but if it’s what you want, don’t let others (whether your family, the baby’s father, etc.) talk you out of it. Sure, life will change – but you’ve got this.

    • sheep jump death match :

      It’s okay to make a different decision in reality than in a hypothetical.

      I think it’s more important to decide if you want to have children with the FWB than it is to decide if you want children, period. You can do one without the other.

      Whatever decision you make is okay.

    • Marshmallow :

      I am thinking of you. The only advice I will give you is to echo the excellent advice above: “Whatever decision you make is okay.”

    • AnonForThis :

      Welcome to team I was on birth control but got PG….

      This happened to me too (not IUD but on BC and ended up PG with a boyfriend).

      Couple of things to think through:
      1) Having a child with someone ties them to you (even if they aren’t involved / don’t want to be a parent) in a permanent way. Think through what this means even if they aren’t involved in your day to day.
      2) Figure out your support system / how you might logistically make this work and if you are at a place in your life where caring for a child is something you want and can do.
      3) I think we (as humans) like to make this a black and white exercise – ie either I would / would not have a child if unexpectedly PG when in reality the situation you are in is likely to influence your decision.

      In terms of my situation, I had always theoretically thought I would never terminate. Then, at 24 with an 80 hr a week job and not ideal boyfriend I found out I was PG and my first thought was “Oh h*ll no. Not doing this” Now, 6 years later with a spouse and a more stable life / job, I would likely make a different choice (we might be team no kids ever, but I’ve told him pretty frankly if an accident were to happen I’d likely end up on team kid). For me, terminating at that juncture of my life was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. If I hadn’t, pretty much none of the things / people I love today would have been in my life. At this juncture of my life or in your life the factors and situation might be different. This is a really long winded way of recommending you think through what you want without defaulting to “well I said I wouldn’t do x in y situation”

    • I admire you! :

      I just want to say that I admire your courage in entertaining this. I found myself in a similar situation, and still feel a little guilty/sad that solo parenting seemed totally impossible. I can barely manage my own life, which includes very sick parents. I look at my colleagues with kids, all of whom have helpful parents/in-laws who do things like “take the baby” for a week so they can go on vacation, and just cannot compute how nice that must be and how I could have entertained a different outcome…

  14. Question about linked in. My name appeared in a trade publication and today I’m getting messages from old friends on Linked In who saw it there. I guess it appeared in their feed because it mentions me and they’re connected to me. But I didn’t get notification of the article from Linked In, so I’m not sure how to view it from there. I just kind of want to see what it looks like to my network.

    I did know the trade pub was going to mention me, so that’s not the issue.

    • I’ve seen things pop up in my Linked In feed that say “So and so was mentioned in the news” and it’s just a link to whatever the article is.

      • And it’s pretty clearly an automatic, algorithm-driven thing. Like it grabbed the name and employer that the person had listed on Linked In to make the connection.

    • I get an email sometimes from LinkedIn called “Your Connections in the News” with links to news articles mentioning connections. You can message someone from a link in the email. Try searching your email for the phrase “connections in the news” and you can see the format. I think LinkedIn might even send you a notification that you got mentioned? It might be in a “social” or “junk” folder.

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