cereta: (foodporn)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My girlfriend is very particular about table manners. She makes a point of leaving a scattering of food on her plate at the end of a meal rather than finishing every crumb as I do.

I know it only amounts to one or two forkfuls, but having traveled extensively in very poor countries, I think this is wasteful and absurd. The plates are also harder to wash. What are your thoughts?

GENTLE READER: That she would like to be excused before someone discovers her responsibility in this matter. But that would be cowardly.

The sad truth is that a century ago, it was indeed the case that children in families that could afford it were taught not to finish everything on their plates. The embarrassing part is that the rule was phrased as "Leave something for Miss Manners" (and in England, "Leave something for Lady Manners").

So yes, while some people were starving, others were wasting food. Miss Manners was not starving, because she got all the rich folks' leftovers.

It was Eleanor Roosevelt's grandmother who repealed this rule. As recounted in Mrs. Roosevelt's "Book of Common Sense Etiquette": "My grandmother came to believe that food was needed in the world and we who had an abundance should not waste it."

Miss Manners agrees -- thoroughly and, as you might notice, selflessly.
cereta: Audrey from Haven (Audrey)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband surprised me with a dress to wear out on our anniversary. I was surprised by this gesture and wore the dress proudly. I thought this would be a one-time thing. Now, my husband wants to dress me or gives his not-always-positive input on my outfits. I took his first gesture as a fun way to connect, but now I'm regretting opening this door. How can I ask my husband to step back and to stop buying me the clothing he wants me to wear? -- Fashion Emergency, Shreveport, Louisiana

DEAR FASHION EMERGENCY: Clearly, your husband is trying to send you a message. Before you say anything, do a visual review of what he has bought for you and what you have chosen for yourself. Figure out what the difference is between the two wardrobes and if there is anything that you like about his choices. This does not mean that you should feel OK about him putting down your choices. This may also be a fun way for you to connect with each other that sparks some youthful romance.

Feel free to tell him that while you enjoy dressing up for him, you want to take back the control of your wardrobe. Soften the blow by asking him what excites him in wardrobe choices so that you can sprinkle some of those features into your outfits.
cereta: Aristotle wonders what they teach them in these schools (aristotle)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years. He is in grad school. I failed out of community college. My lack of education stresses me out emotionally. I love him very much, and I see a future with him. But the idea of an architect and a community college dropout makes my heart ache. He deserves someone more on his intellectual level. He is originally from another state and this is one of the reasons why I haven't met his family.

I have thought about trying to get a degree to become a certified nursing assistant, but again there would be a gap in our professional levels. I'm afraid that when he does introduce me to his family they will convince him he's better off without me. Part of me believes it's true.

Please give me advice about what to do. I don't want to lose him, but at the same time, I want him to be happy. -- UNEQUAL IN WISCONSIN

DEAR UNEQUAL: I can't help but wonder if you have ever spoken with someone who does career counseling. Some universities and community colleges have extension divisions that offer it. Part of the counseling involves aptitude testing, which could help you determine what you would be good at.

Being a nursing assistant is a respectable career that involves responsibility and people skills. If you feel drawn to it, then that's what you should pursue, and you should not feel embarrassed or have a need to apologize for it.
cereta: (spydaddy)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: I'm a single father raising my four children alone. My problem may seem trivial and minor, but it's extremely taxing for me. My kids refuse to stop talking during my very brief television/movie time.

I work full time and take care of them by myself, and my two-hour escape via a movie or TV show is constantly interrupted. When I point out that what they are doing is rude and even disruptive, I am met with accusations that I "don't care about them" or "You love TV more than me." They somehow turn my anger around to their benefit. Please help. -- ME TIME IN FLORIDA

DEAR ME TIME: Welcome to parenthood! It's a 24-hour-a-day job, seven days a week.

You didn't mention how old your children are, but if they are under the age of 13, they should have a regular bedtime. Once they are in bed, you can have your "me time." However, if they are older, then accept that teenagers may need to communicate with their dad about things that are important, and it is more important to be available to them than to watch television every night.

P.S. Suggestion: Perhaps you can record or stream your shows and watch them at a later time when your kids don't need you.
cereta: Emily Prentiss (prentiss)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: We visit my grandmother out of state once a year. After our visits, I usually leave feeling defeated. A few reasons why:

She leaves multiple notes around "reminding" us to clean up after ourselves. There's a note in the shower that says, "Please wipe down shower walls after use." She asks me to change the sheets or launder our towels before I leave. Although she has decorative paper hand towels in the bathrooms, she asks us not to use them because they are "too expensive." She complains about my son's handprints on her windows (he's 2). She badmouths nearly everyone she knows, has unsolicited advice on everything and is generally highly judgmental.

When we return home, she gushes about our visit for months, saying how "lonely" she is now that we're gone and how much she enjoyed our visit. I don't understand. Is this normal grandmother behavior, or does she take it too far? Must we continue spending big bucks to go out there every year, or can we just send pictures and call often? -- GRANDDAUGHTER IN A QUANDARY

DEAR GRANDDAUGHTER: If these annual visits are a "command performance," I can see why you might resent them. However, it's not unheard of for a hostess to leave a note asking that the shower be wiped down, or that the sheets and towels be laundered before a guest leaves -- particularly if the guests are family members. A gracious guest wouldn't mind doing those things, and would ask how her hostess wanted it handled before she left.

Rather than stew when she complained about your 2-year-old's handprints on her windows, the appropriate response would have been: "You know, you're right. I'll get the Windex!" And when she made a negative comment about someone, you should have found something nice to say about the person in response.

If these visits cause financial hardship, visit your grandmother every OTHER year, or consider inviting her to visit you, but don't cut her off completely. After all, she's family, and not all family members are "perfect."
cereta: Jessica Fletcher (Jessica 3)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: I recently retired, but I haven't told anyone. I receive widow's benefits, so I'm comfortable financially. I like my privacy, and I'm afraid things will change if I tell people about my retirement. My father is dying of cancer.

My best friend says if I were her sister, she'd be mad at me. My sister lives a mile away and I don't want her dropping in on me. If she knew, she'd include me in everything she does. I feel this is my life and I want to enjoy it alone for the most part. Am I wrong? Am I hurting anyone?

I was widowed 20 years ago and have had no serious relationships since. I'm independent, attractive and have joined a few dating sites, but I'm picky and have not met a man who attracts me. I'm 66, in good health and look younger. Am I being selfish? Do you have any advice for me? -- LONER LADY OUT WEST

DEAR LONER LADY: If your sister has shouldered the responsibility of caring for your dying father by herself, thinking you are too busy working to help, then she would have every reason to be very angry. Even if that's not the case, her feelings will be hurt when she finds out -- and she will -- that you're avoiding her.

If she didn't love you, she wouldn't want to include you in her life. All you need to do is say no to her invitation if the activity isn't your cup of tea. And surely, you can find a tactful way to ask any drop-in visitor to make plans with you ahead of time instead of dropping in.

You say you want to enjoy your life alone for the most part, but you have joined dating sites. In this life, people have to give in order to get. It may be the attitude you're projecting that's keeping you from meeting men on those dating sites. And yes, I think you are selfish.
cereta: Baby Galapagos tortoise hiding in its shell (baby turtle)
[personal profile] cereta
Note: I tried for five minutes to come up with a neutral way to phrase this trigger warning, and it's just not there. This was the best I could do.

Unwanted Parenthood/Parental Absence )
cereta: Val Stone from Stone Soup saying "Please" (Val Stone)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR HARRIETTE: My family is riddled with divorce. Practically every couple in two generations has split. Remarriages occur and create happy family members. My brother has been single for years after a string of bad relationships following a divorce. His ex moved the children to another state, and he works himself to the bone to be able to provide for them. I feel bad for him; it seems like he doesn't have any hobbies or happiness in his life.

I am getting remarried soon, so he will be the only single sibling. He got himself three cats recently, which I was against because it prohibits him moving freely. How can I involve my brother in my life to make sure he's doing all right? I've been working on trying to get him to move to my state, but to no avail. -- Building His Life Up, Boulder, Colorado

DEAR BUILDING HIS LIFE UP: Divorce is hard on the whole family and usually friends, too, so it's natural that you would like to figure out how to comfort your brother as you and the rest of the family seem to have moved on. As you attempt to help him, do know that you cannot spark happiness in his life -- nor is it your responsibility.

That said, you can make an effort. Invite him to join you for a sibling date. Invite him to come to visit you. Or suggest a sibling date without your spouse -- just you two or you and your other siblings -- where you go someplace fun and spend time together. Insist that he show up, and make sure that your life doesn't get too busy for you to go. Stay connected. That's what you can do.
cereta: "Candid" shot from Barbie Princess Charm school of goofy faces. (Barbie is goofy)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have two kids under the age of 2. Our close friends "John and Jane" also have two kids under 2.

We recently invited them to our oldest daughter's birthday party. When they arrived, Jane informed me they hadn't had time to shop for a gift and that they "owed us one." I brushed it off and said I was just happy they came.

Well, now it's their older daughter's birthday. We are invited and I'm confused. Do we still buy her a gift? We want to go, but we feel ripped off because our daughter received nothing. Would it be rude to attend the party without buying their daughter a gift? -- RIPPED OFF IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR RIPPED OFF: Yes, it would. You say these are close friends. John and Jane may not have followed up with a gift for your daughter because you told them you were "just happy they came," so don't hold it against them. If this happened repeatedly, my advice might be different, but this may simply have been an oversight.


Agony Aunt

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