Just Say No

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

The one constant in the self-help books I'm more attracted to -- those on productivity and goal-setting and time management -- is the immense power and utility of the word "no." The problem, the argument goes, is not always that us unbalanced types are not working hard enough. It's that we're doing too much.

So a couple of years ago, I decided to say "no" more, and it hasn't made much of a difference. "Just Say No" is no more effective a work-life strategy than it is an anti-drug message, and I'm just now beginning to realize why.

Saying no is supposed to eliminate conflict, clear up space on the calendar and allow for free time. But that's not the way it works in reality, for me, anyway, when guilt and obligation come into play. The word "no" is invariably followed with something else. If I opt to miss a PTA function, I'll go above and beyond to volunteer for the next event. If I pass on an invite to the barrage of get-togethers/coffees/dinners, I'll make a promise to "get together soon." And taking a pass on a work assignment -- even when I'm overloaded -- triggers me to work even harder when the slow times do emerge.

Jules Renard once said, "The only man who is really free is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving any excuse," and I'm sure he has it right. One of my new goals is to work to be a little more of a free man.

I'm trying to beat back the self-imposed guilt. There's nothing wrong with begging off every once in a while, especially if it lets me do the things I want to do (with the kids, with the wife, or even -- be still my heart -- by myself). But I'm not there yet, or even very close.

So -- as always -- I'll kick it to you. Is there anyone out there free enough to decline a dinner invite without giving an excuse? How do you say "no" without creating another obligation down the line?

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  February 8, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Tips
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Comments

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First

Posted by: Biggest dork | February 8, 2007 7:12 AM

'oh, I'd love to, but I'm busy then, thanks so much for the invite.' When I'm busy means I have a date with my pillow, or I'm planning to watch American Idol with my teens, or just catch up on the laundry. If questioned later. 'How was . . ., I can't remember why I couldn't make it, sorry to have missed it' I'm not lying, I'm protecting family time and my sanity.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 8, 2007 7:16 AM

As experienced mom said, "sorry, I'm busy." If the person asks, "oh, with what?" I respond with "a previous engagement."

You don't have to justify your excuse and others need to learn boundries. If you say "I'm busy", they need to take it at that and not pry (unless they are your wife/parent/etc). Two adults talking require no rationalization/justification for an excuse.

Posted by: Father of 2 | February 8, 2007 7:38 AM

I think it simply comes down to the fact that we all need to try to not be so hard on ourselves (and each other on this blog!) Wanting to live up to our potential is great, trying to be perfect is pointless and exhausting.

Posted by: iSuz | February 8, 2007 7:38 AM

This sounds like a problem for Judith! She'll know what to do! I think I need to grow something...hmmm...what was it?

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 7:52 AM

I have no problem saying no. But maybe I am a home body. But people are very busy right now. Just the business of life, takes a toll. The only time it gets a little tricky is church volunteer stuff. Then I use the old fourth grade tactic of don't make eye contact. No seriously, I do think they don't pester people as much as they used to at church. I a few friends who we get together monthly. Other then that, it is just when it fits into each others schedule.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 7:54 AM

This reminds me of Mad About You, when they would always have "that thing" they had to do whenever the nother-in-law asked them to do something.

Posted by: Ruby | February 8, 2007 7:58 AM

No

Posted by: SoMD | February 8, 2007 8:06 AM

If we were to generalize that when communicating men do X and women do Y, we'd find that women have a harder time saying no, and eschewing empathy.

I have no trouble telling someone "no, you're boring."

Posted by: sexist or sexy | February 8, 2007 8:10 AM

Brian, are you really saying no to things you want to say no to? If I say no to a get together, but say we'll get together soon, that usually means I actually want to get together soon but the timing is bad. Or if I devote a lot of time to something at my kids' schools, it's because I value that contribution. So even when I say no to X, and I know that that means I will just have to do Y in the future instead, it's not so much creating another obligation as doing something I value when I have more time to do it. (Of course, we always think time is going to magically expand in the future, and it never does, so when Y rolls around, I may end up pushing it off to Z!).

The key to managing the guilt is being very clear about your own priorities -- not just a list of 87 things you value, but which of those 87 comes first, which comes second, etc. Then when something hits, ask yourself where that fits into that list -- will it help you meet one of your higher priorities? Or are you already behind on one of those high priorities, and this will just take more time away from that? Personally, I find that looking at it that way helps with the guilt of saying no -- I'm not running away from something else I "should" do if I were a better [fill in blank], I'm making a conscious positive decision to ignore trivialities so that I can devote more time to the things I really value.

It's like dealing with charity -- you want to contribute, there are so many people who need what you can offer, but you can't give to every single one. So you pick the causes and issues that matter most to you, and contribute your time and money to those. It never completely assuages the guilt of tossing out the solicitation from someone else, but at least you know that your time and money are being spent on something that matters more to you.

Posted by: Laura | February 8, 2007 8:11 AM

I made "no" my default position some time ago. I found that if you said "yes" the first time, you inevitably had to justify subsequent "nos"s. You can always change your mind/graciously agree to later requests. Any questioning of my "reasons" for saying no is met with "why do you ask? ". I've become more resistant to bullying, and the default means I'm not caught by surprise. It frees up time for the things I really care about and want to invest my time in.

Posted by: childfree and equal | February 8, 2007 8:11 AM

I only have problems saying no if someone needs help, not if they want me to go out and do something. I have a lot of energy, but I like to do things that I want with my family.

However, if someone is moving, sick, needs a baby sitter, etc, I almost never say no. I used to run myself ragged running between my nephew's football games, college, work, and other commitments. I don't know if it is good or bad that I moved away.

One thing I have noticed is that usually there is always one person in a group, family, work, etc who gives more than everyone else. It's not necessarily that they are overachievers or that they need to grow something, sometimes it's just their personality.


Posted by: scarry | February 8, 2007 8:12 AM

I have found that as I get older it is actually easier to say "no" without justification. I usually follow it with "I can't" and leave it at that. Maybe "I can't" because I don't want to but there is no reason someone else needs to know that. It may not mean "no" all the time but, "I can't" or "I can't right now" seems to do the trick 99% of the time. As scarry says tho, sometimes you can't say no and you just suck it up. That's what friends and family are for. They have probably done it for you at some point.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 8:17 AM

Moxiemom - LOL. :) I thought about referring Brian to my posts yesterday, but it was just too easy.

Sorry for being a bore yesterday, my kid was throwing up all day, it was a rough day. Fortunately I had the use of fully grown anatomy.

Posted by: Judith | February 8, 2007 8:20 AM

For some of us, I don't think the problem is about saying "no" making us feel guilty or obligated to say "yes" another time. And saying "no" doesn't magically free up any time with three kids under 5. In a way, the default is "no" because you often don't get to the point of trying to get together with someone or do something in the first place because you're too busy just taking care of things at home. So then when your family or friends say "let's do X," you don't really want to say "no" because it's already been 2 or 3 months since you last saw them. And you want to even if it means that you get less sleep or time to read a book or do the laundry (which never ends anyway) or whatever.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 8, 2007 8:26 AM

I've mastered saying no without committing to other things in one area - the PTA. My daughter comes home from school once a month with a sticker on her shirt "PTA Meeting Tonight" and always asks me if I'm going. I always say no. I think the PTA does fabulous things for the school and applaud the moms and dads that are involved. It's just not for me. With my and my husband's work schedule and my kids activities, it would be a big juggle to get to the meetings and I would much rather spend the time with the kids at home. So, I just say no and have told my daughter very clearly - I just don't go to PTA meetings, honey. I help out the school in other ways and not because I feel guilty about the PTA but because I like it. I usually volunteer at the class parties, chaparone field trips and help teachers with supplies or projects. I really enjoy that and can fit it in better with my schedule.

Posted by: working mom | February 8, 2007 8:36 AM

I was guilty of having to do 110 things all the time.

My now-ex said "we are too busy".. start saying "no". I replied "we are no busier than everyone else". Retrospect... I wish I'd said "No".. but I even tried.. I remember telling our minister "NO, I can't join that committee and he begged and pleaded.. and I joined that committee that only met quarterly".. well, my minister doesn't know one of the biggest argument my now ex and I had was over something that happened as a result of me being on that committee.

NO is not a bad word. Spend time with your family and friends and relax. Make sure you have your priorities straight. Your life will be better for it.

Posted by: C.W. | February 8, 2007 8:41 AM

off topic--

Working mom, do you find it annoying that they slap a sticker on your kid?

Posted by: scarry | February 8, 2007 8:42 AM

ALWAYS say NO...then people will stop asking :)

Posted by: Here's a suggestion | February 8, 2007 8:50 AM

I say no without a qualm. I say "no" more often to my kids than my friends, particularly if they offer to buy me dinner!

As a rule, the kids aren't buying, they're selling.

Posted by: MdMother | February 8, 2007 8:51 AM

I missed yesterday's topic...but give me a break, breastfeeding while giving a presentation. It's normal and natural *but so is urinating, and brushing your teeth* and I wouldn't dream of doing one of those things while I was making a presentation. Just had to get my 2 cents in...

Posted by: Shucks... | February 8, 2007 8:53 AM

To All: I have to say I'm a little surprised. I thought that overcommitment was the scourge of the parenting class, but it sounds like most of you have no trouble with the boundary-setting. This is good news for me: I will now feel peer-pressured by all of you to decline, decline, decline.

Posted by: Brian Reid | February 8, 2007 8:59 AM

Brian,
It isn't just parents who can become overcommitted. I do not have children and have had people assume I can do something just because I don't have children. It is a different kind of saying "no". People expect more justification of our "no".

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 9:01 AM

We're going through a phase lately here where I feel like we're maxed out with our 'regular schedule' and adding even one more thing on top (the PTA Spaghetti Dinner comes to mind) is likely to put us over the edge into cranky, no-sleep weeks where we have no time to go grocery shopping, no clean socks, etc. etc. etc.

So for the next month or so, we have a blanket policy of adding no extra activities to the mix. So far, it's working great.

And I have a confession to make: I used to be one of those people who guilted others into helping -- and I used to get really angry when I'd hear the excuse "I'm not volunteering because I don't enjoy it. I'll leave it to others who do" -- as though some of us were born with the martyr gene that allowed us to enjoy cleaning up after Field Day while others clearly didn't. It seemed sort of lame -- and like a cop-out.

But strangely enough, I've found myself actually moving towards the opposing viewpoint. Clearly those women who go far, far, far beyond the minimum (think twenty hours a WEEK in the school volunteering vs. my five hours a month)do enjoy it, or enjoy the social aspect or are deriving some utility out of it. And so I do feel more inclined to leave it to them to knock themselves out and I feel much less guilty about not being one of them. Although I think there are some volunteer activities that secretly everyone hates (shoveling mulch onto the playground?) and those are the ones that everybody should feel somewhat compelled to help with -- rather than sticking someone with them.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | February 8, 2007 9:04 AM

KLB - Yes, I get that quite a bit too, I feel sometimes like I have to have written, notarized excuse.
Did you ever find your contact lens?

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 9:09 AM

My boss says every parent needs to learn that no is a complete sentence. You can say no to your kids with no other expectation. You can say no to others with no further explanation.

That is not to say we are not overcommitted. Just that the requests far far outpace the time and energy available.

Posted by: baltimama | February 8, 2007 9:09 AM

moxiemom: I think my priest might disagree :)

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 9:11 AM

To me it all comes down to maintaining my own physical and mental health. I am no good to anyone else if I am sick or burned out. I know that isn't always an option for parents. Sometimes on a weekend I decide that for one morning I will not answer the phone or go anywhere except to walk the dog in order to recharge my batteries. It works great! I can either watch a movie or do laundry/clean without interruption and get more done in that 4 hours than in a whole day.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 9:12 AM

I'm learning to say "no" because I want to spend the time with my children when they are young rather than at board meetings, committee meetings, etc... I feel much less guilt than I thought I would in declining these personally imposed obligations by recognizing that they are 1) personally imposed, 2) that's time I won't get back hanging out with the kids and 3) those things I do want to be involved with will still be there in five years when the kids don't want me around so much. I chose the two community (or school) activities I felt most passionately about and dropped the rest. It was incredibly liberating. And, although I now have a lot more time with the family in the evenings, I've also made time to train for a marathon with my DH. My stress level is way down, my energy is way up, and we are "balancing" work, family and life better than ever before. Learning to say no was definitely hard but also one of the best things I've done for my family.

Posted by: Stacey | February 8, 2007 9:13 AM

Missicat,
In the true word of the day "NO"

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 9:14 AM

foamgnome - I'm not a Christian, however, I'm pretty sure Jesus would advocate family time over the kitchen committee. (intended as funny not snarky or anti-Jesus)

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 09:08 AM

I think this is where we have to figure out how to do both, i.e. involve the child in the volunteer activity, so that one can volunteer and have time with the child at the same time. It also would work to show the child how to serve others. This is still just a theory for me though since I don't think it works so well when the child is real young.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 8, 2007 9:19 AM

Rockville Mom: I tried that but like you said 3 is not a great age to understand that. She also is more of a disruption then a help. But it is something that we will work on when she is older. Some of these committees do not yield well to child parent involvement. I plan to be more involved in things that I can bring my kid along.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 9:20 AM

How do you say no at work? I've always seen the suggestion in parenting articles that you need to sometimes say no at work in order to preserve your work/family balance...but how do you do that without jeopardizing your job?

Posted by: Here's a tougher one... | February 8, 2007 9:21 AM

KLB SS MD, I know how you feel. I don't have kids, I don't go to the gym, and my classes haven't started yet. So why do I feel so busy? It's because I never say "no." Yesterday when you wrote that you hate confrontation, I laughed. I am the exact same way (are you the youngest?). So I almost never say "no," especially if I have no explanation to offer. I was just asked to be part of a focus group! Of course I said yes. There is other stuff that I want to do (like volunteer more), but I know that that will lead to more demands.

I also have a very hard time saying "no" to my mom. She's alone and lives nearby. It's hard for me to tell her that I just want to relax. I mean, in 30 years I won't be saying that I wish I spent LESS time with my mom, you know?

I also think that some people can handle more "things on their plate" (grrr, I hate corporate speak) than others. I tend to feel overwhelmed pretty easily.

Posted by: Meesh | February 8, 2007 9:21 AM

Most men I know do not have a problem saying No. The only exception would be work related projects when people get overloaded - and that is a real problem in my office.

A lot of women I know have a hard time daying NO then constantly rattle on about how busy they are, blah, blah, blah. Frankly I get tired of hearing it - who isn't busy? And why take on commitment after commitment if you are too busy?

I'm glad to see that so many people on this board have the guts to say NO. I do agree the one problem I have is with Church, I feel really bad saying No to volunteer work there - basically because the need is so great and and the same 20 people do a majority of the volunteering.

One last beef - Just say No may have been a joke about kids and drugs, but some kids do listen to it. I wouldn't rule it out as an answer when you are talking to your kids about drugs. What's the alternative, "think about it" or "maybe." Give them the reasons to say no and show them that it can be done through role-modeling. I know it is not that simple but mocking Just say NO to drugs gets old.

Posted by: cmac | February 8, 2007 9:23 AM

foamgnome - you are probably correct. Do people in religions where the clergy can marry find that the expectations are different than those where the clergy cannot marry and don't share the same distraction that a family does? Curious.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 9:23 AM

I can relate, at least in part. My biggest problem is that, while I have very little difficulty saying "no" to social or other non-work related activities, I am not so successful at doing this in the office. I think part of the problem is that before I had a child, I did the typical long-hours-super-achiever-raise-my-hand-for-everything Washingtonian workaholic bit and now I just can't do that anymore. It is a real challenge to try to learn to say no and truly prioritize the activities that bring the most value to my team. And deal with feeling guilty about it along the way....

Posted by: tar heel gal | February 8, 2007 9:29 AM

The problem, Brian, is that you're criticizing "Just say no" as being ineffective, but the reality is you didn't try that. When you "just say no", you don't promise anything else. You JUST -- SAY -- NO. Nothing else. You don't throw in excuses or promise future events. You just say no.

Write back to us AFTER you've actually tried that strategy.

Posted by: Ryan | February 8, 2007 9:30 AM

moxiemom:I don't know because we are Catholic. But I do know that the semi Catholic feeling is that women should stay at home to raise the kids. They strongly discourage working mothers. Not to say that some priests take the full line and outwardly object to working mothers. But I do think they factor this in when asking you to take on more responsiblities for the church. Like if you did not work outside the home, you could be fundraising for prolife rally or whatever. I do also think they think if your single, you should probably be looking to get married and fulfill your life that way or spend some more time doing some of our work. I know when I had DD, a few single people told me that at least your reward is less church work. But your right, their whole life is to serve others. They probably don't understand why families can't give 10 hours a week to serve others.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 9:31 AM


the quality of Brian's topics is drifting down to the level of Leslie's.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 9:33 AM

>>How do you say no at work? I've always seen the suggestion in parenting articles that you need to sometimes say no at work in order to preserve your work/family balance...but how do you do that without jeopardizing your job?>>

1. Don't say no without counteroffering with something you can reasonably do (e.g., a piece of the project, a shorter trip, taking work home instead of staying late)
2. Follow through on your committments and build a reputation for credibility. That way, people will know that you can be trusted to mean what you say and that when you say you really can't do something, you really can't. It's like a quid pro quo--I'm often the one who rearranges my schedule and pitched in overtime to help, but then I expect that when I say I need to be the one to go home and someone else needs to stay to wrap up the project, no one will complain.

Posted by: Arlmom | February 8, 2007 9:34 AM

foamgnome - interesting - thanks for the reply - I enjoy understanding how things work in environments different than mine. This is a touchy subject and I appreicate you not misunderstanting my intent and your honest reply.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 9:35 AM

Yes, but it is a difficult thing to learn. The key for me is to understand that there's a sense in which you shouldn't care what other people think. Don't misunderstand me. People and relationships are important, and we need to be considerate and tactful. But no matter how hard we try, not everyone will like us, and even the people who like us will not always like what we do. Trying to keep everyone happy all of the time is a losing game.

So what do we do? Decide for yourself what what you feel obligated to do - then do it. If someone wants you to do something, think about it - if you don't feel any obligation to do it, then you should feel no guilt in saying no. You may well find it regretable if they become disappointed or angry, but that's not your fault.

Your comment about "self-imposed guilt" is very important. We make ourselves miserable if we allow ourselves to feel guilty when we don't do what someone else wants. Whenever we start feeling guilty, we should ask ourselves if we have a real obligation to do it, given all of our other obligations and commitments. If the answer is "no," then there's no reason to feel guilty.

Posted by: Older Dad | February 8, 2007 9:35 AM

Meesh,
I am the oldest of three but from a dysfunctional family (mom moved out when I was 16 - dad alcoholic, blah blah blah) so that is probably where I get it.
Someone knock me on the head: I like what master bayter said:
"Try the reverse:
instead of defaulting to "yes" unless you have a good excuse, default to "no" unless you have a very good reason to accept."

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 9:35 AM

Some people feel like invitation is a synonym for obligation. If they're invited they feel obligated to go unless there is a huge conflict.

An invitation is an opportunity to accept or decline, period. And there is no reason to justify your answer. And there is also no reason to "make up for it later" if you say no. You should only feel obligated to recipricate if you actually go.

A woman in my office always complains about everything she has to do and when we suggest she not go, she says, "But I HAVE to." Well, then don't complain about it if that's your attitude.

Posted by: freetime=metime | February 8, 2007 9:42 AM

On the topic of people making assumptions: Because I work from home, I am somehow saddled with airport duty. Relatives insist I am free to pick them up and drop them off at the airport because I'm home (and therefore must be just waiting to be asked to do something)! I've hauled people to the airport before dawn, picked up close to midnight, and dragged my son through rush hour to do these favors. My philosophy used to be that I would get these favors returned when I needed them. Ha! There's nothing like waiting for a metro bus in the sweltering heat while 7 months pregnant to be reminded that some people have no problem with saying "no." Needless to say, I've started saying "no" with a bit more frequency to requests that inconvenience the heck out of me.

Posted by: writing mommy | February 8, 2007 9:45 AM

Foamgnome:
One thing I learned from watching older women in my church is that no's couched in religious language are pretty effective. (I'm not suggesting that you misuse this strategy -- just that these were sincere no's that people seemed to accept).

No's that seemed effective in our old church were:
-I'm sorry, but I'm not sure that's where the Lord wants me to be at this time.
-Isn't there someone more anointed to do this task?
-Our family prayed about it, and we're just not comfortable taking on this commitment at this time.
-I'm not feeling "called" to do this particular task.

Think of the Martha and Mary story. Ultimately, the woman doing all the heavy lifting wasn't the one singled out for all the praise. She was just, well, busy.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | February 8, 2007 9:45 AM

ArlMom, good post.
In the reverse of some of you, I find it easiest to say yes to community and church activities and hardest to say yes to school/child-related activities. It is frustrating, because activities at my son's school are the ones I feel the most obligated about and the least interested in. I adore my own kid, but my general personality is not really a kid-lover (this is sounding so much worse than I mean it) so activities that involve a bunch of kids are not on my favorites list. But I don't want to send my son the message that MY activities are more important than his ... this is the only area where it is hard for me to say no.

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 8, 2007 9:48 AM

Armchairmom: That is great. I tried saying, I didn't think the Lord was calling me to do X. But after I used that 3 or 4 times, the priest asked to meet with me privately so we can discern what the Lord was calling me to do. You get bet I said yes the next time. I think I am still a little scared of the clergy. Too many ruler slapping nuns did that to me.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 9:49 AM

Armchairmom and foamgnome, you are cracking me up. Not that it is a funny matter, I just don't think I could say those things to my pastor while keeping a straight face :)

Saying no was definitely easier when my son was small - it helped that he was a terror and people in general preferred that we stay away until he learned to behave better :)

Posted by: TakomaMom | February 8, 2007 9:52 AM

Just out of curiosity - how many of us have ruler-wielding nuns in our past? :-)

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 9:57 AM

Missicat: You can count me in! The thing I hated was the gum on the nose deal.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 9:57 AM

No nuns but our teachers made us put the gum or candy on our nose. I remember sitting thru civics class with a life saver stuck to the tip of my nose. Each time it fell off she made me put it back.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 10:00 AM

Don't remember gum on the nose (maybe blocking it out?), but I definitely had to stand in the corner a few times. Do they still do things like that? My ex-husband got whacked hard on the side of the head with a ruler when he was in elementary school. Of course, he claims he was innocent!

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 10:02 AM

To RebelDad: I hope this makes it easier. I refer you to Miss Manners who says a person should turn down an invitation *without* offering any excuse or referring to a prior obligation. As others have said here before, just say, "What a nice invitation. I wish I could, but I just can't accept it." When prodded, return to the "simply can't" refrain as many times as it takes.

Posted by: Karen | February 8, 2007 10:10 AM

The Protestant version of ruler-wielding nuns is the Sunday School teacher with a look that gets you back in line in an instant. In the adult Protestant world, it's, in response to "no", the raised eyebrow of my pastor combined with an offer to immediately bow our heads and pray together for the Lord's guidance and assistance in rearranging my commitments to free up more time to serve Him.

Guilt is a high art for Jews, conservative Protestant denominations and Catholics. It's just used in different ways, LOL. In my experience, more liberal Protestant denominations tend to eschew guilt.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 10:11 AM

Jewish father, Catholic mother. Yes, I got the guilt thing all wrapped up...

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 10:12 AM

Master Baytor your question: "am I doing it for the Lord or am I doing it for this other person?"

What so ever you do to the least of my brother...

The answer is always that you're doing it for both, and yourself.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 8, 2007 10:13 AM

writing mommy, that stinks. how about offering to call a taxi?

Posted by: experienced mom | February 8, 2007 10:15 AM

One problem with Church committees is that they're chaired by elderly ladies who have nothing else to do but sit around and chew a problem to death and come up with an intricate strategy for solving it that offends no one. They want to bring in the young mothers, but mothers only have time for solution in an hour, not discussion in three.

Posted by: Tomcat | February 8, 2007 10:15 AM

Father of 4,
Sometimes people ask you to do something that they don't want to do (at work frequently out of laziness). If we do it FOR them then we are not being fair to ourselves. Obviously not the same when it comes to kids and religious requests.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 10:18 AM

I just have to say, I'm getting a kick out of reading everyone's relationship with Church obligations. I know when I was a child my mother was on at least 1 committee in each of her favorite organizations. But that was also the days of mostly SAHMs, and babysitting was provided as these groups met during the day. I'll be honest - I can't imagine my Rabbi trying to guilt me into giving more of my time to the synagogue. More of my money - yes. (And I don't mean that as a stereotype, only that synagogues don't collect contributions weekly at services, or tithes, so they operate fund drives & membership dues periodically instead.) But I honestly can't imagine my Rabbi telling me that serving on any committee is more important than spending that time at home with my family. Depending on the age of your children, and your specific family situation, wouldn't the clergy find more volunteers, and be serving their community better, if they searched for opportunities that may also serve as family time, in addition to contributing to your church? "Daddy and me gardening class" could really be the landscaping committee. Sure, things would go slower with the kids around, but even little kids love the game of finding all the sticks, or all the rocks, as the older kids and adults start weeding, planting, mowing, etc.

And for the record - if you move so that you live several hours away from your family, you can cut down on those committments and obligations. (Not a recommendation, just an idea.) I'd love to, but it's just too far to travel gets you out of lots of events you don't really want to go to, without hurting feelings. And if its only 3-4 hours, you're still close enough to go when you really do want to.

Posted by: lurker | February 8, 2007 10:20 AM

Although, I do not feel guilty and feel quite firm about my own values, I still always hate it when I have to say no to my children about various things their friends are doing and buying.

I used to feel the need to have some justification at hand when I declined a social/school event but not anymore, to much effort and stress involved in that. I like the suggestions others have posted.

Posted by: Pink Plate | February 8, 2007 10:21 AM

My first with saying "No" was 10 years ago when my Husband went back to Grad School. I said "No" to all of the fund raisers, marathons, tupperware parties, etc. at work. I have never regretted that decision, and never plan to change it. When he developed ESRD, we found diet restrictions made eating at people's home's difficult on both us and the host. So saying no, was easier for everyone. I really think that once you decide to stick to your priorities - it's easy to say no to anything that isn't. And you have no regrets about saying "No".

Posted by: Susquanhanna Twp, PA | February 8, 2007 10:22 AM

Ryan and Arlmom nailed it, in terms of both the work and the personal request.

For those who lack spine and are married, it's pretty easy to play the, "I have to check with Jack/I have to check with Carmen" approach before committing to anything, and then forget to respond. If you further lack spine, you can add, "Jack/Carmen and I have had problems in the past with making conflicting commitments, and I wouldn't want to commit and then let you down, given the importance of this event/project/need."

In terms of pushback from those who request our assistance or commitment to a volunteer endeavor, it seems to me that the toughest position to be in must be to be childless and unmarried with no elderly parents in tow. Based on some of the off-line comments I hear, I can only assume that their "no"s are generally met with slack-jawed surprise that their time could possible be spoken-for since there's no child/spouse/parent in their lives.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 10:24 AM

I am a frequent blood doner (every two month for the most part). Amazing how that donation can coincide with a request that I will be just a tad too tired to honor because I am "down a pint".

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 10:27 AM

I've been working a lot on this lately. With the popularity of e-vites, I've noticed that most people feel it necessary to give a big long reason for declining an invitation, and everyone who was invited gets to read the excuse if they so choose. It's really tiring, imo - like a big competition to see who is the busiest. So I've decided to just say "I'm sorry I can't make it, but I hope you have a wonderful time" - whether or not I'm home watching American Idol or actually have something else to do. I'm not sure how many people actually care about the reason you're declining anyway - they just want to know how many people are going to be at their party/event/whatever.

Posted by: momof4 | February 8, 2007 10:29 AM

"Is there anyone out there free enough to decline a dinner invite without giving an excuse?"

I would rephrase this question as:

"Is there anyone out there rude enough to decline a dinner invite without giving an excuse?"

If someone has the graciousness to invite you to dinner, you ought to have the graciousness to decline with a reason. (Not an excuse. "Excuse" makes the whole thing sound like you're a kid trying to get out of cutting the grass.)

I liked experienced mom's answer (#2 today). She suggested: "oh, I'd love to, but I'm busy then, thanks so much for the invite."

Here, you've said no, given a reason (and, yes, the reason may be the date with your pillow), and shown appreciation. No hurt for the inviter; no guilt for you.

How would that scenario be improved on by saying just "No" or "No, I can't" or "No, I don't want to"?

A simple refusal with a reason and a thank you isn't all that hard.

Posted by: pittypat | February 8, 2007 10:30 AM

to experienced mom: A taxi? You're so funny! My dad takes it as a personal affront if he has to take a taxi from the airport when he visits because he'll drive through a blizzard to get us (my little bro lives near me, too) when we visit Chicago. And yes, we've also offered to cab it, but that's unheard of in my family, apparently. Though we have convinced our parents to take taxis when they insist on taking late flights in to DC. We hear about it later, though!

Posted by: writing mommy | February 8, 2007 10:31 AM


I agree the answer is making your priorities conscious and deliberate, so that you always have a check on your impulsive reactions to demands.

I once did a faculty mentoring exercise where we examined how we divvied up our time, not ideally but actually, day-to-day. I found that my prioritizing in practice was totally by the immediate neediness of the task/person-needing-me. The baby was first, students were second, production of lectures and course materials third, scheduled meetings/preparation next, and way down at the bottom, my research, which could seemingly always be deferred to another day and which needed me to clear out big chunks of uninterrupted alone time to quietly focus, to work or to write (though it would zoom up the priority list when deadlines or interactions with collaborators loomed; this exercise helped me learn some tricks for increasing the deadlines/other-accountability to make it zoom up in priority more regularly).

This really came home to me during a weekly help session for one of my large intro courses. It was scheduled for 2 hours, and of the 20-30 students who came, many came, listened attentively, got their questions answered and left. Half stayed for the problems at the board, for more guidance, which I had planned. There remained a core of about 6 students who still had questions, mainly one who just would not let go. She was desperately flailing about for example after example to ask about, whining that she needed more help. Finally, at nearly 10pm, an hour overtime, I told her last question. She whined something like "But you cannnnnnnn't leave. I neeeeeeed you," and I told her they need me at home, too. She said "they can't possibly need you more than I do." I told her that if I didn't leave soon, my toddler would reach her bedtime and she would be crying, because without her mommy laying next to her, she couldn't go to sleep (thinking this surely would snap this student out of her unreasonable and self-centered behavior). But this really didn't give her pause, she still whined (literally, she was whining the whole last half hour of a 3 hour session) that she didn't understand and I *needed* to help her til she could understand . . . I answered her last question and packed up to go as the other students took over cajoling her into leaving.

I may be amazingly slow, but I think this was the first time I pulled the plug on a student (this was maybe 5 years into teaching but early in having a life which is also needy, not discretionary). It took this incident for me to finally crystallize that some students would never be satisfied, would never weigh their wants against others in their class, or a standard of reasonableness, and desist when they've taken more than their share. Some students will just ask and ask til you say no. So I couldn't trust students to be reasonable and set their own limits; I had to set firm limits myself. (And to be fair, 90% of the students are very reasonable and probably 25% ask for too little, avoid asking for help or accomodations I would be more than happy to give them; it's the pushy self-centered few that suck up inordinate amounts of time.) Before that time, I took students at face value and trusted them to be reasonable in their requests; after, no.

Now instead of being so reactive to what seems most needy and immediate, I think of myself as making a deliberate commitment, and when each possibility comes up I think about whether I can make that commitment, and whether it is worth the time away from my other commitments in terms of how it meets my teaching, professional, parenting, community goals. There's a definite cost/reward deliberation going on, so that once I've made the commitment, I'm wholeheartedly in, I know why I want to do it and find time/energy for it. It took me a long time to learn about opportunity cost, I guess --- that eventually the time you're giving costs more than just sleep.

Oh, and I know that at least in terms of faculty/students, research show big gender differentials on this problem. Two problems: women initially have a harder time setting limits and saying no, AND students and the university/ professional community ask a lot more of them --- students because they find women faculty more 'approachable' and less 'intimidating,' and the university/professional community because women are underrepresented, so inviting them to participate in every little thing gives women some representation and spreads them around as role models, etc.

Enough. Congrats Tarheels. I was happy to see our freshmen developing, even though they faded at the end . . .

Posted by: KB | February 8, 2007 10:32 AM

Awww, you poor babies, being so popular is such a strain. Give me a break - if you're so over committed then just decline some things and screw people if they don't like it - if they can't understand then why would you want to be friends with them or care what they think anyway? With all the problems in the world, hearing people whine about how their social calendar is just so overbooked is nauseating at best. To use a modified quote from Marc Fisher in his chat yesterday...It's another sign of living in a fat and happy society where true problems are so unusual that we're free to consider the noise of daily life to be problems.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 10:32 AM

Agree with the general tenor of today's comments already.

One thing to add for Brian: How you prefer for people to decline your invitations, solicitations to volunteer, etc.? Which replies do you accept with good grace, which ones annoy you, etc.? Do you accept "No" without any explanation, or do you prefer an excuse when you're the one doing the asking? (Hope so). Whether called role-reversal or the Golden Rule, this can be a reliable criterion for handling a good many of life's situations.

I agree strongly with those who point out the dilemma of dealing with a boss, especially one who makes unreasonable demands on onfe's time, where the employee cannot help but thinking that declining could harm one's career. Perhaps this is more of a topic for Amy Joyce's "Life at Work" chat.

Another "No" issue: Re GS cookie sales (etc.), my ironclad policy has always been to buy from whoever's first to ask me each year (I have an especially favorite kind!). To everyone after that, I sweetly but firmly explain that if they'd asked me first I would've bought from them instead. This even-handed approach avoids hard feelings while sparing me from having to buy more than I want.

Posted by: catlady | February 8, 2007 10:34 AM

Speaking as a clergy spouse - I have learned a couple of things over the last 15+ years. #1 - and this does not necessarily apply only to those in my category - never do anything all the time. If you always say yes to project X or meeting Y, then if you do need to say no (for whatever reason) they wonder what's wrong. Or they just expect you to be there, without asking first. #2 - at least in the middle-class community where we live, since most of the wives/moms work, they understand that I have a job and it's not being the clergy wife. It's not like it was a generation or two ago when "pastor's wife" was a job unto itself.

Posted by: Loren | February 8, 2007 10:34 AM

Oops! My post shoudl read, in part:

Do you accept "No" without any explanation, or do you prefer an excuse when you're the one doing the asking? (Hope NOT).

Posted by: catlady | February 8, 2007 10:36 AM

foamgnome - you are probably correct. Do people in religions where the clergy can marry find that the expectations are different than those where the clergy cannot marry and don't share the same distraction that a family does? Curious.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 09:23 AM

I think your question is actually about what clergy expect of their congregations but there's also the flip side of what congregations expect of their clergy.

My father was a minister (obviously of a Protestant denomination) and he was always having to go off to meetings or hospital visits, etc (this isn't really a complaint just a description) in the evenings when church members were available to do things. This wasn't so great for my mother (who also worked) or the family. I think that's a big reason why the Catholic church prohibits priests marrying. (Saint) Paul has a bit to say about that in one of his letters (one of the Corinthians maybe). But I wonder if the necessities of my father's job as a minister were less a problem for him than it would be for a female minister. Going with the traditional societal expectation, the dad is the one doing whatever he does to earn a living regardless the hours while mom takes care of home and hearth. So if the minister is a woman, I expect she would have an even harder time balancing the needs of a congregation with taking care of her own children/family. A lot of congregations expect the minister to do an awful lot, to be there an awful lot. And just as an aside, many congregations also expect the minister's wife to be an unpaid full-time volunteer for the church. (I'm not so sure the expectation would be the same if the minister is a female that the husband would be expected to do as much but I haven't seen that up close and personal). I'm basing these assertions on what I heard and saw as I was growing up in the 70s and 80s. Anyway, on the one hand, I would guess that a (married) minister will understand the obligations of family and how that might prevent one from volunteering at church as much as (s)he would like, on the other hand, (s)he might be thinking that the minister can't do it all. As for what priests expect... well, I don't think they ask you to do as much if they don't know your name. I'm married to a (practicing) Catholic and I don't think he's felt overly burdened by requests for him to volunteer. Or is that a male/female thing in the Catholic Church? I don't know. Are women (personally) asked to volunteer more than men?

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 8, 2007 10:37 AM

Oh, and regarding work and saying no...it's not quite the same thing, but what I've found in my volunteer work is that the longer I do it, the more I'm able to say "you know what, I don't do meetings, but I'm willing to do whatever you need behind the scenes." I think I've proven myself enough that people know that about me and that I don't like to spend hours and hours and hours talking about what should be done and that I just want to *do* it - so they don't bug me about meetings, serving on the board, etc. anymore. I think the same thing happens with careers after you've established yourself with a company or organization...you're able to easily say no to the things that you're not well suited for because you have the long list of "yes, I'm good at that" things.

Posted by: momof4 | February 8, 2007 10:38 AM

I am a frequent blood doner (every two month for the most part). Amazing how that donation can coincide with a request that I will be just a tad too tired to honor because I am "down a pint".

You save people when you donate blood. Really, that act alone should get you out of most of the other things you hate to do. :)

I have no problem saying no to church activites.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 10:39 AM

Great column, Rebeldad. However, the first time I read your sentence, "'Just Say No' is no more effective a work-life strategy than it is an anti-drug message, and I'm just now beginning to realize why." I read, "'Just Say No' is A more effective work-life strategy than it is an anti-drug message, and I'm just now beginning to realize why." Ha, Ha!

At any rate, I was always a big, fat over-giver, even when stressed to the limit as a truly solo single parent. I volunteered my bum off at my kids' school, and worked many an extra hour when I telecommuted, erroneously thinking that doing more would translate into a perception of my driven quality that would then land me a sizeable raise or a decent promotion or the respect of my social or professional peers. Instead it sent the messages: she has no life, and here's someone who does more for free--now that's good for our business.

My problem was that it took me a while to see that it was my problem that I was doing more without reward, and not the fault of others, whether personal or professional, who took my giving as giving, and not as a subtle or not-so-subtle expectation that they should give more in return.

But maybe Karl Marx is right, and it all comes down to the material ground of existence. Eventually I began to feel burnt out, and I didn't want to feel the bitterness of resentment that arose from self-generated problems. So I faced my tendencies to over compensate, took the responsibility for that onto myself alone, and, like they say, admitting the problem was half the battle.

I soon started working only my exact telecommuting hours, except when there was dire breaking news and I was called into action. Then, I traded off my extra time from the breaking news demand for some of my normal hours, and it all came out in the wash.

I did continue to do my part at my kids' school, but not the part that is perhaps available to a SAHM who holds down no other outside job down.

When it came to saying "no," I just did it without squirming, reminding myself that I am invested in my community and work and doing what I can, without carrying extra heroicism that I wasn't prepared to shoulder honestly, to shoulder without that brewing undercurrent of resentment that might erupt later.

I am much happier for having made this change, and for dealing with the underlying elements within my own psyche that were self-sabotaging. Now when I give, I can give from a more pure place within myself, and when I can't give, I don't need to self-flagellate or over compensate down the line.

Whether or not I am truly as free as the man who declines without excuse, I do not know. But as far as I can tell things feel pretty good.

Posted by: Dignity for Single Parents | February 8, 2007 10:39 AM

I forgot one more thought - no offense intended - do you know the difference between Jewish guilt and Catholic guilt? Jews are born with it; Catholics learn it in school.

Posted by: Loren | February 8, 2007 10:43 AM

Hi all - we are waiting for our first baby and both my husband and I work fulltime, volunteer (together!), and are involved in seperate extracurriculars (mostly dealing with our exercise).

Our big thing, even with friends invitations, is to say no on Sunday evenings to anything and everything. It would have to be a big deal to break that rule. Starting early in our marriage, we just decided that it's nice to be home on Sunday evenings sort of winding down before starting another busy workweek.

Also, I'd rather have M-Th booked to the max with free time on the weekends. Things come up and I would be horrible at committing to Sat and Sun.

Posted by: Lou | February 8, 2007 10:49 AM

"I am a frequent blood doner (every two month for the most part). Amazing how that donation can coincide with a request that I will be just a tad too tired to honor because I am "down a pint".

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 10:27 AM"

When you are down a pint of blood drink a pint of Guinness and you won't feel so bad about saying NO.

Posted by: cmac | February 8, 2007 10:49 AM

cmac, I like the way you think!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 10:52 AM

Lou:

"Also, I'd rather have M-Th booked to the max with free time on the weekends."

That's how I used to feel about laundry. I'd rather have a couple late nights during the week getting it done rather than waste Sats and Suns, which are the only time we really have to see friends and family or do anything else. Unfortunately, having kids made it harder to get other things done during the week. But congratulations on your first baby. I hope you can successful integrate baby into your current plan. :)

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 8, 2007 10:54 AM

I would like to know what the astronaut excuse is. "No, I am going to put a diaper on and drive 900 miles and try to kill someone with a BB-Gun, so I will not be able to make the chuch committee discussion on whether it is virtuous for women to grow balls and breastfeed in public."

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 10:58 AM

This is a very interesting topic to me- I have a family member who is a "people pleaser" and it has always rankled me that she 1) can't say no to anyone, and 2)is therefore resentful and anxious about every little social interaction.

Part of setting boundaries is being honest with yourself and knowing ahead of time how many obligations (social, volunteer, kid activities, whatever)you can or want to handle. See it as setting limits for yourself- not as rejecting needy causes. See it as modeling priorities for your kids.

And then be mature and speak up for yourself- say no with grace and self-respect, and move on. The "avoiding eye contact" thing is ridiculous for a grown adult!

For a church committee thing that you don't want to do, try saying, "I'd love to but I just can't." If someone pressures you, keep it simple and repeat yourself, "Gosh, I can't." If they keep bugging you, smile and say, "Wow, the high-pressure tactics! Usually I enjoy talking to you. Well, I am not going to take this on. Sorry. I think I'll go grab some punch."

Posted by: Rock Creek Mama | February 8, 2007 11:03 AM

I would have said no to writing an answer in this blog, but other than the fact that I could not come up with an excuse not to- if I had said no to myself and not written in the blog, it would have not been readily aparant that I was saying no and people could have misinterpreted my lack of a reply as an affirmative answer- that I in fact could not say no without an excuse, when I have in fact had the occasion to do so in my life from time to time, so therefore in asking a question for which there is no possible way to say no to writing an answer without actually writing an answer we find ourselves trapped in a viscious cycle from which there is no way to escape! AAAAAAARGH!

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 11:06 AM

Chris,
Well, is it more important that people know you say no or that you know you say no?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 11:09 AM

"Part of setting boundaries is being honest with yourself and knowing ahead of time how many obligations (social, volunteer, kid activities, whatever)you can or want to handle."

Part of setting boundaries is not becoming involved in other people's inability to say no. Don't let it rankle; it isn't your problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 11:10 AM

Loren - another pastor's spouse! I'm still new at it, and I swear I need a manual.

I have two churches I am involved with - the one my partner used to work at as administrator (medium sized church, where I also teach Sunday School and sing in the choir) and the small church where she's pastor. Two sets of obligations, often overlapping. YIKES. I have had to be very good about boundaries, and calendaring, and saying 'No, I can't, so sorry' to all sorts of things. Even so, I'm lucky to get a couple of hours a week to myself - and that's for sleeping!

Oh well. I miss my free time, and have carved out my 'Saturday mornings when we don't have DD at home' rule of sleeping in as my only time luxury, but I would miss spending the time with my family much more.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | February 8, 2007 11:12 AM

"Awww, you poor babies, being so popular is such a strain."

Warning - sub-topic rant ahead.

You know, sometimes this board deserves the occasional snark with respect to its limitless middle and upper middle-class problems; however, no one is whining today that they just don't know how they're going to fit one-on-one lacrosse lessons for Tyler in what with all the debutante balls, rounds of golf, and private harp lessons this Spring.

What I'm hearing is that many posters are trying to make sure their choices about how they spend their "free" time fit their values, and one of those values (for those posters) is volunteering at church and otherwise in the community. Perhaps this could be its own blog topic, but we're addressing it here today.

For example, our church is relatively small and largely comprised of couples who work outside the home and have kids between 3 and 13. When we sponsored a refugee family of 6 from Burma who arrived able to speak no English and with only the clothes on their backs, as we did last fall, it took more than 20 volunteers over a period of approx. 2 weeks to get them set up in an apartment, teach them enough English to be able to function, teach them about currency/banks/transportation/grocery stores, provide transportation (no public transit available), etc. If we all just said, "no", either this family would have been stranded or all the work would have fallen on the (few) childless and over-60 members or on one or two members who want to participate but don't want to be overburdened -- a reasonable position to take. This outreach ministry matters -- it's not like participating in the wedding or flower committee (no offense intended) -- to this family and to our church and to me and my family. If every family doesn't commit one member to do SOMETHING, it imposes an excessive burden on other volunteers or on our rector (she has a life, too), or the family is let down with nowhere else to turn. So we left work early a couple of nights a week for two weeks, had to put in some time on the weekends to make up the work, and our whole family participated in this ministry. It wasn't a long-term thing. We could rearrange our other commitments to do it, and the juggling of commitments increased our stress level for only a short period of time.

So maybe the moral of the story is, if you want to participate in a faith community, know what your values are, consider the size of the congregation before you join and, if you want to be bothered less or asked to do less, join a larger congregation. If, on the other hand, you want to participate in a faith community and you join a small church/temple, realize that there are only so many members to carry on the ministry of that church and step up to the plate on ministries that have real impact, as often as you are able to and want to. Make short-project commitments instead of long-term ones, if that limits the stress and pressure of being over-committed and feeling guilty about declining.

Related side rant: Don't ever say "yes" to a board position when you want to say "no". You're not doing any of us any favors. There's little more annoying to the rest of the board members, who want to do the business of the board and get home to their families, then the person who agrees to serve on a board, then rarely shows up at meetings so we have trouble achieving a quorum.

Rant over. Return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 11:13 AM

Brian (Leslie),

You didn't actually say "no". You were saying "I will do it later, in another form"

No means no. When you say no, you have to mean it and stick with it.

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | February 8, 2007 11:14 AM

NC lawyer,
I agree 100% about the board members. I am the president of our HOA and I am lucky to get two others to attend a meeting or answer emails. They are always "too busy". One is a real estate agent/laywer who we think joined the board thinking it would get her contacts.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 11:17 AM

Well, if people do not know I say no, then they will assume I will say yes and continue to ask me to obligate myself to which as should come as no surprise I may occasionally say no. However, if I do not know that I say no, logically I will say yes, excepting the occasions when I surprise myself by saying no- which if were not something of which I knew myself capable of might seem an odd occurance and not very important excepting the fact I would become overwhelmed. If we are not aware of a latent ability, we can not assign it any importance and perhaps never exercise it. However, if I know I say no I can say no. We can not truly ever hope to determine which is more important- the individual, or how society as a whole might suffer, for knowing or not knowing whether saying no is possible. It really becomes a matter for Buddhist monks and people with more free time on their hands than I.

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 11:19 AM

To Chris,

Well, at least if you know that you say no, then you can get into the no habit so that even if others may think you say yes, you know that you say no. And it will be easier for you to say no even if others think you say yes.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 11:23 AM

Yes, and no.

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 11:25 AM

KLB: LOL. Let's play Jeopardy.

The answer is: lawyers, real estate agents, life insurance salesmen, bankers, and trophy wives (in the case of arts organization boards).

The question is: What are 5 categories of people who sometimes, but not always: (i) can't say no to a client who asks them to join a board that is important to the client; or(ii) think that connections made on the board will garner them more sales/clients; or (iii) think that board membership, but not necessarily participation, will help their, or their spouse's careers. ARGGGGHHH to these people if they become uselessno-show board members. If all you want to do is write a check, write the danged check, but don't join the board.

dotted - I've recovered. (it only took 12 hours - a new record). Congratulations on a fine win.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 11:25 AM

BLAH BLAH. Parenting is challenging and exhausting and a lot more exciting than these topics lately!!

I was very excited to see there is a new blog on WaPo called "On Parenting". Well, I click on over to see it's all about a 4 yr that can't stop fondling himself in public!!! You've got to be kidding me. And yesterday was about the Easy Bake oven recall. AAAHHHH. Guess I'll have to stick w/ DC Urban Moms

Posted by: Amanda Huginkiss | February 8, 2007 11:26 AM

Wow, you people are in the weeds with this one. No is no. The problems seems to be how to say it and mean it.

No doesn't mean "I can't this time" or " I will make it up to you". It means no. I can't or I won't. There is nothing after no unless you add it. Adding to it just means you are saying yes in another way.

Posted by: Frank | February 8, 2007 11:27 AM

The new-and-improved reason why the Catholic hierarchy does not permit women to be priests is that they believe it distracting for a woman to serve over the consecration of the bread & wine during eucharistic services (per the new Baltimore catechism). Just FYI.

In related comments, "No" is my favorite word. :-)

Posted by: To Rockville Mom | February 8, 2007 11:28 AM

I have just eaten the BEST meal replacement bar on the planet. It's the Special K Protein Bar in CHocolate peanut butter. It tastes like a butterfinger and actually made me full. Sorry, nothing to do with the topic, but I ususally hate protein bars and this is just wonderful

Posted by: Special K Protein Meal Bar | February 8, 2007 11:31 AM

"The new-and-improved reason why the Catholic hierarchy does not permit women to be priests is that they believe it distracting for a woman to serve over the consecration of the bread & wine during eucharistic services (per the new Baltimore catechism). Just FYI."

What is this supposed to mean? Other than a dig. That is not the only reason. Can we leave Catholic-bashing out of this? It's called OnBalance, not OnBashing!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 11:31 AM

"I am a frequent blood doner (every two month for the most part)"

KLB SS MD, we have that in common too! Are you appalled at the lengths the Red Cross wil go to get get ahold of you? If I accidentally miss an appointment or forget to fill out a card for the next appointment after giving blood, they'll call my house and cell phone and send me e-mails! It's like, I've been giving blood for 14 years. Do you really think you have to remind me to make an appointment? My husband tells me that "the vampires" have called when every he gets their messages.

I would use the excuse that I'm a pint low, but my friends know that I spend those nights after giving blood drinking a couple beers and enjoying the buzz. Also, as my friends have pointed out, I'm never operating on a full supply of blood.

Posted by: Meesh | February 8, 2007 11:32 AM

I was just going to say no to posting today after F04 jumped on some of us who like to make friends while discussing differences, or whatever. But I have a problem saying no obviously. Actually, I have a problem saying no to those people who keep saying 'why not'...or 'come on.' I have one 'friend' who will try to fix my reason/excuse/plans so I can do what what he wants. And that is just the kind way to put it. Also, I learned to avoid being the planner in some groups. It is a no-win position. There is always someone who hates what you did. As a natural planner, it has been difficult to learn to say no in those situations, but I've learned the hard way.

off topic: another unc-duke game tonight. the rivalry continues. what a game.

Posted by: dotted | February 8, 2007 11:33 AM

"The new-and-improved reason why the Catholic hierarchy does not permit women to be priests is that they believe it distracting for a woman to serve over the consecration of the bread & wine during eucharistic services (per the new Baltimore catechism). Just FYI."

What is this supposed to mean? Other than a dig. That is not the only reason. Can we leave Catholic-bashing out of this? It's called OnBalance, not OnBashing!

Posted by: | February 8, 2007 11:31 AM

I didn't understand what this meant either although I don't assume it's Catholic bashing.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 8, 2007 11:36 AM

How about weddings of friends that may be out of town? Or even better-being asked to be in a wedding that you don't want to be or can't afford. Or the best - being asked without a guest to an out of town wedding when you are out of college and on your own.

How have people handled this in the past??

Posted by: Lou | February 8, 2007 11:37 AM

I can't believe people think it's not okay to gently decline an invite. Guilt about not being able to do everything with everyone is so ridiculous...who can? I don't expect that from anyone.

On the otherhand: "No as a complete sentence?"
Wow!
What the heck wrong with us as a society that we can't express regret over an invite without it becoming a whole thing about guilt and justification?

"Sorry, i have another committment," is far more appropriate and actually a requirement. To say no bluntly is just bad manners

Posted by: Gentle No | February 8, 2007 11:39 AM

I hate it when someone agrees to an engagement and drops out at the very last minute! I would've appreciated it if theyj ust said no from the get go. I can understand if this is once in a while, but to always bail out sucks!

Posted by: tobi | February 8, 2007 11:39 AM

As someone who works by neccessity, not by choice, I have a continuous underlying feeling that work interferes with my life. Since I would rather be volunteering and/or doing things with family and friends, I find it very hard to say no those activities. I would much rather say no to work, but unfortunately, that's not a choice right now.

Posted by: noname | February 8, 2007 11:39 AM

"New and improved" sounds sarcastic to me. Also, it was presented as the reason why. As if there is only one reason.

I just didn't think it was necessary.

Posted by: To Rockville Mom | February 8, 2007 11:40 AM

A very fitting topic as it applies to reading and posting on this blog.

Goodbye time waster.

Posted by: Just Say No | February 8, 2007 11:40 AM

Master Bayter I think you need Amanda huginkiss!!!


lol. we have some funnies on here today

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 11:42 AM

Hearing about the stress imposed by all the church related service projects makes me kind of glad we don't belong to a church. Sundays are family time for us. Sleep late, pancake breakfast, read the paper, watch cartoons. Usually, we don't make any commitments for that day. We might go for a bike ride, or to a movie, or play monopoly... whatever we feel like doing. I think everyone should have one day of the week that is completely unencumbered by outside commitments.

Posted by: Emily | February 8, 2007 11:42 AM

I wasn't Catholic bashing (intentionally!) I AM Catholic and was pointing out to Rockville Mom why Catholics don't have female clerics - because she put forth a reasonable thought why she didn't. I was just educating her. Jeez, maybe your problem was with when I said, "new and improved," but I stand by that because the logic for retaining an all male clerical army has evolved over the past 1700 years. Sheesh.

Posted by: Hey! That was me! | February 8, 2007 11:43 AM

I just say "I'm sorry but I won't be able to attend" or "I'm sorry but I won't be able to do that." I've responded that way to a query about whether I'd go to a wedding (the invite was followed up with an email from the bride.) I just said "I'm so soryr but I won't be able to attend. You will be in my thoughts on your special day!" And yes I'm female - but I value my time!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 11:45 AM

"Sorry, i have another committment," is far more appropriate and actually a requirement. To say no bluntly is just bad manners

Posted by: Gentle No | February 8, 2007 11:39 AM

Gentle No, Maybe, but the problem comes when some use the competing commitment information as a springboard for additional pressure, as dotted's 11:33 post described. Like dotted, I also have a friend or two that follow up on any mention of a competing commitment with an inquiry into what the commitment is, whether my spouse could handle it instead, whether I could handle it at a different time in order to free my time up for what the inquiring friend would like me to do. Inquiring Friend's goal is to end up with a "yes" by eliminating the competing commitment! It's sort of like, if you only did A, B, and C, you COULD do what I'm asking you, as well!

Miss Manners recommended response avoids this possibility by saying, I'm so sorry I just can't. Repeat as needed. If Miss Manners says it, it's not bad manners.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 11:54 AM

To anon. 11:10 poster- "Part of setting boundaries is not becoming involved in other people's inability to say no. Don't let it rankle; it isn't your problem"

In a sense, you're right. I do strive to steer clear of my mother's michegas whenever possible.

However, I think it is perfectly healthy to be annoyed, rankled, aggravated, or even sad when you see your mother acting like a doormat. It is, in part, my problem because I care for her. But thanks for the tip.

Posted by: Rock Creek Mama | February 8, 2007 11:56 AM

Thanks Hey! That was me!

Education is good.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 8, 2007 11:57 AM

re churches, NC wrote:
"Make short-project commitments instead of long-term ones, if that limits the stress and pressure of being over-committed and feeling guilty about declining."

I did just this - taught Sunday school for 3 years and volunteered for VBS each summer for a week. I dropped Sunday school - I didn't even want to go! I figured if the volunteering was intruding on my desire to even be there, I better drop it.

I do think our children's church administrator majored in light coersion and control in college - she is one heck of a lady to turn down! Persistent - like a collection agent.


Posted by: cmac | February 8, 2007 11:58 AM

Is it Friday yet?

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 12:03 PM

cmac, I'm glad you're not here to see the coffee that spewed across my desk after reading your comment about the similarities in style between collections agents and children's church administrators.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 12:04 PM

This is even more inane than the breastfeeding in public blog that has been done a zillion times. Oh well, we need another astronaut joke.

As they say- Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, maybe you'll hit that dirty rotten &*%^ who stole your man toy.

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 12:04 PM

sometimes I think Miss Manners has bad manners... she can be very sarcastic sometimes...

today is my Friday... yayyyy!!!

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 12:07 PM

lol Chris

Emily - I agree. We have family time on SUnday and treat it as sacred and decline invites at that time. In fair weather we go on long bike rides together. Works for us.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 12:08 PM

Two boys were walking home from Sunday school after hearing a strong preaching on the devil. One said to the other, "What do you think about all this Satan stuff?"

The other boy replied, "Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It's probably just your dad."

Posted by: Santa Claus | February 8, 2007 12:10 PM

cmac, I'm glad you're not here to see the coffee that spewed across my desk after reading your comment about the similarities in style between collections agents and children's church administrators.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 12:04 PM

They are talented individuals though - grinding people about volunteering with a smile on your face and a sing-songy attitude takes practice!

Posted by: cmac | February 8, 2007 12:10 PM

What about the people who you wish would just say no? The ones who go on and on trying to impress you with how important and busy they are. A simple no would suffice as I am not impressed - really.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 12:11 PM

Its very easy. I don't ever feel the obligation to "make it up". There is no reason to feel guilty about doing what you want in life. People like this writer perplex me, where does this guilt come from, perhaps a people pleaser mentality comes into play.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 8, 2007 12:12 PM

I would love to make excuses as to why I can not post anything more on here right now, but I really must be going, you see because I am busy saving the world at this very moment and can no longer take the time to explain how I just can not fit this into my tremendously busy and important schedule, so a simple no will just have to suffice. Again, I am truly sorry, but prior committments and all, well, I am sure you understand. :P

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 12:15 PM

Jokester, that one is cute. I have one very vivid childhood memory of my brother chasing me with a butter knife. I don't remember anymore what I did to him, but he definitely intended to break that commandment.

Posted by: Emily | February 8, 2007 12:15 PM

Lou: I guess I am anti social but there are very few out of town weddings that I will attend that are non family. I think maybe 6 in my lifetime. I hate being in weddings and since all siblings are married and best friends are married, I assume (and hoope) I never get asked again. When I was choosing my own party, I definitely took into a acct their financial situations. I did not ask people who could not afford to be in the wedding. As I did not get married till I was 30, it wasn't too hard. Most 30 year olds can afford a gown and a bridal shower gift. NCLawyer: That is a good take on volunteering and religious committment. I do believe that we are serving the Lord by serving others. I just some things are more interesting and worth the time. The ministry you described is wonderful. But one Saturday they wanted me to spend 3 hours trying to find what all the odd keys fit into and labeling the keys. Ok, serving God, maybe. But your right that kids learn from example. BTW, Catholics can't choose a home parish. You are assigned one by location. Our is huge. As far as asking more women then men in Catholic church. I don't find that true. DH gets asked to do a lot as well. You know the old saying, you know it is an X Church if they have more committees then members. LOL. Anyway, thanks for reminding us gently what we were called to do.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 12:17 PM

KLB,

Are you thinking of this sort of conversation?

"Fred and I rarely have a moment to ourselves any more what with the American Heart Association fundraiser ball coming up (I don't really have time, but they needed a co-chair), and college tours to Yale, Harvard and MIT and Princeton with our straight-A son Michael (he's hoping for a full athletic scholarship on the wrestling team), and the United Way campaign -- Fred's chair of the drive at his firm, you know -- we're having a hard time fitting in time to work on Stephanie's Black History month shadowbox and poem project with her, and . . . um . . . . . how are your cats, KLB?"

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 12:17 PM

Lou:Congratulations on your new baby. It wasn't very long ago that you were struggling to have one and now you are blessed with one. Wishing you the best for a happy healthy pregnancy.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 12:17 PM

NC Lawyer: your post is right on the money. I've met people like that (crazy in my opinion) and you're right, "I'm so sorry I just can't." is the exact right thing to say.

But that's different from the "no is a complete sentence," school of thought a few people mentioned at the top of the blog.
"No." is a complete sentence when speaking to a two year old. Adults shouldn't be doing to each other, anymore than they should be prying into your life and micromanaging your schedule in order to "free you up" to do something they want.

Posted by: Gentle No | February 8, 2007 12:18 PM

Uh - my cats died 10 years ago and I am on my second dog since then, but uh - thanks for asking?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 12:19 PM

NC Lawyer - very funny. And oh so true....

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 12:19 PM

I am the one with the cats...they are being typical cats.

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 12:21 PM

You know I was kidding right? That would be the answer to the person who is so busy they have no clue about me and my life. Don't want any misunderstandings.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 12:23 PM

My son's PTA is very active, always asking for volunteers. I have one project that keeps me steadily busy throughout the year. I don't volunteer for anything extra. I do think that volunteering is important, and take that one commitment seriously. I don't feel guilty about declining other pleas for help.

On social stuff, I actually have a smallish circle of friends, so I don't find my self overwhelmed with social engagements that I don't want to attend. My husband's family, however, is in the habit of inviting us to functions and asking me to cook a special dessert I make for 20 or more people. I have yet to find a gracious way to decline their requests for dessert.

Posted by: Emily | February 8, 2007 12:24 PM

foamgnome, You are right. I forgot that Catholics must go to the parish to which they're assigned. I suppose your only legitimate choice, in an area as big as DC, is to move to be assigned to the parish you want to attend, but that's my recovering Baptist - now the most conservative person left in the Episcopal Church - church-shopping, upbringing talking.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 12:28 PM

Thanks foamgnome, you have a great memory! I think I was pregnant at the time of that discussion, but not yet excited about it like we are now! If you recall, we lost our first to a genetic disorder shortly after birth, so we didn't know what to expect with this one.

All reports are 100% healthy! Just 3 looong months to go!

Posted by: Lou | February 8, 2007 12:29 PM

Emily,
My girlfriend actually does that to me. She hosts a dinner party and then asks if "i would like to bring a dessert." I love her and I love baking, but sometimes I'm busy in which case i just bring something from the Costco bakery. I don't tell her in advance or apologize. I just show up with it. If people say something snarky (which is weird, and they should get a life) then a simple, "this stuff is awesome, you'll like it" should suffice.

Posted by: Gentle No | February 8, 2007 12:30 PM

I think it's suggest that you go to the Church in the area in which you live, but with so many parishes and so many Masses offered, I know lots of people who go to whatever Mass time/priest/location they like.

I don't think there is anything terribly wrong with that, as far as I know.

Posted by: Lou | February 8, 2007 12:32 PM

Ok, I can't stand this topic anymore. So here's a new one.

How does everyone in the DC area balance the cost of rent/housing in this area with raising a family??? Related, is school choice. How do you balance living in the city v. the burbs?

We're in the city now, but it's just so expensive and school choices past elementary aren't even worth considering, unless we shell out 25K/year for private (we may be able to afford that in 8 years, but I doubt it!)
We will not be able to afford a house at all inside the beltway, even if we move out of the city, for a long time. As of now all of our money is put toward rent, daycare, the usual bills, and 529 and 401K- we haven't even thought about putting away for a house yet and don't plan on it for quite a few years.

We LOVE the city. We can't stand commuting (or driving in general). So, far out (more than 30-45 minute drive) is out of the question.

What made you choose where to live?
Are all of the city resources and lifestyle worth paying private school for, or will I have to bite the bullet and trek to the good public schools in Arlington/MontCo??


Posted by: New Topic!!! | February 8, 2007 12:32 PM

RE: Weddings

Out of town Weddings are expensive - if it is family then I am willing to spend the money. The last out of town wedding we went to last summer we turned into a fun day/evening with another couple that was also attending the wedding - it was like a mini-vacation (kids were with grandma).

I thought we were done with being in weddings but this past fall my husband and both kids were in a wedding of a close friend. Between tux rentals for 2, dress for daughter and gift we spent over 600$. I was flattered they like our kids so much and we did have a great time, but it was expensive - but local!

Posted by: CMAC | February 8, 2007 12:32 PM

Picky picky. Why in the world anyone over the age of 8 (the Little Lawyer stage) would assume an adult wouldn't say, "No, thank you", is beyond me.

I still don't feel obligated to give anyone a further explanation. I am quite satisfied with that phrase myself.

Posted by: MdMother | February 8, 2007 12:38 PM

I have to say that I think this was a good topic. I feel like since our daugther was born we have said a lot more no's than we ever did in the past. Most of our close friends do not have kids. I think they have gotten used to it, but I know they don't really understand our need to protect our family time and our sanity. It's a hard one, so it's nice to see that others are in the same boat.

Posted by: Bad Mom | February 8, 2007 12:48 PM

Missicat said:

"I definitely had to stand in the corner a few times. Do they still do things like that? "

... which reminds me of a story:

My wife was raised Roman Catholic and when I met her family we talked about growing up. When DW and friends were going to Catholic school the nuns punished them when they misbehaved. The nun would make them come up to the front of the room where there was a picture of Jesus on the bulletin board. Then the nun would make the child put a thumbtack in Jesus' heart and say "Look what you did to Jesus! Aren't you ashamed?!" The child would cry.

I, of course, was appalled. And they asked me, "what did they do to you when you misbehaved?" I told them, "Well I grew up Southern Baptist, so we had to put a tack in Elvis."

> "Look what you did to the King! Aren't you ashamed?!"

Posted by: JMT | February 8, 2007 12:49 PM

As far as renting versus buying, it was easy for us to choose the suburbs. We couldn't afford to buy and pay for private school in the city. Also DH actually works in Northern VA. I work in the district. The commute stinks but it stinks for DH to commute from one part of the suburb to another one. We knew early on that we wanted a house in the burbs and saved for it pre child. I would think it would be way hard to do that post kid. Best of luck to you. I also like the burbs on the weekend. If I want to do anything in the city (outside of work), I hop on the metro. Other than that, I prefer the suburban life. But I grew up with that and that is all I know.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 12:51 PM

"BTW, Catholics can't choose a home parish."

Why not? My husband switched parishes; he just had to register at the one he switched to. Although the default is by location, I don't think you HAVE to go to the "nearest Catholic franchise" (as my husband refers to it). :)

Posted by: Rockville Mom | February 8, 2007 12:51 PM

Get out of the way, here comes the stampede of the vocal and self-righteous to respond to New Topic's innocent inquiry with, what's wrong with the public schools in DC? are you racist? or some such helpful comment.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 12:55 PM

BTW, I had nuns, but they never slapped us with rulers. My brother got the paddle, but I was an angel and was never reprimanded :)

We went to a Catholic grade school on Montrose road and a Catholic high school in Wheaton that is moving to Olney.

Posted by: Meesh | February 8, 2007 12:57 PM

"'No.' is a complete sentence when speaking to a two year old."

"No" is never a complete sentence.

A complete sentence requires a noun and a verb.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:00 PM

I never decline a dinner invite from friends without a good excuse because seeing my friends is something I want to do more of!

It's all those other obligations I want to dodge.

I had someone call me about something at church, and I tried to decline. It was on a week night and I have a long commute. Oh no, she was sure I could do it. Well, I had unexpected car trouble that day and I couldn't do it. So I called and backed out at the last minute without even attempting to find a sub.

It was naughty of me, but I hope it gets my message across that an initial NO is just that, so please don't badger me into a half-hearted yes.

The think the best strategy is to decide what you WILL do and then do that. Then when other "opportunities" come up you can say that you are already "doing".

I'd also add that while liberal Protestant churchs may not lay on the guilt like the Catholics they are no strangers to laying on the "obligation to give back".

Posted by: RoseG | February 8, 2007 1:01 PM

New Topic - we actually chose to leave DC primarily because of the real estate and traffic. We now live waaay outside of Philly. We have a pretty big house and yard, Dh has a 7 minute commute and terrific schools and I'm able to stay home. That said, it is not cosmopolitan, shopping at Target is entertainment and it is not particularily diverse. However, in terms of overall quality of life right now, it works for us. We talk about moving back to the city when the kids are gone. DC is a wonderful city and has so very much to offer, it is a tough choice to make. Trade offs are inevitable. My 2 cents.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 1:01 PM

"they are being typical cats"

There's no such thing as a "typical cat."

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:02 PM

There's no such thing as a "typical cat."

I've gotta disagree - I bet my cats are doing the exact same thing as Missycats cats are right now - sleeping (in the sun if available)

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 1:04 PM

Does anyone live in Houston/Sugarland Texas? We may be relocating there and I have only visited once... any thoughts good or bad?

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 1:05 PM

"I bet my cats are doing the exact same thing as Missycats cats are right now - sleeping (in the sun if available)"

Mine's curled up in front of a heat vent, sound asleep. Shhhh, do not disturb!

Posted by: catlady | February 8, 2007 1:08 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/02/AR2007020201468.html

Interesting article about schools.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:08 PM

Houston summers make DC's feel cool and dry by contrast. Friends there actually had to have mold professionally removed from the outside of their house.

And there's the threat of hurricane (or hurricane-refugees).

Then again, Houston winters aren't so rough.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:11 PM

"The think the best strategy is to decide what you WILL do and then do that. Then when other "opportunities" come up you can say that you are already "doing"."

I think that's a good approach to people who pressure you to volunteer. And, you can even take it a step further. Make it clear that, by saying no, you are doing THEM a favor. For example:

"Sorry, but I'm overbooked right now. I wouldn't be able to give you the time this project deserves."

Posted by: pittypat | February 8, 2007 1:13 PM

"Does anyone live in Houston/Sugarland Texas?"

I think Tom DeLay lives there. Lucky you.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:16 PM

"Foamgnome:
One thing I learned from watching older women in my church is that no's couched in religious language are pretty effective. (I'm not suggesting that you misuse this strategy -- just that these were sincere no's that people seemed to accept)."

Although I was very involved with my (Catholic) church as a teen, as an adult, I am not at all involved. The last few years, with the revelation that so many people were sexually abused by priests (including to my horror, my husband), has tempered any feeling at all.

But, I do carry that guilt with me that I "should" do more. At the same time, my mother was not at all involved (other than attending Mass and other mandatory meetings for her kids) when we were growing up. There were too many of us, she had to work when the youngest went to school, and frankly, she was not a joiner.

She never expressed any guilt about it either.

And, may I just add, that I am over the guilt anyway: some priests are extremely pampered and do not have to deal with the worldly problems and issues the rest of us have, including sick children, ill parents (their parents may be ill, but they have the ultimate excuse for not taking on their care).

When a priest I knew was murdered, I was so shocked to find that he was a golf aficionado. Golf? Who has the time or money for golf in my household?

Our extra money goes for counseling -- for the problem the church created for us so many years ago.

I know this is a complete digression, but maybe it relates to being able to say "no."

Lately, since I've been in my forties, I care less and less about what people think.

I do volunteer for activities and organizations that interest me, but I no longer feel the need to explain why I'm not doing "everything."

As my friend's father once said, "Dont' complain, don't explain."

Posted by: Another Girl | February 8, 2007 1:17 PM

We are coming from outside the country - cool mountain weather. I think it is going to be a bit of a shock and a completely different culture than I am used to. I guess I am just looking for what is great about the area and not so great: people, schools, stuff to do, etc. We tend to spend a lot of active time outside all year and curious what is there... that type of thing...
I'm off to a meeting but look forward to any thoughts.

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 1:24 PM

"It was naughty of me, but I hope it gets my message across that an initial NO is just that, so please don't badger me into a half-hearted yes. "

That initial NO is not a no any longer, if you follow it up with a yes. It's not the fault of the recipient that you intend to say one thing and say another. Talk about blaming the victim.

It's not naughty. The message you got across is that you're unreliable and immature.

Say what you mean. Mean what you say.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:25 PM

"Lately, since I've been in my forties, I care less and less about what people think"

One of the totally awesome benefits of getting older!! I have a lot more fun in my daily life now that I'm not worried about whether I appear cool. I too choose what I'm going to do for different groups and that's it - that's what I can do. Same thing with invitations, I have no problem saying "Thanks so much, but that is our family night, or dh has been working a lot and we are just going to be together" Frankly, it is an easy way to weed out people. If they can't accept and/or respect what you've got going on then do you really need them in your life? I do however have a hard time saying no to doe eyed girl scouts!

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 1:27 PM

That should be: "Don't complain, don't explain."

Posted by: Another girl | February 8, 2007 1:28 PM

"Lately, since I've been in my forties, I care less and less about what people think"

That is one of the best things about turning 40. I have to laugh when I think about what was so "important" to me in my 20s, and how much I desperately tried to please everyone and make everyone like me.
It's a terrific freedom just not to care..

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 1:29 PM

Why were the muslim jokes promptly removed yesterday, but the catholic/jewish jokes allowed today? Double standard, no?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:30 PM

Oh, I know what exactly what you mean re GS cookies!

As I noted earlier, my ironclad policy has always been to buy from whoever's first to ask me each year. To everyone after that, I sweetly but firmly explain that if they'd asked me first I would've bought from them instead. This even-handed approach avoids hard feelings (everybody understands that I'm just being fair) while sparing me from having to buy more cookies than I want.

Hope this works for you, too.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 1:32 PM

Oops!!! I meant "TO moxiemom." So sorry.

Posted by: catlady | February 8, 2007 1:33 PM

Moxiemom posted: "I do however have a hard time saying no to doe eyed girl scouts!"

I'm with you there. One of the funniest things about yesterday's blog was that several posters thought saying no to a child was somehow easier than saying no to an adult. NOT (for me). If a child has the courage to approach an adult she does not know and ask for support of her organization, it is highly unlikely that I'll choose to reject her request. I could, but I respect a self-starter, so I choose to support behavior I respect. I have to beat my husband to the door during the fall fundraising season because he doesn't just say, yes, he makes their day with multiple item commitments. He particularly likes high school athletic team and church youth group fundraisers where you don't pay until the merchandise arrives. It's funny, he NEVER answers the door during the merchandise delivery season.

Nonprofit solicitations in the mail? Those are the easiest to reject. I don't give my money to orgs who spend most of my money asking me for more money. Sigh.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 1:34 PM

You know, the idea of defaulting to "no" instead of defaulting to "yes" maybe a good one. I can say I haven't tried it in my professional life, but I have tried it in my personal life. Specifically, whenever my wife wants to buy something (we have a well-planned budget that doesn't really allow for excess outside of our own equal "spending money" allowances that we get every payday; I'm talking about stuff in addition to that, like plants for the front yard).

I always say no. And I always feel like a piece of s#!t for it. That sucks.

Point is, if that's how I'm going to feel at work when I say no, then forget it.

Posted by: WurstFührer | February 8, 2007 1:34 PM

My standard GS cookie response: "I'm sorry, but I already bought cookies from my niece."

(Niece is 13 1/2 and quit GS when she was about 8.)

This year I did buy one box because it was a little girl I know and know her mom well and I really like them. :o)

I have issues with the percentage (very low) that the local troops actually get from cookie sales.

Posted by: momof4 | February 8, 2007 1:35 PM

because the Catholic and Jewish people tell jokes on themselves, and the jokes are just funny, not racist or hateful.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 8, 2007 1:40 PM

"No" is a perfectly valid response to adults in at least several venues.

Drunks who want to paw you, buy you a drink, etc. spring to mind. No explanation is needed nor deserved, as that is (rightly) perceived as, "Oh, well, if it weren't for this or that circumstance of course I'd LOVE to take you up on whatever you are offering."

Ugh.

"No", with nothing added, is EXACTLY what many of our children (particularly daughters) need to learn to say to unwanted advances. No matter how old or young they may be.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:40 PM

Why were the muslim jokes promptly removed yesterday, but the catholic/jewish jokes allowed today? Double standard, no?

Posted by: | February 8, 2007 01:30 PM

I haven't seen any catholic or jewish jokes today, but if you ever feel any postings are offensive in accordance with Washington Post policy, there's a link next to "Post a Comment" -- oddly, enough, that would be directly above the box where you posted your 1:30 comment -- and report the posting you deem offensive. That's what I have done to alert Stephanie had I been you. Sometimes she agrees and deletes the post. Sometimes she doesn't. It is, however, a very efficient system and certainly more efficient than wasting blog space to ask a question out of control of the other responders.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:40 PM

because the Catholic and Jewish people tell jokes on themselves, and the jokes are just funny, not racist or hateful.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 8, 2007 01:40 PM

Which is why Jerry Seinfeld's dentist became a Jew - to make jokes about them. Of course Jerry was accused of being an anti-dentite B@STARD.

Posted by: CMAC | February 8, 2007 1:43 PM

WurstFuhrer, I think the point of the blog was to say "no" to things that infringe on your happiness, not to just categorically respond to everything with a "no." I'm sure that your "no" response to your wife is because you're thinking of the future and things that need to happen for your family's happiness. Initially it sucks, but it's for the best. I doubt that you would feel that way at work because you're saying "no" to extra work (or whatever) to get more happy time with your family.

Posted by: Meesh | February 8, 2007 1:43 PM

This is so far down the post list I doubt anyone will see it, but here goes:

The secret is tone of voice & body language.

Think of the opening scene of "Murder on the Orient Express". On the platform in Istanbul, Lauren Bacall brushes aside the flocking trinket vendors, and they take no for an answer. Ingrid Bergman feels guilty, doesn't want to offend, and ends up being swarmed & buying stuff just to get rid of the vendors.

You have to be firm, polite, and very concise. If you start explaining why you can't do something, they know you feel guilty, and you either cave in or do extra next time.

"No, sorry. Can't this time." "Why not?"
"Just can't, sorry". "But why?" "I'm sorry, it just isn't possible at this time"

Lather, rinse, repeat until they give up.

I am such a people-pleasing personality that I sometimes randomly say "no" when I actually can do something, just so I don't get a reputation as being someone who can always be prevailed upon. It works, BUT YOU CAN'T FEEL GUILTY. Otherwise, like Brian, you end up doing extra at other times. The fear is that people will think less of you. Actually, people respect you and think more highly of you if you respect yourself and say "no" when it's appropriate. If you say "yes" all the time, or overcompensate for any "no", people think LESS of you.

Posted by: skeptic53 | February 8, 2007 1:44 PM

WurstFührer, It's NOMB, and I'm sure there's a really egalitarian spirit at play in your conversations with your spouse that isn't clear from your posts, but there's something about your wife asking permission to purchase something like plants, and you making the final decision for the household, for the pair of you, like she has to play mother may I with you. Say it isn't so, Joe.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:47 PM

NC lawyer - My policy is to always buy from any kid who has the moxie to come to my door. If you are willing to go out and beat the pavement, then I'm buying. I generally don't buy from the kids that ambush you outside the grocery store. Maybe I'm just old school that way. Glad to hear I'm not alone.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 1:50 PM

new topic - I was born and raised in DC and believe me you don't want your kids to go to DC public schools. I am suprised you even want to live in DC its not the safest place. Where do you live in DC? I moved to NC to get out of dodge.

Posted by: charlotte nc | February 8, 2007 1:53 PM

Re: WF's post

Perhaps he follows the Golden Rule. He who earns the gold makes the rules.

I wouldn't go for it, myself. But I'm not the kind of person who wants a knight/hero in her life so that I can play victim/supplicant for the rest of my life. Yuck.

It does sound (from afar) an awful lot like she's a child with whom he has sex, not an independent adult and partner.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 1:55 PM

RE: WF's post

Funny, I took it to mean that they had already agreed that purchases beyond their regular budget had to be agreed upon by both. I'm always amazed that so many immediately jump to the "woman is victim" and "man is oppressive" interpretation of innocent remarks on a blog.

"(we have a well-planned budget that doesn't really allow for excess outside of our own equal "spending money" allowances that we get every payday; I'm talking about stuff in addition to that, like plants for the front yard)."

Posted by: noname | February 8, 2007 2:05 PM

new topic - I was born and raised in DC and believe me you don't want your kids to go to DC public schools. I am suprised you even want to live in DC its not the safest place. Where do you live in DC? I moved to NC to get out of dodge.

Posted by: charlotte nc | February 8, 2007 01:53 PM

Charlotte, How long ago did you leave? Your post sounds oddly like a post from someone who has never visited DC and is relying on old newspaper articles to judge it. It's not as though certain neighborhoods in Charlotte are any safer than the same sort of sketchy neighborhoods in DC, and DC has a great deal more fab safe neighborhoods, character and life to it than banktown USA. Try almost anywhere up Connecticut, much of Dupont Circle, much of Georgetown, and many neighborhoods in Anacostia that have been gentrified over the last 20+ years. In addition, if you know your way around much of Northeast, there are plenty of safe neighborhoods. Do you feel the same way about Atlanta? Boston? Any major city with a significant African-American population?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:08 PM

"I'm always amazed that so many immediately jump to the "woman is victim" and "man is oppressive" interpretation of innocent remarks on a blog."

Just a bit of exaggeration, noname. "So many" don't jump. Two posters made comments. Anon at 1:47 did not jump to any conclusions, but asked for follow-up. 1:55 weighed in with a negative take. So . . . "so many" turns out to be one, count 'em, one poster. Is it your habit to look for grand trends in the comments of a lone poster?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:14 PM

2:16 and the topic is exhausted. What does that tell us about Brian's ability to tee up a discussion?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:17 PM

Is it your habit to look for grand trends in the comments of a lone poster?

That is becasue today's topic is so boring, "one" may indeed constitute a majority.

Posted by: the original anon | February 8, 2007 2:18 PM

new topic - I was born and raised in DC and believe me you don't want your kids to go to DC public schools. I am suprised you even want to live in DC its not the safest place. Where do you live in DC? I moved to NC to get out of dodge.

Posted by: charlotte nc | February 8, 2007 01:53 PM

I live in Woodley Park (so, no, we are not in danger)- she would go to Oyster (which IS a great school- blue ribbon and all, if people want to know). We're fine with Oyster (or any of the other Upper NW elementary schools) but would never dream of sending her past then, which is our issue. Pay private or move for middle and high school?

There are a lot of benefits to living in the city- it was your choice to move to a southern slower way of life, but that's not our cup of tea. PLease don't insult me by saying you're "suprised" I would live in DC. Come on.

To the poster who moved to Philly- where abouts? My husband and I are both from Philly- him the city, me the burbs (King of Prussia area)

It's funny- I grew up in the suburbs and that's precidely the reason I do NOT want to live there again..lol. I don't want to make this a debate of city v suburb, but I just like the city.

Thanks for the responses!

Posted by: New Topic!!! | February 8, 2007 2:19 PM

I live in Dallas, I would rather gouge my eye out with a broken fork than live in Houston.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 8, 2007 2:21 PM

To New Topic - I'd kill to get my child into Oyster (well not literally), but I live in Dupont and the district we are in is terrible - seems that everyone can afford private schools.

I sold educational books door to door in college, and it definately teaches you a lot about people, their families and priorities. I was once very shy - now if a child approaches me to buy something I almost always do. though, oddly I almost never give money to homeless people - but I do look them in the eye and say 'sorry (for not giving them $), have a nice day'.

Posted by: single mom | February 8, 2007 2:23 PM

My standard GS cookie response: "I'm sorry, but I already bought cookies from my niece." (Niece is 13 1/2 and quit GS when she was about 8.)

Very nice, momof4 -- plus you get style points for invoking Family Values!

Posted by: catlady | February 8, 2007 2:24 PM

I love doing things for others. Let me tell you first hand that having to constantly ask for help is exhausting and depressing. Being in a position where I can do little to help others leaves me fighting off the feeling of worthlessness.

And now reading a blog on how to fine tune ourselves on the best way to reject a request for help...

Not my day today.

The Red Cross won't even take my blood.

Maybe I could volunteer in a hospital to hold crack babies or ones who have been abandoned. At least it's something I could do, but not much else I can think of right now except donate money I don't have.

Dotted, you wrote "F04 jumped on some of us who like to make friends." I'm really confused with that. I don't think I'm capable of not wanting people to make friends. Please explain.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 8, 2007 2:26 PM

the murder rate in dc is higher than in any city in iraq. and this even though guns are banned in dc. feel any safer?


Posted by: Master Bayter | February 8, 2007 02:20 PM

Huh? are you not including mass murders by dictators or killings of women who dare to speak to a man other than her husband? or the war? VERY strange and silly post that was!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:28 PM

New Topic - actually King of Prussia area too!! I will say that Philly is significantly inferior to DC!

I agree the city/suburb debate is pointless - there are city people and burb people and never the twain shall meet! Good luck with your decision. I know we all just want to give our kids and families the best experience we can.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 2:29 PM

This if for adults, right? Get some inner strength already, it's your life, do whatever you want, and don't do whatever you don't want.

Seems pretty simple to me. No need for guilt if you're an adult.

Give me a break.

Posted by: Stunned | February 8, 2007 2:29 PM

"There are a lot of benefits to living in the city- it was your choice to move to a southern slower way of life, but that's not our cup of tea."

New Topic! Don't let charlotte nc's obnoxious post goad you into making [insert acceptable adjective here] statements about the "southern slower way of life" and "living in the city". Way down here in North Carolina some of us live in cities and occasionally take the chewing tobacco out of our cheeks long enough to live lives as fast-paced as yours, and, yes, in cities.

The city I live in happens to be located in the South. The only difference? Guess what? it's warmer. It's not a slower way of life unless you want it to be, then I suppose you'd probably also not opt to live in a city.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:30 PM

There once was a man who said no
The astronautess heard "All systems go"
So she got in her car
And drove very far
In a diaper about ready to blow.

The moral here is be careful when saying no, especially to crazed astronauts.

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 2:34 PM

Compared with the North (Boston) and New England way of life DC is a much slower pace. I have a friend from charleston that says that it is even slower there... a pretty fair assumption to make is that the more southern the city the more slower the lifestyle. If you have only lived in the South perhaps it does not feel this way, but give New York/Boston/Harford a shot.

Posted by: single mom | February 8, 2007 2:40 PM

Judith says to grow balls
While everyone sits here and LOLs
The world is a mess and I am sick
Of this and every lame topic
The Post serves to the sheep it enthralls.

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 2:41 PM

I often wonder if people like father of 4 really like to help people or just get off on people telling them how wonderful they are for volunteering.I suspect the latter.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 8, 2007 2:42 PM

LOL to anon at 2:30.

New Topic, we also moved to NC from DC, but not to escape the city. We simply could not afford to buy a house with a big yard, which was a dream of ours. So we live in Apex, which is 20 minutes from two cities (Raliegh and Durham--EEK! Talk about dangerous!). So we chose the suburbs of another state over the suburbs of DC, which we couldn't afford.

If you can afford the suburbs of DC, you can affor to live in the city of Raliegh, which is undergoing revitilization. And the schools in Wake Forest are pretty good (so I hear). And you're only 5 hours from the monuments and DC life if you want to visit (I'm sure that regulars are sick of reading that from me, but I want to spread the knowledge! Sorry!) Hope that helps!

Posted by: Meesh | February 8, 2007 2:43 PM

New topic, there are a lot of areas in the burbs that don't feel like they're in the burbs. We bought our house near Gaithersburg and we rarely have to come to DC for entertainment, and my commute is not that horrible (actually it takes me the same time to come to downtown as when we lived in Alexandria). We don't have children, but lucked out as the nearest primary school is about 2 minutes away.

Posted by: MV | February 8, 2007 2:44 PM

By the way, I never say no to a girl scout selling cookies. Don't know why though, maybe it is the sheer terror on their faces that gets me.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 8, 2007 2:44 PM

"Being in a position where I can do little to help others leaves me fighting off the feeling of worthlessness."

Fo4 --

I can think of lots of volunteer opportunities for which you'd be perfect. Let me give you a a few examples:

1. Reading to young children in a library or school setting. They don't have to know Braille if you're the one doing the reading.

2. Teaching computer concepts to teens in community center settings or after-school programs. Don't need to be able to see to explain stuff you're expert at.

3. Working the phone for a drug or other emergency hotlines. These are very often volunteer positions. Domestic abuse shelters have them, too.

4. Phone canvassing for charitable organizations. (Phone numbers are usually already in a computer database.)

These are only a few of the types of things you could consider, and this list doesn't even include volunteer opportunities among seeing-impaired folks, if you were inclined to do that.

You have an outgoing personality, so you'd be great in settings where you have to interact with people. Also, you're level-headed, so you'd do well handling hotline calls.

Look at your strengths and think about how others can benefit from them. You've got more to offer than most people.

Posted by: pittypat | February 8, 2007 2:45 PM

RalEIgh

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:48 PM

You can not buy a tiny cardboard box for under a million here. It is quite stoooopid and obscene. I am living in a small apartment and going to pour some money into a relatively cheap HUGE home in a small town where I can enjoy fresh air and a nice meal without spending more than some people make in a month in other parts of the world. I have seen places here charge $14 for a plate of ravioli that tastes no better than what I can get from a can. There will have to be a mass exodus from around here when people realize that they can not afford to live half as well as they could nearly anywhere else. Finding the right job of course, could prove difficult.

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 2:53 PM

DARN! I suck at typing. Yes, it's Raleigh.

Posted by: Meesh | February 8, 2007 2:54 PM

Sorry if I offended any other North Carolinians- it seemed to me that this poster moved for a different way of life- and, yes, it's slower and more relaxed than in DC/NYC/Philly/LA/Boston. It just is. I've lived in Texas and Arizona, grew up outside of Philly, and now am in DC- it A LOT slower in other parts of the country and it can be because it's cheaper and just overall "easier" in a lot of ways. It's not a negative thing at all. Just different!

Posted by: New Topic!!! | February 8, 2007 2:55 PM

"I often wonder if people like father of 4 really like to help people or just get off on people telling them how wonderful they are for volunteering.I suspect the latter."

pATRICK,

Ultimately, it may not matter. What's important is that people who need it are getting help from you.

Maybe the motivations are pure; maybe not. Who cares, if the helping is doing good?

Motivation is really only an issue when someone oversubscribes her/his time and can't give the promised assistance to all.

And, often, people who get a taste of helping start wanting to do more because they discover they like helping people.

Posted by: pittypat | February 8, 2007 2:56 PM

pATRICK, you are an ass

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:56 PM

Posted by: | February 8, 2007 01:47 PM

"It's NOMB, and I'm sure there's a really egalitarian spirit at play in your conversations...but there's something about your wife asking permission to purchase something like plants..."

It is none of your business, but since I brought it up and some folks might have missed the part where I wrote that we have a clearly deliniated budget (and some folks here might be overly sensitive to anything that might suggest a patriarchal decision system, even where one doesn't exist)...I'll try to be more clear.

We have a budget that allots a specified amount of our paychecks into set categories (mortgage, house stuff, pets, bar money, cable, electric, etc.). We each have our own spending money category. We each get the exact same amount in our spending money. How we spend that is none of the other's business.

I am talking about when the bar money is overdrawn for the millionth time, and it's Saturday night and she wants us to go out. Either I can agree (which clearly is detrimental to other categories of the budget; I mean, duh, if one is overdrawn, the negative has to come from somewhere...), or I can say "no, honey, we don't have the money." It is simple economics and I shouldn't have to feel like a s#!t for it, but I do, b/c she loves to go out on the weekends, and I hate to disappoint her.

As to Meesh, I guess I wasn't clear. I was referring to an earlier poster's suggestion that what he/she does is instead of defaulting to "yes" whenever asked to do something at work, he/she defaults to "no." I understand that isn't the point of the blog.

Posted by: WurstFührer | February 8, 2007 2:58 PM

Jesus teaches us to help the less fortunate. I would guess that other religions profess something similar. Many people believe that giving back to society is important, perhaps a duty for the more fortunate.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 8, 2007 2:59 PM

Chris, we won't miss you.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:59 PM

WF: We do something similar. We call it joint and mad money. Mad money is our own separate fun money. We don't go into such depths like bar money. But we do make sure joint covers hhld expenses, savings, and other things that the family uses as a whole. I think it works nicely but some people think married couples should have all joint money.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 3:01 PM

I hate hearing over and over again that people have to learn to say "no." When I moved to DC 15 years ago, I quickly discovered that this town is full of people who say "no" on a regular basis, with or without an excuse. Or--much, much worse--they say "yes" and then flake out. My husband and I always figure in the number of "flakes" when planning anything, which we didn't do when we lived in the midwest.

Posted by: Anon | February 8, 2007 3:01 PM

Back in my Cleveland Park days (late '90s) we used to say that the lifestyle in DC was a combination of Northern charm and Southern efficiency.

My balance issue isn't kids and housing, it's my non-profit-sector salary, housing and commuting expenses: I went without A/C for three years, never got cable, no cellphone, no car. Had I known my academic interests would translate into a pauper's life after grad school, I would have gone to B-school instead!

Posted by: BxNY | February 8, 2007 3:02 PM

Oh, and as an aside, my wife works and we make very similar salaries. Were you to know my wife, I seriously doubt you'd question her independence in our marriage or my comfort with that independence. Our marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship. I want someone to complement my abilities and goals and personality, not someone to control.

If I wanted to control someone without question, I'd ask my wife for a child.

Posted by: WurstFührer | February 8, 2007 3:05 PM

Meesh,

You're a fast driver if you're getting from Apex to DC in 5 hours, LOL. Potomac Mills, maybe, but downtown??

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 3:06 PM

"I was very excited to see there is a new blog on WaPo called "On Parenting". Well, I click on over to see it's all about a 4 yr that can't stop fondling himself in public!!! You've got to be kidding me."

Sex offenders keep getting younger and younger these days...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 3:07 PM

OffTopic, but so very, very appalling. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/07/AR2007020702078.html

Posted by: OffTopic | February 8, 2007 3:10 PM

Finding the right job of course, could prove difficult.

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 02:53 PM

That's exactly the problem! You can't enjoy life if careers prospects/growth are lousy. I also find it hard to believe one can find a great restaurant (with a lot of ethnic variety) in these small towns with huge houses.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 3:12 PM

the small towns with huge houses and no jobs (and culture) have olive gardens, and chili's, and other franchise restaurants as a form of entertainment. I spent a few months out in asburn and it would be a 45 minute wait for a table at the outback steakhouse on the weekend... odd, very odd...

Posted by: single mom | February 8, 2007 3:19 PM

the small towns with huge houses and no jobs (and culture) have olive gardens, and chili's, and other franchise restaurants as a form of entertainment. I spent a few months out in asburn and it would be a 45 minute wait for a table at the outback steakhouse on the weekend... odd, very odd...

Posted by: single mom | February 8, 2007 03:19 PM

Where we were in Texas- life revolved around Wal Mart and Applebees or Chili's. Whenever I see an ad for Friday Night Lights (that show on NBC about a high school football team) I laugh hysterically. So true.
I say no thanks to that! lol.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 3:22 PM

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 03:06 PM

"You're a fast driver if you're getting from Apex to DC in 5 hours, LOL. Potomac Mills, maybe, but downtown??"

NC Lawyer, it's all about the timing. I too live in the triangle and frequently go to the D.C. area. If you leave at 2 p.m. on a Friday, forget it. You'll be in the car for 7 hours. If, on the other hand, you leave at 8 p.m., you can be at the Black Rooster on 19th and L by midnight (I swear, I've done it more than once and never topped 85, which is pretty normal on 95N and 85N).

On average, though, it takes about 5 hours.

Posted by: WurstFührer | February 8, 2007 3:22 PM

pATRICK,
I certainly can't speak for other people but in my case I don't do things simply so that other people think I am good. In fact, most casual aquaintances don't know that I donate blood every 2 months or that I paid for the two diabetic girls next door to go to the Lions diabetes camp. I do them because they make someone happy or can help someone.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 3:27 PM

I live in Oklahoma, and there are a ton of chain restaurants and Wal-Marts, but there are still quite a few locally owned restaurants that are quite good. I try to support these businesses by never eating at a chain restaurant if I can help it.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 3:28 PM

The portrait you paint of Texas is very funny, funny but not true. Much like the northern idiots who think we all have oil wells and ranches and wear cowboy hats. Walmart and Applebees? Puleeeze. Maybe you were just a broke hick if that was your deal.

Posted by: pATRICK | February 8, 2007 3:29 PM

I grew up in CT. My sister moved to Dallas about 5 years ago. Now she says "y'all" and "I'm thinkin". We all laugh with her.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 3:30 PM

Us northern idiots also think that Texans all have gun racks (with loaded guns) in your trucks and the women wear too much make-up...

Posted by: single mom | February 8, 2007 3:31 PM

Single mom,
Don't forget the Big Hair, Big Buckles and Boots!
One thing I really liked about Fort Worth - you can get a beer and walk around town with it in a plastic cup. Great town!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 3:33 PM

"I swear, I've done it more than once and never topped 85, which is pretty normal on 95N and 85N"

This kind of arrogance is unfathomable -- although all too common among the well-to-do.

It's an attitude that says, "These rules don't apply to me. I'm special."

Driving 85 mph or faster is illegal, irresponsible, dangerous, and stupid. Doesn't matter how good a driver you are, how late in the evening it might be, or how much you want to get somewhere by a certain time. None of these exempts you from keeping your fellow drivers out of peril.

Recklessness is not the entitlement of people who believe they are somehow superior.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 3:35 PM

But Texas doesn't have Molly Ivins any more. Or Ann Richards.

Posted by: catlady | February 8, 2007 3:36 PM

"northern idiots who think we all have oil wells and ranches and wear cowboy hats."

No, I think you all have pickups, guns, and cowboy hats.

How'm I doin'?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 3:37 PM

"Sorry if I offended any other North Carolinians- it seemed to me that this poster moved for a different way of life- and, yes, it's slower and more relaxed than in DC/NYC/Philly/LA/Boston. It just is. I've lived in Texas and Arizona, grew up outside of Philly, and now am in DC- it A LOT slower in other parts of the country . . ."

New Topic, No, it just isn't necessarily A LOT slower. You're still not getting it. You'd be the expert on whether life is slower in Texas and Arizona than it is in DC and Philly; however, you have not lived in LA, Boston, or New York and are relying on what you've heard from others or what you'vethe movies. Similarly, you're still making broad pronouncements about cities in the South, including North Carolina, about which you know nothing from personal experience. You don't have a clue what life is like in Charlotte or other North Carolina cities. I lived in DC. I now live in Raleigh. My employer has several offices across the Southeast, including in DC. My life and our lifestyle are as fast-paced now as they were when we lived in DC because my employer's clients are located in major centers worldwide and we compete with service providers from NY, LA and elsewhere. Is everyone's life in the South like mine? He*l, no. Is everyone's life in the South as you assume? Same answer.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 3:37 PM

I said: Where we were in Texas
I did not say all of Texas is like that.

Way to get defensive.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 3:38 PM

the small towns with huge houses and no jobs (and culture) have olive gardens, and chili's, and other franchise restaurants as a form of entertainment. I spent a few months out in asburn and it would be a 45 minute wait for a table at the outback steakhouse on the weekend... odd, very odd...

Posted by: single mom | February 8, 2007 03:19 PM

Single Mom, you just described life in my parents' town in Arizona! The scariest part is, the chain restaurants generally are of better quality than the local establishments. Olive Garden is at my threshhold for edibility, and you can do *a whole lot worse* if you're not careful.

Posted by: BxNY | February 8, 2007 3:39 PM

Alright alright NC person. We get it.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 3:40 PM

pATRICK, it's nice to have the opportunity to do things for others that they appreciate.

I've always wanted to ask why you invert the case in your posting name. Perhaps you can give me a clue?

Pittypat, I tried to learn braille, and couldn't cut it. However, the effort did not go to waste, for now as an adult, I know first hand, what it is like for a kid to learn how to read.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 8, 2007 3:42 PM

the small towns with huge houses and no jobs (and culture) have olive gardens, and chili's, and other franchise restaurants as a form of entertainment.
Posted by: single mom | February 8, 2007 03:19 PM

That's kind of like the town I grew up. It is a beautiful quiet mountain town but there are absolutely no jobs and nothing to do. I visit my parents, who still live there, frequently and its actually a nice escape from DC. But I can only take it in small dosages.

Posted by: tobi | February 8, 2007 3:46 PM

I'd love to do volunteer activites as a family but have resigned myself to waiting until the kids are bigger (now 4 & 6) I'd love it if anyone had any ideas about volunteer activities for younger kids. I do think it is important that they feel responsible to give something back.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 3:47 PM

Father of 4,
I second the ideas of volunteering at a hotline, etc. As a person with a disability (don't know what the PC word is) your input could really help someone who is feeling helpless/hopeless as I guess you have been there.
The guy I carpool grew up in DC and got in with the wrong crowd - did some prison time and is now an upstanding citizen. He volunteers with a school talking to the junior high kids - trying to get them on the right track.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 3:48 PM

I totally have to disagree with the small towns not having good food. Apex is a small town, but in Chapel Hill and Cary and other close towns, there is SO much good food. There are 4 Thai places, 7 sushi places, 3 Greek places, and 3 Indian places within 20 minutes of us! Not to mention the authentic Mexican cuisine. There is more good food here than I have time to eat. Just had to add that.

Posted by: Meesh | February 8, 2007 3:49 PM

just heard that Anna Nicole Smith is dead - actually makes me kind of sad - what a miserable life she has had.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 3:50 PM

Moxiemom,
I know people who do something as simple as taking their kids with them when they donate toys to goodwill. Take them to buy a toy for tots during the holidays. When they are a bit older they can help set tables or serve at a soup kitchen.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 3:50 PM

Oh, and NC Lawyer, WF is right. I'm actually talking about getting to Bethesda (Democracy Blvd. exit) in about 5 hours if it's not rush hour. It has taken us about 6 hours most recently. We don't really go straight into DC.

Posted by: Meesh | February 8, 2007 3:50 PM

Sounds like WF's agreement is similar to mine with my DH. Neither of us is final authority about household spending. We have a joint account and we each have separate personal accounts. We each get x dollars in our accounts each month. All of our personal spending (coffee breaks, lunches out, that new CD, clothes, etc.) have to come out of our personal accounts. The joint account is for paying the bills and anything extra goes into savings. If either of us want to spend out of the joint account or from savings we can lobby to allow the purchase but the other person has the right to veto for any reason. So when I think we really have to have those new dinner plates I have to have a really good reason why they should come out of our joint account. A reason like the old ones are chipped and I'm embarrassed to serve on them will likely ok the expense from our joint account. A reason like, I really love the pattern on the new ones so what if the old ones are still just fine, will likely mean that they're not a necessary expense and if I want them they come out of my account.

This works for us because we seldom ask each other to spend out of the joint account so when we do it is usually allowed. It also cuts down on those "Honey is that a new cell phone? Isn't your old one less than a year old? Did it break? No? So why did you get a new one? Because Jack did? And you couldn't let him have the coolest phone in the office?" The last sentence is then "Umm ok dear. It's your money." (while I roll my eyes) instead of the "How much of our money did you spend on that? But I was going to spend that money on a new dress for Jane's wedding. No, I can't wear the old one I wore that one to Amy's wedding." Etc, etc, etc.

How about a blog on balancing personal need/wants financially with the needs of the family.

Posted by: SC | February 8, 2007 3:52 PM

KLB SS MD - Thanks for the tip. Mostly I have them help me pick out things for the families we sponsor at the holidays.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 3:53 PM

"I swear, I've done it more than once and never topped 85, which is pretty normal on 95N and 85N"

This kind of arrogance is unfathomable -- although all too common among the well-to-do.

It's an attitude that says, "These rules don't apply to me. I'm special."

Driving 85 mph or faster is illegal, irresponsible, dangerous, and stupid. Doesn't matter how good a driver you are, how late in the evening it might be, or how much you want to get somewhere by a certain time. None of these exempts you from keeping your fellow drivers out of peril.

Recklessness is not the entitlement of people who believe they are somehow superior.

Posted by: | February 8, 2007 03:35 PM

Oh, dear God, pATRICK, I'm relying on you to please smack this one down.

Anonymous Ma'am, I've never before heard of speeding or recklessness as an entitlement of the wealthy. Maybe driving off of bridges and leaving passengers to die without calling the police, but not mere speeding and recklessness.

In fact, speeding's a whole lot more fun if you're driving a late 70s Trans Am with the eagle decal on the hood (blue book $600) than it is in my 5 year old base-model Maxima (what with the dent in the rear passenger door - one of those things the arrogant affluent like to keep around to feel like the common man - blue book $0).

If you want to stay out of peril, stay off of I-95. If you want to drive I-95 and make it really, really dangerous for everyone else, go 60 in the far right lane for twenty miles and you'll be the cause of an 8 car pile-up that will kill more than a few innocent folks. I don't subscribe to driving 85 mph either, but please tell me you don't really believe that speeding has all of the complex social implications and meanings with which you're lading it.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 3:54 PM

How about a blog on balancing personal need/wants financially with the needs of the family.

For us it means that my entire wardrobe is from Target. Maybe I'll get something nice on sale at Nordstrom.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 3:56 PM

Moxiemom,
Have you ever been to a Kohls? They have very nice clothes and when they have a sale they have a SALE!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 3:58 PM

Meesh - if you haven't already, try Peak City Bar & Grill in Apex. We've had a couple of good evenings there. Fearrington Inn in Pittsboro is a 5 star restaurant as well, and if anything's a small town, it's Pittsboro.

You've now reached the end of the On Parenting Fodor's guide to the Triangle.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 4:00 PM

KLB SS MD - Have I ever been to Kohls? It is where my nice stuff comes from! It may not be the pinacle of fashion but I love it and their sales ARE great. I got my dd a COlumbia winter coat there for $17, I actually called my dh at work it was such a housewife coup!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 4:01 PM

Nancy Pelosi is asking for a bigger and more expensive plane.
Any bets on drugs being involved in Anna Nicole's death? Sad for the baby.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:01 PM

I moved to Houston from DC 20 years ago. I had certain expectations, based on the city's reputation.

What I have found is that it is big, diverse, ugly, lively, flat, flood prone, and green. The cost of living is lower than in other large cities. Public schools vary, and neighborhoods matter a lot. Nobody is going to try to keep you from making it, but don't expect a lot of help, either.

Comparisons to Dallas make us laugh. By the way, yesterday I was dressed in shorts.

Posted by: Matt M | February 8, 2007 4:01 PM

KB I really enjoyed your post - and your prioritization description described my day today a bit too well (I am finishing lunch now.) This is probably too much information but I am a happy singleton who gets questions from old friends about not having more of a life outside of work... but I always feel like the more I put into my job the more I like it (though that does not include dealing with the pushy <=5% you spoke of). Did you find you liked your job any less when you had larger outside commitements? I don't mean that you wouln't make the same decisions - but just whether there was something that you sacrificed? ... if that makes sense...

Posted by: thanks KB | February 8, 2007 4:03 PM

Matt M,
Bite me - we have been in single digits here.
Are you saying Dallas is good? I liked my visit there but it sure was hot.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:03 PM

Nancy Pelosi is asking for a bigger and more expensive plane.
Any bets on drugs being involved in Anna Nicole's death? Sad for the baby.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 04:01 PM

Just heard this story - what a sad life this woman led.

And Kohl's - there is always a sale there. We joke it is the 70% off store.

Posted by: CMAC | February 8, 2007 4:04 PM

KLB - did you ever find your contact?

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 4:04 PM

KLB - I visited Dallas a few years back and had a great time. Not so much in Houston.
When, oh when, will it get above freezing here?????

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 4:05 PM

How about limiting material goods for kid. Best places to buy kids clothing.
moxiemom: we give stuff to charity every month. DD is 3 and she helps put stuff in the bag. Granted this isn't much but as she gets older, she can sort through her own old toys to contribute. So she is learning the lesson of time and giving up something of your own to someone in need. I also did gifts for a needy family during the holidays. DD handed me pre cut strips of scotch tape to wrap the gifts. It was hilarious. It took literally 3 times as long to wrap the gifts but it was funny to see her put tape all over herself.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 4:05 PM

Moxiemom,
Yes - I found it for $94 at Pearle Vision!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:05 PM

I think the kids stuff at Kohls generally shrink up. Buy a size up if your going to shop there. I prefer Target, Kids R Us or Jc Penny for kids clothes.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 4:07 PM

Pelosi wants her plane to be able to fly non-stop to CA.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:11 PM

Barf- how long do those articles of clothing last? Do you need to buy a new arsenal of cheap crap every few months?

Posted by: Kohls? | February 8, 2007 4:11 PM

The gifts of clothing that DD receieved from Kohls, shrunk the first time I washed them. So she can wear them once, wash and then hand down to someone else. If you bought a size up, I think they would last just as long as other clothing. That is just my experience. I don't shop there because I would rather buy the correct size and know it does not shrink.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 4:13 PM

I think the kids stuff at Kohls generally shrink up. Buy a size up if your going to shop there. I prefer Target, Kids R Us or Jc Penny for kids clothes.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 04:07 PM

Their store brand for little girls is "So" and the jeans are fine but the shirts do shrink up. Kohl's does carry name brands, chaps, levis, etc. Their shoe dept is good but I seem to get there after a herd of angry shoppers has pushed through and I can't even find pairs - it is a shoe explosion. LAst thing on Kohls - as I know how enthralling this topic is - their Home Dept is great. They have name brand towels and sheets and of course it is all 70% off.

Posted by: cmac | February 8, 2007 4:14 PM

KLB SS MD - LOL

Barf- how long do those articles of clothing last? Do you need to buy a new arsenal of cheap crap every few months?

Posted by: Kohls? | February 8, 2007 04:11 PM

Aren't you kind. We live on one income and have to make different choices than you might. Also since my kids are still small there is a high probability that any item of clothing will get ruined too. I can't realistically wear Nordstrom to the park or to make pizza with the kids. The upside, I can wear track pants any day I want.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 4:16 PM

There are 34 Applebees within a 20 mile radius of New York City.

There are 18 Outback Steakhouses within a 20 mile radius of New York City.

Bunch of no good hicks.

Posted by: No rules, just right | February 8, 2007 4:16 PM

We are all about consignment for kids clothes. You get Baby Gap and Childrens Place and Osh Kosh for the same price or less than what you'd pay for Target brands. No worries about shrinking. Not feeding the "made by kids, for kids" problem but also not spending a fortune on fair trade. If you go to a good place the stuff is in good shape. As he gets older this will probably get harder but for now, I LOVE it. I buy a lot of my own clothes that way too, though, so that's just me.

Posted by: Megan | February 8, 2007 4:16 PM

I agree on home dept at Kohls - again, great sales and if you have their credit card you get 10-15% off quite often. Add that to the 2 for 1 sales and it is hard to beat.
Done with Kohl's love fest from me.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:17 PM

We (okay - it's not we, it's I) buy our kids' clothes on ebay - never new or nwot because the new and nwot kids clothes are either the same junk that was on sale at Potomac Mills a year ago or stolen (I suspect). In their short lives, my kids have not yet donned a new garment other than school uniforms, but shoes for my older one are now having to be purchased new. Ah well. My friends think they're bargain-hunters but either end up over-paying at these big family consignment events or end up with junk from alleged discounters at higher prices.

we're going to chase the guys away if we continue talking about shopping. Can we mix conversation about shopping with conversations about beer to bring them back?

KLB - why on earth are your contacts so expensive? $94 for ONE?? Is it a prettier shade of not-quite-blue?

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 4:21 PM

NC lawyer,
I wear a hard/gas permeable lens which is more expensive than the disposable soft lenses. They usually last for years so it isn't bad really.
I did my part about beer above - I told how you could walk around Fort Worth with one from a bar in a plastic cup. Your turn :-)
I believe it is time for an adult beverage now - thanks for reminding me.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:25 PM

btw, the new On Parenting blog? Blechhhh. mind-numbing column. more mind-numbing comments, except for Laura's and atlmom's posts. No surprise there.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 4:25 PM

She's asking for a "bigger, more expensive plane" because the one Denny Hastert used would only make it to California without having to refuel under "ideal wind conditions." I'm no liberal, but this seems stupid. Give the woman who's 3rd in line for the presidency a stupid plane that gets her where she wants to go, please!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 4:26 PM

What is the big deal with one stop to refuel? Why should we have to buy a multi-million dollar plane so she doesn't have to stop? Great way to waste more bucks.

Posted by: DC lurker | February 8, 2007 4:28 PM

Adult beverage..mmmmmm....
*checks clock again*

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 4:28 PM

Missicat,
It is after 5 somewhere you know.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:29 PM

"I will not be able to make the chuch committee discussion on whether it is virtuous for women to grow balls and breastfeed in public."

Ok, Chris, Master Bayter, etc (same person) the comment having to do with balls was aimed at the people who could not say no to Girl Scouts, nothing to do with breastfeeding.

Yesterday, funny. Today, you're really reaching and trying way too hard.

(hee hee, I said "hard.")

Posted by: Judith | February 8, 2007 4:30 PM

I don't know man, in my family it is totally the men who like to shop and the women who don't. I think most men enjoy shopping just as much as most women, they just call it being "gearheads" instead.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 4:30 PM

KLB - so true...but until it's 5:00 here I am stuck at work!
Think I will head down to Old Town Alexandria....

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 4:30 PM

"I don't know man, in my family it is totally the men who like to shop and the women who don't."
I must be related to you as I hate shopping. I do as much as possible on-line.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:31 PM

Another vote for Kohl's: great lingerie dept. And their house brand of sleepware is soooo soft and cozy.

And, of course, there's that 70%...

Posted by: pittypat | February 8, 2007 4:32 PM

Missicat,
I think I will head up to my kitchen. Decisions decisions - pinot noir, cran juice and vodka or mimosa.

Mike Tyson checked into rehab now.(Yes, I am watching the news).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:32 PM

Meagan!!!

Just when I was getting down and depressed. So glad to see you!

Love to chat, but I gotta go. Terrible news this afternoon - my brother in law just passed away. Leukemia took him quickly.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 8, 2007 4:34 PM

KLB SS MD that was me at 4:30, and I am so with you. I do everything on line that I can. If I can't actually buy the thing on line, I do all my research on line, decide what I'm getting, and go buy it quickly. My family was shocked when I bought my car that way, I think they didn't realize how much time I'd spent before going and actually buying it.

The only exception is that I like browsing at kitchen stores for some weird reason, but I almost never buy anything. But there's something about all those rows of pretty gadgets that I enjoy...

Posted by: Megan | February 8, 2007 4:34 PM

My vote is for pinot- perfect on a freezing cold day such as this!

Posted by: PINOT PINOT PINOT! | February 8, 2007 4:35 PM

Father of 4,
Sorry for your loss.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:35 PM

Megan,
I hate to admit to this but I also have done quite a bit of QVC shopping. They have great prices and good service. I just got a $400 TomTom (navigational device) for under $300.
Another good source is, believe it or not, eBay for things like razors, electric toothbrush heads. I can usually get them for at least 1/3 of what you would pay in a store.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:38 PM

"I hate shopping. I do as much as possible on-line."

KLB --

I'm with you.

I used to like shopping, but now I hate the crowds, the hot stores, the tightly packed mechandise, etc. I still go to places like Target and Kohl's, b/c they're pleasant to shop in and I like the prices. But most of my clothes are bought online. Several mail order clothiers have incredible clearance sales and/or outlet stores.

Posted by: pittypat | February 8, 2007 4:38 PM

Land's End has great clearance sales online. Just bought 4 pairs of shoes.

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 4:40 PM

KLB SS MD

HOw much time do you have on your hands? I have never gotten a razor or Toothbrush head (really???) anywhere other than CVS or the grocery store. You search around for cheap toothbrush heads? Isn't time worth more than $1 or 2?? Strange

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 4:40 PM

The only store I like to go to is the commissary for groceries. I love to cook so that is fun for me.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:40 PM

KLB - Definitely Pinot!

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 4:40 PM

Thanks for all the Houston info... We are moving for DH's new promotion but I sure am going to miss home!!

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 4:40 PM

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (AP) -- The father of a young girl who died of exposure had knocked her unconscious because he was angry she wouldn't go to bed, then took her outside in freezing temperatures and left her there, police said before the man's arraignment Thursday.

Nyia Miangel Page, who was about to turn 2, was found dead Sunday on a wooded knoll about a 10 minute walk from the family's home.

Tiny footprints in the snow suggested she had gotten up and wandered around before she died, police said.

Her father, William Lorenzo Page, 23, of Braddock, was arrested on charges of criminal homicide, kidnapping, false reports and simple assault. He did not have an attorney in court Thursday morning, and was jailed without bond.

Page told police he woke up early Saturday and found the girl awake and playing near a mirror in the hallway, according to the criminal complaint. He said he got mad when the girl wouldn't go back to bed, so he hit her so hard she hit her head and was unconscious, the complaint said.

Page then took her outside wrapped in a blanket and left her, police said.

An autopsy determined Nyia died of hypothermia, but the Allegheny County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide because investigators said it was unreasonable to assume the child got to the wooded location alone.

Her small body was found about a 10-minute walk from her home, a trek that would have included climbing 17 snowy steps up to a wooded knoll.

A witness had seen Page enter his house Saturday morning from the direction where his daughter was found, police said. He was back out on the street about an hour later, saying he was looking for the girl and telling the witness, "Somebody took my daughter," according to a criminal complaint.

Nyia's mother told police she last saw the girl after Nyia tried to crawl into bed with her parents about 12:30 a.m. Saturday. The mother told police she put the youngster back into her own bed in an upstairs room.

Police, emergency crews and bloodhounds searched in 20-degree temperatures for most of two days before finding the little girl's body.

Page, who did not have an attorney in court Thursday morning, was jailed without bond.

Posted by: THIS is a sad loss | February 8, 2007 4:41 PM

Electric toothbrush heads can be 18-20 bucks for 3. I can get 9 or 12 on ebay for that. Good for a year. And looking for an item and bidding on it doesn't take any time at all. Can do it in between writing to mother and paying bills.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:42 PM

father of 4, I'm so sorry. May God bless you and your family.

Posted by: experienced mom | February 8, 2007 4:42 PM

Father of 4 - very sorry to hear of your loss.

Posted by: Missicat | February 8, 2007 4:43 PM

Sad loss,
And it won't be a loss at all if something happens to the father in jail, will it?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:43 PM

HEY Father of 4, good to see you too! But I am so sorry for your loss and I wish your family well.

Posted by: Megan | February 8, 2007 4:44 PM

When there's nothing on Tv (an all too common occurance), we watch QVC.

It is HILARIOUS (albeit in a 'it makes me feel better about myself to listen to the suckers who call in and get on the air and rave about the Chinese crap they're buying and how much of it they buy and no doubt this makes me a no good high falutin' (sp?) snob but I don't care I still find it funny I'm probably going to hell' kind of way). Though sometimes it's sad. But mostly just HILAROUS.

Posted by: QVC for Comedy of the Year | February 8, 2007 4:45 PM

Sad loss,
And it won't be a loss at all if something happens to the father in jail, will it?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 04:43 PM


What? THis will be a sad loss no matter what happens to the father.

I think that should about wrap up the day. Kohls talk just isn't appetizing after this. so sad

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 4:46 PM

This for the people who complain about "the regulars":
I can but hope that kind words from "strangers" help warm someone like Emily or Father of 4's hearts at a time of loss.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:46 PM

I meant in relation to Anna Nicole Smith, not Fo4.

Sorry for your loss.

Posted by: this is a sad loss | February 8, 2007 4:47 PM

Father of 4, I am so sorry for your loss.

Posted by: NC lawyer | February 8, 2007 4:47 PM

I mean that if something bad happens to the dad THAT won't be particularly sad after what he did to his child.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 4:47 PM

So sorry to hear of your loss, Father of 4. Safe travels if necessary, and good thoughts to you all.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | February 8, 2007 4:49 PM

My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your brother-in-law.

Posted by: catlady | February 8, 2007 4:52 PM

The story about that child left outside to die of exposure had me in tears and I am not at all a sensistive person. I find that after having my daughter anything that I hear bad pertaining to children hits me like a kick in the stomach!

As for where I shop - I am addicted to amazon.com. though now my friends and I are trying out The Compact, and not purchasing anything new for 4 months... it definately saves me time not online shopping...

Fo4 sorry to hear about your loss.

Posted by: single mom | February 8, 2007 4:53 PM

Fo4, so sorry for your family's loss.

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 4:55 PM

The father who dumped his child outside in below-zero weather had better hope he's always in solitary confinement for the rest of his life.

Here are some additional details in a breaking news story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this afternoon:

...Mr. Page, 23, is being held without bail in the county jail, pending a preliminary hearing on the charges next Wednesday in Municipal Court.

He already had been in custody on charges that he had molested a 6-year-old boy on Feb. 3.

On the same day, Mr. Page said in a statement to police, he had chastised his daughter because she would not return to bed and had begun to scream.

He said he back-handed the child in the chest, knocking her down where she struck her head. Then, he wiped her head with a towel, wrapped her in a blanket, and carried her from their First Street home in Braddock toward the wooded area in Rankin.

Under police questioning, Mr. Page told investigators his daughter was unconscious, but breathing when he left her, wearing only a sweater, beside the railroad tracks near the Overland Street overpass a couple of blocks from their home.

Mr. Page then returned home, undressed and went back to bed, he told police...

Posted by: In da Burgh | February 8, 2007 5:01 PM

Fo4 - So sorry - sure puts things in perspective. Safe travels.

Posted by: moxiemom | February 8, 2007 5:06 PM

The story about that little girl is just so heart-wrenching, it makes me sick to my stomach. What a sick, sad twist that man is.

It's only 3 here, can we have a change of topic or is that too shallow a request?

Posted by: Megan | February 8, 2007 5:11 PM

Megan,
What would you like to change it to? If you are on the left coast then we probably don't want to chat about the water main breaks and freezing cold weather (single digits) because we might have to hate you.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 5:17 PM

Nor would we want to talk about the lack of snow this year, yet freezing cold temps the past week - is global warming freaking anyone else out?

Posted by: single mom | February 8, 2007 5:22 PM

KLB SS MD weather is always good!

I'm in Colorado, and there is still a good 12 to 15 inches of snow piled up in my front yard even after several days of above freezing and sunny days. Seven straight weeks of snow storms and I tell you what, I am ready for some relief.

But at least we don't have it as bad as the folks in Buffalo...

Posted by: Megan | February 8, 2007 5:23 PM

We did sandwiches the other day - I think missicat wanted to do pizza. It is almost dinner time - favorite pizzas anyone?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 5:24 PM

Although lest I incite the wrath of the snow god, I will say how glad I am that in this period of melting temperatures, we can actually see the pavement of our street again and may even get rid of some of the deep ruts and grooves that make driving to the end of the block an amusement park ride.

I'm with ya on the global warming, single mom...

Posted by: Megan | February 8, 2007 5:25 PM

Sorry Megan,
I take it all back and apologize profusely. And yes, we are lucky we aren't in northern NY state - I just saw on the news that they had 70 inches of snow. Now that is some kind of shoveling.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 5:26 PM

We are all missing the entire point of this blog! It is about balance. So, how do you balance your drink and snacks without spilling? :-)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 5:28 PM

Where we live, we had several weeks solid of -25c degree temperatures with no snow in sight - how weird is that?! It is freezing outside and yet brown everywhere. We actually are having our first big snowfall of the season - cold but at least it is snowing too... makes a bit more sense somehow...

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 5:29 PM

s,
Where are you? We have had single digit fahrenheit temps here (the other morning it was 5 when I got up).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 5:32 PM

I grieve with you on the loss of your brother-in-law. Be careful out there and take care of yourself and your family.

Posted by: dotted | February 8, 2007 5:32 PM

Fo4 - I am so sorry for your family's loss. My thoughts are with your family.

Megan, where have you been? I was thinking just yesterday that you have been gone for long time. Welcome back.

To all those folks who like consignment shopping for kids and who live in the DC area, what are your favorite shops?

Posted by: Emily | February 8, 2007 5:33 PM

LOL, KLB!

Balancing drinks and snacks was so much easier when I had the pregnancy shelf, there was ample room for all! But it's worth giving that up to once again be able to tap into the good stuff again...

My favorite pizza in the whole world is one with eggplant at Modern Apizza in New Haven, CT. Man do I miss that place.

And as for our weather, at least we get to go skiing with all this snow, whereas you get nothing good from the freeze, so I'm definitely sympathetic!

Posted by: Megan | February 8, 2007 5:33 PM

The Kohl's where I live doesn't carry any brands I recognize. If I had kids, they'd get no-names since they would grow out of it anyway, but I have a career where image matters, so I to shop carefully for name-brand. I find end-of-season sales are good, and upscale department stores often have semi-decent sales just for the heck of it.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 5:34 PM

Emily,
There are a lot of consignment shops in Bethesda (high end for decent money) and then there is Second Hand Rose in Rockville on E Gude Dr.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 5:35 PM

Megan,
I am from New Britain, CT - hi fellow yankee (the only true yankees you know - the others are wannabes, right?)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 5:36 PM

I live in Calgary, Alberta. The mountains have been full of snow since November but we have been brown until last week... crazy weather! I think -25c is about -15ish F...

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 5:37 PM

Yes, I am familiar with Second Hand Rose. I just find it to be too big, and sometimes, the stuff is more then gently used. But I will have to try the Bethesda shops.

Up until recently, I used to shop at the Osh Kosh at Congressinal for my son, during their big sales. The clothes always seemed to last very well - my son outgrew them before he destroyed them. But alas they closed. There is an Osh Kosh Outlet at Leesburg that is also pretty good in terms of prices, but it is so far away!!

Posted by: Emily | February 8, 2007 5:38 PM

Emily, thanks - it's been kind of a crazy new year, so I just didn't have the mental space till now, but it's fun to see some of the old regulars and some of the new ones too!

KLB, I actually am a native of Colorado, but lived in CT for about 6 years - I used to belong to a CSA farm in New Britain, actually! And you are right, CT has some hard core yankees for sure.

s, that is really, really cold. Yikes.

Posted by: Megan | February 8, 2007 5:40 PM

I should mention we live only 45 minutes from the mountains so...

I hate shopping... I wish I had a personal shopper!

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 5:40 PM

Hard core fits my family to a T. The house we lived in when I was born was built in 1750. It is still in the family and is lived in by my uncle and cousin.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 5:44 PM

I have been there once in August and when I got off the plane the air was so thick I couldn't breathe for a minute (we are at about 3500 feet above sea level - the air is definitely thinner)..

Big big change - at least we have some time to prepare for it :)

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 5:47 PM

so was I correct that Master Bayter is the same poster as pATRICK? or is it a coincidence that you both live in Houston?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 5:48 PM

I am not sure there is anything you can do to prepare for that kind of weather change. Just make sure you have the best A/C money can buy both in the car and the house. On the up side - you don't need a 4 wheel drive vehicle anymore.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 5:49 PM

FO4 - so sorry about your brother in law.

Posted by: cmac | February 8, 2007 5:49 PM

I think the weirdest thing will be lack of changes in the seasons and no mountains - love to backpack, etc. Maybe I will have to spend time in saunas before we go? Crazy, crazy!

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 5:53 PM

You will have season changes - from hot to hotter to hotter than hot to oh my god I can't breathe hot!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 5:56 PM

haha... that's funny and scaring me a little bit.
I love fall when it has been hot (by my standards anyways), and you can bundle up in a comfy sweater, crunch through leaves and smell the cold... blissful!

I think I just have to get used to the idea...

Posted by: s | February 8, 2007 6:00 PM

s,
I know just what you mean - love the sound of leaves crunching and seeing my breath. However, this bitter cold we are having now is not doing it for me at all.
Oh well, I have to go feed the dog and cook myself something to eat to go along with the pinot. KLB SS MD out.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | February 8, 2007 6:02 PM

fo4: I am so sorry for your loss. I will keep you and your family in my prayers tonight. Safe journey.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 8, 2007 6:48 PM

I have never had a problem saying no. In fact, my husband and I have a running joke about if he/we don't want to do something, I am the one to turn the person down. I would say yes with school and extracurriculars for my kids when they were growing up. If it was important to them, I would do it. I worked full time when my kids were growing up and it seemed the stay at home mothers were always the ones demanding of us working outside the home moms "why."

Posted by: Suzy | February 8, 2007 7:39 PM

Fo4 - my sympathies too. glad everyone believes you on THIS one. jeeez...

Posted by: Leslie | February 8, 2007 10:29 PM

Friends, your kindness towards me is remarkable. I am stunned from all of the responses, and thankful for all prayers.

Tonight, its all quiet on the home front. When Baby Boy saw Mommy crying, he went off and created a small injury for himself, so he could have something to be sad about too. Kids are very aware of their parents emotions and want to share their compassion.

After I gather some thoughts and memmories from my wife's past step brother, I'll share the story of how a single father raised his daughter. She is only 17 years old and won't have him to share her memories of high school graduation with him.

Please forgive me for the sad news. Next time when I post, I'll try to make it as uplifting as I can.

Posted by: Father of 4 | February 8, 2007 10:30 PM

Father of 4, I am truly sorry for your family's loss.

Posted by: Meesh | February 9, 2007 8:51 AM

Fo4, I usually try to restrain myself b/c my affection for you knows no bounds, but I've got to say: your insights about parenting are remarkable. You have such consistent understanding of what it means to be a kid. Thanks, and thinking of you and your family --

Posted by: Leslie | February 9, 2007 9:25 AM

father of 4,

So sorry for your loss email if you need anything.

to THIS is a sad loss,

I can't imagine anyone doing that to a child. They deserve the same fate. sad

Posted by: scarry | February 9, 2007 9:37 AM


Father of 4,

So sorry to hear about your BIL. I'm glad his daughter still has you and your wife in her life.

There's no need to always be uplifting, either.

Posted by: KB | February 9, 2007 1:34 PM

Fof4:
This is too late, of course, but I wanted to add my deepest condolenses. I would greatly enjoy hearing about your BIL, raising his teenage girl as a single parent.

I also lost both my parents to cancer, including loosing my mother when I was 19, as a college sophomore. As the last kid left at home of us eight, I spent a semester taking her to her daily radition/chemo treatments, while taking 14-15 hours of Engineering courses, and working full time to support myself. I never failed any courses, but I came very close during that year. Took a long time to dig out from that academic hole, and it left me in school on the extended plan, for sure.

I was pleased that my very Polish mother saw me get engaged to my (Polish/German) high school sweetheart before she passed. I think it provided her some comfort to think that all her kids were settled in their lives. She was 58. My biggest regret is that she never got to see her 13th and 14th (final) Grandkids. I know she would have loved it. I also never got a chance to spoil my Mom for doing such an amazing job raising eight kids. To this day it boggles my mind.

I also think if was a comfort that my father, who also dying of cancer at 74, lived just long enough to see my son born, the last of his grandkids, and the first male born to one of his sons.

Cancer has taken a tough toll on my family, but I hope that you find strength in your friends, family, and your faith as I did. My prayers and profound best wishes are with you in this difficult time.

Godspeed, my friend...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | February 9, 2007 2:14 PM

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