Friday, February 28, 2014

advice column: take 1!

Well, well, well. I never should have doubted yall. Not for a second. I've never met a group of people so full of burning questions!! Look-- you asked so many dang questions I was forced to make an Excel spreadsheet to keep track!!!!

As you can imagine, this really broke my heart. Making Excel spreadsheets is just so terribly excruciating for me...

Anyway, the idea with the spreadsheet is that maybe this way I can keep track of who asked what and what I've answered so far. Once I actually answer some questions (like in about two seconds), I'll highlight them! Genius. So let's get started, shall we?

I'm not answering the questions in any particular order. Some of them require more thought (and/or digging up some really old pictures in order to REALLY tell the story), some are funny, some are I'll just pick a little smorgasbord and get going, mkay? (Also, I'll include a link to your blog if I know it/your Blogger profile links to one. Some of you with your profiles linked to Google+...that means I can't find your blog (if you have one) easily. Sorry!!)

Deep and Probing Life Questions and Conundrums: Your Problems Solved!

Rach inquired:

Dear Erika,

Last week I discovered that my cat was licking my toothbrush when he was on the counter waiting for his morning tap water. I threw out that toothbrush and moved them into a cupboard. But what should I do with said cat to keep him from doing it again? Skinning and beheading are not an option, as my guillotine and machetes are undergoing annual maintenance. 

Horrified Cat Mommy

Dear Horrified Cat Mommy,

For one, I want to thank you for making me spew water all over my desk when I read this question. And it looks like a lot of folks had the same reaction, so...thank you for understanding the essence of this advice column: humor. Now, that said, I think I have some super valuable advice that can help you in this legit situation you've found yourself in. I don't think there's anyone here that can honestly say they haven't encountered a similar cat-licking-toothbrush situation. And I admire your desire to avoid (or at least delay) skinning and beheading. Since you've already solved most of the problem by putting your (new, un- cat-licked) toothbrush in a closed cabinet, it seems that your next step is going to be teaching the cat not to sit on the counter. The obvious solution to this is to start keeping your Doberman on the counter. Assuming the Doberman and the cat aren't besties, this should definitely ensure that the cat keeps to the floor in the future. Good luck!


Laura asked:

Dear Erika,
I was introduced to someone named Tom years ago. Now we are now rather close with their family and every time his wife refers to him, she calls him Thomas. I don't know if his wife is trying to correct me or if both names are acceptable. I've tried to pay attention to what others call him and it seems that those close to him call him Thomas. Should I be calling him Tom or Thomas?
Just name your kids what you want people to call them to avoid confusion

Dear Name Your Kids Non-Confusingly,

This is a great question and one that I encounter (or rather, see others encounter) often, as the wife of a person named Matthew-Matt-Mattie. I asked Matthew-Matt-Mattie to weigh in on this, and his advice was two-fold. First of all, you should just ask the guy what he wants/prefers to be called. If his answer is that he doesn't care, Matthew-Matt-Mattie says that that's truly what he means (assuming he's not the kind of guy that likes to play mind games). So call him whichever name you feel most comfortable with. I pressed him a little further and asked if it would be weird if after calling him Tom for years, you suddenly switched to calling him Thomas...would he think that was strange? Matt said no. If people start calling him (Matt) by a different version of his name, he doesn't normally notice or think twice of it.

After thinking through the situation a bit, though, Matt changed his mind and suggested that you just call the guy Tommy Boy. Let me know how that goes!


Kimberly needs to know:

How many times a week do you think I need to wash my hair to be an acceptable human being? How many times a week do you think I need to wash my body in the winter to be an acceptable human being? 

Dear Kimberly,

Based on the tone of your question, I suspect that you aren't going to like my answers very much...but they don't pay me the big bucks to tiptoe around the issues here. I'm gonna tell you like it is.

To be an acceptable human being (going to work every day, as you do, and otherwise participating in normal suburban life and activities), I think you need to wash your hair at least 3 times a week. This is very generous, actually, from me-- I wash mine every single day. BUT I know many people (usually curly-head people) that can skip a day or even two and be totally fine. Assuming you're one of those people, I'll kindly give you a 3 day a week minimum. Just because you CAN skip like eight days in a row of hair-washing doesn't mean you SHOULD, people. Think about the shampoo industry and what we'd do to it if we all had such lax hair washing routines!

As for washing your body, Kimberly...I know you live in Iowa and you're perpetually buried under 38 feet of snow for 9 months a year, but...I still firmly believe you need to engage in some sort of body washing every single day. I'm sorry. I just do. I will make exceptions for if you're on a camping trip or something, but assuming you're not camping in the winter (at 24 weeks pregnant with twins...), you need to be hitting that shower every day. 

I hope we can still be friends.


The Things You Need to Know About Me

Anonymous questioned:

Have you had any contact with Ellison's birthmother since the birth?

Since birth, the answer would be yes-- we were in very close contact the whole time we were (both) in the hospital. We spent a lot of time together with the baby and in each other's rooms. However, I suspect that you were actually asking about contact with her since the failure of the adoption and us leaving the hospital. The answer there is no, we have not. To me, this is normal. I wouldn't expect (or really want?) to hear from her. There was nothing angry or vindictive in our 'break up' so I can't think of any reason she would want or need to contact us. (I can imagine scenarios where if she were like...angry or something, she could purposefully hurt us by texting pictures of the baby or something...but NOTHING like that has happened) So I guess it's for the best. I still have her number (and some of her family members' names/numbers) in my phone...I don't know why. I keep considering deleting them, since seeing them as I'm scrolling for other numbers is usually an unwelcome reminder, but...I just haven't.


Lisa asked:

How do you know who and whom not to share your blog with? Does your family read it? What if you don't want family to know all your business but you feel like you would you feel like you would be a jerk for telling them not to read it when hundreds of people you don't know read it? I hate that.

This is a really interesting question! In general, I never 'advertise' that I have a blog. There's a link to it on the 'webpage' section of the 'about me' page on my personal Facebook. Therefore I assume that anyone who I know who is my FB friend could, in theory, know about my blog (if they care enough to look at that remote section of my FB page, ha!). I keep that in mind in situations where I befriend new people (coworkers, etc.) on FB. I don't think I've ever like...promoted it to someone in real life. "Hey, I'm Erika! I have a blog!"...that would be really weird to me. It comes up occasionally when someone in real life will be like "oh, I saw blah blah blah on your blog" and we get to talking about whatever it was...and then if someone else is like "wait, where/what is this?" and then I answer questions as necessary...but I always find that to be super weird, honestly. Ha. 

As for my family...I'm pretty sure everyone is aware that I have a blog. A few of them read it, but I'm not really sure how regularly. I definitely do not think I could/would tell anyone NOT to read it...that would be SUPER weird!!! 

As for having family know all my business...I guess it comes with the territory. I try to take into account the potential audience before I share things. Obviously I never want to offend or hurt anyone, so you'll notice I don't go on long rants and raves about family drama. If it's happening, you won't hear it from me here! ;) In general, I've found having a blog to be more positive than negative with family. I'm not really the best at sharing my deep thoughts and feelings in real life...I'm much better with my words in I feel like if they want to really 'know' me, reading my blog is a win-win. I don't have to face the discomfort of sharing deep stuff out loud. They can learn everything they'd ever want to know about my lip gloss preferences. What's not to love?


That was really fun! And we barely scraped a dent into the questions...yikes!! Thanks again for being super funny and playing along. Have a wonderful weekend!!


  1. This is awesome! Can't wait to read more :) You are hilarious!

  2. I love (almost) all of your advice, the fact that you made a spreadsheet (Hahaha!!!), and that you created a new blog label for this.

    As someone who only showers every other day, and firmly believes that is okay, I hope we can still be friends :)

  3. I loved your responses!

    One thing I will say to "Name your Kids Accordingly" as someone who is legally named Jennie: I would agree with Matt (great to ask about name preference) but would also warn you can't assume. I get called Jennifer ALL THE TIME. In fact, my current company put me into the system as "Jennifer" even though I wrote my legal name as "Jennie" on my application. (Ah, the irony, as my role in the company is to manage all our HR Processes and systems. This was a fail.) I love the name Jennifer…but it's not my name. :)

    1. I have to admit that I would have assumed your name was Jennifer too... but how awesome that it's not!!! Your parents are fab! If you want to call your kid Jennie, name her Jennie! So great!

    2. Kudos to your parents for going with the name that they liked!

  4. I'm so glad Cat Conundrum was your go-to... I just needed that poor woman to get some helpful advice!

    These are awesome! So excited to read more! And I totally agree abut the family/blog thing. Family drama stays off the blog because really, no one cares and I'd regret posting it later anyway. But if family wants to read and "get to know me" cool... win-win.

  5. Hahahaha, thank you for answering my question! I love that it made you laugh, because that was the intent - even though I wasn't QUITE laughing when I discovered him doing it...LOL. I don't have a Doberman, but I do have two dogs, who the cat despises, so I will definitely consider strapping one to the bathroom counter. Do you recommend duct tape or just left them have the whole room and keep the door closed?

    I love this Ask Erika thing - you should totally keep it up!

  6. Tommy Boy! Lol. I love this. Now to think of questions to add to your queue.

  7. This is great! I had so much fun reading everyone's questions yesterday and am looking forward to more sage advice. :-)

  8. You are hilarious! I love this idea of question and answer sessions almost as much as I love reading your blog!

  9. I was also going to mention not assuming a nickname (or name lengthening as in some cases above). As a Jaclyn, I make a conscious effort when I introduce myself to annunciate the latter part so they don't assume I want to be called Jackie (which for the record I do not, and never will, want to be called). But they still do! It's a total pet peeve of mine. I used to think I just didn't state my name clearly enough with the introduction but now I think some people just think it's ok. Oops, done ranting. Thanks for answering some of these life altering conundrums, Erika! Looking forward to which ones will be answered next.

  10. This is wayyyy better than the con call I'm listening to right now. Thanks!

  11. We can still be friends. I will consider upping the hair washing from 2 to 3 times a week. But with all my awesome "Living Proof" products, my style just holds for days! And when its -7 degrees out, I feel like I might as well be camping. That is why I like some camping-style bathing occasionally - you know, spit showers, baby wipes, etc ;-)

  12. Love this! Make it a weekly installment please!

  13. LOVE THIS! I agree with Aubrey above- regular installments, please! You're hilarious.

  14. I'm a Susan and only a Susan. I fall in the category of those who strongly dislike when people take it upon themselves to shorten my name. For instance..."Hello, I'm Susan. It's nice to meet you, Sue."
    The Q&A questions are great! You have material for days. :)

  15. I mean, this is going to supply you with material for countless blog posts! Will keep it in mind next time I'm in a writing rut!

  16. This was WAY too much fun to read. Love it! The matt-mattie-matthew question made me laugh. People sometimes call Brad Bradley or Bradford - even though he is Brad... it's not short for anything! But they are usually just being funny when they call him that. :)

  17. Seriously, you will never have to come up with a blog topic on your own ever again! Props. Glad to know you had another excuse to use an Excel sheet in your personal life- always a win.

  18. At first I thought this said "Take 11" and I thought OMG I HAVE A LOT OF READING Q & A to catch up on.


I love comments almost as much as I love Mexican food. Seriously.