This site serves one purpose—to solve all your problems! Okay, it's not quite that simple. But give it a try. Email me your problems and I'll dispense free advice. You can't go wrong with free, right?

Party Time

Until this year, my husband's company has gone all-out on the Christmas party. (i.e. catering, dj, raffle, gifts, casino tables, open bar, hotel room included) This year has been tough, so they've decided to scale back.
Instead of getting the entire company together this year (2 states wide), the parties will be separate for each branch. What it's come down to is, since my husband is the manager, the party will be at our house (which is not big). The budget is $100. There are only 9 employees (the invitation is for +1).
We've decided the dinner will have to be pot-luck and have started assigning out food, except for the main dish. There won't be a lot of money left over. Only one of the employees would drink, if there were alcohol. Any ideas for making this a "party" and not just a "dinner"?
I've tossed around the idea of having a gift exchange, but can't decide how to do it.
The employees realize it has been a hard year, and that this party won't be like years past, but they've hung-in all year and it would be nice to have fun this one night.

I can’t help but think that there’s only so much you can do to influence the perception of other people. In the end they’re going to have the kind of night they expect. By the nature of your budget, any attempt to have a wild and crazy night planned will just come off as a pale imitation of years past. So I suggest taking a different direction. Whatever you can do to bring the employees closer to each other will not only make for a more memorable evening, but it will help them work better together too.

The best way to make people comfortable and have them get to know each other is to get them to talk about themselves. You can probably come up with some party games that will work for your size of group; games involving cooperation within small groups would work nicely. And there’s always karaoke, which works on a different principle: they aren’t exactly up there talking about themselves, but the shared embarrassment of singing in front of people somehow causes people to bond.

(Oh, and do whatever you can to avoid talking about work. Thinking about the future is only going to depress people, given today’s economic climate.)


Some of my close friends have recently told me that they have lost their faith in God. They recognize they once had faith, but circumstances have changed. How do I be supportive of them (understand where they are coming from) but clearly state my views (tell them what I believe without offending them or pushing them away)?

As the old saying goes, you can’t lift someone up if you’re below them. In spiritual matters we always have to take care of ourselves first, so you should be sure you’re doing everything in your power to improve your own spirituality first. If you’re doing that, the Spirit will generally tell you when to bear testimony to those around you and when to stand as a silent example. It’s important that, while you accept others for who they are, you not allow them to infringe on your right to exercise your beliefs.

For example, when our family gets together at my parents’ house for dinner, we always say a blessing on the food, even though not all of us attend church, because it’s their home and that’s how they do it. But at the same time, they don’t ask someone to pray if they’re not religious. Above all, it’s important to show our family and friends that we love them unconditionally, even when their actions are contrary to our beliefs.


I hate the dentist. No really, I want to hurt him. Any advice on how to either do it, or how to stop myself from doing it??

Well, this is one of those things where your problem with someone else probably originates within yourself. I don't have a detailed history of your oral health, but I'd wager that you're not brushing 2 or more times a day and flossing daily (correct me if I'm wrong). So my advice is to start doing exactly what your dentist tells you. Then you can be smug and have the attitude of "Ha! No more inflicting of pain on me by you!" And, along with the physical pain, your emotional pain will disappear.

If that doesn't work, I suppose you should consider an anger management class. The bottom line is that you shouldn't try to hurt your dentist for two reasons: 1) it's illegal; and 2) dentists are way better at inflicting pain than the rest of us could ever hope to be.


Today's puzzler:

4 1/2 years ago I had a really bad stalker. He would break into my house while we were sleeping. We'd paw through everything in the living room, and occasionally things would disappear only to show up a few weeks later in places we had already checked. I lived outside a small hick town in county area, and the cops didn't care. They just said get better locks and a dog. We lost the stalker after a series of moves that happened rapidly (3 moves in 4 months). Now I'm still afraid of this guy finding me again. (And yes. I know it's me. He was around before my husband, and activity always increased when I had a boyfriend and got incredibly bad when I got married.) He did find me again after one move. I usually do okay ignoring my past, but we had to give up the dog a year ago because he hated our kids, and I'm still afraid of telling people from my past where I live, my last name, or anything they can use to connect me to where I am. I am in therapy, but there's alot of crap we're dealing with. (My therapist says there is so much trauma in my past that even she is is repressing it!) So how do I go about reclaiming my life and trusting again? Or even better determine for sure who it was so I can make sure it's past. I have an idea of who it might be, but no proof. And I'm freaking out because when he graduated last year he 'just happened' to take a job in the same TINY town in Oregon as my sister.

It seems like there are two problems here, one external and one internal, so let’s look at them separately.

Regarding the actual stalker, here’s a website that gives some specifics on stalker laws according to what state you’re in. It might also be worth a trip to the police station to talk to someone about what you can legally do to minimize your risk. Beyond “better locks,” you can also have an alarm system installed that will alert the police if anyone breaks in. Also, the dog you had might not like the children, but I’m sure you could find one that would work out better.

I suppose you could also go more on the offensive and find out as much as you can about the person you think is guilty. That would allow you to keep tabs on him. It’s the old “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” saying. If you can figure out who it is for sure, there may be some legal action you could take.

Many communities offer self-defense classes specifically for women. That might help you regain a little confidence.

As far as your personal peace of mind, more information will probably help you somewhat. Continued therapy will also probably help, and once some of the medical issues you have been dealing with are taken care of, that will decrease your stress level too. So, psychologically, I suppose it’s mostly a matter of enduring it, because it will probably get better.

The First Question

Here's today's question:

I am buying a car with a limited income. I had already test driven this great 94 toyota camry that actually had enough car seats for my 3 kids and drove great, was the same colors as our last kids so my autistic kids wouldn't freak...yeah. I put down $100 to have him save it for me until my funds are available on Sat. Anyway, I went ahead and ordered a carfax, and everything looks absolutely great...except the mileage. It appears that someone rolled back the miles to show 114,000 when it was really 188+. I called the guy selling the car, and he seemed to be as surprised as me. Anyway, after much discussion, he is going to provide me all the paperwork on any repairs on the car (i.e., the new engine), as proof that he is not trying to screw us over. He is also going to sign a warranty that if we have any major problems for the first 6 months that we own the car, he will pay to get them fixed because it has been so well maintained that he doesn't really see it having any problems. What are your opinions?

A little research on the blue book value indicates a difference of about $500 based on what you said about the mileage difference. I would go to kbb.com and check the value again depending on the option package and other specs of this particular car. At any rate, you should not have to pay what he was asking. But before you even talk money, you should have it checked out by a mechanic, if you haven’t already. Given the mileage and the odometer situation, I doubt he could object. If the mechanic says it seems in decent shape, then go ahead and buy it, after you haggle with the guy some more about the price.