Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wedding Wednesday: The Registry


I'm no stranger to registries. I've had an Amazon wishlist for almost a decade, and I love getting and receiving gifts. Plus, I've been buying gifts off of registries for many years, and have always enjoyed finding something personal for a couple I love while still knowing it's exactly what they want.

Because of this, you might think—as I did—that it would be simple to put together our own gift registry. And, in some ways, it has been. For example, I know immediately that although we have survived as a couple for the last 6 years without fine china or a stand-up mixer and our home has not felt exactly empty (especially, ahem, the particularly small home we currently occupy), we would register for gifts instead of doing a honeyfund or trying to raise money for our down payment. I love the idea of using items either everyday or at key moments in our lives and remembering the person who gave them to us.

Lauren was incredible and bought us our very first gift, a crystal cake platter that I cannot wait to use at birthdays and other celebrations for the rest of our lives. The idea of cutting our child's first birthday cake on the same cake stand and with the same cake knife as we do our wedding cake is simply too sweet and full-circley for me to even deal with, and I know that when we do, we'll remember getting our first gift from a dear friend I've only ever met once, because we were brought together by the magic of the internet. Swoon!

Most of the items we knew we'd want: a really sweet set of knives, new camping equipment for our new lives in Vermont, games that friends regularly transport to our house from other states (so they have one less thing to carry, of course!). And I knew we wanted to register at Amazon, so we could put all sorts of things from different companies on it (because registering at LL Bean and REI and Crate and Barrel and and and ... seemed excessive), as well as a physical store for folks who don't love the internet, and Macy's seemed as ubiquitous as any, with a nice selection of items.

But, in case you don't know us very well, R. and I spend a lot of time researching and thinking and considering before we make purchases, which, to be frank, isn't super often. Researching all these different items, while also having it in the back of my mind that these have to be the pieces we will use for the rest of our lives has been pretty intense. It's also why a few key items are missing from our lists: I can't buy china without holding it in my hands first, and the pattern we want (Wedgewood's Nantucket Basket) isn't available in person at Macy's, so we're considering ordering a place setting ourselves to see if we like it before going whole hog.

So, in case you're also registering for gifts, here are a couple resources I found helpful:
I also checked many items on The Sweethome, which is a great resource for learning everything from what the best cast-iron pan is to what kind of vacuum you really need, and Good Housekeeping, which has never led me astray, helping me to pick out my incredible handmixer, food processor, and favorite tomato sauce. If GH gives its seal of approval, it's as trustworthy as a Royal Warrant to me. (Maybe even more so, though I do love my Hunter boots and Barbour jacket.)

What was the best thing you registered for? Anything you now wish you hadn't included on your registry?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wedding Wednesday: Answers from Married People

Thank you so much to everyone who responded to my marriage survey last week! I loved reading every single answer, and we got a ton of great advice (and learned some things about our friends and family that we didn't know already). If you haven't already taken the survey but want to impart some loving advice for us as a couple and tell your story, please go ahead and take it now!


We had answers from 21 people, including two couples where both partners responded. We had answers from couples married in every decade from the 1970s to today, and the most popular years to have been married were 2011 and 2012, with three people getting married in each of those years. Perhaps not surprisingly given the demographics of my friends and blog followers, we had 3 men respond to the survey and 18 women. Couples met at prom, at the auto shop, online, at work, through friends and family, and at Panera. Only one person asked that we not share their answers.

Also, I wish I could share every answer I got, because they were all delightful! But, I'm picking out just a few highlights here. If you have anything you think I missed or should definitely add, let me know in the comments!


The Secret to Making Marriage Work
"Marriage isn't 50/50, it's both people giving 100%."—Evie E.

"Understanding that you're both not done becoming people, and your relationship isn't done either. Everything always changes."—Liz O.

"Compromising while remembering we're doing it because we love each other. Compromising is the worst! I hate it! But we're both stubborn and it's the only way anything ever gets resolved. It helps to remind yourself that you actually like each other when you do it."—Anon.

"Always assume the best about your partner. Just because you see each other daily, that is no reason not to treat them with the same - or really, more - kindness, politeness than you treat other people out in the world. Pick up on "bids" for connection/attention and don't rebuff them."—Anon.

"Still allowing each other to enjoy the things that we did separately as well as the things the we do together; understanding the need for space."—Linsey H.

"My favourite bit is having our own little in-jokes that always get a grin or a chuckle out of the other person. And when you're with other people and you remember it, you can't help but grin. I guess that's representative of friendships and relationships in general, but what is marriage but a bit of both?"—Anon.


The Big Day: the Good, the Bad, and More of the Good
"It was like being at my own funeral, but I got to be there!!! Everyone I loved there to support us. Surreal. Beautiful."—Evie E.

"The worst was, by far, parts of planning where everyone wanted to give their input as if it was something that I hadn't been thinking about/working on all day every day."—Anon

"When the marriage officiant asked if we have anything to say to each other. I hadn't prepared anything and was nervous to speak off the cuff, but [my husband] went first and simply said, "I love you" without any hesitation."—Anon.

"No bad parts. It was the best party I ever threw. All the stars aligned to make a perfect day for an outdoor wedding."—Anon.

"The best part was the party. We had a simple cheap ceremony with a ton of friends and family in a park with kegs of beer and a taco bar. It was a fucking blast."—Luke W.

"Worst: my mother went rogue. She had birdseed to throw when the ceremony was done, but we didn't have a recessional aisle, so we just stood there and got pelted. So much birdseed came out of my bra many hours later."—Liz O.


Practical Advice: Finances, Family, Fighting
"I spend and he worries."—Maryann M.

"We're both personal finance nerds so we're really on the same page, which I think is important to both of us. We view our money as a shared pool, though we definitely discuss any large purchases beforehand. We have similar goals for our money (travel!) and both want to save but also want to live enjoyable lives, so we haven't had much conflict in this area, even though we had very different debt burdens after college—and still do. We were really serious about our relationship by the time we graduated, so even though we didn't merge finances until we were married, minus a joint account for rent/groceries, I think we were already both thinking in terms of shared resources."—Rachel H.

"YNAB."—Anon.

"Spending time as a family and taking turns with kid responsibility is really important to both of us. ... Even though we all need to work to afford to live, you can get another job, but not another family. If I had a husband who didn't get that, I wouldn't still be married."—Lauren D.P.

"[I found work-life balance] by becoming my own boss. It was priority in my life that I have flexibility for my family, so I make my own schedule and make sure to be home early and take days off constantly."—Regina

"Our biggest family rule is don't talk shit about your spouse to your family members. We are a team, first and foremost. I am the ambassador to my family and he is the one for his. That doesn't mean I am not close to his family - I am! But if there is an argument or we need to enforce a boundary, we know who's running point and who gets to make the final call."—Anon.

"Apologize! Even if you still think you were right, your ego is not more important than your marriage."—Jennifer C.S.

"We sit down and talk it out. We always try to see the other person's perspective and come to a solution together."—Lisa R.

"You're going to fight and you're going to disagree and have bad days. You're going to annoy each other. You're going to have to go through tragedies and such. Just remember that (ideally) you've picked the one human being on earth that understands you better than anyone else, that loves you the most and accepts you in spite of your many flaws. Remember that and why you love them in the first place."—Scott M.


Final Words of Wisdom
"There is no "right way" to marriage. However it works for you, is the right way. Vulnerability, for me, has always been the right path. Ultimately, don't be afraid of things failing. If you take risks and they don't work out and your marriage grows from it - yay! If your partner drops the ball or you realize you want something different, then you saved yourself wasted time. Keep striving for your own personal development even while being partnered. Marriage doesn't need to become the majority of who you are. ❤"—Lauren D.P.

"It's a big deal and you figure it out day by day. xoxo"—Evie E.

"Just love each other!!! Remember that what works for some couples may not work for you guys and vice versa."—Lisa R.

"It's pretty great. Also, people are going to write you checks immediately at your wedding to your 'married name.' You sign both your maiden name and then the name on the check on the back, one after the other."—Anon.

"Good boundaries during the wedding planning process will reinforce when you make decisions your families don't like later on down the road. (In our case, we were quickly labeled the "weird ones"- great! I'm going to do my own thanksgiving, weirdly.)"—Liz O.

"Love is easy. People who tell you you have to constantly work on it is lying. All the compromises, all the communication, all the figuring things out, is easy when you love someone."—Regina

"It can be very hard work, at times, but never lose site of the love that brought you together. And, keep laughing."—Anon.

"You guys have been together for so long and you clearly love each other. You're golden! Honestly our relationship did not change much after marriage except give us a sense of freedom, which seems odd. But I think we both felt a sense of comfort in being legally and emotionally tied to the other person. We could have bigger, more important fights without worrying the other person would just walk out on us. We could take bigger risks with our careers knowing the other person would support us."—Anon.

"Y'all have been a happy couple for so long, I think you're plenty ready. πŸ™‚ As for the wedding, don't forget to eat!"—Scott M.

"At the end of the day, it really is just a piece of paper; it has no magical power on its own to make or break your relationship."—Anon.

"You'll be fine! πŸ’–(If you still want to get married after 10+ years, god bless you.)"—Anon.

"Apparently people will ask you for advice, whether or not you're qualified to give it! πŸ˜‰ Haha - but actually, it's not so different from being in a committed relationship, though for me it does have a bit of an added cozy us-against-the-world feeling."—Rachel H.

"Just love each other and don't go to bed mad."—Maryann M.

"The commitment you make to each other and the legal condition of marriage are two different and separate things."—Luke W.

"Kristin and Roger, surveys and input are great, however, you will find your own way in working through any conflicts in your relationship (and happiness of course). All of your family and friends will always be there to provide support and advice. Weigh it out and decide what you want to use!! Love you both, and wishing you nothing but happiness now and in your married life!"—Linsey H.

 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

On Confidence

 
I felt imbued, this weekend, with confidence. It was a good weekend anyway, filled with some of my favorite things (babies, bagels, bumping into friends in a random location), but there was just something about it where I felt very at peace with myself. I don't mean to imply that I've reached all my goals or never felt a pang of jealousy when looking at a perfectly-curated Instagram account, but I wore jeans and muck shoes to a networking event and felt fine about it, literally even when someone called me out for it. It's rare to feel that way, for me, anyway. Worth marking down here, I think.

I think it must have shown, also. Roger said, "My god, people can't get enough of you this weekend. Who knew?

Monday, April 3, 2017

How To Get a Rush Passport


Oh man, guys. Remember a little over a year ago when I didn't realize my passport was expiring less than six months after I would get back from India? And that's a requirement for getting an Indian visa? And I had two weeks before I had to get said visa?

And I literally cried from anxiety?

I'm here to tell you how to get your passport in a hurry, from experience, because R. and a few friends have only very recently realized their passports are already expired or about to expire, and we all have international trips planned in the next couple months.

First off, read the government website "How to Get a Passport in a Hurry," because that will have the most up-to-date information on it. But, here are the easy steps I followed that got me a passport in basically no time flat!


1. Figure Out What Kind of Expediting You Need
If you have foreign travel within 2 weeks or you need a foreign visa within 4 weeks, you can apply for in-person processing. If you have travel within 8 weeks, you can expedite through mail or at an acceptance facility (most post offices are acceptance facilities). If you have more than 8 weeks, good on you! You can just renew your passport as normal with no trouble. Now, go fill out your paperwork and stop reading. The rest of this is for us panicky people who wait until the last minute to check these things.
 
You're going to need to go to a passport agency. If you need a passport agency but live in the middle of nowhere, you might be surprised to find one near you! I, for example, was surprised to find one in Vermont and in New Hampshire, when I would have thought the closest one was Boston. Look up your closest one, and if it isn't close to your place of work, take a day off. You are going to need it.

Also, a thing that wasn't totally clear to me when I did this was that you get your passport on the same day you go into the agency, or the next business day, depending on the time of your appointment. In my mind, I had to drop things off and then wait for them to mail it to me (and if you know mail in NYC, you know how nerve wrecking this was for me). However, they must have a little passport factory in the basement, because I and many other people were able to pick up a passport right in that office. It makes a lot of sense now but wasn't totally intuitive from their website.

 
2. Make an Appointment at Your Passport Agency (Or Don't!)
If you have reservations for foreign travel in the next few weeks, call 1-877-487-2778 as soon as you possibly can. You'll make your appointment at the nearest passport agency this way, and it's automated, so you can make the appointment after you finish crying on a Sunday afternoon.

This is super important: before you get on the phone, make sure you have a note pad, working pen, your expired/ing passport, and a calendar in front of you. You'll make an appointment, ideally the next available one, and then you'll need to write down your confirmation number. SERIOUSLY, write it down. You do not get a copy of it anywhere else, and if you lose it, you are just shit out of luck. Don't lose it, guys. Don't even think you might have lost it and then cry while frantically tearing apart your house while you look for it. Just don't lose it in the first place. I say this from experience.

Or, don't! Don't bother making an appointment. Just walk into the passport agency on its next open day with all your paperwork (see below). You will wait literally all day, and it will not be fun, but it was something that nothing online told me I could do, so I thought I should tell you that it's possible, if you find this one day while crying because you lost your confirmation number. If you make an appointment, your day will go SO much faster, but you can just walk in if you can't get an early enough appointment.

Just go to the agency as soon as you can. The earlier you get there in the morning, the better. I got to the office 40 minutes before it opened, and there were already about 75 people waiting on line outside the building. Almost all of them, after security, were sorted into the waiting line, but I got to go right to the counter because I had an appointment. Either way, do what you've got to do. I will not judge you. Just get that passport, friend.


3. Fill Out Your Paperwork

At this point, you want to start a little folder with all your necessary paperwork. First things first, put your confirmation number in there, along with a black ink ballpoint pen because it turns out those things are like gold at government offices.

Get your passport photos taken. Go to CVS where they are overly expensive but will do things correctly. Here is a coupon to make it slightly more affordable. At this point, you should not be cheap about things. Just get things done, correctly, on the first try. If you're a lady, wear mascara and earrings. That is my trick for looking like the goddess I do in my passport photos. (See above.)

Follow these directions to correctly completely your paperwork. Follow them to the letter. Only by doing everything exactly as it says online will do get out of there in a single day with your passport. Probably you need a DS-82, but seriously, check this all out online and make sure you've got it in order.

Bring your supporting documents: your travel documentation that you are traveling immediately (I brought a print out of my India flight tickets and a print out of the website saying when I needed my visa by), your expired/ing passport, and your passport photos.

I brought two copies of everything, and made photo copies of the first page of my passport. I don't know if I needed them but I was very glad to have them, just in case.

You'll also need to pay up. The expediting fee is, IMHO, totally reasonable at $60. (This is especially reasonable considering that paying an outside agency to do this whole thing for you can cost up to $600.) At the passport agency, you can pay by credit card, check, money order, and exact-change cash. I also brought two methods of payment, and was glad to have them even though I only needed one.


4. Go to the Passport Agency and Wait Around
On the day of your appointment, get to the passport agency as early as possible. I arrived about 40 minutes before the agency opened (mine was the first appointment for the day), and security went relatively quickly once it opened. The first window, they checked to make sure I had all my documentation. At this point, people were being turned away. If you go, please bring everything you need!

I was directed upstairs with all my paperwork, and at the next window, I dropped off my paperwork. They gave me some more paperwork and told me at that point that I could just come back around 3pm. I worked just a 15 minute walk from the passport agency, I went back to work and got in a pretty productive day. However, there were plenty of space and people waiting, so if you're not nearby your agency, bring a book. It's kind of a long wait.

At 3pm, I came back and was led to a third window, on another floor. There, I brought the previous window's paperwork, and they told me to go wait around the corner at a 4th window. I waited for about 45 minutes, and then, miraculously, my name was called and a brand spanking new passport was handed to me with my old one. (You get to keep the old one, apparently.)


5. Get on that Plane Already!
And that's it. For someone who dreads paperwork and being late and travel logistics generally, I though I was going to melt into a puddle, but actually, getting an expedited passport was no problem at all. It took less time and less effort than I would have thought, and unless you are a famous person or a wealthy executive, I would absolutely recommend doing it yourself on a day off of work, rather than paying an agency astronomical sums to do it on your behalf.

Enjoy your travels, procrastinators of the world!