The Wedding Report

While #2 is off gallivanting in Europe, I thought I’d sneak in a report on her special day.

The eyes!  The dress!  The hat!  The boots!  The socks!  The big glittery jewelry!

Spending the day with #2’s family is sort of like being in a 1939 comedy.  Zing zing zing!

And the snappy dialogue wasn’t the only thing out of the beginning of last century.  In addition to the top-hat fascinator and dangly curls, #2 had the most gorgeous dark purple dress, complete with fancy lace-up back that took three of us to get set to rights.  Her eyes were the kind of smoldering smokey purple one expects out of the vamp in an early Agatha Christie novel or perhaps a mysterious lady from an early noir (not the ingenue!), complete with eye-lashes out to there.  Enormous costume jewelry– two substantial necklaces with huge flat stones layered one above the other from neckline to cleavage.  Big red steampunk boots with bright turquoise socks peaking out above (not that anybody other than the bridesmaids and mother of the bride got to see the something blue).  Everything was outrageous and classy at the same time.

We processed in to the Muppet song.  We started when it was time to get things started.  (As we had not been informed of the processional music in advance, the wedding planner had to shush the wedding party’s giggles so as not to distract!)

The couple had a lovely non-denominational ceremony.  There was an especially nice part where they honored family, including two elderly grandmothers who couldn’t be there (one of them being 99!).  They honored each other and exchanged sweet and funny personal vows.  The officiant was also pretty fun.

We processed out to the imperial march.  There had been some discussion into swapping that out with Everything is Awesome (when you’re part of a team), but the classics are classics for a reason.

They served FOOD right after with hors d’oeuvres trays while the family pictures were being taken.

We chatted with folks we hadn’t seen in ages.  We met new people.  Everyone was all very nice and nice people from high school married nice people.  It was just lovely all around.

Then there was sword fighting.  #2’s fencing instructor challenged #2’s new husband for a dance, but I think that #2’s new husband was defeated (it was a little hard to hear).  Then #2 took the sword herself and soundly trounced a groveling fencing instructor to the delight of the seated audience.

We were served delicious food.  My favorite was the mushroom ravioli in a creamy pesto, but everything was wonderful.  And mashed potato bars are fun.

There was dancing (and the DJ too loud as they usually are, BUT instead of everybody having to congregate in the parking lot to talk as they have at other weddings I’ve been to, there was a lovely patio for people with delicate ears or who wanted to be able to carry on a conversation).

The wedding cake was carrot cake.  Enough said.  The bride and groom’s champagne glasses were from high school prom.

I love weddings so much.  I love family and friends getting together to celebrate a union.  #2 and her husband are surrounded by loving wonderful friends and family.  It’s no wonder #2 has been having all the feels, surrounded as she is by so much affection and fun.

The best weddings we’ve been to have been expressions of the couples as people and as couples.  The worst ones we’ve been to have forgotten that and have focused on stress and posturing (also: see lack of food after the ceremony).  #2’s wedding was the best we’ve been to (in spite of the DJ), and we’ve been to some pretty fantastic weddings.  This wedding was unapologetically who #2 and #2’s husband are as people.  The outfits, the music, the ceremony, the vows, the swordplay, the vegetarian meal… the only thing missing was horses.  (They even had books as centerpieces.  And magic cards were mentioned in the ceremony, if not actually present.)

When I came home and washed the professional make-up off, I realized I was missing half an eyebrow (the make-up lady asked if she could shape them, but I didn’t realize the left one was quite so offensive!).  And I had to ask my sister how to remove false eyelashes (find the corner and peel).  But it was worth it.


Imagine this little fascinator as a tiny black top-hat at a jaunty angle atop shoulder length curls.

(I dunno, what did you think, #2’s sister?)

Kitten pictures!

Before she left, #2 sent some kitten pictures from her last few fosters. Headlines:
Assorted kittens, some blurry, some attacking the camera.
Never-before-seen pictures! Exclusive to the blog!

blog babies 003blog babies 001blog babies 006blog babies 004blog babies 010blog babies 005blog babies 007

Help us decide our future financial paths: A guest post

#2 is on a two-week honeymoon in Italy so we’ve solicited guest posts from readers and will be running them along with random kitten pictures and hopefully(!) food pics from Italy.

Anandar is kicking us off with a money Monday question about long-term financial planing.  Help her think through her options!


Anandar writes:

For the first time in a loooong time, we have what feel like real choices in our financial life, and so I took the opportunity to write up a guest post in hoping of thinking things through (and getting feedback if you feel like commenting!).  My spouse and I are both professionals around age 40.  In our 20s, we were in grad school and/or making peanuts.  In our 30s, we were still (!) in grad school, and generally felt urgent about working to pay off the school loans/get established in our careers while paying daycare bills/afford a downpayment in our crazy-high cost-of-living area.  Now, we own a house, just paid off law school loans, our youngest is starting public kindergarten, and we generally feel less strapped.

Additional background:  We both have the sort of jobs (teacher and legal aid lawyer) that are meaningful but also very time consuming and stressful for conscientious types.   We live in a very high cost of living area, and while our fixed expenses are lower than many people of similar age and socioeconomic status—we are debt free except for an affordable mortgage, with no expensive habits–the whole working-parent-modern-life thing leaves us susceptible to throwing money at problems and “treating” ourselves in ways that we suspect we wouldn’t if we worked less.  While I wouldn’t say we live in Paradise, it is definitely a place where spending a lot of money can be fun, interesting and/or delicious.  We’re not interested in easing our finances by moving to a cheaper area, because we don’t want to reboot our community from scratch.  Our savings are on track for retirement at a typical age (we’re steady savers when working but also spend many years in grad school, including a spare PhD, not contributing to IRAs or 401(k)s).  Our savings for kids’ college are relatively modest, but we are taking a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” and “you can borrow for college but not retirement” approach (our privileged kids’ grandparents have also started 529 plans).

Here are our four options for the future, ranked from least to most expensive, and I’d love to hear readers’ thoughts on how you’d evaluate them:

1)      Save up for a sabbatical year of living in another country with kids (the teacher could do this easily; the lawyer would probably have to quit current job).  This is on our “bucket list” of things to do with our children before they old enough to prefer international adventures sans parents.

2)     Save up for major house renovations to make our small home more liveable long term, including separate rooms for each child; a second bathroom; a real guest bedroom for visiting grandparents (who may in the far future want to live with us, so heck, let’s call it an in-law unit); a deck for eating al fresco.

3)    Same as #2, except borrow the money in order to enjoy the benefits of renovation much sooner, while locking ourselves in to higher fixed monthly expenses due to debt.

4)    Save like crazy in order to achieve financial independence (FI) before standard retirement ages.  Neither of us has any desire to stop working entirely, but working on a very part-time or volunteer basis would allow for more flexibility and creativity in our professional and personal lives.  Once we hit FI, we could dramatically increase our charitable donations, which we would really like to do.  I am not sure exactly how long this would take, because I am not sure how frugal we can really be and still preserve our equilibrium.

I can already hear you all saying:  since all of these options cost money, and you seem not to know what you want, why not just save as much as you can and decide later!  And for goodness sakes, these options aren’t all mutually exclusive—if you were financially independent, you could drag the kids on an international sabbatical every year!

There are a several reasons why I’d prefer to have a plan.  First, we are thinker-aheaders (if one were taking a deficit approach, we’d have anxiety issues).  Second, there are practical differences in how we would be spending our scarce free time today depending on which option is our top priority for the future (language learning! home cooking all meals!).  Third, to my mind, these options involve different mentalities with respect to our jobs and our finances, as well as our underlying value sets.  Trying to achieve FI early requires a substantial commitment to frugality.  Saving or borrowing money for home renovations entails a certain amount of doubling down on our paid work, while planning for a sabbatical involves thinking about detaching from our jobs.  And so forth.

So, thoughtful readers, how would you prioritize these options in our circumstances?  What additional questions would you ask yourself? 

Link love

Guest posts and food and/or kitty pictures start next week!  We’ve got some great stuff lined up, but there’s still some slots available in the second week.  Shoot us an email if you’re interested at grumpyrumblings at gmail.

Don’t you wish you could read a novel about this guy?  How interesting must his life have been?

Boo disasters, but YAY Octobercheck!!!!

When facebook goes down.

To get a job in your 50s, maintain friendships in your 40s.

/mic drop

… and that’s all I’ve got.  Wish #2 a great day!

Ask the grumpies: Being responsible consumers

Debbie M asks:

How can I be more polite in making various purchases (or, really, doing anything). Some answers: use less water and power (and certainly don’t waste it); re-use, fix, and share things rather than buying new; buy organic instead of regular for less poisoning of the earth and farmworkers; buy fair trade instead of regular so the people who actually do the work get some of the money; buy shade-grown chocolate instead of regular so they don’t have to burn down more rainforest every three years; buy free-range meat/eggs instead sardine-city-raised meat/eggs to be nicer to the animals–or even better, get nutrients directly from plants; contribute to charities that address important issues effectively and efficiently.

All of the things you mention are great ideas.

We think the best answer to this question is to lobby your government officials to put into place and to fund and enforce legislation that makes it more difficult for companies to be irresponsible providers.  Voting with your feet is great, but it doesn’t help much when corporations can flat-out lie or when there aren’t local responsibly produced alternatives.

Grumpy Nation, how do you consume responsibly?

It’s not you, it’s me: We really are busy!

A lot of folks on the interwebs have been talking about a need for socialization, and wanting new IRL friends.

I remember feeling like that when DC1 was a toddler, but I don’t feel that so much now.  Really I haven’t felt like that that since DC2 was born.  So some of that is that I’m just getting a lot of interaction at home, both overall and with people whose maturity/cuteness quotient is greater than 1– as DC1 grows up, interacting with hir is more like adult interaction, and there’s only so much personal contact this introvert can have before it’s too much.

Part of it, I think, is that I get a lot of interaction at work.  I consider a lot of my colleagues to be friends, and I get some socializing each day.  It helps a lot that even in this male-dominated field, my department has a lot of women!  And there’s junior guys at similar life-stages to my own, so we can talk about kid-related stuff, from, you know, an economist perspective.  I don’t do a ton of socializing at home other than the occasional kids’ party.

Right now, we’re living someplace super easy to socialize.  I have friends from high school and college within a 30 min drive (some are even in walking distance!).  DH has friends from high school and graduate school.  I’m working in the same building as professional friends.  It would be so cool if I were an extrovert or had lots and lots of free time.  (I mean, it is cool, but I’m really not taking advantage, you know?)

And it was really cool… back when we first moved here, when I was recovering from moving and didn’t realize that I had pressing deadlines about to attempt to suffocate me.  Friends from various parts of our lives used our moving here as an excuse to throw parties so we got to see a bunch of people (and often their new babies) all at once.   We had obligatory dinners or lunches with several other close friends from previous lives.

But now.  Now I am just so tired.  DH and/or I are out of town for seminars/conference/work/grants/#2’s wedding every week from the month after we got here until November.  Relatives from outside of paradise are setting up times to visit (even though we don’t have an extra bedroom).

I haven’t told my college roommate who lives a few towns over we’re in town.  I swear I will… once things settle down.  Once we have some time.  Which may be never.

It’s not that I don’t love my friends.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy hanging out with cool and amazing people, both new and old.  It’s just that it’s nice to grab some time to myself.  Or with just my family.  Where I don’t have to watch what I say.  I don’t have to perform.  I can’t feel foolish.  Or I can just quietly be.  Maybe with a cat or two.  And I do have close friends who accept me for who I am… but they’re still not close enough that they want me hanging around without pants.  That’s really an immediate family-only thing.

Do you want more social interaction? 

Taking someone else’s goal

There are a lot of fads in the internet community.  For goal-oriented people, there are a lot of goals out there that people can latch on to.

Things like marathon training, whole30 (#2 doesn’t even know what that is.  No no, don’t tell me.*), early retirement, minimalism, and on and on and on.

Sometimes taking one of these outside goals leads to self-improvement and happy changes.  Often they seem to lead to unhappiness for those attempting things or guilt from those who don’t attempt them but are still part of the relevant communities.

Why do you think these things gain so much traction?

Is it because they’re great ideas and we just never thought about them before?  Is it because of peer pressure– everyone else is doing it?  Are we trying to fill up some void in our life?  Is it something about how human beings are social and like to follow Bellwethers?  A hope for quick cash from blog revenue?  (paypal to grumpyrumblings at gmail, in case you were wondering, though we are now BOTH gainfully employed and do not need it as much as your favorite charity does)


*too late–it’s kind of like a Paleo diet that you do for 30 days.  People who do it also tend to use the word “cleanse” a lot.**

**can you tell by the dated fads listed that this was another post pulled out of ancient drafts?  I think this one was from when minimalism was going through the PF community, not its most recent iteration through lifestyle blogs.***

***had to add this footnote because Whole30 is starting to make its way through the public finance internets!  They use words like “healing”.  Everything old is new again… with a different internet community.




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