for better or for worse

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Vows start early ’round these parts. J was laid off on Monday. He worked for a pretty small company, and was the newest employee, and highest paid, so it was no doubt a smart business decision. Buuuuut it still sucks. This is the second time he’s gotten the hook since the recession started. Obviously not his fault, but a blow to the ego nonetheless.

The first time, last May, he didn’t really like his job anyway, and he had a good bit of cash saved up, so he didn’t take it too hard. This time though, he hasn’t built his savings back up, and he really liked what he was doing and the people he worked with. So it just sucks all around. We worked on his resume last night, and he’s been online today looking for jobs. The difference from the last time he looked is amazing. He does software development, so a pretty high demand set of skills, and last time he would get pages and pages of job openings when he did searches. Now, maybe 10 jobs will pop up. And we live in an area that has been, comparatively speaking, somewhat removed from the worst of the economic crunch.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for us that he finds something soon. I think he’s going to look for something with a bigger (i.e. more stable) company this time around. Money will be tight until he finds something, but if we watch the budget pretty closely we should be okay, for a month or so anyway. Wedding spending will have to slow down a little. Or start going on credit cards, which we wanted to avoid. Mostly it just sucks seeing someone you love so upset and literally not be able to do anything about it. I feel completely useless.

’tis the season…

…for work holiday parties! I unfortunately had to miss mine, as it was last week when I was frantically packing up my apartment. Also, it was during the week and we weren’t able to invite a “plus one”, so I don’t know how much fun it could possibly have been anyway 😉

Last weekend though, J’s company had it’s holiday party – it was actually the first holiday party they’ve ever had in the U.S., since the bulk of their employees work out of their European hub. The party was at their office, which I couldn’t wait to see, since J had told me a lot about it. It’s not a traditional office at all, it’s an old house that has been repurposed. It’s even in a residential area. Since it’s a small company and the office here is even smaller, they operate it almost like a group house. (Whose turn is it to take out the trash, recycling comes on Wednesday, someone needs to change the bulb in the hallway light, etc.)

However, I was not expecting this:

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Yes, that’s a real fire in the fireplace. This is their main conference room, obviously decked out for the party, but still! The architecture and the decoration was fantastic. The CEO’s fiancee found all of the furniture at antique or thrift stores or flea markets. I’ve got to start shopping with her! This is what was on the other side of the room:

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You can actually go out on that little balcony. And they play Wii on the monstrous flat screen! I love the benefits and security that come with my big corporate job, but a small firm definitely has its own perks. Here’s a view of the room from the balcony:

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The boss and his fiancee threw the whole thing themselves, and they are quite the hosts. They also have two adorable little dogs, who were extremely well behaved. And definitely in the holiday spirit!

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i’m still here, i promise!

I’ve been a neglectful blogger, I know. What with finishing up my schoolwork for the semester and then moving, plus I’m on a new client at work where I don’t have as much free reign on the internet. (the nerve!)

The move went well, pretty uneventful. My Dad and brothers were very helpful loading and unloading the U-Haul on either end. Now the big pile of boxes that was in my apartment is scattered around the house, waiting to be unpacked. Every other place I’ve ever moved into has been empty when I got there, but since J’s stuff is already all settled in here, it’s a little tougher to unpack. There’s lots of moving HIS stuff around to fit in my stuff, and renegotiating where things go. It’s definitely a process. Has anyone else had the experience of moving in with your guy to a place he already lived? How did you make if feel like “ours” and not “his” anymore?

In wedding news, my shoes came! They are even more fabulous in person than on the website. I am so excited to wear them. Not much else to report on that front, unfortunately. We’re in the midst of a venue hunt. My parents are chipping in for about 2/3 of the cost of the wedding, which is awesome, but it also means that they are able to have a bit of say in how things go. Unfortunately my mom and I have diametrically different styles and tastes. And personalities. So, my poor sister/MOH is running interference. We’re checking out some more places next weekend, keep your fingers crossed. Once we have somewhere booked, I’ll give you a full run down of all of the drama!

Also, if you know of any great all-inclusive, non-hotel venues with outdoor ceremony space within an hour or so of DC, let me know! 🙂

it’s official…

We’re engaged!! J proved that he does in fact know me better than anyone, by coming up with the perfect proposal when even I couldn’t have told you what my perfect proposal would be. He also managed to completely surprise me. I’ll retell as I recall it… it gets a little montage-like because, well, my brain apparently ceased normal function and all I really remember are images and words.

Not sure if I’ve mentioned previously, but both sets of our parents live pretty close by, so we generally end up eating holiday dinners twice. On Thursday morning we slept in until about 10:00, and then took our time getting ready to head to my parents house for the first dinner. I did notice that he seemed extra cheerful as we were getting ready, but I figured… hey, who doesn’t like free food and a long weekend? Also, he happily changed his shirt without so much as a bat of the eye when I pointed out that his orange and my pink would clash. Usually he would have teased me first. I did think that was a little odd, but again, it didn’t really make me pause.

We got to my folks house and everything seemed to be perfectly normal, we helped get the food set up, hung out with my family (I’m the oldest of four) and sat down to eat. One of the traditions in our family is to go around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and tell what we’re thankful for. So we went around once, everyone gave fairly standard answers… family, friends, health, jobs. The conversation went on, but every so often someone would pipe up with “Oh, I’m also thankful for…” and mention something else.

When we were about done eating, J says, “I thought of something else I’m thankful for. I’m thankful that you have invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with your family for the second year in a row”

Still oblivious, I’m thinking, “That’s so sweet of him to thank my parents like that!”

Then he looks at me and continues “…and I’m so thankful to have met Kate and have such a wonderful person in my life.”

Me (thinking): Aw, I love him! He is such a keeper!

J (reaching into his pocket): “…and I was wondering if she would agree…”

Me (thinking): OH MY GOD!

Me: Eyes get wide and mouth drops open. Look around the table to see the rest of my family with their mouths hanging open.

J (gets on one knee next to my chair and pops open ring box): “…to be my wife”

Me: Throws arms around J.

Me (thinking): Oh, I should probably answer him.

Me: “OF COURSE!”

Family: Laughing, crying, oh-my-god-ing, jumping out of seats to hug us.

Someone (my sister, maybe?): Put the ring on!

Then there was a flurry of hugging and kissing and congratulating and “let me see the ring”ing. Champagne seemed to appear out of nowhere, as did a number of cameras. I asked my mom if she knew and she started laughing and said no. The next thing that is really concrete in my recollection is after everyone sat back down at the table, it got really quiet and J goes “Er, sorry to hijack your Thanksgiving dinner!” Of course, no one cared 🙂

Afterward, we went to have dinner with HIS family, and decided not to say anything until someone noticed. It took his sister all of maybe five minutes, after which there was more hugging and kissing and congratulating and grabbing of my left hand and another toast. No one was particularly surprised, I don’t think.

My Dad’s whole family was having Thanksgiving dinner together at my aunt’s house so we called the house and told them. The next day we went to see my Mom’s side of the family for my grandfather’s 80th birthday, so they were all pleasantly surprised and happy to see us so soon after the event.

I’m really close to my family (however much I might gripe about them sometimes!) and there was no one (besides J, obviously) that I would have rather shared that moment with. He totally knew it and picked a time when we’d be able to be with a large number of family within a few days. (He told me later that he was actually disappointed when I told him that we weren’t going to PA for the big dinner at my aunt’s house like we usually do, because he’d hoped to have more family there!) But having my parents and siblings there was perfect.

What else… oh yes! The ring. It’s a princess cut diamond solitaire with five channel set round diamonds on each side, in white gold. Hope everyone else had a fabulous Thanksgiving, as well.

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pretty little things

So, moving into J’s place has me keeping an eye out for bargains on home furnishings and decor. He’s lived there himself for a little over a year, but he spent a lot of that time fixing it up. Now it looks great – but is mostly empty! Lucky for him I like shopping 😉 The living room and bedroom both need new furniture sets, but since that’s a big expense, they might be a way off. However, my side of the bed currently is nightstandless. Which was tolerable when I was only spending weekends there. But not so much full time. I am pleased to say, however, that the issue has been remedied! I present to you my first purchase for our home – the Dolce Nightstand, a la Target!

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the Dolce Nightstand

Now I just need a cute reading lamp to go on top of it… I kind of like this little guy, also from Target…
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Sanford Table Lamp

Has anyone else seen cute and affordable table lamps recently? (Or cute and affordable home decor of any nature, really…)

can i get that to you tomorrow?

Have I mentioned that I am the Procrastination Queen? Because I am. If anyone dares challenge me, we can argue about it next week.

Seriously though, right now, I’m supposed to be working on a take-home midterm and a paper that are both due this week. Am I? No. I am finding new wedding blogs. Every time I think I MUST have found (and added to Google Reader) every wedding blog in existence, I am proven grossly wrong. Wedding blogs are like the loaves and fishes. And the worst part is that they are all incredibly more creative and well-budgeted than me, so I MUST read them lest I fall further behind in my wedding-related knowledge and abilities.

I guess now would be a good time to mention that we’re not engaged yet. Wait wait! I promise I’m not one of those pushy girls who has her entire wedding planned out before she even has a boyfriend. J and I have been talking marriage for quite a while, and he’s gone as far as to ask my Dad’s blessing (not permission. I don’t need my father’s permission to get married, obviously. But, J and my Dad are both traditional like that.) Unfortunately we’re a little tight financially right now, and while I’ve expounded greatly on the fact that I do not require a ring for an engagement, again with the J being traditional thing and wanting to have a ring. My parents have graciously offered to help funding the she-bang, however my mother does not want to start planning until there is an “official” engagement (i.e. a proposal). Thus, we are in something of a waiting game.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t read wedding blogs! My new blog addiction has been greatly assisted by the fact that Google is a genius and created Google Reader, before which I found anything RSS-related frightening. Unfortunately, Google Reader also makes it ridiculously more convenient to procrastinate. So, as soon as I get through everything in my Wedding Blogs folder, I’ll get right back to that take home midterm. Really.

money matters

Last night J and I decided that this weekend we’re going to have “the money talk”. We need to decide how we’re going to share finances and bills once I move in. I’ve never lived with anyone before, so this is a whole new ballgame for me. On the one hand, it’s never much fun to talk about money. I don’t think too many people enjoy sharing their personal finances. On the other hand though, it makes me feel very grown up that we’re dealing with it in advance in a mature manner.

I’m thinking about stopping at Barnes & Noble to pick up some financial advice books. I have heard good things about “Smart Couples Finish Rich” by David Bach. If they’re in stock, I might also take a look at this, this , or this. I figure a bottle of wine will help the process too…

How do you and your partner manage money? Do you have any book recommendations?