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APW Happy Hour


WTF Mercury in retrograde. Seriously, WTF.

by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

APW Happy Hour | A Practical Wedding

HEY, APW!

So. America. I’ve written about how traveling outside the country as an adult gave me a new perspective on our very insular kind of huge nation. And it’s always during the Olympics (which I really enjoy) that I find this the most painful. This week has been a lot of watching the Olympics and CRINGING at the NBC narration. Sample, “Team USA, who are here to play their starring role.” Oooofff.

Meanwhile! In APW land! We’re super happy to introduce our newly revamped free wedding planning spreadsheets, in partnership with Glö. If you’re starting to gird your loins for the heavy-lifting part of wedding planning, that’s the page you need to bookmark.

APW Happy Hour | A Practical Wedding

Plus! Maddie had real live happy hour with the ladies of Monogamy Wine last week. She’s adorable, no? Have we mentioned we love those ladies? LOVE THEM. Happy wedding drinking!

And with that, happy long weekend. In a rare treat, we have family in town, which means happy baby + free babysitting. I wish you a similarly joyous long weekend, and we’ll see you back here Tuesday. It’s your Friday open thread, so hop on it!

XO
MEG

P.S. Happy Valentine’s day! We’re not doing much over here other than date night tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to future (pre-school) years covered in glue and glitter. What are y’all up to?

Highlights of APW This Week

Another one of a many reasons why weddings are important, or worth having, plus an economic perspective not heard enough.

What a phone full of usies said about this relationship.

Rachel’s countdown to the wedding. SHE’S GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW YOU GUYS.

The groom wrote “Mario Kart Love Song” and the couple did their secret handshake as a part of their vows.

Ten tips for choosing a wedding photographer, from Meg.

Because we live in a culture of idealized beauty, and being outside the norm can be painful: wedding dress shopping as a stick figure.

We go on the record about beauty taboos.

Year one of motherhood, the post that took me three months to edit.

Rounding out our non-floral centerpieces with a glitter explosion.

Link Roundup

What’s Lauren Conrad’s favorite position? (Start at 6:16. It’s my favorite thing this week.)

Stop asking successful women how they “juggle it all.” More from the original interview with Amy Poehler. Which reminds us of this interview with Mindy Kaling.

LeanIn.org and Getty Images are aiming to change the way women (and work, and motherhood) are portrayed in stock photos.

Celebrities reading mean Tweets about themselves. (Do I want to do this? Yess.)

Whitney Way Thore’s videos are catching the cyber world’s attention as she practices “aggressive self-love.”

The games have always been a little gay.

#SochiProblems is more embarrassing for the U.S. than it is for Russia.

Activist pick up lines. Favorite: “Roses are red. Violets are Blue. Smashing the patriarchy makes me super attracted to you.”

Thumbnail image by Eyes and Hart for APW, from real life happy hour with Monogamy Wine

APW’s 2014 Happy Hour’s are sponsored by Monogamy Wine. Thank you Monogamy for helping make the APW mission possible! if you want to learn more about monogamy (and possibly win birthday treats), head over here and sign up for their newsletter.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • Kayjayoh

    I saw #notyourstockwoman getting some not unreasonable flack from a very intellegent group of women on Twitter this week.

  • Margi

    So, my boyfriend of 6 years and I broke up a few months ago. I’ve come to decision to move back to my home (California) from the east coast. Can anyone recommend long distance movers?

    • Kayjayoh

      While I cannot recommend any myself, I’m going to keep an eye on this comment, since I’m going to need some, too.

    • ART

      Depending on how much you want to do yourself in the way of packing/unpacking (or hire local help), I’ve had a really good experience with ABF’s U-Pack container shipping. They are kind of a super no-frills version of PODS. I used it when my ex bf of 5 years moved across the country, and he would not pay to have it dropped off at our house, so we rented a van to take everything to their yard, but even that was super easy and they were really nice.

      Sorry to hear about your breakup, but I hope it was/is as good a move as mine turned out to be! <3

    • MerlyBird

      Umm. HUGS. first and foremost. I check around to see about movers, but my guess is you’ll want to hear from the folks with personal experience and I’ve only ever moved by airplane + suitcase. (which I also don’t particularly recommend.

    • Cleo

      I used Allied when I moved from the Midwest to California. They were amazing (arrived right on time to pack up the truck, arrived in California exactly when they said they would, and even put together some furniture they had taken apart for easy packing). I would use them again in a heartbeat.

    • Jenni Kissinger

      ::hugs:: I’m so sorry.

      Moving from Cali to Maryland, I used Mayflower Van Lines. I had three moving companies come to my apartment and assess how much stuff I had and how much it would cost, while I also assessed their professionalism. One thing I learned from my and my SO’s moves is that the bigger companies subcontract to local movers at the departing and arriving locations. In the end I was very unhappy with the local company in Los Angeles.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.ca/ Jenny/Adventures Along the Way

      I used U-Pack to move from Chicago to Canada and also had a really great experience with them. Plus it was the least expensive option. I would definitely use them again if I did to move long distances…. And I am really sorry about the break up and upheaval in your life. I wish you good things ahead….

  • Kayjayoh

    And, in the vein of sharing links, I found this seriously interesting:

    LUNA OF CAIRO
    by Luna and Leela Corman

    She’s been chased by burly men, sprayed with tear gas, and watched Egypt implode. But bellydancing Luna won’t slow down.

    http://narrative.ly/colorful-women/luna-of-cairo/

  • Lindsey d.

    Good luck to everyone starting wedding planning! It’s crunch time here. The wedding is one month from tomorrow and there is certainly still plenty to do. BUT FIRST, I have to survive moving day tomorrow and closing on the sale of my house Tuesday. But at least all of my furniture will finally be with me again at “our” house, instead of stuck at “my” house. And I’ll be several grand richer, just in time for final wedding payments and our honeymoon.

    • Kayjayoh

      Closing + moving + wedding = you’ve got a lot on your plate, lady. Here’s to everything going smoothly.

      • Lindsey d.

        Thank you!

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I hate moving. You have my admiration on handling the moving, the buying, and the selling. Even at 30 and married, these are grown-up things I dread.

      • Lindsey d.

        It’s been pretty awful, actually. It was amazing to accept a (good) offer on the house in just five days on the market, but then making sure repairs are done, coordinating the move, packing, a miscommunication between me and my realtor resulting in an unexpected expense, is just no fun. And add making wedding decisions to that! I’m exhausted and suffering from stress-induced acid reflux. Fun!

  • Moe

    Shoutout to Rachel getting married tomorrow!!! EEeEEeeeeEEEeeeek!!
    I’ve enjoyed every single one of her posts!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Me TOO!

  • Kayjayoh

    Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone, and best wishes for a good day and a spectacular wedding to Rachel.

  • Kaitlin

    I’ve been waiting for this all week! Wedding planning dilemma of the week: booking hotels for out of town guests? How do we even begin thinking of this? The situation is we have about 150 guests total, and half of them are from out of town. Also, they are mainly friends from college and grad school, so half of them would probably want a more budget conscious hotel pick, and the other half would probably prefer not staying at a Red Roof Inn. Should we just pick one hotel, or should we offer a range of hotels? Do we reserve a room block, or can we just tell people what hotels to look into (we haven’t found better rates than AAA or AARP membership or even Expedia) and book on their own? We don’t want to suggest too many hotels because we plan on providing shuttle service to the various event venues (multiple events on a Friday and Saturday).

    TL;DR How did you make decisions about accommodations for out of towers?

    • Kayjayoh

      We have ~200 invited guests, at least half of which are from out of town. We set up a block in the botel that is a block away from the venue, so that guests could walk from one to the other, and no worries about transportation. However, on our wedding website, we then listed recommendations for other hotels in the area, letting out of towners know which places will be close, which are farther away but still a pretty straight shot, and which areas of town will be super inconvenient.

    • ktmarie

      I had exactly this same question a year ago. After much debate, we ended up reserving room blocks in two hotel options near our venue. One higher end resort type place and one budget friendly place. We had a shuttle that looped between the two hotels and the venue before and after the ceremony. We didn’t provide transportation for other weekend events and people just carpooled. Worked out great.

      • Kaitlin

        Thanks for the feedback! We’ll probably end up booking at two places. I would prefer to only provide transportation for Saturday, but the Friday night event (which is a major event in our Indian-American fusion wedding) is on the other side of the city from the airport/hotels we’re likely to pick/Saturday wedding venue, so I think we’ll have to provide transportation (fiancé is set on this).

    • Kayjayoh

      We also called the hotel in November to set things up, and the wedding it in June. That is the farthest out they will go.

      • Kaitlin

        How did you pick the hotel? And we totally should have thought about this in November because we’re also getting married in June.

        • Kayjayoh

          Two factors:
          1. Literally a block away from the venue.
          2. I’ve never stayed there, but I go to an annual convention at the hotel, so I know the place and like the building and the staff.

        • http://www.devabydefinition.com/ Deva C.

          We looked at what was available close to our venue, and then called around and asked about price per room, if they required a deposit from us, and how long they would hold a block for us before releasing the rooms. We chose the hotel based on cost, convenience, room availability, and flexibility in holding rooms for us so they could be booked at the last minute.

        • ktmarie

          We mostly chose based on location but looked at multiple options in the area. In addition to the items that Deva C. listed, I would absolutely consider how the person treats you that is in charge of coordinating the room block. We worked very closely with that person over the course of planning (and last minute panics etc) and she was a wonderful & flexible person. If someone isn’t getting back to you or seems to not care when you are looking to book your rooms, I wouldn’t expect it to be different as the date gets closer…

          • http://www.devabydefinition.com/ Deva C.

            Yes, this! The person we worked with held ONE room for us for 7 days after the release date so a friend of mine would be able to book. She was SO accommodating and so friendly and helpful.

      • Kaitlin

        Ok, last dumb question. How did you decide how many rooms to block with you ~200 people? I can’t imagine that everyone will come, but we won’t know how many people will be coming until late March.

        • Kayjayoh

          I told them how many people are invited from out of town, but what they did is start off with a block of 10 rooms for the Friday and 20 for Saturday. If we need additional rooms after it fills, they can extend the block.

          One thing I found is that the person at the hotel knows exactly the questions to ask. I was like “how do I do this” and she was super helpful. It was quite easy.

    • Catherine McK

      Agree with ktmarie about setting up a couple of blocks. We went through our list and tried to guess who would book with the block and who would want to book their own hotel with points or whatever. None of our blocks cost us anything and we weren’t stuck with a minimum number of rooms. One thing to consider is your location. We were having the wedding in a Chicago suburb and 11 months out there were 0 hotels available in the city due to a huge conference. The block allowed our guests a reasonable place to stay which would have been hard to find if they’d had to book it themselves.

    • Fiona

      I’ve been wondering this, for sure. We have a pretty big property (where we are getting married) so I want to offer it as a camping place. While she likes this idea in theory, my mom is worried that’ll just mean a million other house guests.

      But we should definitely reserve hotel blocks. How early in advance should I reserve hotel blocks? How do you do that?

    • Ellen

      We’re probably terrible people but we are not doing a room block anywhere. There is enough variety in the lifestyles of people who will be traveling to get to our wedding that doing a block made zero sense. All that I did was put a list of nearby hotels on our wedding website with little $-$$$$ next to them, arranged from closest to the reception to furthest away. I’m hoping that makes sense given our group and they know I’m happy to talk about the area and the benefits of staying in one town versus another as well.

    • M.

      The hotel(s) we wanted offered basically no incentive to book ahead of time and there were no other events in town to go up against (and off peak for wedding season), so on our website we suggested our pick, one slightly less expensive, and one nicer and closer, and trusted our people to do what was best for them. We still have had a lot of people choosing even other ones than those, arranging with friends, or doing airbnb. Fiance’s family chose a different hotel that allowed them free use of a community room for a family party after we leave. The flexibility of no block is working for us.

      Re: transportation. Friends of ours had a shuttle that was going to the main hotel they had a block at. People staying at any other hotel/house could meet at the main hotel and were still able to use the shuttle for convenience between ceremony/venue. Could work as a compromise depending on what you had planned.

    • Christina McPants

      I do recommend room blocks, but I also suggest booking fewer than you think you’ll need. We ended up being on the hook for a couple of rooms in our block because fewer people came than we thought and a lot doubled up.

    • swarmofbees

      We have a ‘preferred’ rate at our reception hotel, and then I just listed some other options on our wedding website. our reception hotel rate is pretty affordable, but we have some under 100 a night options on our website. We are expecting about 50 out of towners.

    • Lindsay Rae

      We just booked one hotel for our wedding, and made sure there were plenty of double rooms so couples can share and singles can bunk up if they want to save money. With a room block we received an awesome discount – definitely a must to arrange if you’re thinking there are going to be more than 10-15 reservations (sometimes you have to guarantee a certain number but it depends on the hotel chain). I got a code for guests to book with and put the instructions on our wedding website.

      I am going to a wedding over the summer where there are two hotel options, one being closer to the venue for a higher rate, and one a few minutes further away for a more cost efficient rate.

      The only thing to consider with multiple hotels is transport to/from the hotel and reception. We are offering shuttle services (for convenience but mostly so people don’t have to worry about drinking and driving) and it might be an extra cost to add another stop on the shuttle run.

      Hope this helps!! Good luck :)

    • Laura

      Hm, I think the internet ate my comment from earlier. We finalized hotels this week! I used a agency via a website that helps with negotiating contracts and got a lower rate that way (lower than the normal lower room block rate).

      I booked blocks of rooms as a courtesy to my guests but of course (as is mentioned on APW a lot) our guests are grown ups. They’ll do what they want to do.

      To get started I thought about the must-haves: free parking, free breakfast. Then the wants: free wi-fi, indoor pool, and bar. Then researched hotels with the help of the booking agency, and used travel websites to look at ratings (internet ratings aren’t the end-all be-all for hotels, but they do help).

      In the end, I booked blocks at two different hotels. The hotels are within 2 minutes of each other by car so if people want to mingle around they can, but also have the amenities they might want. (i.e., the family with young kids will love the option of the pool; my friends with no kids don’t care about a pool but will enjoy free internet and a bar to gather at during downtime).

  • Magical Unicorn Lady

    OMG WE STILL HAVE A POSITIVE, though my nurse at the fertility center won’t actually tell me I’m pregnant until we have an ultrasound in a week and a half. Everything looks solid and she’s reassured me that everything looks normal and she’d tell me if it wasn’t. Which makes sense, considering the insomnia, constant heartburn and gas pain and other symptoms that keep manifesting. OMG this might actually be happening. I just want to keep knocking on my stomach and ask if anyone’s home.

    So, in conclusion, I don’t think I’m going to be calm ever again.

    • Kathleen

      “I just want to keep knocking on my stomach and ask if anyone’s home.”

      I spent the first I-don’t-know-how-long of my pregnancy singing that song that Phoebe sings on friends, while she’s waiting to find out if she’s pregnant with her brother’s kid(s):

      “Are you in there, little fetus?
      In 9 months will you come greet us?
      I will . . . buy you some Adidas . . .”

      Congrats and good luck!

      • http://www.devabydefinition.com/ Deva C.

        I want to upvote BOTH of these comments repeatedly. Congats Magical Unicorn Lady!

    • emilyg25

      It feels kinda weird to be so excited for an internet stranger, but lady, I am happy for you!!

  • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck

    We’re leaving on a much needed vacation to Uruguay tomorrow! This is our big trip for our time abroad, and I could not be more excited. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and long weekend, everybody!

  • Kate

    How’d y’all celebrate Galentine’s Day? Also a belated Happy Galentine’s Day to all of APW!

    • ItsyBit

      Belated Happy GDay to you, too! I didn’t know about Galentine’s Day until late last night but I fully plan to make it a thing within my circle of girl friends. It’s a nice (and hilarious)excuse to get together.

  • Sarah

    I’ve posted a couple of times here before but I’m mostly a lurker who wants to come out an join the conversation.

    I got engaged last September and we juuust booked a venue and set a date for June 6, 2015! I’m extremely excited because picking a venue (especially long distance) was a pain and a half. I live in NYC but I’m planning a wedding in Pittsburgh. Complicating everything was that we didn’t have a real clue about our wedding budget until a few weeks ago/yesterday. So that is ALSO a relief, looks like we’re splitting the costs three ways, us, my parents, and his. We literally just figured this all out yesterday.

    As for where we’re getting married, we picked the Mattress Factory, which is a contemporary art museum in Pittsburgh. I love it. It’s pricey, but with our newly crafted budget we can (apparently) afford it. I feel like we’ve gotten over a pretty big hump of not-that-much-fun-stuff, and I’m so so so relieved.

    This weekend is a pretty big weekend. Our 2 year anniversary is today, and we’re throwing a birthday party tomorrow at our apartment because my fiance’s birthday is Monday (I’m cooking tons of party food), and for that day I have brownies with salted caramel planned…things are busy but looking up :)

    • Kayjayoh

      Congrats!

    • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

      The Mattress Factory is AWESOME! I’ve never held an event there, but the space is sweet!!! I have a friend who just started a cake business in the Pittsburgh area recently – http://www.thesweetersideofmommyhood.com/the-bake-shop/

      • Sarah

        I’m super excited about the Mattress Factory. It’s really us (as artsy people), and I think our friends and family are going to love it too. And thanks for the link to your friend’s site! Her stuff looks great.

    • Julia27

      I’m so happy to see other Pittsburgh brides on here! I’m still in pre-engaged land (should be out of it soon), but we have already talked about planning our wedding in his hometown of Pittsburgh. I live in smalltownville, upstate New York so our options for my neck of the woods is very limited. It sounds like you have a fun filled weekend planned. Enjoy!

  • Laura

    Well, I was so proud of Kansas last week and the awesome wedding that featured our state. This week, I’m sad because this bill passed the house: http://cjonline.com/news/state/2014-02-12/house-affirms-bill-counter-gay-marriage-unions?page=3 Thankfully, it looks like it probably won’t pass the senate, but for the wrong reasons. I’m proud of my house representative though, because he voted no! (see folks, voting and writing to your congresspeople works… even if your state is decidedly on one end of the political spectrum).

  • Cleo

    I ENJOY the nationalism that is displayed during Olympic broadcasts. The US is just a part of one big world, but we have a lot of star athletes who only get a chance to be highlighted in this manner once every 4 years. The Olympics are about nationalism and competition in a positive way – it’s peaceful (for the most part, among the athletes) and foster a lot of international camaraderie (anyone else see that article about how Tinder has become all the rage in the Olympic Village). It’s nice to be united as a nation in cheering for our athletes. And there are some events we kind of rule at (slopestyle, anyone?).

    I’ve also found that NBC is quite balanced in its coverage of other athletes. I learned more about Viktor Ahn (former South Korean-turned-Russian speedskater) than J.R. Celski when watching men’s short track. I love the 15 year old Russian figure skater and have been enchanted by her. There was a whole feature on Canadian Alex Bilodeau before the men’s moguls competition. And the Canadian luge team — they started using German coaches and engineering for their sleds to go faster. So cool! NBC was praising them for days about that.

    I could go on for a while, but I have to get back to work and I’m sure you don’t want to read as much as I would write. Regardless – Go Team U.S.A.! And nothing wrong with spirited nationalism!

    • Meg Keene

      Being proud of your country is fine, it’s great even. But we, as a country, have a huge problem with jingoism. We simply assume that we are the best and the brightest (naturally, obviously, not because we’re an insanely rich country) and we assume everyone recognizes that. It didn’t become painfully obvious to me till I left the country, and realized that the rest of the world HATES that about us, mocks that about us, despises that about us. And I include myself in that, because outside the country I constantly find myself saying things that I realize are sort of horrifying… or being wasteful and self centered in a way that’s just natural at home, and people (who love you, even) are shocked by outside the country.

      The way NBC narrates is not simply, pride in our country. It narrates from the assumption that we are the best country on earth, we are at the Olympics to show our natural dominance, and obviously everyone gets that. It’s what happens between the lines. Our narraters will go on and on about how great one of our star athlete is (even as they fall on their face), and then will *literally fall silent* when an athlete from another country does something particularly impressive.

      If you listen to the narration verbatim, and look at it from a media critic/ performance studies viewpoint, it’s… enlightening.

      • Laura C

        Phil Dyess-Nugent had some good discussion of how NBC covers Americans vs. others over at the AV Club.

        One of the things that really bugs me is how, at least until the proliferation of cable channels allowed them to show more different things at once, we used to not even be shown a sport unless the US was already good at it. Which is, of course, a great way to stay not good at it. Now we just don’t see it in prime time unless the US might medal. I’m a big figure skating fan and this Olympics, I’ve gone in thinking “I have to root for Americans because if the sport is going to stay strong enough here to keep being shown on TV at times other than the Olympics, we need some telegenic medal winners.” That’s so not how I want it to be, but there you go.

        • Meg Keene

          I was actually SHOCKED during the summer Olympics to discover there were… all these… sports? that I’d never heard of? I literally just thought we pretty much medaled in everything, because Americans are in medal contention for *everything that’s shown.*

          Erm. Not true. Not true at all. Embarrassing to realize you spent your life thinking that. Mortifying, a little, even.

          • Ali

            YES to all the summer olympics and the emphasis only on American athletes. Finding a way to watch live daytime coverage does seem to mitigate this. My fiance was in between jobs during the 2012 Summer Olympics and basically watched the games nonstop via online coverage during the day (I think either via NBC or our cable provider) – when I’d get home he’d have truly FASCINATING stories about South Korean fencers or whitewater canoing events that just never get primetime NBC play because they aren’t sports that Americans typically participate in or are medal contenders. As a country, we’re missing out on a lot of aspects that make the Games really exciting!

          • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck

            We didn’t have cable then (still don’t), and I cannot tell you how cool it was to (perhaps, illegally) see all these other live events that I had no idea even existed.

          • Meg Keene

            WHITEWATER CANOING?

            Now I’m just angry. WHITEWATER CANOING? Damn it. I googled it. That’s a real thing. A REAL THING WE’RE MISSING.

            What are we missing in the winter games? Like, skeleton with archery while catching baby rabbits? I bet the French are good at that so we don’t talk about it (shhh).

          • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck

            YES I WATCHED THIS! It was really cool!! Also, the mountain biking was awesome!

          • Laura C

            ME TOO! Whitewater canoeing was my big discovery of the last Olympics and it’s really fun to watch.

          • Ali

            SO COOL! Here’s a quick youtube clip, for those who missed it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjMrOj54bJQ The green gates have to be canoed through, and the red ones have to be canoed through (technical terms, obvi) BACKWARDS. Unbelievably impressive – I can’t imagine the upper body strength and balance it requires. I am crossing my fingers that it gets more TV time in 2016.

          • Class of 1980

            I feel your pain.

          • Amy March

            How are you missing whitewater canoeing? NBC absolutely showed quite a bit of that during the London olympics.

          • Cleo

            Exactly. Furthermore, all these sports are easy to find and watch if you spend 2 minutes looking for the Olympic broadcasts and aren’t just watching NBC’s primetime (if you don’t have cable, then maybe it’s more difficult), but the USA is the “home team” on NBC, so if Americans don’t have a chance to medal, they aren’t going to highlight that round.

          • Jenny

            Also, it’s only been a regular olympic sport for the last 4 or 5 olympics. Part of the issue with summer olympics is that there are SO many sports (40-45) and only 15 for the winter games. There are only 3-4 hours of prime time, you can’t show it all.

            Also as someone who wanted to watch the olympics while in other countries, we are certainly not the only ones to do this. Who wanted to watch Michelle Kwan skate while she was in Australia (hint it was me)? It was barely covered- there were no Aussies in the events. The showed the Aussies. I assume because most people want to watch their own countrymen and women who weren’t competing in the skating events.

            I think part of the falling silent tends to be when something crazy happens from an unexpected person. Like the person who hadn’t medaled in a world event this year who medaled in a skiing event. I’m guessing the announcers weren’t silent because he wasn’t American, but because they hadn’t read up and studied him because he wasn’t expected to be a contender based on previous performance.

          • Kathleen

            It becomes super-obvious when the sport you’re into is one of the obscure*, no-coverage types. For me, it’s Judo. Last Summer Olympics, the US even had medal contenders – and winners! – in Judo, and there were incredible stories from other countries (http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/olympics/19046923), and there was still next to no coverage.

            I think the most fun thing about the Olympics is picking an obscure event and choosing who to root for, learning the back stories, and following it from start to finish.

            Quite honestly, during the Summer Games, at least, I thought that the amount of coverage was less about where the US was going to medal (because how often do you see shooting or even basketball in prime time?) and more about how much clothing the athletes were wearing (there’s always diving, even when we’re not very good).

            *Judo isn’t “obscure” pretty much anywhere else in the world.

        • Meg Keene

          THIS IS THE BEST THING I’VE READ THIS WEEK. It’s like it’s written from inside my head. The half-pipe coverage stuff is exactly right, but also, HA:

          “There, NBC, in its efforts to explain why it’s focusing on Americans even when athletes from other countries are winning all the events and generating most of the excitement, tends to go a little nuts with the heartbreak stories of overcoming personal tragedies and families ripped apart. Here, the camera is more likely to just drift away from the real action and fixate on that one member of the U.S. women’s luge team who warms up by putting on her headphones, getting her jam on, and twerking all over the slopes.”

          • Laura C

            Phil Dyess-Nugent has been one of my favorite writers for years (funny story: he was Phil Nugent, then he married a woman named Phyllis Dyess, and they hyphenated, so they are Phil and Phyllis Dyess-Nugent), and I love that he’s found a regular home at the AV Club, because for quite a while he had this obscure blog that I can’t even remember how I found it, but he alternated between funny/great political commentary, pop culture writing, and writing about how he was broke and alone and miserable. Seeing someone that talented find a good gig is so satisfying.

      • Cleo

        I’m afraid of getting piled on, but long story short, I like watching NBC for the same reason that I choose to watch LA Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks games on the channel that broadcasts the Kings announcers (because I’m a Kings fan and I want to hear their perspective on the game and how it effects my team, along with information about the Ducks that might seem basic, but I don’t know because I’m not a Ducks fan).

        I have been noticing that NBC has been talking about other athletes from countries more than they have in the past and they’re praising them quite frequently in my opinion.

        Also, striving to be the best exclusively is a very American quality that I’ve found has confounded my European coworkers. I think that’s part of the difference in coverage (and I like the American desire to be the best).

        And because it’s adorable, here’s a story about skier Gus Kenworthy and his puppies: http://msn.foxsports.com/olympics/story/american-skier-gets-the-gold-for-saving-sochi-puppies-021314

      • Claire

        As a non-American, I have witnessed this a lot so can agree that in my experience, Americans tend to think they live in the greatest country in the world. America is a great country, however perspective helps a bunch to add some balance.

    • Fiona

      One thing I think about a lot when it comes to being from the United States in the global context, like the Olympics, is that the kind of resources available to Americans differ vastly from most of the world. For instance, we have the kind of climate that can make our team successful in Summer AND Winter Olympics.

      Furthermore, we have financial resources as a country that are surpassed by very few countries, and certainly not countries as large as ours. I wrestle with the idea of being a proud American because on the one hand, I really am proud of my national identity, but on the other hand, these kinds of gains on an international stage are due in large part to our unearned advantages as opposed to more pure reasons to be proud of our successes.

  • Kanonymous

    To those who have ended serious, long-term, thought-this-was-for-life relationships, what made you call it quits in the end? Or if you almost called it quits but unexpectedly pulled through, why?

    • Anon

      I had the decision made for me by my s.o., after many months of unhappiness, fighting, and almost-break ups. Even though I wasn’t the one to put the final nail in the coffin, I think I knew it was the end because when I thought about us breaking up, my main concerns were fears about what would happen after. Like, will I ever find someone else since this is the only thing I know, what will I do with my time, what will I tell people? It wasn’t about missing something specific about him.

    • emilyg25

      Oof, I could write a lot about this. I was with my ex for three years. We lived together. We had a cat. I spent most of the last year and a half wallowing in ambivalence about our relationship. I called it off around the two-year mark, but we got back together a week later (it’s hard being alone!), and then finally called it off for good around the three-year mark.

      It was really hard because while it wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad either. We got along really well. We had a lot in common. We had fun together. But in the end, I realized that our ambitions and goals and general life philosophy didn’t match up. In the time since we split (three years), I’ve moved out of state and moved up the career ladder. He’s still delivering pizzas. We just have fundamentally different ideas about what a good life looked like.

      Leaving him was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it has been wonderful for both of us. We are now free to be who we really are. We each have new partners who suit us so, so much better.

      What made me leave is that I realized I spent an awful lot of time thinking about leaving. It’s not supposed to be like that. Yeah, long-term relationships are hard. But not that hard.

    • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

      I wanted to move to NYC and he wanted to stay in Ohio. I was very focused on my career and said I may never want children, and if I did want children, it wouldn’t be until I felt like I had some financial footing. He wanted kids asap. After basically knowing these incompatibilities for a year and ignoring them, I was offered a job in NYC, debated turning it down for him, and couldn’t bring myself to do it. We drew out our breakup in the most painful way, which I would never recommend as a good idea. Once I accepted the job, and we accepted that what we wanted was never going to work out if we were together, we just kept acting like a couple, and decided the day after I graduated (which was the day before I left for NYC) would be our last day together before ending it.

      That idea was stupid and didn’t work, so I spent the first few months after college crying over the relationship, trying to get back together, actually getting back together, and breaking up again. I even bought a last minute greyhound ticket and rode 19 hours to see him over a weekend, which ended up being a disaster. (Side note – don’t ride the greyhound if you can help it. One of the creepiest men I’ve ever encountered LICKED MY FEET while I slept.)

      I’m so, so, so much better off now. And those major incompatibilities masked a lot of other serious issues (like him borrowing lots of money from me and my family he never paid back; the time he borrowed more money for rent and said he’d buy an engagement ring instead of paying me back; and then later said he couldn’t get the ring or pay me back after I had a tipsy meltdown on Valentines day; The time I made a smart-ass joke in front of his friends (on my birthday) and he kicked me out of his car; The year I spent Valentines day at Hooters; or the times stories about me were used in his standup routines and it made me sad.) I think if he’d wanted to move to NYC, I would have overlooked every single other issue in the relationship, I might have never ended it, and I’d be in a totally different place.

      No idea if that’s helpful, but that was my experience.

      • Kayjayoh

        “One of the creepiest men I’ve ever encountered LICKED MY FEET while I slept.”

        [GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]

        • Meg Keene

          I want to downvote your comment so it will go away forever ;)

          • Kayjayoh

            I don’t think any amount of downvoting will make that go away. Once you read it, it is burned into your brain.

          • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

            Sorry for creeping everyone out!

            I’ve told that story in person, and so many women have had so many experiences where they’ve been violated by strange men in varying degrees. It’s horrifying how often that happens, and how often no one says anything because your brain can’t process another person behaving that badly.

      • ART

        oh god, i can so relate to that list of terrible moments that i should have said dunzo! <3

    • swarmofbees

      After five years, I finally found the courage to end a going-nowhere-good relationship. We had broken up and got back together many times before. What made it stick, I think, was that I was at a good place in my life. I had just started grad school and had a real plan for my life. I was meeting cute guys! Using my brain! Taking concrete steps to a bright future! Looking at all this positive made our relationship just seem so bad. And so, one day, I broke up with him and it was glorious. I just knew it was right. He took it badly and things got scary for a while, but I was still so happy throughout. One of my lines of reasoning was that I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than with him. In retrospect, i don’t think this is the right way to think, because sometimes you have to take the chance, but it moved my butt to make the right decision for me.

    • Margi

      Oh man! I could write a book. My boyfriend of 6 years ended it for good, but honestly I was ambivalent for probably the last 5 (!) years of our relationship. I focused on the big things, like our differences in wanting kids, but with the help of a therapist I realized it was a million little things that made us not right for each other. He also had anger issues and was emotionally abusive. I was too scared to be alone and figured it would be better to be unhappy but not alone. We had also gone to couples counseling together and nothing seemed to help.

      As cheesy as it sounds, the book ” too good to leave but too bad to stay” was really helpful in sorting out my feelings into clear thoughts. Also, reading a bunch of dear sugar and hax articles has been helpful, as well.

      I’m not going to lie, it’s only been 3 months and as hard as things are now, I could never go back to a life like that. As sugar says, “be brave enough to break your own heat” and “because wanting to leave is enough.”

      • emilyg25

        I’ve found Carolyn Hax’s advice to be extraordinarily helpful, both in relationships and general life stuff. I love her idea that you’re with the right person if that person makes you feel like the best version of yourself, and you do the same for them.

        • Margi

          Yes! And her idea of marry someone when you are amazed at your luck.

          • Lindsey d.

            Oh, I’ve never thought of it that way, but I am amazed at my luck…

      • Kat91314

        I have “be brave enough to break your own heart” tattooed on my right leg. Cheryl Strayed (a/k/a “Sugar”) is amazing. KAnonymous, please pick up “Tiny Beautiful Things”…..it’s a collection of her best, and it will definitely help :-) Good luck as you decide which path to take.

  • AMS

    I needed to read Meg’s reflections on motherhood this week, and really needed to re-read Post-Postpartum. My son was born on Halloween, and the last few months haven’t exactly been smooth with a postpartum hemorrhage two weeks after, fighting postpartum depression and anxiety, and a cross-country move to top it off. I am struggling to remind myself that this isn’t supposed to be easy, that hard is ok, and that feeling off balance and a bit lost is ok. I’m still working on finding a pod, and I imagine it’ll take a while, but I can do it! (And this is probably the most positive I’ve felt in recent memory…)

    • Briana

      Being a new mom is HARD, especially when you throw in other life upheaval and health complications that are scary and exhausting. I also suffered a PPH after the birth of my son in November, and it took me until recently to realize it was perfectly understandable that I was so physically and mentally exhausted (even though: duh!). Big hugs to you!

    • Meg Keene

      It’s just tough. I was pretty euphoric post birth, but I’d been so deeply depressed during the pregnancy that my body reacted really well. It was still… a lot. I was euphoric, but somewhat anxious (which just manifested as overwhelm), and I had to have surgery at 10 weeks to clear shit up, OMG. As for a pod, maybe I’m finding one now? Luckily I just had good non mom friends to help me out (you just need people, not necessarily moms).

      But it’s CRAZY. And it gets way better. Having a toddler is a whole new ballgame. So you’ll get there. Try to remember it’s an adventure, and they’ll never be that small again? That helped me, at least. Plus, “This too shall pass.” ALL of it, good and bad, really fast. That’s parenting. This too shall pass.

    • swarmofbees

      It gets better. That is what my sister who tread this path before me told me. They start to sleep more, poop less, Bonding can take a while. When they smile or laugh you actually start to see the rewards. it gets better.

  • Kestrel

    So I’ve realized that my centerpieces are looking a little … flat. We’re having an ‘Up!’ themed wedding and are therefore making houses (out of cardboard and paper) and then tying balloons to them. It looks great with all the balloons, but the table looks pretty bare.

    I’m thinking about growing wheatgrass bases to put the houses on. Is this just an insane idea? I’d definitely be testing it out first as I’ve never grown wheatgrass, but the internet assures me I can grow them in shallow trays on paper towel. Still, 8 ish pans of wheatgrass could be a lot. However, all of the rest of the DIY projects can be done far in advance.

    Anyone ever grown wheatgrass?

    • lady brett

      “up!” theme? that’s awesome.
      but i have no help w.r.t. wheatgrass.

    • ART

      I can’t grow anything. Would grass-green dried moss work? :)

    • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

      I found it very difficult to grow, but I grew it in an apartment with a draft. It was beautiful for a few days and then would wilt and brown.

    • Felicity

      No suggestions, but the UP theme sounds awesome!

    • Laura C

      I’ve grown cat grass and never had any problem, and I’m no gardener.

    • Sarah

      Wheatgrass is SO EASY to grow. My parents are going to grow several trays for our wedding too (because they have the outdoor space and we live in an apartment). You can indeed grow them on shallow trays on a paper towel. I think you just need an appropriate amount of outdoor space, and make sure they don’t get too much sunlight because that could cause it to wilt and brown.

    • Meigh McPants

      That sounds adorable! Before you worry about wheatgrass though, don’t forget the table will be set with dishes, flatware, at least two glasses per person (more if you’re doing champagne at the table) napkins, possibly menus, etc. It can get crowded fast. So, if you’re doing wheatgrass b/c it sounds amazing, then totally do it, but if you’re just doing it b/c you’re worried about it looking bare, feel free to skip it. You do you.

      • Kestrel

        Well, actually it won’t. We’re having a buffet reception with pizza and plastic cups. (Low budget here!) so the tables will only have silverware on them.

        • Meigh McPants

          Well then, wheatgrass it up! Or don’t! My point was basically do what speaks to your soul, and budget, and patience level. Which generally tends to be the tl:dr of most of my comments here, so there you go. Best wishes for a fabulous wedding!

  • Fiona

    Ok so I have a question about bilingual weddings! So my fiance is bilingual–Spanish and Haitian Creole. The wedding is in the US with mostly American guests…but even though he’s learning English and doing beautifully, I’m worried the ceremony won’t mean as much to him if it’s hard to understand. I would LIKE to include things in his language–problem is, only some guests speak Spanish and fewer speak Haitian Creole.

    Do you have any ideas about how we should navigate this? Will guests be offended if they can’t understand? Any experience with bilingual weddings?

    • ART

      I went to one that was all in Sanskrit but the priest translated each line to English for us in a really sweet, accessible, conversational way (because he knew nobody there understood Sanskrit), and loved it. It felt like he was really involving and speaking directly to all of us.

    • p.

      Just my two cents but I think it would be amazing to be at a wedding that was also in Spanish and Creole.

    • Marcela

      I’m from Brazil and we decided to incorporate Portuguese by having our reading done in both languages. His sister read it in English first and then mine in Portuguese. We thought of doing our whole ceremony in the two languages but that made it way longer than we wanted it. We only had our venue for 4 hours total, so going long on the ceremony would have cut into the reception dance party time. Also my husband was not comfortable with the idea of standing up there for close to an hour.

    • M.

      My step-dad is Mexican American, so there was no issue of a language barrier, but to include both cultures, he and my mom recited the same poem to each other, him in Spanish, her in English. Everyone could understand and it was very meaningful to them.

      • Fiona

        I like that! That’s very nice. My mom and dad met as teenagers, and she recently gave me a book to read about love and marriage that he gave her when they started dating as young thangs. I found THE LAST VERSION ON THE INTERNET in Spanish and sent it to my fiance to read. There are two GORGEOUS passages in there…so maybe we could read them to each other! …or have someone else read them.
        I’m feeling a little bit like I should also trust in my boo’s language abilities and not carry on too much….I dunno. I really want it to be as special for him! It’s hard without his language and family present. argh!

    • AK

      I went to one that was in English and Urdu where they designed it so that neither one was dominant (they switched reading things in English and having them translated in Urdu, to reading things in Urdu first and then translating to English). I enjoyed it.. it did make for a longer ceremony but I thought it was lovely

      • Fiona

        I’m a little worried about things becoming long. I really want to do something like this though!

    • lady brett

      perhaps you could include a really complete program that includes the english translations of any parts done in spanish or haitian creole, so that people could read along for the parts they don’t understand. also, if you are including music, that would be a great place to include non-english parts.

    • Lindsay Rae

      I saw a wedding once where the bride’s first language was Spanish, so while the ceremony was in English, she said her vows in Spanish. The officiant said “I X take you Y” and she repeated in Spanish. It must have felt true to her and that way everyone in attendance knew what she was saying.

      • Fiona

        I like this. This may actually be used. He’s writing his own vows though. Do you have ideas on this for the monolingual American crowd?

        • Lindsay Rae

          Hmmm… maybe he could say a few sentences in English, then finish off in Spanish (PS – I’m assuming you speak Spanish?). I guess in the end it’s mostly important that you hear and understand his promises to you :)

          • Fiona

            We’ve almost never spoken any other language with each other than Spanish. I like this option!

      • Ali

        Yeah I wasn’t sure if we should say our vows in our native language or the other persons native language. When I asked my husband, he said right away in the other persons native language so we went with that. It felt like such a strong commitment standing up in front of everyone speaking in my 2nd language but in his language to him.

    • jashshea

      Guest perspective: I went to a fully Korean ceremony a million years ago and, while i don’t speak a word of Korean, it was lovely. It was a Catholic full mass (I was raised catholic) so I pretty much got the gist of the traditions.

    • lizperk23

      I’m thinking about this too, though from slightly different perspective. W is Korean and fully bilingual; I’m not at all. Almost all our guests are native English speakers, but his parents speak almost only Korean, and we want them to be included. we’re still in early planning mode, but I really like the idea of vows twice – English & Korean. Not sure about the other parts yet…

      • Fiona

        Super cool. Good for you! today’s discussion helped me think about a few things, but I’m still mostly at a loss…I’d love to hear more about your bilingual wedding adventure.

    • Laura

      Just popping in to say… fist bump for bilingual weddings. English/Vietnamese families merging here and I’m excited to read the comments.

    • Ali

      I had a bilingual wedding mass in Spanish and English. Things weren´t translated – it was some things in english and some things in spanish. The guests had the readings and homily in the other language which was the main thing they might need to understand. We each said our vows in the other person´s language which I thought was the coolest thing. My family knows I speak Spanish, but to stand up and say my wedding vows in in front of everyone, but to my husband in his language was really special to me and us. The bilingual mass was for a lot of reasons, but it was imperative because my husbands parents don’t speak English and I felt that they deserved to be included somehow in such an important event.

    • EF

      so we’re doing a tri-lingual ceremony, with English, French, and Irish [gaelic]. Luckily our officiant knows all these languages.

      Guests will hopefully find it cool/appreciate their own culture in it. We’re also just going to provide translations in English and French (the Irish speakers all speak English, too) of most of the ceremony, instead of a simple ‘order of ceremony’ handout.

      It can be hard to work with multiple cultures, so good luck! And view it as a chance to be extra-creative. Nothing wrong with that. :-)

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.ca/ Jenny/Adventures Along the Way

      We did the vows twice, once in each of our languages. And we used projected surtitles to project the text translating the spoken language to the other language. (Changing back and forth, depending on what language was being spoken.) It worked really well and we got lots of positive feedback

  • ART

    I’ve been watching the weather and sending vibes to Atlanta all week for Rachel and her mom to manage to be together on her wedding day. I so hope there will be good news on that front.

    We got our first RSVPs this week, and a couple of early surprising “will celebrate from afar”s that made me sad, but it is starting to get really exciting. My mom is coming to town this weekend and I am simultaneously excited to show her stuff and nervous to talk to her about my lack of a wedding dress, so I hope she doesn’t bring it up!

    I have a question about cakes and hot weather. I’ve never kept a cake around for more than a couple hours, so I’m not sure how they tend to fare in the refrigerator for a day and a half, and when we’d want to take them out to get them ready to serve in very hot weather. We’ll just have a few normal-sized round cakes, not a big Wedding Cake, but I don’t want them to be hot and melty or cold and hard…?

    • Emma Klues

      Are you making them yourself? If you’re working with a bakery, they will have exactly the advice you need and know specifically to their product! If you’re making them yourself, I wish I knew more to answer you better, but I also think you could call a local bakery and pretend to be a customer and see what happens. :)

      • ART

        No, we’re getting them from a bakery, it’s just a logistical matter of which one (the better ones are farther away, and so would have to be picked up in advance) and whose fridge and all of that. If, say, three days in a fridge is no problem, then we can get them from the really good place on the way up, but if we really need to get them the day before, then it’s just-OK bakery an hour away (and then…i don’t even know how to transport them in the car. ugh.)

        • KC

          Definitely contact the bakeries for “how long will these specific cakes be good in the fridge for” and “how much before cake-cutting time should we take them out of the fridge”. Another note is that you should not store cakes in fridges with strongly-flavored foods, in general (fish; garlic butter; chili), because those foods generously “share”.

          Re: transport, take a look at how plates are held on board ship; there are good ideas there. :-) More specifically, if you’ve got flat area (van, station wagon), I’ve had good luck both with making a box around each cake’s plate and then aggressively stabilizing the boxes *OR* (and this is the easy way and it works so well) putting loops of duct tape to stick the cake plate to either a large base platform or, if in a super-clean station wagon, just to the car. Then stick a sign in the back of the car “Please be patient; wedding cake in transit” or something to that effect and take corners, starts, and stops as smoothly/slowly as you can. Mapping out a route with the fewest hills/bumps/etc. and doing a practice drive with a not-important cake can also be reassuring.

          You can also potentially enlist a troupe of people to hold cakes on their laps. Buckle them all in first, then have the driver hand each cake off, rather than the reverse. (frosting on the seatbelt? however did that happen?) Then they can each “tilt” their cake the opposite direction as you go around corners, etc. But most people are slightly terrified of doing this and/or getting it wrong.

          Some cakes are going to be more structurally solid for transport (fondant; ganache; refrigerated buttercream) and others are generally not so much (whipped cream, I’m looking at you…). Again, the bakery will probably have some idea on this.

          Good luck!

          • ART

            Wow, thanks! all good suggestions! :)

    • Class of 1980

      If you scroll down, there is some mention of weather on this site:

      http://cakeladyandcompany.com/brides-guide/

      • ART

        Thank you!

  • Felicity

    Ok y’all, I need your help. I’m officiating my friend’s wedding in April. What do I wear??? I’ve asked her what she would prefer and she just said “not black or white.” Suggestions, either of dresses or places to look?

    • Fiona

      What are her wedding colors?

      • Felicity

        She doesn’t really have colors, but it’s an evening wedding with more of a cocktail lounge-y feel. Also, I should say, her dress is off white but I don’t know what color suit the groom will be wearing yet. Question – does elegant mean a long dress? I’m never sure…

        • Fiona

          It ABSOLUTELY doesn’t have to. I’m not sure what your style is, but I happen to think that a sheath dress with a shawl is terribly elegant and dignified…and you can ditch the shawl for the reception!

          The picture is a little ridiculous, but you can see what I’m getting at.

          • Fiona

            Also Asos has an awesome selection of sheath dresses

          • Felicity

            That’s a great idea! I was trying to think of a way to transition from officiant to friend/wedding-goer/partier and a shawl might be the way to go :)

    • emilyg25

      I’d probably wear something business-y, like a shift dress from Banana Republic in a muted color like burgundy. But I don’t know your style! What do you normally wear to weddings?

      • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck
        • Felicity

          Oooh I like that color!

      • Felicity

        Well I love Banana, so that’s a great suggestion! I usually wear brighter colors to a wedding, but that doesn’t seem quite right here. I’m busty so that’s always my main concern dress wise.

      • TeaforTwo

        Agreed! The officiant isn’t really part of the wedding party in the way that bridesmaids are – it’s a different and more removed role, so I think business-y is the way to go. Elegant, appropriate to the occasion, but not distracting. (i.e. nothing backless, super low-cut or short, etc.)

    • ML

      I encouraged my officiant friend to look at jewel tones like deep red, turquoise, and navys. They look elegant, without being too heavy or serious like black. I also suggested no patterns because it might look too busy in photos. She ended up with a beautiful teal wrap dress that I thought was perfect for her personality and the position. I think it was from ASOS?

      • Lindsey d.

        I also asked my female officiant not to wear a pattern. She too settled on a dark teal dress with lace from Kiyonna. It will add interest and she won’t look like a judge or a pastor.

    • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

      Our officiant wore black pants with a nice gray sweater and a brightly colored scarf that echoed the bright colors of our wedding. It was totally her style and she looked really nice. Matt wore a gray suit, but I never noticed any “matchy” issues.

    • Elizabeth

      When I officiated a friend’s wedding, I wore a silver/gray/almost-metallic-denim sheath dress from Jones New York. It was probably a bit more understated / business professional than they would have picked, but it was important to me to be comfortable and not distracting. I wanted an outfit that helped me blended into the background. The groom wore a gray suit but my dress was blue enough that it’s didn’t clash and the bride’s dress wasn’t white, if that helps.

  • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

    Does anyone read Ann Friedman’s newsletter? I totally got a mention in the endorsements section!

    • Caroline

      Awesome! I love her newsletter.

  • CJ

    Okay, since it *is* HAPPY Hour, and it would make me really happy to
    “show off” my Valentine card, I hope nobody minds if I post the quick
    summary version…

    A handmade envelope, folded out of textured
    red cardstock and glued. Inside, a card. The front of the card is red
    vellum through which can be seen red paper printed throughout with
    “love” in lower-case script. In the center of the “love” paper, a
    heart-shaped cutout through which is visible a heart-shaped jumble of
    squares, blocks, and boxes, black on white cardstock (which looks bright
    red through the vellum). If you patiently run a barcode scanner app
    over the heart, there are six QR codes providing
    conversation-heart-style messages (“I HAS A U”, and so on). Finally,
    opening to the inside of the card you find a custom-made 13×13
    “Valentine”-themed crossword puzzle with lots of inside jokes in the
    clues.

    That was the Valentine I gave my other of greatest and
    continuously increasing significance. (Come on, English, give me some terms here!)
    I’m hoping to have topped the time I composed a poem, split in on strips
    of paper, and cast Valentine “fortune hearts”. (If you can’t tell, I’m the romantic half of the pair.)

    For the record,
    classic American crossword puzzle creation rules are *hard*! No
    two-letter words. Minimal three-letter words. All letter squares must
    be included in both an across and a down word. No more than about 1/6
    black squares, which must be arranged symmetrically (the top line is a
    horizontal reflection of the bottom line, and so on). If I weren’t a
    guy who grokked regular expressions and loved word games, I’d have never
    finished this in time to give it to her. :D

    • KEA1

      HOLY CRAP that is awesome. And man, you are gonna have a heckuva time topping that one… :)

  • Lauren from NH

    There have been some moments on APW where cultural appropriation is mentioned but not dived into. I am super curious about this because positive cultural sharing sounds great, but of course respect is always important. Could anyone point me to an article that explores this more? I would love to understand better about the line between respectfully appreciating another culture or cultural element and disrespectfully hijacking traditions willy nilly.

  • Laura

    I love the Olympics but I hate NBC commentary. This year, I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of the BBC coverage. There is an amazing difference between BBC and NBC’s coverage. I have three favorite things: 1. The commentators of the UK seem so much more supportive of their athletes. During the interview after one of the speed skating events, the reporter made sure to tell her that she had made her country proud (even though she fell and didn’t win a medal. Because the UK media is proud that you even showed up and did this thing unlike the USA media who shits on you when you don’t win). 2. They UK commentators are HI-larious. During the men’s halfpipe they repeatedly made fun of the cameramen, and of themselves. 3. They use beautiful phrases. “I’ve got a flask of tea in hand ever since my early alarm call this morning.”

    • Catherine McK

      Growing up in Michigan we always watched the Canadian coverage and I felt the same way. The pride they showed in ALL of their athletes just for being there, competing at that level was so much more moving to me than our coverage and the “if you don’t get a gold you lose” mentality. Definitely one of the things I miss about living in the mitten!

      • M.

        The loss of CBC coverage of the Olympics is my greatest sadness.

        …ok not really but…it’s great, and fair, and friendly, and they show LOTS of athletes and LOTS of sports!

      • Meg Keene

        We are… absurdly focused on winning.

        Also, I find it mortifying how focused we are on OTHER countries loosing or otherwise fucking up. I stopped counting how many times NBC brought up that one of the five snowflakes didn’t open into rings during the (actually beautifully produced) opening ceremony. They’d just bring it up at random like, “In an epic failure…” REALLY? RUDE.

        • Sam2

          My favorite was the night before the opening ceremonies: “How to raise an Olympian”. Because if you don’t end up with a world class athlete, you are doing it wrong!

          • Winny the Elephant

            and cause genetics has nothing to do with it…

      • Claire

        This Buzzfeed was pretty cool, it made me want to watch the Canadian coverage of the Games – http://www.buzzfeed.com/tanyachen/heartwarming-ways-canada-has-already-won-the-winter-olymp

    • Lauren from NH

      The NBC people are so disrespectful of the athletes! Case in point, as best my memory serves, the last summer Olympics, US medal for a swimming relay and the interviewer won’t stop asking about Michael Phelps. Rude. Don’t ask the awesome person who just medal about someone else’s accomplishments!

    • macrain

      SO AGREE. I haven’t seen any other coverage but I’m often struck by how awful the commentary is on NBC. One thing they kept saying on repeat on during the opening ceremonies was, “you may not be familiar with this, but all Russians are.” GEE THANKS NBC.

    • Meg Keene

      We should watch the UK coverage because I AM SERIOUSLY LOOSING MY MIND.

      I’m quiet on Twitter though :) Last time around I criticized the NBC coverage on Twitter, and, I shit you not, I ended up on the front page of the SF Chronicle for it. “Local blogger Meg Keene…” OMG. I mean, it was a positive mention in a positive article, but… no thank you?

    • http://kara-tanoue.blogspot.com/ Kara T

      We (using some sneaky internet subterfuge) have solely been watching the BBC coverage for these games. It is such an improvement.

    • Alison O

      I’m so glad to be able to watch relatively unadulterated events via the live stream and full event replays this year through…sort of not quite legalish means…. Prime time is so annoying with the limited footage, limited sports, Ameri-focus, sappy story montages. For the live feeds and replays at least, most of the skating has been announced by a man and woman, I think he’s British and she Australian, and they are interesting and generally very positive. And he says things like, “that was CRACKAH!” and “the gauntlet has surely been laid!!”. Yes.

      Yesterday’s men’s short program was announced by Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir and some NBC guy, and I thought Tara and Johnny did a good job; I esp. like Johnny. They were funny and informative and sympathetic. The NBC guy was totally trying to stir the pot by suggesting how the questions would start swirling (um, because YOU are swirling them, dude) about Yevgeny Plushenko’s last minute withdrawal (was it planned, etc.?), and Tara and Johnny basically weren’t having any of that.

      During the Opening Ceremonies I was annoyed how one announcer–the one who was explaining things most of the time–kept saying how it was designed to show Russia’s prestige and power. If I had not heard that guy say that, I would not get that impression just watching the show. And give me a break, it’s the EFFING OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONIES! If anything is going to be overly grand, it is that. Oh and they were suggesting how the historical timeline of the portrayal sort of left out or glossed over some of the not so great parts of Russia’s history. Right, because the U.S. does such a great job being honest about the massive amounts of oppression that a large percentage of people who have ever been on what is now considered American soil have faced at one point or another over the last few centuries…we would totally be transparent about the realities of atrocities against American Indians, slaves, Asian immigrants, etc. etc. etc. and the legacies of those failings in our current unequal society. Hmmm….DOUBT IT!

      snark complete

      • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck

        “one announcer… kept saying how it was designed to show Russia’s prestige and power.”

        Wait, is this not the purpose of the Opening Ceremonies? Like, look how awesome our country is and thanks for coming? Have I been missing something this whole time?

      • Laura C

        Having seen Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski commentating, you could not pay me to go back to the shrieking and grunting and lack of substance of Scott Hamilton. Dick Button will always have top place in my heart, but Johnny and Tara are great. Like, they have opinions, which they share and debate, and they explain things about why one jump worked and another didn’t and such, and they make jokes, and the whole thing is like you imagine it would be to hang out with someone really cool who knew a ton about figure skating, and competing at the Olympics. Also, their clothes? I mean, Johnny’s clothes every day, but then how they’ve been coordinating, so he’ll be wearing black and she’ll be wearing white, or he’ll be wearing hot pink and she’ll be wearing pale pink? And that his answer to the necktie seems to be the necklace? So fabulous.

        • Jennifer

          I have a friend who’s a figure skater (she tours with Disney on Ice now) and she despises Johnny and Tara! I don’t know why…I know next to nothing about the sport. But I thought it was interesting to hear her take on it. She much prefers Scott Hamilton!

          • Laura C

            I’d be so interested to hear more about her views, because I just…Scott Hamilton’s commentary makes me feel stupider just listening to it. From the few minutes of him I’ve heard the past week, seems like he’s maybe raised his game a little now that he has competition, but for so long basically all he’s ever said was, like, whether or not people hit their jumps (which I can see for myself, thanks).

        • Laura

          Haven’t heard Tara and Johnny but interestingly enough, i loved Scott and hated Dick. Mostly because I love how excited Scott got and sometimes I just wanted Dick to stop talking so I could hear the music and watch the skating. Dick said a lot more things of substance, though, I will give him that.

          • Laura C

            I like the substance, but I also really dislike Scott’s emphasis on jumps above all else. All he cares about is whether they hit a given jump, and I want to see, and hear about, the whole package — spins, footwork, choreography. A commentator who only really gets excited about jumps is a commentator who gets excited about some of the most boring, limited programs out on the ice, to me. Or makes an exception, like when Jason Brown had that amazing program at Nationals, and Scott Hamilton kept describing it as a purely artistic achievement that had to be contrasted with an athletic achievement, and Sandra Bezic was finally basically like “no, this is also just good skating.” I hate the direction it pushes skating to suggest that a really boring skate where there are two big jumps and relatively little effort elsewise is more of an achievement than a skate that is complex and difficult beginning to end but has one fewer rotations on two of the jumps. Which is why I also passionately disagreed with all of the “Surya Bonaly was such an amazing skater” stuff I saw going around this week, seemingly spurred by something on Jezebel? Surya Bonaly had some big jumps, but that’s all. And other people she was competing against might have had bigger jumps if they had, like her, spent half the rink setting up each and every jump and done nothing much but pose around the rink otherwise. So while some of what she faced was certainly racialized (beginning with how her own family packaged her, which was nauseating), she also was a style of skater I so deeply object to that this week I read how great she supposedly was and had kind of a mental (and, ok, Twitter) temper tantrum.

      • Laura

        I cannot upvote you enough here.

  • Amanda

    So I am in the middle of a giant dilemma. About a year ago (thanks in part to inspiration from Meg’s writing here), I quit my job and started doing freelance work. I love it. I mean, love love love. The past few months have been really slow, though, and I got nervous. I have no way to know if it is just the typical winter slowdown in the industry, or if things are going downhill for me/my clients. Anyway, I applied to a job that would be just okay but that I really don’t want. I’ve had two interviews. I’m pretty sure they’re going to offer it to me.

    At the same time, I found out from another company that they would like me to freelance for them (but their volume is slow right now so I don’t know when work would start coming in) and a company I currently work with has offered me additional opportunities, but there is no guarantee for how long.

    Do I keep freelancing and risk another scary slowdown in a few months? Do I take the full-time job and risk being miserable? (I’d also like to note I have a friend who works there and so I feel like I can’t take the job and then quit in a month if I hate it; I don’t want to make her look bad since she recommended me.) I kind of just want to curl up in a ball and do nothing; unfortunately that’s pretty much what I did yesterday and so far the situation hasn’t resolved itself.

    Advice/similar experiences/internet hugs appreciated.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      It sounds to me like yours is a situation where you need to try it out for more than a year to tell if free lancing will work for you. You can’t know if these slow downs are perfectly normal because last year you were just starting. Same with whether you can deal with periodic slow downs financially and emotionally, if that’s what it turns out normal is for freelancing your work. I’d give it another year. Good luck!

      • Amanda

        I agree with you so much! And then there is the part of me thinking, “What if this job is my only chance?!” Ha, my only chance to do something I don’t particularly want to do? I make no sense. :)

        • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

          This job is not your only chance. I just want to put that out there no matter what you decide. Is there any way you could find a part time job, perhaps not in the pay rate you’re at now or hoping for, but enough to get by during the slow times?

          • Amanda

            Haha, I know that in theory, but there is some irrational part of me that doesn’t believe it. :/ A part-time job could of course be an option if need be. I really think I might be making this a bigger deal in my head than it really needs to be…

          • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

            Oh I know all about that irrational part. But don’t listen to the naysayer in your head. If you do what you know you want to do, you will be happier in the long run. That said, it doesn’t make the decision any easier. Would you regret giving up your freelancing? My guess is yes. But you’ll never regret trying to do what you love. <3

    • Jennifer

      I freelanced for about two years, but I always had side jobs (mostly nannying). Literally the week I got engaged, both side gigs I had ended and my two long-running freelance clients (whose checks pretty much paid all my bills) told me they were moving all my work in house. As they were both based in Cali and I’m in Oklahoma, that meant I pretty much lost all my income. I panicked, and ended up applying to several corporate jobs. The month after I took one (as an accountant, the degree I got but never really liked) both of those big clients came back to me with as much or more work than before. So now I’m juggling my corporate job and those clients…a part of me wishes I had more faith in myself and had seen the freelance thing through. The other part is glad I have a steady paycheck, health insurance, and a 401k again.
      Honestly, my goal is to stay at the corporate gig and save up as much as I can so that in a few years (or when we have kids) I can go back to freelancing full time. That’s why I’m killing myself to keep up with all my freelance work on the side while planning a wedding – so I won’t be starting from square one all over again.
      So my advice? If you’re afraid you will hate the full-time job, don’t take it. Especially since a friendship is involved. But if you are needing some extra income, maybe find a part-time job that can keep you going when slow times hit. Nannying was the perfect fit for me – I could work while the kids napped, and scheduled calls on my days off. Maybe your side gig would be waiting tables or temping.
      If I could do it over again, I think I would have pushed through and tried to make it as a freelancer. But I also don’t feel like a failure for going back to the corporate world for now. I’m doing what’s best for my little family right now, even if it sucks. Hopefully I’m setting myself up for another shot at doing what I love down the road.
      But no matter what? Big internet hug for doing as well as you have! It’s scary to go for your dreams!!

      • Amanda

        That sounds so familiar. I had almost made up my mind to just take the job and keep freelancing as much as I could to save up boatloads of money…but at this point, I can get by without boatloads of money as long as there is a reasonable amount of it (hooray for moving to a nicer house with cheaper rent!) and I am more concerned about my quality of life. I’m leaning toward not taking the job.

        Kudos to you for doing both and doing what is right for you!

  • moonlitfractal

    I’ve been waiting all week for this happy hour. Here’s the story:

    I went for my six week prenatal appointment on Monday. I met this OB who aside from being male and a little abrasive didn’t seem all that bad…until I asked him one question.

    This is my first pregnancy, so I’ve been reading up on various birth options (home birth vs. birth center vs. hospital), and it looks like giving birth outside the hospital is safer for mothers and babies in low risk groups, provided that a qualified attendant is present. So, it’s early, but I decided to ask this doctor if he thought my risk factors would necessitate a hospital birth, or if another option, like a birth center, would be reasonable.

    This was apparently a huge mistake. He by saying “this isn’t a medical answer, just my opinion,” and launched into a 15 minute tirade, the gist of which was “no one should ever give birth outside of a hospital for any reason, ever.” Highlights include, “these Hollywood starlets and their home births…” “If you plan a home birth no obstetrician will ever have anything to do with you ever again,” “Name any situation and I’ll describe how it can go horribly wrong,” and more. I am a scientist by training, so I’m not swayed by anecdotes or the concept of an “untested pelvis”, and besides, he never actually answered my question. I responded– when I could actually get a word in edgewise– with “I see,” “I understand,” and “I’ll take that into account,” and intended to do just that when making my final decision.

    I guess the fact that I didn’t agree to give birth at the local hospital on the spot made him mad, because his tactics got more vitriolic and bullying. He tried to convince me that I could do anything at the hospital that I could do at home, to name one thing (he was beginning to raise his voice at this point). There are plenty of things I could have said, like “pet my dog” or “eat during labor” or “sleep in my own bed,” but for some reason, the first thing that came to mind was “not be yelled at by strangers.” “What makes you think strangers will yell at you?!?!” he retorted. What indeed. I wonder.

    When he asked me “Do you want your child to have the best chance of getting into Harvard?!?” I had to laugh in his face because not only was it an extremely transparent scare tactic, he had also given my exactly no evidence that the hospital would facilitate that (and there are some international studies that suggest the opposite). When he told me, “It’s not about you!!!” I decided to leave.

    It’s not about me? Who is the patient here? He had basically just told me that he doesn’t prioritize maternal health outcomes, and that when it comes down to it, I don’t matter. I’m just an incubator, and not a full human being with hopes, dreams, and medical needs. In that dehumanizing moment, for a second, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue carrying the baby I’d fought for so long to conceive, not if the cost was my perceived humanity.

    I walked out of the appointment and didn’t look back. Right before I did, he said, “Well, you obviously have some sort of idea in your head!” I guess I did. Maybe that was the problem: he doesn’t know how to interact with women who actually know how to think. I’m beginning the search for a new care provider.

    In conclusion, I’d like to thank Meg for her motherhood post earlier this week. It’s good to hear that it’s possible to be a person first and also a mother, even if not everyone in society sees things that way.

    • Lindsey d.

      Good for you for not being cowed!

    • Granola

      Um, I have nothing other than “Fuck that guy.”

      Also, good for you that you left and are looking for someone else!!

    • Fiona

      That makes me mad too! I’m sorry your experience started out that way!

    • jashshea

      WT literal F. Boatloads of internet indignation over here for you.

    • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck

      Sarah E already said it, but it deserves to be said again: Fuck that guy.

      Good for you for being informed and confident enough to GTFO of a shitty situation.

    • Kayjayoh

      Wow. I guess you can thank the guy for hanging up an early warning sign in 6-foot letters for you. I hope your next OB is better.

    • Sarah

      I am so mad for you! Fuck that dude. Go find yourself a sane healthcare provider who won’t interject their opinion where medical advice should be! For the same reasons, I think that I want a home birth in the future, but I would also be asking my doctor “is this reasonable for me, considering my medical history?” You should be able to find someone who will give you their unbiased opinion…Good luck!

    • Oakland Sarah

      I would file a complaint with the medical board. That’s a horrific way to treat a patient.

    • Meg Keene

      You need a new doctor.

      I’m not particularly pro-home birth (we might well have lost the baby that way), but that’s unacceptable.

      • moonlitfractal

        I figure home birth is only an option if the risk factors are very low, there are qualified attendants present who will be able to tell if there is a problem, and there is a hospital back-up in place in case something goes wrong. This is why I tried asking about risk in the first place. Unfortunately, I’m no closer to figuring any of that out than I was before the appointment.

        • malkavian

          Yeaaap, new doctor time. If you have friends or colleagues who have been pregnant maybe try asking them if they have recommendations?

        • Meg Keene

          Just do research. I’m sure there are a million APW-ers who will steer you towards all the good home birthing ones :) Our problems that could have been fatal were not necessarily the predictable ones, and it would have moved (did move) lightning fast. Plus, in our family, we have someone who had an easy birth and then hemorrhaged afterwards, and would have died, not in hospital. So I’m jumpy about it. BUT. OBVIOUSLY. Lots of people feel very differently.

          I’m not singing hospital births praises as perfect, it’s over medicalized, you need to be very informed to feel like you can take an active role in making choices. But at the end of the day, having lived my particular experience, I would never give birth at home, close as we are to a hospital (IE, down the street). I wanted to a little, for surrrrrreeeeeeee. But that is *only my experience.*

          Blah blah, in short, do a lot of research on both sides. I found things like The Business of Being Born really interesting, but also extremely one sided. It’s hard to find things that are even handed, clear eyed, and scientific in the comparison, I found. Boo.

          • Meigh McPants

            I definitely respect any woman’s choice about how to give birth (trust, nobody should get to tell you how to bring a person into being), and I know home birth isn’t for everyone. I do want to mention though that midwifery care is available in all kinds of settings (at home, in birth centers, in hospitals in cooperation with doctors, etc.) and I think that woman-centric model of care is really valuable to people who want to feel aware and in control of their birth process. Also, if you have access to them, doulas are great! Even if you have to birth in a hospital (and that’s not something you’re into) it’s fantastic to have someone there who’s experienced in childbirth and there to advocate for you.

          • Meg Keene

            Also, echoing the not telling women how to give birth, but info! There are good (Kaiser) hospitals around here that are run by midwives (in partnership with OB’s as needed). We didn’t end up using them because we were A) really happy with the OB care in the end, and B) That hospital didn’t happen to have a NICU so if the worst happened (it did) the baby and partner have to leave, and the mom is left alone (sniffle sob). BUTTTT. All that sad, midwife lead hospitals can be great.

            But also, I firmly believe that it’s possible to feel very aware of and in control of your birth process in an OB led hospital unit. You want a hospital that you like, with OB’s you like (hiiii, not that doctor). You also want to go into it really well educated (we did a 8 week birth class, which I was sort of dubious about but was the BIGGEST BLESSING. Bay Area APWers: Loving Arms, it’s so amazing.) So all of that really helps. As does going easy on yourself. The ‘natural birth’ movement (which I will only refer to a ‘unmedicated birth’, all birth is natural) can be really hard on those of us who end up having to have c-sections. That, for lack of a fancy term, is some bullshit. I don’t feel badly about my c-section, but I’ve cried at MULTIPLE blog posts about ‘natural birth.’

            And finally! Hospital care can actually end up being women-centric. I felt at the center of my care, and pretty much everyone on my team ended up being a woman. The only exception was the anesthesiologist, and I just literally teared up writing that word, because we will hold him in our hearts forever. That man was such a blessing. And now I’m crying, FIN.

        • anon

          I have several (female) ob-gyn friends who are happy to (and often) recommend midwives and doulas and are totally fine not being central to a birth. BUT every single one of them gets skittish around home births because, as Meg has said, when stuff goes wrong, it goes wrong really really fast, and it can go really really wrong with no warning. Several of them have used midwives themselves, but in hospitals, so I’d look for hospital or birth centers with midwives in charge but doctors super-close.

          • Em

            This. It’s actually part of the reason it can be so hard to find a certified nurse midwife who will do a home delivery (as opposed to a lay midwife). Things can go really wrong, even in “low risk” pregnancies.

            I wrote a whole long post linking to some well-designed studies on home birth outcomes in the US — and then I deleted it. Although I think the data are really clear, the real reason home births scare me is that I know a woman whose “normal” pregnancy ended in tragedy when her birth attendant failed to recognize that their baby was in distress. Heartbreaking doesn’t even begin to cover it.

            Mostly, I’d just like to plead with everyone out there to make sure that your birth attendant is a certified and properly-trained professional, no matter what other choices you make.

        • K_

          Wow! What a bad experience! It’s sounds like you’re dealing with it well and taking a very level-headed approach to everything.

          I had a home birth and am planning another. For me, I came to the decision after losing my first pregnancy. I spent part of the week-12 miscarriage at home, part at the birth center, and part at the hospital. I realized that I was far more comfortable at home than in the other settings.

          Some of the risk factors for home birth do not emerge until later in pregnancy (high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, etc.), so even if you pick it early on, things can change. One mom I know had to change her plan from a birth center to a hospital around 30 weeks because her blood pressure spiked.

          There’s been some talk on here about emergencies at home births. They do happen, but for my group of midwives (7 midwives in practice over a decade), the vast majority of their home-brith-transfers are for NON-emergent reasons, primarily maternal exhaustion. For other cases needing a fast transfer, such as the baby twisting and coming out the wrong way (i.e. nose first), there are drugs to slow/stop contractions, which midwives can give where I live (but these rules vary by state). Any midwife you talk to should be able to give you this info for her practice, including their c-section rate. She should also be able to point you to research on anything you want to know more about.

          For various reasons unforeseen until the last minute, my son was born completely blue and not-breathing. Only later did my midwife tell me how close it came to an emergency hospital transfer. The midwives had tons of oxygen on hand and several methods for administering it, and they where able to get him breathing quickly enough to avoid a 911 call (but it was very close). Being at home, I was able to hold him through most (but not all) of this, whereas in a hospital, he might have been whisked away from me for several hours.

          There are risks involved in pregnancy and childbirth, some quantifiable, some not. Each family has to find a place where it is comfortable with the risks. After having lost a baby, I embrace that I cannot control the outcome of a pregnancy, which frees me to decide what I want out of prenatal care and a birth experience.

    • swarmofbees

      Wow. One of the things i like about how birth trends have been developing in the US is that they are allowing for more choice. Apparently this Doctor didn’t get the memo. I had a meh OB, but we had similar approaches to childbirth so in the end it worked out. I am glad to hear you are looking elsewhere. good luck!

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I sincerely hope you walked out and immediately searched for another provider…

      • moonlitfractal

        That’s pretty much how it went down.

    • malkavian

      You definitely need a new ob-any doctor you have should be working with you toward a mutual goal (your health) and helping you figure out the best way to get there, and this doctor isn’t doing that. Granted, I understand that sometimes working in medicine is hard or frustrating for many, many reasons, but that is a horrible way to treat a patient.

      I would keep a few things in mind if you still want to go with a home birth plan.

      First, complicated home deliveries are transferred to hospitals, so depending on the study methodology they could very well be counting complicated deliveries where the mother intended to have a home birth but was advised to go to the hospital as hospital births, artificially inflating the numbers.

      Second, you shouldn’t consider a home birth unless you live very close to a hospital in the event that something happens and you need to be transferred.

    • Meigh McPants

      Wow, that’s horrifying. You deserve much much better prenatal care. If he’s part of a group practice, I would definitely write them a letter to know why you’re leaving, as I’m sure you’re not the only person he’s treated this way. If you’re interested in learning more about midwifery and home or birth center birth, the Midwives Alliance of North America (mana.org) is a good place to start, or google for midwives in your area (some states require them to also have a nursing degree, so they are certified nurse midwives (CNMs), and some states allow direct-entry midwifery or CPMs. Both are totally qualified to deliver low-risk pregnancies, but CNMs are more likely to be affiliated with a hospital or birth center.) Kudos to you for standing up for yourself, and I wish you much better luck with providers in the future. Also, congratulations on your future little one!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Oh My God In Heaven. Horrible and SO unacceptable. Time to start shopping for a new OB…

    • Jennie

      As others have said, make complaints (to his group practice, angies list, the medical board). If he is treating you that way, he is treating other families that way and some people are less comfortable speaking up for themselves. Being treated like that by a care provider can have longterm effects on new parents.

      Most care providers will do an interview type meeting with patients who are trying to decide who they want to work with. You can meet with several different kinds of providers: OBs, family care doctors, midwives based in a hospital, midwives who work with women in birth centers or from home. As a doula, my experience (and there is research to back this up) is that women & families feel best about their birth when they have a care provider team that they trust and who let them ask questions and gather information before making decisions.

      I wish you the best in finding a good care provider!

    • Rachel

      eff that doctor for sure. do what feels right for you and your partner, no questions asked. I had to switch ob’s too, it sucks but it is worth it

    • Kat

      What a horrible experience! Definitely time for a new care provider. Way to go on keeping it together and leaving!

      I had a home birth and my experience was fabulous (I’m in New Zealand where the majority of pregnancies and births have a midwife as the primary care provider, and births can be at home, in a birthing centre or hospital). I agree with others that doing your research and then going for what you are most comfortable with a good option. I avoided all sources that thought either home or hospital was the only way to go (you MUST be in a hospital because you both are more likely to DIE or EVERYONE should be at home because birth is all unicorn farts and rainbows) and the blogs or comments that had people saying what they did and subtly implying that if you chose differently you were and idiot and doing it wrong. I really liked Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Active Birth by Janet Balaskas. Ina May’s book in particular really helped me move away from the fear-mongering that surrounds birth.

    • LBD

      Totes glad you walked out on that jerkhole! I have heard from many birthy people that any time you feel uncomfortable with your care provider during prenatal, don’t feel obligated to stay with them, because you’re going to want someone you feel really comfortable with and you feel listens to you during the big show, i.e. birth. I am due to have my baby on TUESDAY, and have thus far loved the midwifery practice associated with a smaller hospital near my house. I have felt them to be a good middle ground in prenatal care, very supportive of me and my desire for unmedicated birth, and very helpful when I’ve had issues during my pregnancy. As others have said, a lot of places will let you do meet-and-greets before starting care.

      Also totally recommend a thorough birth class. Ours was oriented towards people who had unmedicated birth as their goal, yet it wasn’t shaming towards utilizing any meds/interventions. So, we talked a lot about coping mechanisms for pain, what the various interventions are and when they are most helpful and associated risks, how to talk to your providers about your desires and values regarding birth, especially when feeling pressured to make a decision, as well as all the process of birth and labor stuff. We also had a classes on breastfeeding, postpartum care (mental and physical), and newborn care (focusing on things like getting sleep and soothing an unhappy baby, not like, diapering). We had a couple of people planning a home birth, a couple of people doing a birth center, and then a bunch of different hospitals in our class. I really enjoyed the mixture of people/perspectives. As someone previously kind of terrified of giving birth, I can’t tell you how much taking this class helped reassure me.

      Oh and doulas! Look into doulas. Having a doula who knows her shizz is totally making me feel extra reassured about doing a hospital birth, if you decide to go that way.

      Finally, since being pregnant, crappy experiences are why I’m so totally about how we need to talk more about birth and making decisions about birth as totally a serious feminist reproductive rights issue.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I can usually push my husband’s and my sexual health issues out of my mind, but Sunday I was so overcome with guilt and frustration that I started ugly-crying at my tiny church. Hopefully I’ll be ready with some sort of conversation-ending explanation by next Sunday.

    • Amanda

      Hugs to you.

    • Laura

      Don’t you just basically have to say the word “sex” to end conversations in tiny churches? That’s true in my experience, anyway.

    • Jess

      Lots and lots of hugs your way. I hope you will both come out of all of this ok.

  • Sarah E

    Omg. Your example guests on the revamped spreadsheets are just- Wonderful. APW staff is the coolest.

    • Meg Keene

      <3

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I wonder what would happen if I used hot-pink on my spreadsheets for work…

    • Fiona

      Thanks for the spreadsheet reminder! I’m now organizing myself (better) on APW-themed spreadsheets. Getting a little bleary-eyed though…

    • EKS

      SO excited about the new spreadsheets! Thank you!!!!

  • http://fancystephanie.wordpress.com/ fancystephanie

    OK, regarding that whole PolicyMic article about how #SochiProblems is more embarassing for American than it is for Russia? No. Just, no.

    First, the Twitter account is written by a Canadian, so stop blaming just Americans for this.

    Second, the Russian government deserves criticism. It is massively corrupt. Putin desperately wants Russia to be viewed as an industrialized, first world country. Well, it’s not. He needs to stop pretending that it is and focus on helping the Russian people. So, yeah, I am going to criticize the Russian government for CHOOSING to host the Olympics and not doing a very great job about it. They should have spent their money wisely, on, like, infrastructure, not a massive spectacle. Oh, and they shouldn’t kill people when technical mistakes happen.

    Third, language translation errors are actually funny. :)

    • Cleo

      An upvote doesn’t show my agreement enough. YES!!!

    • Meg Keene

      I have to say, I have found the way Americans have been complaining to be MORTIFYING. So I’d disagree with you there. First, us. Did you watch half-pipe? The Americans could not stop complaining about how the half-pipe wasn’t perfect, and they were used to perfect, so they were not doing well. EVERYONE WAS ON THE SAME HALF-PIPE, and other people managed to both not whine and kick ass. So, I have found our general demeanor to be embarassing.

      Second, I’ve consistently thought that we need to be really clear in differentiating Putin from Russia, or Russians. Publicly complaining about the quality of water when that water is making a nation ill, is not behavior I’m ok with. The Russian government might be the source of the water problems, the Russian people are dealing with it.

      So yes. I’ve been generally mortified, and hoping that the NBC feed isn’t playing elsewhere.

      • http://fancystephanie.wordpress.com/ fancystephanie

        I don’t understand why it isn’t okay to complain about the quality of the water. Russia is not a third world country. They have the capability to have clean water, if they truly wanted to have clean water. The Russian people aren’t responsible for the quality of the water – the government is. Clean water is such a basic necessity, and it’s bad that a country with Russia’s resources is struggling with this, especially in the major cities.

        • Meg Keene

          Here is the thing: The people of Russia do not have safe water. Maybe they have the capability for it, but the fact is, they don’t. For us to come in as citizens of one of the wealthiest nations on earth, where we take good water for granted, and mock their bad water like it’s a real annoyance to our three week trip, when it KILLS people who have no choice but to live with it? That’s empathy free behavior.

          • Jess

            Until the Olympics, I was unaware that water conditions were so bad there. So maybe something will be done because of the global attention? (Am I hoping too much for humanity?)

      • loves cake

        Interesting. I have found NBC’s (and other American networks for that matter) coverage to be pretty rude towards Russia. They seemed unable to stop mocking the Opening Ceremonies snafu. And in general the general coverage (not necessarily the events coverage) seems pretty mocking.
        BUT I experienced annoyance directed at Putin that the WINTER OLYMPICS are being held somewhere too warm to keep the snow in good condition. Watching people who are normally awesome struggle was hard. And while yes, they were all on the same non-ideal playing field, I think that it is fair to expect really good playing fields at the highest level of competition. I actually thought the athletes were being gracious about the efforts being made to improve it.

        Funny how our perceptions can be so different.

        • KC

          I was somewhat perplexed by the location as well. I mean, it’s not like Russia *lacks* definitely-cold places…

          • Meg Keene

            Yeah. It’s weird. For sure. But we really have to lay blame on the Olympic Committee for picking it, right?

            Also, I keep wondering if it’s global warming, in that weather has been really strange everywhere this year (written from winter free CA).

          • ART

            Based on my wikipedia skillz, it doesn’t sound like this year is anomalous. “In the coldest months—January and February—the average temperature is about 10 °C (50 °F) during the day, above 3 °C (37 °F) at night and the average sea temperature is about 9 °C (48 °F).” That’s not really very cold.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sochi#Climate

          • Pancake

            I don’t know if anyone else has read the NY Times article on the choice and development of Sochi, but it makes it sound like Putin himself chose that city, and wouldn’t consider anywhere else. It also calls Sochi the only subtropical resort town in Russia. An odd choice for winter sports–Vancouver was also an odd choice for the same reason. Does the Olympic Committee conduct independent research on weather reports of each nominee? Or is it more like “let’s support Russia this year and they’ve chosen Sochi?” We don’t really know who’s to blame, but if it’s the latter option, it would seem to fall more on Putin’s shoulders.

          • Meg Keene

            I mean, if the Olympic Committee doesn’t conduct *weather reports* for gods sake… dear lord. However, apparently Sochi is having an unseasonably warm year (which, we are too, it’s happening) and it’s apparently due to global warming problems: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/370753/warm-spell-hits-sochi-global-warmists-decide-weather-climate-alec-torres

          • Cerise Breton

            Meg, I get that this is your website. But my god, you can be very irritating to read. When you talk to someone about something you disagree with you write like your opinion is the only one that matters. I remember one APW’er said in a thread once that you’re almost like the H.S bully girls when you comment in a thread and I didn’t agree with them but the more I read your comments I see what they mean.

          • Alyssa M

            Trying to figure out if you’re being sarcastic here? “and it’s apparently due to global warming problems” and then linked to a crazy conservative blog post making fun of the idea of global warming in general???

        • Meg Keene

          But the warmth is really… well, one, the weather, and two, the Olympic Committees choice fault, no? Not… Russias?

          But yes, the rudeness towards Russia has been noticeable, particularly about that (pretty small) snafu.

          • Class of 1980

            I am of two minds on this.

            Yes, it is mortifying to see all the tweets showing how bad (and dangerous) the hotels and infrastructure are. It’s impolite because we are guests in their country. I’m sure the conditions would have made it into the news anyway, but it shouldn’t be coming from our athletes.

            On the other hand, I don’t think only the Olympic Committee is at fault. Sochi would not have even been a possibility unless they were lobbying for hosting the Olympics along with other possible host countries. If you are lobbying for the Olympics, then it’s implicit that you are up to the job.

            So, Sochi is a giant fail at hosting, but Americans shouldn’t be taking such glee in it.

        • Erin E

          Yes – I agree with you on this. It seems crazy that the olympics were granted to an area without a single piece of winter-sports infrastructure in place (all of the ski hills, lifts, towns, roads, and even the snow are 100% new/man made). I’m all for using the olympics as a way to re-develop an area, and I also understand that weather is tricky business, but the outdoor venues do not seem to be up to par.

          I wonder how Putin was able to convince the Committee that Sochi was a viable winter-sports option?

          • Emily

            Sochi was chosen because it is a holiday haven for Russia’s rich. The Russians who can afford to go to the Olympics, already have homes there making it much more convenient. They were the lobbyists with the IOC, so they got to pick.
            As for the rest of it: Americans are whiny, always have been. Russians live in a screwed up place, probably always will.

      • Laura

        I agree about the Americans being embarrassingly awful to Russia, but to be fair the BBC commentators and athletes said the exact same things about the halfpipe.

      • Louise

        I agree. As an American who lives in India, I have begun to understand how very spoiled Americans are–and how surprising it is for us when other people don’t have the same expectations or infrastructure. I think representatives of one of the most privileged countries going into another country, noticing cultural and economic differences, pointing at them and laughing is really unfortunate.

        • Meg Keene

          This right here is exactly my point. I didn’t get this until I left the country the first time (at 22), for sure.

      • Amy March

        If I had been training for a lifetime to show off the very best of my sport, I’d be ticked as all hell if the playing field wouldn’t let me do that. And it’s not just the Americans complaining, they’re just the ones our media are covering.

        • Meg Keene

          That makes sense right up to the point a non-american who wasn’t bitching BLEW IT OUT OF THE WATER with one of the best performances ever seen, pulling off a trick he invented that Shaun White learned after he invented it, and never could do as well. And, the kid didn’t complain, he was crazy crazy sweet (he gave Shaun White a full minute hug after he won and then kept talking about how Shaun was his idol and had inspired all of his work). IE, they all had the same halfpipe. Some people gave a performance of a lifetime without bitching. That… makes the americans that complained endlessly and then fell look… bad.

          Also recommended reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/12/magazine/the-flying-tomato-would-rather-you-not-call-him-that-anymore.html?_r=0 Apparently Shaun White is kinda of a douche. Like, a widely disliked by the snowboarding world, douche.

          • Amy March

            Shawn White is disliked the same way that women who think they are all that are disliked. Which is to say, he’s a member of a community that prizes collegiality. And he’s actually a fierce competitor who wants to win. The critique of him for that strikes me as the same kind of critique Serena WIlliams often faces. He may not win friends with his style, but he’s clearly not in it to win friends. He’s in it to do his absolute best. Calling him a douche strikes me as just mean girls-ing him.

          • Meg Keene

            Valid point, though, I personally think that you can be collegiate and win. The guy who DID win was super friendly, in fact. I’m no fan of the idea that being a fierce competitor doesn’t mean you can’t be a kind person who’s a member of your community.

          • Amy March

            Best exemplified by Dario Cologna, the Swiss cross-country skier who won gold, and then waited 28 minutes to shake the hand of the guy who came in last. Olympics season= all the emotions at once.

          • Meg Keene

            AWWWW. Did you see Nicole Pikus Pace climb into the stands to hug her husband and kids after finding out she was going to medal? Her story about having a miscarriage and that pushing her back into competition also, just… THE FEELZ.

          • Jess

            There was a pretty interesting set of articles on Slate highlighting Shawn White and Shani Davis about why one is hated by his peers and why one is loved by his peers. And the reasons why are the same for both of them: They are super competitive and will do what it takes to win. It’s just that the sports have really different mindsets. Snowboarding is a pretty devil-may-care, let’s go grab some beers when we get off the hill community (I do some snowboarding and this is generally true). I wonder how much backlash against him is because he is a competitive person who has come of age working to be the best and how much is because he’s actually not a nice guy?

          • http://fancystephanie.wordpress.com/ fancystephanie

            Yeah, um… in the qualifying rounds, Shaun White did an amazing run. Seriously, it would have won him the gold medal. And you’ll notice that the gold medal winner for the halfpipe, Iouri Podladtchikov, actually had some bad runs too. Everyone had bad runs, and some people managed to get good runs in despite the rough conditions of the halfpipe.

      • Gina

        I think the way Shaun White acted was mortifying, but anyone who’s followed his career knows he’s a huge cry-baby. Yes, the half pipe was in horrible condition, but like you said, everyone was on an even playing field. I watched Shaun White at the Dew Tour a couple months ago and he fell on his half pipe run there, too. However, it’s kind of unfair to ascribe his behavior to the whole American team. The other two Americans who made it to half-pipe finals, Danny Davis and Greg Bretz, were not complaining, and they did far worse than White did. If anything, the rest of the American team (halfpipe and slopestyle) gave White a really hard time publicly for acting like such a spoiled brat.

    • Cleo

      But re not killing people when technical mistakes happen…the man responsible for the ring not opening wasn’t found dead.

      http://deadspin.com/the-story-about-the-russian-dying-over-the-botched-olym-1519328872

      • http://fancystephanie.wordpress.com/ fancystephanie

        I deleted that part of my comment. :P

    • Jenny

      I agree with you fancystephanie. I mean I actually felt like a lot of the things that the sochi problems was highlighting were the fact that 51 billion dollars gets you this. I don’t think it is Russia’s fault, or Russians fault. But at least when the Sochi problems started coming out, I felt like they were visable ways of saying maybe 51 billion dollars could have been better spent. I’m not sure how I would react if I knew that I was staying in something that cost the country so much, when so much of it doesn’t have basics. I would probably take pictures, and feel guilty and not really know how to handle it. That’s not making excusing, it’s just saying that it might feel weird. When I went to India and saw giant palaces whose walls literally served as the border for a giant tent city, I felt uncomfortable. I took pictures. I talked about it when I got back.

      Also, I think it’s fine to complain about a crappy half pipe, and I don’t think it was just the Americans. I know that there were some GB and Canadians talking about it too, and maybe others who don’t speak English. It has to be frustrating to work for 4 years to get to somewhere and then have your venue be compromised to the point where people couldn’t do practice runs and were injuring themselves and they were shaving down the walls until the competition, I actually though Shawn White was pretty gracious. Much more so than Plushenko was when he lost to an American 4 years ago. Athletes are just people, who are being interviewed after crushing disappointments and being asked horrible questions.

      I also like watching the daytime coverage when I can. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are hilarious for figure skating. Plus they definitely give massive props to the Russian athletes (and Canadian and Japanese).

      • http://fancystephanie.wordpress.com/ fancystephanie

        OMG! I love Lipinski/Weir! They are so funny, have the best outfits, and they really explain what’s going on during the skating. I’ve learned so much about the sport while listening to them. I hope that NBC keeps them on in 4 years!!

    • Amy March

      And while we’re talking Olympics- that “games have always been a little bit gay” ad is. not. ok. Isn’t implying that any time men are touching they might be gay a huge part of the homophobia problem? And the lugers hate the ad- they get enough stupid jokes like this. I found the whole thing really offensive.

  • Therese

    I finished my last fucking grad school exam this week! Now I just have to write that pesky thesis thing and one magical day, sometime later this year or maybe next year, I will have a master’s degree.
    Then it gets better: boyfriend and I bought tickets to Rome today!!! We couldn’t afford/didn’t have time for vacation last year and I’ve never been to Rome before, so I am ridiculously psyched. A solid week and a half of travel time with him and in an amazing new place. If anyone has any suggestions for good restaurants/cool hidden corners/best ice cream/places to people watch, I would love to hear them :)

    • Oakland Sarah

      Every ice cream place in Rome is the best ice cream place–seriously, it’s amazing. Make sure you try the potato pizza!

    • Katarina

      I ate at this cool restaurant in an old church. I can’t find the name right now, but it was goregous and delicious!

    • Lindsey d.

      Eat gelato everyday, sometimes twice a day, just because you can…

      • Crayfish Kate

        I TOTALLY did this! It really is as awesome as it sounds :-D

    • Amanda

      For people watching, definitely the spanish steps. All the food there I ate was wonderful, sadly I don’t remember any of the names.

  • Molly P

    I have nothing to say here except I’m SO glad it’s the weekend. With all of this crazy winter weather we had this week in north Alabama, it has definitely felt like the longest. week. ever. I’m so ready to sleep in. Also, my wedding ring comes in today!

  • Pileofstix

    Since we are all fans of doing our own thing, I present the comically horibbly named mangagemnet ring:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/02/the-rise-of-the-em-man-em-gagement-ring/283827/

  • Kat Robertson

    I am so happy to read that article about #SochiProblems. I spent a summer in Moscow while I was in college, and while I’m now out of touch with the friends I made, I remember how hurtful attitudes like that from Americans were to them, and I am humiliated to see it all over the place now. Of course I’m rooting for Team USA and I don’t like the human rights abuses going on there, but a lot of the mockery really does seem mean spirited.

    • Class of 1980

      Amen, Kat. Glad you wrote about that.

  • macrain

    Anyone here ever been to a Sandals? Thoughts? We are seriously considering it for our honeymoon! Our top pics are St. Lucia and Jamaica.
    Happy Friday guys!

    • Claire

      Sandals is amazing! Absolutely everything is included, so you just have to show up and have a great time. We went to St. Lucia, which has 3 of them, and they all have something unique to offer. St. Lucia is also an incredibly beautiful island with a lot of history, and really quality snorkeling!

    • TeaforTwo

      We went to the Halcyon in St. Lucia and I…probably wouldn’t recommend it. It’s the oldest and least expensive of the three resorts there, which we chose because we wanted somewhere quiet and liked that it wasn’t as flashy as the bigger ones. The grounds were beautiful and the service was good, but what the photos on their website don’t show (and frankly must have been edited not to show) is that the beach is completely unusable. It’s about 10 feet from seawall to water so there isn’t really anywhere to lounge without getting splashed, and the water is too choppy to swim.

      The beach would be different at the newer resorts, but the other thing about the newer resorts is that there’s a much wider range of luxury categories. Which means that even though the idea is that everything’s included, there are certain luxuries (cabanas on the beach, even certain restaurants) that are only included for the upper categories of rooms. Since the “cheap” rooms are still definitely not cheap, I wouldn’t be very happy to have paid that kind of money to watch other people getting privileges I didn’t.

      To be fair, after our winter wedding and all of the accompanying planning madness, I was THRILLED to lie by the pool with my new spouse and be in love and be warm and drink rum swizzles at 10am. But I don’t think I would choose Sandals again over other resorts.

  • Katarina

    Dilemma: I’m getting engaged at the same time is in the middle of a messy divorce from my stepmother, who emotionally abused me and my siblings for twelve years. Right now, they’re in a will they/won’t they situation. For the last six months, they’ve been back together and apart so many times that I can’t keep track.
    Anyway, my dad asked me a few nights ago to invite her to the wedding in case they aren’t actually divorced or got back together at this time. Given all of the therapy and tears she caused me, I’m inclined to say no, but I don’t want to make him angry or cause drama. Suggestions?

    • Lindsey d.

      Have his invitation include an “and guest” and let him make the decision when the time comes…

      • Katarina

        That makes sense. The indiginant child in me from years of abuse wants to lay down the law, but I honestly don’t know if it’s worth the fuss.
        For the record, this woman publically (on facebook) told her friends I was engaged and said “She pitied the guy who would marry that ****”.

        • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck

          Ok, to me, that means no invitation for her. Completely unacceptable behavior from an adult. Although, I’ve got a much quicker “fuck you” trigger than other people, so know yourself/your family…

        • swarmofbees

          I thought Lindsey d’s “and guest” option made sense, until you replied. This is clearly not someone you want at your wedding as she would not be happy to be there. You deserve love, not hate, on your wedding day.

        • Kayjayoh

          She’s a class act.

        • Lindsey d.

          Okay, I agree with Breck and swarmofbees… That kind of toxic person is not who you want at your wedding…

        • jashshea

          Sorry for the sailor language, but fuck that. Do not invite her.

    • Catherine McK

      It seems to me that, unless you’re having a super quick engagement, you’ve got some time for this one. Actual invites don’t go out until 8 weeks before; maybe the situation will have clarified itself before then? It sounds like she’s rather toxic, and to be avoided if possible, but if she’s still married to your dad and he wants her there, you might need to include her. Good luck!

  • ItsyBit

    Ladiiiiiies! If anyone has a minute… or 20…, I have a non-wedding, grad school related question for any folks in the Psych field…

    I want to be a child/adolescent psychologist. I eventually want to work with clients who might be seen as “difficult” or “high risk” (I worked as a mental health specialist with this population and really felt it was the place for me). So… school!

    If it weren’t for the $$, a PsyD seems like it would be perfect for me. But… money. And maybe I should keep my options open re: teaching at a university in the future? So I’ve been looking at PhD programs which is exhausting because most seem to be almost entirely focused on training researchers. I’m definitely not trying to downplay the importance of research, I just don’t want it to be the focus of my career. I’ve also been trying to look into what I could do career-wise with a Masters (woohoo less time!) but frankly it’s hard to find clear answers. I’m usually really great at finding info from Google but for some reason everything I find is vague and unhelpful.

    My intended and I were living in LA, relocated to NYC and are trying to figure out where the hell we’re going to live for the next few years. He’d love to go back to LA and come back east (we’re both from the Boston area) when we’re in our 30s. I’m not totally opposed to this plan except for school. Most of the programs I’ve seen (UCLA, USC) seem too research focused for me (to quote UCLA, “… candidates primarily seeking training as psychotherapists or careers in counseling… should not apply to this program.”) and others don’t seem to have a great rate of getting people into internships.

    I guess this is a really long way of asking… what the hell is the deal? How important are APA-accredited internships in the end? Would strongly research-focused programs hinder my development as a clinician? Would a Masters allow me to work with that population as a therapist and not a social worker? And while we’re at it… having a baby while in school? HALP.

    I almost hate to ask this here but it’s such a smart group of women, it seems like a good place to start. I’m three years out of college and the only professor I’ve kept in touch with is a researcher and not interested in the clinical side of things, so not a huge help here (although otherwise wonderful). I know this comment is creeping on novel length and I’m asking a lot but any input would be greatly appreciated.

    • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck

      I don’t know much about the actual intricacies of the benefits of getting a PsyD vs. PhD, but one of my good friends had the EXACT same mindset as you (wants to be an adolescent psychologist specializing in EDs, but was concerned about not getting the PhD). We’re originally from LA, so she also looked at UCLA, USC, and UCSB programs really closely, but she ended up going with the PsyD program at Stanford. She absolutely LOVES it, thinks it was the best decision for her future career path. She got the opportunity to see patients in her 2nd or 3rd quarter, which I guess is pretty cool. Hopefully someone else will have some more firsthand input for you!

      • ItsyBit

        Thank you!

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I don’t know about your hoped-for profession in particular, but usually the best way to find out how to get into a profession is to talk to people doing what you want to do. Can your undergrad put you in touch with alumni/ae doing what you want to do? Do you have any friends or friends-of-friends in the profession? Are there professional organizations that can put you in touch with people? If you go to the web pages of some professional organizations, there’s a page “For Aspiring Therapists” or whatever.

      As a volunteer, I know our local National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org) affiliates have meetings for providers, and if you call, they’ll tell you when it is so you can attend and meet clinicians. Then take their cards and ask if you can call to pick their brains about the profession or take them to coffee, etc.

      I’m a lawyer, and really didn’t know any lawyers growing up. When I was applying to law school, my mother, a doctor, put me in touch with about 3 lawyers she knew. They let me observe them work, explained what their day-to-day work lives looked like, and a bit about law school applications. I’m still in touch with them 10 years later. They’re great professional contacts to have. I would have been lost applying for jobs without just those few afternoons of exposure to the profession.

      • ItsyBit

        This is great, thanks. I didn’t know about NAMI’s provider meetings. I’ll definitely check that out.

    • Jennifer

      Yikes, I just wrote a really long response and Disqus ate it. So here’s a brief summary:
      My sister initially wanted to get her PhD, but ended up “just” getting a masters and LPC. She now works with kids that have been committed on psych hold in a hospital – she previously worked with kids in an office setting which included home visits. I don’t think she regrets her decision at all. She gets to work directly with the kids without having to go through all the rigors of a PhD program, and it gives her more flexibility for when she has kids (though I’m sure you can make it work even if you get a PhD!).
      That being said, her husband is in his first year of residency (that’s not the official term, but it’s how I think of it. I guess it’s an internship) after finishing up all his PhD coursework. He actually just accepted a post-doc (is that the right word? I think of it as another residency) at Johns Hopkins, where he will be for 2 years before being officially released as a psychologist. I know he is focusing on neuropsych which is why he taking longer, but he’s also struggled to find places that aren’t solely researched based.
      I actually thought it was kind of awful that she “gave up” her dream of being a psychologist when she met him to “just be an LPC”, but she seems really glad that she was able to finish school so quickly and work with patients. If she’d gone for her PhD, she would still be in classes. So basically, I don’t have a real answer, just some insight on what I’ve seen firsthand in this area. Best of luck in your decision!!

      • ItsyBit

        Thank you, I really appreciate the input. I guess I sort of feel the same way that you did about “giving up” in order to get a masters (in regards to my own life, not your sister’s), but then I think back to when I worked at the hospital, I didn’t look down my nose at the MSWs at all. So maybe it just takes time to wash away that bias and look at it more objectively.

    • Chris

      If you aren’t interested in research, don’t do a PhD. The $$ cost of the degree you want is small compared to the emotional cost of being in a 6-8 year (or longer!) program that is not a good fit. If you haven’t come across these articles already, they may help you clarify your thinking about if you really want to do a PhD program.

      I’m in the sciences, not Psych, so I don’t know anything about the tradeoff between a PsyD and PhD in terms of professional opportunities, but I’m on the job market now, and I wish I’d read all of these articles going in.

      http://chronicle.com/article/The-Big-Lie-About-the-Life-of/63937/

      http://chronicle.com/article/Graduate-School-in-the/44846

      http://theprofessorisin.com/2013/04/12/should-you-go-to-graduate-school/

      http://chronicle.com/article/Graduate-School-Is-a-Means-to/131316

      Also, a “paid” PhD program will not necessarily cover all of your expenses:
      http://theprofessorisin.com/ph-d-debt-survey/

      • ItsyBit

        Thank you so much for this. I have a lot of reading to to tonight…

    • Alison O

      So for many many years I’ve considered mental health careers, literally ALL OF THEM, psychiatry, psychology (PhD, PsyD), Master’s in psych or counseling, school counseling, marriage and family therapy, social work, etc. And I am currently applying to grad school in social work. Social workers are actually the largest group of mental/behavioral health therapists in the country. I had no idea social workers did therapy because the stereotype is of someone doing child abuse/custody stuff, etc. But there you are.

      So obviously I’m unexperienced, but I did do a lot of research, reading and some informational interviews and such with professionals, so take what you will from my perspective. But for me, psychiatry was too medical and involved thus too many med-checks and not enough focus on therapy. And, med school… Psych PhD was way too research-heavy and academia-focused–yes you absolutely CAN become a clinician, but the best funded programs are not devoted to that, and they are a long time to get there. Psychologists tend to do a lot of testing (esp. relevant with children), so if you like that or not, that’s something to consider. PsyD seemed like a cool degree to me, but there are so few funded programs, and paying that much for a relatively new degree that not everybody in the field recognizes/respects a ton yet didn’t appeal to me. The Master’s degrees/LPC/LMHT seemed to lack rigor and cohesion as a profession to me. MFT seemed cool, but MSW got me with its emphasis on social justice in addition to the fact that you can do the same kind of work as the other similar professions but more if you decide you don’t want to just do therapy or want to work in varied settings (like MSWs are generally a lot more marketable in hospitals than a MACounseling would be, for example). I have also heard that because the MSW is considered a terminal degree, a lot of programs will actually hire you as adjunct without a PhD if you want to teach a bit. And if you decide to teach you can go back and get your PhD or DSW anyway; I know someone doing that now after having done therapy in a community mental health center and then private practice for a number of years.

      My two cents!

      • ItsyBit

        Thank you! I know what you mean about med school- I considered psychiatry for a while, too, but realized it’s not for me for the very same reasons you listed. I appreciate the input!

      • Laura

        Convert from psych major in undergrad to MSW here!! I had a mentor tell me that I should explore Social Work and boy was she right. When I sat in that first Social Work class it was like a lightbulb went off above my head: *ding* this is the philosophy you’ve had all along. *ding* these people have like-minded attitudes regarding the human race *ding ding*

        Allison O, I know you say you’re not an expert but everything you said is right on the money! Especially the part about diversity of job opportunities and focus of practice.

        Itsy the quick and dirty info on becoming a social worker is this: all states are different but in most places there two types of Social Work licenses you can get with a MSW degree. The first is your license to work as a master’s level social worker (in my state it’s an LMSW). The next is called the “clinical” license (in my state LSCSW but in many states LCSW). The clinical license allows you to do therapy and be able to diagnose from the DSM. Even set up a private practice.

        For both of you… If you want to do therapy, I recommend looking for a program that focuses on that because otherwise you may wind up in a program that is more focused on training professors and/or political activists. I’d also ask what percentage of their professors worked in the field before becoming professors. Please feel free to ask if you do want more info.

        Also, guess what? I went into my masters program thinking I wanted to work with “difficult” and “high risk” kids, but then I did an internship and now work for hospice. I love it more than I could have imagined. Couldn’t do my job at hospice with a Psych degree! I’m so thankful for my mentor suggesting Social Work.

        Best wishes to both of you!

        • ItsyBit

          Thanks so much for your reply! I really appreciate it. And good tip about looking for a clinical MSW program. I’ll check it out!

          • Sarah S

            Seconding the value of the LCSW. My husband is an MSW and seriously considered getting the
            licensed clinical designation (before he did an internship in hospital
            social work which changed his focus away from mental health). But
            through him I know that LCSWs are therapists, and after I knew that I
            noticed that a lot of therapists (for example, in my former university’s counseling/psych services)
            actually have LCSWs, not psych degrees.

          • ItsyBit

            Thank you!

    • Libby

      Social worker here and want to contribute! I’m 1.5 years out of school and currently working as a therapist with very high risk children/adolescents who are adopted. Definitely don’t count social work out! Social workers provide more mental health services nationwide then all other professions combined (I think someone else mentioned this). If you do consider the master’s route – I’d really recommend considering social work over a counseling program. Both provide great training, I want to be clear in that. But in my experience, social workers get the jobs. Many of my friends with counseling degrees struggled to find work after school. It seems this is because a social work education is a tad more broad and training is for many settings. Of course, if you don’t connect with the foundational principles of social work (client self determination, social justice, etc.), then another program might be a better fit. Just don’t count it out!

      In terms of Phd/psyd vs. social work. Biggest thing I would recommend is to really talk to both psychologists and social workers and see what their jobs actually look like. In my experience, psychologists spend a LOT of their time doing testing. Social workers aren’t trained in this, so psychologists take on all testing. Psychologists will spend more time in graduate school, have a bigger focus on testing, and will usually eventually end up making more money :) If you’re interested in testing, perfect fit, if not I’d at least look at all the options. Social workers tend to work in more varied settings (school, hospital, private practice) and with more vulnerable populations (as a result we don’t usually make as much, although you can make a very decent salary in private practice). Of course I am simplifying it, but just trying to give a general idea!

      • ItsyBit

        Thank you!! I hadn’t really heard social work described in this way before so it’s really helpful to get your perspective. I’m definitely more interested in working with the population you described. And, funny enough, the things that really drew me to the one PhD program that I’m interested in were essentially the philosophies you described. I’ll look into MSW programs and try to find some more people in the field to talk to.

        • Libby

          I’m glad it was helpful! Frankly, I didn’t even understand all the things social workers do until I entered school or even how therapy focused it would be (getting the word out on the social work profession clearly hasn’t been our strength). Just to give you a sense – of some of my friends I can think of from graduate school: 7 are therapists, most with children/adolescents working in nonprofits, one with adults with severe mental illness, one manages grants for a foundation, one is the regional manager for a human trafficking program, one works for the federal government in policy making for early childhood programs, and one is a hospice social worker. In a social work program you will get training in therapy, but also advocacy, policy, and more systems wide approaches to change. Versus a PsyD program, social work programs will usually have a stronger focus on how systems/environment impact children/families.

          My day to day – my first year out of school I worked with children/adolescents and their families who have Medicaid providing therapy at school, home visits, and in the office (at a nonprofit). I was also on-call a few nights a month to do crisis assessments for children who may need a psychiatric hospitalization. I moved within the same organization and now provide intensive in-home family/individual therapy services to families who are struggling with an adoption and may be at risk for disruption to the adoption.

          I hope that gets you started with some idea :) Both are great, I just don’t have the experience to give you the PsyD insight, just depends on what is the best fit for you.

          • ItsyBit

            Wow, that is pretty diverse. Very good to hear. Also, as a side note, THANK YOU for the work you do with adoptive families. When I worked on a child psych unit I saw a number of kids whose families had no idea what they were getting in to and one that was at high risk for disruption. It’s really important work.

    • flory

      My PhD is in developmental psych, not clinical, but I can provide some advice!
      -DON’T DO THE PSY-D! Even if it seems like the right fit, it is near impossible to get a job after graduation these days, given the glut of recent graduates and the fact that most jobs would rather hire a PhD grad. PsyD programs have basically just turned in to money grabs from universities to attract students who can’t get into or don’t want to go to Clinical programs. It may be that the very top tier programs could result in good opportunities, but pretty much everyone I know in the psych field recommends against these programs.
      -If you’re not interested in research, the PhD in Clinical psych is probably not the right thing for you. There are some programs (generally not at top-tier research institutes) that aren’t “research-focused,” but most programs will have you spending a majority of your time doing research. So if you do your homework, you can find some programs that would work for you (for instance, I know friends who’ve attended St.Johns in New York for clinician-based focus and loved it), but I’d be careful.
      -The other options are an MA in counselling psych, which is focused on the counselling aspect but less on abnormal psych & disorders, or social work, as other people have suggested. Both of those are going to be much shorter programs (2 year MA vs 5-7yr PhD!), and be more concentrated on actual counselling and practice. Depending on your specific interests, you could also look into related fields, such as speech pathology, art/music/sport therapy, autism behaviour specialist, etc. There are LOTS of fields that involve working with children/adults with mental health issues that don’t involve the clinical psych phd!

      As for your other questions– my understanding is the APA certification is pretty important for clinical psych programs. And having a kid in grad school– definitely doable, I know lots of people who have done it! Many say it’s the best time (though I’m not so sure about that…)– but I would think it might be easier during a PhD vs a MA program (more self-directed time writing vs structured time in classes,etc.).

      Good luck!

      • ItsyBit

        Thank you! I’ll look into the MA programs. I’m not entirely averse to research but I know that I don’t want it to be my focus. I think one if the reasons I’ve been looking into a doctorate is because it’s never been clear how much can be done in the field without one. When I worked on a psych unit for kids I found that I really enjoyed working with the population and strongly preferred one-on-one interactions to group work. Somewhere along the line, I don’t know when or how, I got it in my head that the only way to do that kind of work and be a part of long term treatment (as opposed to being a case manager, for example) would be to become a psychologist. It’s really nice to know that there are options.

    • Whitney S.

      1. I cosign on all the great advice you’ve already received. These are all things I have found myself through research or experience.
      2. Here’s some more information form someone currently applying to clinical PhD programs:
      – I have an MS in applied psychology. This means I could have sat for and LPT or LPC once I had enough hours in either respective area. However, the MS experience really exposed that these would not me a great fit for me. I tend to be less excited about pure therapy and like testing, teaching, and research. These three things are a better fit for a PhD in clinical psychology
      – C.P. degree is really a professional and academic degree hybrid. You do both. However, the model for most programs is a mentor model. You are really applying to work with your research mentor. You’ll need a good research interest match and a personality match. Most places you’ll defend a dissertation which is an independent beast of a project. If you aren’t at least tolerant of doing research, this is going to be a major hurdle. It could end up be excruciating.
      – Some information on applying: I started looking in august and made a school list based on research match, contacted PIs to see if they were taking students this year, refined my list to 11 schools all over the country, asked 3 past mentors to write 11 letters of recommendation. Then comes the actual application. It includes transcripts, GRE Score reports, LoR, personal statement, CV, plus sometime additional questions. Total price for all this came into around $1000. My application process is considered standard for this area. In general, schools get about 200 applications every cycle for 4-5 spots.
      – I’d also suggest looking into Counseling Psychology which is usually in the Ed Dept. This could maybe a good fit for you if you like a more community based approach to therapy, heavy on the therapy. However, if you never want to teach or research, I don’t think a PhD is worth it. If I had loved therapy like I thought I was going to, I would have sat for an LPC and moved on.

      • ItsyBit

        Thank you, this is very helpful. And good luck with the application process!! It sounds even more daunting than I thought, heh.

        If I may ask: when you say that you’re more interested in testing, what exactly do you mean? What would that translate to in terms of how your work with your clients would be different?

        • Whitney S.

          Yeah. I wasn’t trying to scare you. It is doable, but it takes a lot of planning and time that isn’t super explicit. As long as you have a game plan and you know it’s what you want to do, you can do it.

          When I say testing, what I mean is referring to what Allison O. stated in her response. One of the things that make psychologist “special” is their ability to administer personality and achievement testing and then interpreting these for diagnosis. Examples of this include Wechsler Tests of IQ, MMPI, Conner’s, etc. It’s their niche which no other group really does.

          So, for example, if a kid comes in due to having problems in school, a psychologist in addition to therapy might decide to conduct an assessment for a learning disablity, ADHD, or behavioral assessments for teachers and parents. He/She would then use these to figure out a diagnosis and make a treatment plan. Psychologist also do disability assessments. Neuropsychologist use cognitive testing of executive functioning in the elderly and TBI patients. I mean, testing is a fast area which can be used in different ways to assess clients and research subjects. In general, testing is a tool that is available for diagnosis in order to refine treatment or lead to accommodation via an IEP or disability.

          I personally like it because it’s like putting together all the various puzzle pieces and figuring out what exactly is going on. It’s a really cool way for science and statistics to become applicable to the individual. Other people find it tedious. I actually do like therapy, but I don’t get the same “success high”.

          Two books to look into:
          Career Paths in Psychology Edited by Robert Sternberg
          Getting in by APA

          • ItsyBit

            Awesome, thank you. And I didn’t think you were trying to scare me. :) It’s nice to hear (from everyone) real world experiences. I’ll check out those books for sure!

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    OMG Amy Poehler is AWESOME. I, too, want a shower bed. A prep cook would also be handy. A personal tailor to do my alterations so I don’t have to spend time dropping off and picking up at tailors, etc. Oh what the hell. Just CLONE ME!

  • swarmofbees

    FI bought me a puzzle for Valentine’s day!! I had been talking about how our daughter’s current obsession with puzzles makes me want to do a grown-up puzzle. So, he told me this morning that he might have a surprise for me tonight. I jokingly asked if he got me a puzzle, and he went all quiet so I knew he bought me a puzzle! So cute! Made me happy at the end of a crappy cold-filled week.

  • Megan

    We sent out our save-the-dates in the last couple of weeks! That sparked my FMIL to ask us to send one to a friend of my fiance’s family that we weren’t originally planning on inviting, which is fine. But then she went on this whole thing about how the friend was asking about buying us a gift and how excited she was for us and my FMIL told us “I just couldn’t convince her not to get you guys a gift!” Not to be selfish or anything, but I hope she’s not trying to convince everyone she knows not to do that :) I’m not in this for the gifts, but if people want to send us something nice, I don’t want her to make them feel awkward about it! I wouldn’t be so annoyed by it if she didn’t act like money grew on trees–except for her tree. She has expensive taste when it’s not her wallet! Rant over.

    • scw

      maybe your FMIL felt guilty about inviting them and her comment was just a way of explaining/justifying it?

  • Liz

    Anyone have any must-do bachelorette party activities? I’m planning my sister’s and I’ve got fun stuff planned but would love any awesome suggestions! I’m pretty sure I’m going to get a pinata….

    • swarmofbees

      PINATA. Definitely a pinata.

      • Liz

        I am not planning a penis-centric party, but I’m trying to decide if it’s too tacky, or hilarious, to get a penis pinata. Especially because the first night of the weekend we’ll be renting a cabin at Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground–I have this great vision of tying it into a tree by our cabin and watching an innocent family walk by as a bunch of tipsy girls smack a penis pinata with a bat. Although maybe we would risk getting escorted off Disney property…ha!!

        • Kat Robertson

          Omg, I so want to “smack a penis pinata with a bat”. *collapses in giggles*

        • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck

          YES to the penis pinata!! For the double-entendres at the very least!

          Ex: all the ladies can try to *hit that*.

          • Liz

            Sold!!

        • Amanda

          Where does one get a pinata like this?! I want one!

          • Liz

            I just Googled it, and Amazon has them through some sellers. They are all cheesy and completely ridiculous looking! But not that expensive.

          • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck

            Now it’s super official: Amazon sells everything.

          • Amanda

            Awesome. I’ll mention to my sister, she’s just started planning my bachelorette :-)

          • Liz

            My filler ideas so far: ring pops, condoms, candy necklaces, and plastic shooter bottles of liquor. Anyone else have great ideas?

          • Lindsey d.

            Wrap the booze with bubble wrap — even with plastic bottles, it will crack and break if it hits the ground with enough force. #TrueStory

          • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck

            NSFW link: penis gummies?

        • Laura

          Well at my best friend’s bachelorette party, we did it in phases. We started out *classy* nice dinner, fancy drinks, etc and then had a clear transition to *trashy* in which the penis-shaped jello shots and the “pin the macho on the man” game came out. This was also nice because her more adultish/less relaxed friends could come for the dinner and celebrate with her but leave before we pulled out the sexy lingerie gifts. It worked for us and she had a blast.

    • emilyg25

      I had a tea party with crafts! My best friend rented a room in a local tea shop, and we spent a few hours eating crumpets and making silly little crafts.

  • Jess

    I have a Valentine’s Day related question that begins with a short story.

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, especially romantic. Big gestures don’t exactly come easy for me, because what I would want in the other person’s place tends to be very simple and well… practical. I appreciate the effort when done for me, but I don’t need them to be happy, secure in my relationship, or to feel the importance of a day or person. We had discussed a very relaxed night for tonight of cooking steak and potatoes at home, drinking wine, and watching old Fringe episodes, and we had agreed to no gifts. I like the idea of Valentine’s Day, but have always been kind of “eh” on the execution. I’m an everyday-love kind of person. This does not decrease the amount of love I have, or what somebody means to me.

    So as I was heading out of town for a work trip this week, I was informed that I had a gift coming in and it was good that I was out of town so R could prepare for Friday night. And I was kind of caught off guard – “What is there to prepare? You’re going grocery shopping so we don’t have to do it later? You’re vacuuming?” Today, I was sent a .pdf menu of dinner that was quite fancily designed and frankly adorable. So obviously my night of sweatpants and cooking together and doing nothing on the couch is not the case. And it’s very sweet and romantic and I really appreciate that he’s doing something special and different, and I’m excited eating good food and cooking together tonight.

    But I’m also very nervous and feeling guilty. Because I don’t need this. I’m not the kind of person that demands this. I definitely don’t know how to repay this. My initial thought of paying this back was to offer to help clean his apartment one weekend. That’s my idea of romance. When I brought up repaying him for the last romantic gesture (buying tickets for a dance performance because he saw it and thought I would enjoy going to it), he told me that my gift to him would be attending it with him (Don’t worry, I almost puked from the cuteness, too.).

    I feel bad for not being the kind of person that wants/can reciprocate this kind of thing.

    Is anybody else not super romantic, but with someone who wants to do romantic things for them? How do you deal with feeling unequal to the task of paying them back in the same way? How do you appropriately be grateful to them, when you’re kind of going “Why are you doing this?”

    • Fiona

      Ok, first, don’t feel guilty! Your partner is obviously doing this out of caring for you…not expecting something in return!

      Also, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of “love languages”? http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

      Everyone expresses love differently. It’s useful to know your own so you know both how you feel loved and how you express the love you feel. Knowing your partner’s is great because then every once in a while, even if it’s not your style, you can go out of your way to make sure you “speak” your partner’s love language.

      • Jess

        I remember love languages from working with my mom – she’s very gift and thing oriented, and that’s a hard one for me to feel and to speak.

        I totally feel loved by him doing this. It also brought up feelings that I didn’t expect it to. Thanks for the reminder to go back to the literature and do research on this language!

      • Kathleen

        I was going to recommend the 5 Love Languages, too. OP, you sound a lot like me – my primary love language is what’s referred to as “acts of service,” which essentially means that I’d rather have my husband vacuum than buy me jewelry, any day. But it also means that sometimes, when he’s had a rough day at work, and I find myself in the kitchen, cooking a nice dinner and cleaning up after it, too (we usually alternate cooking and cleaning), I have to remind myself to put the sponge down and go give him a hug, or listen to him vent, etc. Because while I feel like I’m doing the most loving thing possible for him (Now he doesn’t have to worry about cleaning up! It’s exactly what I’d want if I’d had a hard day!), he feels ignored, and would feel much more loved by my presence or physical touch.

      • Helen

        I’d heard of love languages and find the idea useful, but found that test on site not partiuclarly useful. l feel like my fiance fulfills my love language ‘needs’ already, so all the “I wish” questions didn’t really apply! The test also seems to be serve only the single or married, husband or wife dichotomies, (which I don’t fit and you may not either). Just a warning that the test might not be as useful as just doing your own observation!

        • Fiona

          I’m not promoting the test! I’m just promoting love and being aware of how we all express it ;)

    • Ella

      Don’t feel guilty. I have trouble typing this because I would whole-heartedly feel how you’re feeling, like you need to “repay” them. The hardest part of being in a relationship for me, sometimes, is to allow myself to be loved. Your partner went into this night knowing you had set limits and while you might want to gently let him know that in the future you’d like to stick to your plans so you don’t feel out of the loop, this time, you might just want to let him do this for you. It’s hard — I feel ya, so, so much. But that’s what I would tell a girlfriend if this happened to her. Just let yourself be loved, in this moment.

      Also, YES on the Love Languages. Omg that is the most helpful thing in terms of understanding people — not just in romantic relationships.

      Happy Valentine’s Day!

      • Jess

        It’s so good to know I’m not the only one to have moments of learning how to be loved. I will definitely try to relax into the love, and acknowledge that I may be feeling a little guilt, but that it’s not the big feeling. And that I can give something back to him in my own way some other time.

        The funny thing is, he took his urge to do something big and romantic and fit it into the exact night I talked about – stay at home, cook good food together, drink wine, watch tv afterwards. After reading your comment about plans changing, I realized that. I will have to tell him how much I appreciate that he did so!

        Happy Valentine’s Day to you too! (And to the rest of APW!)

    • aldeka

      What Erin and Fiona said. Also I’d note that while some people enjoy both giving and receiving intricate romantic plans, some people mainly like giving! So it might be useful to ask your partner (not that night, but maybe later this weekend) whether he would like it if you planned this sort of activity for him sometime.

      • Jess

        I took your advice this morning: he said that he wouldn’t turn me down but that he prefers planning them to receiving. That put me at ease a lot, that even if I tried really hard to put something together (that would probably be mostly mediocre, or super cheesy), it wouldn’t be as enjoyable for him as if I let him plan something for me.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      My husband and I have learned this mostly from our relationships with our mothers – Sometimes it’s their thought that matters more to them than to you. I know I do things for my husband that he doesn’t appreciate as much as I enjoy doing them. And then he’ll be blown over by something I do almost by accident.

      Going forward, surprises don’t work in our relationship, and maybe they won’t in yours. We just sit down and ask “What do you want to do for our anniversary? Should I get you a card? Are we exchanging gifts?” I won’t repeat the whole sad story, but even this didn’t work between my husband and I for today. He forgot that the gift we discussed was for Valentine’s Day. But I still love him. I’m still thrilled that he’s bringing me a sandwich to eat between work and book group this evening, and I’m certain he’s not disappointed I haven’t planned anything conventionally romantic.

    • lady brett

      oh my goodness, yes. two things that have helped me in my guilt over being utterly un-romantical:

      recognize your contributions. my contributions are not romantic, but they are valuable (and valued!) (so, yes, totally help clean his apartment sometime. not to repay anything, but because that’s the kind of sweet thing *you* can do for *him*.)

      also, *anything* can be a gift. my honey is *super into* gifts and surprises, which are things i suck at. i’m just too practical. but it’s not like i don’t buy stuff they like – it’s just ordinary stuff. so now i do things like come home from grocery shopping and say “i got you a present!” because i bought a mango, which was not on my list. basically, anytime something falls into “want” instead of “need” it’s a gift. usually a small, silly, no-big-deal (but *see* i was thinking of you) gift.

      • Kathlee

        Anyone who ever buys me a mango as a gift has my undying gratitude.

        (Also, my mom, transitioning away from giving Easter baskets full of candy to her adult daughters, started giving us egg-shaped fruits to be festive each year. When she mentioned not doing any Easter gifts at all last year (she had other things on her plate, and, you know, we’re grown-ups), I was a bit dismayed. “Nothing at all?! But . . . what about the avocado?? The mango?!!” I’d been really looking forward to that mango. She pulled through with kiwi.)

        Trying to be particularly frugal this Christmas without giving my husband nothing at all, I wrapped up or put in his stocking a bunch of things we needed anyway, including the replacement CO2 cartridge for the SodaStream. He thought it was hysterical; my in-laws, I think, thought I was the worst gift-giver ever.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          Everyone in our families has had similar things with others maybe judging our gifts. I gave my husband pencils for Christmas (It’s what he wanted.). He gave me a silk scarf. My father could totally see the appeal of the pencils, but I was a bit ashamed to admit I had been so practical.

          • KEA1

            Ugh…the gift-judgment. My Love Language can best be described as “please-do-ANYTHING-BUT-give-me-a-gift.” I don’t think I would ever have been a “gifts” person anyway. But I know that years of experience with people *actually*, not just maybe, being judgmental about gifts (from the standpoints of requesting, giving AND receiving–yes, it’s bleeped up) have taken gift-giving occasions from the level of not-my-love-language-but-I-can-adapt to actual anxiety. It sucks.

            A mango, a set of pencils, or a bunch of stocking stuffers of total practical use would warm my soul–all of the thoughtfulness with none of the drama. %)

        • Jess

          One year, I complained to my dad that my feet were always cold walking to class (it was regularly 10 degress or less). On Christmas, I opened a box of 15 pairs of super warm wool socks.

          My mom was taken aback and concerned about how I would take it, but he was happy that he could do an act of service (and I very happy to receive one). Still makes me smile.

          • MC

            This sounds exactly like my dad – a few years ago, I asked for wool socks and since then my dad has given me at least 2 pairs of wool socks for Christmas every year. I love it!

      • Jess

        That’s… adorable. Mangoes, the fruit of romance!

        The gift wound up being a little plastic figurine of a Yeti (It’s a nickname of mine). It’s got an enormous goofy smile on it, and is entirely adorable and made me laugh.

    • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

      Definately don’t feel guilty! If he’s going through all that, it’s possible it’s because he enjoys that kind of planning, gesture, romance, etc. And he’s doing it because he wants you to feel loved. But if it doesn’t make you feel that way, it’s okay to acknowledge that you’re appreciative but that you prefer something more low key.

      In my relationship, it took us a while to realize we have very different “love languages.” I love gifts and gestures. If he vacuums or does the laundry I swoon. The same goes for gifts with nice presentation, whether we’re talking about jewelry or a candy bar with a ribbon on it.

      His love language is words and quality time. It’s rare for him to think to do some kind of gesture or buy and wrap a gift, but he’s always there with words of encouragement and wanting to spend time together.

      We automatically wanted to treat each other well using our own love language, which didn’t always translate. “Do onto others as you’d like them to do onto you” doesn’t make sense sometimes. Now that we know this about ourselves and each other, we started writing each other letters for occasions (because it gives him the words of love and support he craves and me the keepsake I crave), and then giving/doing something that fulfills the other’s love language. (He might make me dinner and give me a flower, and I might plan time for us to go on a long walk together.)

      • Jess

        Man, surprises are so hard to figure out when you don’t have the same ideas of what would be good. I do what I call “kitchen sink love languages” – I just try to throw pieces of all of them at somebody. It’s probably not very efficient. I’m totally a quality time and words person when it comes to feeling loved, but I do a lot of practical gestures (cleaning, fixing something, etc.) to speak love.

        Yesterday went really well – I walked in to flowers, my gift (see my response to Lady Brett – it was small and silly and cute and made me laugh), and a printed out version of the fancy menu on the table. We cooked, laughed, ate, said sappy things, and drank lots of wine. It wound up being a good mix of low-key and celebratory. Moral of the story: Trust that he knows me well enough to not push too hard!

        And you’re right: we had a very quick discussion this morning about how I felt a little bad that I can’t do something back. He said that he just likes doing the planning and putting things like this together, and that being able to do it in a way that makes me happy is what he wanted. That he understood that I was saying “I love you” when I did all the dishes and washed all the counters before we settled in for dessert. So now we know how to listen to each other! Success!

  • Amanda

    We booked our plane tickets for the honeymoon this week! Now we just have to figure out how to split up the time. We’re flying into Nice and out of Paris. Anyone have any French Riviera and/or Paris tips?

    • Liz

      Yes! I will try to check back once I finish the work I’m supposed to be doing with a list…

      • Liz

        I definitely second Musee d’Orsay and L’Orangerie. The Louvre is a must-see, but these two are my favorite! Giverny is also beautiful, totally worth the day trip! St. Chapelle is also totally worth it.

        Note that many things (although not necessarily museums) are closed on Sundays–shops, restaurants, etc. When my fiance and I were there last winter, LOTS of stuff was still open in Montmartre on Sunday, which I love. It’s just a cool place to hang out, window shop, walk the streets, and eat. Lots of street performers and it’s just nice to know that there’s a place that’s alive when everything seems so dead on a Sunday!

        For a great view, I recommend the Tour Montparnasse over any other one. It’s a huge skyscraper, which is not necessarily an exciting thing to look at, but it allows you to see a great view of every other monument in the city. Montparnasse is also a really cool place to walk around. It’s a little further from the main touristy stuff, but easily accessible on the metro. We stayed at a Holiday Inn in Montparnasse that was SUPER nice and affordable, if you’re still looking for a place to stay. A little more expensive but perfectly located is Hotel Lenox on Rue de l’Universite.

        Metro is very easy to use if you’re accustomed to public transit, but honestly, lots of museums and attractions are really walkable if the weather is nice enough!

        Pere Lachaise cemetery is also really cool to visit–lots of famous gravesites (Jim Morrison, Chopin, Oscar Wilde, etc).

        A visit to the Opera Garnier is also worth it–if you can take a tour when there’s not a performance (or go to a show) the ceiling is painted by Chagall and just amazing (he’s a favorite).

        I’ll keep thinking…..

        • Jess

          I upvoted you (I miss exactly!) but I want to say that I am seconding basically everything you said. Especially about the Musee d’Orsay and L’Orangerie. There’s an amazing Monet exhibit in L’Orangerie that I would not miss for the world.

          We stayed in Montparnasse and loved it, and took a very cool walk around the University area/Latin Quarter. Close enough to the river to be able to walk to a lot of the tourist sites.

          Also, if heading up to Montmartre, there’s a really cool and very photo-worthy cemetery there, the Dali museum, and the Museum of Erotica (I went with my mom. It was surprisingly fun.)

          Also, also, if you’re interested in seeing Versailles (it’s a short train ride out of the city) go to the Hamlet that Marie Antoinette made. It’s on the far corner of the property, but she basically built an entire small village as a playhouse. Very worth the walk and not many people seem to go.

    • Catherine McK

      Here’s my monster Paris list, apologies in advance:

      I loved having the “Paris Pass” you can buy
      one for 2, 4 or 6 days and you can get in to most of the museums &
      attractions and cut to the front of the line (it doesn’t include the
      Eiffel Tower though). I recommend buying it at a smaller museum, like
      the Musee Rodin, when we bought it at the Louvre it was crazy. http://www.parispass.com/how-it-works/index.html.
      Aside from the line cutting, one of my favorite things is that you can
      go to a little museum for not too long and not feel terrible about
      seeing the highlights and leaving. For example, we went to the Musee
      Cluny last time, and it was fun to see the beautiful tapestries, but not
      something I would have spent extra money on.

      The classics

      Notre Dame (If you feel like waiting in line, the climb up
      the towers is pretty neat, you get to see lots of gargoyles). When Sam
      & I went we also went in the crypt which had an interesting overview
      of the history of the city.

      The Louvre – It’s huge! You could spend the whole 2 days
      there, I generally do the speedy tour, Mona Lisa, Nike Goddess of
      Victory & Venus de Milo, as it’s not my favorite, but I’m always
      with someone who has never been and needs to check it off the list.

      Tour Eiffel – of course… unless it’s perfectly clear, I’d just go
      up to the 2nd level. I like taking the stairs; it’s a bit of a
      work out, but it’s cheaper and the line is much shorter.

      Musee d’Orsay – Impressionist Art Museum. This is my
      favorite of the big museums, lots of Monets, Renoirs, etc. It’s in an
      old train station

      Other churches & museums

      Musee Rodin – They have a beautiful garden with lots of sculptures and the museum is in an old mansion

      L’Orangerie – This museum was designed to hold Monet’s
      Waterlilies. It’s breathtaking and in an area where you’ll probably be
      spending time anyway.

      St. Chapelle – Amazing amazing stained glass windows. I got there
      before it opened a few years ago and when it opened my cousin and I went
      right up the stairs into the chapel and had 30 seconds of being the
      only people there. It was wonderful.

      Other:

      E. Dehillerin

      http://www.e-dehillerin.fr/en/index.php

      The best cooking store I’ve been to.
      Berthillon – best sorbet/gelato ever:

      http://www.berthillon.fr/ It’s not too far from Notre Dame and is in a fun area to wander around.

      The Creepy:
      The last trip we went in the catacombs.
      It’s where they moved the millions of skeletons and arranged them
      artfully. If you are claustrophobic this is a must avoid. I was oh so
      happy to get out, but also glad I had finally seen it.

      Things people go to that I don’t like:

      Sacre Coeur – I don’t love this church, so if you’re going to skip
      one, skip that. It’s in Montmatre, which is the “artsy” area, but it’s
      not my thing.

      Baton Mouche – Paris
      boats. I knew I didn’t like them, but I thought my husband should have the
      experience of seeing the city from the river. Silly me. So many
      tourists taking bad pictures, with the “narration” in 7 languages, one
      after the other. “Bonjour, hello, guten tag”… etc… awful. You’re
      better off taking a walk along the water.

      Outside the City:

      Versailles – honestly, it’s
      not my favorite, but some people LOVE it. When we went we
      walked all over the beautiful grounds, which was fun, but overall I find
      it a bit overwhelming, so much opulence and you know it ends badly. If
      you end up going, there are fairly easy trains to get there and back
      from the city.

      Giverny – Monet’s House & Garden – It opens on April 1st. When
      Elizabeth & I were there it was the opening weekend and the cherry
      trees were blooming. It’s really lovely, and so fun to picture the
      paintings you know while walking on the water lily bridges. There is a
      train from Paris there as well, but I have never done it.

      • LM

        I agree with lots of these things! The museum pass was great — we went to the Louvre twice. Versailles was really overwhelming but also really neat. If you go, spent the extra Euro and go on a guided tour — we got a really knowledgeable tour guide, got to see an area closed to the general public and got to cut at least one line.

        Also, I really enjoyed walking around, hanging out in parks and stopping for snacks/drinks when we felt like it. So many nice parks.

      • Winny the Elephant

        Buy the museum pass at the airport! No line and it means you can skip the lines at the louvre!

      • K.

        This is a great comprehensive list! But I have to say that it’s funny because Musee Cluny is actually my favorite museum in Paris! I love that it’s a living archeological site and it feels like you’re exploring a little slice of medieval France. It’s very raw and mysterious, plus The Lady and the Unicorn is one of my all time favorite works of art. Different strokes. :)

        • Jess

          Love that museum!

    • p.

      This sounds crazy but while the bread and cheese and croissants I had in Paris were good, the food I most want to go back for is falafel. We went to L’As Du Fallafel in the Marais twice.

      Also check out http://www.DavidLebovitz.com: he’s an American pastry chef who lives in Paris and his website has lots of Paris tips (he also leads chocolate tours in Paris).

    • Simone

      Oh man, southern France. So much good stuff. In Nice, I love the Chagall museum, Vieux Nice for windy streets and Provançal street food, and the Parque du Mont Boron.

      If you’re flying out of Paris, you’ll probably be taking the train through Marseille. I LOVE MARSEILLE, enough to spend a few summers living and working there. It is such a layered, fascinating place. People might tell you to avoid it because it’s perceived as loud, dirty, and dangerous, mostly due immigrants (huge issues with xenophobia/racism in France), but I really think it’s worth taking some time to explore, even if it’s only a day. If you decide to go, walk around a neighborhood called Le Panier (the oldest neighborhood in town, built on the cite of a Roman city) on the west side of the port, then head to the east side of the port and climb the hill to Notre Dame de la Guarde, a massive church from which you can see the entire city. Inside the church, sailors’ families hung these beautiful ship mobiles from the ceiling to protect loved ones at sea. My favorite place for a drink in Marseille is called La Caravelle, on the west side of the port, on the second story of building with a cafe and souvenir shop on the ground floor. For food, any little cafe in Le Panier is the way to go. Marseille is famous for ” pizza moitié-moitié” which is half anchovy, half cheese, and 100% amazing. You will love it.

      The one place you should absolutely go if you want any kind of Mediterranean water experience is the stretch of limestone fjords and inlets between Marseille and Cassis. You get there by boat, bus/hike, or even car in a few places. Those places are so breathtakingly beautiful, the water is so blue, it makes my heart hurt to think about it. The stretch of inlets are collectively called Les Calanques (my favorites are probably Port Pin and Sugiton). Only tip: try not to go on a weekend during the summer because it can get a little crowded. Among my favorite places on Earth. Sigh.

      A few other assorted suggestions: if you rent a car, the Gorge du Verdon and surrounding areas are pretty incredible. Avignon is a great town to stop in for a few days of museums, history, as well as gorgeous surrounding scenery and WINE COUNTRY. There’s so much more…basically you can’t go wrong.

    • Ann

      If you like to hike and/or want a place a bit smaller than Nice to visit on the coast, Cassis (about a 30 minute train from Marseille in the direction of Nice) is AWESOME. Beautiful and wasn’t super crowded when I was there (mid June). Because most of the tourists there were French/German/Russian, there were quite a few establishments that didn’t have an English speaker on hand (I was surprised). It wasn’t a problem for me–I speak passable French–but my husband couldn’t go anywhere without me.

      From Nice, take the bus or drive to Monaco for a day trip. The road is absolutely stunning. I also read in tour books that you should go to Monaco just to gawk at the city, and I thought it was an odd suggestion. But I thought “why not, it’s an easy day trip from Nice.” SO WORTH DOING. It’s surprisingly fun to stand up on the hill and critique the different yachts. If you go far enough up the mountain side, there is cheap food. Do not bother with anything near the water (unless you want to spend 100 euros on lunch). The Exotic Gardens are also pretty cool–the best part is that they have a tour that goes into the cave system that is in the rocks behind the city. It was super cool, though our guide didn’t speak English (it was an Italian/French bilingual tour that we happened to show up for… I did my best translating for the English speakers–my husband and another couple). Wear good walking shoes and be prepared for a lot of stairs (the city is built into a cliff side, which is part of what makes it cool).

    • Amanda

      Thank you all for your help!

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.ca/ Jenny/Adventures Along the Way

      Try to stop by Shakespeare & Co. when you go to Notre Dame. It’s a fabulous little bookstore on the left bank, right near Notre Dame. Make sure you go upstairs… One of my favorite places in Paris.

  • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

    Happy Valentine’s Day lovely ladies! My temp job in front of a computer ends today and then I’m back to my part time job in the nutrition department at a grocery store (a job I dislike). But, I have recently received some super helpful edits for my resume and two job prospects from people I know (ah, networking). Neither are a dream job, but I need to get to know more creative people. Regardless, if I snag one of these jobs, I may actually be able to pay the mortgage again, so, that would be nice. Cross your fingers for me.
    But also, I’m tired after working 13 of the last fourteen days. I was recently told by a co-worker at the grocery that I have a lot of energy which I find amusing because I just don’t feel like I do. And really, I think the stress of not being able to pull my weight financially (because we can’t live on my husband’s income) makes it that much more difficult to have the energy to do more, be better, sell myself.
    So, to recapture some of my energy, I’m trying to make time for creative projects, including my Instagram 28 days of selfies inspired by Meg’s post on selfies. This is a really hard project for me. I am just not good at putting myself out there nor am I good at looking at myself with love rather than criticism. I’ve even been struggling with trying to put this into words. But the exterior exploration of the selfies is definitely connected to the introspection that I have been struggling with for…so long I can’t even remember. I want to say something wise, beautiful, real, but instead what I hear myself saying is childish, whiny, boring.
    I am just me and I want to do something fun and creative and I don’t know how to share it without picking myself apart.

    • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

      I’ve been following along with your project and love it!

      Also, I totally get it about working jobs you don’t even like because you have to. I just took a full time job, and it’s not one I dislike or anything, and I’m grateful to be able to contribute financially in a steady way, but I am exhausted working 11+ hour days, working on my off-days, and trying to fit in my creative and personal pursuits (and the business we’re trying to build) in when I can.

      I don’t have any good advice or insight here, just a fist bump of solidarity.

      • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

        I’ll take your fist bump. :)
        I’m trying to find a job that will pay the bills and will leave me with some sanity to pursue my creativity. A full time job I can handle. A job where I work more than full time, or am treated like dirt I can’t. That’s why I left the last job and likely why I haven’t found something better in a year. I am trying to be careful with myself.

        • Amanda

          Fist bump from me as well!

    • Sarah E

      I’ve been following along with your selfies, too, and kudos to stretching yourself for the project! I feel you on the economic contributions. I’m in a major swing state, shifting to self-driven contract-style work (and the nature of that will change again in a month), and I really hate feeling like I’m not a household contributor. As soon as I think of great ways to sell myself, I think of ten more reasons why people will never hire me or take me seriously.

      You doing a brave, cool, thing, woman. <3 All the best

  • Kayjayoh

    The pinata discussion below reminds me: aside from Mexican grocery stores (going to look there first) and Party City, does anyone have any ideas for where to get a nice, star-shaped pinata? I’ve seen a few onine and the reviews have been “wow, this was super small” and “well, it came off the hanger with the first hit, but didn’t come apart”.

    • Hope

      Walmart or Target also stock them. My school has bought some pretty good pinata from Walmart (much as I dislike Walmart’s employer practices)

  • http://breckwinokur.com/ Breck
    • Lindsey d.

      Did you see the Dale Hansen commentary from WFAA in Texas? I used to work there and I’m so proud of him (and everyone who helped it make it to air).

  • anonymouswriter

    I wrote a short story and IT’S GETTING PUBLISHED! The site launched today, and I am beyond excited. Plus, the genre is choose-your-own-adventure romance, which has just been too much fun to write. I honestly never thought anyone would pay me for writing, so today is basically the best day ever. Yay! I just want to run around screaming happily but I don’t think my current staid office job would appreciate that.

    • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

      awesome!!!!!

      • anonymouswriter

        Thank you! I have to say that as a long-time lurker/sometimes commenter I love love love this APW community and it was partly Meg’s good influence that encouraged me to even send in a writing sample. Thank you, APW!

    • KEA1

      CONGRATS!!! Woohooo!

    • Kayjayoh

      “The site launched today”

      Ahem…link? We want to read your story! :)

      • anonymouswriter

        Oh, I linked it, but my comment with the link is gone. Maybe that was illegal? I don’t think I broke any rules per the comment policy but possibly the post looked like spam. Well, the site is Silk Words, and my story is coming out at the end of the month!

    • Amanda

      Congrats!!

  • Mary Jo TC

    Not so great day here. We were planning to spend V-day on the road for my cousin’s wedding tomorrow, but the weather makes the roads too treacherous so we’re waiting until tomorrow to leave. The baby was sick two days ago and now I have his bug, and vomited up my lunch an hour ago. It’s not just V-day but our 10-year dating anniversary and I’m very doubtful husband is even going to give me a card.

    • Kayjayoh

      (((Mary Jo)))

  • ja-nonymous

    I just need to problem dump/rant here for a bit.

    About this time last year my mother’s best friend was diagnosed with advanced stage pancreatic cancer. Initially, she took well to treatment, but that fell off about June or July and by December they were talking hospice. Over the last few weeks she’d deteriorated rapidly and she passed away yesterday am. That on it’s own is terrible, but…

    About April of last year, my mother’s routine colonoscopy returned cancerous polyps. She scheduled surgery for July and recovered well over the summer. In October she received news that her mamogram wasn’t clean. After some opinions there, she scheduled a double masectomy for the week before Christmas. I live far away, but was able to visit her just after the holiday. Then her mother died (long illness) in mid-January. Then the doctors told her she had to have chemo.

    The good news is she’s healing slowly but surely and is back to work, but son of gunslinger, can the universe please stop kicking her while she’s down?

    Separate from all that, I’ve had a terrible week at work. I’m not exactly splitting the atom at work, but I make decent money and can generally leave it at the office, so I’ve stuck through some less than ideal circumstances the last 2-3 years. Now I (reluctantly) manage a team of software developers who are…stereotypical developers. Robotic and aloof would be my description on a bad day. Early in the week my most experienced (but most difficult) employee notified me that due to compensation issues he’d be seeking other employment. And two days later I had to lay off a different person. I nearly (a) threw up and (b) cried during the conversation.

    I am STRUGGLING into Happy Hour, ladies. STRUGGLING.

    The good news:
    *Crazy snow storm means I’ve been stuck at home with my husband most of the week and he’s funny.
    *I’ve wiped the cobwebs off my resume and am applying to some stretch jobs. Looking forward to interviewing (I’m the wacko who loves interviews)

    • Sara P

      Internet hugs! Glad your mom is healing. Good luck with the job applications! (Interviewing makes me really really nervous, but it is kind of fun!)

    • Kayjayoh

      ((Ja)) Hugs for you. Fuck cancer. Seriously. It needs to stay the hell away from our moms.

      Good luck on the job search. It sounds like now is the time.

  • Grace

    Hey APW, I am determined to join in the happy hour this week, I always come too late because of the time difference! My partner and I have been talking out engagement ideas again this week, and we’re going around in circles a bit. After thinking we’d agreed on a mutual proposal he seems to changed his mind. This is because he insists he doesn’t need a gift and is happy for us to buy me a ring (we’re planning to combine finances later this year). He now wants us to choose a ring together ready for him to propose at another date, which I am happy with. The only thing is, he’s not particularly psyched to propose. I mean, he agrees we need a moment to cement the difference between engaged and just living together, but doesn’t like the idea of asking as such.

    Is there a compromise here? We both know we want to get married and that we want a ring and a moment but how do we make it special when popping the question doesn’t quite feel right?

    • Fiona

      Do you need to propose to each other? Can you take each other out on a fabulous engagement date to commemorate/formalize the decision?

    • Laura C

      As someone who is not into Events but does like going out with my fiance, I like Fiona’s idea of planning a special date. That way if you feel like you want to be able to tell people a story about it, there’ll be all sorts of details — where you ate, maybe getting dressed up, etc — but it doesn’t have to be focused on some big one-kneed speech.

      That said, I’d ask why it seems so important to have “a moment to cement the difference between engaged and just living together.” I mean, there are all sorts of good reasons you might, but speaking as someone who didn’t need such a moment, I think people should at least be open to the possibility that it’s ok to have the transition from living together to engaged be a little more … organic.

      • Grace

        Hmm, good question. I like to celebrate I suppose, we always go out for anniversary. It’s not that I want to manufacture a situation as such, so I guess just buying a ring then going for dinner to put it on and celebrate would well. Has anyone else done this? I will
        Suggest it to him!

        • Laura C

          It sounds like that might walk the line between his hesitance to do a formal proposal kinda thing and your desire to celebrate and have it be an event. We didn’t do it that way ourselves (we were at a wedding, talking about weddings, he said “I guess we should start planning ours,” we subsequently went to an all-night restaurant and discussed it over burgers; trying to remember if we had a night out subsequently to celebrate a little more but probably not as I had surgery like five days later), but it’s how we handle basically all our other celebratory moments, because we do love an excuse to go out for a nice dinner and have a champagne cocktail!

  • Sara P

    Happy Valentine’s Day everybody! Much love here, towards the end of winter :).

    We’re going to try to get out to the Apostle Islands Sea (Ice!) Caves tomorrow. The weather up here is sort of awful sometimes, but man Lake Superior is awesome.

    And we’re maybe going to do a joint proposal someday? After a year of reading this site and trying to figure out ways to talk about marriage with the manfriend, I feel like we’ve made real progress in the last few weeks. Time will tell, I guess.

    • Kayjayoh

      Envy! I want to go to the Apostles someday. I hope you have good weather for it!

  • Jessica

    2 things just made me love APW even more: 1) The Guest List spreadsheet formatted to match Glo, as my fiancé & I signed up for a Glo account earlier this week. 2) That Beyonce & her family are listed on the example spreadsheet.

  • August

    I DIY’ed a Valentine’s Day gift for my guy that I thought was something he was going to really like–I mean I thought it was a perfect gift for him. I made him a brain teaser/ puzzle game. He spent maybe five minutes on it, and hasn’t touched it since. He’s a geeky, puzzle, riddle kind of guy. I learned how to use a table saw to make this gift and it got no love.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.ca/ Jenny/Adventures Along the Way

      I’m impressed by your gift. I’m sorry it was as well received as you had hoped. :(

  • aldeka

    Pro tip: if you’re going to take a motorcycle to the grocery store and get flowers, make sure your backpack is big enough for the bouquet to actually fit inside.

    (I drove slow, and got lucky, and only lost a few petals. But.)

    • emilyg25

      But I bet you made everyone you passed on the way home break out in a goofy grin! That sounds adorable.

    • Kayjayoh

      Also, if you are going to send a big bouquet to your sweetheart at work, keep in mind if they are a bus commuter. :) I wasn’t going to leave them in the office all weekend, but it was an adventure getting them home.

  • Megan

    Happy Valentine’s Day APW! Has everyone enjoyed Ira Glass on Google today? And these lovely videos: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/fashion/weddings/vows-of-love.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20140214&_r=0

    • Kayjayoh

      Oh, thank you for sharing those videos. I’m continuing my cry that started with the Google snippets.

    • Laura

      Oh Ira. My friday nights would be so bleak without him.

  • lady brett

    my lovely spouse has suggested that i move to working part-time. not immediately, but within the year, perhaps. overwhelming. i’m the ‘breadwinner’ while they are in school, and that’s going to be a bit more than two more years. and while i think (pending further number crunching and, oh yeah, discussions with my boss about the reality of it) we could scrape by with that setup, it feels overwhelmingly selfish (and we had such a good *plan*). it’s terrifying, and there are too many unknowns for me to do the math on whether it is a good idea or not.

    • Laura

      Money future math is always so scary. Hang in there. Physical and emotional wellbeing play a part in the equation too.

  • Kayjayoh

    Everyone needs to check out the Google Doodle today. Very sweet.

    • Laura

      Ira and the stories he facilitiates cause tears on a regular basis.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      OMG. I didn’t realize they were STORIES. BAWLING.

  • Rachel

    congrats to Rachel on your wedding this weekend!! AND In other news I was totally inspired by the beauty post this week so I painted my toenails while on a conference call today and didn’t screw up once! hooray!

  • LBD

    I’m a bit late to the party because I’ve been receiving Valentine’s visitors, some who have just returned after being out-of-country for a year, and some good friends to aid in my tradition of Valentine’s baking. A happy ending to a tough week. Anyways, I’m due to have my baby on Tuesday, and this past Wednesday we were t-boned by an old man after I picked my husband up from work. Now our car is undriveable, and I could go into labor any time. We’re grateful to all be okay, but frustrated with the ill-timed inconvenience. My friend has lent us her car for the weekend, and our wonderful neighbors have also offered to drive us if need be. Hopefully the cogs of insurance speed up, and we can get a rental car figured out very soon.

    A week ago I was so ready to have this kid, as I have some friends moving away at the end of the month, but now, I’m like stay in there for a few more days little buddy!

    I am looking forward to meeting the little dude, and I am super-ready to not be pregnant anymore, but nervous about how my body is going to react. While I’ve continued to struggle with my depression through pregnancy, my anxiety has been significantly lessened. I’m worried about it coming back with a vengeance when my hormones crash. I’ve got all kinds of contingency plans set with my health team and husband, which feels reassuring, but I’m hoping will prove unnecessary.

    • Caitlin_DD

      Oh goodness, congratulations and hugs. My parents were actually in a crash on the way to the hospital when I was about to be born. As for depression, I know in some ways it’s harder to foresee when you might be depressed, but being aware of it also makes it much easier (especially with a support team) to step back and say “Okay, this is the depression talking/thinking. I’m going to be fine.” In any case, I wish you well in this turning point in your life!

  • Kayjayoh

    Looks like a late start day today?

    • Sarah E

      No posts today for Presidents’ Day!

      • Kayjayoh

        I’d forgotten because, well, Presidents’ Day? (not a real thing, IMHO.) I will roll my eyes elaborately at that concept.

        However, I totally get and respect “family in town” as a legit reason to be off. :) The upside (for values of upside) is that I have a metric ton of stuff that needs doing at work, so no new APW = less internet that I need to look at = mildly more productive.

        • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

          Oddly quiet, right?

        • Jess

          I haven’t thought about Presidents’ Day in years. I didn’t really know that was still a thing.

        • MerlyBird

          Unfortunately I just keep looking for other ways to entertain/distract myself… and it’s all much less fun that APW.

  • aldeka

    A big rejection on Friday. Another onsite interview today, that resulted in a rejection email just now. Reasons given were either vague or completely nonsensical. (I was actually told “we want someone more full-stack”–when actually I *am* a full-stack web dev, but throughout the entire process they said the job was more frontend/UX so I mainly talked about my experience in the stuff they said they wanted… wtf.)

    I keep getting excited about jobs and getting my heart broken when they don’t hire me.

    I have one phone interview on the schedule, with an employer who’s known for being extremely capricious when it comes to hiring. Then nothing.

    I feel basically completely hopeless. The next HR/recruiter person who complains about hiring being hard in the bay area tech sector can kiss my ass.

    11 months unemployed. Wheee!

    • Jess

      Tech jobs, man. You can never be what they want, even when you’re exactly what they want. You’ll find something.