Thursday’s TPS Report: Falling Stones Tee

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Falling Stones TeeI don’t know if this is a new thing from DvF — a cotton t-shirt emblazoned with one of her vintage prints — but I really like the idea of it.  Yes, I kind of wish it were silk or even rayon, but I’ll take cotton.  It’s washable, breathable, and will be much easier to take care of than something that needs dry cleaning or air drying. And, while $75 seems steep for a t-shirt, there are a lot of t-shirts in that price range that are far less appropriate to be worn to work.  The shirt is available for preorder from, sizes P-L still available.  Falling Stones Tee

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected]



  1. Uh, no.

  2. I like it.

    I have a gifting t/j. A colleague/friend is leaving our office and I would like to get her something as a parting gift. I am thinking around $50, though that’s flexible depending on item – so something less expensive could work, or something a bit more. But I am stumped! I don’t want to get something traditionally generic like stationary or a frame, and I don’t want to just do a gift card as that seems a bit impersonal for the situation. Any ideas? What are some of your favorite gifts to receive?

    • Is the friend a reader? If so, what about a copy of one of your favorite books with a note about why you think she would enjoy it?

      • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

        I like this idea a lot!

      • I really like this idea. Seems fitting for someone you consider a colleague and friend :)

        • I really like this idea actually – I once got some books from a friend at my old job when I was leaving, and it was really sweet and thoughtful now that I think about it.
          My only concern: would it be weird if she gave me a book as a gift for my birthday this year?? For some reason, I always feel odd giving someone the same type of gift they just gave me…. Am I just overthinking this? Or maybe I can do a book and something else?

          • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

            Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t mind that type of (effective) gift exchange at all. I’d feel like we belonged to a cozy little club of friendly readers.

          • I think you are overthinking a little. While its nice to be creative in gift giving and not just always reciprocate what the last person did, the point of giving a gift is to give something the recipient will enjoy. If you both like books and know her taste, by all means give books!

          • hellskitchen :

            What about a Kindle? It’s $69 so a bit more than $50 but it’s a reading gift yet not a book

      • To add to this– put the book on a kindle! I would have NEVER bought one for myself, but now that I have it I LOVVVVVVVVVVVVE it… and syncing w/ it is pretty amazing too for when I’m too tired to read or driving.

    • From two jobs I rec’d jewelry as a going-away present, and I have to say I do think fondly of my former colleagues whenever I wear it. From one company I got a watch, and from another a pair of earrings that they knew I’d like.

      If your friend is (or could be) a pen person, a nice pen might be appreciated. Or maybe something like a monogrammed leather padfolio — something she could use regularly.

    • What about a pretty scarf or piece of relatively innocuous jewelry, like a silver link bracelet or something like that?

    • Similar to Tuesday, former colleagues got me a simple Tiffany necklace (not sure how much it cost), which I thought was really sweet, and I do think of them whenever I wear it.

      What about a fun decorative item that she can use at her next job? Like, a fun post-it note dispenser or a pretty pen or paperclip holder?

    • Kate Spade has some cute business card holders, if that would be appropriate for her new role.

  3. Almost There :

    I think I would like it much better if it were styled differently, maybe tucked into a black pencil where the “stones” would stop “falling” just above the waistline.

  4. Knee Surgery? :

    My mom (61) is having a total knee replacement in a few weeks. I have to provide her home care after the hospital for a few weeks. Does anyone who has gone through this personally or with a family member have any advice – on home care, hospital necessities, anything else? Thanks.

    • Not knee surgery, but my dad’s had both his hips replaced, twice. One thing that was helpful was a seat that raised the toilet seat up (it sits on the regular seat) and makes it not such a long way down to sit and then stand from – my guess is that this would be useful for a knee as well. Cushions that prop up favorite seats are also helpful in this way.

      The biggest thing for my dad was to get him up and walking around asap – per his doctor’s instructions. He was pretty good about it, but for other family members we’ve resorted to calling them from other sides of the house to get them to walk over, etc. It sounds sneaky, but it helped. My dad was also adamant about not feeling or being treated “like an invalid”. So try not to hover like she’s going to fall down when she starts to feel more comfortable walking – it stressed my dad out.

    • A shower seat is also really helpful. I would think of activities you all can do that are low impact (Board games, movies, etc). That way you can interact but not hover.

    • My aunt had it done, and before she had it done she had her bathroom redone to remove the bathtub and put in a large walk in shower with a bench (planning for the long term so that it could be wheelchair accessible if the time came for her or husband). Might be more than you can do, but at a minimum look into how much you can make showering/bathing easier when she’s not totally steady on her feet – does she have a shower stall (vs tub she has to step into), a bench or stool she can sit on in the shower and a hand shower to use while showering?

      Also, is she going from the hospital to a rehab facility or straight from hospital to home? My father went to a nursing home/rehab facility for a week after his hip replacement, and my mother wishes she would have paid out of pocket for another week the insurance wouldn’t cover – he is a big guy and she had trouble helping him stand, etc.

      • Knee Surgery? :

        The hand shower is a great idea, thanks. I am afraid I will have the same problem, as my mom is significantly overweight (putting it mildly). I thought she would go to rehab but has not mentioned it, so I guess not.

        • Can you go to a doctors appointment with her and ask them about what you’ll need to do for the rehab period, how mobile she will be at first and whether there is a facility she can go to at first? Its possible they suggested it to her but she decided she’d “rather be at home” – but that’s not really fair to you if you are going to be the one providing care to her. I’d bring it up – even if it seems expensive to her, it might be worth comparing to the cost of lost wages for you (assuming you take unpaid FMLA time to care for her). My sister works at a nursing home/retirement community and they have a wing that is 90% used for care for people that are recovering from surgery and don’t need to be hospitalized anymore but still need help with daily tasks or need specialized equipment to help them (like accessible showers, toilets, etc)

          • Almost There :

            I am halfway across the country from her so unfortunately that’s not an option. I don’t know how to gently suggest an alternative to my brother and I taking turns doing in-home care, based on the complicating factor here. Also, she scheduled it 7 days before Christmas, so she would be getting out of the hospital just before (which I can’t help but see as a way to manipulate my brother and I spending Christmas at her house, based on past behaviors) so I’m sure it’ll be extra hard to talk her into going straight to rehab over Christmas.

          • Can you ask if her doctor could setup a conference call with you, her and your brother? Or just you and the brother? If you are not trained as nurses, you need to know what you are committing to. At a minimum, you need to have an understanding of how steady she will be on her feet before they discharge her from the hospital. Its also possible that they WON’T discharge her from the hospital directly home until she reaches a minimum level of independence, in which case the rehab center would be a cheaper option rather than an extended hospital stay. Has she said how long the doctor expects she’ll be in the hospital after surgery?

            Do you have any family in the medical field, or are any of her friends nurses or physical therapists? We use my aunt as a go between for all difficult medical conversations. Its hard having these kind of conversations with a parent, but if you are worried about being able to care for her, you need to let her know. You also need to know how often she will be expected to go back to the hospital or therapy center for physical therapy, and think about how you will get her in and out of the car – are there stairs she’ll have to negotiate? A potentially icy driveway? etc

          • I second the suggestion of setting up a conference call with you, your brother, and the doctor.

          • Almost There :

            Do you have any idea of questions we need to ask? I think this is a great idea, just don’t know exactly what we should get out of it.

          • Meg Murry :

            I wrote a really long response and my computer ate it. Basically, start with asking if he recommends a rehab facility or if you and your brother (who are not physical therapists or trained nurses) can handle it. Google knee replacement and look at recovery times, then ask the doctor if they seem applicable to her. Ask what kind of adaptive equiment he would recommend.

            Mainly, you need to know what kind of shape she’s going to be in when she comes home and how much your help is going to be on the skilled nursing/physical therapy side/helping lift her into a standing position vs making chicken soup/grocery shopping/keeping her entertained.

      • If she has a tub/shower combo, this might help, just add a handheld shower head with a long hose. My MIL had hip surgery and still uses this to bathe. It fits over the edge of the tub so she can sit and slide over rather than having to climb in. Also, the raised toilet seat helps.

      • Double Boo :

        I had foot surgery once and found getting one of those hand-held shower heads was invaluable. You can probably get a plastic one that goes over the faucet pretty inexpensively. Also, a small bag that is sling or backpack style could be good to have around, too. I was on crutches and often needed something to help me carry things from one room to another. Having something I could whip around on my back made things so much easier. You don’t realize how many things you carry around in your hands (tv remote, silverware, etc.) until you don’t have your hands free (even with a cane, she’ll probably prefer to have the other hand free for balance).

        • Double Boo :

          One other piece of advice: Bring a garbage bag with you in your car. If you put that on the seat, it will be easier to shift her when it comes time to get her out of the car. My mom would do this with my grandmother and it made things so much easier.

    • One friend who had knee replacement surgery ended up with a walker during her recovery. She rigged a tray across the front of her walker so she could carry stuff (even spillable stuff if she were careful). The bags that hang on walkers are good, but only for things that don’t need to sit flat.

      Knee surgery had quite a long recovery time (~2 months?) for another friend who was in her 30s. I’m not sure if there were complicating factors for her, but I was really surprised at how long she had crutches, couldn’t do stairs, etc.

      • Even better – get one of those small plastic “shower baskets” from bed bath beyond and use zip ties to rig it to the front of the walker. It’s deep enough to carry a bit more and still has a flat bottom so you can put in a glass of juice, etc.

      • Another old people lesson learned from my grandma… this kind of walker is WAY better then the traditional sort & it has a little basket/seat area:

        She got hers from Costco I think… also covered by insurance.

    • Just as a note too– his insurance might cover some or all of the items below. My grandma just got one of those beds that automatically adjust up electronically for free from them… delivered to her house… just for asking.

  5. Diane, Wilma called. She wants her shirt back.

    • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

      Oh dear. That’s somebody who didn’t survive the automatic-weapons-driven shootout in the final scenes of “Skyfall.”

      • umm its only been out for two weeks, its a little early to be talking about the ending

        • ummm it’s been out for 2 weeks… that pretty much makes it fair game

        • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

          Get a grip. It’s not a real spoiler. I didn’t say who was wielding the weapon or who was shot.

          It’s a fricking Bond movie. Please don’t tell me you’re shocked there are shootouts. OK, so somebody has an automatic weapon, which has been pretty common to many of the Bond movies.

          • Lady Enginerd :

            What?! They don’t get married after many twists and turns in their quirky and endearing relationship?

            Oh. Bond, not Nora Ephron. Not a spoiler as we go to bond flicks FOR the expected awesome shoot outs.

          • like!

        • Jeez everyone is so testy. That includes all three of these above posts! I wish we would just ignore posts we don’t like instead of harping on it and changing the whole tone of the site.

          • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

            While I respect your opinion, I respectfully disagree.

            I like that people have different voices. Not everybody is testy, and not everybody is testy all the time.

            One of the reasons why I like this community is that there are distinct voices– some wisecracking, others, very nurturing, and others, like an electric shock. I would be bored to death if this turned into a homogenous hugfest where every comment, however good, bad, smart, or stupid were automatically affirmed. It’d be too much of an echo-chamber to me.

  6. BS Detector Ringing Loudly :

    At work today, I have received my emai marching orders to do my employee satisfaction survey. This survey is done by a big, well-known consulting firm.

    I work in a large dept in a big silo of a big company, so it would not be clear from my responses who I was except for this one thing:

    The survey requires that I input the unique number I received with my email marching orders. Allegedly, this is so they don’t get 1 disgruntled person answering the survey 20,000 times.

    The survey of course has the assurance of confidentiality and the assurance that only aggregated data will be used in the feedback.

    Somebody who works in consulting who’s been on the opposite end of these – cam you confirm that this is confidentiality thing is total and utter BS or is it for real?

    • BS Detector Ringing Loudly :

      ugh, clearly my BS detector is so loud I can’t see or hear my own typos. posting fail. apologies!

    • It should be for real. They want to track response rate and to stop duplicate entries. The #s are auto-generated and are not attached to your email address in the survey system.

    • What a coincedence! The manageing partner attended a seminar for manageing partner’s who work at other law firms and came back with what must be the same satisfaction survey. He aksed each of us to FILL it out and get it back to him by DECEMBER 1, which is SATURDAY!!!! I SERIUSLY do NOT think he is doeing any work on it over the weekend, but HE set the deadline, NOT us.

      The survey has all of these dumb question’s which do NOT even apply to our firm. We do NOT have an excercise facility, so the 3 question’s about it I CANNOT even answer. Also, there is a question about the “firm chef”. We do NOT have one, so why is he akseing us to rate the quality of the chef, and the menu selection? FOOEY! Now I think we should have one, but we do NOT even have a full KITCHEN! It realy does NOT make any sense.

      Finaly, the survey say’s we should rate the quality of our “concierge service”. What on earth is that? I know there is a concierge in a hotel that get’s you ticket’s and special food’s and tell’s you where to go to eat, but NOT at our law firm. I do alot of this MYSELF. The manageing partner makes ME go out to CRUMBS when he want’s to get the best cookie’s and muffin’s and I am the one that sugested the place for our holiday party. I guess I am the concerge, so I will rate me #1. Yay!

    • our company does the same thing. We use a big consulting firm with six letters that starts with M. This firm actually puts the unique code in the link to the survey so you have to click the link. Our company has told us that the link groups us by business unit and for questions related to managers, only managers that have 3 or more direct reports will get aggregated feedback (the rest don’t get anything at the granular level).

      I talk the confidentiality with a grain of salt. If you said something truly awful, like you are planning violent action against your company, I imagine they could track you down. But since I don’t lie on those surveys, and I share (very) constructive criticism, I don’t mind if someone ends up finding out it was me. I ranked my boss a 2/10 for communication and like 3/10 for leadership last year. I also said I’d be very likely to leave the company in the next 12 months. I’m one of 3 direct reports. I haven’t been fired and in fact, she’s come a long way.

      • I work for a company that runs this kind of program as a third party provider. We take anonymity very seriously and feedback from any unit with under 5 people will be grouped with another unit for analysis. Statistics are only ever given in aggregate and no single response can be tracked back by the client. We sometimes get a lot of pushback from clients to provide breakdowns of every unit and subdivision, however small, but the industry code of conduct takes priority so if anonymity is promised to the respondents we respect that first.

        Text responses can be a little more complex, depending on the design of the program. Any text responses are checked and anonymized if necessary before being used in our reporting, but we cannot do anything about distinctive phrasing or existing knowledge of who holds what opinions so despite our best efforts it is possible the author of one specific comment may be recognised if the program spec includes us providing a file of (anonymized) text responses.

        We can identify individual respondents (to ensure each person only completes the survey once, to send reminders, to address technical problems with individual links, etc.) but this information remains in our systems and is not revealed to the client.

        In short, it depends entirely on the ethics and also the rigor of the people running the program. But feedback is only useful if it is honest!

  7. To Esquared :

    I’m late to your post yesterday about good bridesmaid gifts. I have received two I liked or appreciated. The first was when the bride paid for the dresses (I’ve actually had two brides do this). In both cases, I wasn’t crazy about the dresses, but I certainly appreciated not having to buy dresses I wouldn’t wear again—even if I could shorten them :). The second was a pair of studs from Tiffany (the twist knot earrings—they’re expensive, but there were only two bridesmaids and we really were exceptional women :) ).


    • I got the mini blue leather Tiffany jewelry case from a bride when I was a bridesmaid. She monogrammed them with our initials and I use mine every time I travel. That’s a good idea too!

    • For one wedding I was in, the bride paid for our manis and pedis as a gift. We all went and had them done together, drank champagne and had a really fun time! I appreciated not having another thing to pay for.

    • Personally, I live by this:
      If you can afford a wedding, then you can afford to buy bridesmaid dresses.

      —waits for fallout—

      • Gail the Goldfish :

        Agreed. I’ve only been in two weddings. One the bride told me to wear whatever I wanted, so obviously she didn’t pay for it. The other, the bride paid. I assumed if you were dictating what I wear, you’ll be paying for it, and it was a strange realization to me that this is not usually the way it works.

        • Meg Murry :

          I only had 2 bridesmaids in my wedding, my sister and my best friend, and the only wedding I’ve ever been in was my best friend’s. My parents paid for her dress, as they were paying for my sister’s dress and we were in our senior year of college (and I let them chose the dress – I just said I wanted purple and let them go shopping, it was around $150 I think?). When I was in her wedding, her mother paid for my dress, because it was just 2 bridesmaids – me and her sister. I am also of the opinion that you don’t “honor” someone by asking them to be in your wedding and then demand they spend a ton of money on that “honor”, and I was shocked when I read stories of bridezillas making really expensive demands of their gaggle of bridesmaids.

          • It is really nice to read a comment like this. It is an honor to participate in a special moment of someone’s life,and it also an honor to have friends who *want* to be in your wedding.

            Since when does friendship need to cost hundreds or thousands of dollars?

        • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

          Ditto. I let my bridesmaids wear what they wanted. Everybody chose something that was flattering to them, and they looked great.

          Having happy bridesmaids meant a lot to me, since they are my good friends and I was (and am) grateful for their presence and emotional support that day.

      • agreed! I would never have my bridesmaid wear a dress that I picked out but didn’t pay for. It is so tacky and I was also horrified to realize this is more normal than paying for the dresses

      • TO Lawyer :

        Can someone please tell my friends this? Everyone is getting married and I love them but I’m paying out of the nose for outfits and jewelry that I will likely never wear again. (plus really expensive hair and makeup artists apparently)

        • Don’t put it past me. I’d tell ’em… :) Good luck.

          BTW, I heard of a lovely idea. Take each of your bridesmaids shopping for a nice cocktail dress (or any dress) that coordinates with the wedding colors. Hopefully she can actually wear it again, and it serves as a great gift.

          For groomsmen? They wear blue blazers. Their gifts? A classic, beautiful blue blazer.

    • Thanks! I love how many responses I got!
      Just ftr, I’m a pretty low key person. No makeup or hair or nails or whatever requirements. I told my friends the color range which was white–coral, they could pick ANY dress they wanted as long as it marginally fit in that color scheme & was knee-ish length. I made a pinetrest board or ones I saw & liked, in a variety of prices & sizes, but they could get their own.
      I want my girls to like me after this is all over!
      My budget is about $100 for the gifts. These girls are my bestest friends in the world and I know that even though I’m not going bridezilla on them, they are paying for a flight over to my side of the country & also taking precious lawyer vacation time for me. :)

      I also don’t think it’s that cool to pay for something that they are doing for the wedding like day of makeup, etc. I might do that in addition, but I want the gift to truly be a gift.

      PS I loved the birchbox idea and really all of them!

      • By that I mean $100 each– I like the tiffany’s idea too & I’ve actually been eyeing those earrings for ages, but I think it might be a bit more than that. I’ve got 8 bms… 1 hs, 1 college, one sister in law & the rest from a tight knit group from law school. 2x as many as there are groomsmen, and basically all the girls invited under the age of 30. :p But, I can’t wait to just hang out with them before all the madness and drink some champagne.
        I’ve also considered longchamp totes & coach bags… but at least 2 of them already have each… so… hard to come up with stuff.

  8. NYC Meetup Tonight! :

    With special guest NOLA :-) Tonight at Mamouns (MacDougal b/w W 3rd and Bleecker) at 7:30 for a quick falafel, then we plan to head over to Vyne (W 3rd b/w Thompson and Sullivan) around 8:00 or 8:15 (depending on how long falafel takes) for drinks.

    I’ll be the blond wearing The Skirt in dark grey with black riding boots and a teal cardigan. If you’re coming, you can email me at corporetteclothesswap at gmail and I’ll send you my cell # in case you can’t find us.

    -Gail the Goldfish

  9. This isn’t my favorite thing in the world, but I think it would look much less stark styled under a blazer where the vast blank white space was disguised. So you could see the pattern at the top but not the white t-shirt part at the bottom. But overall, I feel like it was a bit of a miss. Plus I wish it nipped in a bit more at the waist or just generally fitted a bit less like a t-shirt I would have gotten at a swim meet as a kid.

    • It would be more fitted if it had actual inset sleeves, as opposed to cheaping out and doing the dolman/kimono/T shaped shirt where it’s all one piece.

    • phillygirlruns :

      i actually really like it, but not as a cotton t-shirt – agreed with kat that this would be much better in silk or a fabric with a similar drape and feel. the wedge shape is one of my favorites for t-shirts, even if it is cheaping out on the construction.

  10. NYC Meetup Tonight :

    (Apologies if this shows up twice, I tried to post it and it seems to have disappeared)

    With special guest NOLA:-) Tonight at Mamouns (MacDougal b/w W 3rd and Bleecker) at 7:30 for a quick falafel, then we plan to head over to Vyne (W 3rd b/w Thompson and Sullivan) around 8:00 or 8:15 (depending on how long falafel takes) for drinks.

    I’ll be the blond wearing The Skirt in dark grey with black riding boots and a teal cardigan. If you’re coming, you can email me at c o r p o r e t t e clothesswap at gmail dot com (without the spaces, obviously, just realized that’s probably what’s been getting me stuck in moderation) and I’ll send you my cell # in case you can’t find us.

    • I don’t even know the name of the color I’m wearing today but I’m wearing a shiny brownish slate colored headscarf. Thick frames, almost-ankle length charcoal wool coat and ratty blue Jansport (tcfkag, I know, I haven’t purchased a grownup backpack yet, for shame).

      • I don’t know why I bother if my vicarious shopping goes to waste. ;-)

        • Almost There :

          Hey, I just checked back on your tumblr and saw you responded to my Broadway dress request – thanks so much! Those are some great options.

          • Its backfiring, because now *I* want that embroidered dress, which is NOT the point of vicarious shopping for others. :-)

          • Almost There :

            I really like that one, but looking at it led me to this:


            which I think is pretty much the holy grail. But of course, they only have it in 4-8 and I need a 10. Please tell me their dresses run large?

          • I’ve only ordered from Asos Curve (the plus line), but it ran REALLY big. One size down would have been fine for me.

    • NYC meetup reminder tomorrow night :

      I’m so excited to meet everyone! And thanks to Gail the Goldfish for organizing the meetup. This is really cool. I will probably change after a day of meetings. I’m guessing I’ll be wearing a long navy patterned Free People cardigan, jeans, and knee high black boots.

    • I’m going to make it to drinks! I’ll shoot for 8:15 to 8:30 to allow enough time for you ladies to finish the falafel. I’m wearing a pink dress with grey tights and grey boots. I’ll email the above email to exchange phone numbers so I don’t miss you all.

      See you tonight!

  11. Frequent poster, anon for this. Wanted the hive’s opinion on a thought related to job interviews. When interviewing for a position, after sending a thank you, how much follow up do you do? Do you call? Just wait to hear back?

    • Check AskAManager — this is her bailiwick.

      I usually ask for their timeline before the interview ends, and use that as a guideline. If they say they will be making decisions in two weeks, I send an email thank-you the day of the interview, and then, if I don’t hear from them, I send a follow-up / touching base note at a day or two past two weeks.

    • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

      What amount of time has elapsed between: (1) your interview and (2) your sending the thank-yous?

      If very little, like a few days, or 1 week, I’d just wait. It doesn’t pay to badger your interviewers or HR after so little time.

      • Susan–No, it’s been more time since both. I interviewed on a Friday, send the thank you the following Monday morning, and a follow up email a few weeks later. I had some connections at the firm that told me the hiring attorney is quite busy, and was quite slow in their hiring experiences as well.

        Tuesday–thanks for the reminder on that site! I’ll see what she has to say.

  12. Myrtle Beach :

    I am planning a family reunion this summer with 24 people, and we have decided to rent a big house in Myrtle Beach. None of us are familiar with the area.

    For those who know the area well, could you please click these google maps and tell me what you think about the location? We are deciding between these two properties. It seems like there is not much that is walking distance, but we will have rental cars so I am not too concerned about that. But, if this area is totally dead with absolutely nothing to do, I would like to know that. We are somewhat limited with housing options because of the size of our group. Thanks!

    • Myrtle Beach :

      Second place we are considering:

    • I vacation a lot in Myrtle Beach. Basically you have to have a car to drive to places, regardless of where you are staying. What are you looking for? Broadway at the Beach is the big nightclub area – but it’s in the middle of the city (not on the ocean). Shopping – there’s two outlet centers on either side of Myrtle (one in southeast-ish area, one in north). I would say the one in N Myrtle Beach is better than in Surfside.

      • Myrtle Beach :

        Thanks ADL for responding! We are looking to hang out at the pool, beach, do lots of cooking, and just generally hang out. There will be lots of babies in this group so there won’t be any night clubbing. It would be nice to be close to restaurants, but it sounds like we need a car anyways so we will be driving to those restaurants, I presume. Why do you say N Myrtle Beach is the better location than Surfside? Better beach?

  13. La Redoute report:
    Received a coat, 2 knit skirts, and a sequinned mini today. H&M quality but the prices were pretty good and I needed a couple of casual skirts that I could throw on with a slouchy sweater and boots. I ordered my normal UK size in skirts despite the sizing chart showing me wearing 3 sizes larger and I’m glad I did. I went up a size on the coat and it’s just too boxy and shapeless so it’s going back.

    The sequin skirt is weirdly baggy at the hip / tummy area but I plan on wearing it was a longer, slub sweater so it should be fine. It’s definitely fun.

    Shipping was a bit slow (9 days) but it might be a Royal Mail issue rather than something with the company.

    Definitely worth a look, especially when the sales are quite good.

  14. Poll for the Hive:
    Holiday decorations in the office (non-religious in nature and unscented – think fake wreaths and snowmen)? Inappropriate, festive, or weird?

    Discuss amongst yourselves. :)

    • Cute as long as they aren’t over the top. Put out a bowl of candy canes and everyone will be thrilled.

      Cavaet: I’m really excited about making a countdown chain til Christmas and made hand turkeys for Tgiving.

    • Certainly not inappropriate. The wreaths (if nicely done) sound festive; the snowmen sound like they could be cheesy.

    • I think a moderate amount of decorations, perhaps more on the kitschy OR modern side are fun. Last year I put a little glitter tree on my desk and had some glittery snowflakes that I stuck on the side of my cabinet. I was worried about being the young female surrounded by men with no decorations but they all seemed to enjoy it. A Know Your Office moment though.

    • It’s all good as long as it’s unscented. Granted, some people looooooooooooooooooooove them some scented candles and potpourri during this time; I try my best to stay THE H3LL AWAY from their office.

    • Everywhere I have worked this has been more of support staff thing than a professional staff thing. I am always fighting becoming the office social director by default, so I save the decorations for home.

      That said, if it makes you happy and it’s not something so involved that it signals you don’t have enough work to keep you busy, I’d say go for it.

    • Anne Shirley :

      I usually bring a small poinsettia in for my desk. Balances my deep love of Christmas with not wanting to seem crazy.

      • I like this. Also, I have a dog that can be a rascal, and poinsettia are apparently deadly. So none for us at home!

      • eastbaybanker :

        A couple years ago I had a mini poinsettia on my desk and it made me so happy! It was from Whole Foods and in a darling shiny red pot the size of a Christman ornament.

        I think that’s the most decorating I’ve ever done. Ackowledging holidays of any kind is more of a support staff thing in my office, too.

    • phillygirlruns :

      i like decorations in general and might bring in tinsel to decorate my 5′ palm tree. i’d put on lights but it’s not sturdy enough to support them.

      our receptionist just decked the [email protected]%* out of the desk up front, with tinsel, lights, and a cluster of miniature decorations. i am actually kind of surprised that the office managing partner is letting this fly, because it looks a little unprofessional.

    • I found a tutorial for a wreath of pearls that I’ve been tempted to do on a small scale for my cube but I don’t know if I’ll get to it. Someone decked out the front area and I agree it looks a little unprofessional and too overtly Christmasy.

      • I think this wreath looks awesome, but I know I’d just end up with a gluey mess:

    • I have a Charlie Brown Christmas tree (sad little tree with one ornament and a little blue blanket wrapped around the base) that I put on top of the tall file cabinet in the hall outside my office. People seem to enjoy it.

      It’s funny, I work for a US government agency although in a leased building, and they totally decorate the lobby for Christmas. Secular things, like wreaths and giant gift boxes, but definitely Christmas. I was a bit surprised because my particular part of this agency definitely has a large non-Christian contingent. But it’s pretty and sparkly and I guess no one has ever complained.

      • Or no one ever felt comfortable complaining.

        • You must be fun to be around.

          • Easy for a person in the majority to say. Inclusiveness is never a concern for a person who isn’t being excluded. How lucky that you don’t feel excluded. This time of year, this whole country turns into Christmas. Too bad for those of us who don’t celebrate it. Only in December do I feel like an unrepresented, excluded, rejected “other” in my own country.

          • This.

          • I’m not actually an American citizen. I just live in America. As such I don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving or July 4th. I could feel excluded and whiny but instead I accept that OTHER PEOPLE celebrating something that gives them joy DOESN’T HURT ME.

            I expect the US govt to remain religiously neutral and public fora to remain free of religious symbolism so happy holidays over Merry Christmas is totally correct… but resenting gift boxes? Bitter and nasty. Must everyone else pretend that the holiday doesn’t exist?

            Oh, I’m actually a racial minority but since the “exclusion” comes more than once a year and manifests in overt racism, veiled racism and institutional racism ranging from unwanted police stops to endemic employment, financial and health discrimination, I don’t have much time to start lecturing about some d*mn holiday wreaths. But could you play the world’s smallest violin for me a bit louder? I can’t quite hear it.

          • I agree with anon. I am not a fan of “holiday” decorations, and while a wreath or a tree may be secular to you, they scream “Christian” to me. Gift boxes scream “Christian/Jewish.” I am not a big fan of seasonal decorations in any case, and you can call me a grinch and a person who is not fun to be around, but you know what? If I were your coworker, it would probably be in your interest not to decorate your office in a way that deeply irks me for a prolonged period (such as Thanksgiving through at least New Year’s). Same if I am interviewing, or am your supervisor, or am your client, etc.

        • karenpadi :

          x1000. I am not celebrating Christmas this year and am already dreading being told by strangers “Please say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me” when I wish them a “Happy Holidays”.

          • Almost There :

            People actually say that to you??! I.cant.even. Why do they think they get to control how you wish them a merry/happy/effing miserable whatever-it-is-they-celebrate? Do you just deadpan “I don’t celebrate Christmas” when they say that?

          • karenpadi :

            Yes, they do say that. Not often but it happens a few times every year–enough to be annoying. Mostly they are The-War-on-Christmas-types. I just smile and repeat “Happy Holidays”. I find that saying anything more just opens up a can of religious worms.

        • Mouse in DC :

          Yep. And you can’t escape the Christmas music. Some of which I don’t mind, but it’s pervasive.

    • transition :

      As someone who is instantly nauseated by the smell of mint, thank you so so much for considering keeping it unscented. I do keep perfume and some vick’s vaporub at my desk when I work in a shared space (to put under my nose to try to mask other’s mint scents) but the holiday season makes this super tough since so many things are either candy cane scented or includes notes of peppermint with their wintery seasonal scents.

      As for the rest, I think it’s a know your office thing!

    • I think they are fine, though I normally don’t do anything myself. In fact I wouldn’t even be offended if people put up religious decorations (whether Christian, Jewish or whatever else).

      And then there are the over-the-top decorators, of whom Mr. Nonny is one. He took his Rubbermaid container (yes, one of the big ones) of Christmas animals to work today. They all sing/play Christmas music/clap their hands, whatever. Apparently enthusiastic clients of his have been known to make them all play at once. I shudder.

    • lucy stone :

      I work for the government and we love Christmas decorations in our building! Our maintenance guy just put a tree up with big bright balls and colored lights in the lobby. In our suite we put out a few tiny (8″) trees and a few fake pine decorations. I am thinking about a little tabletop tree in my office but I’m not sure I’ll get motivated enough to do it.

  15. Lawyer3tt3s: Any advice for an attorney doing her first depositions? I will be defending and asking rebuttal questions. Opposing counsel is a notable [glassbowl], so I fully expect some sort of shenanigans.

    • Former MidLevel :

      1) Know the relevant FREs inside and out, so you can handle objections easily.

      2) If you’re using exhibits, have at least three copies of each and have them super-organized. I preferred manila folders in boxes myself, but ask around your firms for tips.

      3) Don’t let the jerk intimidate you. You are awesome and you know what you are doing. If he underestimates you, that’s his problem.

      Also, if you have time, NITA has a great basic book on deps.

      • Anon in sf :

        All good tips. I was once in a similar situation as a young associate. I was objecting appropriately, but the other attorney was a jerk and quite a bit older, and he kept arguing the objections, trying to tell me I was an idiot. After he made yet another attempt to belittle my objection, I looked him straight in the eye, and said “fortunately for all of us, you are not the ‘decider’ on objections. I’d suggest you move on to your next question.”

        It really shut him up!

        Also, if you know opp. counsel is really abusive, consider video taping the depo if you are not already doing so. It tends to have a deterrent effect and keep people in line.

      • I’ll co-sign these. You need to know when you should object and when you should object AND instruct the witness not to answer the question. As for rebuttle questions, unless you think the witness will be unavailable for trial you should limit it. I don’t ask my clients anything except to clarify a previous answer that I know was unclear, such as he said a sound was “muted” when I know he meant it was audible but muffled, or if I want to show my opposing counsel I can undercut his entire case by asking a single question. You didn’t ask about witness prep, so I won’t go into that.

        • Can I ask why you want to limit it? The trial I did was for a similar, fact-intensive case and the depos from that had a lot of rebuttal, often almost as much as the direct questioning, but I wasn’t involved at that stage of the case.

          I am prepping the witnesses too, so any advice you have on that front would also be appreciated. I did a lot of prep for trial – do you think there’s a difference?

          • There is a huge difference between witness prep for trial and witness prep for depositions. This is because the testimony itself serves two entirely different purposes. The depositions are taking place at the request of your opposing counsel to provide him discovery. They should not be used as your opportunity to lay out your side of the case for the court. That comes at trial. If you need your witnesses on the record at the summary judgment stage you do it with declarations.

          • My favorite witness prep tip is to ask your witness if they know what time it is. They will probably look at their watch and then tell you the time. Then you remind them that this was a yes or no question and they just elaborated when they didn’t need to. Teaches the witness to pay attention to the question being asked and to only answer that question.

    • Vintage Lawyer :

      If you have any unusual words or names in your questions, provide a list to the court reporter so the transcript will be correct. Remember that silences don’t appear on the transcript, so don’t be afraid to take your time and gather your thoughts.

    • Are these government witnesses? I’m asking because it is rare that you would ask many rebuttle questions of your own client.

    • I’ve witnessed a number of depositions, and I’ve heard that it’s good to get an objection in within the first few minutes to sort of break the ice and make you feel more comfortable objecting. To that effect, remember to object if there is a loaded or otherwise improper question (for example, not using the proper company name – like using the parent company name in the question when it should really be a subsidiary’s name).

    • Best advice that I ever received re defending is that you should be more exhausted from defending a deposition than from taking one. Force yourself to pay attention to every question and re-read the rules in your jurisdiction so that you can handle objections well.

      If you get into it with opposing counsel, always always always take the high road and remember that you’re on the record.

    • As an older wiser, I think we should all be careful about talking about opposing counsel names under our usual names. If you are not the one on special assignement to DOJ than I apologize.

  16. Looks like something my mom would wear.

  17. I love me some DVF, but I am not about this.

  18. Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

    Oh no, where to begin:

    Those who read the Daily Mail UK will know this is an old story, but the DT is slow on these viral type things.

    I don’t think the kids of the complaining father are exactly covering themselves in glory, but why should they be high flying achievers just so he can brag to other parents? That seems to be his chief cause of p!ssiness. His “it’s for the grandchildren” seems like a convenient front to me for his wounded amour-propre. Children are not prize racehorses in a middle-class dinner partygame of one-upsmanship. They’re people who grow up to have lives of their own. They didn’t ask to be born.

    • eh I am kinda pro dad on this one. plus it was a private email. And I wish people would consider their children more often before just having them.

    • I’m also with dad on this one. sounds like they are not just average people with jobs that he wishes were astronauts or superstars, but that they get married lots and don’t really think their lives through (obviously huge inference on my part from reading this one email). Maybe they are super great, but doesn’t sound like he has hugely unrealistic desires or expectations for his kids here.

      Also, the best parents in the world can end up with some really bad kids. Love my parents, they are the most caring, dedicated people that I’ve met. But although my younger brother and I are stable, educated, happy people with careers, my brother is, to be blunt, a junkie who cares about no one else. I have no idea how it happened.

      • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

        Here’s a followup where the dad is interviewed:

        His being very absent because of his Navy career, putting them in boarding school and not writing them much may have had something to do with their relationship with him. Also, his ” “I bought into the fashionable philosophy of not interfering; letting the children find themselves. When they were getting into trouble — at school, or later with their relationships — I would just bite my lip and tell myself, ‘Don’t butt in, it’s their lives'” says he has buyers’ remorse. Understandable, but I think he was a bit too harsh on his kids.

        Then, he pretty much admits that he does rate them, partly based on their income: “It upsets me that they occupy basic-wage positions instead of working at the upper periphery of their capability.” A person is more than just his or her job. I shudder to think how he views the people who do “basic-wage” positions. Does he think they’re lesser beings?

        And, there are three children, three first marriages, and three divorces. From the followup article, we get that 2 of the 3 children have remarried. It’s not that many marriages per child, so I don’t get the “many marriages” thing. And we only have the dad’s rather nasty comment about their life decisions being “copulation driven” rather than actual facts about what caused the crackup of the first marriages.

  19. TJ on behalf of my mom: She has been diagnosed with tendonitis in her foot, and her doctor gave her some sort of pad to put in her shoe that she says relieves the pain, but it also means that there’s not enough upward room inside of her shoes. She says wearing her running shoes are OK because the top is flexible enough to accommodate the extra padding, but she’d like something a little more professional to wear to work. (Going up a size or wide widths won’t work, as it’s only a vertical problem). Anyone have any thoughts on what kind of style might accommodate her?

    • Maybe a mary jane with an adjustable strap, like this:

    • Diana Barry :

      Danskos, they are big top to bottom IME.

    • I have some Arcopedico shoes that have a stretchy upper.

    • There’s a blog for foot pain/shoe questions.

      Also, some shoes are made with removable insoles; she could try removing the insole that comes with the shoe, to find the room she needs there.

    • I wear orthotics, which may be thinner than your mom’s inserts, but some brands specialize in having removeable soles so you can put your own in–Clarks, Munro, and Saucony (for sneakers) come to mind. Clarks are especially good for this and, I think, roomy in the toe area.

      • Agree with Batgirl. If it’s an orthotic and not just a little cushion, she should wear shoes with removable insoles and replace those with her orthotic.

        Her podiatrist should have advised her about this.

        If she has a comfort shoe store near her, like The Walking Company, they’ll be able to help her.

    • If it is only a little more room she needs, they make shoe stretchers that stretches the toe box vertically (top/bottom). Using these stretchers have saved most of my shoe collection from having to be replaced.

    • Research, Not Law :


    • Check out the Tsubo brand – a kind of funky style with plenty of toe room. They are very comfortable. I have the “Acrea” heels, and I wouldn’t, couldn’t & don’t wear them to court, but for office days, in my office, they are fine. And my feet still love me at the end of the day!

  20. darjeeling :

    I can’t wait for the dolman sleeve thing to go away. This reminds me of the stuff she did for Gap Kids this past summer that I thought was going to be so cute and it was just OK.

  21. Hey all – I need some info, especially from people who have done Peace Corps. We recently heard from one of our young choir members, who is doing Peace Corps in the mountains of Peru. We’d love to send her a care package for Christmas. Any ideas? We’ve been told things like sanitizer and wipes and magazines. We’re also trying to figure out how to transfer money to her. Thanks in advance!

    • So, you’re going to laugh, but my friend who went to Africa–she wanted drugstore-type stuff. Such as the things you mentioned, but very specifically, t*mpons, because they were incredibly hard to come by in rural Africa, and…it made a big difference in the quality of life. I kid you not.

    • Care packages are the best! You’re awesome to be doing this.

      In my very different corner of the world, it makes me very happy to receive yummy things, useful things, and things to share. Peanut butter is a staple in care packages, as are flavors not present in the local cuisine (e.g. any sort of Asian sauces/spices, tabasco sauce), but remember to wrap them carefully–I had teriyaki sauce spill in one care package, which made it immediately necessary to cook the brownies the sauce spilled on (oh well!). If she likes sweet things, twizzlers, starburst, and butterfingers are so particularly American flavors/textures, and I know all the PCVs here lurve them. Hot chocolate is also great, as is fancy tea.

      In fact, put everything you send in ziploc bags, because ziploc bags are super useful, and not globally available. Useful things include ziploc bags, batteries, lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, a scented candle maybe–I’m addicted to chapstick, so I always request that. If you know there’s some sort of beauty product she particularly likes, that would be nice to send because it will remind her of home, as well. Also, deodorant, contact solution, and nice razor blades can be pricey/hard to find in country. And you say she’s in the mountains–does that mean it gets cold in winter? (I know very little about Peruvian climates.) If so, winter sucks, and warm things are greatly appreciated.

      Things that remind her of home and can be shared with the community are always a hit–pictures/postcards from her hometown, American holiday-themed decorations, and, if she’s a teacher or works with youth, school supplies (stickers, markers, crayons–my students had never seen mechanical pencils before–and little toys to hand out).

      I know I’ve made a monster list, but if you find you don’t have enough space for everything you want to send, my recommendation is to leave out the useful things. You can get along without so much (I’m going on my tenth day without bathing–need to do that tomorrow, definitely), and it’s things that remind you of home that make the hard parts worth it. You feel connected with your own culture, and knowing you have a support network gives you the strength and the pride to try harder in a new, foreign society.

      One last thing: check to see what the best way to send packages is. In my country, flat-rate boxes from US Postal Service are the best choice, because you can stuff them full of heavy things (a medium box costs $60 to get to me), and USPS connects with the national postal service here, so they will get to the villages. UPS, FedEx, etc. do not ship beyond the capital, and are more liable to be caught for fishy “customs fees”.

      And she should check out this tumblr, because it is SO TRUE: whatshouldpcvscallme

      Oh, and the money–where I am, we do have in-country bank accounts, but if someone were to send me extra money, the best way would be to put it in my American bank account and then I can withdraw it from an atm in a nearby town.

      Hope this helps! She (and her closest PCV friends) will be over the moon to get your package.

      • Thanks so much for all of this! I can’t wait to pass it on to the guy who is organizing it.

      • Hey, I hope you’re checking back because I have another question. My friend has some friends in customs and they had recommended FedEx or UPS and you recommend USPS. From what I understand, she is pretty remote. Is that recommendation particular to where you are or is that pretty much universal?

        • Okay, I did some PCV-blog sleuthing. It looks like you should definitely use USPS, since UPS/FedEx/etc. gets stuck in Lima, like they do in my capital. However, DON’T use boxes–in Peru, they get nabbed for customs. Instead, you can send a series of padded mailers/large envelopes–write the address in red ink, address her as “Hermana [name]”, and seal it with a picture of Virgin Mary. That discourages tampering.

          I’ll post some links to the blogs where I found this info in replies. A few also have wish lists that are pretty representative.

  22. I had posted the other day about how to deal with an SO that can be a bully. We had a disagreement last night and I was better able to hold my own and didn’t just break down and start crying.

    Here is some history – for the past month, my parents have been talking about taking a trip to London during the last week of December. My parents generously agreed to buy my ticket for me. We would be staying with relatives in London, so no lodging charges. My parents have always been generous and even once paid for me and my huband’s tickets to Maui. My husband was not interested in going, so he would stay at home. We don’t have any kids.

    The trip was on and off for while and there were no dates finalized. Times before when my parents were close to booking the tickets, my mom said she would call or text to confirm the dates with me. Yesterday when I talked to my mom she said they were looking at being gone from the 26th – 30th of December. I was happy with these dates b/c it means I would be home for Christmas with my husband. I talked to my mom Wednesday afternoon and she said they were definitely looking at the 26 – 30th and would probably book the tickets that night.

    I got an email forward from my mom last night showing the tickets had been booked, but it was for the 23rd – 30th. I was surprised b/c it was different from the original dates and she hadn’t contacted me ahead of time. While I’m thankful I have the opportunity to go to London, I’m kind of bummed about being gone for a whole week and over Christmas.

    My husband was upset about hearing that and said I should call my mom right away. By the time I got the email it was around 10:30, but my mom had sent it at 10, so I thought she still might still be awake. My huband thought that I should be assertive with my mom and tell her she should have called and that those dates didn’t work for me.

    Well, with my husband staring at me, I called my mom and unfortunately woke her up. I was flustered and had an awkward conversation and stammered out that I was surprised she chose those dates. I am really bad at confrontation and my husband watching me just made it worse, so I just kept saying the dates were fine and we agreed to talk in the morning.

    My husband was frustrated that I wasn’t more assertive with my mom. But as I mentioned before, he has a rather strong personality and has no problem being blunt. I’m not like that. And I felt bad and like a whiny brat complaining to my mom that I wasn’t happy with the tickets they had bought for me.

    I tried to get him to see it from my perspective on why it was difficult for me to be assertive with my mom, but he wouldn’t listen so I just dropped it.

    I talked to my mom this morning and she apologized for not calling in advance and asked what I wanted to do. I told her to keep the dates as is, b/c I don’t want them to incur any further costs or inconvenience with changing things. Also, my brother has booked tickets from DC to meet is in London for those dates, so I don’t want him to change things either.

    I am at fault because I should have been more clear with my mom about what dates worked best for me and the length of the trip. It’s just that after our last conversation on the dates, I didn’t realize things would change.

    Anyway, I am very thankful that my parents are so generous and I’m trying to look forward the trip, but its difficult b/c I don’t feel like I have my husband’s support or well wishes for the trip.

    • Deep breath. There is no “fault” here. There’s nothing even wrong or terrible going on, except for the impression that your husband is pushy and made you wake your mom up at night for a non-urgent discussion. To me, it sounds like you just need to stand up for yourself in general, whether it’s to your husband or parents.

      Booking international trips can be very difficult. Your husband is a grownup and should be able to understand. You two can celebrate Christmas together before you go on your trip. This kind of diva behavior is really unattractive in my book.

      • Disagree. The parents are in the wrong and the husband is understandably upset.

    • On most airlines, you can cancel a ticket without penalty within 24 hours of booking it.

      Why not have your mom cancel your ticket only and re-book you for the 26th to 30th? That way, you can spend Christmas with your husband and then join your parents in London on the 26th.

      • Senior Attorney :

        +1 She offered to do that and I think it’s perfectly appropriate to take her up on the offer. Just call her up and tell her you’ve reconsidered and really want to spend actual Christmas with your husband.

      • +2. I don’t see why you changing your plans would require the rest of your family to change theirs, too. Can you spend Christmas with your husband and then meet them in London?

      • Thanks! I will check into this.

        • If she picked the 23rd instead of the 26th because it was cheaper, you might offer to pay the difference between the price of the 2 tickets as well. Although you might want to look at the flight times – isn’t flying to London an all day affair? So if you fly out on the 26th you won’t get there until the 27th, then you fly back the 30th – thats 3 days or less actually in London. Is that why she booked the ticket for the 23rd instead?

          • I was thinking this too.

            If you are on the east coast of the US, you’ll most likely redeye on the 26th, which means by the time you get from Heathrow into London on the 27th, it’ll be mid-morning. To fight jet lag, you want to stay awake all day on the 27th, but you will feel like a zombie, and probably go to bed on the earlier side. Which gives you the 28th and 29th in London, but to catch the afternoon or evening flight back to the east coast, you’ll need to leave London by noon on the 30th at the latest to get your plane.

            If you have been to London before or you know you’ll have the opportunity to go back again, this is perfectly doable, but if you think this is probably your one trip to London, you really might want to look into spending more time there.

            FWIW, my parents took me to London right before I got married. We left on a Thursday night, and returned the following Tuesday evening. There were things I wanted to do that I didn’t have time to do. Also, my mother gets horribly jet lagged and was a real bear to be around that first day, so much that at the time I swore I would never vacation with my parents again.

          • BB has a good point. Dh & I spent 6 days in London 5 years ago, and that wasn’t even enough time to do all that we wanted to, and we were BUSY. Wow did my feet hurt that week! But it was SO worth it.

    • uh, no, you are not at fault. your husband wants to sit at home, when he could have joined you- he should be understanding of the fact that you are excited to go to london with your family for the holidays. do not cause an argument with your parents over your husband’s immaturity. tell him you’ll celebrate new years eve in an extra-special way this year, and that he should just get over it.

      • It doesn’t sound like he was invited, does it? I don’t think the OP is at fault, but I would be PISSED if my SO was going to leave me on christmas and didn’t ask me first.

        • “My husband was not interested in going, so he would stay at home”

          • oh I read that as in connection with the Maui trip. my bad. Id still be mad if my SO made plans on christmas without asking me though

        • He has been invited from the beginning, and my parents would be happy if he came along. There are a couple of reasons he’s not going.

          1. He doesn’t feel comfortable with my parents paying for his ticket. We could offer to pay them back if they booked the tickets, but they are notorious for not accepting money from us. I’m from an Asian background, maybe this is a cultural thing.

          2. In London, we would be staying with my mom’s relatives. They are supposed to have a big house, but my husband wouldn’t feel comfortable unless we had some privacy. I don’t mind staying at someone’s house, but my husband would prefer a hotel.

          He doesn’t want go to London enought to pay for a ticket, hotel.

          When we saw my parents at Thanksgiving, he mentioned to my mom that he would be staying at home.

          • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

            I think it is a cultural thing– that is, for Asian parents to impose (and, from the Western view) to interfere with the married couple. One of the ways in which the boundaries are blurred is with money.

            To folks who haven’t grown up in this type of culture, it can be mystifying. A friend of mine complained that her mother-in-law chose all the major pieces of furniture in her house and chose the color of paint for each of the rooms. But this was a Chinese mother-in-law who also paid for the furniture and for the paintjob. My friend’s accepting the money was seen as tacitly ceding authority to the mother-in-law. I told my friend that if she keeps accepting the money, gifts, and services of her mother-in-law, her mother-in-law will direct how many children she will have, what their names are, how they dress, how they talk, and where they go to school by providing tuition assistance, free childcare/grannycare, and by moving in with them.

            Note this sort of thing will continue all through your marriage and will be an endless source of conflict between you, your parents, and your husband if you don’t set some boundaries with both your parents and your husband. Otherwise, you will be torn apart in the tug of war. It doesn’t help that you’ve married a man who seems to be as forceful if not more than your parents.

            Something to think about — what do YOU want? do you want your parents to be ever-present in your marriage? what sort of relationship do you want with your parents? what sort of relationship do you want your husband to have with your parents? what does your husband want out of his relationship with his in-laws/your parents?

      • The point is the mom changed the dates on her without clearing the change. The husband isn’t upset about the fact that she’s going — it’s that she was supposed to go AFTER Christmas and now she’s going over Christmas. I’d be upset, too. Also, she didn’t think she’d be waking her mom up when she called because it was just 30 min after the email was sent. The husband wasn’t asking her to wake up mom. He was just asking her to fix it quickly, which is smart since flights can usually be changed more easily to closer to the booking you do it.

      • I’m actually with the husband on this one. There’s a difference between not wanting to vacation with your in-laws and wanting to spend Christmas with your wife. If the situation was reversed, I would be willing to pass on the vacation but still want to spend the holiday with my husband. And I’d be furious that he didn’t stand up to his parents and instead told them it was fine, especially without further discussion with me first. I have a lot of trouble standing up to my parents as well, but as I read it the OP totally discounted her husband’s feelings in favor of not upsetting her parents (who it sounds would have been fine with her sticking with the 26th departure date).

    • I’m sorry I’m going to be blunt here. I think your husband is in the right. I’m not sure what other bullying interactions you may have had, but you failed to stand by him when it came to upsetting your mother over upsetting him — you picked mom. She failed to hold up her bargain on two points: 1) she didn’t confirm with you before making her final booking and 2) she chose dates other than the ones you’d initially discussed, essentially stealing you from your husband on Christmas. This is not right. In this scenario, she’s the bully, not your husband. Then in your effort to make nice and not ruffle feathers, you collude with your mother in steamrolling your husband. Also not right. Your parents footing the bill doesn’t give them the right to dictate where you spend Christmas. I think you owe your husband an apology.

      • I kind of agree with this. If I were you, honestly I think I would get into therapy. You seem extremely passive, and it seems to be interfering with your relationships. I would ask mom to cancel, and pay for the penalty if there is one, and reschedule for the 26th-30th.

      • yep.

      • e_pontellier :

        I agree with this IF it’s an equal marriage. If the OP feel like her husband is a bully in general, there’s more going on, but choosing your mother over your spouse is just not okay.

      • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

        I 99% agree with you, except for calling the Mom a bully. Maybe a bit thoughtless, but I don’t think the Mom was trying to be aggressive.

        And +1 on the parents footing the bill leading to strings attached.

        I’ll be willing to bet that part of why the husband is p!ssy about this is an underlying resentment of your parents’ use of money to impose on your lives.

        To me, it also seems a bit weird post-marriage, to go on a vacation with parents without the husband even though he was invited and refused to join. There could be good reasons why he doesn’t want to spend a Christmastime holiday trapped with his in-laws. Maybe he doesn’t want to be hamstrung by accepting their money (in the form of plane tickets, etc.)

        For a lot of us, we don’t get too many consecutive days off because of our work. Those days in late December are sometimes the only days we get to spend a lot of quality time with our spouses. Your husband could also be resenting that you’ve effectively chosen to spend that precious time with your parents instead of with him. Granted, you might want to spend more time with him if he weren’t such a darned bully, but it doesn’t mean the resentment isn’t there.

      • Anne Shirley :

        Yup. Call her now, tell her you *want* to spend Christmas with your husband and she needs to change the ticket. Apologize to your husband- you just told him you have more interest in appeasing your mother than spending Christmas with him.

      • +1. Even if my hubby was not interested in the overall trip to London (to see my relatives), I would never leave him on Christmas Day without a specific discussion/agreement on that topic! I can’t imagine what your mom was thinking, but it’s entirely reasonable to ask her to change the dates, even if a modest change fee is involved.

      • I agree with this also, but also think Husband owes you an apology, too. It does seem like your extreme passivity is causing problems, but that doesn’t make Husband’s forcing you to call Mom while staring you down right, either. Especially if he knows you are passive.

      • TBK – thanks for the bluntness. It actually helped me. :-) I don’t think the intent of my mom was to be a bully. I think she just assumed those dates would work for me and she probably assumed that I had worked the dates out with my husband.

        I would feel most comfortable with leaving on the 26th. I realized that I *was* afraid to tell my mom this is what I wanted b/c I thought I’d be offending her in some way.

        My mom is pretty easy going and I don’t think her intent was bad, but I need to just say what I mean. I definitely have a problem with that and tend to say what seems right or what people want to hear.

    • Reading your story, it sounds as though your husband feels as though he’s not a priority to you in this plan — even though he says he doesn’t want to go, it doesn’t mean he wants to spend Christmas apart.

      Could YOU pay to have the ticket changed so you leave on the 25th or 26th? You can still meet your family in London and fly home altogether. Just make your parents understand that you don’t want hubby to be alone on Christmas.

      On one hand, you can’t really be mad at your mom if you didn’t firmly say, “I don’t want to leave before Christmas.” On the other hand, she should have double-checked the dates with you before booking.

      I know it’s hard to give feedback when presented with a generous gift, but you shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for yourself — both to your parents, and to your husband. He wasn’t right to be staring over your shoulder while you confronted your mom, and you’re correct in that the conversation with her would have been better if postponed until morning. But it sounds to me as though he’s got hurt feelings about the whole thing…

    • e_pontellier :

      This sucks. That’s a lot like what my DH might do, but my parents dont buy me plane tickets. As upsetting as it is, stand up to your DH. Things that help me: staring back. Also, asking what he’s upset about, and just continuing to ask until it’s clear that he’s only upset because HE wasn’t in charge (e.g., “what’s wrong?” -dh:”well she should have checked with you” -“why?” -dh:”because you’re married” -“well I’m just grateful she’s buying me a plane ticket, so what’s wrong with that?” -dh:”well I wanted to influence your decision” … Obviously that last part wouldnt actually happen, and it usually starts a fight, but it’s a temper tantrum and you shouldn’t have to put up with that). Hugs.

    • I can understand why your husband would be disappointed if you had agreed to spend Christmas together. Your mom sounds kind of pushy, since you let her know you wanted to be home for Christmas to celebrate with your husband and she decided that you didn’t need to without consulting you. Is there some kind of tension between them? Maybe she’s offended that he doesn’t want to go and he’s offended that she’s trying to cut him out of your life. Or maybe I am reading way, way too much into this!

      I think you should stop worry about pleasing other people and decide what you really want to do. Be assertive about that decision. Maybe you go and have a great time, maybe your husband sucks it up and joins you, or maybe you stay home for Christmas and join the family on the 26th. None of that is unreasonable – you get to choose how you want to spend your vacation and both your husband and your mom ought to be respectful of that.

      • MaggieLizer :

        I kind of wondered about mom’s relationship with DH too. My mother is super passive aggressive though, so my perspective is probably a bit skewed. I’m sure normal people don’t play games like this, and there’s nothing to suggest OP’s mom would, but I could totally see my mother doing something like this on purpose just to spite my SO or create tension between us. But even if your mom isn’t a passive aggressive bully, it’s pretty inconsiderate of her to make plans for Christmas day that don’t involve your husband without asking first. It’s just not very respectful of him or your marriage.

        • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

          I wondered this too.

          If mom is a dominant personality, I could see her actually disliking the OP’s DH very much for two reasons:
          (1) parental love — no loving parent wants to see their child bullied and dominated by the spouse
          (2) ego — if she’s really pushy, the on some level, she sees DH as a threat to her supreme authority over her daughter. That ain’t gonna go over well.

          • MaggieLizer :

            Very true. As to (1), OP, you didn’t say anything about this so maybe it’s not an issue at all, but be careful what you say to your mom about DH. It’s really easy to say a little too much to those close to you when you need a shoulder to cry on. If you’ve told your mom anything like what you’ve posted here about DH, it’s totally understandable that she wouldn’t have the best opinion of him. You can turn that around, but it takes a lot of hard work and patience.

    • Sounds like you need to be a little more assertive with both parties. I wouldn’t have stood for my mom changing up dates on me like that (ESPECIALLY SINCE IT INVOLVES CHRISTMAS), but I would have also told her ahead of time that I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with DH and then a great week in London with her. It’s nice for your parents to pay for your ticket, but I”d be irritated if she was looking and looking and confirming one date then pulled a bait-and-switch.

      And, DH has the right to be annoyed. HE’s probably thinking that the sooner you touch base with your mom, the more likely to get this resolved.

    • While it sounds like your husband might have been a little bit insensitive with the way he handled the situation (sitting there and staring at you while you called your mom), your mom’s the one who’s really in the wrong here. She lead you to believe that you would be gone the 26th-30th and then booked tickets without telling you for the 23rd-30th. Does she really think you don’t want to spend Christmas with your husband?! If I was in your husband’s position, I’d be p*ssed too.
      Long story, short: Tell your mom that it was your understanding from your conversation with her that you would be home for Christmas with your husband and it’s very important to you that you have that time with him. So she needs to change the tickets ASAP if she still wants you to go.

  23. Senior Attorney :

    I love DVF and that shirt is fun, if pricey!

    Help me, ladies! I need to break up with my hairdresser! Long story, but I have an appointment with Old Guy on Saturday and I want to change it to New Lady at the same salon. She cut my hair a couple of months ago when he was out sick (where “out sick” means “was sent home for coming to work under the influence”) and at the time I decided to stick with Old Guy even though I liked New Lady’s cut better, because I didn’t want to kick Old Guy when he was down.

    But Old Guy cut my hair a few weeks ago and just butchered it. I made an appointment with him on Saturday and was going to ask him to fix it, but after talking about it with Mr. Senior Attorney, I’ve decided I don’t trust him to fix it and want New Lady to fix it and cut my hair on a going-forward basis.

    Problem is I’ve been going to him for 7 years, I’m in the salon every 3 weeks for color so I see them all often, and I am even Facebook friends with Old Guy. I don’t feel right just calling and changing the appointment. Should I call Old Guy and give him a heads-up? Call the salon owner and ask her to break it to him (that seems cowardly but I want to do it oh so much!)? Or what?


    • If it were me I would find a new salon I think, which may be the cowards way out.

    • Honestly, I would just call and change your appointment to New Lady. If (when) you run into him at the salon, I would just say that New Lady’s cut worked better for you and that’s why you switched.

      I kept going to the same hairdresser for a couple years after I stopped liking his cuts because my mom went to him, and he would ask about me and it would be awkward not to go. Then I realized I’m paying for a service that is not cheap and really important to me and I stopped feeling bad about not going to my old hairdresser.

      I don’t think you need to call and give him a heads-up but you may want to, just so it’s not awkward the first time you see him.

      • fluffy bunnies :

        You can always say you switched because you wanted a fresh perspetive. But stick to your guns! Forgive me for being blunt, but your friendly with old Guy, you’re not friends. You’re paying for a service – you should switch and get what you want.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Okay, it’s done. Mr. Senior Attorney advised me to “man up” (shoutout to “Book of Mormon”) and make the call, so I did. It was kind of awful but he was super gracious about it and I feel like I did the right thing giving him a heads-up. Appointment with New Lady is made, all is good.


      Now excuse me while I wait for my heart rate to return to normal…

    • Is there a time she works that he doesn’t? Then it’s a schedule issue.

  24. Diana Barry :

    I am wearing fine-wale corduroy pants (brown), a boden tweed jacket (brown/beige/purple/pink windowpane, less loud than it sounds), tissue turtleneck (plum) and v-neck wool cardigan (pink) today. (and black loafers) Too much texture and color? Not enough? Just right? :-0

    • Seattle Freeze :

      That sounds like a lovely mix of colors & textures! I’d probably throw even more color in the mix with a pair of bright shoes in a complementary color – teal, green or mustard could work with the brown/plum/pink mix.

  25. Mrs. Grinch :

    Anyone else married to a grinch? My husband and I have wildly different views on/associations with/memories of Christmas. For me, I have an extremely tight-knit family (Boston — where no one moves away, ever) and I love the huge get-togethers at my aunt’s on Christmas afternoon and evening. It’s loud, a little tipsy, overwarm from the giant fire in the fireplace, and swarming with my cousins’ children. My husband’s parents were slightly estranged from their families and so Christmas was just him, his brother, and their parents. Meanwhile, their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all had large Christmases without them, far away in another state. For me, I was raised going to church but it was the sort of mainline “GodJesusLove” sort of church where the whole point of religion is loving others, and trying to be a good person while knowing that forgiveness is available if/when I screw up. I also have wonderful memories of going to the midnight service on Christmas Eve (with the bells ringing in the cold night air, the church all lit and smelling of pine from the wreaths, and everyone giving happy Christmas hugs and handshakes) with my mother and grandmother, then coming home and putting on new Christmas pj’s and having some chocolates before going to bed. For my husband, religion was about going to bed terrified every night that he might die and go to hell because his church was all about judgement, retribution, sin, and punishment. He’s now atheist. For me, the Christmas season was always about a special trip to cut down our Christmas tree in a dark and cold but magical tree farm, followed by a warm evening at home digging out all the ornaments, drinking hot chocolate (plus a litle something extra in it once I turned 18), and singing Christmas carols around the piano (yes, we really did this). I love lights and Christmas shopping and wrapping presents and baking and listening to the Vienna Boys’ Choir sing carols in their slightly odd accents. For him, this is all a hassle and extra expense. We’ve compromised on location by spending alternate Christmas in Boston in the midst of my family’s happy chaos and the other Christmases quietly at home with maybe a visit from my MIL. (I asked my husband what he wanted to do for Christmas this year and he said “probably get some work done.”) Religion is always a sore spot with us because his view is that my version of Christianity is just made-up and contradicts things clearly laid out in the Bible. (I have solid arugments from respected theologians to the contrary, but since the church he was raised in rejects these theologians as not true Christians, their arguments don’t hold any sway for him.) I’m not extremely religious, but I do have some belief and my beliefs are important to me. I know Christmas Eve church services are unlikely (I could go alone, but talking about religion means he starts trying to get me to agree with his view of it, or to present arguments he can agree with — in the end, I feel religion is one of those things that isn’t susceptible to logic and needs to be understood with the heart. I’m otherwise a hyper logical person, which he loves about me, and my refusal to use logic in this one area is frustrating to him) but I wish he could just let me have the beliefs I have. Overall, I just want him to lay off. No criticizing me for wanting to celebrate Christmas even if I have doubts about how salvation works, the Virgin birth, Jesus’ position as the *only* son of God, or my belief that there are many paths to God. No complaining about the wreath on the door. No comments about the Christmas music I listen to in the car by myself or on my iPhone on the subway. Agreeing to put on the mantel the navitiy set I love that was a special gift from my aunt when I was seven. Just live and let live when it comes to how we each celebrate Christmas. At least I’ve gotten him to agree that Santa Claus can visit our house once we have kids (mostly because he doesn’t want to deal with the phone calls from other parents complaining that our kid is telling the other kids there’s no Santa).

    • Yes, he should respect how you want to celebrate Christmas. Consider also he might feel envious of your upbringing and may feel left out during these large Christmas gatherings with your family you described. Can you get him on board with maybe one Christmas-y but not overtly religious activity, like cookie baking? Christmas does not have to be a religious holiday, it can be a family holiday. I would try to be a little more understanding if he objects to the mantel-piece nativity scene; is there somewhere less prominent you could put it?

    • Diana Barry :

      Aww! Sorry your husband is a Grinch. Mine is too, although not to such an extent.

      Maybe he can understand it as disrespecting YOU when he slights your holiday traditions? I think your paragraph above about laying off is great – can you show that to him? I would 100% fly off the handle at my DH if he were dismissive or critical of what I do around Xmas. (Keep your hands OFF my Chanticleer CDs!) Perhaps he needs support to un-celebrate in his own way (going to work or whatever) just as you need support to celebrate in your way. I do think that finding a space that is more “yours” to exhibit the nativity set is a good idea. I don’t exhibit ours (we got it as a wedding gift from my church choir) bc it would make DH uncomfortable.

    • Can you talk to him about what parts upset him the most and try to balance out each of your needs? You sound like you are trying to be sensitive to him, but its possible that certain things that you consider to be part of your harmless fun might bring up bad/sad memories for him. Maybe lay it out on a priorities list – for instance, what’s your number one gotta have and what’s his number one dealbreaker? I grew up in a household that celebrated Christmas completely secularly, whereas my husband’s background and current beliefs sound a lot like yours, so for instance we’ve compromised- tree = ok, nativity scene = not ok. Christmas music like “Winter Wonderland”, “White Christmas” = ok, anything mentioning baby Jesus or God = not ok (anything goes on our personal playlists, these are just the criteria for what we play over the stereo). I think you feel like he’s asking you to give it all up (not ok) and he might feel like you’re cramming Christmas down his throat (even if that’s not your intention). So you’ve come to a good compromise position with Santa Claus, can you do more along those lines? Also, you need to have a discussion about taking potential future children to church for Christmas, etc- would he be ok with that, or is it going to cause a conflict? What if your parents want to take the kids to church or baptise them, then what? This is a conflict that goes beyond just Christmas when it comes to future kids, unfortunately.

      • oops, my husband’s background sounds a lot like your husband’s background – poor, unclear use of pronouns up there.

    • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :


      Your husband is being disrespectful of your beliefs. Nobody’s perfectly rational or logical all the time, and really, it’d be quite annoying if everything he had a logic-slipup, you wagged your finger, made fun of him, and told him that Spock disapproved.

      My DH’s family goes all out for Christmas, and I feel the grinch, because I think the presents-exchanging has gotten out of control, plus the enforced socialization with relatives who we don’t like and who don’t like each other. Even though I’m not a Christian, I don’t mind any of the explicitly religious stuff or nativity scenes or attending Masses. That’s OK by me and I have always felt like I was treated very warmly by the observant ones. And I feel like I’m a friendly observer and an honored guest at their religious events. I would never tell my DH that his beliefs are ridiculous. Although I have told him that the present-thing needs to be ratcheted down, b.c. it’s expensive, and frankly, a pain in the @ss.

    • I am quite similar to your husband and my SO is similar to you in this situation, though we were raised Jewish, not Christian. For him, religious holidays aren’t about religion at all and instead evoke warm memories of family time, etc., while for me they are extraordinarily psychologically and spiritually troublesome. I do 100% agree that your husband should respect the way you feel about religion and whatever non-religious traditions you care to participate in. You are allowed to have whatever beliefs you want (I tell my SO this too) without being subjected to criticism, because it’s a part of you that he accepted along with everything else when he married you.

      But it’s really different when it comes to participating in activities that have religious meaning for him, even if they aren’t overtly religious for you. From your post it seems like you just want to have your Christmas traditions for yourself, which is totally fine, but perhaps he feels like having signs of Christmas everywhere in your house or having to celebrate it with your family essentially means that he is tacitly accepting the religious aspects of it as well. It’s really hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been there, but traditions that seem happy and not overtly religious to one person can be really painful and carry emotional baggage for others (this is what Passover seders are to my SO and I, respectively). Him criticizing you or trying to engage you in arguments about religion, while disrespectful and not called for, might be his way of trying to fight against this feeling of tacit acceptance.

      My SO and I haven’t solved all of our issues related to religion, but really honest communication and acknoweldgement of our differences in how we perceive certain traditions has gone a long way to us at least understanding where the other person is coming from. That understanding has allowed us to both be far more flexible in what we expect of one another.

      • This whole religion thing is seriously keeping me from making a commitment. I don’t know how you ladies do it but I’m anxiously rereading this thread.

        • e_pontellier :

          In my limited experience, no matter how similarly aligned you might think you are with another person religiously, the most important thing is for both parties to recognize everyone’s interpretation is different AND valid. Respectful discussion is more valuable than growing up in the same religion.

        • Wait until you find someone who shares your values. Religion is important to me, and one of the things that initially attracted me to my now-husband was that he really shares a similar outlook and overall priorities related to religion. I don’t think I’d be happy with someone much less or much more religious than I am (and I’ve ended relationships in large part because of that, which hurts but was without a doubt the right thing to do in terms of long-term happiness). I don’t know if this is depressing or good news (because I do believe you do find that right person eventually.. but it sucks having to reject awesome people because you know they’re not right for you). I don’t think this philosophy necessarily applies to everyone, but religion is a huge part of my life and my impression is that it’s important to you too. For people who only have an issue at Christmas, I’d say that’s more an area where you can find compromise. But when it’s daily life and major questions like children’s education, community to live in, etc, it matters a lot.

          • Clarification, I’m not Christian and can’t speak to how much religion impacts Christian/mainstream married life.

          • I subscribe to a similar outlook regarding religion and a life partner. So, shrug.

        • Forget religious doctrine, you’d have to pry my Christmas decorations out of my cold dead hands. I put carols on my ipod in November!

      • To a degree this sounds like us as well. DH and I are both atheist, but I grew up observing (both Christian and Jewish) holidays as family events, and his family really didn’t. I love the trappings of Christmas purely because I have good memories of them. DH comes to my family’s house every Christmas and enjoys giving and receiving presents, but is adamant that we not have a christmas tree in our own apartment because he argues such a thing can never be totally secular (or else Jews and Hindus and everyone else would have one as well). He also argues it would pressure our (nonexistent) children into picking one religion over another (or none) by indicating a preference. We’ve agreed not to have a tree, but that if I want I can strew wreaths and fir branches and candles and whatnot around the place as long as there’s no red ribbon on them. Which I am totally down with.

      • I agree with roses. Speaking as a Christmas-lover who struggled to navigate this territory while married to a Jew, consider that he may feel (legitimately or not) that *he* is the one making all of the compromises and concessions. The decorations, the music, the chaos can all be pretty overwhelming if it isn’t your tradition.

    • transition :

      If it helps, though I’m unmarried and unattached, I could easily be seen as a Grinch type… no positive memories of this holiday, many negative ones and, if it were up to me, I’d skip from the day after Thanksgiving to January 2nd.

      Although there is compromise to be had in any partnership, overall, please keep in mind that this isn’t just something he doesn’t feel like doing, it might well be that doing things and seeing the happy side you’re used to spotlights what he didn’t get to grow up with and may bring up feelings of envy, jealousy, and then being upset with himself for feeling those things toward someone he loves. It might make him feel even more left out when he’s not used to these things and is surrounded by your side who is so used to them, etc.

      Maybe there’s a way to help him to become more included? Maybe there are some things he should work through with a therapist to put his own past to rest? Maybe there’s a mix of ways you can enjoy things but he has an “out” if it feels too overwhelming for him? Perhaps, for example, you take different cars so he can go earlier if he wants or he can volunteer to be the “gofer” who runs out last minute to pick up the things people forgot (more ice, a last minute ingredient, etc.) so he gets short breaks and gets to be a hero who helps others?

      Just some thoughts from the other side… that said, if I ever do partner or marry, part of me hopes to come into a family like yours, even though I know it’d be really overwhelming to me for a while :)

      • I am also the “Grinch” and would be annoyed by anyone calling me that. Luckily my husband feels the same way. We are both okay with not decorating at all and would be totally happy to just stay at home. I told both my kids there was no Santa before they were old enough to even really know that there was such a construct.

    • I think you need to really take a minute to try to understand his perspective. It sounds like you came from a nice, overall harmonious family. It sounds like he didn’t. As a person from an extremely dysfunctional family, Christmas sets my teeth on edge. I associate it with unpleasant mandatory family time with strained smiles where we all act pleasantly and ignore all the tensions and subtle underhanded comments. It was like involuntarily acting in a play, feeling increasingly estranged while feeling increasing pressure to conform. You aren’t letting him live and let live, even as you say that you want that from him. This stuff makes you happy. This stuff really stresses him out. If my SO wanted to completely cover our home in Christmas material, I would be incredibly uncomfortable and stressed and get increasingly defensive. Home would no longer feel like “my” space, but a space where I feel like I have to do the fake act I finally got away from. I agree that it’s not fair for him to complain about what music you listen to by yourself. However, the wreath on our front door is iffy in my book and that nativity scene would be very triggering to me. Please don’t make me look at that on our mantle every day. There would be no clearer way for you to tell me that you don’t respect my feelings and you don’t care if you’re comfortable in our home.

      • *you don’t care if I’m comfortable in our home. Except if the nativity scene is necessary for you to feel comfortable in the home, then it’s a zero sum game. Sorry. Someone’s going to lose here.

        • karenpadi :

          anon, if it helps. I’m a grinch too. For various reasons, I only celebrate Christmas every other year–and that’s plenty!

          I inherited a beautiful 3-pc nativity scene from a relative. It’s really too nice/expensive/antique-y to sit in a box. Instead of making it a Christmas-only decoration (and therefore triggering), I’ve decided to keep it permanently on a bookshelf. I have a feeling most people will still view it as a “religious” object but I’ll view it as a beautiful piece of art.

      • Mrs. Grinch :

        Thanks for this perspective. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I never saw it from this side. I always saw him as more neutral to the whole thing but I think you’re right that some of it might be that Christmas brings up more negative feelings in him than neutral. I’ll certainly take that into account. To be fair, he wants me to put up lights outside and hang a d—n wreath if it makes me happy. (It’s just that it’s still a d—n wreath.) I’m also interested in all the comments re religion. It’s amazing how blindsided we were by this tension in our relationship. We both were sort of meh Protestants when we met and made totally wrong assumptions about the other’s beliefs (I believed if he was meh he’d be fine with whatever my views were; he believed if I was meh then I’d be okay with giving it up entirely). We almost never fight about it except at Christmas. Mostly because he says he can’t see how if I believe “any of this stuff” I could resist raising the kids Christian, which he doesn’t want, since otherwise won’t I feel they’ll be damned? I feel he fundamentally doesn’t understand my view of religion — that there are myriad valid paths and I guess ultimately I’m a universalist and don’t really believe in hell anyway. (Which he sees as proof that I don’t actually believe in anything Christian since the religion is all about how not to go to hell. ARGH!)

        Finally, sorry. I didn’t mean this to be so religiously based, although it seems like everyone can relate in their own way no matter what their religious or non-religious background. Also, maybe part of my problem is it never occurred to me that my family’s Christmas was unusual — I actually often thought it was too low-key and not as fun as other families’. Guess grass can be greener even in December.

    • Can I have Christmas in Boston with your family? Sounds incredible.

    • Find a friend and indulge in Christmas with someone who is also enthusiastic about it. Get all your energy out and then try and include him in what you can – e.g. bake cookies shaped like pi and bacteria.

    • I am dating this grumpy holiday person. I love the holidays and he is all grumpy about Halloween through Christmas. I will get to see his celebration so it will be interesting to see if it is a negative view instead of a neutral view like I thought.

    • anon for this :

      I dread the holidays all year, they make me miserable and uncomfortable, and I do all I can to avoid them…but I would never, ever resent anyone else’s enjoyment or try to stifle Christmas cheer in anyway because I realize this is MY problem.

  26. How is their sizing? I finally found what looks like the perfect I’m-a-tourist-in-NY-going-to-Broadway-for-my-birthday dress, but they don’t have it in my size…. please tell me their dresses run big and I can order a size down???

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      Aw that dress is adorable! I have found ASOS to be a “generally size up” proposition, though, to be honest. However, it does seem to vary by piece so it can’t hurt to buy it just to see if it’ll work, especially if the fabric has some stretch. If you are pear shaped, I bet it would fit because of the flowiness, but it might be tougher to size down if you have broader shoulders.

    • Unfortunately I think it’s they run small and you should size up.

    • Awwww. Pretty. And I do love ASOS for dresses. I find they run relatively true to size with variations piece to piece (as moa said) and I agree, if you’re smaller on top, there’s a *chance* that one might fit. :-)

    • No help with sizing, but very pretty dress and perfect for a broadway show, tourist or not. The silhouette keeps it from being over the top. I hope you can get it. Enjoy the show.

    • sdchicky619 :

      Very pretty dress! But in my experience Asos pieces tend to run small, so I wouldn’t risk buying a size smaller than you normally wear :( Sorry!

    • Charlotte :

      I agree with sizing up. Also, although you didn’t ask this, I would caution you about their returns. I once returned everything in an order but got credit for only one of the items. It took me several months of complaining and inquiring to get the rest of my money back. I pretty much delete all their emails now. It’s a shame, because a lot of their stuff is cute, but not worth that hassle.

  27. Quick Question:
    I’m about to graduate (undergrad), and I’d like to get a small gift for my parents. They have been so supportive throughout my time at college, both financially and otherwise, and I couldn’t be more appreciative! I am going to write a heartfelt letter of thanks, of course, but any ideas for a small gift to go along with the letter? At first I was thinking a bottle of wine, but they have plenty of wine already!

    • I think the letter of thanks is what they will treasure most. What about a picture of the three of you (or siblings too) in a nice frame?

    • A nice letter will mean the world to them. Maybe add a bottle of champange or wine for a toast at graduation.

    • Almost There :

      When I started law school, I gave my mom a framed picture of myself on my first day, and hand wrote on the mat: “Thanks for getting me through all those first days of school so I could get to this one.” Clearly you are not starting law school, but something along those lines might be special.

    • If they’ll be at your graduation, how about a photo of you with each of them at graduation in a nice frame? If they’re the type to like college memorabilia, you could also look at your school’s bookstore (mugs, t-shirts, tote bags, etc.).

    • Just to say this is such a sweet thought on your part and congratulations on your graduation !

  28. e_pontellier :

    Quick super cranky psa: law students, be Quiet in the library!!!! Some of us *do* have work to do!!! Argh.

    • Almost There :

      Don’t just sit there fuming, go ask them to keep it down – they’re being rude, not you. Give yourself permission to stand up for yourself and your space.

      • Word – I would do this during finals time. There is just too much stuff taking up brain real estate to even consider tolerating stupid library behavior. They can shut up or gtfo.

      • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

        Yes, this. I’ve just come up and asked the people to be quiet (nicely) and it always worked. Sometimes, people just need a little friendly reminder to be a little more considerate. :-)

    • Semi-related work rant: Stop heavily sighing, yelling at your printer and commenting on every single phone call you get, woman in the next cubicle. It’s distracting and further proof that you have no business working with people.

      • It could be worse – you could work with the serial foot stomper that one other poster told us about recently!

      • This. A secretary sits right in front of my office and I can hear EVERYTHING… It makes me think less of the person professionally and wonder about what my own secretary mutters behind my back.

        Also, I used to hate the med students with their picture books (but at least they were quiet) and the undergrads (who weren’t).

        • Ugh, undergrads. They used to study in the law school (all done up to attract the male law students, who ate it up because they were nerds all through undergrad themselves). They were so noisy and always spread out all their picture books, candy, and multicolored markers (not highlighters) all over the study tables.

    • I wish I could say that to my firm’s Holiday Caroling group, which has decided to make the conference room next to my office their practice space :-/

  29. Gang, I need someone to talk me down off the ledge a bit. I’m about four months away from turning 34. I’m about 8 months into the best relationship I’ve had since college. I love this man and hope that we get married someday.

    The problem? I’m starting to freak out about the timing of this all. He’s the pensive, deliberate type, not the type who wants to rush into marriage (which I think is a good thing) and it worries me that I’m running out of time to have kids.

    We met around my 33rd birthday–even if we got engaged two years in (which is fast-tracked, I think), I’d be 35…after a likely year of engagement, 36 at marriage. Then, even TTC right away, I’d be close to 37 (if I’m lucky) by the time I have my first kid. 39 (again, if I’m lucky) for the second? It’s just freaking me out that the timeline would still be so drawn out. It also freaks me out b/c it makes me feel like he’s my last chance to have kids. (I love him independently of my biological clock, but I hate that it’s even in the back of my mind.)

    I don’t want to ruin a good thing by putting too much pressure on it/him/me, but it’s all freaking me out a bit. Especially if we push everything back another year, etc. I guess this is venting more than anything, but man, it sucks to be a woman sometimes. Does anyone have any advice/similar stories/wisdom?

    • deep breathes!

      You could have been married at 25 and had kids at 27. But the choices you made in your life led you to a different result. And that marriage and those kids would not be with this man that you love. So that means you may have children older, you may have different ways of getting children (adoption, IVF, etc) and you will be older as parent. These are not worse things, just different things. The choices you made have brought you to this point, and I doubt you would trade this awesome man for a different guy you could have got at 25.

      It should be in the back of your mind, and it should be in the back of his mind. thats where we keep our big goals, fears, and hopes. (next career moves, thoughts about our parents getting older, that tiny thought that thinks that you should be the one to win that powerball this week) but keep it in the back and don’t let it eat up too much of your brain space. You never know what will happen.

      • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

        Cosign everything you just said. Esp. “I doubt you would trade this awesome man for a different guy you could have got at 25.”

      • I have friends who married at 25 and still couldn’t have kids and didn’t know until they tried. And I know people in their mid-30s who have had no problems conceiving. Fertility can be a bit of a crapshoot. And everything else that has been said–you didn’t know this awesome guy at 25! Things happen in their own time.

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      No advice except that there’s no reason you have to be engaged for a year. You could always elope. And if you’re at the point where you are ready to get engaged, you’re certainly at the point to level with him that you have a biological clock and it’s ticking away and you may want to start trying earlier, which may mean a shorter engagement.

      Also – there are many many ways to build a family. Keep reminding yourself of that! Also, potentially look into freezing your eggs if having biologically-related children is something that’s very important to you.

      • Yes, while year-long (or longer!) engagements are becoming the norm, there is absolutely nothing that says this must be the case. Maybe if you have your heart set on a very trendy place for a reception you would need a really long engagement, but it sounds like you have other priorities.

      • Totally agree with you about the year long engagement. If there hadn’t been other family considerations, we probably would have had a 2 month engagement at most, but we are also having a very low-key wedding.

      • Senior Attorney :

        Yes to this, times a million. Weddings seem super important at the time, but in the scheme of things there’s no reason to spend a year and a bazillion dollars for a big party, especially if there are good reasons to tie the knot sooner rather than later. I had a four-month engagement and it was great. And honestly, if I had it to do over again I’d have done it even quicker by going to the courthouse with a few friends and then out to a spectacular dinner.

      • Yep. totally agree that you don’t have to be engaged for a year. I think many guys wait to proprose until they’re ready to get married, and then they assume the marriage will be pretty immediate. I know this was an issue between me and my husband when we started talking about getting engaged. I had an idea in my mind of when I wanted to be married, and wanted to be engaged over a year before that. When we discussed it, I realized my husband had a similar timeframe for the actual marriage, he just had NO idea that we should get engaged a year before. He assumed he would propose a few months before the wedding date we both had in mind. We ended up being engaged for 16 months, which was horrible. I love him and I love being married to him but the actual engagement and wedding plan was really not very fun (once we got over the initial “ooh I have a sparkly ring”) and I wish it had been over much faster. We were engaged in April, married in August of the following year and I think if I had tried, we definitely could have been married in August or September of the same year. Of course, you have to accept that some venues and vendors won’t be available on short notice, but you can certainly have a lovely wedding planned in a short timeframe.

        Also, I don’t think engagement after 2 years is especially fast. We were enaged at age 25 (almost 26) after slightly less than 2 years and I have lots of other friends in their 20s that have gotten engaged after a year. I also think that once you’re discussing your future plans and you’re both on the same page about wanting marriage & kids together, its fine to nudge him a bit and let him know the timeline/biology issues. I certainly didn’t give my husband an ultimatium like “propose or I’m leaving” but I let him know that I really wanted to be engaged. If left to his own devices, he would have proposed eventually but probably not for another year or so after he did (see above).

        The bottom line is giving someone an ultimatum like “We have to be engaged by X date” is never good and can ruin relationships (I’ve seen it happen to a good friend). However, discussing marriage and future plans and letting him know when you’d like to be married, when you’d like to have your first kid, is fine. Even if your timeframe is faster than his, its not going to make him run for the hills, unless he would have anyway.

      • Charlotte :

        I also agree about not having to have a year-long engagement! My husband and I got engaged after 2 years and were married 6 months later. Unless there are obstacles that are nonnegotiable (e.g., family members not in the country until x date, sister due to deliver in 5-6 months), really, you probably don’t need to wait that long. I was happy with the short engagement, b/c it meant less prolonged family drama. If I’d have had to plan a wedding for 1+ years, I might have gone insane.

    • I think timelines can be significantly shortened when you are a bit older and more self-aware. I’m 31. My dude and I moved in at 11 months and got engaged at 1 year, 7 months. Have you talked with him about your worries?

      • Seconding this and what CW said about siting down and talking about this. I’m assuming you’ve had general, theoretical conversations about potential marriage and kids. But it might be time to talk about it more concretely. Tell him you’re worried about the timeline, your age and why. Be specific on the why: most guys are clueless about when/how much the average woman’s fertility declines. Heck, many women don’t know the specifics! So educate yourself (if you haven’t already – it sounds like you probably have) and then educate him. If he wants kids too, and wants them to be biological kids he has with you, he should know that you two don’t have forever.

        • No, we’ve only been together 7 months so we haven’t discussed any of that. We’re just getting to the “I love you” stage and sharing holidays with each other’s families. So I’m jumping the gun by a lot…but it’s scary.

          • Another S :

            If you’re saying I love you and meeting families, I disagree that you’re totally jumping the gun with the thoughts/worries you’ve raised here. Don’t you want to know where he thinks things are headed? Don’t you want to share what you’re thinking? I’m not suggesting you come charging out of the gates on the first date saying “I want to procreate now!” I’m suggesting you figure out where a seemingly committed relationship might be headed. If you’re in agreement on that, then have a open but non-pressured conversation about certain biological factors that are beyond your control. Others may disagree… I’m just sharing what I did when I was dating “the one” and realized that time was probably running out (which worked out well for me and my now husband). BTW, we ended up with a three month engagement – his idea.

          • Gotcha. Point well taken. I think that’s right…I would just like to have a few months’ space between saying “I love you” for the first time and discussing marriage/kids, etc.

            Regarding the engagement thing, I agree with all of you. I don’t care much about weddings in the first place…but I just mean that this entire line of thinking is making me realize that something will have to give–either the duration of the “courtship,” the duration of any engagement, or the space between kids. Is it crazy that I’m crossing my fingers hoping for twins? Ha.

    • I want to come serenade you with the Third Eye Blind song that goes “I wish you would jump off that ledge my friend!”

      I don’t have any actual words of advice, except to ask, is there any point in putting this pressure on yourself, having yourself stress out about it? There’s really nothing you can do to make time stop, or slow down…I think you’d be happier if you let yourself enjoy the present, enjoy the growing relationship that you’re in now! And if you have kids when you’re 38, you’re still going to be so in love with your kids, you really won’t be thinking about your age :)

      FWIW, my father was 40 when my parents had me (child #4), and then there was another kid 4 years after that! I never noticed any difference growing up.

      • think you mean step back from that ledge! :)

      • My mother was 38 when she had me, and I turned out fine!
        I feel your pain though – I’m 30 and single, and do worry a little about the fertility issue.

        • Lady Harriet :

          My mom was almost 39 when she had me (the oldest), and almost 42 when my brother was born. She’s in total awe of my friend’s aunt, though, who had FIVE kids after age 40. Don’t count on it, but it does happen, at least occasionally. That same friend’s mom also had my friend and her brother at about the same age as my mom had us.

          I absolutely agree with what everyone said about a short engagement. Even if it does take you two years to get engaged, which it might not at your age, there’s no reason you have to wait another year to get married.

    • Whew! Deep breaths. I totally get freaking out about your timeline (I’ve had my fair share of freakouts), but it doesn’t do you any good to freak out about the unknown OR just in your own head.

      What is the status of your relationship? Have you been reached the “I love you” stage? Have you started to have discussions about the future? Not like, “next month let’s go to the zoo” but more like “I’d like to have two kids before I’m 40” or “let’s move in together when my lease is up.”

      If you’re at the stage where you’ve started having discussions about the future, I think it’s perfectly reasonable and fair to sit down and have a conversation about where your relationship is going. Say that you love him, and you don’t want to rush him, but you want to figure out the next step in your relationship. That you know that you want kids, you’ve always wanted kids, and you’re concerned that your “window” for having them is getting smaller. And obviously listen to what he has to say and, assuming that he is receptive to the conversation and your timeline, leave it at that. Close with something like “I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page, because I love you and see us having a future together.” You’ll feel better having had the conversation, and also feel better knowing that he is thinking about it.

      Separately, while he doesn’t want to rush into marriage (good), I feel like relationships that begin when you’re in your 30’s move more quickly in general. I could be completely wrong about this, but I feel like more people know what is or is not acceptable in a potential partner, and don’t waste time with people who wouldn’t be a good fit.

      • These are great points. We’re not there yet, which is why I think I’m finding it frustrating b/c I know I can’t bring it up yet. And i don’t know what his timeline is…I’m just basing this on his past relationships and generally patient/cautious nature.

        • Not sure if this is too late, but you’re just getting to the stage where you’re committed, which means that in, say, about 3 months time, you will be at the point where you can bring this up. So give yourself a break, don’t worry about it for 3 months, and then broach the subject casually. See how it goes. Don’t panic prematurely :)

    • Just as a general matter, I think you should not be afraid to talk about timing, particularly in terms of biology. I think a lot of men just don’t know a lot of the issues about aging and fertility. They see celebrities in their 40s having kids and think hey, we are young and healthy, we can have kids later. I think I actually opened this conversation with my now-husband, then-boyfriend, by saying “I read this thing on [insert news source of your choice] today that freaked me out…” and then have a conversation about it. If you do end up getting married, it’s not just your chance to have the family you envision that’s at issue here, it’s his as well, and he should be informed about it if he’s not already.

      And fwiw, when I had this conversation the first time with my now-husband back in the day, it did not go well. He got all huffy about his own timelines and wanting to be really, really, REALLY sure before having kids, etc. But over time, the timelines got shorter and shorter. It’s a long conversation to have over the course of a relationship, not just in one evening.

      • Totally agree re: men not thikning about the biology. I’m late 20s, but DH and I are really enjoying our kid-free 20s. We sat down and talked about how he wants 3ish kids, and that ideally we’d be on 3 by 34/35…and then did the math. DH was like, oh, sh!t, well, better start looking at SUVs, then. And we decided to simply “pull the goalie” for 6 months, and then think about more actively TTC next year.

        Sometimes they just need someone to help with the math.

        • Right, that’s the problem. I’m still a year away from having that conversation at all probably, but it freaks me out that he may not even get what the timing of that all looks like.

          • Right, but also there is an equal chance, 50/50 that he MAY get what the timing looks like and not freak out at all! That’s what helps me when im on the ledge, trying to remind myself, I don’t KNOW the outcome, so i might be freaking out about nothing. Well, sometimes it helps, not always ;o)

            But try to keep repeating that to yourself and breathing. In. Out. It might all work out fine! Huggss. And get off that ledge! haha!

        • My younger brother is the exception to that rule. He has this whole scenario worked out – he wants to have 4 kids and he is really set on being no older than X (forget the exact age – something like 50 or 55) when the 4th one is in college (so he can be a “cool dad”). He did a bunch of math to help him figure out when all the kids (who he has named, BTW) would be born, when he needs to get married, engaged, etc. The only problem is that he already missed the first deadline – meet the future wife. He is truly insane.

          • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

            re: “truly insane”

            From our taxes/budgeting thread yesterday, does your brother also enjoy doing the taxes himself? ;-)

        • Holy eff yes about men and biology! Why does everyone preach to women about “you can’t wait forever” and never bother to tell the men?! Mr. TBK is three years younger than I am and I definitely had to lay out the timeline for him before we got serious (as in really, really early because I did not want to waste time with someone who didn’t want kids). Then I had to repeat a few times after we got married to drill into his head that it wasn’t kid now or kid five years from now — it was kid now or very likely no kid.

          • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

            Because it really doesn’t affect them biologically. It affects the relationship they have with their current SO or current wife, but that’s about it.

            Plenty of old dudes have kids with their much younger 3rd or 4th wives. They have options we don’t. Not saying it’s right, but that’s how the biology stands right now.

          • I think that point of view (that biology doesn’t affect men) really short-changes men. I think if you asked a lot of great guys in their 30s whether they would rather have biological children with the women they currently love and are dating / marrying, or wait 10 years and break up with that woman so they can have be an old dude with a young wife and children, they would choose the former. Of course there are gross guys who do the latter, but I don’t think most men want to be That Guy. I think they also realize that That Guy is gross.

          • Totally right, Fiona–but it’s not put in their faces as much. They see women having kids at 40 and think “ok, kids at 40 work” but don’t always realize that that can mean starting to try at 37, turning to IVF, spending a lot of money, etc.

            Also, men who father children after a certain age raise the risk of birth defects, too. No one ever talks about their old sp*rm!

    • There is a lot of good advice in the responses. One thing to consider is that there are a few lags in your timetable that are certainly modifiable: you could start TTC when you get engaged/decide to get married instead of waiting to be married, you could decide to get married before 2 years are up (I also married a very deliberate guy – but were engaged after a year and married a few months after that), you could start TTC for the second sooner after having the first (following in Jessica Simpson’s footsteps? ;-) And there are lots of good ways of starting a family that don’t involve conceiving in the traditional way.

      Like lots of life decisions, I think it comes down to choices and if having a biological child in the traditional way is very important to you, then you should make that clear to your partner that you don’t have all the time in the world to wait – not that you should be in a rush, but that a faster than you originally thought timetable may be in order. Don’t wait for the sake of waiting, but don’t (or try not to) panic.

    • Phew. Deep breath. Thanks, guys. I know you’re all right. I just had a bit of a freak out b/c my very good friend is TTC right now and it made me think about my own hopes and dreams family-wise. I think it’s too soon to talk to him about this. I’m thinking maybe it’ll be worth a discussion in the spring when we’ve got a bit more time under our belts. Fortunately, he has many close female friends who have frozen their eggs, done IVF, and the like–so I know he’s aware of fertility issues, etc. Thanks again, gang!

    • MaggieLizer :

      Hugs, I so, so understand. When you’re broaching this subject with a guy and you’re not sure about his timeline, it can be helpful to start at retirement and work backwards. Men are on the same retirement timeline as women, so bringing it up that way makes me, personally, feel a little less vulnerable – like, hey this is an issue for both of us, it’s not just about me and my fertility/ticking clock. If you want to get your child through college before you retire at 65, assuming the child is 22 at graduation, that means the child has be born when you’re 43, which means you’re pregnant at 42, which means you need to start trying around 41. And that’s just for one kid, with no gap between graduation and retirement.

    • Co-sign to all those who’ve pointed out there’s flexibility in the time frame. My guy is a significant amount older, which put me in the slightly unusual position of pushing for kids sooner because I felt (and he did too, although not necessarily as keenly) it would be preferable for him and for me (and for the future kids) to have him be younger–i.e., to have our first when he was closer to 40 than 50. If we were operating on my schedule, and I had kids in my early or mid thirties, he’d have been in his late 40s/50s.

      These are the kind of mental rabbit holes that I believe women head down much more often than men, and why I think my now-husband thought I was totally bananas when I suggested that we start TTC before we were even officially engaged (we’d already lived together for a few years). It ended up that we got engaged and pregnant one month apart, and, because of my school/work schedule (honest), getting married about five months after getting engaged. I was four months pregnant at my wedding and was able to squeeze into my fitted dress (bought it right after getting engaged and before getting the positive preggers news). And our awesome son came six months later. Basically this is a long way of saying FOOEY to all those one-year engagements, etc.: do things on a schedule that works for you, even if that means eloping or having a City Hall marriage because you’d rather get to the kid business.

      As for the kid business: now that we’ve had another kid my husband will often say that kids are a young person’s game. Even if guys don’t have the same biological clocks in terms of getting pregnant, having healthy full-term pregnancies, etc., once you have kids it is (hopefully) a shared responsibility–and an exhausting one that is easier the younger you are. Perhaps it is worth having a conversation about children more generally with your guy, not necessarily focusing on the getting preggers/being preggers end but more about: are you interested in kids? Do you want to be a first-time dad when you’re 40? 45? Want to coach your kid’s soccer team as a 50-year old? Trying to think about parenting in this broader sense might help. Does he see himself with kids, and how does that look?

      I also will say that I think it’s not unfair for women at a certain age who are interested in having kids to shorted the time frame for relationship stuff, and to have honest conversations that others on this thread have recommended. Good luck!

      • Thanks for this–such a thoughtful and sensitive response. Ironically, we both talk about kids a lot…just not about US having kids. We have a lot of friends having babies (he’s also 33) and he’s said things like “man, I know that I’ll be crazy protective if I have daughters.”

        The closest we’ve come to discussing this is me asking how he could have stayed with his ex for so long (3.5 years) knowing that she didn’t want to have kids when it was obviously important to him. He basically said he’d hoped she’d change her mind, etc. Which i take as a confirmation that he def wants kids. God, I’m such a sleuth.

        • Sounds like he’s throwing out signs that he’s a keeper. I’m always surprised when people stay together for extended periods of time when there are really obvious signs (kids/no kids, serious religious differences, etc.) that relationships aren’t going to work long-term.

          And it seems really the case than men have this very atomized, general sense of “Hey, kids are great and I want them some day,” without really thinking about that practically. I know that I’m hopelessly pragmatic in a way that might be off-putting, and I was really nuts & bolts with my then-living together BF when I raised this. My blunt conversation thread was like: (1) are we doing this relationship? (2) if yes, you’re not getting any younger, so (3) if you want kids and don’t want to be strangely old for that whole thing, even by higher-degree-having urban standards, then (4) time to get to it. I approached it along the lines of, I didn’t super-care if we were or were not married before having a kid, but I did care about my professional trajectory, and there was a *very* specific window that would be better for me, so after wowing him with my infallible logic we basically were go. I still think he a little bit feels like it was an ambush, but we’ve talked a lot about how waiting longer would have just made it harder. Plus, kids are great. Exhausting, but great.

          I will also allow that I’ve totally become that yenta who is constantly nudging her married, childless friends in their early 30s to have kids, because what are they waiting for?

          • “so after wowing him with my infallible logic we basically were go”

            I. Love. You. ;o)

    • Calibrachoa :

      Oh yeah… I’m only 27, but my partner is 39 – so from my point of view we need to hurry the eff up with the kids because my dad was 53 when I was born and I lost him far too early; sure, he may still be well and able as long as I am but for me, the important thing is will he be around for the mini!Calib(s)?

  30. Dear woman next to us at the Lion King last night who kept complaining that there were children in the audience.

    Get a freaking grip.

    • At the LION KING!!!!!!! The Lion King???? I can’t.even.process that. :-P

      • Word. How do you go to the Lion King and expect no kidlets?

        • Old people. What can I say?

          Sorry Olds. Don’t be dicks.

        • transition :

          hehe you said “kidlets” …I’ve never heard anyone say that other than me… /random thing to be amused by :)

          • I hate that word. What is it supposed to mean anyway? They’re kinda like kids, but they’re also … um. . piglets?

          • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

            I always take kidlets to mean much younger kids and don’t get the piglet association at all. Although now that I think about it, it makes me think of Winnie the Pooh’s friend, Piglet who is super adorable.

            Whereas just saying “kids” could mean, “30yr old folks who are somebody’s offspring” as easily as “5 yr olds who are somebody’s offspring.”

          • Well, if you put it that way, “kids” are baby goats.

          • I’m a mom. I call my kids “kids” but have friends who call them kidlets and I find it charming and cute, not offensive at all. And I don’t think of my kids as piglets at all (unless we’re talking about my daughter’s messy bedroom)

    • Senior Attorney :

      That? Is hilarious!

  31. big dipper :

    Can I wear a red dress to a wedding?

    There’s a form fitting, retro-styled cocktail dress I want to buy. It comes in red and green. I’m in my mid-twenties, and I’ll have a slew of weddings to go to over the next few years.

    I’m planning on wearing the dress to two events this year, but was hoping to make it one of my wedding staples. But I’m worried that red is too…flashy for a wedding guest.

    • I don’t know if it’s too flashy but it’ll certainly be more memorable than the green version if you’re planning to wear it to multiple weddings. That said, I’d go with the one you like best.

    • transition :

      if you’re worrying about it, I’d say it’s iffy and iffy means it might work for some, not for other weddings, plus you might be worrying before and during each, which wouldn’t be fun… is it pretty in green? Green might be safer!

    • I think it depends on how red, how form-fitting, the wedding, and your overall comfort level, but I don’t think it’s a categorical ban.

      I chickened out of wearing a super flattering, red cap-sleeve dress to a black tie optional wedding last month (went for flattering black longsleeve dress instead). I felt that a lot of people would be in dark colors at an evening, black tie optional event, and I would really stand out. I also didn’t really know that many people there (friends of my husband’s), so I didn’t want to be the girl in that red dress. I will probably try again with the red dress for a family wedding in the summer, which should also be a little less formal, so hopefully season + venue will mean more people in colors, generally.

    • big dipper :

      Thanks! I’m going to go with the green. I think you’re right – if I’m worried about it, I won’t feel as comfortable. They’re both pretty colors – the green is a light olive green that I love but have trouble finding, and the red is bright.

    • I had a really nice red dress, a little on the deeper red side. Then, my friend’s new fiancee said that if you wear a red dress to a wedding then that means you want to sleep with the groom. Obviously that is stupid. But who knows how many people think that. I am wearing a red dress to her wedding. What? It’s my color…

      • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

        Last year, I wore red to a wedding.

        Even if I wanted to sleep with the groom, he wouldn’t have wanted to sleep with me ever. (The couple getting married are two men.) Nobody had a problem with my outfit. :-)

        • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

          urgh. I meant to type “the couple that got married are two men.”

  32. Any recommendations for a stylish, functional planner/organizer? Love the Kate Spade ones– but the price tag, not so much. Clearly, my complete disorganization lately is due to lack of cute organizing accessories and not… anything else.

    • Graphic Image planners are great! They are pricey, but not as much as Kate Spade. Looks like they are $60 – $100.

  33. Restaurant & other recs for NYC :

    Hey yall! Next week I’m going to NYC with my husband for two days. I posted yesterday asking about top of the rock v. empire state building. Thanks for the imput!

    I have another request– restaurant recommendations! We’re staying at the Mave Hotel at 27th and Madison Ave. Mostly looking for things near the hotel, a short (cheap!) cab ride away, or near Rockefeller Plaza (or a short cab away). We love all food except seafood (but sushi is okay because I’ll eat veggie). Also, anything else I must do in these areas?


    • No recs but consider taking the subway. So cheap and not *that* confusing =).

      • Definitely second using the subway. You can download a map and plan out your routes ahead of time if you are nervous about making the wrong choices.

        • For planning, try — they give subway/bus and walking directions, and will approximate the cab fare for comparison.

          • Senior Attorney :

            +1 for Super easy and makes getting around a breeze! Plus you can have the directions emailed to you so you can have it on your smart phone while en route.

      • Speaking of subways; lady on Metro this morning was obviously very claustrophobic and it was painful to watch. She was having problems breathing and got down on her knees and spread her bags around her and started pulling tissues out one at a time. After 2 minutes of this, I asked her if she was ok (in a very concerned way) and she said (snapped) “I just don’t have any space; it’s very crowded.” I didn’ mean to put her on the defensive, but sometimes it’s hard to know if someone wants to be left alone or is having a true medical emergency.

        • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

          Ugh. I’m sorry.

          Awful that the woman was suffering that much, and awful that the tone of her response was snappish. I’m thinking she was just snapping in general, from her frustration, and claustrophobia, rather than at you, but it still sucks.

        • I’m glad you asked, my friend blacked out on the subway, and only realized she did when she came to when people were asking if she was okay.

        • Thanks, ladies. I think if I was in this position again, instead of asking “Are you ok?”, I’d ask “Is there anything I can do for you?” Seems like a better way to put someone at ease.

    • There are a lot of great dinner places near Rockefeller Center– I like Del Frisco’s Grille if you’re in a steak mood (it’s in the Rockefeller Center complex, so easy to find) and Blue Ribbon Brasserie (near Columbus Circle) if you want sushi or other delicious fusion-y food (their oxtail bone marrow fried rice is amazing!)

      Since you’re staying so close to Madison Square Park, you should definitely check out the original Shake Shack! And Eataly is fun to browse and grab a beer or a pizza (or a double scoop of dark chocolate gelato…) Have fun!

    • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

      Please don’t feel bound to the area immediately near your hotel (by cabfares). The island of Manhattan is not very large, so do branch out and see different neighborhoods. :-)

      What days are you going to be in NYC? This could affect where you dine.

      I’d avoid the trendy, hyped restaurants on Friday nights and weekends– unless you are OK with hour+ wait times. In a city teeming with thousands of great restaurants at many price points, anything more than a 20min wait time is not worth it unless you absolutely must must must eat at a certain place to say you ate there.

    • I like Illili, which is on 5th between 27th & 28th, and so very close to your hotel. It’s Lebanese / Mediterranean. Also, if you’re into it, you’ll be right by Eataly, which is a big Italian markets / restaurants combo place at 5th and 23rd. It’s not my thing, but lots of people love it.

    • Near your hotel is a nice little place called Penelope’s – 30th and Lex, I think. Perfect for lunch/brunch or just a relaxed dinner.

      Also near: Les Halles: Steakhouse/French Bistro food. It’s Anthony Bourdain’s old restaurant. Great ambiance, very good food.

      Also second the Eataly recommendation (5th and 25th?). It’s kind of awesome. 4 different restaurants inside, a market, and an awesome beer garden (enclosed) on the roof. You should stop by the roof and have a beer – great empire state building view. Of the restaurant, the best one (imo) is Verdure. It’s the vegetable one, but trust me you will not be missing meat. It’s also a nice place to stop in for just a glass of wine and some cheese/charcutterie in the market portion.

      If you like burgers, definitely go to shake shack for lunch – it’s right in the middle of Madison Sq. Park. Get a shake (called concrete) – amazing.

      Subway is super easy to navigate and keep in mind you’ll be a short walk to Union Square. Union Sq. is a fun place to visit, esp. if you’re here in the near future because they will have Holiday Booths selling lots of cute stuff set up in about a week.

    • Do yourself a big favor and get out of Midtown! The subway is easy, and even if you cab it, it’s a short drive to downtown or elsewhere.

      I love Malatesta in the West Village – it’s cozy and delicious. I dream of the gorgonzola pasta.

    • ilili – It’s a Mediterranean restaurant on 5th Ave between 27th and 28th (super close to your hotel) with AMAZING food (their brussel sprouts, chicken kabobs w/garlic whip, and the ilili candy bar are soooo good!). I live in NYC and eat at ilili all the time!

      DaCiro – Italian on Lex b/t 32nd and 33rd (easy walk) has a great veal bolognese with homemade pasta (have them substitute the garganelli pasta with the tagliolini) and the tiramisu is great!

      Cask – 33rd and 3rd ave (easy walk) bar food with great flatbreads, pretzel crusted crab cake, and mac and cheese.

      The Smith – they have two locations one downtown and one uptown and have a really great brunch menu.

    • Thanks so much for the recommendations! Eataly was already on my mind because we both love Italian food and coffee. That will be a definite!

      I was trying to limit the areas of the city we venture into because we won’t have TONS of time and I don’t want to spend all of it traveling here and there on the subway. I will look into the subway and use that website to plan it out to get to and from some of our definite stops.

      Thank you again!

      • Subway travel in Manhattan will be 10-15 min in most directions, often quicker than a taxi. It’s very efficient. We are a tiny island. The only thing to keep in mind if you don’t want to spend a lot of time underground is that it’s usually cumbersome to get from the east side to the west side on most lines. From your hotel, you will have the 6 train (green line) at East 28th and Park Ave South and you will have the N/R/Q (yellow line) on 28th and Broadway. The green line will take you to the Upper East Side and down to the East Village and further downtown. In midtown and uptown, it runs along Lexington Avenue (through midtown east). The yellow line runs along Broadway in the city and will take you near Rockfeller Center (take the train to 49th St., and walk east towards 6th avenue), Times Sq., and Central Park (get out on 5th avenue – you’ll be in front of the Plaza Hotel and at the foot of the Park).

        Hopstop has a free iphone app. There is also a great app for locals and visitors called NYC Way – it has a subway map, nearby bathroom locations, you name it.

  34. Anon for this :

    Ladies, I have a spending problem, and I’m afraid it’s going to really impact my marriage negatively. DH and I cannot discuss finances without a knock down-drag out fight, and I can’t seem to stop spending. Any recovering shopaholics out there who can offer advice? My biggest issues are clothing shopping and Starbucks.

    • If clothing shopping is an issue, step away from this website (and other shopping blogs). I spend much more freely when I get all kinds of great “ideas” from here. Unsubscribe from the Gilt, Rue La La, etc. emails. Basically, don’t put temptation right in front of you.

      Re: Starbucks, maybe give yourself a budget for a month and put it on a Starbucks gift card. Then when it’s gone, it’s gone.

      • Thanks for the suggestions! The things on this site are either way out of my price range, or not my style, so I mostly come here for the comments and the community. I’ll probably step away from the other style blogs I follow though, since they inspire more shopping. :/

        Regarding Starbucks: I have a card, put $50 on it at the beginning of the month, and just switch to using my daily charge card when I’m out. I can’t seem to get the ‘once it’s gone, it’s gone’ idea. I spent about $175 there this month, which is obviously $125 over my budget.

        I did just unsubscribe from all my store emails though, so hopefully that will help.

        • Since the “once it’s gone, it’s gone” isn’t working for you, how about limiting your trips instead? If my math is right ($5 for a fun coffee beverage) then $175 says you are making a daily stop at Starbucks. How about you limit yourself to two weekday trips and one weekend trip to start? Once that is comfortable, you can knock it back to one-and-one, or once per week. Whatever your budget and comfort level allow.

        • What are you getting at Starbucks, and can you sub something cheaper? $175/month is about $5 a day (including weekends) or $8 a day (workdays only).

          Brew your own coffee? Know that you can only go on certain days of the week? Drink more water or tea? I’d start by analyzing your consumption habits – when do you go and what do you get, and see if there is someway to change those. Take it slow, and introduce a change every couple weeks to help from getting overwhelmed by doing all at once.

          • I go every morning on the way to work, and I get a grande iced nonfat caramel macchiatto. I never change, and occasionally will get a breakfast sandwich if I’m starving before I get to work (where I keep breakfast foods).

            I will also go occasionally on the weekends, and my husband occasionally accompanies me, so some of that $175 is his beverage, or my food. Granted, that total would be miniscule compared to my total for coffee.

            My issue is that I hate hot coffee (I can usually only drink a sip or two), and my cold subsititue (Diet Coke) is not only unhealthy, it’s been giving me headaches for some weird reason.

            I need to experiment more at home, and perfect making my drink myself. Previous tries have been unsuccessful :/

          • The sweetener in diet Coke could be the culprit.

          • Have you tried making iced coffee at home using instant coffee? It would be a lot faster than brewing coffee and cooling it, since you can usually mix it with a little hot water and then add cold liquid or even just mix the instant with cold water/milk directly.

          • Anonymous :

            Maybe start by switching to a tall instead of a grande? I know the cost difference isn’t all that much, but over a month it will definitely add up — I bet you could save $10 or more right there. And/or don’t go on weekends and make it your pre-work indulgence. If you drank “straight-up” coffee, the obvious answer would be to make it at home, but I’m not that would work so well for you.

          • Turtle Wexler :

            Maybe start by switching to a tall instead of a grande? I know the cost difference isn’t all that much, but over a month it will definitely add up — I bet you could save $10 or more right there. And/or don’t go on weekends and make it your pre-work indulgence. If you drank “straight-up” coffee, the obvious answer would be to make it at home, but I’m not that would work so well for you.

        • For Starbucks – break out the envelope system and use cash. Leave your debit card at home. Seriously. When you realize oh @#$( I have no money and have NO ACCESS to money it gives you a new perspective.

        • Moonstone :

          Two things have helped me: 1) One of those reloadable cash cards (mine is through Chase and called Chase Liquid) on which I load my discretionary dollars for the month. It can be used both in real life and online. For me, it’s easier than always having to use cash and it offers a record of each transaction. 2) Also, sometimes you are just in the mood to shop… to touch things. And when that mood consumes me, I head to the nicer thrift stores (and sometimes the lousy ones) so I don’t do as much financial damage. So, I come home with a cute tablecloth for 3 dollars and two books, 50 cents apiece. Much less remorse and often I donate them back after a year.

      • Get a rechargeable Starbucks card, fill it up at the beginning of the month with whatever your Starbucks budget is, and once it’s gone, it’s gone until re-charge time.

        I like this idea from my aunt – take all of your credit cards and freeze them in baggies or bowls of ice. That way you’re not cutting them up, but you have a lot of time to think “do I really need this” while you are thawing the dang thing out.

        You can also go to an all-cash existence. Each time you get a paycheck, you pull out X amount of cash, and that’s all you get.

        Easy to say, hard to implement, but I find that hiding things from the husband is never a good idea. My grandma used to go shopping and hide it, and I hated that, so now even when I buy something tiny and silly and inexpensive the husband knows about it.

        • Thankfully, I haven’t fallen into hiding purchases from my husband. We have joint accounts, and I have no personal credit cards. We have one joint AMEX Charge Card that we use for everything and pay off completely at the end of the month. So I’m (thankfully) not digging myself into debt there, and to freeze that card would be freezing all of my access to funds since we don’t use our bank account for anything other than holding the money until we pay off our AMEX.

          • What’s wrong with freezing your access to funds aside from what you allot yourself in some other form (cash, gift card, etc.)?

          • I wouldn’t have any way to pay for something if I had a flat tire (happens more than I would like) or encountered some other odd non-daily occurance. My husband works about 45 minutes away, and can’t really come rescue me if I need funds.

          • I mean this in the kindest possible way, but it seems like this system of using your cc for everything (and thereby having unlimited access to funds) is not working for you.

            Maybe explore some other spending systems like carrying around cash in different envelopes earmarked for different purposes, or having having daily access only to a pre-paid debit card loaded with only the amount of money you are budgeted to spend that month?

          • just Karen :

            I think you could have a credit card that you designate for emergencies only (like a flat tire) and it would be pretty easy to keep that separate mentally from your cash or debit card system if you decided to implement it. If you keep using the “emergency” card for clothing or coffee, I’d say this is definitely a problem you could use some assistance with and that counseling would be a worthwhile investment.

    • I saw a show once about a woman w/ a shopping problem. The therapist had her write down all of the time that she spent shopping and made her examine all of her purchases in front of the therapist. It was an eye-opener for the woman — she was spending all of her time shopping rather than with the people she loved, and she had tons of unopened packages stuffed in closets. Maybe doing that will help you realize how much you are shopping/spending.

      If you really like having new clothes, you may want to think about selling on ebay. I have a friend who loves to have the latest thing. She will buy a new item, usually wear it once or twice, then sell it on ebay for about what she paid for it since it is still a new item in stores. That keeps her in the latest thing and within her budget.

      • I think my problem is boredom, along with seeing ALL THE PRETTY THINGS, and knowing I can buy/afford them, even though they’re not in my budget. And when I say ‘afford’ I mean, I can buy them and still pay my bills, even though it’s cutting into what we could be saving.

        • e_pontellier :

          This makes it sound like saving is hugely un-satisfying for you. What if you were saving for an expensive handbag once a year or something that you really could enjoy?

    • I found myself spending a little crazily, and I put myself on a shopping ban.

      I immediately put all those emails from stores IN THE TRASH – set up a google filter and just have them sent immediately to the trash and bypass the inbox completely.

      I say this because I found that when I went through the unsubscribe feature I found myself then perusing the website. This way there are no chances. Also agree to immediately unsubscribe from the daily emails from flash sales sites.

      Also subscribe to one of those apps that blocks certain websites on your computer to keep you from tempting yourself with online shopping.

      Then clear out your closet and take an inventory of what you have. This was an eye opener for me, in that I had tons of clothes that I never wore. Take those clothes and consign them, use the cash you get to pay off any debt you have incurred from spending too much.

      I would also work on using a diary to track how you feel when you want to shop. What are your triggers? Is it work stress? Boredom? Family drama? Figuring out these things will help you work on finding a better way of dealing with what makes you want to shop. This might be a good time to look into a therapist to help you come up with better coping mechanisms for your triggers, and might help you with being able to communicate them with your DH better.

      • I have done the shopping ban thing, and it worked for about a month. I’m back to my bad ways again though.

        I went through an unsubscribed from all the emails, and didn’t shop though, soo…maybe that’s improvement. hahah.

        I do have tons of clothes I don’t wear, but I buy cheap things because they’re cheap, and how can I not get a skirt that’s $6? So most of them aren’t consignment worthy. I do need to clean out though, and go from there.

        I shop for various reasons. Recently, it’s boredom, and probably a little hopelessness that my personal budget is so out of control, it really doesn’t matter if I spend more because I’m never going to get out of the pit I’ve dug myself. (This isn’t debt on credit cards, just my budget in Mint is so over, (I feel like) I’m never going to get out.) I also shop when stressed, or sad, or angry. Basically, I just always shop.

        I may consider therapy though, because I’ve got to get this under control, and I really have to work on my lack of self discipline.

        • How do you shop? Online? In store?

          Also, how do you spend your time? Re: the boredom – is there something else you can be doing? Whether it’s exercise or volunteering or just watching tv.

          • I shop both online and in store.

            We don’t own a TV, so that’s out, but mostly I surf the web (which leads to shopping), and sew/craft/etc. Social things usually lead to me spending money (going out for coffee or dinner with a friend, walking around the mall, etc.)

            Volunteering is an idea, and I do need to get back to exercising. Those are good ideas, thank you!

          • We don’t own a TV either, but I manage to watch plenty online. Try getting into a show on Hulu (free). Since you use your computer to watch, you won’t be able to shop online while you’re watching. Or read a book. It sounds like having an alternate activity for your downtime at home would be good.

          • Buy a TV.

          • I’m sorry, I should have clarified: I’ve never owned a TV, and don’t plan to for personal reasons. I used to read in my spare time a lot more than I do now, but buying books has been more expense. I have been exploring a library card for this issue.

          • Ah, I also don’t watch TV. Haha, should have clarified further.

          • Free museums. Art galleries. Parks (although it is chilly now but I like parks in the winter time). Youtube for workout videos. Also….you can borrow ebooks from a library. So, lots of free things to be had inside and outside of the home.

          • Tough Love re: books :

            Dude, you’re spending $1500 a year at Starbucks. You can afford books!

        • Also, since you spend so much time online for fun, consider creating your own personal finance blog. Your rules on how to approach your budget and whatnot but you’ll also be spending A LOT of time creating and maintaining your blog. Plus, public accountability.

          • Ooh, I think I could do this. I have blogged before, but got bored. I think this would be helpful for me.

      • Have you considered leaving the credit cards at home and only carrying cash – budget for the week perhaps? (1) lots of studies show that physically handing over more money is a curb on spending, and (2) it does make it impossible to spend more than you have with you.

        • I have considered this, but DH hates spending cash. He wants an electronic transaction for everything, so he can track it in Mint. The only card I use is our joint AMEX charge card, which is what we use for everything throughout the month, and we pay it off in full at the end of the month.

          I’ll talk to him about it though. I was considering this morning talking to him about each of us having ‘allowances’ for the week in cash (for lunches, coffee, etc), and once that’s gone, we can’t use our card.

          • Use cash and save the receipts. And then manually enter the receipts. You have the pain of handing over cash, and then the pain of entering the number to remind you how you are spending your money. Just b/c you use cash doesn’t mean you can’t track it. You just have to work a little harder, which may be to your benefit if you want to curb spending.

          • Meg Murry :

            I think you should seriously consider going to cash for “fun money”. Does it really matter whether the fun money was spent at Target, Starbucks or an electronics store? Just agree to take out a certain amount every month or week for fun money, and make that one of your budgeting categories. Just be realistic about how much money it currently is so you don’t make the fun money budget too low.

            On a few other points such as Starbucks – could you make your own iced coffee by making coffee the night before & refridgerating it? Or if you aren’t willing to give up your daily Starbucks habit, is there somewhere else you are willing to cut? A gym membership you don’t actually use, a cable package you don’t watch, etc, getting your hair cut somewhere less expensive, etc? If spending less at Starbucks doesn’t work, then you need to up the Starbucks budget and lower another budget (not savings).
            Other thoughts on shopping – returns. Keep the tags on clothes you buy until you actually intend to wear them and put them in the front of your closet. Every couple weeks, do the “am I actually going to wear this” check, and if not, return it. I tend to buy a lot of cheap clothes at Target, but when I get home I decide it really isn’t quite right or it’s almost the same as something else I already have, so I take back 50-75% of what I buy (and on return trips I can’t shop more, ONLY return & go home).

        • This is so true. I am always amazed at how under-budget I end up after vacationing in cash-only places!!

      • des-pairing :

        +1 on cleaning out your closet. I have a rule of 3x or out, if I don’t wear something 3 times a year, unless it’s a formal / dressy outfit, I donate it. That way when I’m considering the next purchase, I’m forced to think whether it’s worth it, and it mostly isn’t.
        +1 also on saving for a big purchase. Would you rather have thirty $6 skirts or one amazing dress? A Starbucks everyday or one trip to Mexico?

        And if you’re bored, get a hobby that has instant, measurable rewards. Working out is one (though don’t use it as an excuse to buying cute workout clothes. Volunteer, learn to cook, bake, sew, the options are endless!

    • My husband is a diligent user of Quicken and we keep absolutely meticulous track of what we spend. And Quicken can create graphs that show things like “percentage of monthly spend for clothes” or food or whatever, which helps me visualize. Also, when DH and I have to talk about money, it really helps when we have a spreadsheet of our budget printed out in advance, so that we can talk rationally about actual numbers, rather then just about vague concepts like “YOU SPEND TOO MUCH.”

      Finally, there definitely are Shoppers Anonymous type orgs. But some simple steps are to either unsubscribe from all the e-mails you get from stores and shopping websites (the sales are still there, you don’t *need* to get the e-mail) and try to become all right with just window shopping but on-line. I mean, if I have a shopping bug, sometimes I will purposefully look at shoes or purses or whatever that are so absurdly out of my budget that it just doesn’t matter (or I’ll shop for other people) because if I spend my time in the Talbots sale section or the cheaper areas of Nordies, then its easier to justify. Does that makes sense?

      Well, those are the things that work for me and I have cut way back on my extra spending recently. But I’m sure its different for everyone.

      • Spreadsheets are a good idea. One of the issues that we have is that DH thinks conceptually instead of realistically. Our gas budget is consistently over every month by around $200, we don’t drive excessively, but he doesn’t want to change it because “we can just go to Target less” or “we can stay home more.” I’ve started to stay home almost every evening, we only drive to work and we both drive to church. So…it’s an unrealistic budget that he won’t change.

        That actually does make a lot of sense, and is one of the reasons why this site isn’t a threat. (see above) I can’t afford many of the things posted, but enjoy looking.

        Thank you for all of the great ideas.

        • e_pontellier :

          Wow, this sounds miserable. Is your husband’s unrealistic budget influencing your attitude toward your own budget (that it is also optional)?

        • Budgets need to start from a place of realism, not from a place of imaginary “shoulds”. And a budget that requires you to sit home all the time and never run errands is really not that great a budget anyway.

          So one of the good things about a careful tracking spreadsheet is that you can figure out after a few months where your money is ACTUALLY going and where there is room to wiggle and save. And it has to be a two way street. It can’t be just your DH saying “you’re so profligate, but *I’M” perfect.” He has to be willing to make sacrifices too. But saying “well we SHOULD spend this much on gas because that’s my sense of how much gas should cost per month is useless.

          • e_pontellier :

            It also sounds like no matter how much you do control your money, your husband will always say it’s not good enough and that money should be spent differently. This is just toxic. So, take heart OP because it sounds like there’s a lot more going on than you’re giving yourself credit for! I think your husband is as much to blame as you might be for not having — and sticking to — a REALISTIC budget that you can both be happy with.

          • If your gas budget is consistantly over by $200/month, that means it’s time to re-do the budget. Maybe it’s a change in driving, or oil prices, or whatever. But until the budged is changed so that you and DH find that $200 in the rest of your budget (maybe you decide that you can cut $20 of starbucks, he can cut $30 in happy hour beers, whatever), you’ll both just be annoyed that the budget is ONCE AGAIN off.

            Have you guys thought about working backwards? How about deciding on the $ amount you want to save each month and have it aut0=deposited into a totally separate bank account. Then spend out of the remainder. Then you can’t fall back on “knowing you can spend it”. Use your debit cards, not credit cards.

            DH and I were able to really amp up our savings this way. We started with $500 per person per paycheck and just slowly increased and increased and manged to live off the remainder. It’s really nice to peek into that account once in a while and see how well we are doing. [FWIW we also actively manage that account- but it isn’t available for day-to-day spending]

    • I don’t know much about it beyond the name, but Wardrobe Oxygen keeps recommending something called Gwynee Bee (sp?), which is sort of like Netflix for clothes — you get a box, and when you’re tired of those clothes you send them back and then they send you some more. Maybe that would sate your desire for new and be easier on the budget.

      Ultimately, you have to figure out appropriate spending levels for your income and goals, but maybe something like this can help you transition.

      You might also consider therapy to help you understand what need it is that the shopping fulfills for you, and figure out what else would do. Maybe you could tag-team with TCFKAG as a vicarious shopper and that would be satisfying, for example.

      • Vicarious shopping does help. Maybe I’ll offer to help friends with styling and shopping…Great idea! Thank you.

    • How about taking each of these temptations one at a time? My guess is the clothing shopping habit is far more expensive (and thus creates more tension with your husband) than the Starbucks habit so I would start there (and employ the tips listed above to tackle clothing shopping—or, not shopping—while still enjoying your daily or twice daily or thrice daily coffee). Once you’ve mastered your shopping habit, then you can look at your Starbucks habit.

      I find trying to “fix” too many things in my life at one time just leads to disaster (see New Year’s resolutions). But if I do them one at a time, then I can make a lot of progress.

      Good luck!

    • transition :

      there’s a tv show exactly about this called “til debt do us part” try to find that to DVR or online or anywhere else, it might help a ton!

    • I am a banana. :

      I managed to completely stop buying anything online by using Evernote to clip and save my checkout page. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but it lets me feel like I have some return on the time I spent fake shopping. I have the greatest fake wardrobe ever.

      • I will check into this as well! I would probably have an amazing ‘fake’ wardrobe too!

      • I do my own version of online window shopping all the time. Put a bunch of stuff in my online shopping cart, and then close the window. I’ve saved lots of $$, and my fake online wardrobe is amazing.

      • Lady Harriet :

        I spend SO much time online window shopping for shoes. I keep a spreadsheet of the ones I really like with prices, which site I found them at, comments, and even a ranking system for how high a priority they are for me to buy. It gives me almost the same sense of satisfaction that shopping does, and if I do actually end up buying something I’ll have considered it long enough to be sure I’ll really use it. It’s amazing how many shoes that I became enthralled with at first sight are a lot less appealing after a couple of weeks or months.

    • Wondering :

      You say you hate coffee. Would you consider drinking tea or chai at home? We curbed all of our Starbucks purchases entirely once I started drinking chai, which I enjoy way more coffee anyway. I have a great recipe if you want it. Alternatively, if you do like the taste of those Starbucks drinks, perhaps consider buying one of those fancy machines and making them at home.

    • Thank you all for giving me such great ideas. I think DH and I have much to talk about tonight. I think I’ll start by discussing how we need to revise our budgets so they are realistic and reasonable, as well as putting a saving plan in place. After that, I am going to bring up how using the charge card exclusively is not working for me (neither is my Starbucks card), and suggest that I switch to cash for my ‘fun money’ and only use the card for household expenses. That is something that I am pretty confident I can do. If I do ‘need’ to purchase something on the card, I am going to ask him prior to doing so, so there is an accountability piece.

      I’m also going to get a library card today and rekindle the hobbies that I’ve let fall to the side for shopping: baking, sewing, reading and writing (starting a personal finance blog). (And try to get my rear off the couch to excercise…that will be a miracle.)

      I plan to work on getting my shopping under control prior to tackling the Starbucks habit, so I’m not overwhelming myself.

      Anything else that would be helpful? I think this is a good start.

      • anon for this :

        I like cold coffee too, so I brew a big pot and keep it in a pitcher in the fridge. I also whip it up in a single-serve blender with some half&half and coffee syrups. Maybe you could try that? I like having my coffee FIRSTHINGINTHEMORNING so I make this concoction while my eyes are still glued shut.

        • I have tried to cold brew really strong coffee to mimic the taste of the espresso in the drink I get, but it hasn’t worked yet for me. I do realize though that I will need to compromise taste occasionally for the benefit of not spending the money. Do you brew your coffee really strong?

          I was close to having created a perfect substitute for the caramel macchiatto, but I can’t find the right caramel in the store. They do sell Starbucks’ caramel online though, so I may just give in and buy it. I have an espresso machine that works pretty well for what I would need it to do.

      • SpaceMountain :

        There was a comment above about saving not being fun for you. I read this book ages ago that advocated setting up “funding” accounts. Ok, so it’s really a budget, but rather than telling you how much you can’t spend, it tells you how much you can spend — and money carries over. So if you have $50/month in your Starbucks fund, and you spend only $40 that month, the next month you have $60 in there. If you switch to cash, it’ll be easier. This can really add for bigger budgets like clothes if you cut back for a couple of months. If you go this way, it would be easier for you to save up for bigger purchases and keep your husband off your back. For example, right now, if you two underspend in a budget category, what happens to that extra money?

        • Lady Harriet :

          I do this in Mint, and I find it really helpful. I find it exciting that the longer I go without spending, the more I have!

          You also might try putting together new outfits from the clothes you already have. I find that sometimes satisfies the creative urges that make me want to shop.

    • TO Lawyer :

      I shop a lot. When I’m not consciously restraining myself, I can spend hundreds each month on starbucks, lunches, dinners out and new clothes.

      One thing that helps me is tracking everything. I use my credit card for everything (in theory, for the rewards but actually it’s just super convenient) but I track everything so if I see it’s the third week of the month and I’ve already used up my restaurant quota, I’ll try to rein myself in the last week of the month.

      The other thing that has helped is my savings accounts are connected to my chequing account (I have 2) but I treat them as one-way only. I automatically move money every payday, and at the end of the month, I will often move money into one so it’s not sitting in my chequing account. Seeing the balances grow and seeing how much I’ve been able to save in the last six months (without really missing the money) is making me more motivated to keep saving instead of the tiny thrill I get from a new top or something.

      I also make sure my budget has room. As my boyfriend will sometimes tell me “your budget has a lot of categories” but yes, I have a starbucks budget and a clothes budget and a makeup budget and yes it may be extravagant, but because it’s not super strict, I’m actually able to stick to it (most months). I think you have to be realistic with your budgets in order to be able to live with them.

  35. My poor friend may be getting laid off today. I really want to send her something to show her I care, and that it really sucks, but she’ll get through it.

    Any ideas? I feel so terrible for her, and I really just want to give her a big hug, but she lives 5 hours away. Any suggestions are welcome.

    • Scotch. Can you send scotch? Or a bottle of wine, but I feel like scotch is better for when the universe deals you a bad hand. If she’s in a booze-delivery state, you can order it online, or if she’s in New York you can call a liquor store and have them deliver it.

    • Or cookies. Or maybe scotch and cookies? You are a very good friend for sending her something during this time.

      • Merabella :

        I think booze and cookies is a great idea. I will probably be doing that tonight and getting it in the mail for her. What a terrible hand to be dealt at the holidays of all times. Jerks!

        • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

          Jerky behavior, definitely. I wonder if the management at her company is doing it to avoid paying bonuses (if they pay them around Xmas or New Year’s) and to boost earnings #s for the fourth quarter.

        • I once got laid off 2 weeks after christmas, which is awful, too because I’d bought gifts and then had to find a way to pay for them.

          My brother and his friends took me out with them that night. I’m a wine and cheese girl, more than wine and cookies, but I’d have appreciated any treats.

    • I’m pro-junk food. But also, maybe a iTunes or Amazon e-gift certificate so she can watch some fluffy movies/shows?

      • Merabella :

        This is a great idea. I think this warrants the complete first and second season of Downton Abbey!

  36. I’ve had trouble with designs like this before, but it puts me in mind of lesions we saw during dermatology rotations.
    To each her own, of course, and I should probably be working on my aversive reaction.

  37. can someone confirm that once your IBR loans are forgiven, it wont count as taxable income for that year?

    • transition :

      loans are forgiven after 10 yrs for those working in non-profit and fit the specific parameters. that amount forgiven is not taxable.

      loans are forgiven after 20 years for all else. that amount is taxable.

      I don’t think anyone’s hit this point though since this came into play via Obama. if this doesn’t answer, try calling one of the major tax prep places and asking them, they might answer for free.

      • they dont answer :(

        Ive been doing it for a year now. at the end of 10 years, I will owe more than I owe now. it will probably be close to 400k. if they try to tax me on that, my life would be over. i didnt even know this was a possibility

        • Check this advisory letter from the IRS, on the bottom of page two into page three, the author starts to discuss public service loans. This seems to indicate you’re in the clear…

    • I seem to remember that people are advocating for it not to be taxable, but last I heard it was. Found this:

    • This is some of what the IRS has to say on it – though I won’t guarentee that this is exhaustive information. (From Publication 970, for further reading).

      • this and de’s link is very helpful, thank you. i googled and could not find those, I appreciate it

    • lucy stone :

      My understanding is that there either is legislation or will be to ensure it will not be taxable. Check out, they usually have great info on this stuff.

  38. what do people think of this article in today’s nyt? it’s from the dean at case western’s law school. i’m in medicine, so can’t judge well about the market- but his arguments seemed kind of vague.

    link to follow!


      • lucy stone :

        Long story short, it’s stupid. The salary figures are so high because of people at large firms, and I don’t begrudge them their money because they work for it, but most of us don’t make anything like that. I graduated with $78,000 in loans from undergrad and law school and make $65,000, so there goes his ratio argument. If it weren’t for IBR and the fact I work two jobs, I’d be in an ugly spot.

    • This article made me mad when I read it online last night for a few reasons:

      i) said Dean is a big fan of citing averages. Average salaries, average debt, etc. Well, if you are at a tail of an average, your situation could be hugely different. Life-changingly different.

      ii) said Dean citing that he was worried about brain drain from law, and then giving an example of a woman who did not attend law school when admitted to his school, as she would be incurring about $5000 in debt. This seemed like a very specious argument. In terms of societal benefit, I think that law school probably creates brain drain from other industries, so if law school’s brain drain is lessened, that might be a net positive for society. Second, the woman he cited in the example seemed less like a super-bright “tragedy” that didn’t elect to go to school and more like a student worried about debt. So was she the very best example he could find?

      iii) his argument that “law school tuition has gone up a lot, but so have other school’s tuition” and “so have starting salaries” (again, on average) also seemed like a shell game of numbers. Oh really–we should go to law school because it’s “less bad” than med school? Come on!

      Overall, I was highly unimpressed by this dean’s logic. I don’t think law school is awful. I just think that a dean could show a bit more leadership and deeper thought an analysis.

  39. my post disappeared. :( i was wondering what folks thought of the op-ed in today’s nyt, from the law school dean at case western?

  40. Calibrachoa :

    If I saw that on someone my first thought would be “HOW much ketchup did they spill on themselves?” XD

    Aaand I am threadjacking! Help out an IT monkey?

    Boss-man told me that we’re doing a customer visit Friday next. I’ve never actually been at one before – being IT, problems.. err.. customers, come to us. I checked with bossman, and although over here we go from Business Casual to (very) Casual Friday, he says we’re observing Business casual. With NO IDEA about the customer’s dres scode policy in their big IT hub, I want to look smart but not completely out of place when I know Bossman is leaving the tie home. Suggestions?

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