One more week!

In 7 days I’ll become “Mrs. Woodpecker”.

Kind of a crazy thought. There has been so  much going on here that really it is impossible to list it all but here are a few highlights:

1. We’re going on a cruise for our honeymoon. Turns out that last minute cruise deals are pretty dang inexpensive. Flights? Not so much, but it wasn’t too bad. All in all we are getting a 4-day cruise with an oceanview room (non-obstructive) plus airfare for two for about $2,000. Add in a little bit for airport to cruise port transfers and 3 days of excursions and we’ll probably add to that a little.

2. We’re going on a roadtrip. My cousin is graduating from high school in Salt Lake City on June 6th. Her brother is getting married in Salt Lake City on June 15th. So we’re flying out there, renting a car, and in between the two events taking a camping road trip through Utah. We’re visiting Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, Bryce National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park. Very excited about this, should be a ton of fun.

3. I had to buy a new laptop. My home computer had been a brick for about a year. And my work computer was out of commission for a week. I still had to…yanno… work. So I ended up buying a new computer. It cost me around $550 for the thing, as I got an older Windows 7 model (all of my work stuff requires Windows 7 and I’m loathe to make the switch to Windows 8 until I absolutely have to). I’ve also decided that “the cloud” is the most amazing thing ever if you have to switch computers. It used to be when you got a new computer it felt like you were starting your life over. This time I just downloaded Dropbox and Chrome and my files were all in place and so were my browser bookmarks. I was up and working within 30 minutes of pulling the computer out of the box. Wam bam, thank you, ma’am!

4. I got a new job. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my old job. Except… I hated that I wasn’t getting paid nearly enough, and I haven’t had retirement benefits in the past 2 years. Oh yeah, and I have to do things that we really should have a lab tech to do (order chemicals, prep labs, maintain MSDS sheets, etc). So another college just 3 miles away (and much larger) had a position opened and I applied. I had a phone interview, was called back for an on-campus interview, and voila! they offered me the position. My 9 month contract with the new school is the same pay as my 11 month contract with the old school. Which means my per-month salary will be higher. In addition new school has lab assistants that prep the labs and take care of all of that so I don’t have to. In addition they give me a 7% retirement (I’m required a match, of course). The school is larger, so I’ll have more colleagues which I’m really looking forward to. Having only 1 other chemist it has been difficult to “talk shop”. I like bouncing ideas off of a variety of people so I think it will work well. Oh yes, all of this and my teaching load will be LESS per semester. There will be some drawbacks, like I’ll miss the small community of the old school, I’ll miss the relationships I’ve build with students and colleagues there, and I’ll miss having a lot of autonomy in how my classes are run since I’m the only one teaching them. Overall though I think this transition will be better for me in the long run. While I’m certain I will make this transition, I have not signed a contract yet at the new school (they don’t issue until May), so I won’t be alerting my current school to my plans until our renewal contracts come in or I sign at the new school, which ever happens first.

Wedding Plans (Revisited, again… again)

Mr Woodpecker and I finally (in December) came up with our wedding plan: a destination wedding in Cancun. It fit my idea of having to not plan and Mr Woodpecker really wants to go back since he had an enjoyable experience there. Best of all: if we stayed at the hotel for 3 days, they’d pay for a basic ceremony.

It all seemed perfect, until my side of the family all decided that they were NOT coming to the wedding. Even those we gave them nearly a year lead-time. They all decided that it was too expensive (~$400 for airfare and ~$300/night for room + food + entertainment for up to 4 ppl in the room). Oh aside from one uncle who said it wasn’t too expensive, but that he was not going to get his passport to go.

So I spent about 3 days just pissed at my family. Then I became pissed at myself. I had done something that I always hate in other people. I invited them to something they wanted to go to, but couldn’t afford. Much like inviting your minimum wage friend to join you in eating at an expensive restaurant where you’d split the bill.

Mr Woodpecker and I then spent about a month just ignoring making wedding plans.

That is until the past few days. My uncle sent me a message that my cousin is graduating from high school and that ALL of my family is going to Salt Lake City for her graduation. (Mustering all of my emotions to not be offended that they would all agree to going to that but none of them would come to my wedding, and ignoring that I was obviously the last one invited to the graduation and instead focusing on the fact that I was invited…) Mr Woodpecker and I decided that we will just have a reception with my family in Salt Lake City at the same time. The point is to celebrate with family, so who cares if we do this the “traditional way”? Let’s just do this thing OUR way!

At which point we decided, why not just have our wedding dinner at a nice restaurant some evening with our parents and siblings? Just a nice, formal, close family thing. Then the morning after have my in-laws host breakfast for all our friends, extended family in the area. Then in May/June we have the road-trip reception that we both wanted to do when we very first thought about getting married. And our honeymoon? Hello, Cancun!

And the nice part is that we can pay for this whole plan in stages.

The actual wedding at our fancy restaurant  Should be about $1500 (going all out here for 8 people) and paid for with some of my overload money. The morning breakfast will be hosted/payed for by my future parents-in-law. Then the road trip reception we will be paid for with the rest of my overload money. The honeymoon? We’ll do that after the debt is paid off and we can save up for it (most likely next December over winter break).

After a month of being an unhappy bride-to-be, thinking she’d never have a wedding that would work for her, it is nice to be happy again. And nice to have a plan that is exciting and fits us. No, there won’t be walking down aisles, or bridesmaids, or even a bouquet. But there will be me and Mr Woodpecker, and the people we’re closest to, and that is all we want. So who cares about garters and aisle markers and candles? I know I don’t. And I think that is what the perfect wedding is to us. Everything we want without all the other stuff we don’t care about.

Obligatory 2013 Goal Post

Mr. Woodpecker and I sat down yesterday and made our goals for the 2013 year. We’re very excited about accomplishing these goals in the next 12 months (or at least making significant progress on them).

  1. Pay off credit card debt by April 30th, 2013. This is going pretty well so far, we have about $8,500 more to go. We’ll definitely be half way there by the end of this month. This goal will have to be accomplished before we can do the rest of the goals. Step in the next 48 hours: Worked at Kohls and paid almost $600 off within 2 days of making the goal.
  2. Have wedding with family present completely debt free. We want a debt free wedding. And a kick ass honeymoon (see step #5). I think we’ve finally reached a decision about our wedding: Cancun wedding at an all-inclusive. The ceremony is free, the reception is free. All we’ll have to pay for is airfare, room, and photography. It is more expensive for our guests, but it is more affordable for us. And we’re giving everyone we want an “out” with the option to celebrate with us at our pot-luck reception at our house afterwards. Step in the next 48 hours: Contact the all-inclusive to see about reserving a date.
  3. Build fence for backyard (debt free). We want to put a fence in the backyard for the dogs. This has always been the thing that we wanted to do as our first “home project”.  Step in the next 48 hours: Looking in to doggy door options online, since we already have the fence guy we want to use and an approximate cost ($1,500).
  4. Set up 10% of both our incomes going to retirement, set up wills, make sure beneficiaries on retirement and life insurance are updated, make sure amounts on life insurance are appropriate. I feel like since we’re getting married this is pretty obvious that we need to do this.  Step in the next 48 hours: Find ourselves a marital attorney for wills, discuss pre-nups, etc. Contact financial adviser to set up meeting (free service provided by my employer).  Retirement and life insurance above our work minimums will be set up after goal #1.
  5. Go on kick ass vacation (A.K.A. – a honeymoon) debt free. See comments on goal #2. We’re doing this!

Trip to Vegas

Mr Woodpecker and I took a quick one night, two day trip to Las Vegas this past weekend to look at wedding venues. We decided that a $500 trip to Vegas to check things out might end up saving us money in the long run. This was DEFINITELY true!

Before going I figured we’d end up going with Caesar’s Palace. From the websites that was the venue I liked the most. After visiting about 10 different venues and talking to many consultants, we narrowed it down to two: Planet Hollywood and Cosmopolitan.

Planet Hollywood because it was the least expensive option to give us everything we wanted (we could do the wedding + reception of appetizers and drinks for around $5,000). The chapel there was pretty and they use the photographer we wanted.

Cosmopolitan because it is just perfect. Exactly what we wanted. But the price? Not exactly cheap. The wedding + reception of appetizers and drinks for around $7,500. They also use the photographer we wanted.

The two venues are not equal is quality or amenities offered.

Getting back home and the smell of Vegas dissipating from our clothing… well, we’re not sure. The Vegas wedding would be fun and beautiful. But do we really need to spend close to $10,000 when we include rings, dresses, travel, ceremony, reception, etc. And not even provide a full meal for our friends and family who have traveled to spend the day with us?

So now we’re considering using a chapel on his school campus ($400 for  3 hour reservation) and the reception at the restaurant that we had our first date at (~$3000 for a meal for 40 people). I don’t care about flowers and things like that, so I’ll probably just do an inexpensive bouquet and have that be it for flowers/decoration. I think we may even just skip the cake since neither of it really like it and just have everyone order dessert from the restaurant. I think we could do everything for $5,000 total and avoid the expensive of airfare AND provide a meal for everyone. Also, our family from out of town would get a chance to see our home which would be nice.

Then again, there is a lot of fun to be had in Vegas… and that could be awesome.