Thursday, November 29, 2007

Aruba... an easy to read, bullet-pointed summary

I haven't yet posted about our honeymoon to Aruba because I wanted to write a big, in-depth post that does such an awesome trip justice (plus, I'll admit, I've been testing out some of the stories on friends and family members). Now that work isn't keeping me up until all hours of the night, here are some highlights...

- When we got to the hotel near the airport the night before our flight (and too far from home to go back), I realized that I packed for the balmy weather of Aruba and failed to include any shorts or cargo pants. I was set for a week of fancy dinners and swimming because I had more than enough skirts and bathing suits... but not nearly enough shorts. It led to us spending part of the first day of our honeymoon shopping and the Pretend Husband's declaration, "I married an idiot." Unfortunately, I gave him a few more occasions to use the catch phrase during the remainder of the week!

- While the U.S. is somewhat obsessed with the concepts of "rules" and "liability," the same cannot be said for Aruba. Going horseback riding, but never been on a horse before? No worries... the experience included the very detailed instructions of "Always get on and off the horse from the left," a quick lesson on how to hold the reins and the warning "Don't scream if the horse starts galloping." And then we were more or less left to fend for ourselves and trade tips about what worked as we galloped across the beach at breakneck speeds.
Our ATV tour was much the same way. The instructions? "Gas on the right, brake on the left." I didn't so much "take a tour" as "try to keep up with our guide as he gunned it." Also, we rode back to the ranch for about 10 miles on city streets. Seriously. We even went through two rotaries on ATVs as the cars and trucks whizzed by us.

-I am lucky to have returned from our trip with fingernails. I had some fake ones put on for the wedding and still had them on, of course, in Aruba. One of our activities was snorkeling off of a pirate ship. Very fun except for the part where they dropped us off in choppy waters, one woman hit her lip on the ladder trying to get back on the boat and the PH lost a mask and swallowed a gallon of sea water. But it really was fun other than that. Anyway, one part of the afternoon included the chance to use the boat's rope swing to jump of the edge of the boat, swing out over the ocean and drop into the water. A long line of people did it, including the aforementioned older (maybe 60 years old) woman who cut her lip. How hard could it be, right?
Um, the PH reports I got about a foot away from the boat before I dropped like a rock. I hit the water thinking I was going to have 10 bleeding fingers from the nails ripping off. They stayed on because these fake ones are 10 times stronger than the real ones, but I had sore fingers for the rest of the night. Apparently, soccer doesn't do much for my arm strength.

-The final memorable moment was when we got detained in the airport. We got flagged by customs officers for having gone horseback riding (hoof & mouth disease fears) and for having a sandwich that had ham in it in our bag (they didn't care about the turkey sandwich, though). We had to sanitize the shoes we wore horseback riding and throw away the ham sandwich before we were allowed to board the plane. I was just happy there was no cavity search or anything!

Anyway, we're back to the ol' grind at Chez KAT. It was a quick trip back to reality when we landed at home and the pilot announced the temperature as 30 degrees! Ugh!

Monday, November 26, 2007

How to Shop on Black Friday

Holy crap.

That's how I'd sum it up. I had never been shopping on Black Friday (unless you count popping into Kohls at 12:30 last year and avoiding every line but also missing some key items). So I was unprepared for the THRONGS of (evil) people.

But I did learn my lesson, and have decided to share these valuable tips with you, our dear readers.

1) Dress in layers. When you have to stand outside a target at 5:30 in the morning, you'll be glad you had that extra layer. You'll also want to shed them when you have to stand in line for over an hour to get that 50 percent off something or another because the people in front of you have to argue every item they've purchased (i.e. "that was supposed to be $7.99, not $8.50.")

2) Listen to other people's conversations. It'll give you an idea of whether or not you should even try to get near the display of Xbox 360s or if you should make a b-line to the playdoh as soon as you get in. It may also scare you and make you question their sanity, but it's also sometimes good for a laugh.

3) Do not bring a carriage into the toy aisle at Target. You won't be able to move anyway, and you'll just make other people angry for blocking their way. And your carriage will stay empty because you will not be nimble enough to get to the Giggle 'n Go Elmo thing that talks and is loved by all 3-year olds.

4) Bring a friend. In my case, it was my husband. The only way to get the $5 playdoh AND the thomas the train toys is to divide and conquer. But make sure you both have cell phones. You'll never find each other unless you designate a safe spot - like in the home bedding department. We used our phones standing 30 feet apart.

5) If you can, memorize the store layout enough to be able to make a quick grab and head towards the registers before the store has been open for 15 minutes. Also, don't browse. You'll be left for dead and eaten by the hordes that have no qualms about running over your body with their (still empty) carts.

If you follow these rules, you'll make it out alive. Or at least, perhaps minorly injured with about half to two-thirds of the items on your list (that you were wise enough to write out the day before while reading the flyers, carefully notating which store had which item and for how much.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Left a Miss, now a Mrs.

I'm baaaaaack! Actually, we've been back physically for a few days, but mentally, I am fighting tooth and nail to remain in Aruba (where the sun always shines and the office has no way to reach me!) Tons of stories for our dear readers from the adventure that is our honeymoon, but not a lot of time to get into details.

My job needs me right now. Not in that "Oh, no one could do as good a job as I do. Tee hee" kind of way, but in the "Oh crap, the only full-time employee at this paper just took a week and half off and, surprisingly, her non-existent assistant did not pick up the slack" kind of way. I'm swamped. But SO enjoying this whole Mrs. thing. I may be 30 (and only days away from 31! Eeek!) but I still giggle to myself when people used my new, married name. So far, I've managed to keep the glee to myself.

So one quick anecdote from the wedding of the year... lil sis asked if she could give a toast at our rehearsal dinner and, despite the fact that I gave a toast at her wedding in April and included a slightly embarrassing story from our childhood, I agreed to let her. Well, she whipped out some obscure tale about the time we duct taped ourselves together and woke my dad up by being in the bathroom together giggling. As the story goes, Dad said, "One of you get out of there and go to bed!" and our reply was, "We can't! We're stuck together!" So, ahem, just another story from our college days (just kidding, we were more like 10 and 8).

Anyway, lil sis managed not only that little gem, but a shout-out to FunnyGals that had both SJ and I frantically scanning the room to see who among the crazy relatives may have been mentioned to the extent that one of us should leave the rehearsal dinner and find a computer to begin deleting posts. Luckily, lil sis did not give out our full URL, as both SJ and I thought she was about to. Instead, she cited my hubby's moniker as the Pretend Husband and presented him with a T-shirt proclaiming him "100% Real Husband." Which, now he is.

But I'm not sure about him not being the PH anymore. So, let's do this democratically (or, as democratically as we can without giving the PH a vote). What do you think? Pretend Husband for life? Or should he be the Real Husband? Or perhaps something else entirely? Let the people speak.

Friday, November 16, 2007

If Hitler were a piecemaker...

Once upon a time, our very good friend – let’s call her Charity for the sake of anonymity – got married, and I was her matron of honor. In order to pay homage to our life long (now 25 years, which is also an anniversary that I share with srg)), I decided to make her a quilt. This was particularly touching for Charity because the two of us learned to quilt together at a church group a few years earlier. We suffered through being the two youngest (by 20 years or so) women in the club, but had a BLAST trying to learn.

So that’s how I learned how to quilt. And Charity’s quilt was in fact only the 3rd quilt I had ever made. The first was practice, the second was for J (a memory quilt) and there were a few minor pillow projects thrown in there for my dad and J. But, KAT, being my partner in crime, was so touched by the quilt I made Charity, that she told me that *she* wanted a quilt. I told her “When you get married…” And she responded: “but what if I don’t get married?!” and I said “Then for your 30th birthday..”

As we all know, KAT turned 30 in December of last year. However, I was able to buy some time by telling her “Well, now you’re getting married.”

Flash forward to two weeks ago: The weekend before the wedding. Here I was, so proud of myself for pulling this lovely split rail fence quilt together with beautiful fabrics that matched her living room. That is, until I laid out the strips on the bed. I looked at the quilt, and was instantly panic-struck.


I called J upstairs. He looked at the quilt laid out on the bed and said to me, “Honey, I had no idea you were so proud of your German heritage.”

My quilt, which I thought would be a lovely stair step pattern had actually formed about a half dozen perfectly formed “pinwheels” which, as my husband confirmed for me, actually looked like swastikas.

A few minutes later, we were in our car, at 8:30 at night, headed to my parents house. I walked in and explained my dilemma to my mom, who without looking at the quilt said “Oh, did you put the red on the outside?” Apparently, there is a known risk factor of working with this pattern where, if outlined incorrectly, you could accidentally form the symbol of the Third Reich.

I ended up making a run to Joann’s fabrics the next day in order to do some repair work. I still have some last minute things to finish on it before they return from their honeymoon, including sewing on the label for them, putting on some decorative buttons, and hand-sewing the binding, but the quilt is now mostly complete.

And what started out as a full sized throw quilt ended up as nearly a queen sized quilt, that now forms kind of a window pane pattern, but it’s far more geometric and less Nazi-like. And while I’m sure KAT will appreciate the quilt, if I know her well enough, I think she’ll mostly appreciate the story of how she almost ended up with a swastika-bedecked quilt.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Love Story of KAT and the PH: Part Deaux

Needless to say, we did not get a whole lot of sleep the night before. Still, we were all stirring quietly around 6:10 a.m. the next morning (blame it on the Chocolate Martinis that surely someone would have to get up to pee...).

I opened my eyes and looked at KAT. She was looking back at me.
"Are you excited?" I asked.

"Well now I am!" she responded. And for the next hour and a half we all lay there, none of us able to sleep (despite Mrs. Matt's best efforts) and we talked until we decided someone would have to start the shower at 7:30. (incidentally, it's quite easy to share a bathroom with four girls when none of you have to worry about hair and makeup).

Around 9 a.m., we all gathered to meet Aunt Jane in the lobby of the hotel and piled into her rental to start out to the salon. First stop: Big Y to check out their floral department. After shelling out $116 on the first batch of roses, KAT thought she'd do a little comparison shopping. Side note: You can absolutely tell the difference between grocery store roses and the kind that come "boxed." Go figure. So some bottled water and tissue packs later, we were off to the florist to pick up the next two dozen roses.

As we got to the salon and literally took the place over (much to the shock of the flock of little old ladies getting their hair done) for 10 a.m., we immediately began on the bouquets. Assembly line style, we cut the roses for the vase first. (I'll go into that more... but I must stay chronological, lest I forget any amusing details). Then, KAT and I gave her bouquet our best shot. I must say, we did a fine job. I was at first a little nervous, as when the second florist asked KAT "who's going to be making the bouquet?" when she got it out of her that we were in fact picking up flowers for a wedding the day of the wedding, KAT totally pointed me out. "She is." Had I been driving, I'm sure the florist would have called in her florist friends and stabbed my tires with several floral pins and blacked out my mirrors with that sticky green tape.

At the salon, we all took turns getting "hair and makeup." As you know, KAT wanted us all not to bother getting the same dresses, same shoes, etc. Little did she know, we would all have identical make up. From the smokey eye shadow to grey liner and LOADS of mascara, we all pretty much had the same look.

By the time she got to me, however, I think she was getting tired. After trying all of her foundations, only to discover I was too pale, she tells me: "I think we'll go with this one. I think it'll be okay." Thus. Clown cheeks. In fact, now that I think about this, it's only fitting that the rest of us look like Robert Palmer backup dancers.

And KAT really did look absolutely amazing (Seen here with Dancer #3 --Thank you, Mrs. Matt, for the photo!)

The ceremony itself was just lovely and so original. In an effort to recognize the contributions each member of the wedding party has made to their lives, we all carried two roses up the aisle where A (KAT's brother) collected them in a vase. KAT and her dad also carried a single white rose up the aisle in remembrance of KAT's mom, who passed away three years ago, but was surely there "filling the church with love" (as KAT so beautifully put it) at the beautiful ceremony.

Granted, KAT's brother A got a work out ("A, go down the aisle first.. then run back... then go back up... now grab the vase... and wait- can you also spread rose petals up and down the aisle right before KAT goes down the aisle?" okay. kidding about that last one, but he handled it all in style.)

But everything went off without a hitch. There definite moments of tears. When KAT's little sis brought her a beautiful framed photo of their mom and KAT as a baby, there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

Likewise, when the priest shared the PH's thoughts about KAT: "She makes me a better person," there was a wave of sniffles from the front to the back of the church.

As you can imagine, there were definitely some funny parts. For instance, have you ever seen some of those crazy foundation garments they expect women to wear to hold in their squishy parts? My panty hose were so beyond control top that they even had a pre-defined slit, should you need to go potty. And there were more than a few "tests" to determine in what light someone may be exposed to... more than they should have. (That may seem a little too mysterious, but let's just say
we've been there...)

And there was indeed a dance off... I heard the opening bars of the Humpty dance, and the next I knew, I was holding j's beer and he and the PH were getting jiggy with it. "Seriously?!"

All in all, it was an amazing, unique and incredibly fun 48 hours. I may be missing some parts, but I tried hard to pay attention to the important ones. Like when the PH shed his persona and became, as Little Sis said, the very Real Husband.

So as they toast their toes in Aruba, let us all toast (raise your martinis, coffee cups, wine glasses and milkshakes) to KAT and her new RH and "the reason for the world... you and I."

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Love Story of KAT and the PH: Part One- The day before

There's isn't a fairy tale. It's a real, honest to goodness love story.

You've heard a lot about these two over the past two years. It's true that when you first started hearing about the PH, he was indeed not even a pretend boyfriend. He was just a friend. He was in fact, my husband's best friend since 7th grade. KAT met him about the same time she met me -- which, believe it or not, was just about five years ago, when we both worked as reporters together. It was perhaps a week into our fledgling friendship that they met at Murphy and Scarletti's.

And so it blossomed from mere acquaintances into a great friendship all around. The four of us became an inseparable foursome -- usually playing cards, but sometimes going to movies, going to dinner -- but mostly playing setback.
J and I tried not to force the issue. We wanted them to be together, but if they didn't see it, then we couldn't force it.

Thank goodness they came to their senses. The transition from friends to couple seemed, to us, to be so natural that it had to be the right match for both of them. There was never any doubt to me that they would end up together. It's been so fun for me to watch the progression over the years, and it's nearly impossible to recall a time that they weren't a couple.

And how lucky are we that my best friend married his best friend?

So that brings us to Thursday. I took the day off so that I could finish a project during the last few minutes in the morning (a quilt I made for KAT that has its own story...), and then met up with KAT at her house (which I still don't know the street number for). She made piles while I packed the car. I was starting to see the frazzled edges under her very cool exterior.

We packed a car, and then made a last minute to run to AC Moore to get some ribbon to finish off the programs. While standing in line, it occurred to us that there was a chance of snow on Friday. So natch, we grabbed some black gloves (for $1, we grabbed 6 pairs). I suppose it was the blue lace garter that KAT was wearing over her jeans that grabbed the clerk's attention:
"So do I want to know?" she asked, gesturing to the garter.
"I'm getting married tomorrow," KAT responded.
"Oh, right..." she said, hesitantly, looking at the pile of black gloves I had thrown down on the pile.
"And these...?" she asked.
"They're for the bridesmaids," both KAT and I responded, with a notable "DUH" tone to our voices.
"Right..." she said, hesitantly. I was a little surprised that she responded with "congratulations" as we left, to be honest, as it would appear that she was just baffled by us.

After AC Moore, we made it to the hotel, where we would be spending the next 24 hours prepping for the wedding. Just in time, Mrs. Matt showed up and the three of us packed a bell cart and unloaded into the room. We sat, relaxed, tying programs and planned the remaining details. Like for instance, KAT decided that yes, she did want a bouquet after all, and surely we can make it with some price chopper roses?

It was a combination of factors that caused us to make some calls and reserve two dozen red roses at a nearby florist. And it was a miracle that KAT did not cause me bodily harm when she paid the $116 the florist charged her (although, for the record, I offered to buy the flowers, and also, i think it's safe to say, if you're paying less than $200 for your wedding flowers, you're doing pretty good).

Next up, the rehearsal. KAT was running through the plans, correcting the priest from time to time about her plans. In fact, the rehearsal can be summed up best by the quote:

"I got this, Father." This is what she told him as he tried to line everyone up in order. I think it's safe to say she was "in control."

The rehearsal dinner -- a great homemade feast prepared by KAT's family (local and extended) -- was a great time, and included a moving speech and shout out to our blog, by "little sis."

Around 9:45, Mrs. Matt and Mrs. Cheech and I were plotting how to remove her from her parental home to make sure she had plenty of time to rest up before the big day. Eventually, we stole her back with some help from Aunt J and made it back to the hotel. It really just took one chocolate martini and a half piece of cheesecake each to call it a night.

Somehow, for not the first time, KAT found ourselves curling up under the covers together. But this time, we both had pants on, and neither of us were wasted (which may also be another story for another time...). I have to say, I barely slept. I had so many thoughts about the past five years, and tried so hard not to think too hard (else I should cry). We all stayed awake until around 1 am. whispering and talking about all that would happen the next day....

So this is it for the day before. Next up, hopefully with photos, is my account of the wedding. Which did indeed happen, and includes stories about a) making the bouquet in the hair salon b) KAT calling me out in front of a florist c) hair and makeup stories d) despite her best efforts, look alike bridesmaids e) "how on earth do you put these things on?"and f) "i do."

oh- and g) a dance off.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

T minus two days...

Wow, is there a lot going on in my life right now. If I were to try to express what's going through my head these days, it would be typed a million miles a minute and look something like this: flkjfgoijdgoisdfpifukjdbqwawudsyyfawdk;d'lkcvbpocvubixbfliadasdz!!!!!

It's a big, gooshy pile of nonsense with an occasional exclamation of "Oh! Bring a check for the organist!" and "Did I give her directions?" and "Don't forget to wrap the gift for the Pretend In-Laws." There are Post-It note reminders everywhere.

But I'm calm. Really. (Although I did just type "But I'm clam." by accident). There's really nothing that can get to me at this point (other than a major tragedy or the groom not showing, but, why bring those up? Because that won't happen.) Seriously... I heard it might snow on Friday (that would be beautiful and gorgeous and tempt me to have photos done of me making snow angels, although SJ has forbid me to lay down in the snow in my dress-- go figure!).

A couple of relatives had to back out of making the trip-- and while I wish they could be there, I understand that things come up. I mean, I'll be bummed if no one shows and I have to eat the whole buffet myself, but hey, it means more ice cream for me!

So, no worries...
The DJ forgets all her music? We get an iPod.
I trip going down the aisle? I get up, laugh and hope BAC caught it on film.
I forget the vows? I'll make them up as I go along ("I, KAT, take you, Pretend Husband, to be my real husband, to take care of me, to do the dishes and to make sure I get to go on a lot of great trips. Oh, and I love you. The End. I mean, Amen.")

Seriously, I'm excited. But not nervous (and may punch the next person who asks if I'm nervous because I've been asked about 72 times in the last four days and it's just not going to happen).

And definitely looking forward to a kick-ass party. And a week on the beach. And never having to tie another ribbon on another program as long as I live.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

ah wedded bliss.

it's true, KAT. you will make a fine wife. if you didn't already have your heart set on marrying the PH (and if i weren't already married... and if there was a same-sex marraige law), i'd want you for myself.

seriously? you make his lunch?!! i got home yesterday from work at 8:30 and did the dishes before making myself a welsh rarebit for supper (which was fantastic). then i went upstairs where my husband (who's on vacation) grunted a greeting to me.

in his defense, he wasn't feeling well. but he's on VACATION. and surely that beats my 13 hour day.

in celebration of KAT, and in order to do last minute errands (like find some shoes -- yes, yes, i have plenty, but not exactly the right ones for KAT's wedding. not that i need an excuse to shoe shop, but if i have an excuse, i take it. i'm actually hoping to find some silver ones and then sharpee them black -- shave my legs before i have the ability to braid them, and then help KAT as much as i can from thursday at noon until like... friday at midnight...yay!!), I've taken Thursday and Friday off. KAT, you'll have a staff of lady's maids at your bidding. what do you plan to do with us?

i do also have to find a suitable hair style that the hairdress may be able to do that can cover my firecracker red roots and make my dark, dark brown hair look elegantly not in desperate need of a trim. which it is. but i was distracted this weekend by a very funny story that i cannot share until after Friday. and really, the way i look at it is my roots match KAT's skirt and then the rest of my hair matches my dress.

isn't that the height of fashion?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Why the PH is never allowed to complain...

What I do on a weekday morning:
*Make coffee
*Take Molly out
*Give Molly her breakfast
*Make the Pretend Husband's lunch
*Write a note to put in the PH's lunch (because I'm a dork like that)
*Start the PH's car so it's warmed up by the time he leaves for work

What the PH does on a weekday morning:
*Takes a shower and shaves
*Gets dressed

What I do on a weekend morning:
*Get up at 4 a.m. on Saturdays and 5 a.m. on Sundays
*Drive to a different state
*Work a second job

What the PH does on a weekend morning:
*Sleeps in
*Goes to breakfast with SJ and J
*Plays video games
*Does work around the house or yard (sometimes)

Man, does that PH have it made! And that's why I remind him everyday just how lucky he is!