Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fear The Knot

Okay, so I did own this book as a child,
but reading the book is as far as my wedding planning ever got.
I'm told that every little girl dresses up her Barbie as a bride and acts out her dream wedding.  It's one of life's stages.  You act out things that could happen to you in life, kind of like a mental preparation.  It's imaginative, it's playful, and it's dreaming of what life will be like when you grow up.

Yes, I owned Barbies and I played with them, but I never planned Barbie's dream wedding to Ken.  I was more of a career Barbie kind of girl.  I had the Barbie dream house and the pink Barbie Corvette, and even had horses for Barbie to ride around on when she wasn't working, playing house, or cruisin' in her Vette.  But, dressing Barbie up in white and having her walk down the aisle towards Ken's molded plastic head of hair wasn't my style. 

I have not spent the last thirty years of my life planning my dream wedding in my head.  Imagining the bridesmaid dresses and the flowers and the first dance... I was never that girl!  So, now that I'm newly engaged and in need of wedding planning, I seem to be a bit behind the curve.  I have no idea what I want the big day to look like.  I know I want to get married at my church and that's about it.

I took to the internet for some inspiration to the myriad of questions everyone was starting to ask me.  There were so many options to look at and I had to idea which site to choose, so I went with a site that I had at least heard of before,  It seemed like a pretty cool site, at first.  There were lots of articles for clueless brides-to-be, like me.  Articles on how to choose your color scheme, what to ask when checking out caterers and reception halls, etc.  Then I saw something I thought would be totally helpful, a wedding planner and checklist.

The Knot's Wedding Planner is supposed to be the ultimate guide to all things bridal.  With it, you can plan every last detail of your big day.  I thought that would be perfect for me since I was feeling like so overwhelmed by the enormity of the task I had just taken on by telling the love of my life that I would marry him.  All I needed to do was give The Knot people a few simple details about myself and tell them when the big day would be and they would help me to fill in the rest of the blanks.  Sounds so easy, right? WRONG!  HORRIBLY WRONG!

Fear The Knot!

Holy Crap!  Just telling them that my tentative wedding date was nine months and one week away meant that, of the 280 things on The Knot's to-do list, I had 40 checklist items to complete by Friday and 33 of them were overdue!  I'd been engaged for 18 hours and I was already behind on planning my wedding.  How the hell did that work?

The Knot's wedding timeline clearly operated on the assumption that everybody takes a year to plan their wedding.  I'm a teacher and getting married during the school year just wasn't going to work for me.  It was going to have to be a summer wedding, which meant either I was getting married in 8-9 months or I was going to be waiting 21 months to get married.  For some reason, a really extended engagement didn't appeal to my fiance.  Can't imagine why? 

I totally spazed out after looking at the wedding checklist.  I logged off the computer, walked over to my fiance (the artist formerly known as my honey), and crawled into his lap telling him that I didn't think we were going to be getting married when we wanted to because said we were behind schedule.  My honey held me and kissed me and told me everything would work out just fine.  The perfect thing to say.  If only I had been in a frame of mind to believe him at that moment, I would have felt so much better.  My honey told me we should call my mother and have her over for dinner the next day so that she could help me get started.  It was a good call on his part.

I posted to Facebook later that night that had scared me to death and every woman I know that was recently married told me to ignore the checklist and just focus on three things this week: the church, the reception hall, and the officiant.  I was assured over and over again that once those three details were locked into place, everything else would somehow work itself out.

I sure hope they're right!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Everyone goes through word phases, right?  You know, when your vocabulary suddenly shrinks to one word that becomes your "go to" adjective to describe everything.  Don't tell me that's just me!

When I was a kid, "cool" was the "go to" adjective.  Mom brought home fast food for dinner. Cool!  You aced the big test. Cool!  Your parents let you skip school on your birthday and took you to see a movie.  So cool!

It's kinda like guys and the word "dude".  So, did you get the tickets to the ball game? Dude, we're covered.  A strange smell wafts across the room.  Dude. Restroom's down the hall.  I made out with your sister at the party last night.  Do you think she'd go out with me? DUDE! Keep your tongue away from my sister or my fist will find your face!

Last spring, my "go to" adjective was awesome.  Everything around me was awesome.  Wanna go to a hockey game?  Awesome.  Wanna go to a baseball game?  Awesome.  Wanna go to Hershey Park after school gets out?  Awesome!  Everything in my world could be described by awesome, even if it was used sarcastically.  How was your day at work? Awesome, I had to write a referral and make three parent phone calls because of a fight at recess.  Everyone and everything was awesome to some degree.
Now, a new word has taken over as my "go to" adjective.  Life has become "delightful".  How was your day at work, babe? Delightful!  My class aced the big math test.  How did it go at the playoff game last night?  Delightful!  We hit a homerun in the 12th to win the game.  Want to go get pumpkins from the pumpkin patch later?  That would be delightful!  I don't know why this has become my new "go to" word, all I know is that everything about my life right now feels delightful.

Here's my list of twelve delightful things going on in my life right now.

1.  My mom and I are closer than ever.  We had a rough patch right after my honey moved in, but now she's back on Team Lainey.  She and my honey even went to dinner without me this week when I got held up at a work meeting.  They get along really well.  All those times we invited her over for dinner and my honey cooked really did the trick.  I am delighted!

2. I have a class of bright, polite, motivated students this year.  What a difference a year makes!  I get to spend six hours a day with children who love to learn and are excited to take on challenging new assignments.  It's delightful!

3. I got a really good review at work.  Apparently, my enthusiasm when working with my delightful young charges can be observed by others.  My principal had a ton of positives or "glows" to report after my last observation and very few "grows" or areas to improve.  Being told I'm doing a good job was delightful!

4. My honey took me to Hershey Park again last weekend.  Delightful fun for all!

5. I got to spend some quality time with my BFF recently.  Conflicting schedules and busy lives limited the amount of time I spent with my BFF over the summer.  The only times I got to see her were at friendamily events.  But, last week we got together for dinner and caught up on what's been going on in our lives.  Hanging out was delightful!

6. My baseball team made it to the post-season for the first time in fifteen years.  Up until an untimely defeat last night, watching them was delightful!

7. My honey has proclaimed that I never have to go to another haunted house.  So delightful!

8. My honey and I have been living together for six months now.  No problems, no arguments, no deal breakers in sight. Delightful!

9. I haven't broken any bones in almost a year.  Not to jinx myself, but I haven't wobbled or fallen since May.  (For those of you who are new to the crew, I broke my ankle last November and have had a few falls and sprains since then.) Not being on crutches, in an ankle brace, or wrapped in an ACE bandage is delightful!

10. My honey's family has adopted me as one of their own.  I call his parents Mom and Dad (or sometimes Papa Bear since he is such a rabid Chicago Bears fan).  His siblings are great to me and his niece and nephews already call me Aunt Lainey.  Being welcomed into the brood with open arms is delightful!

11. My honey and I took our first trip to the Pumpkin Patch together today, which leads me to the most delightful news of all...

12. My honey asked me to marry him at the pumpkin patch today.  I'm engaged!!! (which, of course, is absolutely, positively the most delightful thing that has ever happened to me)

Friday, October 5, 2012


It's Friday and I am dog-tired!

Today was a busy, yet great day at work.  My students were delightful, as always.  I don't know if I mentioned it yet, (or maybe I didn't for fear of jinxing it) but I have the most delightful class this year.  These kids are such a breath of fresh air.  I'm actually starting to remember why I became a teacher in the first place.  Yay for me!
What made today such a great day at work?  Beyond the obvious of  having such delightful students, of course.  Today, I got to be a rock star.  No, I didn't hit the Schnapps while the children were at recess!  I actually got to sing like a rock star at work.
Yes, I was this cool. Well, maybe not really,
but I thought I was this cool.
We had an assembly to promote the new school-wide reading incentive program at the very end of the day.  To try and build excitement, the reading teacher asked for one teacher from each grade group to join in the fun and sing a reading themed version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing".  It was like Glee, only if the teachers were all forced to sing against their will.  I got volunteered by my teammate/work husband because I was in a meeting when the reading teacher came around looking for hostages, oops, I mean volunteers. 
Anywho, I got volunteered to join the band, which wasn't a totally awful thing since I am a singer in real life.  We had a few short and painful practices to get ready before the big day arrived. Not all volunteers had singing ability, but they had spirit and enthusiasm to make up for all the strangled cats.  Finally, this afternoon we had our big moment in the spotlight.
It wasn't the best performance in the history of the world and I don't think Hollywood will come calling anytime soon, but it was so much fun!  Plus, the kids loved it and started singing along and applauded like we really were rock stars when we finished.  My class was so jazzed about the assembly that they were all planning how much they were going to read so that they could win the grand prize, an opportunity to make their own rock video with the principal.  Sometimes, my job is so cool!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Roller Coaster Day, Part Two

(or Can this flippin' day just be over already?)

My day had already gotten off to a bumpy start with the sibling yard sale debacle and unfortunately for me, it wasn't over yet.  We had made plans for the evening with my honey's best friends to visit the Haunted Mill Scream Park.  Oh, the horror of it all!

My honey loves haunted houses, I don't. Spooky music and lighting, things jumping out at you, men in masks with chain saws... to him that spells a good time. For me, that's a great way to insure a sleepless night full of nightmares.  But, he really wanted me to go with him. He was so sure I would have fun if I got into the spirit of things with him. I wasn't at all sure that would happen, but he also promised that if I tried going to one haunted house and didn't like it I wouldn't ever have to do it again. Fair deal, right? Oh boy!

I was already a real grump because of my morning run-in with my brother and now I had something I wasn't looking forward to ahead next.  But, in true roller coaster fashion,  there had to be a few highs to go with the lows still come.

We were taking my car because my honey's brakes were acting up, bad.
I had to clean out the mess in my back seat because his friends would be riding with us, bad.
We were going to be stopping at Cracker Barrel for dinner on the way up to the Haunted Mill, good.

Yum! Breakfast served all day and hash brown casserole!

While cleaning out the back seat, I found the flash drive I had been searching for, really good.  Really, really good!

This little purple flash drive had all my teaching and grad school files on it.
If for no other reason, I'm glad we went to the Haunted Mill because
 it forced me to clean out my car and helped me find this.

Before going, my honey and his best friends prepped me with the do's and don'ts of haunted houses.

Do... walk at all times. Everything is dark and walkways aren't all level or flat.

Don't... run away from the men with chain saws. They will chase you to get a bigger reaction!

Do... stay in the middle of the group so things can't jump out at you or sneak up on you.

Don't... show any overt reaction to the actors in the house or they will focus in on you.
(In other words, screamers or those who looked afraid were tormented more than everyone else.)

But, they forgot the one "don't" that almost got me in trouble. The performers are supposed to scare you and they get as close as possible to you in order to bring the terror. However, they aren't actually allowed to touch you. Touching people tends to initiate the fight or flight reponse and cause people to take a swing at the terror-makers.

Did you know a primitive response designed to save your life
can get you arrested or tormented at a haunted house?

The first performer at the first attraction accurately pegged me as an easy scream (probably because at this point I was begging my honey to let me go back to the car) and started creeping closer and closer to me. I didn't actually hit him. I simply put him on notice that if he got one inch closer to me I was going to deck him. Apparently, this is frowned upon at the Haunted Mill. They have huge signs that say any attacks on the performers will result in your arrest. I'm guessing I'm not the first person who's had the fight response when cornered. I got a huge scolding from the witch at the main gate and to insure my good behavior the first performer followed us through most of the haunted house. Was he guarding my back so no one else would sneak up on me and get hit? Or was he simply being an @$$hole and trying to scare me since I had threatened to hit him? Either way, we had a shadow all through The House of Eyes.

My House of Eyes travelling companion looked like this
only with a grim reaper cloak and a sickle he liked to bang on the floor.
(You know, just so I knew he hadn't left my side.)
We had a survival strategy that pretty much worked for me for most of the night.  My honey's friends would go first so that nothing could jump out at me and I would have someone to guide me through the mazes and dark parts.  My honey would stay behind me so that nothing could sneak up on me.  He promised to hold my hand so that I couldn't run if I got scared by the chain saw men.  He would later come to regret that last part.  He wasn't holding my hand so much as I had a death grip on him that tightened every time I got more scared.

We made it through the House of Eyes and I was soooo ready to be done for the night.  The actors had been screaming at us to get out or we'd be their next victim all the way through and it had really bothered me.  Not scared me, so much as frayed my nerves.  Nobody likes being yelled at, right?  But, no, an easy escape was not mine to be had.  Maybe I should have pulled the crying girl routine.  I bet a nice round of hysterical crying would have had the guys hustling me to the car tout suite.  But, at this point, I was still trying to go with the flow and be a good sport.  Don't get me wrong, I totally asked if I could go back to the car at this point.  I just backed down when I got the old "c'mon, you can make it" from my honey.

"I'm coming to get you, Lainey!"
So, onward to the Trail of Terror we went.  This was both better and worse.  Better because it was outdoors and so there were no confined spaces to get cornered in, but worse because the performers had enough room to get a running start on scaring you.  The Trail of Terror was really dark, like "I'm amazed nobody has fallen and sued the Haunted House people" dark.  Plus, the trail rules strictly prohibited lighting up the trail in anyway.  No flashlights, no glow from a cell phone, not even a glo wand to help you find your way along the bumpy, pothole ridden trail. 

My honey's friends were awesome at recognizing my discomfort and tried to lighten the mood.  They started sauntering along the trail and calling out funny things like, "We're just a couple of virgins walking through the woods at night.  We're totally going to make it to the end of the movie."  I appreciated their attempts at levity and my honey certainly laughed, but it didn't really make my evening all sunshine and roses.  I wanted to go home so badly and I still had two more fun-filled attractions left to see!

You aren't the only one he was following, Jamie Lee!
The Haunted Mill and the Maze are a blur to me now.  I had implemented a new survival strategy at this point: tunnel vision.  I couldn't tell you what was in the Haunted Mill to save my life.  I can tell you that, according to my honey, someone in a Jason mask and someone in a Michael Myers mask tried to sneak up on me.  I had no idea!  That was behind me and I was concentrating all my attention on the back of the t-shirt worn by the friend walking in front of me. 

Our white-out guide

I do remember one completely pitch black room in the mill where you could here the performers, but couldn't see them.  I also remember a room that was so smoky and bright that it was a white-out.  The performers in that room had gas masks (and probably instructions to guide people through the room).

"Dude, you are SO lost!"

Whatever!  I made it through the ordeal without any screaming or girly crying.  My honey may have lost the use of his left hand for a few hours afterwards, but oh well.  I was a trooper, even though I hated every second of it.  Yay for me!  On the way home, the GPS took us onto an unpaved road through the middle of a cornfield and we all thought the Scream Park experience was being continued as we got horribly lost in BFE.

I've had two nights worth of nightmares (so far) as a result of going through the Haunted Mill.  But, on the bright side, my honey AND his friends have all decided that I never, ever have to do that again.

One more night of this and I'm bringing in the teddy bear!

My Honey's Latest Life Lesson: 
If your girl tells you she doesn't like haunted houses...
AND she tells you she doesn't want to go...
AND she tells you going there will give her nightmares,
(Did I mention my honey's a little sleep deprived right now?)