Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Day x 2

or Time To Break Out The Elastic Waisted Pants

Norman Rockwell's Vision of Thanksgiving

We've just made it home from our first Thanksgiving as an engaged couple.  This meant that we had two mothers to keep happy this year.  It was a tall order and did a number on my gas tank, but I think we were successful.  Now if only I didn't feel like I'd been stuffed, rather than the turkey!

The parade and potato peeling just go together in my family.
Every family has holiday traditions, those certain things that just make it seem more like the holidays.  Our families are no different.  In my family, it's tradition for me to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while helping my mom peel potatoes.  Then, she dices up the potatoes (so they are ready to boil and then mash) and I steal small slices of uncooked potato to eat from the pot.

 Later in the day, I help my mom make the green bean casserole and then I get out the potato masher and go to town on the spuds. We finish up just in time for my grandparents and all my aunts and uncles and cousins to roll in to supper, each bringing a different side dish they prepared.  In total, we usually have somewhere between fifteen and thirty people gathered around the table depending on whose coming in from out of town and whose going to their in-laws for dinner this year.  It may sound weird and overcrowded to some (like my honey, who couldn't understand the merits of eating an uncooked potato slice or enjoy the melee of elbow to elbow dining), but it's what we do.

My family's Thanksgiving Day reality
My honey's family traditions are a little less crowded and hands-on.  His family's traditions seem to be a lot more eating and football related.  His mom does all the cooking herself, no one else is allowed in the kitchen unless they are coming in looking for a drink or to talk to her while she's cooking.  My honey can't even articulate the rest of their turkey day traditions, though I did discover that his dad watches Chicago's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is sponsored by McDonald's if my googling is correct.  Luckily for me, his dad is rather fond of me and switched over to the Macy's parade when I asked if it was on upon our arrival. 

But, let's step back a little bit in time because successful multi-family holidays don't just magically put themselves together.  For three weeks before Thanksgiving, my mother was asking me (read that as nagging me) to find out what time my honey's family ate their turkey day feast.  She doesn't share me easily with his family on holidays and she wanted to make sure that I was going to be available to help her get dinner ready.  Plus, she had graciously moved the time of her Easter dinner to accommodate his family's holiday schedule last spring and was hoping they would be the more flexible family for Thanksgiving. Ah, the joys of being the only daughter of a widowed mother!

I pestered my fiance to talk to his parents and find out what time they were eating on turkey day.  I don't want to think of it as nagging, as that is something my mother does and something I never want to do, but it was probably pretty close.  At any rate, he eventually called his mother and she was waffling about what time to have her dinner.  My family may have a lot more people to coordinate food with on thanksgiving, but his family has a lot more in-laws and exes to schedule dinner around.  Both his siblings have kids and are in various stages of divorce, so exes and in-laws must be consulted to determine when Nana and Papaw can have the kids for their holiday dinner.

It took a couple of days to work it out, but eventually it was revealed that his parents' dinner was going to have to be later in the day.  This kinda crushed my hope that we could eat at his parents earlier and still make it on-time to my mom's to spend the rest of the evening hanging with my family.  I'm woman enough to admit that I had a little "emotional bride" moment over things not going my way.  I was NOT a bridezilla, just pouty that my grand plan didn't work out.  Once our schedule was nailed down, my honey and I realized we were going to be ping pong balls for the day, travelling back and forth between his mother and my mother. 

Here's how it played out:
9 am: Parade and potato peeling in my mother's kitchen

11 am: Brunch at his mom's house so that everyone didn't starve waiting for the grandkids to be released from their other family commitments and dinner could be served.  We didn't have a starvation issue, but his mom wanted everyone to be there, so we went.

1 pm: Back to our house for a much needed nap, followed by making two green bean casseroles to take to mom's house.

3 pm: We arrived at mom's house in time to help her finish getting dinner ready before the rest of the family descended upon the house.

5 pm: Dinner is always slated to start at my mom's at 4pm, but I have certain relatives with on-time issues.  By five, we were finally sitting down to eat dinner.

7 pm: Back to his mom's house to catch the tail end of their Thanksgiving feast and dessert.

9 pm: Home at last and too stuffed to do anything more than breathe.

Here are some interesting highlights from both houses:

  • My brother's dog somehow managing to break a nail above the quick and walked all around my mother's kitchen before laying down at my mashed potato-making feet and bleeding all over my mother's kitchen rug.
Poor puppy: There is nothing sadder than a dog
wearing a sock over one bandaged paw.
  • My nephew, Squirt, announced that he had to sit next to his Nan Naine and booted one of my uncles from the table to get his way.  Plus, my soon to be niece, Jan, announced that she was sitting next to her Aunt Lainey and finagled the seating arrangement at his mother's brunch to make it happen.  I felt so popular yesterday!
  • My honey asked everybody what they wanted for Christmas repeatedly until he got answers other than a gift card. His mother wouldn't let him ask for a gift card, so he wouldn't allow his siblings or nieces and nephews to ask for one.

  • We didn't actually eat dinner at his mother's house because they started dinner earlier than planned and, despite leaving my mom's place earlier than she would probably have liked, we arrived as they were finishing dinner. But, my honey got some of his mom's blueberry cobbler, so it was all good. Cobbler for Thanksgiving?  So weird!
  • I got an extra holiday treat as I got to watch my Washington Redskins defeat the evil and hated Dallas Cowboys in Dallas from both houses. We switched families at half time so I wouldn't miss any of the game.
Crybaby Cowboys

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nieces and Nephews Everywhere!

My life is changing in some fun and interesting ways right now.  Beyond the changes my life is undergoing on the wedding front, my life is undergoing some entertaining changes on the family front right now.  I am being claimed, slowly but surely, by my new nieces and nephews!

It started out innocently enough.  I volunteer my time several afternoons each week at my school's homework club to help my current and former students build their skills to get ready for the state assessments.  On one such afternoon last week, I was in charge of homework club and my fiance's honorary nephew, Shaggy, was volunteering in my room.  This arrangement works out rather well for us since I get help with the 15-20 youngsters doing their homework and he gets credit for service learning hours that he needs to graduate high school. 

A dispute arose between Shaggy and one of the students over the correct way to solve a math problem.  I heard the conversation go from discussion to disagreement to argument from across the room and I was headed over to intervene when I heard this:

Shaggy: "You're wrong."

Student: "No, you're wrong!"

Shaggy: "No, I am clearly right!"

Student: "Fine, we'll ask Miss Lainey.  She's my teacher and she'll be on my side."

Shaggy: "Good luck with that!  She's MY aunt.  She likes me more than you!"

Aww, I'd been claimed by Shaggy!  I just had to smile and be on Shaggy's side in the disagreement after that. Of course, it helped that he had the right answer to the math problem.

While Shaggy is a former student of mine, his little sister, Princess Sassy Pants, is a future student of mine.  Next year, she'll be arriving in my grade.  That makes my aunt status interesting, to say the least.  I could end up being either her homeroom teacher, her social studies teacher, or possibly her math teacher. 
Princess Sassy Pants is also going to be the flower girl in my wedding.  She is incredibly excited about this and it even earned me an upgrade in title.  PSP had been calling me Aunt Insert Last Name Here in an effort to keep the school/home separation going.  But, once her royal highness heard that her brother was calling me Aunt Lainey, she announced that she would call me that, too.
Aww, the princess claimed me as her Aunt Lainey, too!  I'm really starting to feel the love here.
Finally, this Saturday we did our good deed for the week.  My honey's sister just had her third child and the baby's brand new middle child/big sister was feeling a lack of attention.  So, we volunteered to take Jan (get it... "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!") out to lunch and a movie.  We let Jan choose where she wanted to get lunch from any restaurant within a fifteen mile radius of our local movie theater.  Being a child and having underdeveloped taste buds, Jan decided to forego Panera, Chipotle, Olive Garden, and other preferable restaurants in favor of Friendly's.  And we didn't even get ice cream!  Who goes to Friendly's for the food?! 

But, I digress.  We took Jan out for lunch (at Friendly's) and then to see Hotel Transylvania.  She insisted on sitting next to me in the movie theater and even tried to force the seating so that she was between me and my honey.  My honey wasn't having that, though.  Did I mention that Jan is just the tiniest bit contrary?  If  you let her know what you want to happen in advance, she will insist on doing the exact opposite just to get my honey's goat.  When my honey held my hand during the movie, Jan decided she wanted to hold my hand, too.  So there I was with the popcorn bucket in my lap and no hands available with which to eat.  I had fun anyways.

When we took Jan back to Nana's house, she told her nana that she'd had a great time out with her Aunt Lainey and Uncle Jay.  And another niece claims me as her own!

Just by becoming engaged, I have gone from having one nephew (my beloved Squirt) to having eight nieces and nephews.  That's two nieces and six nephews or as they will be described in a few months, one flower girl, one junior bridesmaid, two ring bearers (Yes, I said two!), and three ushers.  I know that is only seven kids, but number eight is still into drooling and diapers, remember?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nine Months To "I Do!" & Still So Much To Do

Greetings, Life Lessoners!  Life has become incredibly hectic over here at Lainey's Wedding Planning Headquarters...oops, I mean Lainey's Life Lessons.  The last month is almost a blur.  So much has been going on and almost all of it has been wedding related.  We've booked the church and the reception hall, met with the officiant, and registered for pre-marital counseling (a must for all good little Catholic girls, which I guess I am).  We've also met with the florist, hired a DJ and a photographer and had engagement photos taken.

And by we, I mean that my mother made most of the calls, printed up and handed me forms that needed to be filled out, and generally rules my schedule for the forseeable future. 

My Bouquet Inspiration Board
created on

Never underestimate the motivation and determination of a Catholic mama that is getting ready to marry off her thirty-something daughter.  Between my mom and the wedding checklist at, I am well on my way to being an organized and efficient wedding planner.  The Knot and I made nice once it stopped telling me I had forty things overdue that needed to be completed ASAP.  Did you know it lets you delete items that you don't need to do?   Once I had pared down the to-do list, created a few inspiration boards to get an idea of what I wanted our wedding to look like, and let my mom take over like the total Type-A personality that she is, everything started falling into place.

Nine Months to "I do!"
a.k.a. 270 days to go

The pace of wedding planning has been grueling.  I'm spending my evenings chained to my laptop looking for wedding ideas on The Knot and my weekends accomplishing a myriad of wedding tasks.  The weekend before the hurricane was no exception, other than the weekend wedding planning started earlier than usual.  Thursday after work I had to call my family's former parish priest and schedule a meeting with him to begin planning the ceremony side of things.  From there, I rushed out of work and raced home for a quick dinner with my fiance before my mom whisked us away to look at a reception hall.  The reception hall was huge, which is good since my family is large, and included an open bar with all of their reception packages.  Not bad!  Plus, it had the added benefit of never having been used before by anybody in our friend group, so it wouldn't seem like I recycled someone else's wedding reception.

Friday after work, my fiance could see that I was worn thin from all the wedding running around and nonsense, so he grabbed a couple of movies and treated me to a relaxing evening of snuggling on the couch while watching old movies.  We watched Gene Wilder in "Young Frankenstein" and Albert Brooks in "Defending Your Life".  It was a much needed respite before Saturday's wedding mayhem began.  I think we will have to make Friday date nights a "must" between now and the wedding.

Saturday was H-E-double hockey sticks!!!  It had the potential to be a totally productive day of wedding-related activities.  In the morning, I was scheduled to go try on wedding dresses for the first time (with my mom and my maid of honor tagging along) and then in the afternoon my mother had scheduled engagement photos at a local park with a photographer that my sister-in-law recommended.  Neither event went off quite as planned.

Let me preface this next paragraph with a disclaimer.  I am a curvy girl.  I was really nervous about going to try on wedding dresses because I always have a hard time finding things that fit my curves. Okay, I'll say it.  My fiance is a lucky man because my chest is too big to fit dresses that fit me everywhere else.  I had good reason to be nervous. 

Bridal shops only care a limited range of sizes in store.  They'll be happy to order you any size you want, but they don't necessarily have every dress there in every size to try on when you come in looking for your dream dress.  Due to this limited vision on the part of bridal shops, they have a horrid practice prepared specifically for the event that the dress you want to try on isn't available in your size.  Clips!  They squeeze you into the too small dress and because it won't zip in the back they clip the edges of the dress to your bra in the back.

Someone should shoot the evil troll who thought up that brilliant idea!  I can't even describe the experience of being pushed, pulled, and crammed into a dress that is two, three, even four sizes too small and then having it clipped to your bra, with the back hanging open like a breezy hospital gown.  All I'm going to say about it is that this bride-to-be did not smile so much as once while trying on any dress during my entire visit and left the store in tears.  Evil sizist bridal boutique trolls!

And after all that fun, I had to go get engagement photos taken.  It took a ton of make-up to make it look like I hadn't spent a good portion of the morning crying, but even with a new face plastered over my own I still wasn't the smiliest of girls.  I can't wait to see how the photo proofs turn out.