Wrapper’s Delight. Plus a whole lot of pictures and not much train of thought.

Brace yourselves. This is a long post about wrapping paper. I know, right? This blog, y’all. It’s on FIRE.

Long ago, like a long, LONG time ago, like back before cell phones*, I had a job as a bookseller at Border’s Books.

You remember Borders, right?

Coffee shop. Angst-filled workers, classical music. I do believe there was a guy at my Borders whose name was Indiana. Or, was it Idaho? NO. Illinois! That’s IT! He was so cool. His name preceded him. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Illinois is now living in his parents’ basement, playing online chess and working at Quickiemart, but STILL, his name will make it work.

Also: I worked with a guy who used the word “shedule” in his daily vernacular. As in, “I don’t know if I can work for you Thursday night, let me check my SHEDULE.”

“Shedule.” Not, “SCHEDULE” LIKE EVERYONE ELSE SAYS IT.  And yes, he was from Overland Park, Kansas. NOT over the pond with Big Ben and a lot of tea and cool accents! Nope. KANSASS.

Anyhow. It’s a bit evident that this guy really ticked me off. It’s been twenty years and every time I hear “shedule” when watching my beloved Masterpiece Theatre (pronounced ‘Theatah’ because they CAN, they’re BRITISH) I cringe. He ruined shedules for me. Or schedules. Or both.

ANYHOW, I digress! I will get to my point! Maybe! Soon!

Back when I worked at Borders, I had (still do – she’s a keeper) a best best friend there who was the Jedi master book seller of all, and she could Christmas wrap a book in like ten seconds. Bethany would SLAP the book down and then SLAP the paper around it, ZIP the tape on, THWACK it over.. and VOILA! Done.

Evidently, wrapping books is a rather violent event for my friend. But she was FAST, I tell you. And good. The book, all gleaming, with perfectly crisp papered corners, was a one holly sprig shy of Christmas wrapping perfection. Or, maybe I should say, “Happy Holidays” wrapping perfection.

Sigh.

ANYHOW. My wrapping skills… were not quite at Bethany’s level. If Bethany was in the Olympics of present wrapping, she would have ended up on the podium. I would be watching from home. On my couch. Shoveling popcorn and, thus, getting the metaphorical paper all greasy. You get the point.

Sooooo, fast forward a jillion years (cell phones!) and my living room floor looks like… THIS:

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Wrapping paper. Wrapping paper everywhere.

And, I just noticed… what looks like a picture of a devil with a pitchfork**… Whaaaaaat? I have no idea how that go there. But it’s fitting, because:

I HATE ALL THE WRAPPING OF THINGS! HELP! HELLLLLLP! Crying and gnashing of teeth!!!!!!

Ok, I do realize that comparing wrapping a few books to frying up in the fiery pits of hell is a bit of an overstatement, but I never promised you that I’d take it easy on the hyperbole, people. Hyperbole is MY LIFE.

I have been wrapping up a few extra books from the book signing and sending them away to lucky ducks (suckers) who wanted an actual signature on the book. Why? I am not sure. My signature (and sweet sentiment too) looks like THIS:

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And… my wrapping tends to look like THIS:

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So… all these folks are gonna get a package in the mail from a Real, Official, Semi-famous Author! … and it looks like a chimpanzee had a crack at it.

And that, I realize, kind of is an insult to the primate family. Sorry.

In fact… at one point I thought I might just attach a note that says: “Wrapped with love by my sons!”

Because, desperate times! It’s okay to throw your children under the bus to save ones pride, right? Right?

(NO. NO, it’s NOT, says EVERYONE. And I might add that the whole “under the bus” idiom is awful. So I am doubly wrong. Oh, this post is just a mess.)

Well, I got the packages mailed. If you are one of the lucky recipients – I WRAPPED ‘EM. Not a five year old cherub of sweetness and light. Nope. All me.

But, they are filled with lots of love, so there’s that.

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And all the while, as I was muttering under my breath and tackling all that difficult brown paper with venom, Hoz the Great looked on like THIS:

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Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

I find it troubling that even the smallest tasks can sometimes make me feel like I’ve been in the bouncy castle of life just a tad too long… but if you don’t realize:

I HAVE been in the bouncy castle of life a tad too long. THAT’S WHY I WROTE THE BOOK.

This is literature at its best, people! #Pulitzer.

You’re welcome.

The end.

 

 

*Yes, children. There was a time, back long ago, when cell phones did not exist. We barely survived. It was rough. Most of the time we communicated by setting things on fire (like brown paper!) and signaling, or just thumping the ground real hard to let our family know when predators were close. It’s quite a story.

Maybe I should write a book about it. I will call it:

The Eighties. I Drank Because of Them.

Kidding! Just kidding.

Thank you, my readers, for getting through the squirelliest post ever. Also: THANK YOU for making my book such a hit. I am so very grateful!  If you are interested, you can click here to take a look at Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery.

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** I REMEMBER! It’s an OWL. Not Satan! With the word “W-I-S-E next to it. Of course it is! Some leftover handout from Sunday school. I dunno why it made it into the shot, but, as always, I am gonna take it as a sign from God. Life is so much more exciting that way.

Bonus:

“Would you like it.. gift wrapped?”

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No Matter What.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today.

The theme?

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Ok, I am remembering growing up with my father. Here are some thoughts:

John Waynish. Very swaggery.

General Pattonish.  Very STRICT.

Dennis Hopperish.  Little bit on the edge. Like looking into the wonderful abyss of “I Might Snap Today. Do You Feel Lucky?”

Gruff. Not the cuddliest. But Hilarious. Sorta like a teddy bear, with a rifle.

(Yes, Dad, you’re reading this. I know. Don’t worry. It gets better.)

Here is also something:

Whenever I would get in trouble (This was often. Like a regular occurrence. I think I had it penciled in on the calendar for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Sundays optional), Dad would lecture. He would get in my face, and add the Vulcan Death Grip on my elbow to make sure I was listening. Did you know the nerve endings in your elbow really DO link directly to your eardrums? They DO.)

Oh, there was gnashing of teeth and wailing, I tell you.

But, I so remember this, no matter how awful the situation… no matter how much I wanted to squirm away or he wanted me to, as he so often said in total exasperation: “KNOCK THAT @#$% OFF!”

… He would always say this:

“Dana. No matter what you do, or how much trouble you get into (which will be a lot), I will always love you.”

“I love you. No matter what.”

No matter what.

I type that right now and smile. It’s a deep breath. A full sigh of relief. A drink of water when you are so very thirsty. No matter what. I was safe in his universe. I was loved. I am loved.

Seriously. I could go off the deep end, make fun of Fox News, get a huge tattoo, leave my dog at his house for house sitting*, and even (gasp) put a Democrat’s bumper sticker on my car.

I could even relapse. And he would love me.

(And no, don’t worry dad. This post is not some sort of roundabout way of telling you I have done so. The only relapse I have had lately is with my hardcore addiction to Candycorn pumpkins. Halloween crack, I tell you. I can’t quit them.)

My dad probably had NO idea how he was teaching me the most important lesson I am still learning about Christ. It’s been some forty years, and I still hear him say,

“No matter what.”

Thanks, dad.

Thank you for helping me see my Lord as a Father who loves, no matter what.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the father I needed. Just the right one for me. And for helping me to see, through him, how you love completely, recklessly, wisely, and all OVER us.

Amen.

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Isn’t that sweet?

And true.

*Ok, I gotta tell the dog story… I left my beloved, neurotic, rather nutball dog, Norman, at mom and dad’s while I went off to a baby shower. I was gone for two hours. TWO. Norman, evidently, didn’t like that (mom and dad were gone too.)

Norman ate their door.

Like, the whole door.

He ate it.

Why? Who the heck knows. He’s a dog. And he never even showed any tummy distress. Lived to see another six years. With a door INSIDE him. And my dad also LET him live. Amazing. Cuz I really figured dad would have to go all Old Yeller on Norman for this little escapade.

Never really gonna live that one down.

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This is Marriage.

Long while back I had a friend who told me to read the book Tuesdays with Morrie. It’s a really sweet, sentimental book.

I know. I have really no idea why she suggested it for me.

Anyhow, the premise is this: If you spend time with someone, on a daily basis, you should really, you know, get to know them. Because people are generally awesome. They have stories to tell and lives that are lived, and we should realize how precious time is with them.

I know. It’s really sweet. And very true. And so, I was thinking just this morning how I have this other person who is like HERE like, A LOT and when, really, was the last time I sat down with him and just dug deep into his soul and got to “know” him?

It’s the husband. I’m talking about the husband. FYI. In case you were wondering if I had lost my mind and was talking about Steve the Cat. Or my sons. I do know my sons, but honestly? Deep conversation with my sons doesn’t happen too often because children.

So today! I am posting another installment in my series called:

THIS IS MARRIAGE.

So, here’s how we talk:

Exhibit One: We are persistent about calcium.

 

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Exhibit two: We do not freak out about scary stuff. In fact, we don’t freak out at all, we just blithely respond like it’s no big deal, leaving SOME OF US TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH KILLER EVIL STINGER THINGS.

There’s no resentment here. None at all.

 

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Exhibit Three: We go the extra mile.

 

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Exhibit Four: We get real. We even use saucy language.

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Exhibit Five: We quote scripture at each other. And by that I mean, HE sends me all these really uplifting, wonderful, LONGGGGGGG texts the bible all OVER the place. And I respond with my favorite verse. Because it’s short.

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Note how he completely ignores my snark and just keeps right on being SO HELPFUL AND SPIRITUAL. AWESOME.

 

Exhibit Six: We are very very honest. And we understand each other’s needs. Mine are usually about food.

 

 

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Exhibit seven: We are always willing to help out. Like when the husband needs to get a refill on a prescription we are more than happy to send pix.  And we are patient.

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And more pix…

 

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Exhibit Eight: We like to enjoy the little things. Like our kid. Dressed like a bat.

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Exhibit Eight:  We are straight up, no snark, here for each other. Even when autocorrect fails. We pray. Especially when we are far away, at Whole Women’s Weekend, dealing with a lot of stuff, and really really just needing an “I love you.”
I always get the “I love you.”

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This is marriage.

BOOM. 🙂

 

Yes, dear.

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There is a man in my life, y’all. His name is Brian.

He has said ‘Yes’ to me from the beginning. From the beginning, when I saw him across a crowded room of older, single desperate Christian people at a single mingle that was fraught with so much desperation you could TASTE it. He said ‘yes,’ even then, when I made a bee line for him, fixed him in my target because I knew he was who I was going to marry, and so, we needed to talk.

He said ‘yes’ to meeting the next day. And then later he even said yes to spending the rest of his life with me. Actually, he DID ask me and I said yes. But it was all a part of my master plan.

He didn’t have much choice.

Anyhow. He said yes when I lost my mind. By going to get help, he said ‘Yes, I am here. I love you. I will help.” He said yes to letting me stay home and sit and try to write for a ‘living’ because I love it and it makes my heart sing. And he said ‘yes’ when 55% of the stuff i write is about him. Generally, poking FUN at him. But you know. my love language is snark. And he still says ‘Yes.”

He kisses me goodnight every night and kisses me goodbye every morning. And he said ‘Yes’ to all of the book. All of it. He wanted me to write it. Even though… his stuff is in there too.

He is my greatest coach and love. He says “Yes,” again and again and again. In fact, when we were two weeks married, he started saying, “Yes, dear,” to me, with a hint of snark (he can only do a hint of it. His heart is too labrador retriever-ish to be full snark. Poor thing.)

“Brian, can you bring home pizza? I am exhausted.”

“Yes, dear.”

“Brian, could I take a nap? I am exhausted.”

“Yes, dear.”

“Brian, could you give me a hug? I m exhausted.”

“Yes, dear.”

Brian. I just want to have a drink. Just one. I can’t do this anymore.”

“No. Nope. Not gonna happen. Not on my watch. And yes, you can do this.”

“Yes, you can dear.”

I love him so.

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My book, Bottled: How to Survive Early Recovery with Kids, published by Central Recovery Press, is now available!!!!!!! How exciting!! How awesome!!!

I got sober and the whole world became one big yes. I am so very grateful.

God is good. He tells me “Yes, dear.” so very often. And He tells me “No” or “Let’s wait,” just as often. And I am learning, finally, to listen. And, is that a miracle?

Yes. Yes, dear. It is.

Beautiful relief.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today!

The theme:

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This morning, I went for a quick run on the treadmill before Red woke up. The air was cool and crisp outside, and spring has sprung itself all over out little town. So I did the most logical thing and went down into our scary dark basement and ran on a strip of rubber for 30 minutes while staring at some cinder blocks and a dead cricket.

Anyhow.

After the run, I felt all proud of myself and well, studly, and started to sprint up the stairs to the kitchen, all full of vim and vigor and saucy good feelings. “Hi, you!” my muscles all shouted to me, “You cutie pie! You are going to CONQUER THE DAY, I tell you, you saucy thing!”

And then I missed a step because my muscles were too busy talking, and I fell down the stairs.

Let me clarify – our stairs are STEEP and NARROW and rather Silence of the Lambs treacherous, and if you start to fall down them, for some forsaken reason it is rather hard to correct yourself and UN fall.

Or even, really, slow down with all the falling.

Nope. This was a full-out, Gone with the Wind, Scarlet O’Hara tumbling down in her hoop skirt kinda dramatic moment, except I was in some ratty running shorts, plaid socks, and a t-shirt that has holes in the armpits. Don’t know why, really. Evidently when you keep t-shirts for as long as I do, and run in them over and over, they eventually give up on you and disintegrate.  Oh, and I don’t speak in a southern accent or have a penchant for saying, “Fiddley-Dee!” When I was done with all the falling, I should have, perhaps, tried for a “fiddley-dee” but all I could squeak out instead was something unsavory that rhymes with “Sam it! Sam it all! SAM SAM SAMMITY SAM!”

I sighed with enough gusto to blow a few cricket carcasses across the floor, gathered myself from the very unladylike contortion at the bottom of the stairs, wiped off the dust of forty billion dead bugs from my hiney,  and clomped up the stairs.

Not so saucy, anymore, are you? I thought, as my dignity and I limped up to take a shower.

And then, I spied it. A reflection. Of me. In the full length mirror right outside our bathroom door. A very saggy, sore, plaid socks wearing, with bad posture and a bad attitude to match, version of me.

Now let me tell you two things:

1. DON’T ever put a full length mirror right outside your bathroom door. There are just too many incidents where slinking out with a towel, or less, happens, and who really needs to see all that in the garish light of day? Or anytime, for that matter?

2. But, if you DO catch a fleeting glimpse of a sad Momsie, all worn out by life and a treadmill and evil stairs, give yourself a break. Laugh a little. Not in the mean way. More like in the way that those Dove commercials (the soap, not the chocolate) would want you to do.

Why? Well, the part that the Dove commercials always leave out is this: God MADE you. And He is the most beautiful, creative Father… like EVER. So, it follows that: He makes beautiful things.

Is it NOT a huge relief to know this? Especially on days like today.

It is a relief. To know we are so loved. And we don’t have to fix or mend or try or gain or lose or even be balanced and basically graceful.  We can just be loved.

I am relieved. I have no merit badge I need to earn. This is a profoundly good thing, because if my gracefulness was part of the bargain with God? Perish the thought. Sometimes I can’t even walk down a hallway without bumping into a wall. I don’t have to be graceful to have grace. Thank you, Jesus!

And stairs? Stairs are hard, people.

(Oh, yes. Pun totally intended. I may lack the ability to manage straight lines, but, as God is my witness, I’ll never go pungry again.)

 

 

 

 

Yes, dear.

Linking up today with Heading Home today for Five Minute Fridays!

Today’s theme:

 

DEAR.

 

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It’s our second week of marriage. Brian and I are still in that blissfully unaware state of unfettered love and devotion that is honeymooning all over the place.

I am still in bed – the summer is still lulling about and I don’t have to go to work because I’m a teacher. I yawn. I stretch. I might unpack today. Or go to the bookstore. Or go for a run.

Life is good.

Brian, however, is getting ready to leave for his job. He’s in khaki pants and is wearing aftershave and an air of professionalism. He is pouring coffee. I am slipping back into sleep.

Then, he asks, “You want some coffee?” I don’t hear him because I’m cocooned in my blankets and lethargy. Brian, persistent, asks again, “Would you like some coffee?”

*snore*

“DEAR WOULD YOU LIKE SOME COFFEE?”

I have been rattled out of my blissful dreams and blink. Someone is yelling at me and it’s seven a.m. This is new.

Oh! Marriage. I blink again.

Brian, really really interested in making sure I get some caffeine, now bellows, “COFFEE? YOU WANT?”

And, I, annoyed, bellow back:

“YES. OK! ALL RIGHT! JEEZ. PUT SOME SUGAR IN IT BECAUSE I LIKE IT SWEEEEET!” This last part was a bit of a screech, like a grumpy macaw was in the bedroom, placing her order.

It is important to note here that when he brought it to me, I didn’t look very sweet. I looked all crumpled, and sleepy, and ticked.

Oh, marriage.

I take a sip and wrinkle my delicate nose. “This doesn’t have creamer. I like creamer in my coffee.”

Brian blinks.

At this point he has a crucial decision. He can tell me to put the coffee where the sun don’t shine, which would be all sorts of painful but probably rather deserved,

Or he can go for option B. Niceness.

Because, marriage.

He picks B and answers with a phrase I hear quite a lot in our years together:

“Yes, dear.”

As I sat back and waited for my coffee (which, when handed to me the second time was paired with a huge grin and so much creamer it was, um, just white), I wondered at it. I was being petulant and demanding, and I got a totally unexpected response. Quiet kindness.

This was rather new.

We tell each other, “Yes, dear” all the time. We say it when it’s hard, or when we are smiling, or when we are aflame with anger. We even say it when it’s drippy with sarcasm. But we still say it. And it always does the trick.

“Yes, dear” works. Why? Because we’re simple folk. We like to be reminded, even when annoyed or distracted or just plain mad, that we are precious to each other. That we chose each other.

That we hold each other, dear.

He is my darling, after all. And I am his. Even though he knows to maybe not talk to me too much in the morning before coffee.

Because, marriage.

Ephesians 4:31-32, ya’ll. It’s a good one.

 

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Set Phasers to Shop.

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I am linking up with Williams-Sonoma today to talk about love and marriage, and this little bonus:

The Wedding Registry!! Yippeeeeeee!!!

Or:

How to Sign up for Some Serious Loot for Your Registry While Not Wanting to Taze Your Sweet  Husband-to-Be In the Process

The hubster and I have been married now some six years* or so. We still like to think of ourselves as newlyweds. He still searches me out across a crowded room. I still blush when he looks my way.

Of course, most of the searching is because he wants help with taking our two boys to the potty. Often I am blushing because I feel premenstrual and my hormones are on attack mode.

But, you know, the magic is there. It is. It’s just buried under two loads of laundry and the cat. But I swear, it’s THERE SOMEWHERE.

Those many years ago, when I had ambushed him, and we were heading towards wedded bliss, we ventured out together for a one of the most momentous events in our lives as a couple:

Gun zap wedding registration!

You know the drill, you married folk. You get together and walk into the store, all giggly and hand-holdy, and some poor store clerk tries to explain how to work the registration gun of bliss, and you don’t really listen, because your sweetie is holding your hand, and sometimes you just like standing next to him because he smells so goooooood, and this is going to be fun fun FUN!

And it is. For about ten minutes.

And then, if you’re like me (bless your heart if you are) you get bored. And also, you realize you don’t really need a crossbow and target (because you decided to start in the back of the store and work to the front). In fact, you don’t really need anything in the Sports and Outdoors section of this large store, but that’s when you hear these fated words from the increasingly annoying husband-to-be:

“We have a gun that ZAPS things! Honey! Lookit! I. Must. ZAP IT ALLLLLL!!”

I was trying to sneak a plastic mallard decoy back to the shelf, and I glared at him. He looked kinda like this:

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With great power comes great responsibility, Kirkie.

Or maybe it was more like:

PHASR-phaser-rifle

Lookit! My zapper is bigger than your zapper!

I do see the irony now, that we started in the Weapons of Mass Destruction section of the store, because the man was on a serious mission now to dispatch the entire store into our registry. ALL of it. From bicycle pumps to WD-40.

And who doesn’t need a little extra WD-40 around the house? Why NOT register for it?

Here’s why:

IT’S JUST WRONG, that’s why.  That’s all I am going to say about that.

Except, that day, in that store, while I watched my fine-analysis future husband as he was reading the ingredient listing on TRAIL MIX, I did NOT stop at “This is just wrong.”  My hubs-to-be got a full view of how his wife-to-be reacts when I don’t agree with something.  I must explain, in full detail and with subheadings and some black and white illustrations, how I am always right.

I know. Who wouldn’t want to marry that?

Don’t worry. It all turned out OK. We went ahead with the marriage because, well, I still thought he was cute and all.

And we loved each other like crazy.

If you would like to survive the registry without a meltdown in the automotive aisle (and yes, you can put Pennzoil on the list, if you like, but only if you want me to follow you around in your head with a lecture), follow this simple list.

Here’s how to Keep the Romance in the Registry:

1. Take a minute and look over your stuff. Take an informal survey. Does your betrothed have a toaster? Do you own a great coffee maker? Do you really need to register, then, for a coffee maker that also makes toast and sings the “Good Morning” song from Singin’ in the Rain? Probably not. (Although, seriously? This item does sound kinda awesome.)

2. Go ahead and register for a toaster, however, if the betrothed has not ever cleaned his, and the last time he used it was to kill a cockroach. In it. Don’t ask.

3. Actually make a list of needs and wants beforehand. If you’re all, “But, that’s not fun! That’s not romantic! We just need to be relaxed about this! Lists are for people who have given up on spontaneity!” Just stop it. Lists are helpful. They are not the Ten Commandments, people. You can still STRAY from the list, but think of it as a way to not try hitting your sweet fiance over the head with a large pack of M and M’s (“But honey! They are so good! And healthy! There’s peanuts in there! Someone is sure to get them for us!” Someone did.)

4. Allow for silliness. Go ahead and allow the goofy for a few items. Register for a game of Operation, and let him register for the M and M’s. Think this ratio:  60% needed, 30% wanted, 12% weirdness.

Allow yourself a moment to realize that this ratio also works a lot for marriage in general.

5. Consider your match. Test him. Use the following terms in casual conversation: “duvet covers,” and “full place setting with charger.” If your spousal-other only blinks rapidly in consternation, you have some work to do. Start slow. Discuss matching towels and go from there. Whatever you do, DON’T bring up “monogrammed linens.” and “bamboo salt cellars.” It might make his head explode.

If you are both a bit lost, look up stores that you love, and peruse their goods for places to start.

Wander over to Williams-Sonoma wedding registry site for some great ideas and inspiration.

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Williams-Sonoma has a great registry favorites page! And I so wish I had registered for that mixer. Anyone feeling like sending a very late wedding gift?

And remember: Relax and consider that monogrammed linens are not the end result here. They are just frosting on the glorious, yummy marriage cake!

A cozy, happy, loving home for two is the main idea. But the registry is a great place to start frosting your future cake of love, people.

Happy registering!

* Incidentally, my sweet prince just interrupted to let me know that we have been married eight years. Not six. Yep. The romance is clearly still alive. Just not my long-term memory.