Saturday, November 22, 2008

Before the bird.

It is a lazy Saturday in Mr. Husband land. He’s fumbled around from one thing to another without any clear aim in mind: video games in bathrobe, a warm afternoon nooner, pizza for lunch with more video games, a movie in front of the fire, and folding laundry. He is happy. I am happy. We have no plans today. We stop in the middle of doing nothing much at all and stare at each other to smile, both of us secretly declaring how lucky we are. Here we are for one brief moment after a whirlwind two weeks that included Mr. Husband presenting at a Forum and me having publishers in town from Germany. It was busy.

And, then, here comes Thanksgiving. The year when my father passes down the Klusendorf Family Turkey Secrets to Mr. Husband.

This year, Thanksgiving is at our new house. Mr. Husband and I decided early on in our relationship that neither family will ever feel left out or feel second-best. It’s a hard task to accomplish, but can be done by applying much care. Therefore, the holidays alternate between families. If we spend Thanksgiving with my family, then we spend Christmas with his family and vice versa. We are finding now that we’re married that spending time with our parents is so important—it makes for family. We look forward to adding to this family one day, so we are always working to bring both families together. We are very fortunate in that both sets of parents genuinely enjoy each other. They have a good time together without our having to push or plead. Mr. Husband’s parents even went to visit my parents this past August—without our being along for the trip. We could hear the laughter resounding all the way from Florida.

Tomorrow we will buy our eighteen-pound turkey—enough for everyone. While both Mr. Husband’s brothers have girlfriend’s homes to visit for their own Thanksgiving, we are still planning on their sampling our first turkey in the new house. It’ll be new-house-turkey! It’ll still have that new-house-turkey smell. So we must have turkey enough for thirteen people, plus leftovers. On Wednesday, my parents, older brother, sister-in-law, and grandma will venture their way from Florida. We’re going to have a pie-making contest on Wednesday evening to kick off the holiday festivities. It will be my sister-in-law’s first visit to our new house. I am excited to show her all our nooks and crannies. My sister-in-law is often my best friend—the one who always brings the understanding and the shopping. Let there be shopping!

On Thursday, Mr. Father-in-Law and Mrs. Mother-in-Law will make their way to our home, a mere twelve-mile trek down Valleydale, and we’ll all work together to bring the Thanksgiving Day feast to life. Mrs. Mother-in-Law will bring the happiness and laughter that she always keeps close in her pocket, and Mr. Father-in-Law will bring his limericks. The two of them breathe life into any room. Add this to my parents, and you have a room brimming over with fun and family happiness. I am looking forward to it like it’s our wedding all over again.

We’ve planned for this day all year. We will break out the fine china for its very first dinner. Mr. Husband carefully helped me select placemats, napkins, and napkin rings that match. We have round placemats so that we can fit nine at our table that was purchased especially with many Thanksgivings to come in mind. Everyone will drink from lead crystal glasses or from Reidels. Everything will be perfect … and then we’ll wait for something to go wrong. Something will. And we know it. That’s ok. Our table will be beautiful and our house will be filled with laughter and the love of those that we like having closest. And then we’ll thankfully eat the bird.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Making our house really warm.

We finally achieved maximum house warmimum. We had to break-in our house properly in a way that can be shared with friends (nudge-nudge, wink-wink, know what I mean?). We were good sports and let four kind hostesses fill our home with food, wine, and beer while various friends spilled through the door and filled up the floor. The weather was warm so that we could take good advantage of the inviting upper porch. The night was filled with laughter that spilled over the side of the bathtub and ran down the stairs. It is one of my favorite things to give people a welcome space to come and relax with conversation and laughter for a while. Bring on the brief, adhesive moments in life that glue us together.

Debs, Mindy, Hind, and Nicole set up the kitchen, arranging warm and sweet foods on trays for easy access. Finally, the sparkly and shiny stuff that we got for our wedding got to jump out of the cabinet and onto the countertops, coming to life for a few hours. All the Arthur Court and Lenox and Mikasa and Reidels were vying for attention from every onlooker. I encouraged them all, I’m not going to lie to you. Let all my little lovelies have their big moment. Mr. Husband was proud and agreed we’d done well with our picking and planning for the wedding registry. The registry had a theme: entertainment. And so we did.

Throughout the evening, various couples and friends poured through the door, coming to walk through our house that was lit up larger than Christmas and fine on display. My parents had arrived with older brother on Thursday in order to whip the house into shape. Mr. Husband soon became certain, convinced, and suspicious that my mother was trying to get our house ready to sell. When is too much HGTV just too much? Clear off the clutter. Bake cookies for the sugary scent. Hide everything you have or want to have or thought you have in a cabinet. Let your whole life move out to the garage. Store everything so that you forget it and never use it and then throw it out. My mother is a cleaning demon. She breathed her HGTV all over our kitchen and living room until it sparkled and smelled of “Buy Me!” While slightly annoying, she did damn good.

The party was open for kids. Bring your babies. Bring your kids. Bring the never-out-of-energy-Polish-twins-what-is-your-mother-feeding-you to run around our house and up and down the stairs. The dynamic of our circle of friends has changed drastically with all this obnoxious marrying and popping out with children once a year. Baby sitters are expensive. I know. I’ve gladly accepted forty bucks from the Halvorson’s when we didn’t expect it. I understand the cost. Let the children come and be merry, too. Don’t feed them beer, but let them run around with wild abandon. Fill our home with children’s laughter and questions. That is one way to ensure the warmth of a home.

Plus, this gives the Stewarts more opportunity to pose with other people’s kids to pretend that they are our kids and we are a family. Oh, yeah! Look how good we look with our pretend kids? Look how good my mother and mother-in-law look with my pretend baby daughter. I can do that kind of stuff all night. One day we’ll have our own, if we’re lucky.

The house, now, is properly warm. We are still cleaning up after the party. Putting glassware away, cleaning the decanters, sweeping and washing the floors. It was all worth it. There is nothing better than warming a new house with good friends. Mr. Husband was a social butterfly. I watched him being himself and being happy and talkative. I watched him in our house, among our friends, and fell in love all over again. We did this together.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Bruno’s the homegrown into big world grocery store in Birmingham, AL, had free food and wine tastings tonight at the store across from our neighborhood. That’s nice. Warm. Wine. Yum. Suffice it to say, that I no longer feel like cleaning for my parents and older brother who are due on my doorstep around 11:00 this evening. I feel like writing and perusing through various books. I feel like enjoying myself. Since it is the first visit of my parents and older brother to the new house, I must only take a brief moment to enjoy myself and flex my fingers and mind. Mr. Husband is working late much of this week to prepare for the publisher forum that is being held at work next week. He’s going to present some mind-blowing stuff to the publishers and be all brilliant like it comes naturally. I’m getting excited about wearing my proud badge. It’s a busy week, as always.

My parents and older brother are coming into town for our housewarming that is being held on Saturday night. It is a night of coming together of good friends to see our house and enjoy each other’s company. We haven’t had one new wedding this year. It’s time for a party—otherwise, how do we gather all the friends together for one night of laughter? Party. Yes. And we’ve invited the kids. We’re at that age where all our friends are sprouting babies. We’re still trying to sprout, and until we do—we want to be surrounded by everyone else’s babies. It’s so neurotic and true.

We planned the housewarming around our first anniversary. We call it Anniversapalooza. It’s all in the name. We were festive for three days. There was a bit of surprising heartbreak in the middle of that, but we won’t talk about that. That is never to be written about—you know who you are. Our first anniversary was about building traditions. Will we be the couple that always vacations on our anniversary, which is a very popular traditional sentiment? Or will we be the couple that snuggles at home together, locking ourselves away from the world to focus on each other and remember our wedding day? Ideally, it’d be nice to be the former type of couple—big vacation where we can lose ourselves in romance and adventure. However, the new house and scary economy force us to be the latter type of couple. And we like it. Tradition is saved. Let it be.

Sunday morning, we woke up and played The Newlywed Game on DVD—complete with 1970s couples where the women are giggly and oppressed (without realizing it) and the men wear colors so loud that today they’d be prominently pronouncing themselves as batting for the other team. The questions are a bit outdated and blindingly sexist, but the video clips from the real show with the squirming women and the clueless men make up for it. We’re addicted. It was fun just to be reminded of silly things like our honeymoon and strange things like “who was the most aggressive the last time you made woopee.” Love that word. We should all use “woopee” more often in every day speech.

Monday night, Mr. Husband and I drove home from work. We pulled into the garage and he put on our song—The White Stripes “We’re Going To Be Friends” (from the movie Napoleon Dynamite). He put his iPod on the dash of the car and gave me the sweetest card ever that slayed any fear a women could ever have and build castles in my heart. Big giant castles with a moat and dragon and everything. Then he ushered me inside to see my new china cabinet. Holy crap! That was totally not expected. Something to show off my sparkly stuff. Amazing. Mr. Husband is the most awesome and thoughtful man in the world. His gift totally made my gift of a Krupps Heineken Beer Tender look puny. That’s ok. He loved it. Draft beer in the kitchen. Dig it.

Later, we watched SNL and 30 Rock. We laughed and snuggled. The next night, we ate our one-year-old cake that was crusty and dry but surprisingly good (but strange). We laughed and it was just Mr. Husband and me. Just us. We planned for the future and kissed a lot between some other stuff.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Keeping it hot while far apart.

Mr. Husband cometh home. He is warm and snuggly in our bed now. Worn out from so much conference in so little time. He came home bearing gifts: mug and shiny new pen. My favorites. I forced him into a highly flammable costume from Party City as soon as he was beered and cheesed so that we could make his boss’s costume party. No matter what—you always go to the boss’s party. Always. We happen to be very lucky in that Mr. Husband’s boss is one of the best bosses in the world—and he’s incredibly funny and super smart. Winning combination. The boss knows how to throw a good party. And so we went—dressed as what I called Greek Logics. We were supposed to be scary, and I think that, for some people, Greek Logic is the scariest thing in the world. Huzzah!

It felt so good to hug him! To feel Mr. Husband’s arms around me. It’s like it had been years. I think I almost died. I’m sure I came close. And consider that we are always in touch. He’s never far from me via IM, phone, or email, but it is the physical presence that I miss. I miss hearing him breathe. I miss his bad breath in the morning. I miss wondering if he’s dying when he’s stuck in the bathroom for so long in the morning. I miss making him coffee and having him tell me how good it is. I miss seeing his eyes light up when he hears what's for lunch. I miss it all. There are certain things that Mr. Husband does to make sure that I do not miss him so much that it hurts and my insides start dying. He sends me photos. The airport photos are my favorite. This year’s group began with the photo in the plane. I love it.

There are certain things that I do to make sure that Mr. Husband doesn’t miss me so much that he gets shorter. I couldn’t handle that. For God’s sake, let my Mr. Husband remain the towering giant that I’ve grown to love in a very tall kind of way. I always try to pack love notes into Mr. Husband’s suitcase. I tuck them into pockets and between shirts. I place them lovingly into his man-panties as they lay folded on top of each other on their private side of the suitcase. I try to place them strategically so that he finds them occasionally throughout the week. He takes pictures of them and sends them to me with his “Wow!” and “I love you!” Must keep that blood-pumping-through-your-veins-hot-love-makes-me-excitable-all-the-time thriving between us. And we do.

Mr. Husband has an iPhone, so he’s able to send me photos of little things he stumbles upon and that remind him of me. Typically, they are things that he wishes I was with him in order for us to see together. I have my trusty camera with me at all times in order to document the boredom that sets in without Mr. Husband. The two cats were definitely bored. Mr. Oliver, the Senator, let me know loud and clear with poop bombs on the rug in the laundry room that Mr. Husband’s departure from home was unacceptable. The two cats would sit and stare at me every night. They missed the family aspect. I understand. Little Bonita, our bananna head, is never calm without Mr. Husband. She, too, stares at me as if I've forced him from home and fed him to the neighbor's dog.

Today will be cat Saturday! I’ve already made the coffee and will probably go and wake Mr. Husband soon with an English muffin and some eggs. I will wake him as he crawls all over the morning bed—taking up both sides of the bed. While in L.A. Mr. Husband sent me a photo of himself sleeping and taking up the entire bed. Bad man! I’ve got Mr. Husband well trained to sleep on only one third of the bed while, in truth, we practically sleep on top of each other. I get two thirds of the bed and share it with my cat. We have needs. However, my biggest need always is to feel his heart beating next to mine. I like his soft breathing that makes me feel safe and reminds me of his great love.