My new family is great.

I'm currently laid out (read: lazy) with a head cold and my new mother-in-law is helping Kat make me chicken soup. I hate calling Becca my mother-in-law, only because there are so many lame jokes and nasty anecdotes that revolve around that world. She's an amazing and wonderful woman who has welcomed me like her very own son and it's been hard for me to even fathom that people can be so nice.

The same goes for my new father- and sister-in-law, Peter and Kirsten. This new family of mine who just a year ago found out I existed and, oh by the way, that I was marrying Kat have been absolutely wonderful to me and shown me how great it feels to be welcomed.

It didn't stop there, though. Our wedding coincided with Kat's grandparents' 60th(!) wedding anniversary and a family reunion; I got to meet all kinds of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends whom I never knew and yet now I can't stop thinking about. Everyone is spread out across the globe and yet I'm really hopeful that we'll get together more regularly than a 60th anniversary bash.


Holy Crap getting married is complicated.

I don't mean the actual getting married part. That part we could do right now with a Justice of the Peace. But all the little stuff at a wedding is ridiculous. We need lights, but the light guys can't set up until we have the tents up, and the tent guys need to know where the music equipment is going, and the music guys want to know how many mic cables to bring, and I have no idea because I'm not the one singing.

There's food to be catered, dishes to be washed (Kat and I spent yesterday washing 96 place settings to get them ready for the wedding), guests to be housed, rings to be bought (I got mine yesterday and it looks awesome), spa days to attend, bachelor parties to blur through, etc. etc. etc.

And somewhere in between all that stuff we are supposed to have a good time.



I'm super frazzled, and it's not even wedding stuff that's got me down.

My mom's house caught fire.

Everyone's safe, and there doesn't seem to be much damage to the house, but obviously everyone's freaked out and my mom needs to get the house re-wired now.

My sister heard a pop and saw the fuse box blow up and catch fire. The Fire Department said there were no smoke detectors in the room, which my mom didn't know because she just bought the house recently and assumed they were installed.

Normally my mom keeps the door upstairs closed because my sister lives in the basement and likes her privacy. If my sister wasn't there at that moment to see that fuse explode...if she was asleep at the time...well, all I can say is this is the best possible outcome.

It's just frustrating hearing this news from so far away. I can't wait for my mom and sis to fly into Kona.


Dispatches from Hawaii #1

Kat and I landed on the island of Hawai'i Wednesday and it's been great so far. I was really nervous that the pressure of the wedding (eight days and counting) would ramp up and we'd end up bickering, but so far we've been having a blast. We've gotten our wedding license, finalized the cake, and...well, that's about it for official wedding business.

Yesterday we took a drive down to the beach and floated in the South Pacific for an hour or so. The ocean here is ridiculously beautiful. Crystal blue and a perfect temperature. The bay we swam in was really peaceful too, which was nice because I'm a good swimmer in a pool but I rank just above flailing guppy in the ocean. Kat, on the other hand, might be part porpoise, and regularly swims a good 20 or 30 yards out and dares me to follow. So I dog paddle out and sputter and gasp and it's good fun.

One of my other concerns was that we'd get out to Holualoa and spend our time eating and drinking and generally being merry while not spending any time in the gym and I'd balloon out of my wedding clothes (shirt by Hugo Boss, pants by Armani thankyouverymuch) but I found a solution: Kat's parents live at the bottom of a huge hill. It's only about a mile long, but it's a 22% incline. I stepped out yesterday in my workout clothes.

"Where ya goin'?" Kat's mom asked.

"I'm going to jog up your hill." Her eyes got big.

"Maybe I could drive you to the top and you could jog up there, instead."

"Nope! I'm gonna give it a shot!"

And I did give it a shot. I jogged about 25 yards before I felt like my lungs were going to collapse and my calf muscles were going to shoot out the backs of my legs like broken springs. But I made it to the top. Walking. And with many stops. I completely sweated through my clothes and couldn't stop gasping until after I had showered. My calves didn't stop shaking for a solid 20 minutes. So when Kat suggested we do it again today I was a little hesitant but I'm glad we're getting exercise in between our steak and eggs benedict and seared ahi.

I also got to experience my first Iron Man today. I've seen this before on NBC a few times and it seemed to me like a few fringe lunatics hellbent on ruining themselves just to say they could. I had no idea it was such a huge event, though. Kat's dad invited me last night to check out the starting gun with him. I shuddered when he mentioned that we'd have to be up and out the door by 6 am, but this was a chance to bond with my future father-in-law.

I like Kat's dad a lot. He's a huge imposing figure but he's always been magnanimous and welcoming and loving, which I can't appreciate enough. He's also very quiet though, and our past attempts at talking have wound up with some lengthy awkward pauses before. Granted, the last time we talked he had just met me AND found out I was marrying his daughter, so maybe the shock was settling in.

So at 5:30 this morning he knocked at our door and I got up to check out Iron Man. Kat decided to tag along, which was a mixed blessing because I knew she'd fill in a lot of the space if Peter (more on his name later) and I ran out of things to talk about but I also knew she'd end up talking with him a lot more and I'd have to make an effort to jump in.

Luckily it was just the opposite. I don't know if anything changed or if I was just overly sensitive before but we had a great time and the conversation never stalled. The Iron Man is RIDICULOUS. Athletes start out with a 2+ mile swim in the ocean, immediately hop out and bike 112 miles over the volcano in the scalding sun and heat wearing what I can only guess are spandex cocktail napkins stretched over their bodies. After the bike portion, they run 26 miles back to where they started. They start at 6:45 in the morning. The event lasts until midnight, and if you don't finish by then you're out, but some people finish this thing in as little as eight hours. I think after eight hours they would still be fishing for my lifeless body in the ocean.

After we saw the first hundred or so people finish their swim and start biking we took off for home. Once Kat and I finished our hill climb we headed to brunch, where I finally broached a subject that's been heavy on my mind.

I have no idea what to call Kat's dad. Her mom was quick to instruct me to call her "Mom" or Becca, and I'm fine with Becca. I have a weird hang up about calling other people "mom" or "dad," and I grew up with the instruction that grown-ups are "Mr." or "Ms.", but I'm immediately comfortable around Becca and had no problem falling right in to calling her by her first name. Kat's dad, though, I wasn't sure about. First, I was a little intimidated. I don't know if INTIMIDATED is the right word or not; basically I wanted to make a great first impression. Before I met him I told Kat I would be calling him "Mr. (last name)" - quick sidebar: I'm not sure how my future in-laws would feel about being mentioned in my little blog so I'm leaving out last names -

"Okay," Kat said, "but if you really want to get on his good side you should call him Doctor."

Yeah. He's a fishing captain AND a doctor. Which definitely upped the "Holy shit how do I impress this guy?" factor in my brain, but the Dr. thing threw me for a loop. Now it sounded too forced and overly polite. I wanted to sound casual and comfortable. "Dr." smacked of Eddie Haskel to me, and I figured it invited the inevitable "You can just call me Peter." So for most of our meetings I've just avoided addressing him by name. Which is probably why I feel like we haven't connected: I should just say, "Hey Peter, how's things?" Instead I had this weird mental block against using his name so I would have to wait for eye contact and then just address him as "you," as in "How are you doing?"

But I finally found my in when Kat thanked him for brunch and called him dad. Becca chimed in and called him "daddy-o," so naturally I asked if I could call him "daddy-o" also.

"Sure," he said. Well shit. I can't seriously call him daddy-o. I was hoping for a "You can just call me Peter."

"Yeah dad," Kat piped up, "what should Randy call you?" Yes! I love this woman!

"I never thought about it," he said, "Call me whatever you like. Peter. Pete. Dr. Lastname. Whatever." Perfect! I had the in, the official permission to use his first name. I don't know why it was such a big deal to me but I felt like a dam had burst. I could now throw out a "Hey Peter!" I can now stop these weird awkward conversations where I can only ask questions to "you." I am fitting in with my new family.

So far, Hawaii is treating me pretty nicely.