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Take It From Me

Be the Perfect Groom

The manly art of wedding planning

While movies still portray grooms as clueless idiots, concerned with little more than surviving the bachelor party, today’s man is often expected to help plan the wedding. But what if you’re one of those grooms who never gave much thought to anything beyond popping the question? Don’t worry—there’s a role for you that matches your talents and interests:

Producer. Even the groom who doesn’t care about color themes, food, or music can still create budgets, make lists, and look after the big picture while his betrothed covers the day-to-day details. A wedding is like a movie—it needs a producer as well as a director.

IT consultant. A computer-savvy groom can create spreadsheets for tracking RSVPs and thank-yous. Webheads can build websites for posting important information about the big day.

Delivery guy. No big brown truck is required. A groom can pick up invitations at the printer’s or drop off addressed envelopes at the post office, freeing his partner to focus on the important things without having to worry about getting stuff from point A to point B.

DJ. Anyone with a strong opinion on music will want to meet with bandleaders. Hiring an actual DJ? The groom can supply a list of songs the couple wants—or doesn’t want—played at the party.

Food tester. Getting married means never having to say “I’m not hungry.” When couples make appointments with caterers and bakers, they’re often treated to a smorgasbord of delights, from tasty appetizers to slices of cake. A fella’s gotta eat, right?

How to Include the Autistic Child

With careful planning, parties and other events can be easier for families of children with autism. To help, I’ve developed the “IDEAL” system:

  • The I is for “introduce the activity.” How to do this will depend on the child. Those with minimal language skills might look at pictures of the place to be visited. Others may respond to short priming stories in which the parent describes likely social scenarios.
  • D is for “determine the tasks involved.” Break down each activity into parts and consider which parts will need to be assisted. For example, some children with autism are fine except in the less-structured parts of an activity.
  • E is for “evaluate your expectations.” Remember that some activities can go downhill fast as the child’s stamina wears thin. And make sure the child gets to use particular strengths. If an activity involves music, for example, a child who is an enthusiastic singer will want a chance to sing.
  • A is for “accommodate for success.” Accommodations can be as simple as bringing headphones for a child who is oversensitive to sound.
  • L is for “list the activity components visually.” Once again, the approach should be individualized. Some children are more comfortable with pictures; others may prefer to look at a list of words or sentences.

Finding the Right Massage Therapist

Your personal wizard of ahhs is out there somewhere

Besides relieving tension and aches, massage has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve sleep, reduce stress, and strengthen the immune system. It’s also easier than ever to find a great massage therapist. Visit www.massagetherapy.com, a site maintained by the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. Or ask your health insurance provider if there are practitioners who offer discounted services. Ask friends for recommendations. But first identify your goals:

Injured? If you have a specific injury, such as tennis elbow, ask prospective therapists if they have worked with similar cases, what the treatment plan is, and what outcome you can expect. If you are receiving physical therapy or chiropractic care, ask your practitioner to recommend a massage therapist.

Stressed out? Look for therapists who specialize in relaxation massage. These practitioners, usually found at spas or wellness centers or in private practice, turn a sixty-minute session into a mini-vacation from the cares of the world.

In training? Ask your trainer or teammates for recommendations, or search the Internet for “sports massage.” Ideally, your therapist should have experience with athletes in your sport.

Phone several therapists before you book an appointment. Ask how long they’ve practiced and whether they are certified by the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. And be sure to communicate—speak up if the work is too light or too deep.

Visiting a Cemetery

Every autumn, when I visit the grave of my Great-Aunt Celia, I wear a new or semi-new outfit, because when I was a child, she always bought me new clothes at the start of the school year. There are very few rights and wrongs for connecting with those we have lost. You should be guided mainly by your own personal, religious, or cultural views of death, dying, and living. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for preparing yourself for cemetery visits:

Set your own schedule. Some visit their deceased’s grave daily, others on birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. Decide which times would be most meaningful for you.

Remember that negative or mixed emotions are okay. If you were angry at the deceased, you can bring your feelings to the cemetery, and even further process them there.

Think about whether you want to be alone or with others. Sometimes other people can provide welcome support during cemetery visits. But if you anticipate that intensely private feelings may surface, you may want to be alone.

If you can’t visit the actual grave . . . Sometimes the grave site is unknown or distant. In that case, consider a visit to the graves of strangers. One idea might be to help place flags by the graves of veterans.

Don’t judge yourself. Some people cry, some don’t.

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