Walt Disney World vacationFrom the moment our Walt Disney World vacation is officially reserved, with confirmation numbers issued and room deposits given, Mark is ready to start planning. After all, plans had already been in the planning, just to be able to plan! And for Mark, this is almost as much fun as the trip itself. It’s true: We won’t have been back from last year’s trip for more than a couple of days when Mark will just happen to “have a thought” about next year’s trip that he’ll casually insert into a conversation as if the thought had just occurred to him, when in fact he’d been giving it serious thought even before we’d left!

Sadly for Mark, he married his polar opposite where calendars, schedules and logistics are concerned (though there’s no doubt Amy would make a great Disney travel agent!). On the bright side, however, Amy has improved over the years in her willingness and even occasional enjoyment in configuring the next WDW adventure. Seeing how happy it made Mark any time Amy was willing to talk something through or weigh in with an opinion was motivation enough for Amy to be better; but it was also unavoidable come the point where reservations needed to be made. Hotel rooms needed to be booked nine months in advance in order to be able to get dining reservations six months in advance and attraction reservations three months in advance. (Amy’s always believed we could do it all at the last minute and still manage to have the exact same trip, but Mark continues to express an unwillingness to guinea-pig that theory.)

Knowing that Amy is good for talking plans only so far in advance—and only for so long until she becomes impatient and begins questioning what’s already in place, Mark is careful to not overwhelm with every little detail that for him is such fun to ponder. Only the highest level questions will he ask, and even then, he approaches the subject—and Amy—with utmost care. As a result, he telegraphs his intentions a mile away as he endeavors to be both delicate and direct. “Is there something you’d like to ask me about our vacation?” Amy will intercept with a knowing twinkle in her eye. Mark’s guilty expression inevitably belies his relief, which is quickly replaced by his zeal to voice whatever vacation dilemma he’d been wrestling.

For three months, Mark will obligingly keep the planning under wraps. The spreadsheets, blogs, rumor reports and write-ups will all be kept quietly beneath the surface, save for the this or the that that might affect our lives—and by that, our vacation! So, that precise point in time—that very first moment—when Mark broaches the subject of our trip with a look of justification instead of trepidation, Amy knows we’ve reached the six-month mark.

Because it’s the first of what can now be many conversations to follow, Mark is careful not to exceed Amy’s comfort level for how long she can maintain a discussion that requires previsualizing the vacation she’s not yet ready to embark upon. His calendar-challenged spouse wants to appease (for Mark gets so happy!), and so she does her best to keep pace as he addresses how best to work dinner on the night of Epcot’s extended Magic Hours, which will thusly affect every decision around the entire day, and possibly the day before that and the day after that. So while at first, the options seem manageable and the decisions straightforward, each additional detail or consideration becomes an added complexity until eventually, all Amy sees is that everything affects everything and why can’t we just play it all by ear?!

It’s at that point that Mark knows to wrap it up and let things ruminate. …But not before reciting the park itinerary in current contention, otherwise known as “Scenario 1”: “Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Epcot,” he rattles off, “Animal Kingdom, day off or Studios, Magic Kingdom…” Amy’s only hearing words, “Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Epcot…” and finally: “Magic Kingdom half-day,” Mark concludes as Amy goes down for the count.

Only six months away and not a moment to spare!