Wedding bloopers: The funniest pics from our wedding day

Three years ago today, my house was filling up with my bridal party and family. We were doing all the things you do before your wedding, like slamming bagels and shmear, drinking champagne, and hurriedly trying to get last-minute details nailed down as Brian snuck out to escape the insanity.

Three years ago, I married the best partner in the history of ever in a cheese-themed wedding with a ginormous bridal party and an epic dance-a-thon.

And now, three years later, I feel it’s only right and fair to share the best photos from the entire shindig. The funniest photos from our wedding. The wedding bloopers. Clearly, my favorite photos.

Getting ready

hilarious professional wedding photos
Mama Bear wanted me to make a pretty face, but I just wanted to make her laugh. Mission unsuccessful. I’ll try again later.
hilarious professional wedding photos  mom and daughter
Nope, she still wanted to kill me.
funny professional wedding photos Chrissy and her mom making faces at each other
I love you, Mama!
hilarious professional wedding photos  - sloth pajamas
I think I should bring these sloth jams, just in case I need a change of clothes. What do you think?
hilarious professional wedding photos  best friends flipping each other off
Classic Katie and Chrissy

Formal wedding portraits

hilarious professional wedding photos  you're a tiger.
Photographer: You’re a tiger!
Brian: Obviously. Brian’s brother: No.


hilarious professional wedding photos  jump in my arms
Quick! Jump in my arms, despite the fact that I am still getting over a back injury.
hilarious professional wedding photos  dresses stuck together
Uhhh, Chrissy, I’m stuck!
hilarious professional wedding photos  dresses stuck together
I don’t think I can get it. We need help.
hilarious professional wedding photos  dresses stuck together
Brooke legit saved the day.

The ceremony

I literally laughed throughout the entire thing. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever done.

hilarious professional wedding photos  laughing throughout the ceremony
This might be where Q, our officiant made a joke about Christmas trees.
hilarious professional wedding photos  laughing throughout the ceremony
Or maybe it was here…
hilarious professional wedding photos  laughing throughout the ceremony
This was definitely after I skipped past half the vows and just shouted: “I do!”

The dinosaur

No captions necessary.

hilarious professional wedding photos  at a playground
hilarious professional wedding photos  at a playground
hilarious professional wedding photos  at a playground
hilarious professional wedding photos  at a playground
hilarious professional wedding photos  at a playground

Cocktail hour

hilarious professional wedding photos  glaring at an appetizer instead of smiling
This may be my favorite photo from the whole wedding. Me, staring longingly at my bacon-wrapped date while hugging Brian’s cousin.
hilarious professional wedding photos  parents caught off guard
My parents are legit the cutest.

Cutting the cheese

hilarious professional wedding photos  laughing while cutting the cheese wedding cake made of cheese wheels
The rind was SO HARD to cut into, I laughed the whole time
hilarious professional wedding photos  laughing while cutting the cheese wedding cake made of cheese wheels
No, I’m not choking. And the cheese was delicious. I was probably still laughing.
hilarious professional wedding photos  laughing while cutting the cheese wedding cake made of cheese wheels
Everyone is watching me eat cheese. This is amazing.

Time after time

Katie and I have danced the Romy and Michelle dance at every wedding we’ve ever been to together. So I made it an official bridal party dance. It started with Katie, TBCIII and me, and then everyone else joined in. And it was epic.

hilarious professional wedding photos: Dancing to Time After Time from Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion
hilarious professional wedding photos: Dancing to Time After Time from Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion
hilarious professional wedding photos: Dancing to Time After Time from Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion
hilarious professional wedding photos: Dancing to Time After Time from Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion

Dance party

hilarious professional wedding photos: Candid dancing photos
Go away, new husband. Gotta dance with my APO brother and mentor.
hilarious professional wedding photos: Candid dancing photos
There are at least 7 photos of me hiking my dress above my knees because my dress was too long.
hilarious professional wedding photos: Candid dancing photos
Bat dress
hilarious professional wedding photos: Candid dancing photos
Probably Livin on a Prayer. Probably.
hilarious professional wedding photos: Candid dancing photos
Definitely Paradise by the Dashboard Lights
hilarious professional wedding photos: Candid dancing photos
And scene.

Our wedding was a blur, but this life we’ve made together hasn’t been. I will continue to soak in all the beauty, magic, and joy that Brian brings to my world and celebrate every day like it’s our anniversary.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World

Woah.

Like literally. Woah. Joey Lawrence circa 1994 WOAH.

I gave you a sneak peek of our Galaxy’s Edge experience last week when I talked about my Star Wars Style, but this week I’m going to tell you everything I can about your first visit to Batuu.

If you didn’t already know, I’m a Walt Disney World annual passholder. And at some point in the last year, I managed to convert TBC3 over to passholder status as well. In this time, Disney announced they would be offering previews to passholders for the opening of Galaxy’s Edge. It was on a first-come, first-serve basis, so as soon as the email went out, I got on the site. I waited for what seemed like an eternity until the virtual queue took me to the registration page.

I couldn’t get reservations at Oga’s Cantina (but we have one coming in September!) or Savi’s workshop (I don’t expect that I would have been able to rationalize the $200 for a build-your-own-lightsaber experience anyways), but I did manage to snag us a preview slot which guaranteed a ride on the Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

Tom and I decided that if we could score a cheap hotel and flight, we’d go. A $100 round trip flight on United and $100/night on-property resort meant that we were definitely going to Batuu.

We arrived in Orlando the morning of our preview, Magical Expressed to our hotel and checked in. We hit up the Magic Kingdom for Space Mountain, the People Mover, and a Mickey pretzel before heading to Hollywood Studios. Our reservation was for 5 PM, but we were waved through at about 4:30 with ease.

Immersive Experience

By far, my favorite thing about Galaxy’s Edge is the incredible amount of detail that went into every little piece of the land. From the epic infrastructure to the cast member back stories, I’m here for all of it.


When you walk into the land, you truly feel like you’re stepping onto another planet.

I love sassing stormtroopers in Galaxy's Edge

I love sassing stormtroopers in Galaxy’s Edge


My Galaxy’s Edge outfit choice definitely made an impact on the CM interactions that I got. Several characters came up to me while I was wearing the Chewbacca dress I received from TV Store Online and invited me to join the resistance. They knew a good wookie when they saw one.

But each cast member will tell you what planet they are from and give you a story if you let them. Ask questions. Talk about the land. See what little nuggets you can uncover. Spend time exploring and learning about Batuu, because the experience is what this world is all about.

Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run

This attraction is amazing. We rode it three times so we could experience every role available. The queue is full of detail and story. Take in all of the visual artistry as you wait. Once you get into the attraction, there’s a short presentation with a mix of animatronics and video introducing you to the mission. Then you wall through a door and get assigned a role.


Our first time through, we waited 45 minutes and took the first thing they gave us: engineer. On our second ride, we waited 15 minutes and requested engineer. On our third ride, we, along with 50 other people, waited 0 minutes until we got to the assignment line and waited for pilot.


Then they usher you into an open waiting room, where you’re free to wander or lounge at the table until your team is called.


Our first two sets of pilots were awesome and the ride wasn’t too dizzying (I get vertigo). But when Tom and I took the helm, we (mostly me) were flying the ship all over the place. There was only one other person with us because of the aformentioned people waiting for pilot, and she had no idea what was going on, so we just laughed the entire time.


Even if you get a bad pilot (🙋🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️) or people who don’t know what they’re doing, you can still have fun. Sure it’s kind of a game with a score, but it’s also just a fun attraction. Enjoy it. Laugh more.

Food and drinks

We ate at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, the quick-service spot with a dining hall. Tom had the kids’ fried endorian tip-yip (fried chicken with mac and cheese) and I had the kids’ yobshrimp noodle salad (shrimp and noodles with veggies). Yes, we order kids’ meals (which come with drinks btw) — it’s one of the ways we keep our spending down…or save money for dessert…

Kids' Yobshrimp noodle salad at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Kids’ Yobshrimp noodle salad at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


Both entrees were tasty, albeit simple. The shrimp and noodles was a very tiny portion, but perfect if you just want a taste (or you want to get dessert, which I did).

Oi Oi Puff at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Oi Oi Puff at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


The real stars of the meal were the desserts. I had the oi-oi puff (a raspberry filled cream puff topped with passion fruit mousse) and Tom had the Batuu-bon (chocolate cake with coffee flavored cream).

Batuu-bon at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Batuu-bon at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


The Batuu-bon was good, but the oi-oi puff will likely become one of my must-eats at WDW.

Ronto Roasters Menu at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Ronto Roasters Menu at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


At Docking Bay 7, you can also get roasted chicken, ribs, pot roast, and a plant-based meatloaf dealie. You can also grab a quick meal or snack at Ronto Roasters, a quick-service stand that serves wraps and jerky. And if you just want something light to munch on, Kat Saka’s Kettle offers colorful popcorn.



In the drinks department, you’ve got the Milk Stand, where you’ll find blue and green milk. Both are fruity and sweet. We liked both, but not enough to really order them again. We both agreed that green was the superior milk, though for me, there wasn’t a big gap. Blue is sweeter, like a Hawaiian punch and green is more citrusy, though I can see why people say it’s got a floral flavor. Neither can hold a flame to LeFou’s Brew or the new Red’s Revenge, which is where my money will be allocated.


And finally, there’s Oga’s Cantina, which we did not get to visit because there were no available reservations. I will update you in two weeks when we return for our advanced dining reservation!

Photo ops

There are so many incredible places to snap a photo, I don’t even know where to begin. The land is full of amazing backdrops and photopass photographers everywhere you turn.


There are magic shots with porgs (in the front of Galaxy’s Edge near the main entrance) and TIE fighters (near the First Order area).


And every photographer wants you to use the force in at least one photo.


If you’re a big fan of Memory Maker or Disney Photo Pass, Batuu is full of talent!

Shopping

So the other major thing you can do in Galaxy’s Edge is add to your merch collection. They have two interactive build-your-own shops: Savi’s Workshop takes reservations and will set you back a couple hundred dollars for a custom-made lightsaber and Droid Depot (which I believe also takes resos) will set you back about $100(+) for a customized droid. The plus is for add-ons like personality chips. The droids aren’t really designed to roll around the ground at Galaxy’s Edge,  so if you buy one and want the personality chip interaction with cast members, you should plan on carrying your new bundle of robot joy around the park.


There are LOTS of shopping opportunities in Galaxy’s Edge. A couple of walk-in stores and then a market of small shops, some selling beautiful robes and costumes, others selling toys, collectibles, and more. One of the best things I saw though was a shopping limit per person.

Merch at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge in Walt Disney World

Limit of one item per item per person on collectibles at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

Each person can purchase one of each item available. This keeps ebayers at bay at least a littld bit, which means limited edition merchandise won’t sell out super fast to resellers. Hallelujah! (I really don’t like when people buy something JUST to resell it right away for a huge uptick in price).

I managed to leave without spending a dime on merchandise, but your mileage may vary, so I wanted to let you know there are lots of really cool items for sale.

Are you excited for Galaxy’s Edge? What are you most looking forward to? When are you planning on visiting? Tell me everything in the comments.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

What to wear to Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Well, this week has been quite the whirlwind! Tom and I managed to snag tickets to the Walt Disney World annual passholder preview for Galaxy’s Edge, and I have a full trip report coming next week, so make sure you’re subscribed for email updates.

Today, I’m talking about Star Wars style at Disney. Because when you head to Batuu, you’ll definitely want to get into the jedi spirit. I don’t say this solely because I like playing with fashion and style, but because it is 100% part of the experience. The cast member interaction is incredible, and the right outfit can actually enhance the interaction to the point where cast members will start talking to you about the resistance and the first order.

Now, because this is a part of Disney World, you still have to follow Disney’s rules regarding what is and isn’t allowed. Costumes are only allowed for guests ages 14 and under, with the notable exception of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, a separate ticketed event in the Magic Kingdom. And while you can buy some pretty amazing-looking cloaks, robes, and fighter pilot costumes in Batuu, you can’t actually wear them in the parks.

With that in mind, there are still a few different types of looks you can choose if you want to get into the spirit of Galaxy’s Edge (and ideally secure some of those fun cast member interactions).

Graphic tees and Star Wars symbols

Obviously, a Star Wars graphic tee will always fit in and absolutely has its place in Galaxy’s Edge. You can also wear other Star Wars branded clothing, like skater dresses and skirts with one of the many symbols of the various alliances in the Star Wars ‘verse.

Chrissy wearing a Star Wars Dress in Magic Kingdom

You can probably see the R2D2 and C3P0, but can you spot all the rebel alliance symbols?

What about the armies of R2 units disguised as flowers?I thought about wearing this low-key HerUniverse skater dress (I did see other ladies wearing it in the park), but two in-park outfit changes was already stretching my 4-hour time budget, and I was really excited about the other two looks.

Costume-y skater dresses

One of my favorite ways around the no-costume rule is to wear a skater dress inspired by a character. You can find all sorts of fun cosplay-light looks that won’t break the bank or the Disney rules. My first outfit in Batuu was this AMAZING Chewbacca skater dress. I received this dress from my friends over at TV Store Online (who like to send me quirky things to wear to random events like Jury Duty and other epic places) in order to provide an honest opinion of it, and I absolutely love it! I considered getting the non-furry Chewbacca version of the skater dress, but then I remembered how extra I am, and if I was going to Batuu, I was going big.

Wearing a Chewbacca dress in Disney World Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

The cast member guarding this part of Batuu told me there was a top-secret resistance mission coming in December, and they could use someone like me to join their cause. I fully believe my Chewbacca dress was the reason she initiated the conversation.

So there I was, wearing a fur dress in August in Florida. Granted, it was after 4 PM, so the midday sun was fading, but it was still a toast position to be in. In fact another cast member walked up to me and told me, “Batuu has three moons…and three suns.” And then she looked at me like I was insane.

Chrissy in a Chewbacca dress in Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Batuu Disney World

Taking in all three suns

To be perfectly honest, gang, I had every intention of putting the dress on (which I did in the middle of Batuu over the neon green tank top and shorts I was wearing under my Buzz Lightyear Disneybound) and taking it off immediately after a few solid photo opps. But something surprising happened. I never overheated. I didn’t even feel that warm. There were fans blowing in the land, creating a nice breeze. The interior shops and spaces had A/C blowing, and I was keeping myself SUPER hydrated. I also refrained from drinking alcohol (a must for me when it’s as hot as Florida is in the summer).

Wearing a Chewbacca dress waiting to ride the Millenium Falcon

I felt right at home in the Millenium Falcon.

And so I spent two+ hours in the dress. We rode the Millenium Falcon, took lots of photos, had dinner, and wandered the shops. It was comfortable, looked AWESOME, and provided countless opportunities to engage with cast members. I also got a lot of compliments, which is always a confidence booster. I would have worn it the entire time if I wasn’t carrying around a backpack full of clothes, including a skirt I was super stoked about.A couple things to note about the dress: it is furry, so it does shed a little. It is also a little snug in the arms, so I recommend sizing up if you are able.

Disneybounding

The last look you can use, and my all-time favorite way to dress up in the parks and at home, is to Disneybound a character from the movies.I found the most perfect skirt while thrifting a few months back, and I knew it would be a perfect way to check out Batuu. I only had to find a character that would work. After much Googling, I came across the scene of Padme Amidala packing for Naboo. And I knew what I needed to find: a sparkly tank to wear under a black vest I already owned.

Senator Padme Amidala packing for Naboo dress in Attack of the Clones

I was super excited to put together my thrifted outfit once I found the perfect black and silver sequin top just days before leaving for Batuu.

It was comfortable, breezy and looked fun in Disney Photopass shots, but it didn’t get as much uninitiated interaction from cast members.

Are you excited for Galaxy’s Edge in Florida (or even California)? What would you wear to Batuu? Let me know in the comments below!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

When you’re ashamed of your alma mater

I graduated from Glenbard East in Lombard, Illinois in 2001. This is the place that I spent four years of my life a few lifetimes ago. I was an enthusiastic, involved athlete and student during my time there. I was a cheerleader for two and a half seasons, a student leader, member of the choir, president of an organization, and active member of several other groups.

But now, my alma mater has made national news. They’re trending for publicly shaming young women for wearing tank tops to school in the hot humidity of the midwest in a school whose relationship with air conditioning has typically been spotty at best.

Like the female students humiliated last week, I was also shamed for what I wore nearly 20 years ago. But I was not given a scarlet letter to wear. I was forced to don a school sweatshirt from my locker in 90-degree heat, because “girls with women’s bodies” can’t wear things like sleeveless tops and overalls — these were things my school friends wore with no issue.

The dress code violation is that of showing someone’s back and shoulders…

Two cheerleaders at the Glenbard East High School Homecoming dance 2000 in formalwear and cowboy hats.
This was my bestie and I at the Fall 2000 Glenbard East homecoming dance. I wonder how the school plans to enforce a no-shoulders allowed dress code for that school-sanctioned event this fall.

It’s hard for me to stomach that things have not only not improved at this school, THEY’VE GOTTEN WORSE. I was appalled to hear about the first day of school ambush from the mostly male administration and that the two females on the administration — according to the Glenbard East staff website — joined in the enforcement of this antiquated dress code.

In the last few days, I have cried thinking about the young women who were told that their carefully chosen first-day-of-school outfits were inappropriate because they would distract their male peers from learning. As if forcing girls to wear construction orange tee-shirts complete with the dress-code violation branding (Dean Rental) would eliminate distraction from the classroom. 

Way to go Glenbard East. I am ashamed to be an alumnus of any institution that would be so cruel to embarrass and publicly shame young women when navigating high school is hard enough. Adults, and especially educators, have a responsibility to inspire and guide young people. They should provide a safe haven from all of the other things that teenagers have to endure. You have so much power, but with great power comes great responsibility. Now, what are you going to do to remedy the situation?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I love you 3000

Yesterday was truly one of the most exciting days ever. I woke up to my Disney alarm at 3:20 AM, brushed my teeth, got dressed, grabbed a camp chair, and jumped in the car. I made it to the Bucktown Best Buy before 4:30 in the morning and prayed I was among the first 100 people in line to pick up my preorder copy of Avengers Endgame, which, after seeing it four times this summer, I can safely say is my favorite movie of all time.

I waited in line with other Avengers superfans and the hours flew by. I sat in my comfy camp chair, took a Cap nap, even walked to the Mariano’s a few blocks away for a bathroom and breakfast break. There seems to be a gentleman’s agreement that the people in line will respect your place in line so you can take care of human needs etc. I was very glad of that being by myself on this particular adventure. It was surprisingly cool when I was napping, and in hindsight I should have brought a light blanket, but otherwise I had everything I needed.

I was in line to meet Joe Russo, who is probably the first director to ever have such a huge impact on me. He was in Chicago as part of the We Love You 3000 tour. With his brother Anthony and writers, Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, they make a dream team of storytellers that inspire and delight me as an audience member and fellow storyteller.

I kept thinking about the Q&A I had the honor of attending, sitting smack in the center of the front row, on Monday with Joe Russo at The Second City and some of the nuggets of wisdom he imparted on an audience of artists, performers, creators, and filmmakers.

Make the story you want to tell. Make what you believe in. Make what you care about.

-Joe Russo

As someone who is deep in the throes of writing a novel, this particular advice was meaningful in ways I didn’t expect. Hearing it from someone who capped off one of the greatest storytelling events in this lifetime gave it so much more weight than I could have imagined. Avengers Endgame was the twenty-second movie in a ten-year saga of 23 movies. I still get emotional thinking about the events that transpired and the way they were able to truly payoff the set-up they started a decade ago.

He talked about long-form storytelling being the future, as it helps audiences connect with the characters for an emotional payoff you can’t get out of a singular movie. How the actors know their characters better than he ever would and the trust he puts in them to bring those characters to life. This is something Brian and I talk about a lot. We both really hope to see more movie studios picking up on this idea that a series of interconnected stories in a single world can truly immerse audiences and drive interest and excitement.

He answered my question about “I love you 3000” – where it came from (Robery Downey Jr. told them it was a cute thing his daughter said, so they used it) and if they realized the impact it would have on the audience and eventually their marketing plans (they actually found that test audiences loved it so much, they added it to the hologram later, unaware of its potential at the time. He claimed meme culture helps bring one-off lines like this to the front line of movies and TV).

Joe Russo inspires me. And so when I had the opportunity to wait in line to meet him, I took it.

Which returns us to his appearance at Best Buy yesterday.

As they handed out wristbands, I anxiously watched, hoping our counts had been close and we were under 100. It didn’t feel real until they wrapped a blue paper wristband with the number 075 around my left wrist.

They handed out pins and Chicago themed posters with Iron Man (my favorite Avenger) that had me tearing up. They gave out gift bags with McDonald’s toys and Funko Pops for everyone.

In addition to the meet and greet, autograph, and goodie bags, they had actual props that had actual screen time in the movie.

  • Cap’s broken shield.
  • Thor’s axe, Stormbringer.
  • Iron Man’s power source.

I died.

It was truly a dream come to life, and it got even better when it was time to get back in line to meet the storytelling legend himself.

I walked up and shook his hand and told him it was an honor to meet him. He made polite conversation and seemed genuinely kind. He complimented my Captain America shirt twice. He signed everything he could in and on my Bluray case and then told me he would sign an extra poster, “just in case.” It really seemed he knew what it was like to be a fan getting autographs andhe did his best to make it a magical experience for everyone in line, so I like to believe he was there once upon a time too.

I didn’t embarrass myself this time. I didn’t fawn all over him, ramble like a fool, try to touch his chest, or let Brian come so he could say something that gets us death stares. I didn’t cry like I did when I met John Grogan (I should really tell that story). I was cool. I was collected. I was still me and talked the whole time, but would you expect any different?

Overall, this was one of my favorite meet and greets, and it was worth every second of sitting out in the strangely cool humidity for 6 hours.

Have you ever met a celebrity? What was it like? Would you rather wait in line for hours or pay money at a convention to meet someone? Let me know in the comments!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Princess for a day in Kinnitty Castle

After our adventures in Dublin, it was time to kick back and relax in a haunted castle for my birthday (as one does). We rented a car as we made our way out of the city center, and I took the right-sided helm.


A two-minute look at some of our adventures in Kinnitty Castle

For better or worse, we were on our way to one of the many haunted spots in Ireland — and planning to spend two nights in said hotel. Because I had every intention of spending my birthday like the high-maintenance princess that I am.

The drive itself was uneventful, but upon arrival, we got a glimpse of our lodging for the next couple of days.

Why yes, this is where I spent my birthday

With an epic view from the road, Brian and I just kept “holy crapping” our way up to the front gate. This was where we were staying for the night?

We were welcomed to Kinnitty Castle Hotel and told that our room wasn’t quite ready yet, but we made reservations for my birthday dinner the next evening in the hotel restaurant and made our way to the first of two bars in the castle. The Library Bar was a welcoming mish-mosh of weathered furniture (sofas, tables, and chairs) and old tomes lining the shelves.

We quickly discovered the entire place was full of quirky antique decor that added charm to an already incredible venue. I was here for all of it.

We had drinks in the library while we killed time before the Dungeon Bar opened. Upon opening, we made our way downstairs to the dungeon for lunch. Embracing the kitschy theming, we found a dark dungeon nook just waiting for us to occupy it.

Kinnitty Castle Dungeon Bar cellar table
Kinnitty Castle Dungeon Bar

Our bartender/server ended up being our favorite staffer in the hotel (everyone was truly kind, though!) and she spent time telling us about the hotel and just chatting with us about anything and everything. We saw her a few more times throughout our stay and she was wonderfully sweet and engaging. She also promised that the hotel was indeed haunted and that she had her share of spooky moments. I knew then I was going to scare myself into imagining something if nothing ended up being in our room…

Before dinner, we wandered the grounds and planned to take one of the walking loops. We found all sorts of neat slugs and snails (you guys there were seriously slugs every couple of feet and inches in some areas! It was so weird and awesome).

Slugs are so creepy, but they’re also so cool!

And then we accidentally hiked through part of the Slieve Bloom Mountains (we kept getting higher with no turn in sight. Eventually, we turned around to make it back in time before dinner service ended — this turned out to be a common issue in our Ireland travel…food service stops at 9 in most restaurants). If there’s anything Brian and I are good at when we travel, it’s getting ourselves a little lost and calling it an adventure!

That night, we played card games in the Dungeon bar until it closed and then in the library until well past midnight before quietly tiptoeing the creaky floors of our room.

I am kind of obsessed with this gif Brian made. I was deep in focus, and he was royally kicking my ass (hence the death glare). I don’t know if he said something or what, but I just love him.

It was at this point that I started worrying myself into a tizzy. What if there ARE ghosts? Throughout the night (including one wake up in the middle of the night bathroom check), I thought I may have heard creaks and noises, but I am about 90% sure they were all in my head. No hauntings for us. Which, to be honest, was probably for the best since we still had another night left in us.

I woke up the next day to embrace that birthday princess life, and what a magical day it was. I disneybounded as Princess Aurora in two different outfits (of course).

Living that Nap Queen life. Wake up in a castle. Eat. Nap. Repeat.

First, up was breakfast in my Ralph Breaks the Internet loungewear. Breakfast at Kinnitty Castle was amazing. It was definitely the best Irish fry that we had throughout our trip (and omg the brown bread was addictive here). For those who don’t know what an Irish breakfast consists of:

  • Eggs
  • Bangers (Irish breakfast sausage)
  • Rashers (Irish bacon — imagine marrying Canadian bacon to American bacon in one full slice)
  • Black and white pudding (bready sausages, sliced and fried)
  • Some combination of tomatoes, mushrooms, and or onions
  • Baked beans in tomato sauce

Basically, happiness.

After breakfast, I realized I was still beaten up from jet lag and opted for a two-hour nap. Because it was my birthday and I was wearing a shirt that said Nap Queen. It felt appropriate.

Nap time for this princess

We then left our castle to go to another castle (appropriate), Birr, where we toured fancy gardens that reminded me of our arboretum and saw what was, for over 70 years, the largest telescope in the world (science!). The castle itself was still lived in – remember our awesome server in the Dungeon Bar? She told us that her friend used to work at the cafe of Birr Castle and said that the residents of the castle insisted on being called Lord and Lady, and the way she said it had us giggling a little too much.

Princess for a day in Kinnitty Castle

We returned to our home castle in time for an incredible birthday dinner at the Sli Dala (the fine dining restaurant open on the weekends for dinner). This was the best meal that we had in Ireland, and I was in absolute heaven. When they arrived with dessert, they came in singing with a candle in my torte, but Brian was nowhere to be found. They stopped halfway through the first line, and I started laughing.

The server who was holding the cake looked at his empty seat, said, “uhh this is awkward,” and blew the candle out. I told him my husband had stepped out for a minute. Just as they turned around to leave, with me laughing like a hyena, Brian returned to his seat. They started again and I just laughed through the entire thing. It was perfect.

We finished our meal and went down to the bar for live music and after dinner drinks before calling it a night and preparing for the third leg of our trip. Overall it was a fine birthday adventure for this girl, and definitely one I’ll never forget. Level 36, bring it on.

Woke up in a castle. Went to sleep in a castle. Best birthday ever.
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The existential crisis of a toy

Guys, this Toy Story review has *some* spoilers about the themes of the story, but I promise not to ruin the ending because some things are sacred. So before you run away — I loved the movie. I thought it was very smart, super funny, and full of heart. On the contrary, the movie did not captivate my niece (8) and nephew (5) enough for them to want to stay in the theater for the 1:40 minute run time. Their favorite part was playing hide and seek in the theater lobby with Uncle Brian (who patiently allowed me to stay in the theater and watch the whole movie).

So…while I believe the movie itself is worthwhile (and I can’t wait to see it again), it may not capture the attention of your littlest ones (not all little ones are created equal, obvi).

*Spoilers start here*

Bonnie making Forky in Toy Story 4
THREE-IN-ONE – He’s not a fork. He’s not a spoon. And most of all, Forky is not a toy! At least that’s what he thinks. Bonnie created him from an assortment of supplies Woody’s retrieved from the kindergarten trash can. So, it’s no wonder Forky feels strongly that he’s trash and not a toy. Featuring Tony Hale as the voice of Forky, Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

How does trash become a toy? When does a toy become trash? In Toy Story 4, we meet Forky, a handmade toy made out of a spork and other items pulled from the trash, who can’t grasp the fact that he is no longer garbage, and instead a toy loved by a child. Simultaneously, we see Woody begin to question his purpose now that he’s fulfilled his primary role as Andy’s favorite toy. While I’m not a parent, I am pretty confident that this likens itself to empty nesters coming to terms with their changing titles — from So and So’s Mom to Individual.

I loved that Toy Story 4 had a number of thematic callbacks to the past movies. Woody’s struggle with change is not unlike that of Toy Story when Buzz threatens his place in Andy’s Room. Rescue missions and antique toys abound in Second Chance Antiques just like they did in Toy Story 2. Toys moving on to the next phase of toy life and ensuring that every toy has kids to play with them is reminiscent of Toy Story 3. And in Toy Story 4, we see the concept of homemade toys taking priority in a child’s life, which I love so so much.

Ducky and Bunny and Buzz Lightyear
HANGIN’ AROUND – In Disney·Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” Buzz Lightyear finds himself among a host of carnival prizes—including Ducky and Bunny, who’ve been waiting a long time to be won. They aren’t exactly welcoming to the Space Ranger—the odds are already stacked against them, and who needs that kind of competition? Featuring Tim Allen as the voice of Buzz, Keegan-Michael Key as the voice of Ducky and Jordan Peele as the voice of Bunny, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The new characters are fantastic — Tony Hale’s Forky is charming and lovable. Keanue Reeves’ Duke Kaboom is super funny and a perfect frenemesis for Woody (and don’t worry. If you’re waiting for a “woah,” I promise, you won’t be disappointed). Key and Peele kill it with Ducky and Bunny as pure comic relief.

Woody meets Gabby Gabby and her henchman
GABBY GABBY – In Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” Woody finds himself in Second Chance Antiques, home to an adorable, talking pull-string doll from the 1950s and her crew of voiceless ventriloquist dummies. Unfortunately for Gabby Gabby, a manufacturing defect in her pull-string voice box has left her sounding anything but adorable. Christina Hendricks lends her voice to Gabby Gabby. “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019…©2019 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Christina Hendricks is my favorite of the new characters with Gabby Gabby and her creepy band of ventriloquist dummy henchman as the primary villains of the story. Gabby Gabby enters the scene with the song from The Shining playing on a record player in the antique store, and I knew it was love at first sight for me. (Upon further research, I also discovered that The Shining references are rampant in the entire Toy Story franchise — primarily references to Room 237.)

Bo Peep in Toy Story 4
LOST AND FOUND – In Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” Woody is reunited with his long-lost friend Bo Peep, who’s been on the road for years. She’s become an adventure-seeking free spirit whose strength and sarcasm belie her delicate porcelain exterior. Featuring the voice of Annie Potts as Bo Peep, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The new characters rock and the classic toys are put on a backburner (spending most of their time back in the RV while Woody and Forky adventure into the antique store and Buzz explores the carnival), but it’s the return of Bo Peep who pulls through as the real MVP of this movie. Bo has gone through some serious off-screen character development, and I am so here for the new and improved Peep.

Toy Story 4 Poster

Overall, I laughed (Um, actually, I laughed way more than most people in the theater. Either I was getting more of the jokes than anyone else, or I think inappropriate things are hilarious. One of those, I’m sure). I cried. Although I cried less than I expected to. WAY less than I cried in Toy Story 3, which to be honest was a relief. Toy Story 3 was gut-wrenching. And I cheered. I will definitely be seeing this one again (did I mention, there are Easter eggs for, like, every Pixar movie ever?).

I won’t tell you what Woody discovers along the way or how the story ends, but it’s good. It’s all so good. Go see it. You won’t be disappointed.

Get tickets for Toy Story 4 on Fandango here

Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. So, when Bonnie’s beloved new craft-project-turned-toy, Forky (voice of Tony Hale), declares himself as “trash” and not a toy, Woody takes it upon himself to show Forky why he should embrace being a toy. But when Bonnie takes the whole gang on her family’s road trip excursion, Woody ends up on an unexpected detour that includes a reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (voice of Annie Potts). After years of being on her own, Bo’s adventurous spirit and life on the road belie her delicate porcelain exterior. As Woody and Bo realize they’re worlds apart when it comes to life as a toy, they soon come to find that’s the least of their worries. Directed by Josh Cooley (“Riley’s First Date?”), and produced by Mark Nielsen (associate producer “Inside Out”) and Jonas Rivera (“Inside Out,” “Up”), Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” ventures to U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Last night in Dublin: Define the luck of the Irish

Brian and I just returned from an incredible 16-day adventure in Ireland. And in true Chrissy fashion, I managed to include a side of ridiculous (or twelve) in our summer vacation. Most notably on our last night in Dublin during the first leg of our trip.

Chrissy and Brian at the Guinness Storehouse
Visiting the Guinness storehouse on our first day in Dublin (running on zero sleep and pints of that ruby red life blood).

It all started after a nap. Well, Brian napped. I mindlessly scrolled through Instagram in an attempt to relinquish the final edges of jetlag without sleeping. We had arrived in Dublin two days prior after a sleepless night on a plane and been zombie-walking our way through the city into every uncrowded bar with music that didn’t prevent us from having a conversation (have I mentioned my husband is an introvert?).

After rousing ourselves from bed, we realized that we needed to locate food immediately because most restaurants in the area seemed to shut down around 9 pm. Our hotel felt like it was in the middle of a food desert, so our options were limited if we planned to walk. After some Googling, Brian found a bar/restaurant that piqued his interest. The food was Southern American, but the bar had a self-described enormous board game collection. Our people!

So I put on my nerdiest accessories — an Avengers Infinity bracelet featuring the infinity stones and dinosaur necklace, both of which were early birthday presents from Brian — and we began the twenty-minute walk to said bar.

Last night in Dublin wearing a dinosaur necklace
My sweet dinosaur necklace. Not pictured: this infinity stone bracelet.
Disclaimer: Amazon links = small commission for Chrissy blah blah etc etc.

When we finally arrived at the bar, I sat down and Brian went to check out the game shelf. I realized the bartender would not be visiting the table, so I pulled my credit card out of my wallet and strolled up to the bar to get menus and order drinks. I asked for a menu, and the bartender looked at me like I was an idiot before telling me the kitchen was closed. I slid my credit card into my jeans pocket and walked to Brian so we could discuss the situation. We left and went to the Asian fusion restaurant directly next to the bar to get food.

After eating, we decided that we didn’t want to pay 10 Euro to play games we already had at home and began the walk back to our hotel. There was a great looking Irish pub next to the hotel, and we figured we could go play our own games (why yes, we did pack three pocket-size strategy games for two weeks in Ireland, and it was brilliant) in a nicer atmosphere.

Though we had just eaten, snacks seemed like a necessary and important reason to stop at a convenience store…or two. At the first one, I paid with Samsung Pay on my phone, leaving my credit card safely forgotten in the pocket of my jeans.

Because we couldn’t find a snack that Brian wanted, we proceeded to a different convenience store a block further from our hotel. We found some snacks and walked to the self-pay kiosk. Brian put his credit card in the machine and then pulled it out after he thought it was through. When the receipt didn’t print, he put his card back in for a second attempt. The kiosk called for an attendant because he needed to sign a slip. The attendant didn’t know what was going on, and a flurry of chaos escalated everyone’s panic and stress. We finally left the store with our packages in tow.

As we walked, I started feeling the urge to use the ladies room. I thought I could make it to the hotel, but Brian spotted a pub that the hop on/hop off bus tour guide swooned about when we passed it. Knowing that sometimes my need to use the bathroom can have disastrous consequences, he offered a solution.

“I’ll go get a drink. You go to the bathroom.”

It seemed harmless enough…

We walked in, and I immediately regretted my decision. This was a local watering hole that reminded me of The Snuggly Duckling. I walked to the bathroom through a dark back bar and a dimly lit hallway. I stepped down into a tiny two-stall bathroom where a woman in her sixties was smoking a cigarette and ashing it into the sink. I went for the first stall when I realized there was no toilet seat to be found. So I had to maneuver around Smokey McGee to get into the second stall.

I wiggled around the door into the stall and locked it, noticing there was no hook to hang my fleece or my purse. The floor was soaked — and I’m not sure from what — so I zipped up my purse and placed it on the back of the toilet and prayed. I tossed my fleece up above the door, effectively hanging it over into the bathroom (Smokey had flown the coop, so it was just me in there at this point).

I went to the bathroom and then started collecting my belongings. First I grabbed my fleece, which was now accompanied by a thick layer of yellow, musty dust. When I tried to pat it off, my Infinity bracelet unclasped and went flying into a puddle of wet floor. Who knew my bracelet would become the latest in a lifetime of vacation fashion fails.

Visibly flustered, I grabbed my purse, wiggled out of the stall, washed my hands and bracelet, tucked the bracelet into my pocket — feeling it beside my credit card — and hustled out to Brian, who had not ordered a drink. We rushed out of the bar and I began regaling Brian with my bathroom tale reaching into my pocket and grabbing the bracelet to show him.

We arrived back at our hotel. Brian brought the convenience store snacks to the room and grabbed our games, while I waited in the lobby. A call came in from a 00000 number, so I ignored it (spam calls are not worth 25 cents a minute). When a voicemail came through, I listened to it, fully expecting a deletable junk message. Except that it wasn’t.

It was Capital One calling to tell me someone had found my credit card (the credit card I was planning to use to rent a car the next day), and they were trying to return it to me. After a brisk walk back to the bar, interviews with every human we came in contact with, and a complete walk-through of our evening, we finally let Capital One cancel my card and walked back to our hotel.

“Do you still want to get a drink?” Brian asked, after noting my overstressed and sad disposition.

“Uh yes. Yes I do.”

We walked just past our hotel into the pub, found a comfortable spot, and Brian reached into his wallet to get his credit card out…

It’s moments like this that you have to laugh. Because there is literally nothing as absurd as discovering that you and your husband both lost your credit cards within minutes of each other. We swapped roles as Brian went into a panic-and-anger-at-himself mode, I went into crisis-management mode.

Confident that his card was at the convenience store, we left the bar and I began Googling for a phone number. The hotel made a local call for us, and we discovered the store had just closed, and it went straight to voicemail. We called a cab to take us back over there and then back again (It was late, and not the safest-looking of neighborhoods). The cab driver let us out to go bang on the window of the convenience store until someone noticed us (they all had headphones on!) and waited across the street.

We thankfully retrieved Brian’s credit card, at least, and were relieved to walk back to the cab…when the cab wouldn’t start. The driver had to pop the hood and wiggle a few things until the engine finally started up again.

After all of the hoopla and insanity, we decided not to take any more chances with our bad luck, and we went straight to bed. Did not pass go, did not collect $200. As I drifted off to sleep that night, I couldn’t help but wonder if this evening was a preview of the rest of our Irish vacation or would we even bounce back from this nonsense?

What’s the craziest string of bad luck that you’ve had on vacation? Have you ever lost your credit card while traveling internationally? How did you deal? Let me know in the comments!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Strangers who are mean to me are basically kicking a puppy

I like to think I’m a pretty nice person. I try to find the positive side of just about everything. It is known that I have a penchant for loving terrible things. It’s part of my charm, according to Katie. I love dogs and cats and babies and even adult humans, though the consensus seems to be that adult humans are the root of all the problems.

And yet…

Strangers scream obscenities and call me a fat ass across a busy parking lot because my husband stopped to let me out of the car in front of the grocery store.

Strangers in a movie theater call me horrible names and repeatedly tell me I need to be put in my place because I politely asked them to quiet down in a movie theater.

Strangers on the internet call me names and judge me without knowing anything about me.

Friends say things to me or about me that are hurtful. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. Sometimes to my face and sometimes behind my back.

Adult humans are constantly breaking my heart.

But I’ve survived heartache before. When your heart is openly exposed on your sleeve, it tends to take a beating. Mine is no exception. But I’ve learned to manage the bruises.

And with that, I wanted to show you guys my process. Because I know I’m not alone in experiencing hurt. I know that many of you deal with so much more than a few spiteful strangers proverbially spitting on you. And I wanted to share how I deal. And how I continue to stay positive despite the bullies and meanies that I occasionally engage with. It’s a process, to say the least — and one that’s not without a pity party for one. But it works for me.

Survive

The first step for me starts while I’m dealing with the initial incident. My body takes over, so my brain busies itself by running simulations to help choose the safest route for getting out of a given situation. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t always listen to my brain. Sometimes fight wins in the fight or flight response, and I yell back. In the most recent conflict, I panicked and froze and eventually took flight instead of going for a fight. I’m not mad about it.

Calm myself down

The rush of adrenaline that spikes, when someone is verbally accosting me, can take its toll on my ability to think. I try not to do anything while I’m in this phase. Instead, I’ll sit in my car or away from others and work things out in my head to remind myself that I’m okay. I’m safe. I’m away from the conflict. Sometimes I’ll call Brian, or I’ll tell you guys about it in my Instagram stories.

Get angry

Once I’ve calmed myself enough to rationally think about whatever it was that happened, I usually get angry.

I start thinking things over in my head. Replaying the situation on repeat, wishing I had said X, Y, or Z. Trying to understand how someone could say whatever it was they said, especially if it was a stranger who knows absolutely nothing about me. I may even hide in my car or house and scream at the top of my lungs to let the emotions building up inside of me out. Anger is something I understand. But taking that anger out on another person, especially one you know little to nothing about? I can’t fathom how anyone can do or say cruel things to strangers.

Allow myself to be sad

It takes me time to get over the hurt. For long-term heartbreak, it can be weeks or months or even years. For a slew of slurs? It may take hours or days. For me, it’s kind of a grieving process. I don’t know what exactly I’m grieving when someone verbally assaults me, but it gives me time to let the insults wash through me. The more hurtful, the longer it takes. My eyes live on the verge of tears, but we already know I’m a pretty regular crier as it stands. Brian already calls it my superpower – just like the Hulk, but instead of being always angry, I’m always ready to cry.

Limit social media

If you notice me going dark on social media, it’s likely because I’m taking time for myself. I’m allowing my heart to recuperate without adding the stress and expectation of social media. There’s no contract that says I have to be “on” all the time, and when I turn myself “off” I can recharge in a way that doesn’t add to my anxieties. I think we all need a little bit more of this, honestly.

Power up

I have a Power-Up playlist on YouTube that re-energizes me when I need a pick-me-up. It has empowering songs, like “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. It has happy songs like, “Can’t Fight the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. And it has songs that just bring me personal joy, like “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. It’s a fun collection of party pop, alterna-rock, Disney songs, and musical numbers that makes me ridiculously happy. I also use this to rev myself up before a show. It’s amazing what music can do.

Remember the good in humans

You guys are pretty much the best, did you know that? If you’re reading this, you’re probably already on my list of favorite people. My village lifts me up so hard. You remind me that for as many mean people in this world, there are a hundred or even a thousand times as many kind, generous souls ready and willing to share and spread joy. To love. To pass good vibes on to everyone around you. Keep doing that. Because the world needs more people like you.

How do you stay positive when people are mean? What are some of your coping mechanisms for heartache? Let me know in the comments, because I’m always looking for new ways to stay positive.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Some people make me feel uncomfortable

I am often surprised by that which makes me awkward. JK guys. I am the queen of awkward. For all my self-love and confidence, I also know what drops my confidence like it’s hot. I am also acutely aware of things that make me uncomfortable, and I feel like I can’t be alone in this, guys.

As someone who genuinely loves people and surrounds herself with them whenever possible (hello extrovert life), it’s hard to find people that truly make me uncomfortable. I talk to strangers at the grocery store. I get in full-on conversations about Disney with my dental hygienist and physical therapist. So really this list only has a few offenders.

Door-to-door salespeople

Yes, even you, adorable Girl Scout peddling your caramel delights and shortbreads

I really don’t like it when people come to the front door unannounced. Unless you are like family or one of my friends who is like family (at which point, cue DJ Tanner shouting “It’s always open!”), I get a surprising amount of anxiety. Maybe it stems from my very first night alone in our house…or my inability to easily, breezily say “no thank you,” but I cannot handle people at the door.

If Brian (reminder: Brian is an introvert) is home, he is the one to answer the door, because I would much rather hide on the floor, in the back of the house than answer the door.

When I’m home alone, or I’m caught off guard…Or worse, sitting right there with the curtains open…I open the door to find everything from teenagers selling coupon books or kids selling candy to guys wearing neon yellow vests asking me to show them my ComEd bill. It’s really hard to say no to any of them, but the pushy ones (always adults) don’t just take no for an answer. They keep coming at you with details. They compliment your hair or your dog. And distracting you from saying, “goodbye. No thank you.”

So I printed out a sign and taped it to my front door. Because I’m classy. (Mostly because I’m a terrible decision maker and couldn’t find the right sign that compelled me to pay $15, and until I do that, my free print out will do).

Police officers

Especially police officers in cars that are behind me while driving

It’s no secret that I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the law (all driving related, obvi). And maybe it was that last speeding ticket that really did me in because that police officer was terrifying. But I get SO. MUCH. ANXIETY. when I’m driving and a police officer pulls behind me on the road. I’m just waiting for the lights to flicker and the siren to sound and then I have to come up with an excuse for why I was doing whatever it was they pulled me over for in the first place.

Even when the siren sounds or the lights flicker and I KNOW it wasn’t me (because I’m a surprisingly good driver now), that doesn’t stop the angry tummy of anxiety from greeting me with open arms like a long lost friend.

The other day I was driving home, and I noticed a police officer behind me. And he kept driving behind me as we moved into the next town over…and I was just like, fuck it. And I made my escape. I turned onto the tollway (an unnecessary route for me to drive the few miles to my house, but for me, it was well worth the 70 cents to avoid any further anxiety from being tailed by Chief Wiggum for another three miles).

This morning? Driving Brian to the train, and I drove through a yellow light right behind a police officer. I immediately pulled into the bank on the other side of the light just to let the police officer get a good mile ahead of me before continuing on my route. Illogical, maybe. Unnecessary, definitely. But my peace of mind is important, guys.

Okay gang, now that I’ve rambled on about people that make me feel uncomfortable, let me know in the comments what types of people make you uncomfortable? Or are you an impenetrable fortress of comfort and security?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!