Sometimes, you have to add a battery pack and twinkle lights

In June, I attended my fourth BlogHer conference. But this one felt strange. The last six writing conferences I attended all had a similar feel — one in which I knew dozens of people and was comfortable just…being me. That’s when I thrive.

This time, I started the conference off with a bang. After 3 flights in less than a week, and a truly amazing Disney adventure, my back was acting up for the first time in months. I was in pain, which only exasperated my desire to hide.

I know what you’re thinking. Chrissy? Hiding?

So, I’m an introverted extrovert. If you know me, you couldn’t possibly see me as shy. But if you don’t, you might think I’m the quiet one. Adding to that, I spent much of this year suffering from mild depression and anxiety, and now, I’ve got a recipe for disaster.

And so at BlogHer, only knowing a few of the several thousand people and trying to fight through pain, anxiety, and depression, I found myself hiding. Skipping sessions to nap in my room. Barely taking any photos throughout the events. Wandering the exhibitor hall by myself instead of sitting through full keynotes from really interesting speakers. Opting out of late night partying with new friends, and instead, I found myself floating down the lazy river with my roomie, Renee.

It was still fun, but it was a different kind of fun than one should have at a writing conference full of like-minded people. I found myself asking why I was even there.

On Friday night, I took a Valium for my back pain and crashed early.

On Saturday morning, Renee left, and my dear friend, Samara, was doing her own thing…so I wandered the expo for a while. I was interviewed for a Forbes podcast, and the guy looked at me — sporting a normal-ish blonde hairstyle and simple blue dress — with douche eyes and actually said, “Quirky Chrissy? You don’t look very quirky. Now, I saw this other girl who had rainbow hair and a unicorn horn. Now, THAT’S quirky.” Maybe it was the place my brain was hiding, but I wanted to simultaneously punch him and cry. But how do you defend your personality when someone mocks your chosen moniker?

I left the expo feeling down in the dumps.

The thing about being an extrovert who suffers from depression and anxiety is that you need people to help lift you out of the cycle, but you don’t want to be around people when you’re depressed or anxious.

By the time the closing party rolled around, I was ready to go home. But I told Samara I’d meet her down there. And I knew there would be snacks — I was starving, and I’ve yet to find a reason to say no to free food. So I decided I had one last chance to bust out my magic twinkle skirt.

And then I found some more of my people, and people recharge me the way the battery pack sewn into this skirt makes it light up. They bring me back to life (that’s the extroverted part of my brain). I met the unicorn girl, Elliotte, — who, by the way, is AMAZING — and she was kind and wonderful and inspiring…and she gave me a pink unicorn horn.

writers posing at the blogher17 closing party

Photo credit: BlogHer17/SheKnows Media

If I could have gone back in time and worn this fucking skirt the whole time I was in Orlando, I think I would have. Because there’s no better way to make 50 new friends than to wear a light up twinkle skirt. It was my superhero transformation and for a few hours, I wasn’t depressed or anxious or homesick. It wasn’t a REAL fix, but it helped me.

It was my superhero transformation and for a few hours, I wasn’t depressed or anxious or homesick. It wasn’t a REAL fix, but it helped me end the weekend on a high note.Twinkling Stars Skirt - Blue. 3X by ThinkGeek

I started seeing writing friends at the conference, some of whom I knew were there and that I’d said hi to, but hadn’t made a point to actually hang out with, despite my desperate need for more human interaction. I was shy and nervous. I convinced myself they didn’t want to hang out with me. I was afraid. But once I put on my magic skirt, and it was like I could hide my insecurities behind the sparkles and just illuminate the bright spots. It was a Band Aid, but at the time, I really needed a Band Aid.

selfie with writing friends at BlogHer

Eventually, I met up with Samara and she was ready to DANCE. And so I danced. And twirled. And shined brighter than I had throughout the whole conference. I felt glimmers of the me that I love to be, and I knew I had to get back there.

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!

Marriage advice from a newlywed

So I’ve been thinking. How long do you get to consider yourself a newlywed? Since Brian and I have been married for exactly 365 days (tomorrow is our anniversary), I’m wondering if I can still consider myself a newlywed?

Well, regardless, I thought it was important to impart some very necessary wisdom about marriage that I’ve discovered in the last 12 months of wedded bliss.

Marriage is not work. I don’t care what anyone says. Maybe I’m lucky. Maybe I found the one person in this world who doesn’t drive me quite as crazy as everyone else. Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase. Maybe we don’t have children or money problems, which tend to be the heaviest weights on marriages according to a bunch of studies I don’t feel like looking up. But I definitely work harder to keep my laundry clean than I do to stay happy in my relationship with Brian. Thankfully, Brian’s been especially helpful with the laundry.

black and white wedding photo Eskimo kiss

Play is not just for children. It’s so important to have fun in a marriage. Whether we’re going on one of the crazy dates from our date jar, cooking together in the kitchen, putting together furniture, testing out a new game from our massive board game collection, or playing around at the park, our relationship is playful, and laughter is a cornerstone.

bride and groom sitting on a playground dinosaur eating the bridal bouquet

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. If you were following me on social media this summer, you know that I was jetsetting all over the country. From Vegas to Orlando and Boston to Birmingham, I trekked far and wide for work and play. Brian only joined me on the road trips (our kitschy cheese tour of Wisconsin and our annual pilgrimage to stalk Wil Wheaton at Gen Con). But everytime I came home, Brian was at the airport to retrieve me, regardless of what ungodly hour my flights arrived.

Supporting and encouraging each other is one of the greatest gifts you can give. I know I’m lucky to have such a strong group of friends and an amazing family that loves and supports me in everything I do. But Brian pushes me to do the scary things. To take the big leaps. He helps me remember what’s important. And what’s not. And every day, he encourages me to follow my dreams.

bride and groom cutting the top of the cheese wheel wedding cake

Communication requires patience, listening, and the occasional knock knock joke.  Not that Brian or I have ever had a problem communicating with each other. If I told you we don’t fight, you’d laugh and call, “Bullshit.” Or, worse, you’d think there was something immeasurably wrong with our relationship. They must sweep shit under the rug. Bet there’s a ton of unresolved resentment hiding underneath their smiles. And yet, I’m living proof that talking things through when you’re both calmly listening to each other…that’s how compromise happens. And that’s how you can both be satisfied with the results. And really, a good joke is almost always appropriate.

bride laughing during wedding ceremony

Making a cheese platter can relieve stress. I’m not sure this is marriage advice per-say, but it’s sage wisdom nonetheless. Whenever I had a crappy day, Brian would send me flowers…and then I’d come home and make a cheese board. And everything would suddenly seem brighter. Not sure whether it was the flowers or the cheese. But you know. Joy.

Cheese wheel wedding cake

There’s no such thing as the perfect man. But if there was, his name would be Brian…and he would be married to me.

groom with his back to the bride during first look

Happy anniversary to the kindest, smartest, and best partner a girl could ask for. This life that we’ve built together is my favorite place to be.

bride and groom kissing behind huge bridal bouquet

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!

Hot mess airplane travel tips

I feel like I haven’t been home in ages. My adventures have kept me going going going like the energizer freakin’ bunny from Vegas to Orlando to the weird depths of Wisconsin. And I have SO MUCH TO TELL YOU about said adventures. But first, I really needed to throw down some serious advice. Because tonight I’ll be on another plane, and I definitely needed a reminder on proper travel etiquette (and not fucking shit up) because this one’s a work trip. You know what a hot mess I can be, so I devised a set of rules (which, let’s be honest here, I break every now and then) in order to prevent myself from being a complete douche in the air.

Southwest new planes

I was so stupid excited to fly on one of Southwest’s new fancy planes, you guys. My next flight was almost a disappointment because I missed the newness so much.

Without further ado, here are my top airplane travel tips if you’re anything remotely close to a hot mess like me.

Drink clear liquids

Go ahead and have that cocktail on the plane. Especially if you fly often enough that Southwest sends you a regular supply of free drink tickets. Or you just know when to procure free drinks from Southwest. Or if you’re fancier than me and have one of those preferred statuses that gets you free cocktails whenever you want. But for the love of God, whatever you do, make sure it’s clear.

Bubbles on Southwest

It was Southwest’s birthday. And on Southwest’s birthday, everyone (of age) gets a free drink! I like to celebrate with bubbles, and so bubbles it was.

Vodka and soda? Check. Tonic? If you’re into that sort of thing, sure (gross, but it’s cool). White wine? Clink Avoid red wine at all costs. You may even want to skip the whiskey, depending on what you’re wearing. I know I don’t want my rainbow yoga pants covered in deep dark liquid. Not into an alcoholic bevvy because you’re flight is at the crack of dawn and you’re more respectable than me? Sprite. Ginger ale. Water. But steer clear of the Coke and whatever else can spill all over you and your fellow passengers. Especially when you’re sitting in the middle of two strangers.

Bring a change of clothes to the airport

I’m embarrassed to admit the number of times I’ve changed inside airport bathrooms, but damn am I glad I travel with a spare outfit or two. Especially since I like to make the most of my last day wherever I am. In Vegas, I went straight from the pool to the airport, so I wanted to change out of my bathing suit before my flight. In Orlando, I took an Uber straight from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to the airport (with a brief stop at my hotel to grab my luggage from the bell station), and I was a sweaty disgusting mess. I also have a propensity to spill shit all over myself. Change of clothes? Makes everything better.

Make your in-flight entertainment easily accessible

There are dozens of great ways to entertain yourself on a flight, but make sure you don’t have to dig to the bottom of a large duffel bag every 25 minutes in order to find your Nook, Kindle, tablet, laptop, charger, etc. You’ll get dirty looks from the people who’s empty seat you usurped. I mean, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. And try not to read a book that makes you laugh so hard your boyfriend will wish he wasn’t sitting next to you.

Think wisely about your snack choices

I know. Planes don’t really serve food all that often. Well, Southwest has some killer snacks and all…especially on their fancy new planes. So you’re forced to bring your own reinforcements. But let me tell you guys. There are good options. And there are bad options.

Southwest Airlines New Plane Snacks

I really wanted to ask for one of each. But I am not an asshole. So I asked for cheese crackers and peanuts. And spent two hours wishing I had asked for butter cookies.

A small, easily hand-held sandwich or wrap? Great plan. A large salad that requires shaking and flying croutons? A pastry dealie with delicious ham and cheese and buttery pastry crust that ends up crumbling everywhere? Those are less than stellar ideas. Take my advice/learn from my mistakes. Those will also incite dirty looks from your fellow flyers.

Well, I’m absolutely sure I could give you more pointers on how not to be a dick in the ways I’ve been a dick, but I think this is quite enough for this morning. Be sure to follow me on the social medias for all my travel adventures.

This post uses affiliate links. When you click on them and make purchases, I can occasionally earn dollars to help keep this site running. Thanks for being awesome and such. I talk about Southwest a lot. Because I love them. I don’t get paid any money from all my shout outs to them. They just make me insanely happy.

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!

Fear and loathing in Las Vegas

You guys. I made it back alive from Vegas, and if all goes according to plan, I’m in the Mouse House as the post is published. I thought I’d throw down a few highlights of my Viva Las Vegas jaunt.

There were ghosts or someone was stalking my room. I walked into my hotel room at about 10pm, and the T.V. was on. Thoroughly creeped out, I scanned the room for signs of someone else’s luggage. Then I called the front desk and asked if that was normal. Spoiler alert: It’s not. She told me to “be careful” and I thought those were some pretty bold words for someone sitting in a proverbial tower. I opened every door, turned on every light,  pulled the curtains wide open and patted them down for good measure, and slept with one eye open. It was not unlike that one time I was alone and afraid in my house when we first bought it.

The Backstreet Boys are still awesome. Amber and I had one hell of a time. It was like being 14 and in college at the same time all over again. Although my love for Nick Carter died a quick and painless death, I realized that I am definitely a Brian kinda girl. 

I read 3 books. This may not seem all that exciting to you, but when you’ve got a cocktail in a cool spot by the pool, you can  churn through a lot of books and call it research for your own book. Of course, you can also start reading a fourth book,  a series that was highly recommended to you, and not understand why in the world you couldn’t get into it…and also why it was super confusing…until you realize you’ve started with the second book and you feel like an idiot.  You know…hypothetically. 

I realized that I can make friends everywhere. Whether I want to or not. On Saturday evening,  I sat down in the coolest little pool nook,  right alongside the deep end.  I was hanging out, people watching, and taking selfies, as I’m typically wont to do, when a group of people sat down next to me. A man eho was about my age affectionately told an older woman to sit there beside me. So I scooted over when teo more people came up on my other side. I was almost disappointingly trapped, but they started talking to me, and we had a bizarre conversation about the Backstreet Boys,  Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey’s ex-boyfriend. 

My new friends weren’t the only ones to invade my personal space that weekend,  though. Poolside again on Sunday, I was giving off my very serious KeepOut vibe as the sun slowly crept up the foot of my chaise lounge, when a leathery, red-tanned man in his 50s or 60s walked up to me. 

“Hey sexy, can you do me a favor? Can you put some sunscreen on my back?” 

Whatever was unfolding, I’m not one to take skin care lightly. I agreed, as he definitely looked like he needed it. 

“I can put some on you too.” 

“No thanks, I’m good.” I had alread doused myself in half a can of spray sunscreen.

“I don’t want to get burned ya know?” 

“Me neither. That’s why I’m hiding from the sun.”

I quickly patted some sunscreen on his back and sent him on his merry way. He returmed to the pool where a few of his friends were laighing and smiling. Whether I was a bet or not, I hope he got a good story out of it too. 

Going places without my husband is weird. I forget sometimes what it’s like to be single, but both of my aforementioned interactions included, “Where is your boyfriend/husband?” With the first group, I’m sure it was merely curiosity, as I’d preciously mentioned him in conversation (because I love the word, “husband”). The second was definitely fishing for information. Both times, though, “your husband doesn’t mind you traveling without him?”

Mind? I’m pretty sure he appreciates that I don’t drag him on every wild adventure I say yes to. 

Speaking of wild adventures, follow me on the social medias to catch the next leg of my summer adventure.

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!

Adventure is out there!

Ya know, I’m not normally one for exclamation marks, but I’m about to embark on three weekend adventures in a row.  Tomorrow after work, I’m heading on a flight to Las Vegas to hang out with one of my besties and see the Backstreet Boys — who, apparently, I see every ten years-ish. I saw them in 1997 and 2008 (yeah, I know a little more than 10 years. Whatever. Close enough). And now, I’m going to see them in 2017 in Las Vegas. I wonder where I’ll catch them in 2027…

Chrissy falling out of her camp chair at the Backstreet Boys concert

This is the only photographic evidence I have of me at a BSB concert. And it’s because I fell out of my chair and my girlfriends thought it was funny.

Of course, I’m not entirely sure that I’m going to make it out of Las Vegas alive. Just last weekend, one of my other besties sent me a text sharing a link to an article about Legionnaires disease in Vegas. My mom had suggested I stay at the Rio, but I’m thrilled she helped me find a sweet deal on a room at Bally’s instead. Either way, I’ve decided that I’m just not going to shower while I’m there. You know…Just in case.

And that’s only the beginning of all the ways I could die in Las Vegas.

After a few cocktails, I have a tendency to wander off. On my own. And in a city like Vegas, I’m likely to get eaten by wolves. Or something. Maybe I’ll walk the plank on that pirate ship in Treasure Island…or get too excited near the Bellagio and fall in. The possibilities are endless. And terrifying. At my bachelorette party, I started talking to strangers with the promises of free shots. I’m not entirely sure that won’t happen in Vegas. Except, I won’t have a brood of lady friends protecting my ass. It’s me and my girlfriend against the world. And this is how we roll:

triple fisting cocktails

Why yes, we are both triple fisting the cocktails in 2006. And it’s entirely possible we’re at a strip club. Also, I really miss that strapless shirt.

The only other time was in Sin City was approximately a million and a half years ago when I was 17 with a bad haircut and couldn’t do anything fun. I was with my best friend and we wandered the hotels, shopped, and gossiped about life. But as an adult? I don’t know if my brain was designed for Vegas. There are so many bright and shiny things and lights and sparkles and OMG you guys I’m going to get so distracted, I’ll probably miss my flight home.

Chrissy at 17 with a vegas gondolier

At least I knew this gondolier was attractive when I was 17…

And I can’t miss my flight.

Because I’m coming home for approximately 46 hours to smooch my husband, throw dirty clothes down the laundry chute, and refill my suitcase for Orlando.

From there, I’m going to gently dabble in a little solo Disney adventure. I say gently because this shameless hussy sharing a room with me promised to meet me for an after-5 dinner date inside the Magic Kingdom.  The next day may include a little waterparking before heading into BlogHer17, my fourth BlogHer conference. Much hugging will ensue, and at that point, there will be plenty of friends with me to make sure I don’t get lost in the House of Mouse.

Chrissy and Mary Poppins Disney World

I’ll return for about 5 days, this time, with one final adventure on the horizon for Fourth of July weekend. 5 days in the cheese motherland of Wisconsin with the one I left behind two weekends in a row. But honestly, guys, don’t feel bad for Brian, abandoned though he might be. He eats this shit up. You mean days upon days in a row in which he doesn’t have to do ANYTHING but go to work? No peopling? No socializing? No incessant babbling? No Disney music? The man is going to be in heaven.

Me too, Brian. Me too.

What adventures are you heading for this summer? Anything sweet on the horizon? 

Want to follow my adventures? Make sure you’re following me on all the social media nonsense. 

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!

Bachelorettes and all that jazz

You already know my wedding had a bomb-ass cheese theme. But did you know I also had a kickin’ bachelorette party theme?

At 29+, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted the whole bachelorette thing. All my college friends did the party in Peoria, where we went to college, and we traipsed the sentimental bar tour we took the last week of school before graduation. Unfortunately for me, by the time I opted in to the marriage achievement, most of those bars had closed.

20s themed bachelorette party

So I debated whether to have a party at all. Ultimately,  as many of my friend groups’ token extrovert and party girl, they all kind of expected something epic from me. Not one to leave my friends disappointed, I told Katie that I wanted a theme. And costumes.

Tuxedo oreos for a 20s themed bachelorette party

We settled on the 1920s and all things flapper and gangster. The party would start with a small shower of my friends at my house and conclude with a party bus to the city and stops at a few speakeasies in Chicago. Costumes not required, but highly encouraged.

Photo booth station with costume add-ons for a 20s themed bachelorette party

Yes, that is a photo booth in my stairwell.

My bridesmaids made fancy crafty things (some of which are still decorating my home today), set up tasty snacks, baked pretty desserts, and planned games and activities for guests to enjoy. I provided the booze because we always have plenty of liquor and bubbles for thirsty guests (I really like to throw parties).

20s themes bachelorette party - homemade decor- signs and boas and pearls everywhere

Ally was basically Pinteresting the shit out of this thing…you know, something I refused to do for my wedding. I expect that when she gets married, I’m going to have my work cut out for me.

Bead and martini glass waterfall for a 20s themed bachelorette party

My friends are incredible. Several of them flew or drove in from out of town and even out of state for this shindiggity. How lucky am I?

20s themed bachelorette party 20s themed bachelorette party

To start my look, I had the hair trial scheduled, because what better day to test out your wedding hair than the ultimate girls night out?

I had my wedding hair trial the day of my bachelorette party

My friend Laura, who also did all my wedding flowers, is super crafty and provided upcycled dresses from Savers for costumes. She added beads and feathers and much to Brian’s dismay, glitter to the dresses and brought them over for me to try on. Katie made me a selection of mix and match headpieces for the ultimate bridal set.

Bride costume for a 20s themed bachelorette party

My pal, the Banosnapper, doing what she does: Bano snapping.

I think the ensemble turned out pretty awesome.

As the day went on, I drank A LOT of champagne. When we finally hopped aboard the party bus, I was flying high.

20s themed bachelorette party

We made our first stop at a speakeasy that inspired the whole plan. One of my city-dwelling friends, wearing her sassy dress and headband, had already been to the venue to scope it out since we couldn’t make reservations. She came out to greet us but to our dismay, the bouncers informed us that we could not proceed. He said that costumes were not allowed. Now,  we may have had flapper style dresses, but no one was wearing anything that you wouldn’t find in a store save a few added embellishments.

As my friends tried to explain, the bouncers got even more defensive.  “This is a speakeasy. Not a club. And you can’t wear headgear.” We were wearing headbands. No one asked us to remove them before entering; they just told us point blank we were in violation of their dress code, and we could not enter. We also tried explaining what a speakeasy is, and the premise of the 1920s to no avail. They must not have paid attention in history class.

Some of my friends went to the speakeasy’s website and looked up the dress code. Nothing about costumes or headbands being banned. It definitely felt like we were being discriminated against due to the appearance and size of the bride and some of the guests (it’s an unconfirmed suspicion, because how do you even confirm that?).

After I found out what was happening,  I may have gone to yell at the bouncers. I was pissed off that they were ruining my plans, and I don’t like when my plans fall through. It’s part of my Clark Griswold complex.

20s themed bachelorette party

This is our motley crew at Black Finn. That’s me in the back hugging the manager.

Luckily, my friends were quick to recover, dragged me from the bouncers before I punched one of them, and pointed us in the direction of Black Finn, where the manager bought us a round of shots and things got way better. I also got way drunker, but that’s expected at this sort of party.

Drumk girl selfie at a 20s themed bachelorette party

Things got a little fuzzy after that…

We made our way to a third bar, where I started doing shots with strangers at the bar and wandering around a bit more than one should. It was time to go home.

We called the party bus for our pickup and started winding down. In the bus, I called Brian, who had spent the afternoon out of the house but came home shortly after we left. I told him we (me and the 8 other people who’d be spending the night at our house) were on our way. And we really NEEDED tacos.

He said he’d pick up tacos and we texted him an order. My sister-in-law was also texting him with apologies for getting me so drunk and warning him of my impending arrival.

We came home to tacos and beds everywhere. Brian had set up air mattresses and put sheets and blankets on all the couches, so there’d be room for everyone to sleep. The dining room table was overflowing with tacos and burritos and horchata. If he hadn’t already proven he was going to be the best husband ever, this definitely solidified it.

Did you have a bachelorette party? Have you been to any crazy or themed bachelorette parties? Tell me your stories!

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!

Where is everybody?

This past weekend, Brian and I babysat our 7-week old niece overnight for the first time.

Baby in a little bassinet

Of course, we planned for reinforcements because we’re not crazy, especially since Brian has never been responsible for a child, ever. And it’s been a long time since I’ve even watched a baby.

I invited my cousin and her 3 kiddos (you’ve met them all before in the ridiculously adorable photos of my wedding party and the letter I wrote to my godson, which feels like a lifetime ago) to come play with us. It wasn’t a hard sell because we’re all in love with the little nugget, especially A and Sassafras.

Two older cousins holding their baby cousin

So they came over and hung out, fighting over who got to hold her. Everyone got a turn at least once.

Child holding her infant cousin

When the Little Guy, my ring bearer, walked in, he asked, “Where is everybody? Are they outside? Why’s everybody outside?”

He’s so used to coming to parties at our house that he wasn’t sure how to handle just the 7 of us, as if that were a small number. He kept looking for his grandparents and my parents and other kids, asking when everybody else was coming. Sorry kid, it’s just us.

Preteen staring adoringly at his infant cousin

We played and snuggled the baby. My cousin taught Brian how to change a diaper. We watched some toons and ate pizza. We even let the Little Guy hold her for like a minute.

Toddler holding his baby cousin

And then our reinforcements left. And for us, it was kind of like, “Where is everybody?” Because we were it.

Baby laying in her uncle's lap

She’s already a yoga baby. Brian didn’t think she looked comfortable, but I thought she seemed cozy enough to stretch out. Her mom said it was fine. We texted.

We were on our own for the night shift. Here are a few things we learned about babies from our one-time stint:

They are adorable. Every goofy almost smile. Every tiny hand grasp. Every snippet of tongue she sticks out at you. Totally precious.

They are sassy AF. Apparently, this one only likes to poop in a clean diaper. So you change her diaper, and boom. She’s messed that shit up good. Literally.

They are terrifying. Both Brian and I checked on her several times to make sure she was breathing. Because apparently that’s a thing you do when there’s an infant asleep in your house.

They are keeping Google in business. I can’t tell you how many times I googled if something was normal or how to do something. Where the fuck was Google when I was babysitting in high school?

They are exhausting. Even though she’s just a baby. And even though she only woke up once in the middle of the night and then again early in the morning, we were absolutely beat to hell the next day.

They are loved. Man, if you could see the three children fighting over her, you wouldn’t believe it. It was almost as bad as their mom and I fighting over the last hunk of cheese. And you KNOW that’s serious business.

Sleeping baby face

Tell me friends, what do you know about babies? Now that my brother has a child who he and his lady entrust with me, I need to know everything. 

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!

4 things that save my marriage every day

Brian and I have been married for more than 6 months now, so I’m pretty confident that gives me authority to offer up marriage advice.

Bride and groom kissing at head table

As it turns out, there are a lot of things that can help a marriage along, especially when you’re navigating alternative facts and not really sure what’s real and what Chrissy says is real, but really isn’t. Luckily for you, I have just what you need to succeed in wedded bliss. These four simple household devices have made marriage more than bearable. They’ve made this whole lawfully wedded thing quite pleasant, actually. And I’m pretty confident we couldn’t survive without them.

1. Toothpaste roller

Aquafresh toothpaste in a toothpaste roller

You’ll note the indent where I squeeze and the roller that Brian uses to roll. Confession: I have never rolled it.

Marriage is all about compromise, my friends. And this squeezing device automatically settles the age-old argument whether to squeeze or roll the toothpaste tube. And the settlement? It’s totally a compromise. As a squeezer, I get the first half of the tube (and really, let’s be honest here, I squeeze even when the roller is attached), and Brian gets to make sure we roll every last dob of toothpaste from the tube. He’s nothing if not fiscally responsible.

2. Bath and sink hair snare

Drain hair remover hooked to bathtub faucet

I had to Google what this one was called, because I wanted to write shower grabby hair remover thingy, and Brian (my very professional personal editor) suggested I find out what it’s actually called. I think a study on the before and after will help demonstrate the effectiveness of this device.

Before marriage: I would yell down to Brian that my shower drain wasn’t draining fast enough, which meant that it was blocked. Then he’d have to come unscrew the drain plug dealie, and find something to play plumber and remove my red hair.

After marriage: Teach a wife to fish…or so the saying goes…Brian bought me this silly $5 stick, and I use it religiously. (I told him not to bother screwing the plug back in, because that thing is a pain in the ass.) Before my drain is super clogged, I check it with the hair snare, because I’m weird and gross and amused. I do this probably every other time I clean the bathroom. And just a few stray (okay I shed like a maniac, so more than a few) blonde hairs come out with the snakey thing. And Brian no longer has to deal with my bathroom. I wear gloves, though, because ew.

Compromise? I think Brian wins this one majorly.

3. Mounted paper towel holder

The paper towel holder that never moves. Bestill my heart. Here’s another example of the before and after of marriage that just works.

Paper towel holder underneath cabinet

Before marriage: I would go to grab a paper towel to dry my hands, clean up a spill, distribute olive oil in a pan, provide a nonslip surface for my cutting board, or any number of other uses that a paper towel provides…and the damn roll would be nowhere in sight. As I raced through the house searching for the paper towels, which were usually on the floor of the TV room, I would loudly inform Brian how infuriating it was that the paper towels were never in the kitchen.

After marriage: The paper towels are ALWAYS in the same place. Hooked to the bottom of the cabinet next to the sink. I don’t know if anything has ever made me so happy.

Compromise. I win.

4. My magical Le Creuset

Blue Le Creuset sitting on stovetop

I was only going to have three items on this list, but Brian told me I should probably include my favorite piece of kitchen cookware. You see, when I dragged him to Bed Bath & Beyond, and stared longingly at this ridiculous, high-priced luxury item, he thought I was absolutely insane. I probably am, honestly. And then he told me if I got one, he threatened to boil hot dogs in it, as he does with all the wrong pans.

I have been jonesing for one of these beauties FOREVER.

At Christmas, Brian kept telling me how bad he felt because he only got me two gifts, which ended up being the 9-quart Le Creuset and a kickin’ light-up skirt from ThinkGeek. Who cares how many presents there are when one of them is a flippin’ ceramic-coated, cast iron dutch oven from France.

Obviously,  my first question was, “Did you use a coupon?” Because you bet your ass I would have taken it back, and rebought it with a coupon! Those things never expire, and they add up.

 

But now he loves this thing as much as I do. Because short ribs. And roasts. And mostly all the things I can make inside of it become happiness on Brian’s dinner plate. Compromise. I get an expensive pot to play with. Brian threatens to cook hot dogs in it, but relishes in the fruits of its labor.

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And sometimes your husband buys you cookware so you can make him dinner like a good little housewife. And everyone wins.

What devices/appliances/tools make your marriage or relationship or roommate situation work?

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Tale as old as time

Earlier this week, Brian and I had the privilege of attending a pre-screening of Beauty & the Beast in 3-D Imax.

As expected, the movie was utterly delightful. Following a similar path as live-action Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast offered a more detailed backstory for our heroine and also clued us in to more of Beast’s tale. Unlike Cinderella, the movie needed to take fewer liberties for dialogue and plot thanks to an already rich screenplay.

Belle and Beast dancing during the titular song

Fun fact: The costume designers created ethical and sustainable costumes made from fair-trade fabrics.

With 1991’s Best Picture nominee, they knew not to mess with the story too much, adding a few new musical numbers and smart character-building dialogue to the film.

The story of Belle and Beast is more developed, showing how she might be falling for him, despite the whole Stockholm Syndrome thing. With lines like, “Can anyone ever really be happy when they’re not free?” and “we don’t like what we don’t understand,” and a slightly more diverse cast than the original animation, Disney is trying to fight some of the stigmas that have plagued earlier films.

Belle and Beast in the castle library

Let’s talk about that library, though. Seriously. Who wants one? Hand raises?

The music was…well, it was okay. Once you get past the auto tune job they did on Emma Watson and the weird filter they put on Dan Stevens’ vocals, the songs you know and love plus a few new tunes wrap the movie in a familiar melodic blanket. I enjoyed the new music, including Audra McDonald’s stellar performance as Madame Garderobe (Wardrobe) and a melancholy song, “Days in the Sun,” which replaces the Broadway and remastered animated song, “Human Again” – a song I wasn’t sad to see removed from this soundtrack as I never quite loved it.

Fandango Beauty and the Beast Ticketing Banner
The Disney CGI magic blew me away, as usual. The beast is almost real, the castle staff is incredibly detailed and ornate in a way that adds new depth to the visuals. “Be Our Guest” was everything I hoped it would be with Ewan McGregor at the helm. The scene itself was pure Disney magic at its finest.

Gaston tries to Charm Belle with flowers

Luke Evans may have been may favorite, with my opinion of Gaston waffling from moderately attractive to completely heinous and despicable. Everything I want in a fairy tale villain. His “Mob Song” was incredible, and I’m quite sure of the solo vocals, his were my favorite closely followed by Lefou’s “Gaston.”

Of course, I’m sure you’ve heard by now of Josh Gad’s Lefou coming out of the closet he’s been living in since 1991. It’s a brief scene at the end of the movie, in which he dances with another man. Blink and you might miss it. But throughout the movie, you’ll find other adorable Lefou nuggets that are sweet and funny in a very relatable way.

Gaston and Lefou riding horses

Keep an eye out for a few nods to Watson’s breakout role as Hermione Granger, including a glimpse of Hedwig and Crookshanks.

Should you see Beauty & the Beast in 3-D? I vote no, and definitely not IMAX. While the CGI work is fantastic,  you lose some of the visuals with the rapid movement in IMAX, which I also found distracting.

Overall, a fine high-budget trip down memory lane to accommodate my generation’s obsession with nostalgia. I’ll go see it again for sure. Are you planning on checking this one out? What are you most excited about?

Fandango - Beauty and the Beast Sweepstakes
Beauty & the Beast stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

Directed by Oscar® winner Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast” is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, with eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the 1991 animated film, providing the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as several new songs written by Menken and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.

All images used with permission from Walt Disney Studios.

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The story of train nemesis

Today is the second day without my train nemesis. She’s gone forever. I know this because I was listening to her conversation on Monday, as I tend to do in close quarters with strangers, and she told some new guy that she was donezo and then again when she told my favorite conductor. Of course, I had already noticed she was using a ten-ride instead of a monthly, so I was suspicious that she would no longer be a regular.

My relationship with Train Nemesis wasn’t long lived, but important enough that I feel the need to eulogize her existence in my life. 

Riding the metra in Chicago

The backstory: Brian and I take the train together. Since our first train line back in Downers Grove, we’ve always appreciated the double seats that face each other. We usually get a little extra space and we look at look at each other should we decide to converse.

Riding the metra

Occasionally, though, the train will become overcrowded, someone will try to sit down next to me and across from Brian, and I’ll walk away from the seat.

The first time this lady demanded to sit down, I got up and walked away, giving her my seat. Brian says I’ve done this with a smidge of an attitude,  but I am tired and grouchy in the morning. And okay fine, irritated that anyone thinks these four seaters are designed for more than two adults. Also, my mama didn’t teach me the words, “excuse me,” “please,” and “thank you” for nothin’. 

Now, this has happened with a few people prior to and after my first encounter with Train Nemesis. It’s rare, and I just deal with it. Each time, I get up and walk away. Sometimes,  I set in the train vestibule, which I used to do in the mornings back on the Downers Grove line. Sometimes, I sit on the stairs. Sometimes, I’ll just go find another seat. 

It was January 2017 when I realized this lady wasn’t playing. She was miserable, and she was going to enjoy judging the fuck out of me.

She was the ringleader of the ladies who gossip about the horrible girl who gets up and switches seats so she doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or, worse, hurts her back in the process.

The first time I heard her talking about me, Brian was sitting in the seat across from her. She was talking to some other women about me, but I couldn’t quite hear her. According to my intel, she was snottily talking about how I do it all the time and what in the world is wrong with me? How could I possibly expect to not share the seat?

There's no leg room on the metra

Can we talk about the leg room here? How can you possibly expect to share this with four people?

The second time it happened, I had moved two seats back on the train, and I watched her as she spoke about me with such vitriole. She laughed as she thought about me sitting on the stairs and not having a seat, because I was so stupid and didn’t like to share.

I wanted to cry, but I tweeted instead. She was so mean about it, loudly proclaiming what a horrible person I was, that I considered switching trains. But I decided that the next time it happened I would tell her how mean she was behaving. 

And instead of there being a next time, she’s gone. 

Of course, she did have the occasional redeeming qualities. Her sense of holiday style was not unlike the one I plan to exhibit in my sixties.

So here’s to you, Nemesis. You were a meanish lady, but you might sort of be missed on this train, if only for the fodder.

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