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.

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!

This is why I’m not good at surprises

Calling all of my massage therapists in a tizzy on Sunday morning, I had hoped to scheduled a same-day appointment. To my dismay, none were available. So I did the next best thing. I scheduled an appointment for Monday morning.

Brian overheard my call, and yelled up to me, “Wait. What time did you schedule it for?”

“9am. You’ll be sleeping.”

“Well, there’s the brunch thing for my aunt.”

I vaguely remember him mentioning this and not having any other details. “What time?”

“11.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere out by them.”

His uncertainty irritated me, and I immediately wished he was better about remembering details. I mentally calculated the time it would take to get approximately to his cousins’ and assumed I was fine with my appointment.

Over the course of Sunday, I asked Brian for details on the brunch at least 5 times. And each time, he brushed it off with ‘yeahs’ and ‘probablys’ and ‘oh I have to text my cousins’.

I suggested he set an alarm as I wouldn’t be there to make sure he was up and told him that I’d get home and we’d leave straight away.

On Monday morning, I asked Brian again, “Where are we going?”

And he still didn’t have an answer. Half-asleep, he told me, I’ll find out. Just go. So I didn’t have a lot of stock in this brunch thing, and I put on my favorite pair of tie-dye yoga pants and left the house.

After my massage, I assumed I’d have a few minutes to stop in the store next to Massage Envy for a quick peek. I figured it would take about a half hour to get to brunch, and I definitely thought Brian would still be slowly waking up.
As I got into the car, Brian texted me, “How’s it going?”

I told him I was on my way, and then, thinking about my outfit choice, decided to call him. “Where are we going, babe?”

His own mental calculations had done their due diligence and he realized I was probably hungry…and looking forward to brunch, as it’s one of my favorite meals.

“We’re going to Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to see a man about a sloth.”

Wait, what?

“For brunch?”

“No, there’s no brunch.”

“Will there be food?”

Well, guys, I’ve learned something about myself, and it’s that food is always a priority. Then panic. Then excitement.

My peddle to the metal, I jetted home while talking Brian through some sort of rapid food prep.”Toast the bagel on the counter! Quick! Okay fine, I’ll just eat my leftover sammy from Panera.Gah! I’m not dressed for a sloth!”

My heart was racing a mile a minute, and I thought I might have a full-blown meltdown as I ran into the house, climbed the stairs and hunted for my slothwear. It’s  kind of amazing and crazy how excitement, anxiety, and fear all kind of have the same feelings inside you. I didn’t know whether to run, scream, or cry. I thanked God I had recently cleaned, and I knew the sloth shirt was hanging and my sloth socks were paired in my sock drawer. I painted on a little lipstick and eyeliner, brushed and dry-shampooed my hair, and ran back downstairs. I was panicked and excited and nervous and thrilled and couldn’t even believe I WAS GOING TO MEET A SLOTH!!

Brian noted my anxiety (and extreme lateness, because I’m a gigantic dickhead) and felt terrible. “I should have known better than to try to surprise you. I realized too late you were probably planning your food schedule around brunch. And you get a lot of joy around anticipation. You would have been flying high all weekend on this.”

I probably would have, but you guys…Brian was taking his day off work to DRIVE into the city and take me to see the sloth, even though we all know he would have much preferred to be at home sleeping and vegging out.

While we drove, I googled the sloth, and found out that it was a show with several animals, and that I would be able to pet Steve. I also found out that for about $275, Steve could come to my birthday party for an hour…

Brian’s cousin texted and said the sloth was last, so unless we were an hour late, we wouldn’t miss him.

We missed the flying fox, hedgehog, and fruit bat, but we got to meet a chinchilla, armadillo, kinkajou, and bat-eared fox before the main event.


There he was. In all his Steve glory. I loved him as soon as I saw him. He clung to the chair and languidly moved, enjoying the tasty sweet potatoes from his trainer. As he appeared a mere 15 feet un front of me, looking so adorable, tears started splashing down my cheek. It was really real. He was there. And I would get to pet him.

I got in line between several toddlers who had no idea how lucky they were.

Quirky Chrissy petting the adorable Steve the Sloth.

My red face? That’s because of the crying.



The woman in charge said we (all the toddlers and I) could give Steve two pets. But I gave him three, and I made them last. Slow and gentle, just like Steve. You can see where my eyes say, “I’m going for the third pet” in the video Brian was kind enough to capture for me.


We stayed until Steve left, watching him, soaking in all the amazingness of Steve and his slothy goodness. Afterward, Brian and I walked around Lincoln Park Zoo and saw ANOTHER sloth! And it was pretty much the best day 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!

Our Cheesy Wedding

So, I’m thinking on Wednesdays, I’m going to try posting little snippets and tidbits from our wedding, mostly because THERE’S SO MUCH TO SHARE, and I really don’t want to overwhelm y’all.

I figured the best place to start is with our wedding theme…which came together at the very last minute.

It all started with a cheese cake. A cake made of cheese wheels. Both Brian and I aren’t big fans of cake, and the thought of tasting tons of cake and paying for tons of cake when that’s not what we wanted was less that desirable. I originally thought cheesecakes, but Brian doesn’t like those, either.

Cue big giant wheels of my favorite thing on the planet (Brian not withstanding), and we had ourselves a cake that dreams are made of.

If you love cheese as much as I do, I highly recommend the cheese-themed wedding.

Originally, I had planned to vet the wheels, find the cheapest prices, order them, and set them up, all by myself. Basically, pre-wedding me was insane. (You’re going to see as this series unfolds that people like me aren’t DIY experts, so if you’re looking for those kind of wedding planning tips, you’re in the wrong place, my friends. If, on the contrary, you’re looking for realistic, I-paid-someone-to-do-it and I-have-the-best-friends-on-the-planet advice, I’m your gal.)

About two months before the wedding, I realized I was crazy and definitely didn’t want to add more to my to-do list, so I called Whole Foods Orland Park. I knew they had a kickin’ cheese selection and there was one near the wedding venue. I worked with two unbelievably wonderful people in the cheese department, and they were just as excited about our cheese cake as I was.

No cheese themed wedding is complete without wheels of cheese...

Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography. The piece de resistance of our wedding was definitely the cheese wheel cake. Some people thought it was a cake made to look like cheese, but no. It was a cake made of cheese. Obvi. Laura decorated the cheese table and added the extra flourishes, accoutrements, and MORE CHEESE.

I’m so glad I called them because it turned out to be one of the best wedding experiences I had with vendors. After some back and forth with the cheese selections, in which they sent pictures and prices, and I asked for changes a few times, we finally had a pretty good idea of what we were going to choose, and I thanked them for their patience.

They invited me down to Orland Park for a cheese tasting, and I was already in love. Brian had zero interest in most things wedding, so I brought my pal Laura, who is a godsend and amazing. She managed a significant number of day-of wedding details for me, did my flowers, candy buffet, and handled the cheese cake.

Our wedding cake was three tiered cheese wheels. This was the demo from Whole Foods.

Whole Foods set up a clothed table with a sign that said, “reserved for the future Mr. and Mrs. Woj” and flowers and little place settings. They set up a cake with the wheels we had chosen so we could see and touch.

At Whole Foods, we tasted all three cheeses: Marieke Gouda, a young Manchego, and a Petite Basque, and they even paired the cheese with three glasses of wine. After I placed my order (in which I got 10% OFF for buying whole wheels), they handed me a lovely goodie bag with Whole Foods treats and beauty samples as a thank you to their bride. OMG I died. It was about a month before the wedding and I had yet to feel super duper special with any of the wedding vendors I was working with. None of the bridal events I attended were even close to this magical.

You can ask your cheese vendor to make shaped displays with goat cheese.

Laura made Whole Foods turn cranberry goat cheese into beautiful heart-shaped displays. There was one on the head table just for us, too. It was fucking perfect. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

As the wedding day drew near, I stumbled across mini cheese grater favors. We had planned to donate to a charity in lieu of favors, but once I saw those, I knew what I needed to do.

If you're going to have a cheese themed wedding, you need to have cheese grater favors.

Mama Bear tied ribbons around each grater the week before the wedding, and Ally, my night before slumber party bridesmaid, handled the sticking of the names on the grater boxes at midnight the night before the wedding. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

A week before the wedding, I also decided to make Snapchat geofilters, which is SO EASY.

We created Snapchat Filters for our cheesy wedding

Two of my Something Blues (More on that next week) using the Snapchat filters I made.

I had also thrown around the idea of naming tables instead of numbering them…but I was lazy and just kept putting it off. Until the day before the wedding. Brian was printing table names and labels for the favors with guest names and their tables. I was just trying not to freak out because it was 1 o’clock in the morning.

We named our tables after cheeses

The hardest part was coming up with the 28ish different cheese names for the tables…Laura managed all the centerpiece decorations and shit. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

But it all came together so nicely. And cutting the cake WAS THE MOST FUN THING EVER.

As I was cutting the cheese cake with my new husband., we kept laughing

Take note: It’s surprisingly hard to cut into a giant wheel of cheese. I recommend a practice cut. We were supposed to cut into the bottom layer, but that was not happening, so the top layer got the knife instead. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

Taking a bite out of a big hunk of cheese makes for an awesome cake cutting ceremony at a wedding.

I could not. Stop. Laughing. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

Our cake cutting was hilarious. Because the cake was made of cheese.

You guys. We cut the cheese at our wedding. We CUT. THE. CHEESE. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

And THAT’S how you have a cheesy wedding.

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!

How many passport applications is this going to take?

In just a couple of days, Brian and I are leaving for our European honeymoon. I’ve been obsessively Zulilying adorable dresses, checking the weather, and buying Disney pins on ebay in preparation.

Why yes, I did say Disney. Because one of our stops includes a couple nights in Disneyland Paris.

After our 2012 trip to Walt Disney World, Brian hasn’t been able to think of anything else. (I’m totally lying. He couldn’t care less. It’s all me.)

So we’re heading on a magical trip, partially inspired by my romance novel addiction when I was 15, in which I read one of those dime-a-dozen Harlequin Presents novels with the main characters honeymooning in Belgium and eating chocolate. Teenage Chrissy couldn’t think of anything better. Especially since adult Chrissy realized that Belgium and beer are close compadres.

Anywho…

When one travels internationally, one needs a damn passport.

Brian, being a cool AF dual citizen, has two valid passports. Me?

I had an expired passport from 2004 that I couldn’t find.

So I delayed.

And I waited.

And I procrastinated like it was my job.

Once we were 5 weeks from our trip, I hunted for, and found, my expired passport. The one I had paid extra to expedite 5 weeks before my trip to London.

It looked like I would be covering that cost again.

So I made my way to the post office, credit card in hand…where they told me I needed a check, five minutes before the passport office closed.

Not to worry, I had a backup plan.

I left, stopped home, picked up a check (and one of Brian’s special pens), and went to a post office that was open later.

It was there that I began diligently filling out the passport application. And it was there that I screwed up, and had to rewrite it. Twice.

Third time’s the charm, right? So I finished up the app and got in line. They told me I would have to wait as only one person was managing passport applications, and I patiently stood in the long queue. When my turn was finally up, the lady took one look at my application and sent me back with another. APPARENTLY, you’re supposed to use black ink pens only.

This is also apparently on the front of the form. Whoops!

So I went back and started the 4th application. Only to be deterred by another egregious error, in which I was forced to start over. Again.

How to fill out a passport application

5 applications later, and I was ready for my close up.

The woman took me to a back room of the post office to snap my pic. I had perfected the art of the non-smiling smile and the perfectly angled head tilt, for a snazzy photo opp.

Except that head tilting is against the rules. So much for the perfect selfie.

Finally, she took an acceptable picture, and I was ready to get this show on the road. She handed me an envelope and told me to mail it. She explained that with 5 weeks before my trip, I should still be fine without paying for expediting the passport (because it was a renewal for an existing passport).

I received it within two weeks. And I’m ready to go!

As we head off to Paris, Disneyland Paris, Ghent, and Brussels, I thought I’d leave you with a few animated favorites to stream on Netflix in honor of our little jaunt.

  • Anastasia – one of my favorite non-Disney flicks, partially set in Paris. Dimitri is, by far, the hottest of the animated male love interests. John Cusack lends his voice to this smooth talkin’ handsome con artist.
  • Tangled – this was one of the first Disney princess movies Brian and I watched for our Valentine’s tradition. I think it was VDay #2, but who’s counting?
  • The Princess & the Frog – this one doesn’t get enough good press. I really like Tiana and her sass, and I love the voodoo magic.
  • Enchanted – one of my absolute favorites. I adore everyone in the cast, and think it’s just one of the most funDisney movies with a billion nods to the princess flicks of old.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas – if you haven’t seen my Sally nails or our Jack and Sally Skellington Costumes, you’re totally missing out.

Netflix Stream Team

As a member of the Stream Team, I publish montly posts sponsored by Netflix who gives me the ability to watch 24/7 streaming TV and write about it. I had a Netflix account long before I was a Stream Teamer, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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!

Erratic Ramblings from More Strangers on the Train

It all started on the train with the two women sitting behind me, talking about their kids in baseball. The struggle was real. I was only half paying attention until one of them, let’s call her Lefty, said, “Oh jeepers.”

snort

I knew it was time to pull out my phone and document snippets of this conversation,because I know y’all love it when I eavesdrop.

Then Righty says, “Then, I watched The Nerds. You know, After the Thrones. They’re all SO nerdy! They think they’re so cool. But they’re such nerds.”

I don’t think Baseball Mom got the memo, that it’s hip to be a square these days…Even my mom (who was a cool girl) thinks the Big Bang gang is cool.

Lefty jumps back in with, “Did I ever tell you what Brett’s final grade was? He got an A. And she still wanted him to take it again. He told me, ‘She still says I don’t know the concepts.'”

Coming from a recovering teacher, I can attest to how hard it is not to pass students with Cs and Ds, but if they don’t understand the concepts, how the hell do they get As?

Righty, apparently checking her phone, “My email is full. It says delete some files and try again.  What Files!?”

Lefty was only half listening, because then she chimed in with, “I had 1,099 texts. From you from two years!”

A few minutes later, Righty was back on Game of Thrones, “I hope Danerys and whatsher face hook up. Yara? Maybe he’ll become an unsullied. What’s his face? He’s halfway there. Poor thing. He did betray his fam – his…Starks. When is Danerys going to find out all this stuff?”

Then they rambled some more about baseball and kids…

Righty was all, “What’s an Ethel Merman?”

And Lefty replied, “It’s German.”

Righty responded with “I have such a hard time visualizing things…”

snort

I couldn’t help it.

Then Righty starts singing, “Do you, do you want my love?” Followed by a whistle.

Lefty said something quiet enough for me to miss, and Righty quipped back, “It’s cuz I’m fancy. Fancy Nancy.”

I wish I was making all if this up. But it’s 100% real life.

Then Lefty says something like, “I’m sorry that you almost died but…I’m really glad I swim. It helps me!”

Righty dramatically reiterates, “I would have died.  I would literally have died.”

Ummm…okay, Righty. Glad you didn’t die or anything.

Conversations overheard on the train...and the Snapchats that shame them.

Conversations overheard on the train…and the Snapchats that shame them.

I  tried to turn them off, but then Righty said, “I’m like your lady’s maid.”

Lefty, realizing this was a brillz idea, responded, “I need a lady’s maid!”

“Doesn’t everybody.”

Well, actually…maybe?

And then they started talking about their appearances.

Lefty was all, “You don’t have football shoulders.”

Righty knows a good life when she sees it…”Thank GOD I don’t have football shoulders.”

“I do and it sucks.”

Poor Lefty with her football shoulders.

And then Righty starts singing again, “Do you do you want my love?”

And scene.

You know, commuting on the train is almost as entertaining as watching one of my favorite binge watches on Netflix. Everyone is a character in this world. Everyone. I get a glimpse into their lives, just like the tiny Carrie Bradshaw I’m currently obsessing over in The Carrie Diaries. Or the crazy awesome kids in the weird AF town on Stranger Things. Or my favorite office culture on 30 Rock.

What characters do you love to watch?

Netflix Stream Team

This post was brought to you by my friends at Netflix, who provided me, as a member of the Stream Team, with a year of Netflix, a device on which to watch it, and this month, a freaking awesome harmonica to play with. All opinions and words are mine.

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!

Perfect Date Ideas if Killing a Man Sounds Like a Hot Date

A few weeks ago, we had our first shower. It was lovely, and Brian’s family is wonderful, and I love them. 

Wedding shower games: Date Jar

One of the activities at said shower was a Date Jar. It was super adorable and everyone seemed to really enjoy participating. So, of course, I thought it would be fun to read them all aloud. 

And I was right.

Lots of perfect date ideas ensued, including recreating our first date, heading to an escape room, eating cheese, doing yoga, and playing Scrabble, and hunting Pokemon (which I had then yet to download). 

Wedding shower games: Date Jar date suggestions  (cheese tour, coupled yoga)

Luckily for everyone, though, there were a couple real gems that had us all laughing…and me admitting to probably a little too much. 

Netflix and Chill

YOU GUYS. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT NETFLIX AND CHILL MEANT. I mean I knew by the time I read it on the date jar. But it was maybe…two months ago that I learned what it meant. I always thought it was just…snuggling up with the couch (sometimes by yourself,  other times with anyone who doesn’t want to be productive) and binge watching Netflix.

While at a friend’s house, I discovered a whole new meaning of the phrase during a group conversation. Apparently, it’s code for come over and ahem make out and bang. A light bulb went on above my head and I was like whaaaaaat?
And so, being the completely improper lady that I am, I took it upon myself to explain to Brian’s family what Netflix and chill meant, and that I had just recently learned about it. I mean, if that’s the most inappropriate thing I did, I think I did okay. 

Make a Blanket Fort and Watch Movies

This was just one of my favorites. No funny business here. Because blanket forts are AWESOME. 

Bring one of your favorite movie scenes to life

I’m thinking Brian’s going to veto sitting on the dining room table kissing over a birthday cake (mine would be cheesecake). And he’s probably going to say no when I call him farm boy and boss him around. 

Wedding shower games: Date Jar date suggestions  (blanket forts, Netflix and chill, reenact a movie scene)

And then there was this one:

Wedding shower games: Date Jar date suggestions  (kill a man?)

After the initial omg reaction, Brian and I started coming up with ways to kill a man without actually injuring an actual human. We could play Clue and kill Mr. Body in the library with the wrench. We could watch a movie on Netflix that has someone else killing a man. The creative possibilities are endless. 

What are some of your favorite date ideas? Did you know what Netflix and chill meant?

This post is part of my partnership with Netflix as a member of the stream team. I received a year’s subscription of Netflix and a device on which to binge watch shows like Gilmore Girls. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own. 

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!

Hide and Go Netflix

At one of my old jobs, many years ago, I had a lot of down time. Once I was pretty confident I could knock out my work in a certain amount of time,  I’d take a little break. And catch up on Netflix. I wasn’t the only one. My entire row of coworkers was watching one movie or tv show at any given time. Where do you think I got the idea?

It started small, with secret windows open just emough for me to watch a few minutes here and there while I worked…eventually, though, it was entire episodes. Full movies. I was a rebel, and I loved it.

And that was before smart phones were as fancy as they are now. These days, I’ve got way too much work going on to play on the clock, but now that I can Netflix on my fancy phone (where I’m granfathered in an unlimited data plan), I can avoid people and places everywhere else by staring at my phone. I’m not an introvert, but I’m an introverted extrovert, and when I’m uncomfortable somewhere, it’s nice to have an escape.

Need to avoid the loud old ladies on the train screaming chaw-co-lot-ay at little girls? Escape in a magical world with Charmed.

Irritated by the gossipy soccer moms behind you? Watch Mean Girls (starting tomorrow!).

Ladies talking too much on the train.

If you follow me on Snapchat, you get to see things like this.

Bored with family drama? Turn on your favorite episode of Gilmore Girls.
Tired of day to day office nonsense? Catch an episode of 30 Rock. 

Where do you  Netflix?

I don’t have kids (yet), but Netflix posed the question, “Where do you sneak in a few minutes of your favorite show?” This post is part of my Netflix StreamTeam partnership. I received a year of Netflix and a device on which to watch all my favorite shows.

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’m Not Normal

“You’re not normal.”

“I know.”

“That’s why you love me.”

“It really is.”

I’m so lucky, you guys, to have someone like Brian who not only loves how weird and me I am, but encourages me to let my freak flag fly.

adorable engagement photo with board games and a picnic

Photo credit: Being Joy Photography

I wasn’t always this sparkly, shiny ray of positivity that make my coworkers think I’m in my early to mid twenties (bless their wonderful hearts-and not in a sarcastic way). But something about Brian (who is not sparkly or shiny, by the way) makes me want to be better. Makes me see the world from another angle. It gives me hope. It puts my faith in humans. It helps me believe in magic when most would say that magic isn’t possible.

My dad used to say to me, “Christine, you’re really book smart, but sometimes your common sense could use a little help from your brain.” I never took offense at this, because, let’s be honest, I’m a little bit flighty. I walk into no parking signs when I’m too busy looking at my phone. I drive my car into the middle of a snow bank. It took me three months to realize I had gotten my period. But you have to be flighty if you’re ever going to fly. Too much logic can kill imagination. And I happen to love my imagination. My little world, where skies are pink and I’m a cool girl. Where I create a snow beach in my parents’ front yard. Or where I cry at Disney World because I’m so happy and overwhelmed with memories that I can’t think straight.

Brian was baffled when I told him he was partially to blame for my rose colored glasses. “But I’m not that happy or positive.”

He doesn’t realize it’s not his demeanor that emboldens me to dream big and picture all the wonderful magical things I can do. It’s how he sees me. It’s how he tells me that I can do all these amazing things. He believes in me. He thinks I’m adorable. And he’s everything I ever wanted or needed in a partner.

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 Just Want to be Perfect

Yesterday was my birthday. All my life, birthdays have been filled with anxiety and a little bit of disappointment. Partially because of my Clark Griswoldian dreams. I have hope. I believe in magic. I think anything is truly possible. And I imagine the most perfect of days for any special event, holiday, or vacation. I’m basically Riley from Girl Meets World.

Riley has Rileytown, a place where all her weirdness and happiness comes from. I have Chrissy’s World, where skies are pink and I am cool (with all my weirdness and happiness).

Riley has Maya, a best friend who stands up for her and loves her for who she is. I have Katie, who threatens to hit people over the head with a Corona bottle if they don’t stop teasing me or hurting my feelings.

It’s a good life. And it’s all mine. And for some reason, unbeknownst to me, a birthday never goes by in which I don’t cry at least once. I’m not saying this so you’ll feel sorry for me. I’m just explaining my weird little world for context.

So, yesterday, Brian took me out for breakfast and we planned our birthday adventure. We went home for a bit to digest and watch Game of Thrones. He took a nap (because I woke him up early to eat breakfast), and I called my mom for my annual cry.

It was at this point that Mama Bear offered to help. We were talking about Delilah, our beloved pool, who went to the pool graveyard in the sky a couple years ago, and how I could have been swimming while Brian napped. She asked if I wanted to go to one of the public pools in the area. My response was a mix of fuck no and lazy.

And be around all those people? I would have to shave my legs!

Mom knew I was right, and so she offered to left me come run through her sprinkler in her fancy, new, plush backyard grass(they sodded last year). I started laughing.

Come on! I’ll even do it with you!

At that point, I couldn’t stop laughing. It was uncontrollable and perfect. Everything I needed. I just kept picturing two grown women running through a sprinkler. I’m still laughing.

Brian woke up, and we took off for our adventure. A canoe rental in a beautiful hidden glacier-formed lake in the middle of suburbia. It was awesome!
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After our canoe trip, we walked around the lake, chasing geese. Brian kept telling me to leave them alone, but it was his idea to find them when we were on the canoe!

Once they left the lake, they wandered the grounds, just like we did. And they were so cute! I loved them.

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Afterwards, we met my parents for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Greek Islands. We drank wine, ate snacks, and they sang Happy Birthday to me before presenting me with a non-cake dessert and a birthday candle. All a girl wants on her birthday is to make a wish. Which I did. I’ll let you know when it comes true. We passed around the dessert, which was unbelievable coconuty custardy goodness, and my dad got the last piece.

As we nommed on our split dessert, Dad realized something was amiss, and he spit out the pink birthday candle. Apparently, he didn’t realize it wasn’t edible until it was too late. My parents and my boyfriend are pretty much the best. They know just what to do or say to make me laugh and give me the best birthday a Clark Griswold girl could have. A few tears turned into a magical day. Riley would be proud.

In the spirit of imperfection, I also wanted to tell you about a book that debuted this weekend. A book written, in small part, by yours truly. 37 co-authors produced the 4th book in the New York Times best-selling Pee Alone series, I Just Want to be Perfect. When Jen Mann invited me to contribute, I died a little bit with joy. It was the perfect title for me to be a part of and I hope you’ll all join me in reading this magical book of horrifying, hilarious, and true stories of women who try and fail at perfection.

I Just Want to be Perfect

You can find I Just Want to be Perfect in print and digital forms on iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Netflix Stream Team

This post was created as part of my work with Netflix (shameless plug excluded) as a member of the Stream Team. I received a device on which to shamelessly watch Netflix and an annual membership to stream all the streams I can stream. I binge watched Girl Meets World this month, and boy was I glad I did. Riley and I have a lot in common…you know, since I’m perpetually a 12-year-old girl. I had a Netflix account before the Stream Team, and no one pays me to say nice things about them. If you have Netflix, you understand. Even Mama Bear is obsessed with them.

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!

Frolicking in the Park

Sometimes, it amazes me, the beauty that surrounds us. A few weeks ago, Brian and I took a stroll down the Fox River in Geneva, Illinois with a lovely photographer and her assistant. We had a little picnic, played some games, and frolicked (yes, frolicked) around the playground surrounded by tiny humans. Our photographer captured some of the suburban Chicago beauty of spring, and I’d like to share that with you.

We weren’t planning on having an engagement session, but when I stumbled across a contest (and YOU helped me win 3rd place), we received a complimentary photo shoot with the lovely and talented Joy.

All photos are from Being Joy Photography. If you can’t get enough, you can check out her Chrissy and Brian blog post (and more of our engagement photos).

We began the session with a walk along the river, where we sat on a park bench and told bad jokes while Joy took lovely shots of us in the background.

Engagement photo shoot at a park with cherry blossom trees

Then we got up close and personal with this cherry blossom tree. Because look at it!

beautiful plus size engagement photos

When Joy asked how I felt about laying on the ground, I informed her I’d do whatever she wanted; she was the professional. I was secretly hoping she’d take advantage of this and make me do some crazy incredible feat so that I’d fall down and have some truly epic photos…but she was kind.

beautiful plus size engagement photos in a park

We brought props. All the props. Edible props. Playable props. Toys. Games. You name it. We brought it. Obviously, cheese was the star of the show. But this game, Mice and Mystics, is our game. While it can play up to four players, it’s the game Brian and I play on our at-home date nights. The game plays through an entire campaign, so we’ve been working our way through it slowly. Savoring it, if you will. My favorite part? The currency in the game is CHEESE.

Engagement photo session with cheese and board games

In fact, we had a whole picnic with some of our cough my cough favorite things. Board games. Cheese. Champagne. It was glorious. And fun. I totally ate a ton of cheese that day too.

engagement photo shoot picnic with cheese, champagne, and games in a park

Of course, I won The Game of Life (for the first time ever), and Brian was less than pleased. So he flipped that shit upside down. I tried to explain to him, “BRIAN, I never win this game. Can’t I win just this once?”

engagement photo shoot with the game of life throwing the game in the air

He wasn’t having any of that nonsense. So we walked away. We had a wardrobe change and took some silhouette photos under this super cool archway. My grandpa, the brick layer, would have been proud.

black and white silhouette engagement photo under archway

There’s this really cool looking foot bridge over the Fox River that I really loved photos on, and Joy was happy to oblige. This is one of my favorite photos from the whole shoot.

engagement photo session on a bridge, sitting indian style kissing

Across from the bridge, which is underneath the train bridge, Joy decided she wanted a shot of us in the support dealie (any one have any idea what this is called?). It turned out pretty cool!engagement photo session under a train bridge around the corner from each other

And then we made our way to the playground, where there were dozens of tiny humans running around on the unseasonably warm April day. We had to get creative. Joy seemed to really appreciate our facial expressions. Brian called this my zombie face. He’s not wrong.engagement photo session at a playground on the slide

Maybe one day, I’ll show you all the picture of Brian falling off the swings…but for now, you can see us being all lovey and adorable.

engagement photo session at a playground on the swings

We concluded our photo shoot with a picture of us taking a selfie. Because I’m kind of a selfie queen. It’s a thing.

engagement photo session on a park bench taking a selfie

Did you have an engagement photo session when you got married? If you’re not married yet, do you want an engagement sesh? Can you believe we’re getting married in three and a half months?

No one paid me to write nice things about Joy, but I did win a contest in which the prize was the photo shoot. We paid for all prints and products.

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!