A playful year of fun and magic

If you’ve been here for a while, you already know I’m not a fan of traditional New Year’s resolutions. A few years ago, I even came up with a monthly list of ways to dominate next year without a typical resolution, which I continually utilize as a guide for success.

Now a lot of people who don’t do traditional resolutions like to choose a grounding word that they use to guide them through the year. I’m not that type of girl. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-skirt gal, myself. Instead, I choose to label my year as it begins to play out or even at the end of the year. And this year was so perfect, you guys. I mean, not everything goes according to plan and things change and resolutions are hard to follow, but wrapping up your year with a bit of positive energy never hurt anyone.

And so I thought I’d tell you how I categorize my years.

In previous years, I’ve had The Experimental Year, a year of trying different stuff in the world of dating and boys, which was also the year that ended in a chance meeting with a handsome Irishman at a bar. I’ve had the Storytelling Year, in which I asked myself, “Will this make a good story in the morning?” and if the answer was yes, I did it, regardless of whether it was a “good” or “bad” idea. I’ve had good years and weird years and even bad years (like the Year I Didn’t Feel Good Enough; though I also came away smarter and more ready to tackle the world than ever before). And I always try to find the positive spin to the end of the year instead of wishing it away like just another fucking zit. (Side note: I hesitated in linking the aforementioned piece because there was a surprising amount of backlash to it. And that backlash made me want to stop writing, but I won’t self-censor any longer because that post wasn’t specifically about 2016. It was about every year.)

I take the biggest changes, most exciting adventures, and my highlight reel and try to find an underlying theme. This year started shaping itself before I even realized it was shaping. And it all started with a fake resolution.

I play games

At the beginning of this year, I thought I’d be cheeky and come up with a ridiculous New Year’s resolution. I made three. Two of which I’ll actually hit. 

  1. Play 365 games
  2. Play 100 DIFFERENT games (so that some of those 365 could be repeats)
  3. Play at least 25 different games that we own and have never played

Number one…that one is probably not going to happen. Unless we can play like 200 games in the next 3 days. Doubtful. But that’s okay. I had fun.

Number two…I have six more games to play. MUCH more doable.

Number three…DONE. Well, at least we made it through several of our untouched boxes (of course, we also bought a few new games…)

Silly resolution aside, gaming was a good start to a truly magical year.

I played in a Dominion Tournament at GenCon. I lost, but I had lots of fun!

I played in a Dominion Tournament at GenCon. I lost, but I had lots of fun!

I play with video

I’ve been dabbling with some different video styles on YouTube. I started a few things that could absolutely become the first of their own series (C-Rex Adventures, 60 Seconds of Chrissy), but we’ll have to see where 2019 takes us! It’s all in good fun which, for me, is super important. I can’t take myself too seriously, guys.

T-rex costume reaches for a ball at the bowling alley

I play dress up

In March, I took on something called The Disneybound Challenge. Every march, an Instagrammer/Blogger runs an Instagram photo challenge for people who DIsneybound (for those of you not in the know, this means dressing like Disney characters, something I apparently have a knack for. I nailed it for 31/31 days and continued to play dress up throughout the year (today, I’m wearing an outfit inspired by Moana’s Hei Hei).

This is a Disneybound of Olaf. The "buttons" are actually Olaf disney trading pins.

This is a Disneybound of Olaf. The “buttons” are actually Olaf disney trading pins.

I play pretend

In April, I began training at The Second City Training Center. In March, I’ll finish a year of improvisation and “graduate” from the A-E improv program at SCTC. Since August, I’ve performed in eleven shows (all student shows, but performances on Second City small stages nonetheless), with at least seven more shows before March comes to an end. When you’re improvising, you’re basically doing what small children do in free play — you make up stories. Sometimes you’re the mom. Sometimes you’re the baby. Sometimes you’re an accountant named Stan. But always, you should be having fun playing with your castmates and classmates.

Level D show photo from Second City Training Center Chicago

These crazy kids (a few of my SCTC loves are missing from this photo) give me life, you guys. This is one of the best things I’ve done for myself. And I’ve been saying that a lot lately.

I play house

Sometimes, I even pretend to be a grown up with my Grown Up. We have a really neat house that I have spent a lot of time in this year (thanks to the job quitting and the new puppy). I may make a terrible housewife, and I’m a horrible housekeeper, but I am good at playing house. You know. Pretending to be good at those things. On social media. And when we host parties. But definitely not in real life. There are rooms in my house where the clutter goes to die. I’m trying to fix that, but it’s a lot harder to get rid of clutter than I thought.

 

 

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I play with my hair

After years of planning and scheming, Kaitlyn and I finally took the plunge and dyed my hair hot pink. (Kaitlyn is my incredible stylist. She’s pure magic). We started with a super sweet gentle pink, and now it’s this hot pink, bold AF shade that I cannot get enough of. I’m never* looking back.

This poor man. I fangirled John Grogan so hard I cried. He is, though, one of the writers that made me want to be a writer, so I think a little obnoxious fangirling was to be expected.

This poor man. I fangirled John Grogan so hard I cried. He is, though, one of the writers that made me want to be a writer, so I think a little obnoxious fangirling was to be expected.

I play with puppysaurus rex

Adopting a puppy was one of the craziest things we did this year. Not only did this furball full of love and ENERGY enter our world, she dominated it. There is something magical about a creature that wakes up with the sun and says, “It’s time to play!” She naps when she’s tired and wants to play the other 77% of the day. This is a lifestyle I can get behind. Now if only her version of play was the same as mine. Unfortunately, two black lips and a few deep scratches later, we’ve learned the importance of training our sweet girl (but we always train with games and play and toys and treats instead of negative consequences. And boy does she love toys and treats! (I think I may have spent more on Nia’s Christmas than Brian’s…don’t tell Brian).

A sleeping puppy on your tummy is probably one of the greatest things ever.

A sleeping puppy on your tummy is probably one of the greatest things ever.

I play Disney (and that other park with Harry Potter [ and that OTHER park with Bugs Bunny])

After immersing myself so heavily in Disney Instagram, I became obsessed with needing to get back to the parks. I wanted to knock Dapper Day off my bucket list and asked my pal Laura if she wanted to go. When she said yes, I booked a hotel for November and started planning. When my cousin invited Brian and me to visit Universal Studios with him and his wife in October, it sealed a deal I made in my head. I was going to get an annual pass to Walt Disney World. (If you go more than once, the price of the pass is worth it (especially with added discounts and perks and such). I was lucky and able to use credit card points to reimburse my Disney pass purchase, so it was essentially “free” in my head, which makes it all the more logical. To me. And so I visited the happiest place on earth twice in a matter of two months, catching both the Halloween and Christmas seasons. And then…just for fun…because it’s close to home and the season pass was so cheap…we got season passes for Six Flags (Great America, but we can go to any of them with the pass). I guess I’m kind of a theme park addict…

Magic Kingdom Disney Photopass hub grass Cinderella Castle

Playing on the hub grass in front of Cinderella Castle seemed like a great idea.

And so with that, I give you Chrissy’s Year of Play. In which I truly embraced my inner child and let her help me find the joy I need to live this life and take the next steps on my journey. Being a creative is hard. Being an empath is FUCKING hard. Learning how to free yourself to determine your path? So hard. But so worth it. I honestly believe that my role in this world is to bring joy and laughter and share that light with you. And so when you see me behaving like a kid in a candy store with a light-up skirt and hot pink hair, remember that we all have a part to play. This is mine.

*I reserve the right to change my mind on the “never” at any time. 

If you could put a theme to your year, what would it be? What are your highlights from 2018?

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!

Dog training is dangerous work

So my dog is becoming incredibly skilled at indoor parkour. If you don’t know what that is, Google it. I’ll wait.

Insane, right?

Well, Nia is a master. When she gets the zoomies, she jets around our house, side-swiping and jumping on everything with a flat surface.

 She can also clear 4-5 feet with a standing jump. Hopping on our couch, over the back? Child’s play. Jumping a gate to get to the top of our stairs? Piece of cake. Bouncing from one ottoman to the other like fucking Tigger? Done.

Clearly, all of these feats of strength means she’s an agility star in the making.

So the other night, after some serious playtime and even more serious zoomies, I decided that instead of trying to train the crazy out of her, I would help hone her skills.

dog with a toy in the middle of a living room

I’m a fool.

So I pulled out the small ottoman and started running to jump over it in the hopes that Nia would follow suit and chase me. She did, but she ran beside the ottoman instead of over it. Several times.

So I figured I’d try again.

I figured wrong.

As my right leg cleared the ottoman, my left foot caught on the back, making my landing less than a 10. I didn’t fall (for, like, the first time ever), but I did manage to feel a pop-pop-pop of bad. And also a searing pain in my left Flinstoe (Flinstone toe. It’s a thing) that turned out to be a broken nail.

I knew immediately something had gone awry and I stumbled to the couch, much to Brian’s confusion. He has never seen me actually injure myself, despite seven-plus years of experience with my injuries. I took a few ibuprofen, iced my knee, and made a bunch of Instagram stories about my foolishness, hoping there would be no pain when I finally peeled myself off the couch.

Much to my dismay (and with little surprise, if we’re being honest), I discovered that yes, Virginia, Chrissy hurt herself again. After 30+ years of injuring myself, I knew how to recognize the signs of a sprain:

  • Can move the joint in question
  • Difficulty with range of motion (which is strange for me because I have overextending joints, so my range of motion is a little crazy already)
  • Slight swelling (I don’t often swell)
  • Slight bruising (sprains don’t bruise much for me, even though I get rando bruises all the time)
  • Pain in certain positions (or many positions or when putting pressure on said joint)

And so I went to sleep with plans to visit the doctor the next day. I’m pretty confident they love me over there. This was the first time my doc saw my hair, and she was all open-mouth WOAH, but not actually surprised, since she’s been seeing me for years (basically since I got a job with health insurance). After I told her about trying to train my dog to jump over an ottoman by showing instead of telling (I mean, COME ON. How do you tell a dog to jump over an ottoman?), she laughed and told me, “At least you have a good story.”

“Doc, that’s pretty much my life. You should hear about the last time I sprained my knee…”

She laughed, and I made a few more jokes before she told me to chill out, rest my shit, and try not to reinjure myself like a fool (which is of course going to be tricky with several hours of improv classes and a show tonight (SHAMELESS PLUG: GO SEE MY ENSEMBLE, HAMMOCK FIRE, at the Chicago Second City Training Center Thursday nights through September 20!)

And so, I’m back on the injury train. Which is kind of funny, since I had finally stopped telling people that injuring myself is a key theme in my storytelling style.

Such is life.

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!

Distemper and the cone of shame

Of course my dog has an Instagram account.

Of course she does.

When the rescue organizations were [heavily] vetting me to become a dog mom, my friends were telling them that my future dog was going to live a spoiled existence. Toys and play and treats and photo shoots would ensue. My dog was sure to get her own Instagram account, they said.

I fought the urge to give her a separate account for months. I already have a Disneygram account in addition to my personal account. I don’t need to add a third to the mix.

Until I did.

Of course I did.

And then it was time for Nia’s spay surgery. And she we I decided that she was going to diary the cone life. It’s been a rocky two weeks, but I think the pup is going to be A-okay. At the very least, she’s going to have one hell of a happy life.

 

The day of the spay was horrible for me. One of my worst days. I was already going into this with SERIOUSLY conflicting feelings. I know that she’s essentially better off being spayed early, but I couldn’t help anthropomorphizing her soon-to-be inability to have children. And then they called me after she came out of anesthesia.

Apparently, Nia shows a number of signs of being a distemper survivor, including weak enamel on her teeth, tremors, head bobbles, and now, seizures (well, seizure, singular). The vet says that as long as she seems happy and healthy, we just need to keep an eye on the symptoms and take extra good care of her teeth.

Day 3 was the last day of being remotely sleepy. None of the sedatives worked for our lil pup. So we had to manage her insanity with constant vigilance and baby gates.

The peace didn’t last long, though, because Nia decided that she could do anything with or without the cone.

Thank God for baby gates (something I swear I said I would never use).

She’s definitely my puppy because I love perching just as much as she does.

We actually had to take away some of her toys because of her teeth. She loved chewing on the hard toys, but no dice anymore on those. Soft and squishy only now. I think I’ve noticed the difference in the way she chomps on my hand.

I took away the cheap flip flop, and then she annihilated my Roxy flip flops. How’s that for vengeance?

Whoops!

Even I’m ready for the cone to be over.

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!

Puppies are like toddlers

In recent news, Brian and I are the proud parents of a five-month-old puppy we call Nia (her full name is a regal one: Lady Nymeria Stark of Winterfell). We rescued her exactly two months ago and have been in love/hell ever since.

puppy snuggled on a blanket

Meet Lady Nymeria Stark of Winterfell, everybody!

I’ve wholeheartedly embraced the dog mom life, so if you’re here to comment on how dog owners aren’t real parents and puppies aren’t human children, kindly see yourself out (you don’t know or care about my life, my struggles, or what brings me joy. This isn’t for you.) In my experience training a three-to-five-month-old pup, I’ve come to the realization that having a puppy is very similar to having a toddler.

Mobility

Some people compare puppies to babies, and I’m not going to do that: While a baby is mostly immobile, a toddler is running all over the place, exploring all available surroundings, and basically trying to kill itself every chance it gets. Ways to combat this: baby gates, constant vigilance, and positive reinforcement. Unsurprisingly, this is exactly how we combat the dangerous exploratory behavior of puppies, baby gates, constant vigilance, and positive reinforcement. We’ve gated the pup in the kitchen when we’re cooking, the TV room when we’re winding down, and the front room when I’m working. She even gets to hang out in the bathroom when I shower.

Puppy sitting on top of the couch

She thinks she’s a cat.

Constant attention-seeking behavior

Speaking of the bathroom…From the memes I’ve seen on the book of face, toddlers who aren’t invited into the bathroom with Mom claw at the door, sticking their tiny fingers under the bottom trying to get in. Wanna know what my puppy does when I go to the bathroom without her? She claws at the door and sticks tiny paws under the bottom trying to get in.

puppy on a raft in the pool

See? She even wanted to join us in the pool.

Managing nap schedules

I know that toddlers need a lot of sleep, and managing their naps can be a full-time job. I also know that if Nia naps all evening, she won’t go to bed at night! We learned the hard way that our evenings of snuggling on the couch while binge-watching TV were days of the past when Nia wouldn’t go to bed until after midnight because she slept during TV time. We’re still working out the logistics and what works best for her, and hopefully, we figure it out soon!

puppy napping on a blanket with a toy

Puppy diaper bag

Moms carry bags of stuff toddlers need every time they leave the house with their kiddo: diapers, wipes, creams, extra clothes, toys, snack packs, containers, sippy cups, etc. I carry a bag of stuff Nia needs every time I leave the house with her: poop bags, alternative leashes, toys, snack packs, bowls, bottled water, etc. And I’m often so flustered when trying to gather everything that I forget stuff for me. My phone, a beverage, my purse, my ID, always something.

Leashed puppy sitting on the sidewalk next to owner

Taking her anywhere is an ordeal

Bedtime routines

I’m pretty confident many, if not most, toddlers want to snuggle up with Mom and Dad at bedtime, and I’ve known parents who curl up in their toddler’s tiny beds and fall asleep with them in order to get them to crash in their own beds. When we began crate training Nia in our bedroom, about 2 feet from our bed, she would cry at night because she didn’t want to be alone in the crate. So Brian and I would curl up on the floor crateside with the lights out as if we were all going to sleep in a giant puppy pile together. Once she was asleep, we would tiptoe back to our bed for the night. You may say we’re suckers, but guess who goes right to her crate at bedtime, now?

puppy sleeping in a bed

Sometimes, she sleeps in my spot before or after crate time.

Toys everywhere

Just like my toddler niece, the puppy pulls all of her toys out on the ground and spreads them far and wide for good measure. I may not rip up my foot on a Lego, but you can be damn sure I’m falling all over Kongs, Nylabones, and Duraplay balls left and right. I’m probably going to fall and injure myself (like I always do), but I’d rather have her play with dog toys than chewing on my shoes.

Puppy surrounded by chew toys and stuffies

Bribery

When I was teaching reading comprehension to small children, we used bribery as a way to get them to work. Smaller, more frequent bribes for more distracted students and that’s exactly how we have to train this puppy. Snacks, snacks, snacks; just like me and my snack addiction. Our pupper loves food. Thank goodness. Because we bribe her with food all. the. time. Get that non-toy out of her mouth? Offer her a piece of string cheese. Need to lock her up in her crate when we go out? We provide a plethora of brain-teaser treats and puzzles.

I’m sure there are bazillions of ways that puppies compare to toddlers, these are just a few of the ones I’ve noticed in the two months since adopting our little monkey.

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!