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. He encourages me, and he inspires me. 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!

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!

Harry Potter vs. Captain America

One time, I convinced one of my best friends to dress up as Harry Potter and go to a costume party with me. It was awesome.

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And then, this morning, Brian and I had the following conversation:

Me: If someone wants to polyjuice me, my hair just fell on the ground.

But, to be fair, I shed all the time. So I guess that doesn’t really make a difference.

Brian: So you’re saying, the next time I see you, you might not be you.

Me: Yes.

Brian: Well shit! How am I going to know it’s you?

Me: We shouldhave a secret passphrase so you know.

Unless I’m polyjuice me right now. And then real me will never know the passphrase.

Brian: …

I think he’s still considering the possibilities.

Don’t fight it, Brian. The polyjuice is gonna getcha.

Brian’s going to see Captain America Civil War tonight with his coworkers as part of a work adventure. Without me. I’d be upset, but I saw a prescreening on Monday night in IMAX 3D, and I don’t think Brian’s viewing will top that.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that the Captain America movies are among my favorites in the Marvel Studios movie series. (Guardians of the Galaxy trumps all). It was fantastic.

What would happen if someone polyjuiced the hair of Captain America? Click To Tweet

And if anyone cares, I’m on Team Ironman. I think.

You know what? I think I just came up with Marvel’s next movie.

Captain America vs. Harry Potter. Call me, Warner Brothers and Disney. I’ve gota great idea!

Are you a Harry Potter or Marvel fan? Who would you pick in a battle: Harry Potter and his peeps or the Avengers?

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!

Reasons I’m Going to Marry Brian

Brian and I are getting married on September 16. For those of you not interested in mathing that out, it’s approximately 4.5 months  (or exactly 142 days) from today.

We had our engagement photos last weekend, and they were ridiculous,  just like us. For those of you not following on social media, here’s a sneak peek:

adorable engagement photos at a playground

Photo credit: Being Joy Photography

That guy right there? Is my favorite. And soon, he will upgrade from handsome boyfriend to handsome husband. Here’s why:

  • He makes me laugh. So much. If you can believe it, he’s actually way funnier than me. And he can keep me laughing all day long.
  • He keeps me grounded. I was out with some girlfriends last night and we were talking about how WHEEEEEE!!! Out of control we can sometimes be, and Brian can bring me right back down to earth when I need to be there. But he also holds on tight as I flutter free(ish) in the breeze. Never let go, Jack Brian. Never let go.
  • He’s so fucking smart. I learn something new every day. He also understands things about the world and can try to rationalize them for me when social injustices make me cry.
  • He’s so generous. He lets me warm my cold hands and feet with his human space heater body…at night. When he’s trying to go to sleep. And then he laughs with me (see the first bullet).
adorable engagement photos at a park with board games

Photo credit: Being Joy Photography

God, he’s the best.

 

via GIPHY

 

Are you married? Got any marriage advice? Why do you love your partner or best friend? Is your person as awesome as Brian?

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!

Rando Photo Ops

After last night’s engagement photo shoot, I realized to my great dismay that I am not a photographer. I know this may surprise you, what with my killer Snapchat history, but it’s true. Our photographer, Joy, was perfectly lovely, and spoke of cameras and lenses the way Brian speaks of computery programmery things…or the way I speak of cheese. Using a language specific to the passion.

Despite my lack of skills, I thought I’d share some of my finer moments of photography.

What’s on my phone?

We’ll start with my ability to capture moving subjects. Drunk girls can’t sit still, apparently.

Erma Bombeck and awesome writers including Gina Barecca

Sometimes, I take fuzzy selfies with my writer friends posing with Gina Barecca – who’s awesome.

I really enjoy capturing random subjects. Like dinosaur meeples from board games.

dinosaur meeple

Like when I take photos of dinosaurs to send my friend, Smash…and then I never send them.

Other times, I pretend I’m an archictural photographer and snap shots of buildings in the city.

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And then, when I’m in Florida, I think I’m a nature photographer. Look out, National Geographic.  I’m coming for you.

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But, when it comes to the things I love…I think I’ve got this photo thing down.

I’m a foodtographer.

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And a cheesetographer.

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And a Briantographer.

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And a yogatographer.

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And a selfietographer. Of course.

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I guess we’re all photographers in our own right…but I’ll leave the big stuff to the professionals.

What are some of your favorite photos in your phone?

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!

Planning a Wedding is Hard Work

It’s been a little over two months since Brian and I got engaged.  We (and by we, let’s be honest here, I mostly mean me) are deep in the throws of the planning.

Since Brian has been telling me we would get married this year since last January  (why yes, he did wait until December to pop the question), I knew we didn’t have a lot of time to waste. So we jumped right in.

It’s gone a little something like this:

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Read wedding planning book. I did this last summer, before Brian proposed, when my wedding guru friend Alessandra hooked me up with her amazingly helpful and real book.


Leave book on bedside table, let boyfriend wake up next to you reading book, and make notes in the margins when you know he’s looking.

*Results may vary, engagement not guaranteed by buying or reading this book.

Get engaged. Sometimes,  this will happen before the wedding book reading. You do you, Boo.

Drink champagne.

Ask mom to stop blabbing to the world before you get a chance to tell some of your besties before they hear about it on Facebook.

Tell the Internet.

Drink champagne.

Start receiving wedding advice from anyone and everyone. Choose wisely which advice you listen to and which advice goes in one ear and out the other. So far the best advice has come from my boss: “Don’t let the details stress you out. Don’t get caught up in Pinterest.”

The worst advice comes from everyone else (and let’s be honest here,  I’ve offered this up to a lot of people, myself, and even try to convince Brian it’s true, but it’s likely a do as I say, not as I do situation): “Don’t worry about what other people think. It’s your wedding. You’re paying for it. Do what you want.” Yeah. Right. You know how many people have already told me how irritating they find a wedding without cake? Fucking Pavlovian responses. Wedding bells = cake. Even when the bride and groom don’t particularly love cake.

Drink champagne.

Re-read wedding planning book. Alessandra encourages a do what you want mentality but she also understands that it’s not always possible and to focus more on the not stressing out part. She’s realistic about that shit.

Make future husband read the groom chapter of wedding book.

Binge watch Gilmore Girls.

Drink champagne.

Start making actual decisions.

Like the where: I started emailing venues for pricing, capacity, and other details. I plugged it all into a fancy spreadsheet I created and mathed the shit out of the prices. I narrowed it down to three places, found out availability for the general season we wanted, visited the venues and scoped out details, and ultimately made our decision.

And the photographer: This was a factor in our location as well. The photographer we (I) wanted was available on certain dates, which narrowed our venue options further.

And the DJ: We were so close to skipping this and just making a playlist, but decided the cost was worth it for someone who could actually read the crowd and manage the tunes to keep the kind of atmosphere we want.

Drink champagne.

And now here we are. Exactly 7 months from our wedding. We’re not completely on track with the timetable mapped out in the book, but it’s more of a guide than a rulebook, which is what we needed. With a lot more to do, I’m still not stressed. I’m excited. And in the grand scheme of all the things, the ONLY thing that matters at the end of the day? Is that Brian and I are pledging to spend the rest of our lives together.

So, fine. Let them eat cake.

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What was it like when you planned your wedding? If you’re not married yet, what are you most excited/worried about? What was the best wedding you’ve been to like? The worst?

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 Didn’t Want Him to Buy an Engagement Ring

After a certain point in your relationship, people start asking questions. They ask if wedding bells will be ringing in the near future. They start grabbing your hand every time they see you, hunting for a giant, sparkly rock. They address invitations, thank-you cards, and holiday greetings to “Mr. and Mrs. _____” in an attempt to get a rise out of your male counterpart.

For me, this started about three years ago. His family. My family. Our friends. Everyone kept asking, “When is he going to buy you a ring?” For a long time, I laughed it off, showed them my empty ring finger and shrugged nonchalantly. A few months ago, I started answering with the truth.

I didn’t want a ring.

I didn't want an engagement ring

This is not to say that I didn’t want to get married. I just didn’t want an engagement ring. I love pretty jewelry, but I rarely wear it. In the first couple years of dating, Brian bought me necklaces and earrings that fit my personality perfectly. When I’m wearing these beautiful accessories, I think, oh, this is so nice. Maybe I’ll start wearing jewelry more often. Maybe I’ll be the girl who always wears fine jewelry.

Here’s my actual MO: I’ll wear the jewelry for a few weeks until I forget to put it on in the morning. I leave it sitting on the coffee table when I paint my nails. It gets left in the bathroom after I shower. Eventually, the necklaces, accent rings and earrings retire to my jewelry box, where they sit, collecting dust and waiting for some TLC. When I remember them, I pull them out for special occasions – weddings, special date nights and fancy parties, but then they go back to the jewelry box for another couple of months.

After nearly five years in a relationship, Brian and I have built a life together. We purchased a house and established our own little family of two. We talk about the future, marriage and babies. As a proposal drew closer, I’d begun hinting at not wanting a ring, but I wasn’t convinced he believed me.

We finally had a conversation about engagement rings, and I told him I’ve never had strong feelings about my dream engagement ring. I’ve fantasized about the ceremony, cocktail-hour cheese display, reception, honeymoon, and marriage, but never about the ring. It just wasn’t important to me.

I asked him if it was important to him that he buys me a ring. He wasn’t entirely sure. You know what worried him most? What other people thought. He didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I told him that we were probably going to disappoint a lot of people when we started heading down that path of wedding and marriage bliss. Not everyone will agree with our decisions for the wedding, how we choose to raise babies and God only knows what else.

I realized that his concern was mostly with social conventions, and I started thinking about my heirloom jewelry collection of rings passed down from my parents. I told him, “Just steal my great-grandma’s ring from my jewelry box, and we’ll be cool.”

He didn’t look swayed. We locked eyes and I explained I have a beautiful heirloom ring that belonged to my great-grandmother. I would be honored to wear it and have my family be a part of our wedding.

We considered the financial implications of buying a ring. To fit the industry standard, he was supposed to spend about $4,000, and so we talked about the things we could do with that money. From remodeling the bathroom to finishing the basement, planning a big wedding with our family and friends or paying for the honeymoon of our dreams, it seemed to me that stretching $4K further than a size 8 ring would be a wiser investment. And let’s be honest. A four thousand dollar piece of jewelry that I may wear for a year at most? My soul cries for the amount of cheese I could buy with that kind of money.

Sure, he could buy me an inexpensive ring, but I’m perfectly content with an heirloom piece that represents tradition and family. How cool is that? After I made my case, Brian finally understood and was on board with the plan to use my great-grandmother’s ring to signify our engagement. To hell with what everyone else thinks about buying a fancy new diamond. The ring I wear for however many months we’re engaged will be super pretty. And won’t have cost either of us a dime.

A week before we got engaged, he asked me one more time, “Are you sure you don’t want me to buy you a ring?”

I responded with a very confident “yes.”

I wanted to shift the focus from showing off the ring to sharing the excitement about committing ourselves to each other. And so, when my best friend silently pilfered a ring from my dusty, rarely opened jewelry box and asked me to be his wife, I promised to try and wear that ring every day. But for better or worse, when I forget to put the ring back on after washing the dishes or taking a shower, it can live safely in my jewelry box (I hope) while that four grand remains untouched in our savings account.

How do you feel about engagement rings? Do you have one/want one/not want one? Am I just a weirdo?

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!

You May Now Address Me as “Master”

Well, December has sure as fuck been one hell of a ride.

The first week of December saw me in a new role at a new company. I quit my old job before Thanksgiving, and started  at the new place a few weeks later.

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I took those two weeks between jobs to finish up my paper for the final class of my master’s degree. If I told you most of the paper was written in those two weeks (Sorry Dr. P!), would you believe me?

The second week of December, Brian FINALLY asked me to marry him, and much to his detriment, I said yes. And now he’s stuck with me forever. The proposal itself was magical and ridiculous and amazing, and I’m in the process of writing about it to give it justice. There’s also a video or two coming. You’re welcome in advance.

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The third week of December was the week I graduated from Benedictine University with a master of arts in education. I can’t say I’ll never use it, but  I don’t plan to be a teacher or anything…

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When your boyfriend tells you you're a tiger, you become a tiger.

I’ll tell you what, though. No one has as much fun in her cap and gown as me. As Brian would tell you, he felt tricked into attending mass, because my Catholic university invited a nun to speak as the keynote. Mom loved it. Well, what she could here from the back on the auditorium, anyways.

I was told I couldn’t write anything on my cap, which was unfortunate,  because when I graduated from undergrad, I had “need a job” taped to my cap for all to see. It was brilliant,  and it jinxed me for several months cough a year cough. Whatever. Back in 2005, I also had a twinkie and my cell phone tucked safely into my bra. This year, I thought ahead and wore a dress with pockets so I could fill them with entertainment.

I, of course, brought reinforcements. I had a bottle of Chila Orchata and a wheel of Mini Babybel to provide sustenance before I got day drunk with my family at the wine bar.

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I actually ended up hiding these refreshments in the goofy tubing attached to the sleeves of my gown because it was tricky to access pockets under the gown. These sleeve tubes also proved useful for keeping my hands warm while crossing campus in the bitter cold for free cookies and lemonade.

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I checked in with you guys on Facebook and kept myself amused until the one other MA.E. and I were guided to the stage. They never announced our degree, so as far as the audience was concerned, we were just two rando names in the long pause between the undergrads and MBA degree candidates. 

I neither tripped nor fell, but I did walk the wrong way, even when the guidey person was like, “that way…no, that way…no, THAT way.” Alas, I channeled my inner Fleetwood Mac and I went my own way. But I didn’t want to walk in front of the photographer who was already taking awful pictures of me. And so I shimmied around him awkwardly while one of the professors yelled at me.  No big deal.

But now, I am a Master of the Universe, and after getting champagne drunk for the 27th time this month, the celebration was over. Except that I wanted to tell you about my exciting month, even if my degree is only slightly wasted right now, you know…not being a teacher and all…

Let’s celebrate, my friends! What exciting things happened for you this month? What about this year? Did you get a new job or married or pregnant or write a book or just survive? What are you proud of or excited about?

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!

Worth the Wait: The End of an Era

It’s been five months since I last wrote about The Handsome Grown Up that you came to know and love this spring. If you don’t feel like reading through the whole story just yet (you will soon, if you haven’t already), we met on this very day many years ago. We flirted, we dated, I worked like hell to fuck it all up, and yet he still stuck around. When last I spoke of The Grown Up, he was driving away from my house as I drunk cried myself to sleep. Make no mistake – I was the one being an idiot. It was the drunkest I ever got in the presence of The Grown Up…and we dated for a long-ass time. He called the next night, after I panicked like a teenage girl for about 12 hours, and all was fine (except for the lost wallet from my fall at the bar).

I’m going to fast-forward a little bit though because dating life is pretty much, you know, normalcy, and I can’t imagine you wanting to sit through all the ins and outs of a relationship from yesteryear…and quite frankly, it’s time we brought this story to an end.

The Grown Up and I dated solidly for many years. We met each other’s families. We traveled a bit. We fell madly in love. He made me laugh more than anyone on the planet, and I was surprised how much time I could spend with him and not want to kill him. After that first date, I never went home, much to the chagrin of his incredibly understanding roommate. He always told me, “Home is where your cheese is” because after our first weekend together, he bought me a bag full of fancy cheese. But he was wrong. Home was where he was. He was everything.

I waited a long time for this. And now it's the End of an era

He is everything.

He is the first page of my book and the last. He captured my heart and never once dropped it. He encourages me to follow every last one of my dreams, no matter how ridiculous. He pushes me to be my better self. He IS my better half, and without him, I wouldn’t be where I am.

So when he asked me to be his bride, the only answer I had for him was, “Yes!”

When he asked me to be his bride...I said yes.

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!

Karma Chameleon

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of AmazingKarma.com. All opinions are 100% mine.

I believe in karma.

Growing up, my mom would always tell me, “What goes around, comes around.” I try incredibly hard to adhere to that standard and treat others as I wish to be treated. As a general rule, I want to be treated with respect, love and understanding…and I want to show people how to enjoy life the way I enjoy life.

7 Easy Ways to Boost Your Karma

7 Ways to Boost Your Karma – Quirky Chrissy Style

  • Feed people when they come to your home; it’s best to give them something with cheese in it.
  • Wear brightly colored pants to give passersby something to talk about.
  • Ask if someone is okay when they fall down before laughing.
  • Make your public conversations as interesting as possible for people listening to what you say.
  • Fall down to make others laugh, especially if they’ve recently fallen down.
  • Bring shareable snacks to work.
  • Send adorable pictures of animals, babies and memes to make someone smile.

So basically, feed people and make them laugh = karma win.

In all seriousness, guys, I do actually try to do my part in this world in real, tangible ways. BUT…when I do something others might consider charity, I’ve recently been trying to keep that to myself because I don’t want to brag about it. I know in my heart that I’ve done something nice for someone else, and that’s all I need.

Of course, you know how I love games…and when I discovered Amazing Karma had turned the idea of “What goes around, comes around” into a game, I was intrigued. I started looking into this idea and thought it was a fun way to acknowledge people who do amazing things for you with the green karma cards. (And when people aren’t super awesome, you can acknowledge their negative karma with the red karma cards). Obviously, I jumped on the bandwagon and ordered a set of these cards, and I’m looking forward to sharing them in November.

Right now, Amazing Karma Gives away 200K Free Karma Cards so you can play the game of karma and watch as your karma is passed around to others and registered on the site. As people register and pass karma around, you earn points to donate money to a charity of your choice.

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Do you believe in Karma? What are some things you do to boost your karma in the world?

Visit Sponsors Site

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!