So the Powerball is happening tomorrow. A cool $500 million. Easily about $300 million or so after taxes, give or take. I know I'm buying tickets this evening and crossing my fingers.
Have you ever thought about what you would do if you won the lottery?
For me, I'd pay off student loans and credit cards and give my parents a giant chunk as a "Thanks" for dealing with me all of these 27 blissful years.
Buy mansions and cars and gorgeous clothing?
Invest to make even MORE?!?!?!
What about giving it away?
No, not all of it. I'm no saint. Mama could use a new pair of shoes.
I'm just sayin'...
Makes you think, doesn't it?
So many people truly need some of this money...$300 million doesn't seem like it could help everyone in the world, but it could sure make a world of difference for some.
Today I want to share a story I happened to see on 60 Minutes. I normally don't watch this news show, but was too lazy to immediately turn the channel post-football on Sunday. Plus, I think I was also making food, which obviously takes priority over television.
Anyway, I am so thankful I stayed tuned into the show. I watched a heartwarming segment about kids providing global charity.
A 12-year old kid named Craig started his own non-profit in his living room with 11 other kiddos. He was essentially inspired to start Free The Children when he heard a story about a kid his age named Iqbal in Pakistan. Iqbal was a slave in a carpet factory, escaped, and started to speak out. Iqbal was killed for his efforts.
When 60 Minutes interviewed Craig in the 90s about his mission to free children from slavery, this is what he had to say (remember, he was about 12 years old when he said this):
[Ed Bradley: Why you?
Craig Kielburger: Why not? If everyone in the world could say, "Why me?" -- then nothing ever would be accomplished. Why me? Because I've met those children. Because I've seen them. Because I read the story of Iqbal Masih. Why not me?]
If only there were more Craig Kielburgers in the world, amIright?
Well, there kind of are.
From the article:
"Today, Free The Children is in 45 countries. A $30 million a year charity building schools, providing clean water, and connecting local craftsmen to world markets where their traditions bring in good money. There are two million volunteers nearly all of them under the age of 18...So Free the Children today is the world's largest network of children helping children."
The article continues by sharing stories of kids helping on a global scale for Free the Children.
Think of what Craig could have done with the $300 Powerball dough?
$30 million a year is already doing so much!
What do you think? How would you spend your lottery money?
Travel costs were too high this holiday, so while me and Andrew were incredibly sad we missed out on quality family time, we definitely enjoyed our first holiday together!
We started the long staycation with a dinner at 90 Miles Cuban Cafe, a restaurant we've been eager to try. It certainly did not disappoint! The Ropa Vieja was deeeeeelicious. I highly recommend it! It's a BYO restaurant, too!
Thursday was the start of new traditions :)
First, we watched the WGN Chicago Parade. It.Was.Hilarious.
Sorry NYC, but WGN news anchors are the best, and their hosting was beyond entertaining.
The Turkey even did Gangham Style before the whole parade paid homage to Ferris Bueller with "Twist N Shout"
Then we yelled at the TV (at the Lions) and started our meal!
Our idea for Turkey Legs on the grill, while seemingly awesome, did not turn out as we hoped.
Great idea? Definitely. Result? Not the turkey we grew up enjoying with our families. We went to the store on Friday for some real turkey...from the deli...still not quite the same, but tasty nonetheless. Andrew made a family casserole and I instilled my family traditions of Green Bean Casserole (French cut out of the can!) and PJs all day! We missed our families but we'll always remember our first Thanksgiving together!
The rest of the day we relaxed and looked up venues for our wedding. We've narrowed it down to a few and are excited to check them out soon!
The highlights on Friday were working out and then eating more! We also checked out our new favorite neighborhood bar, Third Rail Tavern. We made new friends and got plenty of tasty drinks!
Saturday's big event was a drinking play. Yes, this is a show where the actors play drinking games with the audience and make fun of drunk people in their skits. If you are in Chicago, you MUST go see Bye Bye Liver!!
Sunday was a busy day of Mass, donating blood, yelling at the Steelers, having leftovers again (!!!!), and going to see Twilight. Aside from a slight dose of panic during the blood drive and the Steelers loss, it was a great day!
Oh! Finally, here's how we ended our lovely staycation:
If you've been reading a while then you know I have a big sister and a niece. I love them to pieces and miss them dearly - they live in California, so we rarely see each other in person. However, the Internet is awesome so we video chat once a week!
Lucky for me and Andrew, though, they came to town this past Friday for a quick visit!!!
They both knew their roles in our upcoming nuptials (because I told them, not asked, immediately after I told my sister how Andrew proposed!).
Even though it was no surprise, we still wanted to "formally" ask them to be the MOH and Flower Girl.
For Lizzie it was easy. The day after Andrew proposed in DC I hopped over to Eastern Market and bought her a handmade flower headband from one of the vendors.
When we asked after dinner on Friday she shyly and sweetly said "Yes!" and then wore the headband proudly on Saturday.
She will be 3 by the time we get married. I think she's ready now, though!
For Kate I got a little more creative, thanks to the inspiration from Callie and picture hunting from my parents.
That's Kate holding me as a newborn!
She can add a picture of us from the wedding in the bottom frame.
Obviously Kate said yes. I wouldn't let her say no anyway. I need her!! :)
Now I need to get creative about asking Bridesmaids!
To be honest, I am having a tough time choosing among my wonderful girlfriends. It's really tough!
Any advice is welcome!
First of all, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sweet comments yesterday (and always). I obviously had fun writing the long post. I wanted to remember everything so I knew I needed to document it immediately.
As if I could forget anything, but just in case ;)
I am still overwhelmed (in a good way!) from the outpouring of love we have received. I'm still swimming in what I can only describe as wonderment. I am shocked I was blessed to have met Andrew at the time in my life that I did. I am puzzled that such a wonderful man found me interesting enough to ask on a date. I am thrilled that we fell in love quickly and couldn't stop talking and getting to know each other. I am thankful that I love his family and friends and that, thankfully, they love me too. I am not surprised my family and friends adore Andrew. (He is the best, after all.) I am amazed that my single girl life was over the day I met Andrew, considering how before I met him I never quite thought that life would ever end. I am still coping with the fact that I am an adult with responsibilities. I am scared that all of this is still a dream.
Thankfully I have this gorgeous, sweet man and this dazzling bling on my finger to remind me that I'm actually awake, living in some alternate universe...or is it happiness?
As I remain on my cloud shaking my head that this is actually happening, I have to tell you something:
While I may blog about our wedding plans, I vow that this blog will not solely be about our wedding.
Also, I may not always be classy about the whole process.
I am already appalled by the cost of weddings. It's just not fair.
However, no matter what, these are the most important things for me to remember:
1. Andrew is my best friend. Spending my life with him will be the best adventure. I recently read on a friend's blog how marriage starts with friendship. You don't hear that too often, but it rings true for us. He is the best friend anyone could ask for.
2. To us, Marriage is a sacrament. I don't want to get too religious in this space, but I must write it. Sure I want pretty things and a freaking amazing party, but I have to remind myself of God's presence in our lives and thank Him endlessly that He meant for us to be together. Oh, and we're going to have a long Catholic wedding. Some guests may be bored, but we're going to savor it all. We're going to celebrate our months of planning during this time, pray for long and happy and healthy lives together, and thank the good Lord that it's happening.
3. There is no number 3. Everything else is just details.
I am so excited to marry my best friend. That is all there is to it.
Sooo if you read my post over the weekend (and the title of this post), you know what's coming for the weekend update!
I hope you don't mind, but it was the best day of my life so this is a long post. A shorter version of this (plus his version if he'll do it!!!) will go on our wedding website for sure!
Background story (or should I say "Zack Morris Time Out"??): when Andrew and I moved to Chicago in May 2011, we promised ourselves we would visit DC once a year no matter what. While we love Chicago, we both really miss the District and especially our close friends who live there. In the three years he lived there and the four years I lived there, we made some of the most amazing memories and dearest friends. This year we planned the trip to be this past weekend due to availability and cheap flights.
AKA I had NO idea this was coming...
...although, I will admit, I kind of hoped it would; I'm a girl about to go on a trip with her boyfriend of three years, you know?!?! Of course I wanted it to happen! Although we never spoke of it, I thought it would be fitting for him to propose in the city where we met and I kept talking myself out of it as we made our trip plans. In my mind a proposal was at least another year away. I would tell myself, "Stop it Mary. A proposal is far off. He's not even thinking about it." So I pushed all of my girly hopes out of my head and tried to focus on visiting with our friends.
We arrived Thursday night and stayed with our friend Justin. He greeted us warmly with treats, drinks, laughter, and music. It felt like a vacation!!
On Friday morning we slept in and took our time getting ready. I have a planner mindset so I wanted to go go go all day with a schedule, but he kept being chill and just told me to "go with the flow" and relax; we earned a vacation, so let's enjoy it! He wanted me to not make any plans and just tell our friends to contact us. He wanted to hit our favorite DC spots all day without much of an agenda. It made me anxious since I like to at least have a loose plan, but little did I know that he had plenty of plans in store!
We started off at one of our favorite brunch spots, Belga Cafe. Actually, the chef is now on Top Chef so that's pretty cool. We knew it when, though! haha
I challenge anyone to find a more delicious French Toast.
Side note: isn't it so amazing how calories don't count on vacation? Just me?
Following brunch we headed over to the zoo from the Cleveland Park Metro Stop. I used to live in Cleveland Park and LOVE that neighborhood. I was so excited to see it and walk around the beautiful area.
Zack Morris Time Out: after dating a few months I played hookie at my internship and met him at the zoo for a spontaneous date. He had the day off already. Anyway, we wanted to see the panda (Tai Shan) before he was shipped back to China. After that trip (and one of my favorite pictures together!) we fell in love with the cute bears. It was such a fun day, so the zoo holds a special place in our DC memories.
Time In: The zoo was awesome on Friday!
The weather was perfect, the pandas were cute, and the big cats were actually outside. Success!
I thought it was weird that Andrew kept on his winter coat the whole time since it was pretty hot and because we did a lot of walking. Also, his hands were in his pockets the whole time. Hmmm...shoulda known, right???
After the zoo we walked down through Woodley Park and hopped on the Metro to Dupont Circle. I was so excited since we didn't go there last year on our trip. We went to visit a couple co-workers from my first job in DC at the law firm. We grabbed some delicious Saxby's lattes and caught up with my two dear friends. I just love them and was so happy they could meet Andrew!
After that I kind of wanted to go back to the Hill and start to drink! It was happy hour, after all! Andrew, on the other hand, was insistent on going to Georgetown. Besides, we had to stop by GW for a quick errand, so we were practically in the area anyway. I wanted to go to Georgetown on Saturday with some of my classmates. I didn't get why he wanted to go to Georgetown, but figured he wanted to see it at night and also figured he didn't really want to go on Saturday so he could watch football.
On we trekked to campus! I was excited because the sun was about to set, so we decided to watch it on the Car Barn roof. I "studied" out there a lot as a grad student, so I was really happy to see it at sunset. Then we walked through campus.
I thought it was weird how Andrew was bummed that the tower on Healy wasn't lit, but I knew he really likes that building since it looks like Hogwarts. I also thought it was weird that he wanted to go to the Bookstore. I didn't need anything from the bookstore and didn't have the money to spend on a new shirt, but I wanted some new pens, so I figured why not.
After the bookstore and pens in hand, his boss called and he had to step away for a moment. I was hoping everything was OK, but since we took the day off I totally understood.
Zack Morris Time Out: one week after our first date I was "studying" on the roof of the Car Barn. Andrew sweetly asked me when he could see me again. Swooning, I offered to hang out in Georgetown after he got off work. He worked across the bridge from campus so he met me on the roof of the Car Barn and I gave him a tour of campus. We stopped at the chapel courtyard at the end of the tour because it's my favorite spot on campus. It's secluded, quiet, and so romantic.
Time In: once we left the bookstore and walked out to the chapel courtyard, it was secluded, quiet, and so romantic.
(OK I'm crying a little bit as I write this!)
Then he stopped me as we were walking and said the sweetest words anyone could ever hear.
Of course I said...ok I kind of screamed...YES!!!!
I was in such disbelief! I just couldn't believe it! It happened! We were engaged!
And then it really registered: I heard snapping throughout the proposal...
...he hired a photographer!
I CAN'T WAIT to see her pictures!!!!
Oh, his boss on the phone? Not his boss. It was the photographer. She was running late. Obviously I had no idea.
Once we both stopped shaking and snapping pictures around the chapel and Healy, we hopped in a cab! The plan was to meet Justin at Pour House for happy hour.
Zack Morris Time Out: Pour House is the Steelers bar where we met. Justin was there that day and was actually the reason we met (AKA he sassed me while I waited for my friends to arrive so I joined them in their booth!)
Time In: I was hoping friends would join us but didn't really think anyone would since it's a little out of the way. Since Pour House is where we met it was so fitting to celebrate there!
On the LONG cab ride through town during a Friday rush hour NO ONE answered their phones! Seriously! My parents, his parents, my sister, my brother and sister-in-law were all not answering!!! I immediately called Callie and thankfully she answered! She knew it was happening so was expecting a call, that sassy, sneaky best friend that she is!
(PS thanks for keeping the surpise, Cal. You KNEW I didn't want to know anything! Nice job!)
By the time we got to the Pour House I had yet to tell my parents. How frustrating, right?!?! UGH! I left funny messages on their home and cell phones: "Really?!?! Answer your phone!" Click. Redial.
We got out of the cab and Justin greeted us at the door. The photographer snapped a few pictures, I told the bouncer we just got engaged (of course I told everyone. The cab driver also said congrats.), and went to walk upstairs...which I also thought was weird since it was just the three of us and we met on the first floor.
Andrew stopped me on the way up for a quick smooch and I didn't think anything of it except that he was being cute as always.
When I turned to face upstairs I saw Megan and Andy, my best friends from grad school, holding a Steelers jersey saying "Mrs. Somyak" on the back with the number 9 for November 9, the day of our proposal. A split second later I turned and saw all of the friends I had emailed to say we were in town...and then...
...I saw my parents.
And his parents.
(OK I'm crying again!)
Andrew orchestrated a surprise engagement party!!!!
I was in SHOCK.
I still kind of am!
So many people came!
We even reenacted our meeting over three years ago in the same booth:
These are pictures of my parent's pictures they printed for us. I can't WAIT to see what the photographer captured.
So there you have it! We're engaged and thrilled!
I am still on cloud 9. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love.
I know that's cheesy, but did you see how many people were involved? All of their stories are hilarious. Andrew's version is AWESOME. He took me to my favorite places in DC and involved family and friends. My parents drove that morning from Ohio (they've known since September. He asked their permission when we went to visit for Homecoming). His parents flew in from Austin (they've known for over a year. The ring is an heirloom)!! My friends dropped any plans to be there for the surprise. Megan and Andy and Justin helped Andrew make it all happen.
Needless to say, I am so blessed. I could not have asked for a more perfect man for me and a more perfect proposal. I don't know how he knew that I dreamed family and friends would be involved, but he knew. He knows me so well. I love him so very very much. I thank the good Lord every day that we met and fell in love.
Nice work, Andrew.
I can't freaking wait to call you my husband! Fiance will do for now :)
Did you read all of it?!?
Sorry I'm not sorry this was my longest post. It's 1 a.m. and I need to get to work early tomorrow. Worth it!