Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What's up?

Little Bit of Class Little Bit of Sass
Hey gang!
Some quick updates:
  • I have some blog ideas brewing for content. I just haven't delivered yet. Whoops.
  • I haven't delivered because I've had a ton on my mind and am sick. Not much sleep, either.
  • I also haven't delivered on content because I feel like I need to catch up on reading other blogs first. I'm two weeks behind. Double Whoops.
Happy news!
  • My brother and sister-in-law are having a little kiddo!!!! Tim and Jackie are two of the most amazing people in the world, and really, there needs to be more of them around so it's pretty cool they're having a baby. And, selfishly, Andrew and I are PUMPED to have another little one to spoil!
  • Tim and Jackie had a gender reveal over the weekend! Every family member from both sides gathered either in person or via Face Time (yay technology!) to watch as they cut the cake and saw PINK frosting!!!! They're having a girl!!!!!!!! I already have a lot of ideas for gifts...mainly Steelers and Pirates and Penguins onesies and the like. Oh, we'll get her pink stuff, too, don't worry. Lots of sparkles as well. Being an aunt is seriously the best!
  • This weekend cannot come soon enough. We are so excited to hang out with BOTH sets of parents, aunt and uncle and cousins in Saugatuck! We haven't all been together since the wedding and I've been on major family withdrawal. One of the best parts of wedding planning is all of the family time. I really miss that!
OK I think that's all of the updates.
Hope you're all doing well!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Highlight Video and a Thank You

Wedding Wednesday

Happy Wedding Wednesday!

This is my last post in the link-up, so it's not entirely happy on my end. I am sad that I will no longer participate in this wonderful community. As a reminder, Kristyn will host the link-up moving forward, so please continue your posts with her starting next week. I will still read your posts, of course, because I sure do love your content, so you aren't getting rid of me that easily ;)

I have written this post in my head many times, but never put thoughts to paper.
To write it made it seem so...final.
Also, everything in my head sounds so...dramatic. ;)
I am torn about how I feel right now. I'm actually shaking my head and rolling my eyes as I type.
The drama is palpable. Goodness I'm silly. This is just a link-up, after all!

But to me, this weekly theme has been more than a simple collection of words once a week.

Please indulge me, dear readers and fellow bloggers, as I say thank you...

...for joining me week in and week out.

Thank you for sharing your story, your own dramatic experiences, your own funny anecdotes, your own struggles, your own joys.

Thank you, as well, for reading my stories, providing words of encouragement, and for doing what every bride wants: no matter what the post was about, you always told me I was right. Gosh that felt good. Your support confirmed any wavering thought and stifled any lingering concerns. Not that I had a ton of worries, but still. I felt the love.

Thank you for respecting my choices and opinions. One of my favorite things about this link-up is the variety! All of us had (or is about to have!) very different themes, colors, traditions, etc. and I love how accepting the community was, and continues, to be.

(Oh and a very obvious thank you to everyone who came to the wedding! I know you got a note in the mail, but goodness that's not enough! It never will be! I mean, really, how can I appropriately thank you for contributing to the most important and lovely day of our lives?!?!? Thank you!!!)

Also, thank you for the compliments. Before I continue, I must preface that I loved everything about our day. We were happy with every decision, every unique feature, every last detail. The day really was the BEST ever to us! The only thing that I, alone, regret (again I am shaking my head and don't want to admit it but I'm trying to be "real" and write the "hard stuff") is that I was so unhappy with how fat I looked. Ugh. There. I said it. Our photos are beautiful, my hair and make-up looked fantastic, Andrew thought I looked gorgeous, guests (and readers!) overwhelmed me with compliments...but I couldn't get past how I felt that I looked: fat. I tried so hard to look slim and fit but gosh darn it, I did not. And I hate myself for thinking that...and for still not being able to get over it. Please know that I appreciate the compliments. In fact, posting as often as I did and hearing the compliments helped me get closer to accepting how I looked. Each sweet word was a step, so thank you and I'm sorry. I'm sorry if it ever seemed that I was fishing for compliments.

Well there it is. It took me until my last post to write my honest opinion of myself. I couldn't get over myself amid the beauty of the sacrament we celebrated and the fun of the party that continues to bring a smile to my face with every memory (and there are so many memories!). Ugh!
God is good, family is fantastic, friends are fabulous and the wedding was friggin' wonderful!
Everything was awesome except for my own vanity!

Alright, back to the fun!!!

Finally, thank you from the bottom of my wedding-loving heart for taking this journey with me.
It's been real, it's been fun...and it HAS been real fun!!!!

Here is a quick glimpse of our day (except the flash mob isn't in it! Want to see that incredible video? Click here!)

Andrew and Mary April 26, 2014 from Eye on the World Productions on Vimeo.

Thanks again :)

Missed a Wedding Wednesday post? Here are the big ones:

Photo from Starling Studio: website | Facebook
Video by Curt Good/Eye on the World Productions: Facebook

 Have a wedding story that you want to share? Please join the linkup!
All I ask is that you grab the button, link back to me and visit the other blogs!

Please share the linkup on social, too, if you wish!
 @marysue20 is the name, #WeddingWednesday is the game.

I'm joining another linkup as well!
NC Belle In Boots

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Honeymoon!

Wedding Wednesday

Happy Wedding Wednesday!

How can I possibly recap our amazing honeymoon in one post?

With a lot of photo collages, that's how.
This is a long photo-heavy post, folks.
Bear with me. Next week is my last week so you won't have to deal with my long posts much longer :)

First of all, this honeymoon is unlike what you typically see when you scroll through blogs and Facebook. You won't see all-inclusive sandy white beaches or clear water, or even swimsuits (you're welcome!). We did an adventurous honeymoon in Costa Rica instead of a week at the beach. My skin thanked me :)

Andrew's Great Aunt lives in San Jose and completely hooked.us.UP.
Thanks to Tia Beba, we had the time of our lives.
Our Costa Rica honeymoon was actually the first plan we made in the wedding process, even before our wedding date!

So do you feel like taking a trip with me today?
C'mon, I'll even bring you along in First Class with us (our tickets were gifted to us by Andrew's Mom!!)

Oh and may I suggest some free mimosas for your trip?
Go on, have a couple. It's a long flight.

Unfortunately our luggage had a longer flight than ours. However, luckily Beba met us and arranged everything for retrieving our luggage. We picked up our luggage the next day on our way to the coffee tour, so it was cool. We packed essentials in our carry-ons (hint hint future travelers!! Pack smart just in case!)

Upon arrival I was so overstimulated I furiously scanned everything around me and snapped photos like a touristy idiot. This was the first time I traveled out of the country (except Canada, but that was so long ago that I didn't need a passport).

So let me start with the photo dump. I don't really know how to organize everything, so I guess that I will go day by day.

Day 1-2: San Jose, Doka Coffee Plantation and an awesome restaurant in the country that served fried happiness:

OK fine it was rainy, but we didn't care! We loved it! We left with a new appreciation for the long process to make quality coffee, giant hydrangeas, fried fun on plantain leaves (honestly I don't know the names of things we ate, but they were AWESOME) and my new comrade, Imperial Beer.

Soon after, Beba took us to the most beautiful and cozy lodge along the countryside, Poas Volcano Lodge. She designed and decorated it, so we got the best room and best service! She bid us adieu until our adventures led us back to San Jose.

Here is a collage of the lodge and the views from the lodge.
So stunningly beautiful.
So incredibly peaceful.
So so so so missed.

Day 3: La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The Waterfall Gardens had it all: waterfalls (obviously), wildlife, butterflies and TOUCANS!!!

Now for the pretty falls:

As if all of THAT wasn't enough for one day, I went zip lining after that!
Look in the distance in the photo below: that's the rainforest canopy, my friends. I zip lined that.
I zip lined that!

Then we went to the coolest souvenir shop ever!

Let me back up.
Beba's good friend was our driver for the week, taking us up in the mountains and all over the country.
By the way, I HIGHLY recommend hiring a driver in Costa Rica. Not only are the roads narrow and scary in the mountains, the roads are also not marked well. We were so thankful that we never had to worry!

OK now for the souvenir shop. Our driver, Will, knows everyone in the area and took us to his friend's shop for free coffee and fun conversation. We actually stayed here for a couple of hours chatting. It started to rain outside and we just sipped our coffee and chatted with our new friends.
Oh and I also compared the size of my head to the size of the ginormous hydrangeas because they are THAT big in Costa Rica!

The next day we were off to the coast!
We went to a very remote area and we arrived by boat!

Days 4-6: Mawamba Lodge, Tortuguero
Tortuguero has a very interesting history, and we soaked it all in, both literally and figuratively.
Yup, it rained a lot. No worries, though, I'll sit in a boat, cruise through the rainforest canals and spot wildlife any day. Rain or shine.

Our guides were incredible: they could spot lizards and monkeys and birds and sloth from hundreds of yards away. I could barely see the lizards when we were right next to them! (The top right photo in the collage above has a green lizard. Did you see it before I pointed it out?)

Before we knew it we were back in San Jose with Beba! We went to dinner and hung out in the city.
We had the best time, filled with adventure and relaxation, and visiting with Beba was honestly the cherry on top. Hanging out with her was our favorite part of the whole trip! She's such a cool lady.

Phew! That took me FOREVER to put together!
I hope you enjoyed it, but even if you scrolled right through it I'm happy I wrote this so I can look back years down the road and relive the memories. #bloggingbenefits

What's going on with you this week?

 Have a wedding story that you want to share? Please join the linkup!
All I ask is that you grab the button, link back to me and visit the other blogs!

Please share the linkup on social, too, if you wish!
 @marysue20 is the name, #WeddingWednesday is the game.

I'm joining another linkup as well!
NC Belle In Boots

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why I Blog

Well hello, everyone. I have seen this theme float around and thought that I would give it a go.

I wish I had a simple answer to this question, but for me it's a rather loaded one.

I started this blog back in 2009.
Yep, that long ago.
I maybe blogged about three times a year until I moved to Chicago in 2011 when I felt like blogging more often with more of a content schedule. Until then I would basically write short and funny stories  like this and this that I didn't want to forget.

In a way, the blog was like a public diary, meant for me to document stories and to keep in touch with friends from home in Ohio.

Once I moved to Chicago I started to blog about 4-5 times per week. I had a blog consultation with {av} from long distance loving, she created my new header and buttons, and I felt like a "blogger." I even posted a few vlogs. ha. vlogs.

Then a funny thing happened: I got engaged and got CONSUMED. I absolutely loved wedding planning, dreaming about our perfect wedding, reading about all different types of weddings, and really anything wedding-related. 

Then I got busy.

So basically for the past year I have blogged mainly on a weekly basis, with a few intermittent posts about random funny things, like what Teddy thinks.

I have two scheduled posts left in my weekly wedding series
For some loyal readers, I am sure they feel relief. For nearly two years I have written consistently about weddings and not much else. 
For others, they will have to take the linkup elsewhere. It will live on, I just won't be part of it.

So now what?

After all of the different phases of my blog, what's next?

Recently I have realized some things about me and my blog:
1) I love weddings. I loved our wedding. I love to talk about our wedding. I love to write it all down so that I can remember the feelings and fun and love and silliness later in life.
2) I don't think many people aside from myself actually enjoy this public diary of mine.
3) I don't have much to offer readers. 
4) When I read other blogs, all I want to do is shop, lose weight, travel, get my dream job, have a cute little baby with cute little clothes and cute little room decor, redecorate every room and write about it to make the rest of you jealous, get out of debt, and cook and bake while still being a size 4. (I'm not sure if I was EVER a size 4. Maybe pre-puberty? I can't remember.)

Keeping these factors in mind, I'm not sure what to do with this space.
Basically, I'm not that interesting. 

For example, I am not and cannot be a "cool" blogger for the following reasons:

I can't afford to offer giveaways or do DIY projects or host parties. We have a beautiful and fun marriage, but I don't want to only write about that. I rarely go out to new bars or restaurants so you won't read many, if any, reviews from me. I may do a ton of workouts and eat healthy, but I also tend to gain and lose weight often because I also enjoy drinking and eating unhealthy things. I am too plump for anyone to care what my OOTD is, and nothing I wear is in season. I don't do anything special with my hair or makeup and my skin is far from flawless to share any sort of routine that I have. We have an awesome cat, but no cute puppy or child to showcase. Thanks to Georgetown, expensive Chicago living and a lot of medical-related payments, I will honestly be in debt my entire life. Shopping for me is what's on sale at the grocery store, and deleting my online shopping carts because even a $10 shirt stresses me out.

So why blog? 
Why on earth would anyone care what's going on in my head and in my life?
Was the wedding the only thing that was "worth" the space in the blog world?

Maybe other people feel the same: some bloggers seem too unrealistic.
Maybe I'm not the only ordinary gal blogger out there.
Maybe someone else might think some ho-hum story of mine is relatable, give them a chuckle or maybe even some inspiration.  

I'm not sure why I blog and what I have to offer anyone but my own memory down the road.

But it doesn't mean that I'm going to stop.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to keep you at least a little entertained for a long time to come.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Wedding Music and Andrew Wrote It!

Wedding Wednesday

Happy Wedding Wednesday!

I have a treat for you today: Andrew wrote the post!
He wanted to share our story about the music for our day.

Alright, Andrew, take it away!
I’m sure Mary agrees with me when I say that one of the hardest things for me to do is give up control over music selection in any situation. For example, after numerous 12 hour (round trip) drives to Ohio from Chicago I think I’ve given up control once. Needless to say, handing over the music responsibilities to someone else for the wedding was a rough decision. My knee-jerk reaction was to fill out a list of all of the songs I wanted to play, yet when it came time for me to fill out the DJ list I only had two songs listed: The Michigan State University Fight Song and “Take Me Out To A Dancehall” by Pat Green. 

Luckily Mary and I had been collecting songs for a wedding "Do Not Play" list since we had gotten engaged. I’ve shown this list to a couple of friends, and to say it's controversial is putting it lightly. You’ll see some wedding staples on this list:

Andrew & Mary's "Do Not Play" List:

Any Bee Gees

Any Village People

Disco (In general)

“The Electric Slide”

“Friends in Low Places”

“Hang on Sloopy”

The Ohio State Fight Song

Michael Jackson

Whitney Houston

Celine Dion

Michael Bolton

Barbra Streisand

Tony Bennett 

Michael Buble

Any song with dance instructions in it (This covers a lot of songs)

The Backstreet Boys (if you recall, Mary pledges her allegiance to *NSYNC)

New Britney

“Suit and Tie”

“The Chicken Dance”

“Girls Just Want to Have Fun”

The B-52s

“Boot Scootin Boogie”

“Closing Time”

“Grease Medley”

“Blurred Lines”

“Baby Got Back”

“Bust A Move”

Toby Keith

“Gangnam Style”

“Harlem Shake”

“Neon Moon”

“I'll Make Love to You” (yep, we heard this at a wedding...awkward!)

Now, the point of publishing the list is not to say our musical tastes are better than anyone else. Our DJ told us that it was the most comprehensive "Do Not Play" list he had ever seen (he does 2-3 weddings a week from April to October every year so I’ll take his word for it). Hopefully this is a good starting point for some of you who are still planning your wedding and you can edit/add to it to make it your own. 

I’ve made a Spotify playlist of some of our wedding day songs (embedded below) for anyone looking for some extra inspiration. I wanted our song selection to be a unique blend of music that represented us well and that you don’t hear at every wedding. 

Grandparents & Parents Introduction: “There Will Never Be Another You” by Bud Powell. This tune is an upbeat number and I think everyone can picture his or her parents and grandparents walking in to it. Even better: there are no lyrics, so the DJ doesn’t have to compete with the lyrics of the song to make the introduction. 

{Photo by Starling Studio}

Bridal Party Introduction: “What’d I Say Parts I & II UK compilation Version 2” by Ray Charles. I went back and forth on this one for a while and decided to pull the trigger on it a few days before the wedding. I figured our bridal party would enjoy walking into it.  Even better, at over 6 minutes long, it gives everyone some time to enjoy their intros. 

{Photo by Starling Studio} 

Bride and Groom Introduction: “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne. OK fine, this one is a wedding standard. But the horns leading into the song are just too fitting. Plus, I knew we would be going into our first dance right away so admittedly I was fine that this song wasn’t as unique.

First Dance: “When I Grow too Old to Dream” by Nat King Cole. Not sure if Mary has told the story about how this became "our song" yet but one night in DC I came over to her house, made pasta and stuffed meatballs, and we slow danced in her kitchen as we waited for everything to cook. I’m honestly surprised this song isn’t used more at weddings or hasn’t really become more mainstream. The first time I heard it was on the Northern Exposure soundtrack my parents had growing up.

{Photo by Starling Studio}

Father Daughter Dance: “Child of Mine” by Carole King. Mary and her Dad love Classic Rock music and musicians, but finding an appropriate song was difficult. Luckily, Mary's Dad found this song and since Carole King is a legend, it was perfect for them. I'm actually playing this song as I write and Mary's tearing up thinking about the dance with her Dad. (Awww)

{Photo by Starling Studio}

Mother Son Dance: “Nothing Can Change This Love” by Sam Cooke. Mom and I debated a lot on this one and I found this one on a Spotify playlist. A lot of mother/son songs can be...uhh...a little weird...but this one fit the bill for us. 

 {Photo by Starling Studio}

Last Song of the Night: “When I Fall in Love” by Dianne Reeves off the Good Night, and Good Luck soundtrack. This is a jazzy version of the classic song. I thought it was a good note to go out on and would let Mary and I have one last slow dance before we head out. The vocals are played by a saxophone and that just gives the song a smoky feeling. 

One song that I would have worked into the wedding if I knew about it:  Love You Till I Die by Bennie Cole & His Soul Brothers. I heard this song on an amateur tourism video for Milwaukee recently. I did some digging and found the embedded digital copy and some description of his work but that’s it. This is just a classic tune that sounds like it would fit in a soundtrack for reminiscing.

I will leave you with two dance floor photos. We had a good time:

{Photo by Starling Studio}

Nice job, Andrew!
It was fun to give him the reins this week - but OK, fine, I added the pictures. Guilty!
I can't wait to read what all of you are up to this week!

Missed a Wedding Wednesday post? Here are the big ones:

 Have a wedding story that you want to share? Please join the linkup!
All I ask is that you grab the button, link back to me and visit the other blogs!

Please share the linkup on social, too, if you wish!
 @marysue20 is the name, #WeddingWednesday is the game.

I'm joining another linkup as well!
NC Belle In Boots

Friday, September 5, 2014

Happy Friday...but, uh, is it Sunday Yet?!?!

SO I'm really excited it's Friday for many reasons:
1) It's Friday. I mean, duh.
2) Andrew got a new job! We celebrated last night and plan to keep the party going all weekend!
3) Our friends are hosting a party for the MSU/Oregon game and we are stoked! I'm making Spartan helmet cookies! (Hey, I know I'm from Ohio but I married into a MSU family! I still like Ohio State, but since I didn't go there I never really followed the team until I left Columbus...and I followed them because I wanted something to talk about with my Columbus friends!)

So, college football is awesome. I truly do love waking up later on Saturdays, eating breakfast during College Game Day and watching football all day. It's awesome!

But Sundays? Oh boy.
Sundays to me are meant for three things: Mass, family and Steelers.
Go to Mass, hang out with the fam and watch the game/yell at the TV. Sundays are the best!
Seriously, I always WELCOME the end of summer because that means it's football season!!!

OK and here I go being even more obnoxious!
(all photos are sourced on my Pinterest board)

So, I ask again - is it Sunday yet?!?!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Our Send Off!

Wedding Wednesday

Happy Wedding Wednesday!

A quick housekeeping note: 
As my wedding posts wind down, Kristyn is stepping up!
Kristyn from Chits and Giggles is my old partner in co-hosting linkups crime and is back to co-host!
Kristyn will co-host with me through my last few posts and then take over once I am finished.
End housekeeping note. :)

I'm really excited to share our send off with you today. This is all thanks to my Mother-in-Law who planned it! I am so happy that she took charge because we had no idea what we wanted to do. We just knew that we did not want to deal with sparklers. Even though sparklers are pretty, I am clumsy and sparklers don't exactly pair well with clumsy.

Andrew's Mom was a genius and thought of glow sticks!
How unique!
I have never in all of my Pinterest research and wedding planning seen a send off including glow sticks! Yay!!
(Isn't it funny how excited I get when I know the things we did AREN'T on Pinterest and I know NO ONE else who has done the same thing?!? Am I alone in this excitement??)

Here are a couple of cute, albeit blurry, photos, but you get the idea:

It was such a thrill to go through the glow-filled tunnel amid cheers and high fives!

Not only did our send-off include a tunnel of guests waving glow sticks, it also included a ride around the city in a pedicab! Andrew's Mom contacted ECT Pedicab and arranged for our little jaunt around Columbus. The owner of the company drove us!

 I love this photo of us hugging our new moms before riding off!

Our videographer stayed for the whole event, so we have a clip of this in both of our highlight videos! I'm so happy he was still there for it and I'm very thankful guests took their own photos! The send off is a huge reason why I am happy that we had a wedding hashtag!

Our ride was awesome! Columbus added some cool features to downtown that I had not seen. It was also really fun to point out places to Andrew, like places my friends and I bar-hopped in college to theaters to the site where the best mall ever stood that is now a really cool concert and event venue. Oh, memories!

The best part of the ride, though, was the cheers from Columbus folks! Many people were out and about on the lovely April evening, so we definitely had audiences wherever he pedaled!
Everyone who saw us yelled and cheered and made us giggle. It was so fun! Of course our driver honked his horn around the crowds to draw attention. My mouth hurt from smiling so much! It felt like we were in our own private parade and everyone was so excited to cheer us on!
Well, some jerks said things like, "what were you thinking, buddy?" to Andrew and other such anti-marriage comments. But that silliness was few and far between. I was really impressed by the genuine encouragement from Columbus that night.

Our driver rode us around downtown for about 40 minutes and took us straight to our hotel.
Honestly it was pretty magical to have that alone time with Andrew immediately following all of the excitement from the day and events leading up to it. Riding around Columbus was the perfect way to relive the day, reflect on the sacrament we celebrated, thank the good Lord for all of the incredible generosity of our family and friends, and celebrate our new adventure as a married couple. I am beyond grateful that Andrew's Mom planned a send off for us. Otherwise we probably just would have left without fanfare, and what fun is that?!?!

Did you have a send off at your wedding or do you plan to have one in your upcoming wedding?
As a wedding guest do you like send-offs? I have always personally liked them. It's a fun last hoorah, if you will, to celebrate the couple...and is also the perfect signal to the fun groups of people still up for partying to organize an after-party if there wasn't one already planned!

And for Pinterest/Instagram:

Missed a Wedding Wednesday post? Here are the big ones:


 Have a wedding story that you want to share? Please join the linkup!
All I ask is that you grab the button, link back to me and visit the other blogs!

Please share the linkup on social, too, if you wish!
 @marysue20 is the name, #WeddingWednesday is the game.

I'm joining another linkup as well!
NC Belle In Boots