javascript:void(0) busy that day...: 2012

it's not me, it's you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Well, world... we did it!  J and I tied the knot on November 17 on a perfect day, in our favorite city, surrounded by (most of) our closest family and friends.  It was, without a doubt, the best day of my life.  Everything was absolutely as I envisioned it, if not better.  I know that not everyone gets to say that about their wedding day, so I am truly grateful to everyone who helped us pull off our dream day on a budget!

We don't have our professional photos back yet (we expect them sometime after Christmas), but here is a sneak peek from my sister.  Our nephew/ringbearer was having a bit of a moment here, as you can tell.

More photos to come in January.  We have a busy few weeks ahead-- the end of the semester is upon me here at work.  We are heading to Virginia for the holidays, back in Chicago for one day and then flying to Ireland on December 29 for our honeymoon.  We'll be spending 10 days on the Emerald Isle, and we are so excited!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 days, 31 ways...

Holy cow.  Today is October 17.  Do you know what that means?  Do you?  DO YOU?

We are getting married in 31 days.  Exactly 4 weeks from this Saturday.  YES.  

That means I have 4 weekends left to prepare.  This is blowing my mind-- I put off wedding planning for so long, then went into overdrive this summer, and now I am kind of floating until November 17.

Don't get me wrong-- I have some things left to do like get my hair cut and colored, remind J to buy the groomsman gifts, get our marriage license, send programs to be printed... but mostly, I am DONE.  To be honest, this wedding planning has been a little stressful, but I think my "the end result is the same" attitude has been of monumental importance to my mental health.  I am so pleased that J and I have fought only once about wedding-related issues.  I take that as a good indicator that I haven't been a bridezilla!

Anyway, I'm so excited for the day to get here.  I'm thrilled to be able to share our wedding with our closest family and friends and really can't wait to get on with our marriage after the big party!  I've been feeling like such a lucky lady lately.  I like it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shameless self-promotion

Hello, readers!

Alright, it's  been a busy summer.  Planning a wedding in my downtime from work has kept me a busy bee!  I'm pleased to say that things have been fairly smooth, however.  We're just around 3 months out from the big day and I feel like 80% of the work is done.  From here to November 17, we have some little details (playlist, gifts, etc) to take care of, but everything else is in place!  Thanks to all our family and friends for their support and advice throughout our planning whirlwind.

There is one thing I could use your help with, blogosphere buddies.  We entered a contest through Angie's List at the end of July and are currently in the running to win $2,000 for our wedding.  Voting takes just two clicks, and you aren't asked to register or install anything.  All you have to do is click here and vote for us.  Your daily clicks will help us on the way to fluffing up our wedding a bit-- we've been terribly frugal thus far, and the extra money will really help!

Please feel free to share this on your blog, facebook, twitter, etc.  Voting is open daily through August 15, so there are six more days to get the word out!

Monday, April 16, 2012

we're famous!

I'm so excited to tell you all that our engagement session was featured on The Pretty Pear Bride blog today!  I submitted some photos back in March after receiving them from Rachel, our photographer.  I kind of forgot about it until I received an email this morning telling me to check out the site because our story would be featured today!

Check out the blog (great resources for my fellow plus-size brides out there) by clicking on the photo above, and let me know what you think.  How neat is that?!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

photographic memories.

Before you ask, no, we still have no wedding plans.  Things for us have been crazy lately.  We are waiting on word regarding J's financial aid for fall 2012 before making a decision on where and when to get married, at this point.  We had started to toss some ideas around but realized we might have to make some dramatic changes if J will be in college come fall-- we'd obviously have very few dates to choose from around the academic calendar, and we'd not have much money to contribute ourselves to the wedding if we had to continue on as a single-income family.  So, stay tuned.  Hopefully in the next 4-6 weeks, we'll know more!

One wedding-related task we DID manage to do was have our engagement photos taken.  We were excited to work with the very talented Rachel of Rachel G Photography for our shoot.  The weather was amazing, as it has been here in Chicago for most of the winter.  Though it was mid-February, the skies were sunny and the temperatures were in the 40s.  We managed to do most of our shoot outside, which allowed us to incorporate Chicago into the pictures-- exactly what we wanted!

Can I just say that I absolutely LOVE the way they turned out?  As a plus-size bride, I was intensely worried that I just wouldn't stack up to the gorgeousness of all of the other shoots I've seen.  I obsessed over my clothes and hair for weeks, trying to find the right look to showcase my best assets AND finding things that were in the same color palettes for both J and me.  In the end, I returned 90% of what I bought and ended up wearing things I've had for awhile.  Our pictures are perfectly us; laughing and in love.  We tried hard to be serious in some photos, but it's just not who we are, and that's ok!

We received over 350 pictures back from Rachel, far too many to post here.  Instead, I'll leave you with a few of my favorites from the session.  All photo credits to Rachel G Photography.  Please do not share without permission.

Set 1: Downtown Chicago-- Chicago River, Merchandise Mart, Kedzie Bridge.

Set 2: Wrigley Field

Set 3: Downtown Chicago-- Lightology

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

my valentine.

I know this is probably totally uncool on a potentially embarrassing level, but oh well.

Happy Valentine's Day, all.  I thought I'd share one of the things that makes my day on a consistent basis: waking up to this scene.

My Valentine, fast asleep, snuggled with my stuffed animal (and a few of his own).  

Thank you for being the love of my life, J.  You're the best thing that ever happened to me.  I can't wait to marry you!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I am fortunate to know many great folks, both online and offline.  Sometimes, I get to know them in both arenas!  Alex at Moving on in Chicago is part of almost all of my worlds-- I used to be her supervisor, now I'm a colleague, she's always been a friend, and she blogs.  Earlier, Alex tagged me in a little exercise to get my blogging juices flowing.  Here goes!


1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them that you've tagged them.

11 Random Things:

  1. I hate scary movies. I won't watch them and don't care how great they supposedly are.  My imagination often gets the best of me and I can't handle the nightmares and paranoia for days afterwards.
  2. I own more clothes than I could ever possibly wear.  This runs in my family-- overstuffed closets are a Gray family trait!
  3. My middle name is my maternal grandmother's middle name.  My sister's middle name is my paternal grandmother's middle name.  My nephew's middle name is my dad's middle name.  I love this tradition and plan to continue it when we have children.
  4. I've never been more overwhelmed with emotion than the first time I saw my nephew, rolling down the hallway in an incubator just minutes after he was born.
  5. I could watch reruns of Friends and Sex and the City on a loop forever.  I never get tired of either of those shows.
  6. I've been told for years that I am intimidating.  It's an odd statement to me, because while I may be good at faking confidence, I'd say that in actuality, I am fairly insecure.
  7. I am saddened by the fact that I have lived in Chicago for over 5 years and I've only been visited twice by my parents and once by my sister.  None of my best friends have ever visited me, either.  It frustrates me to be the one to always bear the financial burden of maintaining personal visits.
  8. My dream vacation would take me to Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Greece.  Ireland and Scotland to research my family heritage, Italy for the food, and Greece for the history and beaches.
  9. I hate being alone.  It's gotten worse since moving in with Jeremy.  I can't stand spending time in my house by myself.
  10. I am a perfectionist with very little patience.  This is why crafting and I don't get along.
  11. I'm totally a night person.  My ideal schedule would be sleeping 12am-9am and working 1030am-7pm.  I always feel tired when waking up early, no matter if I've gotten tons of sleep or not.

And now, 11 questions from Alex:

  1. What is your favorite dinner meal?  Ribeye steak (cooked medium), twice baked potato, roasted asparagus, chocolate lava cake.  Please note I have never made this at home, LOL.
  2. What is your favorite sports team and WHY?  The Chicago Cubs.  Though I've only lived here for 5 years, I am actually a lifelong fan!  My dad and I watched games together during the Mark Grace-Ryne Sandberg era since WGN is a nationwide channel.  The Cubs were a staple of my house growing up, so the Northsiders have always had a special place in my heart!
  3. What did you always want to be when you grew up (or when you grow up?)  From the age of 6, I knew I wanted to be a nurse.  I always loved helping out anyone in my family when they were sick or in need of help.  However, after 1.5 years in nursing school (when it came to cadaver dissection), I realized I was way too squeamish for the job.  Thankfully, I finally found a way to use my caring skills otherwise!
  4. If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?  My grandmother, Addie Gray.  Grandma Gray passed away when I was 12, and I feel like I didn't get to know her well at all.  I have so many questions about her life and our family.
  5. What is one question you wish you could ask our President?  I would ask President Obama what his true feelings on the place of higher education in our country are.  The topic is all encompassing-- it touches finance, employment, education and policy, all in one.
  6. Do you subscribe to any magazines? If so, what?  Yes.  Rachael Ray and Marie Claire.  Only because I got them for $5/each for the year.
  7. What is your favorite moment in the last year?  Getting engaged!
  8. What article of clothing could you not live without?  Good bras.  Being a well-endowed lady, having my boobs supported is non-negotiable.
  9. What is one thing you want to accomplish in the next year?  I'd love to get our wedding completely planned, if not over with!  Getting married is not at all about the party for me, so it's a hugely daunting idea to think about planning a wedding.
  10. What is the most daring thing you have ever done?  Moving 1000 miles away from my family and friends to Chicago in 2006.
  11. What is one thing you miss the most from your past?  I miss being a student.  I've always loved school and miss it dearly.

My 11 Questions:

  1. What is your favorite scent?
  2. If you could relive one day in your life (without making any changes to it), what day would you choose?
  3. Where would you like to retire?
  4. What is one TV show you cannot stand, and why?
  5. If you had to give up one sense (taste, smell, sight, hearing, touch), what would it be and why?
  6. What is one word that you use too much?
  7. Tell me one tradition your family participates in that you love.
  8. What is your favorite season, and why?
  9. Name something about your life that scares you, or makes you feel uncomfortable.
  10. What is your favorite sport, and why?
  11. Where would you travel on your ideal vacation?

Tag, you're it:

Anyone who has time!  Ellen and Amy are moms with new babies.  Stacy has a wildly successful food blog.  My sister, Pam, is uber busy with my cute nephew and work.  Sarah is juggling work, school and volunteerism.  So really, any of y'all who have a spare moment to humor me, go for it!

Monday, January 9, 2012

an offer i couldn't refuse.

For all those who've begged for the story via email, facebook and twitter, here you go.  I'm not big on sharing major personal details, but this seems to be one of those situations where NOT telling the story lends itself to more questions than just biting the bullet!

Quite honestly, we've been talking about getting married since a few weeks into our relationship.  However, we've been through a lot in the last few years that prohibited the timing or funding supporting the idea of getting engaged.  Admittedly, I had grown impatient with our situation; living together for 2.5 years and sharing so much, it felt weird to not be on the official path to marriage.  Turning 30 this year, I had a little bit of a heart palpitation thinking about not being married or a mother.  Old-fashioned and unhip, I know... but I waited 27 years to find this man and I've waited even longer to be a mom!

I had always told J I hated two types of proposals: ones that take place in public and ones that take place on holidays (apologies to those who like those situations).  Over Thanksgiving, J and I discussed getting engaged within the next few months.  As I looked at the calendar in December, I noticed that two of my most hated proposal possibilities were on the horizon; we were attending a Chicago Blackhawks game mid-month and would then be visiting my family in Virginia for Christmas.

The Blackhawks game came and went without a proposal.  We exchanged our personal gifts to each other on December 21, a little different than in years past, so that we didn't have to transport extra stuff with us on the drive.  As we left for Virginia on December 22, I joking asked J if he had a ring with him for Christmas.  His poker face didn't reveal much, and I thought we might make it past the holiday without being engaged.  It was a melancholy feeling.  

On Christmas morning, I woke up and began cooking for our family dinner.  In the early afternoon, I showered and got dressed as Jeremy made Christmas phone calls to his family and friends.  As I finished getting ready, Jeremy approached me and pulled out a shiny silver box.  He opened it to reveal a gorgeous ring, put an arm around my waist and popped the question!  At first I was shocked-- the first word out of my mouth was "REALLY?!"  However, I caught myself and realized what was happening.  Without hesitation, I said yes and he put the ring on my finger.  We spent the rest of the day telling family and friends our news (my mom's reaction was priceless) and enjoying Christmas with my family.

It's been a little over two weeks since he asked, and things are in a holding pattern.  I'm thrilled to be engaged but very impatient.  As a big planner, I am frustrated that we are waiting on other details to fall into place before exploring wedding ideas ourselves.  It's hard to not at least have a date or location tied down-- I think once we get into making some headway on those decisions, things will really feel real.  That, and when we have to start spending money, of course...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

oh me, oh my.

Remember what I last wrote about things slowing down soon?

Well, there ain't no rest for the wicked.  I should have known better than to show my cards like that!

The last six weeks have been... crazmazing?  I just made that word up, because I don't have one that accurately describes life at the moment.

J is still unemployed, but I am so incredibly proud to announce that he was accepted into Columbia College Chicago just before the holidays.  It has been a longtime dream of his to work in the radio communications field, and he intends to pursue a degree in both production and talent at Columbia.  Right now, we are anxiously awaiting a financial aid package that will either make or break this dream for the time being!

I was very lucrative in my job search at the end of November and had a few great phone interviews.  Thus far, one of them has resulted in an on-campus visit that I am very excited about.  Next week, I will be traveling to North Carolina for a two day interview for a position that really matches my next desired career step.  I have also recently moved into a new position on my current campus that I'm very excited about, and I do love Chicago... it will really come down to gut instinct, I guess!

Of course, if I am fortunate enough to be offered the position in North Carolina, we will have some hard decisions ahead.  I am extremely supportive and encouraging of J's desire to further his education.  However, I also feel that the opportunity to move on in my career is something that can't be tossed aside flippantly.  There are other things to consider in the equation as well, such as finances, location and whatnot that weigh heavily in the decision.  I have a great/awful feeling though, that we will both get what we want (J =  a full ride, E = job offer) and someone will end up feeling like they might have missed out.

Further complicating matters, yet extremely exciting, is the fact that we're engaged!  J popped the question on Christmas Day (much to my chagrin... the story will get its own entry soon) and I, of course, said yes.  The funny thing is, things don't feel terribly different.  I mean, I now have this amazing ring on my finger to gaze at all day, but everything else is as wonderful as always.

have you ever seen something so pretty?

Don't get me wrong-- we are excited.  But, not excited in a Monica-from-Friends-I-have-my-entire-wedding-already-planned way.  In actuality, I have found that I have very little desire to plan a wedding.  It seems like so much work and so much money for something to please other people.  What would please me most is being married, not having a party.  I've bought a little more time on the wedding planning at the moment, however, until we figure out where we'll be in the next few months.  It doesn't make much sense to start planning something that might have to change due to moving or a class schedule.  Hopefully in the next month or so, all that will settle out and we can start planning... but really, anyone who finds wedding planning fun or thrilling, hit me up.  Your energy is welcome and appreciated!

With that, 2011 has passed and 2012 is here.  2011 in its entirety was crazmazing, now that I think about it.  We traveled abroad, celebrated big birthdays and anniversaries, dealt with being a one-income family and got engaged!  There was a lot of stress, but a lot of good in there as well.  I hope 2012 brings more positives and I'm committed to doing my best wherever I land and being appreciative for what I have and those around me.

What are you committed to in 2012?