Wednesday, November 21, 2012


So many people have been posting what they're thankful for every day this month on Facebook. I missed the memo and never started so I'll put all my thankful thoughts here.

Always thankful for:

Privilege. I'm grateful that I am privileged enough to have a warm place to stay and food whenever I want it.

Family. I'm thankful for my loving family members and in-laws that are always supportive and generous.

Work. While so many people are unemployed, I am lucky to have a job that I enjoy and also allows me to live comfortably.

Health. I'm thankful for being generally healthy and able-bodied.

Chicago. I am always thankful that I live in such a great city that has so much to offer, great food, excellent sites and the feeling of home.

Independence. I am grateful and proud that I can live independently without the support of others.

Cheese. 'nough said.

Girl time. I am thankful for quality time spent with best friends. I spent this weekend laughing with different groups of gals and last night sharing crappy beers and girl talk. I'm the luckiest!

Senior Citizens. I love, love, love my senior citizens that I visit at bingo. Especially when they call me Jennifer instead of Jen and give me hard candy.

BFFs. I am blessed with about a dozen amazing bffs. I am so lucky to have met so many wonderful women over the years and to be able to call them close friends. They all contribute to my life in different ways whether it's listening to my daily complaints, dancing on the weekends, joining me for fitness classes, sharing meals, doing crafts, making me laugh - everything I could possibly need!

Husband. I'm always grateful for having such an amazing partner in life. Rob truly lets me be who I want to be and is the most supportive person in my life. We have so much fun together and I love the life we've created as a couple.

Thankful for right now:

Post-wedding fun. Even though the big day has come and gone, we are still getting to relish in the celebration. It's so nice to be done with the planning and just enjoy each other and remember the day. We received our wedding photos from Stoffer Photography and they turned out beautifully. We got asked to be featured on our florist's social media campaign and featured on a wedding blog. We're starting to print photos and make albums, put together out guest book notes, etc. - it's all fun and so special!

Memberships. I received 2 gift memberships last year - 1 to the Brookfield Zoo from my girlfriends and 1 to the Art Institute from Rob. I've been trying to take advantage of both more often before they expire and it's always a nice treat to visit the zoo or check out some Georgia O'Keefe's.

Powersculpt. I'm completely obsessed with Powersculpt Fitness. They helped me get in shape for the wedding and now I'm totally hooked. I can't get a workout like that anywhere else.

Free time. I am so grateful that my life now allows for free time and me time. It hasn't been like that in awhile, but last week I was able to kick back and watch tv on the couch with the foster cat for the entire night. It was amazing.

A clean home. We had a foster cat for 2 weeks that was quite the terror. Even though he had his moments of cuteness, overall - not a fan. Every time we get a cat, we cover all the furniture with sheets and put things they could damage away. After we got rid of this one, we did a serious deep clean and organization and I had forgotten how nice it is to have the house in order. It's such a satisfying, calming feeling and I'm very grateful for that right now!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wedding Day: Part 2

The ceremony was definitely our favorite part of our entire day. As soon as I started walking down the aisle, I could not stop smiling. I was SO excited and elated that I finally got to marry Rob and I was so happy to be surrounded by all of our loved ones while we made it official. I thought maybe I would cry, but I was so overcome with happiness, I just couldn't stop smiling! Our close family friend, Gloria, officiated the wedding. She did such a beautiful and amazing job and we are so lucky that she was willing to take this journey with us and lead us in our union. Even though she's never done this before, she wrote almost all of the ceremony herself - the only parts we added were our vows, reading and closing Irish blessing. She really blew us away with the beautiful words she wrote for our special day. Cody and Lynn played our ceremony music perfectly and it was great because all of the songs we chose were special to us and so are they! My brother John lit our memory candle in honor of those who could not be with us. Rob's sister, Amy did our reading - I carry your heart by E.E. Cummings. Our parents signed our version of a Jewish Ketubah. It was so special to have our families involved with our very special moment. The vows were the best part of the entire day. We decided to write our own vows and we kept them to ourselves until that moment. I had edited and re-edited my vows many times leading up to the day and felt very happy and content with the finished version. I had no idea what to expect to hear from Rob and I was truly blown away with his beautiful and absolutely perfect vows he wrote for me. I still can't believe how wonderful they were. He definitely made lots of people cry! After the ceremony we ran off for a moment to ourselves which was great. Then it was photo time! We took photos with our immediate families on the patio and then we got all of Rob's cousins and aunts and uncles on the catwalk. I really hope those turned out! There were a lot of us! We got my aunt, uncle, cousins and fam friends outside and then we did a lot of photos just us. Our photographers - Stoffer Photography -again - were awesome! Before we knew it, it was time for dinner! Tara, my bff announced us as husband and wife and we took our seat at our sweetheart table. My dad said a prayer and welcome and then Rob's Grandpa did two Hebrew prayers and ofcourse included some jokes. It was so nice to have them both included. We tried to eat and drink but we were just so excited we weren't even hungry or thirsty. We took the time to visit with family and friends throughout the room. It was so nice to have a few minutes with each table. So many people complimented our playlist which meant the world to us because we had spent HOURS upon HOURS making it perfect. That was my favorite thing to hear, that they loved the music - and the food :) Then it was time for our first dance. We were very nervous about our dance because we usually look very silly dancing together but I think we did great! We danced to This Will Be Our Year by The Zombies - one of our favorites and the lyrics were very fitting. Then I danced with my Dad and Rob with his Mom to God Only Knows by the Beach Boys. Then it was time to party! We started the oldies dance music and people could play ping pong and we were actually ahead of schedule (when does that happen!?) so there was a short wait for the photo booth to open. People were looking at the photo albums and BFF board we put together and typing their guest book notes and it was pretty awesome to step back and see everything come together into a really great celebration. All of our hard work had paid off. Later in the evening I finally got to give Rob his wedding gift! I surprised him with a Klezmar Band to come in and teach us all the Hora and other Jewish dances. My boss, Tracy really made this happen because there were a lot of challenges with execution. It ended up being so amazing and so fun and I am so glad it all worked out. Rob loved it and we had an enormous Hora going and we even went up in chairs (thanks to Shalva and Jamie my Jewish girlfriends!). It was such a great moment. After that we had some funkier fun music and people got really into the photobooth - we loved looking at the copies the next day. Everyone said the night would fly by, but I really felt like we got to soak in every moment together - dance a lot (even an awesome conga line for my 70s fave Love Train), chat with our loved ones, have some private moments, do the photo booth, play ping pong and really enjoy ourselves. We had been telling everyone that we'd only be playing oldies but for the last 30-45 min we added in some awesome 90s-early 2000s jams like MoTown Philly, Return of the Mack, Poison, Hypnotize and more. It was a huge hit and we ended with Fantasy by Mariah and it was great. We loved every minute of it! Then it was time for the after party!! Our friends and family helped us clean up and then Rob and I decided to walk the short distance to the bar just us. It was nice to have that moment just the two of us after our big celebration with everyone. When we arrived to the bar, Fountainhead, I walked in first and everyone clapped and cheered which was awesome but also funny because Rob was still outside. But I will never forget my wonderful greeting! We stayed there for a bit and had some more laughs with friends and family before taking off for our hotel via Uber towncar. Again, another private moment just us that was so nice. We got to Hotel Sax and checked into our awesome room that Ryann and Darcy had decorated beautifully. They're so sweet! I honestly can't begin to express our gratitude for everyone who helped us celebrate our special day. We couldn't have done it or had such a wonderful day without the support. To our friends and family that helped with all the preparations - Stef of Dolce Designs who designed our invites and programs and made us a gorgeous Ketubah, my friends who helped a lot with crafts and sharing ideas and my mom for always keeping an eye out for different things we'd need and to Vanessa who helped the week of by keeping me sane, happy and excited. Jamie and my boss Tracy who really made sure everything ran up to my standards and ran around the whole night making sure I didn't notice if anything was going wrong. To our friends that picked up our flowers, decorated our hotel, helped set everything up, run the show, run the music, held us up in chairs, helped make the surprise happen, chalked our welcome sign, loaned us your child to be our flower girl and ring bearer, helped with the guestbook/announcements/programs and everything else in between - we are beyond grateful and so glad you could be part of our day. To Gloria for doing the most important job of all and our family that was part of our ceremony and to everyone that attended and made it THE BEST DAY EVER! We are so happy :)