Tag Archive | Chicago

The Swords Live Happily Ever After

It all started on the eve of Thanksgiving 2009.  I met a drunk Scottish guy and I gave him my phone number with the instructions, “I don’t call boys, boys call me.”  A phrase that haunts me still, but believe me, I didn’t mean it the way it sounds!  I was merely expressing my nervousness at my calling him.

He did call and our first date was lunch and window shopping down Michigan Ave in Chicago.  It was amazing.  By June of 2010 I was on a plane leaving the country for the very first time to visit his home in Scotland.   He proposed on February 19th, 2012 at the top of the John Hancock Building and we were wed on March 9th, 2013.  Now we live in the Kansas City area but our ultimate goal is to raise a family in Minnesota.  (Speaking of, go Minnesota for passing a same-sex marriage bill back in May; you make me proud!  Number 12 baby.)

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I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in a big wedding bubble when you’re deep in the middle of planning.  I know that some people in real life have lovingly and not-so-lovingly called me wedding-obsessed and/or crazy, but if I’m going to be crazy about one thing, it’s love. I will always cherish and enjoy weddings.  They represent beginnings, blending of families, and unfiltered bliss.

If I may indulge in one last piece of advice, here are my three best tips for a stunning and fabulous wedding:

1. Personalize, personalize, personalize.

2. Think like a guest.

3. Go for the deal!  (Life is short.  And if you can save ten bucks per head by having a March wedding in Minnesota then go for it, because April will not be any better weather-wise.)

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Blogging for this community has been such a rich blessing for me as a woman, a writer, and especially a bride.  To all of you who have followed my journey since the beginning, I commend you!  (I realize I can be a bit verbose at times.)  To the blogger friends I’ve made along the way, thank you for your amazing support.  To those of you who kept it real with me, your opinions were always appreciated as was the reminder that I can’t possibly please everyone.

From the moment I woke up after a vivid dream with the words “A Highland Fairy Tale” in my head, to the day it was all so beautifully executed, I’ve had a blast.  Mr. Sword, you are the most amazing man I know.  Our wedding was perfect because our relationship is solid and a happy, loving couple is all anyone should expect at a wedding.  I look forward to many more special moments with you as my husband.

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HOLD ON A SEC… who is that sneaking into our family photo???  Oh yes, that’s our new baby girl.  She’s a one year old hound mix with a brindle coat and she’s kind of amazing.  We got her from a shelter in mid-August and we LOVE being doggie parents.  Should we call her our dagger or just a small sword?

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Her name is McKenna.  Of course it’s a Scottish name because that’s exactly something I would do.  Isn’t she the cutest?

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I’m still planning on writing and well, being me, so if you’re so inclined, please feel free to check out my new relationship blog, Drama Happens.  I’d love to be able to share more of my life with you all!

With that, The Swords are leaving the building.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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(all photos personal)

One last thought!  The fact that I could never make a Sword in the Stone wedding reference in my year of blogging really upsets me.  Anyone got anything good?  🙂

Love,
Stephanie

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I Miss My Self-Esteem Most of All

We tend to lose a few things during the wedding planning process, but of all the things I’ve lost (free time, spending money, quality sleep, eating whatever I want), I think I miss my self-esteem the most of all.

I’m sorry, but I’m going to talk about body image.  I don’t want to, but I need to get this out somewhere and I figure this is the most ideal place.

Last week I picked up my dress for the rehearsal dinner and not only did it not fit, but the shotty zipper broke while they were trying to get me in and then out of it.  Talk about depressing.  I’ve now had TWO horrible first experiences with ordered dresses and I’m pretty frustrated/annoyed with my body.

This is a 200+ dollar bridesmaid dress from a shop* in downtown Chicago.  I wouldn’t normally spend so much on a rehearsal dinner dress but it was a gift from Boss Lady.  During the summer of 2012 Boss Lady bid on a gift card to this shop and won!  We didn’t have time to go shopping until this past January and we brought Littlest C with us to try on their flower girl dresses as well.  I had Littlest C take a few photos of some of the dresses we looked at that evening.

Wedding stuff and Museum Jan. 2013 007

Wedding stuff and Museum Jan. 2013 008

In the end we found this beautiful strapless color-blocked dress (ivory, silver, black) with a pencil skirt bottom, and we decided it would be perfect for not only the rehearsal dinner, but also to wear again to other semi-formal events!  The problem was I was in between sizes, which is the STORY OF MY LIFE.

This is my ever-constant first world problem, everything on me is two different sizes, my shoes, my bust, my body.  I always seem to need two different sizes which inevitably causes problems when it comes to purchasing clothing/shoes.  Well, I decided to go with the smaller size in the case of the rehearsal dinner dress when I probably should have gone with the bigger size.  Ugh.

In the end it was a crappy zipper that did me in.  Much like the bra fiasco from scenario one.  The ladies at the salon were very nice to me and offered a credit for the broken zipper.  But the irritating part was that they called the designer and she proceeded to blame me for the broken zipper based on the fact that I chose the smaller size, which could be partly true, but it could be partly true that her zipper was crap as well!  Also, the dress has shearing over the mid-section which makes it difficult for zippers to get past seams, AND I remembered the sample I tried on previously had a broken zipper as well.  And seriously, did she have to make me feel like a fat ass two weeks before my wedding?  I think not.

To be honest, I’ve always had pretty awesome self-esteem.  I was raised to feel confident about my self image regardless of “flaws,” and I like my body, if not love it most of the time.  So it sucks that I’ve been picking apart at myself these last few months.  My teeth aren’t white enough, my skin isn’t tan enough, my body isn’t thin enough.

The shocking part is that I’m the thinnest I’ve been in a while and I’m still feeling like crap.  It’s all in my head.  I get this.  I’m smart.  And the brain is a powerful thing.  I know I look damn good, and I know I will be a beautiful bride.  All that aside, can I please wear a paper sack for the next few weeks?

I can’t even blame the wedding industry or bridal magazines/blogs (well, I guess I could…)!  It’s my fault for imagining myself a certain way on my wedding day and it’s my fault for putting unnecessary pressure on myself to be perfect.  Don’t be like me.  Don’t put pressure on yourself.  It’s one day.  And you’ll look beautiful too.

NOTE: I’m not searching for compliments, just some commiseration!  And I literally CANNOT WAIT until after the wedding and I go back to being my normal, confidence exuding bad-ass sexy self (she says with a grin).

*I don’t want to make this a review of the shop but if you live in Chicago and want more information, just send me a private message.

(all photos personal)

Does anyone else feel like their self-esteem did a 180 during wedding planning?  Anyone else have frustrating experiences with ordering dresses and them not fitting or zippers breaking?  Tell me I’m not alone!  🙂

Showered in Chicago

As you can probably guess from the title of my post, I had my Chicago shower this past weekend.  Although I mean it both figuratively and literally, because we had a whole day of rains showers to match my event!  It was a wonderful afternoon and I’m so grateful to all of the beautiful ladies who came to celebrate with me!

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When I first got engaged early last year Boss Lady told me she wanted to throw me a LLLL shower here in Chicago for all my Chicago peeps, and I was so touched!  I know bridal showers are a bonus as not everyone gets one, and I was thrilled when she made the generous offer.

Boss Lady is also Mom to my flower girl Littlest C.  Littlest C was so adorable at the shower, I heard she helped set up, I saw her greet and talk to guests, and when she wasn’t bonding with Sister/MOH Big Eyes she was being the cutest, most adorable and mature 6-year-old ever!

Miss Sword, Littlest C, and Boss Lady

Miss Sword, Littlest C, and Boss Lady

The LLLL stands for Ladies Linen and Lingerie Luncheon.  Like the name implies you aren’t limited to buying off registry because sexy late night outfits and panties are encouraged as well!  I received lots of beautiful and clever gifts, and some awesome pieces of lingerie.  I think the raciest one was given to me by my mother!  AWKWARD.

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Boss Lady had the luncheon catered and the food was amazing!

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Boss Lady decorated the space with gorgeous purple and white flowers, and made the sweetest treat bags for everyone.  They included a nail polish from Victoria’s Secret, scented drawer fresheners, and adorable hankies.  All in different colors.  So clever!

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She really put together a classy event and I’m so lucky so many of my friends could make it.  Mom Sword and Sister Big Eyes were also in attendance having flown in from MN for the weekend.

This was taken at my church the morning of the shower, apparently it's the only pic I have of the three of us!

This was taken at my church the morning of the shower, apparently it’s the only pic I have of the three of us!

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT CAKE.  I have to give a shout-out to my friends S and A for bringing the most amazing cake I’ve ever seen!!!

S and A are the sisters on the left.

S and A are the sisters on the left.  Can’t you tell?

Isn’t this thing adorable???  It’s got a tartan sash and a little sword.  I mean, COME ON.  I’m in love.

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The tartan sash definitely looked more purple in person than it showed in photos!

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Another shout-out goes to my girl M for coming up with the most unique shower game I’ve ever played!

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She actually printed out status’ from Facebook and had everyone guess if Mr. Sword or myself had written them.  Hilarious, smart, and perfect for our social media crazed era!  Of course most of the longer posts belonged to yours truly, but I think I was the only person who got 100%, go figure!  🙂

Mr. Sword showed up at the end of the shower so he could carry gifts to the car and help me thank everyone for coming.  I mean, most of the lingerie is a present for him anyway, right!?!

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Finally my favorite photos have to be from my sneaky Sister Big Eyes.  She was in charge of taking pictures during the shower and she decided to surprise me with an abundance of my famous “Miss Sword” poses using her own mug.  I definitely laughed out loud when I saw them on my camera later that night!   🙂

melissa collage

Did you just have a bridal shower?  Has anyone played the Facebook status game before?  Isn’t the cake just perfect??

Wedding Shoe Reveal!

My custom designed shoes arrived in Chicago early last week and frankly the welcome party is still raging on… I kid of course, but they are gorgeous.  They might not be the wedding shoe for everyone but to me they are beautiful and perfect for an adult princess or a Cinderella wannabe (as opposed to a small child).  And most importantly, they fit.  (phew.)

I used the Etsy shop Design Your Pedestal and I can’t speak more highly of its owner Kate.  Not only did she work with me to help create my dream shoes but she also extended her Black Friday discount so I didn’t have to rush any decisions.  And it was HER idea to incorporate our family tartan.  🙂

My initial thought was to have her make square brooches out of our family tartan to used as shoe clips, but she wasn’t happy with how they turned out so sent me another idea where the fabric was made into a ruffle and highlighted with a sparkly brooch.  Well, I loved it.

And with that I’ll leave you with some photos.  The pictures don’t do really do the shoes justice but I can’t bear to keep them a secret!  And it only makes sense to share them since you’ve all been on this shoe journey with me from the beginning!  Enjoy…

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Wedding stuff and Museum Jan. 2013 030 Wedding stuff and Museum Jan. 2013 035

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(all photos personal, my apologies for the dirty floor)

Would you ever consider getting custom-designed shoes?  My shoes were 200 dollars with the discount.  But there’s not another pair like them in the world!  🙂

Hen Do(s) and Don’ts

That’s right hive!  I had my very kick-ass day of fun bachelorette party this past weekend (and to be honest I’m still trying to recover)!

OH MY WORD MOH Big Eyes blew me away with an amazing day that was equal parts girly, sexy, naughty, and fun!  Not even lying, I’m pretty sure I heard the words, “this is the best bachelorette party ever and by the looks of it everyone had a total blast.

Sister Big Eyes is a teacher and came prepared with a lesson plan of sorts, and because of her easy to use Google RSVP document, everyone was able to respond “yes” or “no” to each event and stop in when they could throughout the day.  There were various activities to take part in around the city until the evening when we ended the day at my apartment with games, gifts, and treats before going out dancing.

Note her princess folder for this princess-inspired affair. So organized!

Instead of doing a lengthy recap of the day, I’m going to break it down by giving you some Hen DO’s and Hen Don’ts!! (Hen Do is the UK term for bachelorette party in case I haven’t made that clear yet.)

HEN DO

DO buy cute princess headbands from an Etsy shop to represent each lady of your amazing bridal party (which for me includes bridesmaids, honor attendants, a flower girl, girl cousin usher, and girl cousin who is carrying our remembrance flowers).  We forgot to get a photo of all 10 of them, but hopefully you can tell which princesses are represented in this picture below.  I was so impressed with MOH Big Eye’s creativity and I got even more excited when she said she plans for us to wear them again at the rehearsal dinner and other pre-wedding related activities.  I’m seriously in love with them and think they’re a subtle yet touching way to highlight the bridal party.

BM L Dawg (Snow White), Miss Sword (Cinderella), MOH Big Eyes (Belle)

HEN DON’T

DON’T start your day with anything but pampering!  I think I’ve mentioned before how I live for manicures and pedicures, but loathe getting my hair cut?  Well, MOH Big Eyes knows this and that’s why we started the day getting our nails done.  I have to give a shout out to Juko for living up to their awesome reviews and treating us all like rock stars.

Miss Sword’s mani

HEN DO

DO enjoy a lovely brunch and ignore rude waiters who fail to listen to you and provide less than adequate service even though it’s your party day.

HEN DON’T

DON’T forget to stop and take LOTS OF PICTURES!

HEN DO

DO pretend to like the makeup that the artist puts on you at Nordstrom because she really likes it, and she really wants you to like it too.  Also ask your friend to not be offended when she tells said friend that she needs to be the Kelly to your Beyoncé because it’s your bachelorette night.  Wow.

HEN DON’T

DON’T fight with your little sister, no matter how annoying she may be.

Look at those BIG EYES!

Just kidding!  We had a perfect day together.

I highly recommend doing a pre-planned day of events for your party if you A) have a lot of friends from different groups/cities/walks of life that you want to invite, and B) if you know you have a core group that will be able to be there for everything (which I did, thank you MN girls, H Bomb, and C Fri who was there in spirit due to flight complications!).

Next up, party games, penis paraphernalia, and dancing the night away!

Did you do a day-long bachelorette extravaganza?  Anyone else celebrate in Chi-town?  What do you think of the headbands?

The Sword in My Side

I’m struggling with how to write this post.  On, the one hand, it has little to do with wedding planning.  On the other hand, it has everything to do with my life over the next few months, which coincidentally is also when I’m doing a ton of wedding planning.

Hive, I’m feeling a bit down.  Mr. Sword has been switched to a new project that starts the week after Thanksgiving.  This new project is in Kansas City.  Phase One is scheduled  to go into the summer.  Who knows what will happen after that?

The current plan is that he’ll work Monday through Friday in Kansas City and fly home to Chicago on Friday evening.  We’ll have the weekends together.  And I suppose they’ll even fly me there to see him sometimes.  This would be a promotion of sorts, as Mr. Sword would take a position with more responsibility and this is a good career move for him because he has been sort of stagnant at his current project.  (Mr. Sword is a software engineer for those inquiring.)

So I’m being flexible.  I’m doing what’s best for our little family.  I’m going to attempt to get used to this not living with my partner full-time thing.  But I think it sucks.

4th of July 2010, visiting family in MN

He’ll be living out of a hotel most likely, working late all the time, and eating greasy, unhealthy foods.  I swear the only way Mr. Sword eats any whole grain, fruit, or veg, is because of me!  I’m concerned he’ll be exhausted from the constant traveling (wouldn’t you get sick of it?) and I’m certain he’ll get sick of living out of a suitcase.

But Mr. Sword is up for the challenge.  And I’m excited that he gets to explore another city in the US!  I mean, this is the same guy who moved here from Scotland after living in Melbourne for a year, clearly the man likes to travel!

Glasgow, Scotland 2011, the year my family went to the UK

If you’ll allow me to whine for a minute longer, I’m just really, really bummed that it’s happening right now!  We are about 4 months away from the Big Day and he’s my number one wedding planning helper.  I’m so blessed and grateful to have such an involved and supportive groom-to-be, he can’t be MIA for days at a time!  I usually ask for his help on every decision because 1) It’s both of our’s wedding, 2) he’s smart and practical, 3) he’s got a crazy amount of opinions (in a good way)!

I know it could always be worse.  What if they didn’t fly him home on weekends?  What he was in the military like my good friend Fatty’s husband who’s gone for six months at a time in a different country/time zone?

It’s just frustrating because we don’t have a lot of job freedom with him being here on a visa.  This Kansas City thing is firing me up to get all of our paperwork filled out ASAP so we can apply for his green card the day after the wedding!

Honestly, I think I’ll be fine once it starts.  I’ll be OK once we get into the swing of things.  I know we can talk over Skype, and text or email all day.  I know I’ll have lots of amazing girlfriends to hang out with on a regular basis and he’ll have buddies to have a beer with after work, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to start off my marriage seeing my husband two days a week.

And honestly the waiting is killing me.  Oh, did I forget to mention that I found out about his new job assignment a mere 3 hours after my dress debacle the night before my shower over Skype?  Yep, that was back in early October.  As the date looms closer I find myself picking fights with him for no reason other than I’m frustrated with the situation, and I’m just constantly thinking about how cold the bed will be when he’s not there.  I live in a garden apartment, those of you who live below ground level know what I’m talking about, it’s a serious concern!

My mind wanders and I can’t help but think who’s going to check to make sure both doors are locked before we go to bed?  Who’s going to go out late at night to fill the car with gas so I don’t have to leave the house when its super dark?  Who’s going to start dinner on the nights I work late, and who’s going to make me laugh when I come home in a bad mood because of something that happened on the bus?

Miss Sword’s famous photo pose and Mr. Sword judging 🙂

Yea, I know, I’m pretty to lucky to have him.  He’s the best.  That’s why I’m feeling down.

(all photos personal)

Thanks for listening.  I’ve heard Kansas City has great barbecue, and it’s only an hour flight away.  Any other words of wisdom?  I know I’m not only!

Secret Life of Bees: Sword Edition

I love this series!  It’s so fun to learn more about each Bee’s life outside of wedding planning.  🙂

As I started thinking about this series I began to curse myself for being such an open book.  Don’t I over-share already?  Won’t everyone know this or that by now?  Of course that’s a silly way to think, because there’s always more to share!

And then I stumbled on the real reason I don’t have many secrets: I’M LAME.  I don’t have a tattoo, a strange addiction, or a unique talent, or a weird family situation, but luckily I’m a trooper and I was able to scrounge up three embarrassing tidbits to share with the Hive.  You’re welcome.

1. I have “chronic bitch attitude” when I walk down the street alone.  It’s a bit like chronic bitch face, and please reference the ever-hilarious Mrs. Unicycle for her take on chronic bitch face.  Have I said chronic bitch enough times yet?  Geez.

The thing is when I’m walking with Mr. Sword, my nanny kiddos, or a couple of girlfriends, I’m one happy gal.  I’m friendly and I smile; life.is.good.  But for some reason when I walk alone I encompass this rude big city ‘tude and I’m kind of unpleasant.

To make matters worse, I walk around Chicago daily.  I mean, I do a lot of walking.  And because I walk by a ton of people, I end up getting hit on a decent amount.  It’s bizarre but true, I still get hollered at despite looking like I’m walking around with a stick up my ass.  Instead of feeling complimented (like I am when I’m not alone) I usually make the “Eww” face and continue on my way with a shudder.  HOW DARE THEY HIT ON ME!?!?!

If people try to ask me for directions (a bad idea in the first since I barely know where I’m going half the time) I am really hesitant and unsure.  Who are you?  Why are you talking to me?

I’m also really bad at making small talk in general but I’m especially bad at it on long elevator rides.  I would never intentionally talk about something as boring as the weather, so if I bring it up you know I’m desperate.

Social skills FAIL.

2. I have a small obsession with the Amish Culture.  When I say small, I really mean, huge.  First off, I’ve read about ten books by New York Times Bestseller, Beverly Lewis, author of Amish novels inspired by her experience growing up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Lewis writes these dramatic and spiritual books about her mother’s Plain heritage and I literally can’t put them down!  She writes about their struggles in such a personal way, and to be honest, I find a forbidden Amish love story to be way more intriguing than any vampire, zombie, or werewolf version of the same.

I haven’t read any of her books in a while (been planning a wedding yo), but recently my favorite TV channel, TLC, premiered a new show, Breaking Amish,  and it’s rocked my world every Sunday for the past few weeks.

image via TLC

Now I know there are some rumors floating around about the show, and I understand that reality TV is often times scripted, but watching their stories unfold and hearing about their life growing up in the Amish community is really interesting to me.

I’ve always been fascinated with history and learning about other cultures.  And for the record, just because I’m intrigued by different lifestyles doesn’t mean I’m agreeing with them.  I do think we can all be respectful of each other’s differences, and educate ourselves to be less ignorant.  When you know more about where someone comes from, it’s harder to judge them.

3. My friends and I always have the most INAPPROPRIATE nicknames for each other.  Like, it’s bad, super embarrassing, and I can’t believe I’m sharing this with the world.

High School: DGLB’s (Damn Good Looking Babes)  While DGLB didn’t stick around after leaving high school, a few of our individual nicknames DID stick.  See, we made these names for each other and it’s still fun to use them to this day.  In the picture below, the friend on the left is Crabby and the friend on the right is Fatty.  (My name is long forgotten although I’m pretty sure it was equally as disturbing.)  And yes, we know Fatty isn’t fat.  That’s why it’s funny.  (Please don’t send me hate mail.  We were all stupid when we were younger.)

These two girls were my best friends from middle school to high school and we’re still friends now.  We’ve been though so much together, and I love them to the death.  This is the three of us in LA and that’s me in the middle with a spray tan.

Crabby, Miss Sword, Fatty

College: STD’s

Clearly this name gets us a lot of attention and not the good kind.  But it doesn’t mean what you think it means.  It was actually a group of girlfriends that I met through my campus ministry.  See, Christians can have fun too!  STD is merely an acronym for “Stomach Touching Damsels,” because we all used to touch tummies like Karen and Jack on the hit show, Will and Grace.  Does anyone remember that episode??

While we never touch tummies anymore (thankfully), we still use the STD name quite often when referring to the group.  So much so that when I was emailing H Bomb about my Save the Dates for the wedding she thought I was referring to our group of friends.  Oops.

In a large group of girlfriends (I doubt men do this!), it’s always easier to have a group name instead of saying everyone’s individual name each time you are referring to the same group of people.

And it doesn’t seem weird to us anymore, I swear!  The STD’s were such an important part of my early 20’s (that sounds weird), and the friendships I made in college helped shape the woman I am today. AWW.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of STD’s and it’s proving too difficult to find a semi-recent, good quality (not embarrassing) photo.  So instead I leave with you with me and H Bomb.  She’s one of my besties and you’ll see her face around Weddingbee in the future as she’s also one of my honor attendants in the wedding!

Post-College: Sister Wives

I (we) named us after the TLC show Sister Wives because we used to get together to watch every episode as sort of a weekly Sunday night treat.  I know what you’re thinking, polygamy!?!  Again, I can explain!

The concept of women helping each other care for each other’s families and be supportive fans of each other’s lives is the concept that I enjoy from that show. Thus, Sister Wives is a pretty decent name for a group of friends that care about and support each other.  And NO, none of us share men.  That would be weird.  It’s just a funny name!  (Note: Please see my paragraph on respecting the Amish before saying anything bad about the Fundamentalist Mormons.)

It’s hard to get all of us in one photo, but here are most of S Wives in two photos!  These girls and I have navigated this city together for many holidays, birthdays, girls nights, engagements, and four weddings by the time March rolls around! It’s been a blast.

At church

Out in Chicago

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

So, there ya have it.  A  few of my secrets.  Does anyone else walk with an attitude, have a love of the Amish, or weird nicknames with their friends?  Do share!