Friday, March 30, 2012

The Best Thing

I seriously can not believe that we got married 3 weeks ago & this time last month I was just getting ready to go home for a 2 week vacation. But that two week vacation & the wedding that happened half way through was seriously the most genuinely "us" thing we've ever done together. I'm going to just share a couple of the highlights from our time back in the sunshine state, because the entirety of the experience was just too glorious to put in words.

First of all, in a comparatively less thrilling turn of events, Sadie Mae Morgan, our littlest puppy lady, successfully staged a jail break toward the end of our flight down to Florida. She was NOT pleased about being on an airplane & so she put the mesh of the dog carrier in her mouth, started tugging somethin' fierce & then just gave that thing a head but & out she popped! So I had to hold her...shaking & losing her entire mind...for the last 20-ish minutes of the flight. Of course Lilah was silently miserable in her carrier under the seat in front of Greg. And as soon as we got off the plane, the two of them were just as pleasant as puppies can be. Naturally. 

The next day we went to the dog park with Lauren & Paul who were, at the time, patiently & anxiously waiting for baby Ella to arrive...more on that later.  We got up early, got coffee & drove to downtown St. Pete with our puppies & our friends & just sat outside in the breeze feeling like life was a dream. And it kinda was. Later that day we headed off to Paisley, Fl to watch two dear friends get married in a completely authentic way at the most perfect location. Their wedding was so "them" & we had an incredible time. 

The following week was just a blur. My brother & his family arrived in the wee hours of Sunday morning. We moved into the raddest vacation home. EVER. on Monday. Once we moved in to that place my productivity declined severely.  The pool & the back yard & the room to run for the puppies, & the giant kitchen & dining room, & the fact that so many of the people that I love were almost always under the same was seriously like heaven on earth.  The pool was almost always full of a mixed bag of kids. They'd wander their way to our house as soon as they could wake up & put bathing suits on & usually stayed for the day. BLISS! 

That same week we went on an amazing sailing trip in Tampa Bay, my all time favorite body of water. We packed up sandwiches, fruit, wine & beer & headed for the "high" seas. There was swimming, libating, laughing & singing & again...I was in heaven. The weather was phenomenal. That Tampa Bay breeze is one of a kind & St. Pete just looks & feels like home. It felt good to be back where I come from. 

The-day-before-the-day was a mixed bag for me. #1: If I haven't seen you in person in a while you probably haven't been able to witness the anxiety that I have contracted sometime over the course of the last 3 years...but I had a ROCKIN' case of anxiety that kicked in sometime around Wednesday of the week before our wedding. By Friday it was in full effect & threatened to hijack my day with the girls. I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for 3 things I would have completely spun out & called the whole thing off....#1 I was riding with Lauren Frederick who is the most calm human on the planet. #2 Nobody judged me for having anxiety (read: they already know I'm high maintenance) & #3 Kristin Carey dropped off champagne at the salon. The manicures & pedicures went smoothly & looking back on that day is one of my very fondest memories of all. I wish I could do that with those 4 girls every weekend. They're the loves of my life. 

Brother showing off his leggo watch
The-night-before-the-day: Our rehearsal dinner was fantastic. My mother in law (I just love to write that) threw such a fun dinner! I had been looking SO forward to the rehearsal dinner because that's when we were planning on giving everyone their gifts. I had been shopping for personal gifts FOR A YEAR & the WORST part of giving the perfect gift is waiting to give it. I could hardly wait. I had such a great time at the rehearsal dinner. Everybody was so natural & it just felt like a big family dinner. We even had Syracuse hoops on for Ram. Everything was perfect & I'll always remember how special I felt when Mary Grace gave her toast.  

Mom getting made up

THE day:  I woke up feeling SUPER sick & trying real hard to maintain low tones & not move too fast. Sadie woke up SUPER early & I slinked out of bed so that Coop & Ash Mat wouldn't know that I was up.  Naturally the three of us slept in the same bed the night before. With Lilah & Sadie. Anyway, I felt sick & anxious the minute I woke up, so Sadie & I quietly went outside & then settled down on the couch hoping to go unnoticed for long enough that I could feel normal again.  Of course it didn't take long for my best girls to realize I had defected from our bedroom. They came down to sit with me, and while they weren't looking I slinked back upstairs to get cleaned up, after which I finally got real with my self for a second and decided that if I wanted to feel better I needed to put my wedding dress on. So while Coop was in the shower, I called Ash Mat up to my room, we put my wedding dress on & I instantly felt better.  I went dancing out into the hall way to show Coop, and then promptly took it off, put my pajamas back on, went down stairs and had some dry toast & a glass of water, followed by a glass of champagne, and I was back in the game. I will say I had this image of me sitting on the couch, lounging around while everybody was getting ready, drinking coffee, dancing in the kitchen & singing songs into wooden spoons...and while it wasn't quite as fun & fancy free as I had expected, it was a completely amazing morning.  It was so nice watching my best friends, my mom, my mother in law, and the rest of the women I love get all gussied up & fuss over each other. Gosh I just love those girls. All of them.

Some how the whole morning went by in like 15 minutes, and it was time for me to get into my dress for good.  The next thing I know, we were all dressed up & getting into the limo.  From then on I was on some kind of auto pilot, which worked for me until we got off at Davis Island...then I was on a crash course with some more rockin' nerves.  About 30 seconds after we showed up at the Garden Club , it was time to walk down the aisle, and I'm honestly surprised that I didn't break all of my father's fingers.  Poor thing. He was trying so hard to make me laugh, and lighten the mood, but I couldn't even look at him, because I knew if I did I would burst into tears, so I just faced forward, did my best to put one foot in front of the other, and before I knew it I was face to face with Greg, exactly where I belonged.

The ceremony was beautiful. The readings, by my brother & my sister in law and then by our friend, Megan, were just perfect.  Our officiate, Greg, is a dream come true. The things he said, and the things he helped us say were incredible. I'll always love him for that. I'm remembering now as I write this that I leaned in to kiss Greg WAYYYY before I was "supposed to" & the look in his eyes as I was getting close to him said "WAIT! NO!" & that's when I snapped back into the situation, re-directed & whispered in his ear...that was CLOSE! Before we knew it, Greg was inviting my husband to kiss me & we were ready to celebrate! 
The reception was a blast. For the sake of full disclosure (& because I am impossible & I know it) there are a few little baby things that I would go back & do different if I could...but all in all I had a great time, and I'm of the mind that those little baby things don't really matter anyway. Greg & I matter. Our family & friends matter. Our future matters. The rest is just icing & roses. I need to say that the things that were said by Rob, Meghan, My Dad & David Wilbanks will live in my memory as some of the most significant words that have ever been said about me, or to me in my lifetime. And I'm so grateful. 

Today & Forever
Once all of the formalities were done, we had the very. best. time. I barely saw Greg, because both of us were busy frolicking with our friends & family, but we managed to pass by each other a few times. The performance of the Sigma Chi Sweetheart Song was amazing. The Zetas did an incredible job serenading Greg & I. I got to dance with some people who helped make me who I am, see some of my friends that I haven't seen in years, & just celebrated the fact that this life & the people in it are seriously way too good for me. That was the best party ever. I can't wait to see the pictures. 

The next day we had....ANOTHER PARTY! Back at the "Big House", we had wedding cake, hot dogs & hamburgers, left overs from the week & lots of fun playing in the pool & telling stories. I wouldn't have had it any other way. 

Ella Mae
Monday we had to move out of the big house & pack up for the honeymoon. We were pretty sad to close chapter 1 of our vacation, especially since all of the family & friends were going their separate ways, but we were really happy on Monday. Ella Mae was born Monday, March 12th & she is the most amazing thing that happened that week. For sure. Also, we went on our honeymoon. The honeymoon was just perfect. We went to Little Harbor Resort in Ruskin, FL & I can not wait to go back there. In fact we're planning a trip for our 1st anniversary with the couple that got married the weekend before us. I can't wait! 

Little Harbor
Sadly, our time in Florida finally came to a close. We packed everything up, saw baby Ella one more time & headed back to the Windy City for 1 last weekend of freedom as newlyweds. We celebrated St. Patty's day with our neighbors, Coop & the rest of the city of Chicago & got settled back in for the last leg of the semester.

Since then it has been a WHIRLWIND. We've been in a steady state of unpacking, doing laundry, budgeting & planning. I've got 4 weeks left till GRADUATION & it's going to be a SPRINT to the finish. Greg's back on the road this weekend playing in the DC Burn Foundation's annual hockey tournament. I'm a little sad that I couldn't go to be with Jimmy & his parents. And I just LOVE to watch my husband play hockey (who wouldn't?). But I've got a date with my best girl tonight & a graduation portfolio to finish this weekend, so I've got my hands full anyway. 
The truth is, whether our wedding was the most magical day of our lifetime or not, what we know is that even though our life isn't a fairy tale, & conflict & challenge happen...we are seriously living the dream. On a more personal & totally gag-worthy note: my husband is a dream come true. 
Mrs. Morgan's what was trending: #baycation #Madon #wizzardstaffing #loveconnesh #codependent #AmyBeaverhausen #cray #Tyrone #pound <3

Friday, March 16, 2012


Phew! The last 2-ish weeks were a whirlwind!! We had the MOST amazing time in Florida, had a blast at our wedding, enjoyed the perfect honeymoon, and welcomed baby Ella to the world!

We're happy to be back in Chicago, but it's definitely bitter sweet...but the SWEET part is we are back JUST in time for our favorite Chicago holiday - St. Patty's!!

We're busy this weekend getting back to reality & prepping for the sprint to Graduation. Once we get all settled, I'll update on the wedding weeks & all of the fun we had.

Happy St. Patty's Lovers & Friends!


Friday, March 2, 2012

The Bride & Groom Are On The Move!

Today is the day! We're finally headed to Florida! It only took me 15 months, and countless hours of organizing, e-mailing, number crunching, packing, re-packing, shopping, returning, planning & calculating to get to this point, but we are FINALLY headed to Florida! I've got all of my nerd planning documents uploaded to google docs, all of our "necessities" shipped home in a series of about 15 boxes (yikes), our puppies harnessed, and our "you're getting married" courtesy cocktail tickets (Thank you Southwest!) in hand. I'm going to have to take notes over the course of the next two weeks to keep it all straight, but I'm looking forward to every minute of it all.

If you're in the mood, send out some positive energy for some calm, mellow energy for me & patience for everybody around me. Oh, & I'll take some calm energy for our puppy ladies too. That'd be a nice bonus. Please & thank you. Happy FRIDAY!

Bridally Yours (for one of the very last times),

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sunshine State

I'm going to Florida 2 Weeks from TOMORROW! I can hardly stand it! And while I'm there I get to visit with some of my very favorite people, have both "sides" of my family together at once, get a good strong over dose of girl time, go sailing, meet baby Ella & marry Greg Morgan. This blog is going to sport these palm trees until we leave...I have never been this excited in my LIFE!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Round Up

I literally had to get my calendar out to even remember what's happened since our wedding invitations  went out. First thing we did was go to Canada for the annual Sigma Chi hockey tournament just outside of Toronto. We flew in to Detroit late on Friday night & a friend of ours drove us straight through to our final destination, which was a beautiful Marriott hotel. THANK GOD! On our way of course we stopped by the Windsor Sigma Chi house, which looked something like the staff lounge at a highway gas station to me, but the residents seemed happy enough. The tournament started early the next morning so Greg & one of the Windsor guys headed out early & our friend Will & I came along later. Greg played 3 games, and scored 2 goals. He played center for quite a while which made for good photo opportunities. After Greg was finished playing he came up to sit with me & my new friend, a fellow Sigma Chi Sweetheart, Cathy who's engaged to be married to a Windsor Sigma Chi this summer. We had fun with our girl talk but we were excited for the boys to join. Her mister went on to win the MVP award for their team, and we were all very proud! The next day we took our 4 hour drive back to Windsor & then crossed back over to the state side. I just have one thing to say about the border agents: RUDE! Even though we had a super time in Canada we were ready to head back home, get the puppies & get ready for the week. Unfortunately our flight from Detroit to St. Louis had different long story short we ended up staying the night at the Detroit Metro Marriott. Maybe it wasn't the most luxurious detour, but I just love getting lost with Greg Morgan.

The following week I got to go visit my very own wedding dress for the very first time! My Mom & I picked it out online long before a sample even came in, and then Meghan & I "sampled the sample" in September & in late January the dress I'll wear the day I marry my Mister arrived in Chicagoland. I visited that sweet frock a couple weeks ago & I'm going back TONIGHT for my final fitting, & this time Coop's coming along. I can hardly wait.

We also celebrated the Superbowl two weeks ago with our favorite neighbors, Rich & Charlene...(I need to stop calling them Neighbors & come up with something more appropriate for how vital they are to us). Charlene graciously said we'd "co-host" but per usual she did all of the work & it was so fun! Rich & Greg organized some games & we had plenty of snacks & libations to go around. Many of our neighbors from the complex came & so did some of our other non-neighbor friends. We had a great time, per usual, & we were excited that the Giants won!

This week should be as low key as a week can be for two people who are 3 weeks away from their wedding, going to school & work full time. This weekend we'll be travelling to join one of our favorite mentors & friends at the Beta Theta Pi North Central Keystone Conference. It'll be my first time facilitating a track & both of our second time acting as chapter mentors. We just love Keystone! We're also bringing a "new" friend from school with us, who's going to be a great addition to the Friends of Beta family.

For now I'm off to get my wedding dress. No pics for this is as bridal as it gets for 26 more days. Weeee!!!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Invited to the Junket

Greg & I have had our invitations designed & ready to print for what seems like FOREVER. We got a great recommendation from a friend of ours to try a printer she'd used before here in Chicago so we set up an appointment & had it all figured out. Then my Mom had the idea of checking with a family printer in St. Pete. Of course I was originally peeved because this would "slow us down", but I have to give credit to Mom...she got a pretty brilliant deal back home & I was happy to shop "local".

When I was home for my bachelorette party & shower we picked up the invitations & they are exactly what I wanted. I flew them all the way back to Chicago so that Greg & I could address them & get them on their way. FIRST I had to figure out how to get them addressed without either hiring a full time calligrapher or paying a printer a big fee to print them for us. SO I decided to do it myself. Shocker right? Fellow savvy attention. Everybody else, stop reading.

It's a 2 parter: FIRST I found this tutorial on how to print on this little baby RSVP envelopes. That was a relief because I had already been having a hard time with the big envelopes so I was afraid of how difficult the little ones would be. They turned out to be easier than the big ones. SECOND I did myself a favor & created a spreadsheet of our guests & their addresses. I am already excited for how this is going to streamline the holiday card process. Once I made my "mail merge" (I know...nerd) I was home free. ALSO I happened across a beautiful script that I think is polished without being fussy & that's what I used for the whole project. I found it on one of my favorite blogs, How About Orange.

all of the necessary components
So, once all of the addressing was completed I started the hunt for postage. I might lean a little on the overly practical side of things, so I had an embarrassingly practical plan to begin with which I won't even share. THEN I started looking on Zazzle for postage because that's where we got our stamps for the Save the Dates & I loved them. Their products are super cute but a little pricey for me at this stage of the game. Enter the old trusty United States Postal Service...Making bridal postage dreams come true since 1775. There were 3 "wedding stamps" available but of course you know I can't let my creative side go down without a fight...and then I found THEEEESE. Garden of Love? We're getting married in a Garden. We're in love. PERFECT! So we order 1.5 MILLION sheets of these (ok not that much but close) & they finally arrived YESTERDAY!

If I haven't already said enough how much we love & adore our neighbors Rich & Charlene I need to say it again. They have changed our Chicago living lives since we met this Fall. They have been supportive, kind & helpful in every possible way & they're really more like family than neighbors. It's almost like my dream of all of my family & friends living on a compound somewhere in the south...except it's a condo building with our neighbors in Chicago. Gotta start small. Anyway, they had our pups for the day (per usual) so we went down to their place for dinner & invitation assembling. Charlene is a fellow crafter/do it yourselfer so she jumped right in & Rich played his valued role as puppy wrangler. All in all it didn't take long & we had a really good time.

So here we are. The stamped & addressed wedding invitations are on their way to their destinations & we are counting down the 6 short weeks to the wedding. Since I'm already on a bridal rant here I want to give credit to the people who made the invitations so amazing. #1 the designer, Ngaire Locking of Greetings Oscar in Melbourne Australia. Yes, Australia but we found Greetings Oscar via Etsy, my favorite wedding shopping site. She was & continues to be amazing as we finalize many other pieces of the suite for the big day. #2 the printer, Bates Printing. They were fast, affordable & amazing. They'll be doing the rest of our printing for the wedding for sure.

So that's the "exciting happenings" around here. We're off to Canada this afternoon for the annual Sigma Chi Hockey Tournament. This trip is a belated birthday trip for Greg & we're both excited. It's my first time to Canada so I'm sure there'll be lots of pictures. Stay tuuuuuuuuuned!

Happy Friday Friendlies,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Business

So I've been in my graduate program for 3 semesters now & I'm about to start my LAST. SEMESTER. Before I graduate though I have to complete a internship. Lucky for ME I'm doing my internship at the Northwestern Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life. Even LUCKIER is that my first project was 2012 Panhellenic Recruitment. Originally this opportunity had absolutely zero conflicts associated with it...until  a few weeks ago when I stepped into a role as chapter advisor for the Zeta chapter at Northwestern. Even with dual "responsibilities" I was still able to give my full attention to my internship as OFSL staff & made some time to check in with my chapter. But wait...there's more...our National President, Mrs. Riddle came for recruitment so I also got to spend a lot of quality time talking & laughing with her & hearing the big dreams that National Council has for Zeta Tau Alpha. I still can't believe this is my life.

Even with all of the happiness & excitement around this time of year, the process of formal recruitment for both the women going through the process & the chapters looking to add members can be very business like. We started with around 600 women who all visited each of our 12 chapters to see who they connected most with. On day 1 it all seems really easy & fun & everyone is having great success meeting people they have things in common with. Then everybody makes their choices of who they liked the best, we all go to sleep & start again the next day. On day 2 it gets a little complicated. Some of the women that loved particular chapters don't get to go back to that house, and vice versa. This turn of events can be at least a little emotional for some women, but we are usually able to turn each PNM's attention to the silver lining & move forward with the process. Then everybody makes their choices of who they liked the best, we all go to sleep & start again the next day. On day 3, things get more than a little complicated, & the process continues into day 5 when emotions are high, expectations are higher & everybody's hopes are up & hearts are set on ONE particular chapter or member. When it's time to come to a close, everybody meets together & the matches between unaffiliated women & the respective chapters are made & everybody runs off  (for the most part) to join their new sisters for a Bid Night celebration.

Even as I write this it can read a little corporate, a little processed & mechanic. Even though I know the purpose & benefits of all of the working parts, I can still see how this experience can be overwhelming to participants, & unnecessary to observers. This is the business side of sorority membership, and it does seem a little impersonal. But somebody who sees only this business side could never truly understand what sorority women are in the business of doing.

Sorority women are in the business of building a stronger womanhood. We are in the business of strengthening identities, challenging values, & encouraging excellence. We are in the business of forming supportive relationships, lifelong friendships & motivational mentorships. We are in the business of connecting women to professional opportunities. We are in the business of demanding equitable educational and professional opportunities for women. We are in the business of protecting & promoting each other. We are in the business of sisterhood.

My sisterhood has been about the business of making me better since I was a barely affiliated woman who couldn't be bothered to attend a chapter meeting or a social event. I was overly committed to the wrong things & barely committed to the right ones. I intentionally alienated myself & rejected sisterhood whenever possible. But they never gave up. They finally pulled me in, gave me the opportunity to do something that mattered, set goals that challenged me, pushed me to academic excellence, and reunited me with values I believe in.  Zeta Tau Alpha was about the business of developing me as a student leader, which in turn inspired me to help other women become leaders & Zeta Tau Alpha has been about the business of my education so that I can achieve that goal.  Zeta is about the business of patiently waiting for me, and letting me go from barely affiliated to strategizing with the National President about ways to empower other chapter members.  Zeta Tau Alpha has been about the business of making me a woman of character & values who believes that college women are valuable, brilliant, capable, talented & worthy members of their campus & the community.

I know that I'm not the only Panhellenic woman who credits her membership for lifelong leadership development & support. But I also know that sometimes observers who only see "the business" side of sorority membership undervalue it. And even though I can appreciate how things can seem that way, I know that the real business of sorority membership is, to inspire other women to be the very best they can be in everything that they do. The thing I do because of ZTA is the business of students, where I get to volunteer my time with some of the most amazing & talented PHA student leaders I've ever met, & watch them support each other, counsel each other, & administer one of the most technically difficult programs on a college campus. I have my sorority sisters & mentors to thank for introducing me to this business & helping me do the same for other women. Thank you ZTA.