Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's okay to say no...

When I asked one of my friends to be a bridesmaid a few years ago, she respectfully declined. She just wasn't able to commit to the time and responsibility being that she was out of state and had two young children. I can't tell you how amazing it was of her to do that.

It's Okay to Say No
Being asked to be in a wedding party can be such an honor, but before  you say yes to being a bridesmaid, groomsmen, MoH, or Best Man, make sure that you are enthusiastic and fully committed to the job. Depending on the bride/groom, there may me a certain level of participation/time expected of you, and if that's not something you're willing to do, then it's better to say so up front than to back out halfway through. You will save the bride/groom a lot of grief and also better preserve your friendship with them.

Time Commitment
I have been a bridesmaid three times, and each bride has had different expectations of me. I was the MoH in one, but did not participate in any of the pre-wedding festivities because I was out of state. For another, I did not do much except the day before and the day of, helping with making bouquets and tending to last minute details. For another, I helped with arranging photography, making wedding favors, etc. Different brides/grooms will have different needs and expectations, as well as different ways of communicating (email, verbal, etc.) I've heard of some bridesmaids being asked to personally follow up on RSVPs or to address issues like notifying a guest that they cannot bring a date or child! Take all this into consideration, and find out what is expected of you before taking on the job.

Financial Commitment
There is also a financial commitment that comes with being in the bridal party. While some brides or grooms will offer to pay for your bridesmaid dress or tux rental, that may not always be the case. There are a lot of things to take into consideration including paying for your wedding attire/shoes/jewelry, hair/nails/makeup, lodging, travel and transportation, etc. You may also want to participate in (or chip in for) bachelor/bachelorette parties, showers, etc. Being a bridesmaid or groomsman can quickly become very if money is an issue, make sure to check with the bride/groom beforehand. If it's too costly for you, there's nothing wrong with saying no.

If You're the Bride or Groom
If you are the bride or groom, don't be offended if someone declines to be a part of your bridal party. That does not mean they don't like you; it likely just means they know that they realistically cannot commit to the job. Try to be up front with your bridal party about costs (wedding attire, if you expect them to have hair/makeup/nails done, shoes, jewelry, lodging/travel accommodations, showers, parties, etc..) If someone is hesitant about finances, take this into consideration and then see how you can help them. While you are most likely on a tight budget as well, there are many ways you can help lighten the load. My best friend bought me my shoes for her wedding as a Christmas gift. For my bridal party, I allowed them to choose their own dress within a color scheme. Two of the bridesmaids found adorable dresses for under $30 at Target! I also gifted them with their jewelry the night before the wedding at the rehearsal dinner. Consider paying for part of their hotel stay, or giving them gift certificates for hair/makeup, etc. My husband gifted his groomsmen with their ties and pocket squares, in addition to getting them whimsical personalized gifts at the rehearsal dinner.

I decided to write this post after talking to a good friend of mine whose MoH backed out less than 2 months before the big day. A similar thing happened to me, so I felt her pain! Whether you're the bride, groom, MoH, Best Man, or another bridal party member, try to preserve your friendships! Try to be up front, honest, and respectful. And remember, no matter what happens, the most important thing is celebrating the marriage of the couple. Everything will fall into place!

the Bride

Friday, May 1, 2015

Channeling our inner lumberjacks: 10 facts about Flagstaff

I am excited to announce that I've accepted a job in Flagstaff, AZ (home of the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks) and David and I will be moving there at the end of the summer! I have been sitting on this news for the past 3 weeks, but wanted to wait until everything was finalized before sharing with family and friends. I was torn between accepting this offer and waiting for one more job opportunity to pan out, but after a lot of discussion and prayer, we decided that this was the best option for us. In 3 months of traveling to different places across the country, Flagstaff was my absolute favorite. In honor of our upcoming move across the country, I thought I'd share some fun facts about Flagstaff:

  1. Not just the desert! When people think of AZ, they usually think of the desert, but Flagstaff is actually situated in the pines at an elevation of ~7,000 feet! 
  2. 4 seasons. Flagstaff enjoys a 4-season climate at a high altitude and low humidity. (What a change from NC!)
  3. Sun and snow. Flagstaff averages 288 days of sunshine and 108 inches of snowfall per year.
  4. What time is it? Most of AZ does not observe Daylight Savings Time. 
  5. Pluto was discovered at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
  6. Route 66 runs directly through the city.
  7. Flagstaff is 30 minutes from Sedona, 80 miles south of the Grand Canyon, 150 miles north of Phoenix, ~3.5 hours from the Four Corners, 4 hours from Las Vegas, ~5.5 hours to the Mexican border, and 7.5 hours from LA.
  8. The city is close to several Native American reservations, including the Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, and Yavapai.
  9. Increase VO2 max. Many athletes (including Olympic and professional) train in Flagstaff due to its climate, altitude and facilities.
  10. On New Year's Eve, a giant pinecone is dropped from the Weatherford Hotel at midnight. (In Raleigh, we drop a giant acorn!)

Hope you enjoyed learning about our new home! David and I are so excited about our new adventure.

the Bride

PS: Happy 5th Birthday to Emery, and Happy (early) 11th Birthday to Noah! :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Guest Post: 50 Amazing Celebrity Wedding Dresses

Today I bring you the 50 Amazing Celebrity Wedding Dresses! For some women, the dress can be the most important part of the wedding (poor fella). This usually means a lot of time and effort is put into what type of dress she'll wear. Some folks like celebrities have a wide selection available to them, and some are even lucky enough to have designers custom tailor one. Shari's Berries compiled 50 of the most iconic wedding gowns from the past 65 years. It's really interesting to see who has worn what, since it can be such a big reflection of the celebrity's personality and current fashion trends.

the Bride

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The road to Ph.D.

It has been an extremely busy season for me. This semester I spent all my time analyzing data, writing, attending meetings, and interviewing for jobs. The month of April was by far the busiest and most stressful, but thankfully, it's now coming to a close. That being said, I wanted to share a little about what I've been up to with my dissertation, and the job interviewing process.

First of all, I started applying for (university teaching) jobs in the fall as soon as I successfully proposed my prelim and was considered a doctoral candidate. Generally, departments will post job vacancies in the fall, and accept applications up through the beginning of the new year. To apply for a faculty job, you have to provide a curriculum vitae (CV) which is a lot lengthier than a resume. It's a written overview of a person's experience and qualifications. An academic CV generally includes your educational background, honors and awards, publications and presentations, research and teaching experience, industry experience, relevant coursework, and other skills or it can be several pages. In addition to the CV, applications generally include a letter of interest, 3-5 references, letters of recommendation, a teaching philosophy, a research statement, a teaching portfolio (syllabi, student reviews, sample papers/projects), and publication samples.

Interviews begin around February and typically start with a 30 minute phone or Skype interview with the search committee. (A search committee is made up of 3-5 professors in the department and led by a search chair.) During this interview, they ask you about your education, qualifications, background, courses you've taught, research interests, service work, etc. After a successful interview, they will ask you to fly in for a final campus interview. For a campus interview, you typically fly in and meet with the search committee (or other faculty) that evening for dinner. The next morning you wake up bright and early and meet more faculty for breakfast, and then have several appointments throughout the day (including meetings with the committee, department head, dean, graduate students, campus tour, city tour, etc.). You are also asked to give a research presentation and teaching presentation. The interview ends with another faculty dinner, and then you go back to your hotel room, and fly home the next day. It is exhausting.

Here is a typical campus interview schedule:
Typical campus interview schedule. (Names are completely fictional.)

Prior to your interview, you have a lot to do: prepare a teaching presentation, prepare a research presentation, research the department and program, figure out which classes you would be able to teach by looking over their course catalog, research all faculty members/staff you will meet (learn about their background, research, teaching, and industry experience), etc. You also may need to make your own travel arrangements (booking flights, renting a car, etc.), which will be reimbursed later.

I interviewed at 6 different I did the above 6 times in the course of 3 months...all while writing my dissertation. That's a whole other story.

I am thankful to say that my interviewing is now over. I will share more about that another time. Now I am focusing on my dissertation, which I finished writing this week. I spent months analyzing data, making tables and figures, re-analyzing data, and finally writing up my results and conclusions. I met with my advisor weekly, sometimes multiple times a week, attended weekly grant meetings, sent written chapters to peers and advisors for review, etc. I finally sent the paper to my committee (which contains the chair, three other professors, and external member from another school, and a graduate school representative). Typically, you turn in your paper 2 weeks before your defense date, but due to time, I got permission to turn it in 1 week in advance. I will be defending on this week I am preparing my presentation. After the defense, if I pass, I will make edits given to me by my committee, and then submit it to the Electronic Theses and Dissertations  (ETD) editor at the university. She will then give it back to me with changes/edits, which I will make, and then submit (the final) to her again. Then I will finally be finished!

A dissertation is no joke. My "paper" includes a full literature review (everything related to theory and past studies), a 2-phase research study that I came up with (using applied methodology and theoretical framework), data that I collected, results from hours of statistical analysis, and conclusions/discussions/implications/limitations and ideas for future research. The paper I submitted to my committee this week was 141 pages and 26,702 words. It included 34 tables, 8 figures, and 17 appendices.

Basically, it is a year's worth of work...and I have to successfully defend it to a group of experts in my field. That is next Monday, and I am hoping I am successful. Until then, I will be preparing my presentation and hopefully getting some sleep! I really need it.

the Bride

Monday, January 19, 2015

Free as my hair

"I always had long hair. When you lose it, you realize just how important it is to your identity." - Delta Goodrem

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Official Visitors Guide:

Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area

I almost forgot about this! Last summer, I was contacted to be quoted for the upcoming guide book for Southern Pines & Pinehurst (printed by the Convention & Visitors Bureau). The 2015 Official Visitors Guide was printed last week and is available for local pick up in Pinehurst, Southern Pines, or Aberdeen. There are three different covers, and the guide includes "a complete list of all the golf courses and accommodations in the area as well as information on local restaurants and things to do off the links." You can view the 2015 guide online, or request a free copy online or by calling the Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 346-5632. 

I highly recommend visiting if you're ever in the area. Pinehurst is a quaint little village, with the beautiful Village Arboretum (where we had our wedding ceremony), plenty of shopping, restaurants, lodging, and of course, golf! We've stayed at the Magnolia Inn in Pinehurst and The Old Buggy Inn in Carthage, both of which were wonderful. My family also had a great stay at the Pine Gables of Aberdeen. Don't forget to stop at The Bakehouse in Aberdeen for some delicious bakery treats, and check out the horses at the track outside The Fair Barn (where we had our reception). If you love flowers and nature, you'll enjoy the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens and lovely grounds of the Weymouth Center.

Please feel free to share your experiences in the area with me! I'd love to know where to visit next time we're there.

the Bride

Saturday, December 27, 2014

"God bless us, every one..."

I am sitting at my in-laws' kitchen table while (most of) the family is in the living room watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. We celebrated our Christmas today (a day late since my brother- and sister-in-law were out of town). I cannot help but think about all the amazing blessings God has given me throughout my lifetime. We had an amazing, generous Christmas, thanks mostly to my mother- and father-in-law, siblings, and of course, David...but beyond the gifts, traditions, and food, I am so thankful for a family that loves one another--on both sides, both David's family and mine.

I have wanted to write about the topic of forgiveness for some time now, but just haven't gotten around to it. One thing I am so thankful for is my husband's forgiving heart. This is something that was instilled in him by his parents. I love how David is so quick to forgive and forget. Forgiveness was a concept I knew about my whole life, but it was something that was so hard for me to practice. What is forgiveness? Merriam Webster states that forgiveness is "to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong)" or "to stop blaming (someone)." I used to always think I was forgiving someone, but inside, in my heart, I still harbored blame or resentment for a person and a particular wrong he or she committed. I "forgave" ... but not completely.

When I read Joshua Harris' Boy Meets Girl, I had an epiphany. The following passage from the book was so profound to me and completely changed how I looked at forgiveness: "Because of the Cross, you can forgive the past sin of another person...When you forgive other people, you're making a promise not to use their past sin against them."

You're making a promise not to hold someone's past sin against them. That means it's erased. Forgotten. Gone. The slate is wiped clean. What?! Suddenly, things became clearer. I wasn't truly forgiving. I was harboring a little bit of anger, hatred, and resentment within me. I wasn't letting the wrongs go. I was holding onto them. Isaiah 1:18: "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" When we repent, God forgives us as if it never happened. It's gone. We're clean as snow, white as wool. 

2 Corinthians 5:17: "The old has gone, the new has come!" Psalm 103:12: "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." These verses suddenly meant something new to me. I realized that forgiveness is a concept that we cannot fully achieve as human beings...but it is something that we can ultimately strive toward, to be forgiving like our God, and to try in our hearts to do so on a daily basis.

My husband has further taught me what it is to have a forgiving heart. Everyone fights and everyone argues. Sometimes I'm not feeling well, or I've had a bad day, and I'll snap at him, and we'll get into a small argument...but when I've calmed down and apologized to him, or vice versa, he is so quick to say "It's okay. I forgive you." and then actually get over it and not be mad. I realized the other day that he is like my dad. If my dad is upset with me, he doesn't hold a grudge. After we talk about it and the steam blows over, he is back to his happy self, and I love this about him.

I realize everyday how much I need to strive to forgive the way God forgives us. It's a hard thing to do...because we are humans, we have memories, and we can't mentally or physically just "erase" an event that has occurred, or words that have been said...but it's something we can try to do. It's something we should want to do. I find myself very easily not trusting someone or disliking someone after they have wronged me a few times. While it is perfectly normal to be weary of someone who has offended you before, and you don't have to bend over backward to be best friends with them, I think it's important to try to forgive them, and try to love them, despite your past grievances. This is something I'm still learning to do everyday.

I was thinking about how forgiving my husband is, and I realized where he gets it from--his parents. They are some of the most slow-to-anger, quick-to-forgive, loving people I know and I am so blessed to have them as my parents now too. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder once wrote that Christmas seems to get better year after year, and I have to agree. Although I have so many fond memories of Christmas, I've learned to appreciate and value different things as I've gotten older. I love this life, and I am determined to start the new year with an open, forgiving heart.

In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, every one!"

the Bride