Monday, March 28, 2011

Time's a flyin'!

Did you know today is 2 months until we get married? That is not long. At all. I should really check on what else I have to do... hmmm...

In other news, the fact that it is almost April is scaring me. Why? Well, here is a rundown of my month:

Weekend 1 [AKA this weekend]: 
-Last premarital counseling session
-Bridal portraits (I'm so excited about, by the way)

Week 2:
-H-Week [I'm an officer in an organization and this is my big responsibility for the year.]
-MercyMe concert!!

Week[end 3]:
-This weekend Matt & I will be heading up to the DFW area to look at apartments!

Week 4:
-2 HUGE research papers due. One about 10 pages and another 15-20 pages.

Weekend 4:
-Bridal shower

Week 5
-another HUGE research paper due. This one is in my graduate class, so there is extra pressure. 20-25 pgs long. Oh, and I have to present it, too.
-Test in one of my classes.

And then coming into May, I have:
-Bachelorette party
-1 final (yay for it only being one!)
-Acquiring a marriage license
-Finishing last minute wedding details (programs, reception food, etc)
-Oh, I'm getting married. Didn't you know?
-Disney World!!!!!!

So yes, I will be busy. I will definitely try to post as much as I can, though. Thanks for reading along on my crazy adventures!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My love/hate relationship with Las Vegas, Days 3 & 4 + the love/hate list

Catch up on the past days here:

Friday was our last full day in Vegas. The morning was pretty uneventful-- woke up, breakfast, went to several sessions, lunch, then one more session. Then, my mom, aunt, and I headed down to New York, New York in order to ride the roller coaster. My aunt and I, especially my aunt, are big roller coaster fans. This was a must do for us.

The roller coaster was ok, not the best one ever. Do not ride in the back if you don't want it to hurt you. My shoulders are STILL sore from the battering I took on it. But, once I learned my lesson and sat in the front-middle of the car, it was a lot better and a lot more fun.

M&M World- it will be making an appearance later

Inside NYNY
 After the roller coaster expedition was completed, we went across the street to the 4-story M&M store. Yup. 4 stories of M&M products! I had come just to see the M&M wall really...
So many colors!
 We then meandered our way down to the Bellagio to watch the fountains. I'm sure they're better at night, but they were quite impressive regardless.
No fountains now, obviously

Aww, pretty!
We continued on our way, just exploring and possibly finding dinner soon, and we ran across these guys. Yes, that is supposed to be Darth Vader & Yoda. But um, they just don't look quite right...
 A little bit after this, we headed to dinner, and then my aunt told us bye as her flight left early the next morning. Then, my mom & I headed to Treasure Island to watch what used to be the pirates show. It has now turned into a PG-13 burlesque.
Pretty boat, at least
Saturday was our departure day. We did some more looking around and shopping in the morning, and then left. Nothing too exciting, though it is so good to be back in Texas. 

You may be wondering why I referred to this trip as a love/hate relationship. Here is what I liked about Las Vegas:
  • Pretty lights
  • Cool architecture on most of the buildings
  • Good food & beverages
  • Amazing shows
For the longer list, here is what I disliked:
  • Smoking everywhere
  • Seeing old people connected to their slot machines by what I referred to as their life support
  • The HUGE amount of hooker caller cards everywhere. No matter where you go, you have people trying to hand you those little cards with basically-naked women & their phone numbers. No thanks.
  • The hooker advertisements that follow you around. Seriously, they're everywhere.
  • The insane amount of public intoxication. I have been to New Orleans frequently, I have seen people drinking around in the streets. The amount I saw here, though, far outweighed that.
Personal Disclaimer: I knew I would see this in Vegas, I wasn't surprised. It just makes me so sad, to see those things in the world. I'm used to my Disney vacations, where I go in my happy place and assume the world is a good place. To go to Vegas as a Christian and see that, though, that was hard.

We'll see if I go back. I liked the shows and architecture, but I can get that elsewhere. Things that are uniquely Vegas, though, just don't appeal to me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My love/hate relationship with Las Vegas, Day 2

Read up on Day 1 here: click me!

With Texas being two hours different than Nevada time, if it was 8 AM in Texas, that meant it was 6 AM in Vegas. So, I basically woke up every single day we were in Vegas at 6-6:30 AM. With no alarm clock. Sad, yup, but it made getting back to Texas time that much easier!

Anyway, so my mom and I wake up early, get ready, and head down to breakfast. Today was the first day of the conference, but the first session I wanted to attend didn't start til 11 or so, so my mom and I decided to explore the strip some more. We headed down towards the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian Hotel. Yes, the one with the gondolas. 

Fashion Show Mall, on our way to the shops

A gondolier in action

So pretty!
 After walking around for a while, it was time to head back. I went to a session, and then had lunch with my aunt and mom. Then it was time to change because I was presenting! After a brief wardrobe freak out (the original blouse I had brought to wear with my suit was NOT working), my mom saved the day and here is the result:

I finally look older than an 18 year old

Because I know you haven't seen a conference room before
 My presentation went really well, despite how nervous I was. At the end, the discussant (who had read all of our papers ahead of time) told me my paper was of Master's Thesis level! Woohoo! That was exciting to hear, especially when he didn't say that for anyone else. It was good getting to hear that and other positive feedback, but I also enjoyed hearing others' presentations. Maybe I'm in the right field after all!

Following my presentation, I went upstairs and changed because tonight was Beatles LOVE! We headed to dinner at Mesa Grill, the restaurant owned by Bobby Flay. It was soooooo good... 

Tuna steak... om nom nom
 After dinner, it was time for the show! Since it was St Patrick's Day, one of the fountains outside Caesar's Palace was dyed for the occasion.

Heading to Beatles LOVE!

The show was absolutely amazing! If you've never seen a Cirque du Soleil show, you should go. It was my first one and I was blown away. I have seen a lot of good shows in my life, and it was definitely in the top few. Especially since I'm a Beatles fan! The dancing, acrobatics, gymnastics, etc etc--- just fantastic.

And now to leave you with one of my favorite Beatles' quotes:
And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My love/hate relationship with Las Vegas, Day 1

For those of you who don't know, over spring break I went to Las Vegas in order to present my thesis at an academic conference. Want to catch up? Read these:
-Being a nerd does pay off!
-A quick update
-Could it be?

And now for the first leg of my trip report!

On Wednesday, my mom and I flew out of Houston and landed safely in Vegas. Along the way, we saw some pretty sights:

White Sands National Monument over New Mexico

Grand Canyon

More Grand Canyon
  Once we landed, we stood in the long line to catch a taxi, and then arrived at the hotel the conference was at-- the Riviera. 

My brief review of the hotel: Don't stay there. Why?
-We waited in line to check in for an hour and a half. They had 12 separate kiosks, only 2 of which had employees. They knew a large conference was coming in. Stupid? Yes.
-It is located at the end of the Strip. If you have ever been to Sin City, you know how much walking it really is. The distances look deceptively short. So, staying at that particular end of the Strip that is older, etc, not so much fun.
-It is really smoky. To be fair, you can smoke in any casino, but this one had the worst ventilation of any place we walked through. 
-It was definitely on the older side, though the tower our room was in had just been renovated. To be fair, our room was quite nice and the beds were really comfortable.

If you go to Vegas, stay in the center part of the Strip, at the Venetian or Bellagio, etc. The prices aren't that much more expensive in turns out. 

Anyway, after waiting forever to check in, we get to our room with this amazing view:
Ha, not so much
Then my mom and I chilled around for a bit. My aunt (my mom's sister) was due to be in later that afternoon, so we just waited for her to get in. Once she arrived, waited in a long line, and got settled, we went to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Below are pictures from that journey:

Riviera on the right, looking down away from the strip

Across from the hotel; every frat boy's dream

Outside Hard Rock

Following a very tasty dinner, we wanted to go find where Beatles LOVE was as we were going the following night. As I walked down to the Mirage, I took some pictures of the Strip at night. One word- beautiful!

Once we found it, we headed back to the hotel. As it was about 11 PM body time, we went to bed. Yup. We're real party-ers!!

Preview for Thursday-- the conference starts & I make my presentation. Then amazing meal followed by Beatles LOVE!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Finalized Flowers!

If you've been following my wedding planning for a bit, you know that I have had a hard time selecting my flowers. Want a review? Here are the posts:

Post 1
Post 2
Post 3
Well, on Monday of spring break I got to meet with my florist. And within 5-10 minutes, it was DONE! Hooray! I had several inspiration pictures, but I knew which one was my favorite. She saw it and we discussed how to make it work for the bridesmaids bouquets, boutonnieres, etc. It's all done.

So now, without further ado, here are the beautiful flowers that will be in our wedding.

Inspiration picture for my bouquet:

So, minus the weird wooden things sticking out of it & the way it is wrapped, that will be my bouquet! It will be made up of lavender roses, deep purple dahlias, and staphanotis. I love the bright color of the dahlias and that they give off a fresh, spring look. It really fits the feel of our wedding!

For the bridesmaids bouquets, the florist suggested lavender roses, cool water roses, and deep purple dahlias. The cool water roses look like this: 
They're a bit pinker than the lavender roses, so it will bring more color to the flowers. I also think the bright colors of everything will go nicely with the bridesmaids' dresses (click here). 

So, those are the 'exciting' flowers, at least to me. Here are the selections for the rest of the wedding:

Groom's bout: 
White freesia; Source
Groomsmen bouts:
Purple freesia; Source
The purple freesia will also be used for the ushers', fathers', and grandfathers' bouts. The moms will have white roses and purple freesia. All the other floral will have a combination of these flowers as well. 

So, floral is done. I have learned my lesson: After picking something out, do NOT go back and look at more ideas. It will confuse you and lead to unnecessary time and sometimes money wasted. 

There's my lesson for the day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

She emerges out of hiding...

Hello again! Long time no see, right? Or maybe no writing. One of those. Anyway...

Now that spring break is officially over (insert crying here), I am slowly getting back to my normal schedule. Las Vegas was... interesting. As I will talk about in a later post, I have a love/hate relationship with that city. For instance, love the pretty lights, hate the abundance of prostitute cards everywhere. 

But, with Vegas being in a different time zone than Texas, the past two days have been rough. I have tons of school to catch up on, as the next several weeks are going to FLY by. 

Here are some upcoming posts for you to look forward to:

-Finalized florist picks
-Las Vegas review
-Ceremony music

I'm sure there are more than that, but my brain is not functioning today.

Thanks for stopping by for this somewhat lackluster post! Try to have a good Monday :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I promise I'm alive

Hey everyone!

Sorry, I know I've been missing for a while. I came home for spring break last Thursday and have been really busy since!

Here is a brief review, not necessarily in order:

-Met with my florist, again, and finalized the flowers, again. For good this time. I promise! A post will be coming on that shortly...

-Played with two adorable dogs, even when I have been wanting to be productive...
I have a constant entourage of a little puppy and a standard poodle. Life's been fun
-Getting ready to go to Las Vegas. I need to practice my presentation more, actually... But we leave bright and early tomorrow morning!! Besides presenting Thursday morning and going to see Beatles LOVE that night, not really sure what else is going to happen. But I'll definitely let you know!

-Went to see the Houston Ballet's production of Sleeping Beauty with my mother. It was absolutely beautiful and I really enjoyed it! The dancers were of course amazing, but the set and the costumes were also very well done.

-Ate an amazing meal at America's in celebration of my acceptance to grad school. Soooo good! It was great getting to spend that time with my parents, just wish my brother was there.

-Met with the organist/pianist for the ceremony/reception to discuss music, so that's done! I'll have a post on that at some point...

-Met with my amazing photographer, Kasey, and approved our photo guest book. Then we discussed the timeline for the wedding day as well as shoot lists. We're going to be doing my bridal portraits soon and I'm so excited about that!

-Shopping for miscellaneous wedding details, like the programs and my 'something blue.' 

So yeah, it's been busy. Unfortunately I don't know if it's going to slow down for a while, so let's hope once spring break finishes I can get in a better posting schedule!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One amazing update!

Well, since the last update about grad schools, which you can read here, I have heard back from all FOUR grad schools I applied to, Matt has a job, and we know where we're going to be living.

First, I want to say that God is so so so amazing. Yesterday I was having a really hard time because I had been either rejected or waitlisted from 3 graduate programs. I started catastrophizing and convincing myself that I wasn't going to get in to the program I needed to. I had no back-up plan whatsoever.

Then today, after lunch with my amazing maid of honor, Mary, I checked my status on the program's website. And what do you know, it went from "We are currently reviewing your application" to "We would like to offer you admission to the PhD program"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Was that enough exclamation points? I don't know if I could tell you how excited I was. My roommate wasn't home at the time, as I may have scared her with my sudden screaming and jumping around. But, after making many phone calls and sending many prayers of thanks, it finally began to sink in.

I got accepted to a PhD program in Criminology in the area where my future husband as a job. 

Oh. My. I am/We are so lucky for this to have worked out. I applied to 4 grad schools, one in Texas, one in Tennessee, one in Connecticut, and one in Washington state, with the hope that I would be accepted to as many as possible so Matt could have the greatest probability of getting a job, etc.

So, the past two weeks have been a roller coaster with all the no's/maybe's coming in and then Matt for sure getting the job. And then today was just perfect. I don't know about funding yet, so still praying that that comes through. But, what I do know is:
  • Matt & I know where we'll be living
  • I have heard back from every grad school and was accepted to the one that really matters
  • Matt has a job and it can support both of us
Yes, we are quite blessed. We are so thankful and now the epic apartment search begins! 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Yet another Disney kick

First, go watch this and make sure your sound is on:

 For those of you who have never been to any of the Disney parks, you probably won't get why I watched this with tears streaming down my face. 

This is one of the reasons why I LOVE all things Disney. The ability for these children to have these special one-on-one encounters with Mickey Mouse and the other characters is so unique. The cast members, characters, and Imagineers at the parks are literally making dreams come true. 

So, I just wanted to give your day something Disney-related and perhaps make it a little more cheery. Do you have any special Disney memory??

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The waiting game...

Here is a series of scary facts for you:
  • Matt & I do not know where we'll be living in 3 months
  • I do not know what I will be doing in 3 months
  • I have not heard back from ANY grad school
OK, those may be more scary to me than you, especially if you don't know me. But, it is putting the type-A, pre-planner extraordinaire that is me in a generally anxious mode. To be fair, Matt & I have a decent idea of the city/region where we'll be living, but we have no lease signed. 

Yesterday I heard back from my first grad school. Here is the summary of that email:
"Unfortunately, the committee has decided not to recommend your admission and I concur with this decision."
{Ouch!} Fortunately, I applied to 4 grad schools. This is one of the three that I do not care about. In the moment it was hard not to catastrophize and believe that because they rejected me so will every other school. But that's not true. Each program is different and they are looking for different things. 

As an aside, I wasn't sure I was going to post this for the world to see. I don't want pity or anything. I'm honestly at peace about the whole thing now. Why? Read on.

Matt & I were talking one morning and decided this whole experience (waiting on a job offer, grad school, etc) has been the greatest lesson of patience and trust. In my entire life, I have always known what I would be doing and where I would be living within the next 6 months. But, it really comes down to trusting God. He does have a plan and we're just not meant to know it yet. 

On that note, I'll leave you with some Bible passages that have been particularly comforting.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.
Philippians 4:4-8

Be joyful always; pray continuously; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus... May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; 23-24

Are we there yet??

With my thesis done and the future large school assignments yet to start up, I have had a lot of down time. What have I done? Looked at honeymoon stuff! [Catch up on all things honeymoon here.] Plus, it's been one of those days where I just want to get away.

Oh Disney World, I just want to go there right about now!

{Personal Photos}
Ah yes, to explore the parks, eat amazing food, stay here: 

OK, I'm ready. Is it time yet?