Monday, November 14, 2011

Our Wedding Day

We were so lucky to have a wonderful day for our wedding. I woke up in the morning to a shining sun and not a cloud in the sky. The day was actually quite warm, and lovely, and I was so happy about that! I ate some breakfast with Randi and did some last minute things in my room, taking a shower and packing up. My Mom and I went to get our hair done by Marci at Purveyors of Beauty, which was so special. Marci and my Mom went to high school together, and Marci has been doing my Mom's hair as long as I can remember. Marci cut my hair when I was a kid, and did my hair for proms, and even for Randi's wedding. So, I knew my hair was in the right hands! In the meantime, I was trying to handle a few little things, like, you know, writing your vows? Haha! Yeah, I didn't do that! Whoops! I have to admit that when things got down to the wire, I handed off the ceremony responsibilities to Alex and Joe, and I thought that whatever they came up with would be great. Good delegation, right?
So, I got my hair and makeup done, and let me tell you, I felt like a Hollywood movie star. I had on fake eyelashes, and airbrushed makeup - what a hoot! Back at the Pierpont, I felt cool as a cucumber. We met up with our photographer, who captured some great shots, and I literally threw on my dress and I was ready to go! Alex and I had decided to see each other before the wedding. Although my Grandma Seaton would have frowned on that, we wanted the chance to spend as much time with our guests and at our reception as we could. Our photographer arranged for us to "meet" and see each other all decked out. I don't think I've ever seen Alex so handsome! We had so much fun taking pictures. I felt like such a movie star - I loved it! Pretty soon, it was time to walk down the aisle - whee! I disappeared into the cottage and we had a quick toast, and then it was time to get started. One thing I remember is Clare, my mother-in-law, telling me the time, it seemed like every minute or so. OK, it's 5:23, it's 5:24, it's 5:25! I didn't really feel nervous, and I though it was funny that she was counting down the minutes - like it was a space shuttle launch. You will be married in 5.....4.....3....2....Blastoff! When my cousin, Adrian, started singing "White Dress", I was dancing in my room, singing along! I was having so much fun, and I almost wanted her to keep singing. And then I thought, wait! I have to get married!
The walk down the aisle was a blur - I remember my Dad being a bit nervous that he would trip me, and I remember seeing so many faces, smiling at me, in the crowd. Then I saw Alex and I though, uh-oh, he has that weepy look on his face! Oh no! Don't cry! I must admit, I did get teary-eyed. The whole thing about a wedding is overwhelming, and to be standing there, surrounded by so many well-wishers, it was awesome. Our ceremony, thankfully, had a built in tension-breaker. The beer ceremony! Haha! That was so fun to do! The ceremony went by so fast (in fact, the whole day did). We had a great time! We took lots of pictures (which I cannot wait to see!) and I was so excited to have so many people there, our friends and families! There are a few things that stand out in my head, and one of them is when we walked into the reception hall. I think since I changed my dress to do our first dance, everyone was, like, who on earth are these people walking into the room? Haha! I thought it was so fun to see the confused looks on people's faces. We chose to do a swing dance as our first dance since we both love to swing and we thought it might set the mood for the reception to get out on the floor and dance! And it seems like it worked! The dance with my Dad was hysterical. He was so funny, laughing and asking me why the song was so long (you picked it, Dad!). Little did he know, he would be the talk of the dance floor later that evening! I don't remember what the food tasted like (haha, I hope it was good), but I do remember absolutely everyone dancing on the dance floor once the music started, so we hope everyone had a good time! I was so excited to have a band that played dance-able music (although I do recall them playing "How Much is that Doggie in the Window?" hmmm...). I had so much fun seeing our flower girl, Kaitlyn, dancing and spinning in her dress. I loved seeing my cousin Sayer run around the dance floor, having a blast. I loved to see everyone with a smile on their face, that was the best part. And when it was all over, and it was all said and done, I was a little bit bummed, I must admit.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Married Life!

*Note: One post cannot cover everything wedding and honeymoon-related, so I am going to try to post things in a chronological order, and hopefully catch up to present times soon!*

Well, we did it! We survived an awesome wedding, and we both had a blast (and I think most of our guests did, too!). The weeks leading up to the wedding were a little bit stressful. There were so many little things to do, and it felt like there was so little time to do it all in, but somehow everything got done. In the weeks after my last post, I ran a half marathon, interviewed for a job in Boston (at Harvard), and had a Philly bridal shower. Things got a little bit busy there for a while! Haha! Everything turned out great, though. The half marathon was great - great weather, flat course through downtown Philly with rock and roll bands every mile or two, and a fiance who biked all over the city to cheer for me all over the course. It was my first half marathon, so I had no idea what to expect. The first 10 miles were a piece of cake, but those last 3.1 were really hard. I finished in 2:22, which is not too bad for a first timer, and I blew away my 10 mile PR by 7 minutes, so I know I can improve my half marathon time, too.
My interview in Boston went really well (at least in my opinion). I took the train to Boston, which was beautiful, and I was able to wander around Harvard campus for a little while before the madness ensued. The interview was a lot of fun. Great meetings with the lab members and the PI, a really interesting seminar and two delicious dinners in the Boston area - can't really ask for more! I have a couple more interviews coming up in November, and then I am hoping to make a decision as to where to go next - really exciting stuff, right?
Then, all of a sudden, the wedding snuck up on me! We were packing our things, and making a getaway to CA so fast. It was amazing that we could pack all of our things and get them on the airplane. Even the taxi driver who took us to the airport commented on all our luggage (and we had even MORE coming back, haha!). The trip out was fantastic, as my lovely parents had donated some miles to us, so we travelled first class - can you believe it? I felt so far away from Alex in that big, old seat - we are so used to traveling coach. It was such a treat to be treated so nicely (and to have a bathroom mostly to ourselves!). I, of course, spent the time arranging tables and seating and watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", which is a WONDERFUL movie, I must say!
Once in CA, we hit the ground running. Alex and I worked on the last final details, like picking up tuxedos, grabbing a few last minute things for camping, and making place cards, table names, and programs. We were also writing our ceremony (literally up until the day of the wedding!), and running through checklists of things to be done. When family started to arrive, things started to slow down, which was great. Alex was able to spend some time with his family, and I was able to de-compress a bit with my parents and my Matron of Honor, Randi. Then, all of a sudden, it was the Rehearsal and the Rehearsal Dinner and we were on our way! The rehearsal was hysterical, because nobody knew what was going on, a wedding had just happened a couple hours before, and they were still taking pictures in the ceremony area. We practiced walking the aisle, listened to the coordinator, Pam, trying to tell us what to do, and showing our flower girl, Kaitlyn (Alex's niece) how to toss dry leaves out of her Daddy's hat. It was too funny! The rehearsal dinner was awesome! Alex's Mom, Clare, did everything, and she did an amazing job. There was more food than you can imagine, beautiful fall decor, an amazing sunset (complete with visible islands!), and lots of good times. It was great to relax, meet everyone in the families, catch up, and just hang out. I had a blast and I almost didn't want to leave! Except, I knew that I had to get my beauty rest (haha!). I headed upstairs to my ridiculous suite of rooms with my girls, Randi, Lisa and Betsy, We had a lovely time chatting, hanging out, eating M&Ms and just catching up. It's so rare to be able to hang out like that anymore. With all our busy lives, things just get insane. It's so nice to sit down and have a real conversation with people who live all over the country. When Randi and I were kids, we used to have sleepovers every Friday night. We would stay up late, watch scary movies, eat Oreos, talk about all sorts of things, and play. It's honestly such a bummer that doesn't happen anymore! So, my last night as a single woman (as my Mom would say) was spent being nostalgic, which was a blast. And now, I will leave this long tale here, and say that it's to be continued.....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Philly Shower!

Yay! Coffee shop bridal shower with all my Philly girls!

Of course, the boys were also hanging out too, they just didn't plan anything. So, they hung out outside the coffee shop (with new baby Conor!) for a while and we just couldn't resist taking a pic of them being indecisive :)

OK, so you can tell that Jen and I started grad school together because she got me this hysterical sleeping mask (which is so true!).

Philly BYOB, or BYOC (champagne!)

This is my "Presents! Yay!" face :)

With my bestie, Lisa, who is my bridesmaid, and who threw me this awesome shower. Yup, I'm spoiled!
A couple weeks before the wedding, Lisa, my bridesmaid, told me to show up at a coffee shop in South Philly. I took the bus down there, and saw this fantastic, colorful, Mexican themed cafe. I had such a great time, seeing everyone. I've known Lisa since I started this whole grad school thing, and we both graduated from the same lab. It was so great to see all my friends and to catch up. And there were even some surprises! I had no idea my friend Melissa would make the trek from Baltimore to come hang out, and my friend Danee had just had little Conor about a month beforehand. The boys took baby Conor (I think to his first bar - sorry Danee!) and we all hung out, drank champagne, and chatted for a while. I had the best time! Thanks so much, Lisa! You're awesome!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A word on California

While a lot of our guests are coming from the great state of California to the wedding, we do have quite a few out of town guests. I wanted to give you an idea of what to expect, and some suggestions on things to bring. Ventura County can have cool nights and warm days, making it a lovely vacation destination. However that breeze coming off the ocean can sometimes be downright chilly, so I'd suggest bringing something warm, like a fleece and some pants for the evenings you might be outside. And, contrary to popular belief, the ocean off the coast of California is not that warm. The water will likely be in the low to mid 60s, which can be quite chilly! The good news is that there's a pool at the Pierpont that's lovely and heated. There are also lots of places to learn to surf, paddleboard, etc very near the Inn, so if you're feeling adventurous, definitely talk to the front desk when you check in. They'll be able to help you out with anything you might want to know. The Pierpont is literally a bock from the beach, definitely walking distance to a lovely state beach, with a pier, a nice walking / biking path, and even some kid's equipment to play on. There's no need to pay to hang out on the beach (as in New Jersey!), but there are some places that charge a few dollars for parking. Altogether, Alex and I had a lovely time in Ventura and we hope you do too!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bridal Shower!

What a spread!

Tea party time!

The ladies working hard on a game!

Randi really made them work hard - look at the diligence!

My college roomies!
I was lucky enough to be thrown a wonderful bridal shower by my matron of honor, Randi. She opened up her house (one weekend after her son's first birthday party, to boot) and put on one heck of a party. While the pictures don't nearly do it justice, they do give an idea of all the lovely touches she added to the party. She had balloons, delicious food, crepe paper, and tea. Oh, and don't forget her signature drink - champagne, Chambord and a sugar cube - delicious! I had a wonderful time and felt absolutely spoiled the whole party long. She's an amazing hostess with a real talent for entertaining. I couldn't ask for a better Matron :)
More pics here!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The time is getting closer...

I must admit, I've been awakened the last few nights by some pretty crazy thunderstorms. I've then proceeded to make a laundry list in my mind of all the things that need to be done before the wedding. I've then tossed and turned and thought about all these things incessantly, ending up with a bit of insomnia for a few hours. Ugh, what a silly way to deal with things! So, I've decided to keep a pen and paper next to my bed, so each time I wake up, I can make some notes and (hopefully) fall right back asleep! Actually, the wedding isn't really the thing that's stressing me out. It's the whole "wow! I have so much to do!" thoughts that stress me out. You see, while we're planning this wedding, I am also training for the Philly marathon in November. I realize this sounds a bit crazy (I even think that myself sometimes), but my thought process is that by having a goal, and training for a marathon, I have no excuse not to run, helping me to manage my stress levels when things get a bit crazy. Right? Right. Haha! Both Alex and I are also actively looking for jobs, hopefully somewhat permanent positions, in other US cities (right now, Boston and the Bay, CA). So, about 10 days before the wedding, I have a job interview in Boston. That should be fun! And then sometime in November, I'll be making a trip west. Add to the job interviews crazy long experiments, papers to write, and literature to keep up on (my regular job) and things can get a whole lot of overwhelming really fast! I have to say that I'm so grateful to have the friends and family I do (yes, I'm talking to YOU!) because so many people have offered to help with anything, which has been so awesome. And I have to say, things aren't all stress and insomnia. Alex and I are so thrilled to open our RSVPs. We open them together, and somewhat savor it. It's so much fun to think of all the people we will see at our wedding, all the people taking time out of their busy lives to spend the day with us! It's going to be so much fun! So, for now, I'm making lists, checking things off, and thinking about what a great day our wedding will be!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Camping out Update!

The new tent is almost as big as our little backyard!

Alex is getting excited about the camping honeymoon!
We've been diligently preparing for our camping adventure for the honeymoon, along with preparing for the actual wedding. We recently purchased a new tent, and Alex was really excited to put it up in the backyard. We figured out how to put it up, and opened all the "windows" and "doors" (can you even call them that? Haha!). It reminded me of being a little kid, setting up the tent in the backyard, and thinking that I would spend the night back there. Then I realized there was no TV or snacks, and the ground is actually pretty hard, so I headed back into the house with my Strawberry Shortcake sleeping back, defeated. Hopefully, this won't happen when we're in Yosemite!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Learning to Camp/Backpack!

Our little campsite in the Wilds of Pennsylvania!

A little creek (or "crick", as my Mom would call it!)

Heading out!

The pack looks bigger than me, doesn't it?

A butterfly wing we found.

Since we're planning on doing some hiking and backpacking for the honeymoon, we decided that we should get out and get camping, especially since I have never backpacked before. The last time I can remember camping was a little bit of car camping sometime in college. Nothing too crazy. Turns out I am marrying the crazy camping guy :) Alex grew up in the Boy Scouts and he avidly camped and hiked and mountain biked growing up. Boy, do I have a lot to learn! You might wonder why, when we've been dating since 2006, we haven't ever been camping together? I asked myself the same thing! I think the biggest reason is that we don't have a car. And, living in a city, it's a bit hard to access the wide open spaces to camp in. Most times when we rent a car, it turns into a trip to all the necessary places: Target, Wal-mart, and the really nice movie theatres in the suburbs! It also turns out that, while Colorado and California have lots of wide open spaces and National Forests, Pennsylvania has lots of "State Game Lands", which are not allowed to be used for camping. So, we ended up driving up to North Central Pennsylvania (they literally call it "The Wilds"!) and we set out to find a place to backpack and camp for the night. Turns out, we did everything wrong! Whoops! We started out hiking up a hill pretty close to dusk. Our maps said there was lots of streams where we were headed, so that looked like a nice place to head to. Well, the path that we took was steep! Wowee! We both remarked how we thought that Pennsylvania had little hills, not real mountains (since the elevations in Pennsylvania are at least 1/4th of the elevations of the mountains in California and Colorado), but it turns out the mountains here are just as steep! We ended up hiking up nearly 1000 vertical feet, looking for a stream (and finding some bear scat along the way - eek!) and weirdly enough, no water. In the meantime, I was struggling with my pack, having a hard time balancing and getting my legs to carry me and the pack up the hill. Alex came over to me at one point and helped me rebalance things out a bit. Turns out my pack was quite heavy, so we ended up switching packs, which helped out a lot. We ended up descending the mountain we had just climbed and finally found a little creek to camp by, which was lovely. We made it there just in time to start up the stove, make some dinner and get into the tent and try to sleep. Turns out, I can't sleep in the Wilds of Pennsylvania. Every twig snap, every leaf rustle had me thinking, "What was that??!!" I imagined all kinds of wild animals, even at one point thinking, "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!" until I feel into a fitful few hours of sleep. I was the happiest person to see that sun come up! We hiked out along a nicer path (thankfully, no hills!) and we took a nice hike that day, after ditching the packs in the car. I must say, it was an adventure and we both had a lot of fun. The best thing? We learned a lot, and are hopefully on our way to being prepared for our trip to Yosemite!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Invitations are Mailed!

We had a little snafu with the envelopes for the invitations, but we persevered and got them in the mail today! It was a fun little adventure at the main post office here in Philadelphia to stamp every one. And then, of course, I forgot a pen, so I couldn't mark off my list to make sure we had mailed all the invitations that we had intended. Whoops! We ended up putting them back into alphabetical order and going through the list one by one. Turns out, I had lost an invite along the way, another whoops! It was the invitation for my Matron of Honor, Randi and her husband, so I'm sorry, Randi, but your invitation might be a little late :) Good thing she's already aware that she's invited! Haha! The other bummer was that Alex had just had an eye appointment, so his eyes had been dilated and he had to wear those crazy sunglasses. Poor guy still helped me out, though, attempting to read the names off and putting the stamps on straight! Mass mailings are always an adventure, and it reminded us of our days in high school and college, trying to stuff mailers for fundraising or a job. Well, I guess there's no turning back now, and it's less than two months to go!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Where to begin?

Wow, it's been a while since I've updated this here blog. Things have been a bit crazy around here (as usual!). Here's a brief recap:
  • In mid-February, I was given the ever elusive "Permission to Write my Thesis" from my thesis committee. The following 6 weeks are a blur of being holed up in our second bedroom, drinking pots of tea and creating massive piles of paper in order to complete the final dissertation. 210 pages, to be exact. Writing a thesis is a somewhat painful process, both figuratively and literally. I would find myself losing hours upon hours of the day to simple formatting or searches for the proper bibliography. So much so, that I thought, at some point, I might actually give myself bedsores from not moving in the chair all day long. I also found myself neglecting simple tasks, like showering (poor Alex!), because upon awakening, I would immediately sit in front of the computer to conquer my tasks for the day. Thankfully, things turned out just fine and I successfully defended my thesis on April 6, 2011. My parents as well as Alex's parents were able to attend (and might I say? The room was surprisingly packed! Yay!). They all commented that they words they understood included "however" and "also"! Haha! The defense was a huge relief, and a long time coming. I've been addressed a few times as "Dr. Reid" and it feels a little weird.
  • Thankfully, after the defense, I was able to head home to California for a relaxing week and a half vacation. Wait? What? Let me rephrase that! I headed home to California to do a little frantic running around Ventura County to plan this wedding! Woohoo! I dragged my poor Mom all over the place, searching out flowers, cake, doing the tasting for the reception dinner, picking linens, and trying to figure out things like favors, invitations, and all those little details that I always forget about. We had a great time tasting some different cake flavors, checking out flowers and all that fun stuff. I think my Dad especially enjoyed the food tasting for the reception because it included a little bit of wine! It was great to walk around the Pierpont again (it's almost been a year since I had been there) and to see the reception hall, the grounds, and the ceremony garden. I think the wedding is going to be a great time! For a while, I kept thinking, "Oh, it's a long time until the wedding, I have PLENTY of time to take care of x, y, and z!". But it's sneaking up right quick! A little less than four months to go! Eeek! I better get moving :)
  • Another huge change that just happened is that I started a new job as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (aka CHOP). I am working in a lab that does diabetes and gut research, so it's been a huge change for me. The lab is great - lots of graduate students and a really excited Investigator (she seems to come up with new ideas on a daily basis, which is quite exciting!). I went from being the only person in my graduate lab to being in a lab of nearly 10 people, which is great. I am still learning my way around, but I am catching on quick (hopefully!). I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge and learning a lot in this next year.
  • In other news, Alex and his boss submitted a paper to a scientific journal called Development. He is awaiting their decision on his submission, but his boss seems optimistic that it will be published soon. This would be a really exciting step for Alex because he is next in line to graduate. He hopes to line up some post-doctoral work and defend (likely early next year). I think both of us are looking forward to moving someplace new (right now, the top contender is the Bay Area in CA, but we'll see!).
  • Since there is never a dull moment around here, Alex also participated in a Half Iron Man Triathlon with his friend Mike and he did a Mud Run with a few of his friends from work. Both events were really fun to watch. Alex is a member of the Penn Cycling Team, and he raced collegiate cycling all winter. He has always loved biking, but it seems to grow during the months that don't include winter :) Alex is a true athlete, competing with people in their early 20s, heading out for 60 mile rides on a regular basis, and training with his team at a local bike shop. He enjoys it so much, that we acquired a bike for me (yes, we now have 4 bikes, no cars!). I am slowly but surely learning how to ride a road bike. I'm still a little wobbly, but lucky for me, there are some local trails near our house that are pretty nice to ride on, especially in the morning. Alex can be inspirational, racing all the time, so I decided to sign up for some fall runs. I signed up for the Philly Rock N Roll half marathon in Sept (right before the wedding!) and the Philly full marathon in November. I decided that running is a great way to keep the stress levels down (I learned this during the last few months in my thesis lab), so hopefully it will keep the stress levels down before the wedding. I have always wanted to run a marathon, and I am basically just hoping to complete it. Philly is a great city to run in, and the marathon takes you past all the historical spots, which is a plus. So, if you're in town on Nov. 20, head out the streets to cheer me on!
  • Other that all those crazy things going on, I still managed to get my wedding dress fitted. I was told to bring someone with me at a later date to learn how to deal with the bustle. I'm almost disappointed that I can only wear my wedding dress once. It can't be that bad to put it on every once in a while, right? Haha!
  • Alex and I have also been diligently taking dance lessons in order to prepare for that wonderful First Dance! I don't want to give anything away, but I hope it looks as fun as it is to perform. In the few hours of downtime that we do have, we love to kick up our heels, so hopefully you will too (at the wedding!).
Well, that's about as much as I can update for now. As far as the planning goes, I am still working on music/entertainment, invitations, and a more detailed plan of the actual day. I have no idea what the ceremony will be like, so that's on the list to work on too. We haven't had too many "bridezilla" moments (thankfully!), and it seems the only thing I am super concerned with is the Bridal Party's shoes (why? I have no idea!). Alex still needs to work on his tuxedo choice (or whatever he chooses to wear), but other than that, I feel like we are somewhat on track!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11, 2011 progress report

I'm a little shocked to find that March and April have passed without me making any meaningful contributions to our wedding. Fortunately I'm engaged to an incredible woman who not only found the time to defend her Ph.D thesis in April, but also traveled to California to hammer out those pesky details that seem to transform weddings from joyous gatherings to some sort of family bloodsport.
Our remaining hurdles involve finalizing the rehearsal dinner, figuring out what type of suit I need to wear and finding a band or DJ. Until now I've managed to avoid making choices about the wedding by answering questions in a smart-ass way. I'm rather surprised Christine hasn't smacked me for saying that I want sequined chaps instead of a suit or that I really want a death metal DJ. I guess these types answers will have a sabbatical until our honeymoon.
I've spent some time thinking about songs for our first dance, as well as father/daughter and mother/son dances. Christine and I each have our candidate songs, but we'd love to see others' thoughts.
That's all I've got worth writing about. Hope to see you this October.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Honeymoon!

I am so excited that we are moving toward planning the honeymoon! We have been talking about places to go, what to see - the world is your oyster, right? A resort vacation on a sandy beach (while it sounds absolutely lovely on this February morning) just doesn't seem like our style. A trip to Europe would be lovely, but is somewhat out of our price range. Plus, we're already flying to CA to attend our wedding - who wants to get on another plane and fly somewhere else? Because we live so far away from some of our family and friends, we don't get to see everyone as often as we'd like. We have friends and family coming in from, literally, all over the world, so we'd like some time to spend with you! We thought about a plane flight to Hawaii or something like that, but leaving after seeing everyone for just a few hours doesn't seem right. We want the opportunity to stick around Ventura, hang out with as many people as we can, and thank our families and friends for making our wedding a success. It made sense that we might drive somewhere a few days after the wedding, somewhere not too far away, but that would be a new experience for both of us. We kept coming back to a generous offer by a lovely couple we met on a tour last September....

So, this past September, my parents invited us on a Model T tour of Yellowstone and surrounding Wyoming and Montana. My Dad has a 1921 Ford Model T which he just loves to drive around and explore the countryside. We met my parents in Jackson Hole, WY and we set off on a tour around the area, including the Grand Tetons, Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs and several different towns around the edges of Yellowstone. It was a great time. We met some really fun people who all drive Model Ts, saw an area of the country neither one of us had been to, drove up and down some crazy mountains, and even witnessed a wedding! There is something completely lovely about seeing the country from an open top car, going about 35mph. We could smell the buffalo - and if they decided to come toward us? Eeeeeek! That area of the country is wonderfully amazing, and the scenery changes with every mile. We had a wonderful time and we met some great folks on this trip, including Lin and Judy, who offered us their cabin in Yosemite for our honeymoon! How amazing is that?

Now, if you know Alex, you know that he is really into camping, hiking, just being outdoors in general. I have been telling him since we first started dating that he has to see Yosemite, it's just the most amazing place. The granite rocks, the water falls, the giant redwood trees - all of it, I know he would love. So, this ends up being the perfect honeymoon for us! Alex is already checking maps and looking for places to backpack and hike. He's planning the different permits we'll need, what equipment he'll bring. And I can't think of a better honeymoon.

I'm beginning to understand the saying, "It takes a village". Wedding planning is not a solo project, and having people in our lives who help and support us, from the enthusiastic excitement for our upcoming wedding, to generous offerings of places to honeymoon or lodgings for our friends, I cannot begin to express how much it all means to us. We feel so blessed to have people in our lives who are willing to contribute, in whatever way, to our wedding and our marriage. It makes the planning of the wedding so meaningful for us, and it reminds us that we're not alone in this life, that we have so many people who love and support us. No matter who we've talked to, our friends and family have always said, "How can we help?"So, thank you, from two overworked grad students. Thank you for your love, support and generosity. It really means the world to us, we can't thank you enough!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dancing Lessons!

We have been taking dancing lessons for about a year now and have finally earned a spot in a showcase at our dance studio! Here's a video of our Rhumba/Hustle dance routine!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A random funny

My Dad sends me "funnies" all the time. This one was too perfect not to share :)


You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.  
-Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you  get to find out later who you're stuck with.
-Kristen, age 10  


Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then. 
-Camille, age 10  


You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
-Derrick, age 8  


Both don't want any more kids.
-Lori, age 8  


Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
-Lynnette, age 8

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date. 
-Martin, age 10


When  they're rich.
-Pam, age 7

The  law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to  mess with that.
-Curt, age 7

The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
- Howard, age 8  


It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
-Anita, age 9


There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
-Kelvin, age 8  


Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.
-Ricky, age 10

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Wedding Party

Matron of Honor: Randi
I have known Randi since I was 2 years old. We grew up on Janetwood Dr, in Oxnard, about 6 houses apart from each other. Growing up, I don't think I have a memory that does not involve Randi. I was constantly at her house, or she was at mine. We traded everything back and forth from toys and Barbies to sweaters and jeans as we grew up. We swam in the pool in the summers, trick-or-treated together in the fall. And Christmas always involved a trip to Randi's house, mostly to eat more and check out her presents. Randi has always been much more than a close friend. As an only child, I had no siblings, so Randi quickly became mine. We were constantly together, having sleepovers or talking about our favorite music or the latest gossip. We graduated high school together, and I was a bridesmaid in Randi's wedding. She has always been a source of constant encouragement, an incredible wealth of humorous stories, and the kindest heart I know. She has never wavered in her support of my goals, both professionally and privately, and she has always, always believed in me. When she met Alex for the first time, there was an instant repartee between them, a bit of teasing, and a lot of humor. I knew before they even met that they would get along swimmingly (and they do!). I absolutely cannot wait to have her stand up next to us at our wedding. 

Bridesmaid: Lisa
Lisa and I met when we were both grad students in the same lab. Lisa has been such a good friend, through all the ups and downs of graduate school. Lisa has always been a great person to work with, very collaborative (never competitive) As a friend, you couldn't ask for a better person to hang out with. Lisa is always ready to go out and do something - explore the city, get a drink, shop all day long! Lisa has been nothing but encouraging and supportive throughout the entire time I've known her. She has a wonderful sense of humor, and she's always honest with you, no matter what. She's incredibly laid back and and relaxed - until you turn on some salsa music - then, she'll never sit down! I was a bridesmaid in Lisa's wedding and I am so looking forward to having her in mine.

Best Man: Taylor
Taylor is Alex's younger brother - they are about two years apart in age. Taylor is just as stubborn as Alex and their parents blame them equally for any gray hair. Growing up, they both enjoyed camping and hiking with their Dad in the Boy Scouts and learning how to work with power tools as they remodeled their parent's house. Taylor lives in Colorado Springs with his daughter Kaitlyn.

Officiant: Joe
Joe and Alex shared the same group of friends in Colorado Springs, but somehow never knew each other until they were roommates in Boulder. Joe is an accomplished musician as well as a serious academic and  is currently beating Alex in the race to a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another Wedding Idea

Here's a great "flash wedding" at a mall in Boston. I saw this great performance and it made me cry! All the people singing are their guests for their wedding. Amazing! I just loved it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Travel Information

We are happy to be a source of information on how to travel to Ventura, CA. If we can give advice on travel to/from Ventura in any way, please don't hesitate to ask. We generally prefer to use the travel websites of Kayak, Hotwire, Cheap Tickets, Expedia, or Priceline to get good deals on flights and car rentals. All these websites will email you daily updates on the prices of flights if you would like to do a bit of "fare watching". Kayak seems to have the best overview of flight prices, but it does not include prices for airlines such as Southwest or JetBlue - you need to visit their sites directly for their fares. Here's some of the ways to get to Ventura for the wedding!


If you're planning on flying to our wedding in Ventura, you can fly into either Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) or the Burbank Airport (BUR). There are many other airports in Southern California; however, the ones listed here are the closest and most convenient. Flights into John Wayne Airport (in Orange County) or Long Beach Airport (south of Los Angeles) are fine, they are just a much greater distance from Ventura than LAX, SBA or BUR.

Los Angeles International Airport
LAX is quite a large airport, and has several daily nonstop flights from Philadelphia and most major cities. LAX is located near Marina Del Rey, and is about 1.5 - 2 hr drive away from Ventura, depending on traffic and the route you take. A scenic route going north on Sepulveda Blvd to Lincoln Blvd to Highway 1N (the PCH, or Pacific Coast Highway) takes you through Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu and can give some absolutely breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Highway 1 is often two to four lanes, so it can take a little bit longer than the freeway because of traffic. Alternatively, you can take the 405 freeway north into the San Fernando Valley and then take the 101 north directly to Ventura. Either way you travel, there are many, many interesting sites along the way. From Hollywood to the beaches, there is lots to do in Southern California, but you will most likely need a car. LAX has many car rental companies located within the airport, so car rental should be convenient.

Santa Barbara Airport
This airport is located right off the University of California, Santa Barbara (Christine's alma mater) campus and it serves the local Santa Barbara and Ventura area. There are no direct flights from East Coast cities, and the planes that fly into SBA are generally smaller, turbo prop or "puddle jumper" airplanes, not the large jumbo jets that fly into LAX. Most flights originate in San Francisco, Phoenix, Salt Lake City or Los Angeles. This airport has a much smaller feel, with much friendlier TSA agents, little hassle to board and go through security, but also not much to do in the area while waiting for your plane. It is often more expensive to fly here, but I have occasionally found some bargains. Santa Barbara is about a half-hour to an hour drive north of Ventura. Once you exit the airport, take the 217 to the 101S directly to Ventura. The airport contains several car rental agencies, as well as a nearby bus stop where you can catch a bus to the train station. The Amtrak train goes right down the coast to Ventura, and the Ventura train stop is about one mile from the Pierpont Inn.

Burbank Airport (Bob Hope International Airport)
This airport is located within the San Fernando Valley, just a bit outside of Los Angeles. Burbank is a large airport and has several flights from large cities around the country, although no nonstop flights from Philadelphia. Burbank is located a bit more inland than LAX, and is about 1.5 - 2 hours away from Ventura. From Burbank, take the 5N to the 126W. The 126 dead ends into the 101 freeway; continue onto the 101N, to San Jon Road exit (number 69) and make a left onto Vista Del Mar Dr, coming off the exit. This street dead ends into Harbor Blvd (and the ocean). Make a right onto Harbor and an almost immediate right onto San Jon Road. The Pierpont Inn is located on the right hand side of the road, about 200 feet away. The main entrance to the hotel is located to the right, as you pull into the driveway.

Shuttle Services from the airports
There are shuttle services that will take you from/to LAX, SBA or BUR. Christine's family has most often used Roadrunner Shuttles (805-389-8196), which are generally large vans that pick up several customers on the way to the airport. As such, you generally arrive quite early for your flights, so be sure to bring a book or something for entertainment.


Coming from the South
The Pierpont Inn is located right off the 101 Freeway. From the south, take the 101N to San Jon Road exit (number 69) and make a left onto Vista Del Mar Dr, coming off the exit. This street dead ends into Harbor Blvd (and the ocean). Make a right onto Harbor and an almost immediate right onto San Jon Road. The Pierpont Inn is located on the right hand side of the road, about 200 feet away. The main entrance to the hotel is located to the right, as you pull into the driveway.

Coming from the North
 The Pierpont Inn is located right off the 101 Freeway. From the north, take the 101S to the Seaward exit (number 68) and make a right onto Harbor Blvd (which is the first light you hit coming off the exit). Make a right at the light for San Jon Road. The Pierpont Inn is located on the right hand side of the road, about 200 feet away. The main entrance to the hotel is located to the right as you pull into the driveway.

The Amtrak train, running both from the north and the south goes directly through Ventura, and stops at the fairgrounds about a mile north of the Pierpont Inn. The Amtrak stop is quite minimalist, so it is unclear whether cabs might be waiting around the train stop. If walking, walk south toward the Crowne Plaza Hotel. A walkway runs along the beach, which is across the parking lot from the train stop. Follow the path past the Ventura Pier to San Jon Road. Make a left onto San Jon Road. The Pierpont Inn is located on the right hand side of the road, about 200 feet away. The main entrance to the hotel is located to the right, as you pull into the driveway.

Using a taxi as your primary source of travel is not highly recommended. There are several taxi companies within Ventura, however, cabs are not regularly on the street like Philadelphia or New York. Taxi services must be called and often take quite a long time to show up. The fares may also be prohibitively expensive.

Bus Service
There is limited bus service around Ventura County. The bus service is called the Gold Coast Transit, and the fare is $1.35. Both Routes 6 and 16 run near the Pierpont Inn. Route 6 can take you into Oxnard, while Route 16 can take you to downtown Ventura, or up into Ojai.

Swimming to Ventura is not recommended, as the Pacific Ocean is quite large and contains numerous shipping lanes, as well as great white sharks.  :)

Ventura is a lovely place to bike, as there are numerous trails to explore. The Pierpont Inn offers bike rentals right at the hotel, and there is a pathway that runs along the beachfront in front of the hotel. One of the most popular is the trail from Ventura to Ojai. You will find numerous people biking, running, walking, or even horse-back riding along this trail on a sunny day. There are several other opportunities for hiking or biking, manyof which can be found here.