Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Updates on 2012

Well friends, I admit it. I've been a slacker for the last (gulp) 6 months. I hope this does not continue, but I can honestly attest that this summer and fall was one of the busiest for me!

In early August we went to Seattle for my 20th high school reunion. It was really fun to see old friends and re-connect with them, and to get caught up with those who are still close friends of mine - but whom we don't get to see very often. It was also fun to have Curby there - because of facebook, he was like a celebrity - everyone wanted to meet him! We stayed with my aunts, Gloria and Donna, and got some good family time with them and the rest of our family, and some old friends too, while we were there. It was a great, great week!

Attending a Seattle Mariners game with family.

The 20-year Reunion Committee

Me with my handsome date!

At the HS Reunion family BBQ the next morning.

Family Time while in Seattle
Immediately upon our return from Seattle, we decided to move into a new apartment - just a few doors down from our old apartment, but twice the size! It has a second bedroom which has really come in handy as an office and guest room. We love having a little more space to spread out.

Later in August we traveled to Phoenix to celebrate my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. It was a really great weekend. Curby and I made a fancy dinner for mom and dad (lobster tails, rib eye steaks, and grilled vegetables - with our everyone's favorite olive tapenade). Because the 40th anniversary is considered the "ruby" anniversary, we wanted to get them something special to commemorate the event. So Ben, Curby, and I went in together and bought a set of ruby red champagne flutes - something that they could use over and over at different family celebrations that would remind them of their 40-year accomplishment. We also gave them a "then and now" photo frame, with a picture of the two of them from their wedding and a recent picture of their newly svelte selves (my parents both lost over 100 pounds in 2012!!!).

In September, we played hosts to my brother Ben, on his first visit to us in LA since we were married. Even though it was a short visit, it was really fun to have him here for a couple days. Overlapping with his visit, was a visit from Gloria and Donna. We saw some sights together, and Gloria, Donna, and I went to "Wheel of Fortune" taping together - our shows were for the beginning of the year 2013 (like seriously, new years eve and the first and second, I think), so look for us in the audience shots at the end of the show - near the top of the screen. It was so fun to spend time with G & D here in LA again.

There are definite gaps in my memory as I think about September and October and I suspect that is because in early August we found out we were expecting a BABY! So by September and October, I not only had "pregnancy brain" but also was napping a lot. :D See the link below for the progression of  my belly and "baby girl Piehl" from 12 weeks to 24 weeks.


I also was doing a LOT of activities with the Alpha Delta Pi chapter at UCLA - where I am an advisor. The funnest activity we did with the chapter was head to Disneyland as "chaperones." We decided it was close enough to our first anniversary that we'd wear our "Bride and Groom" ears all day and celebrate with "Its Our Anniversary" buttons. It was neat to have all the park employees tell us "Congratulations!" as we went through the park. (It was SUPER hot here during October, so we are dressed like its June, on October 28th!)

At Disneyland during "Halloweentime"
The other fun we had during October was getting dressed up for Halloween. Curby had to dress up for work, and afterward we headed to a friend's costume party, so I decided to get dressed up, too!

Curby as "Magnum P.I."

Pregnant Skeleton

Celebrating our First Anniversary
November was a BIG month for us! We celebrated our first wedding anniversary on November 5th! We decided to spend the weekend in Long Beach (where we had the first night of our honeymoon) and stay in the same hotel we stayed at on our wedding night. We had delicious Tapas, and even more delicious italian desserts and the next morning we had breakfast at the "Coffee Cup Cafe" where we had breakfast the morning after we got married. It was a really great weekend!

Visiting with Matt

The next day, our good friend, Matt, arrived in town for a long visit. We celebrated our anniversary with him, and enjoyed eating and sightseeing around LA. It was super fun. As Matt left town, another good friend, Jessica, arrived. She stayed the weekend and we had a great time playing games and getting caught up. 

I had a conference in Las Vegas a week or so later, and it was a really good time. Curby was able to join me for the end of it and we had a nice mini-vacation in Vegas before heading back home only to.....

travel to Texas for Thanksgiving! We had a really nice time with Curby's family and friends. It is always great to see how much Curby's friends love him, and to be in a community where my love for Curby is echoed by people who have known him for a lot longer than me. I was blessed. It was also really fun to spend time with Curby's sister, brother-in-law and our niece and nephew. We got to do some shopping and have some "dates" with Hannah and Nathaniel and so that was really fun. 

With our nephew at the movies
Now its December, and the year is almost over. I've been working on my dissertation like crazy, and working 20 hours for my faculty advisor. We've decorated the house, finished our Christmas shopping and are gearing up for holiday parties and Curby's birthday. Later this month we'll travel to Phoenix for the Christmas celebration with my parents. We can't wait - and are excited to make this the 'best last Christmas without kids" ever!

I hope in 2013 to be better about updating. As I write more on my dissertation, its almost a guarantee that I'll be writing more (brief) posts on the blog. Either here or at - stay tuned for more details!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Marissa Mayer, Maternity Leave, And the Rest of Us

Recently I read a post about the new CEO of Yahoo! (Marissa Mayer), her pregnancy, and her plans for maternity leave. She commented that her leave would be just a few weeks and that she was planning to work throughout.

Her comments rankled me. Not because I think she should be taking longer at home for the sake of her child, but for two other reasons: 1) I think that it sets an unrealistic example for other career women, 2) I think it sets an unrealistic expectation for herself.

Later in the day, the team I'm a part of (working on a research project which examines the trends of women's underrepresentation in STEM fields) discussed her appointment to this prestigious position, and her comments to the media. We got into a lively discussion about the issue and it led me to decide to write this blog.

Before I do, I want to recognize that others had the same reactions I did. This article on likely says it better and more succinctly than I will. But I'm going to go ahead and write anyway, because the quilt I was working on is finished and I haven't gone to the store to get cake mix for cake decorating class (more on both of these topics later). Likewise, just a few weeks ago, I read this article in The Atlantic that really confirmed some of my thoughts about the difficulties of being a working mother, and how the glass ceiling may be cracked, but some problems are not even close to being solved.

First, I want to say that I have a lot of respect for working moms, and especially for women who are in very visible and high pressure positions. I think they have the unfair responsibility of "representation" and tokenism - as though they must be standard bearers for the rest of us who hope to one day have work, children, and other life bonuses.

That being said, they ARE representatives for the rest of us, and when a women takes a high profile job and says, "They didn't bat an eye that I was pregnant." that is good for all of us - it encourages the rest of us that it is possible for us to get a job when pregnant, that we won't be discriminated against because we want a family, etc. But when she follows that up with, "Don't worry, I'll only miss a few days of work when I have my baby!", the encouragement turns to sighs of exasperation. I see two main problems with this unrealistic expectation. First, it sets the expectation of bosses, managers, other business leaders, that women don't need a full maternity leave. As one of my friends put it "it means that all the work that was done to get us maternity leave is moot." Second, it makes women who are struggling to even check their email in the midst of their maternity leave seem inadequate and incapable.      What hope is there for the rest of us who want to take a full maternity leave, who don't want to work during our leave, or who barely have the time to open the computer, let alone time and mental energy log into work email and write conference proposals or research papers.

The article does a great job of saying why women in high ranking positions may be able to take shorter leave and work during their leave (they are more likely to have household and child-rearing support), and how this is harmful to those of us who will not have those things (in addition to our partners at least). So I recommend reading it for more thoughts on the issue.

My second issue is mostly grief that Mayer feels as though she has to make this statement at all. It is unfair to her that she feels like she has to justify her maternity leave in any way shape or form. It shouldn't even be a topic of conversation - whether she takes 2 weeks or 2 months, why does she have to bring it up? I'm guessing she wasn't doing it to brag on how quickly she'll be back at work, but rather  to defend her appointment to a visible position where she reports to a board of directors and shareholders. Maybe she doesn't want to take a 2 month maternity leave, but we don't, and can't, know that - whether she wants to or not,  she is in a position where she feels like she has to publicly declare "But don't worry, I'm awesome and will still run this company even while nursing my newborn." Why not say, "Don't worry, I have a great staff and I'll be available for urgent issues, and the company will be fine while I'm gone." I hope she succeeds, but I fear she sets herself up for failure - if she struggles to balance caring for her newborn and her job, then one is going to have to suffer and neither are good options in her current situation.

Curby and I hope to have kids someday. And it seems likely that we will both have to work to support our family - especially if we stay in LA. And if we leave LA for a faculty post somewhere, then at the least I'll be working. I'm blessed, because there is a lot of flexibility in terms of where/when you work as a faculty person - but most people aren't in that position. Public figures, like Mayer, and authors like the woman who wrote the article in the Atlantic (who used to work for Secretary Clinton), remind me that something has to give.

For the record, men can't have it all either. Here is a response to the article in the Atlantic:

What do you think, friends? Do you applaud Mayer for her comments, or did you groan with me and ask "Why did you say that publicly?!" Do you think women (or men) can "have it all"?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

One Last Plea.... for your photos!

Hola Friends! 

As some of you know, I just recently put together a wedding photo album with all of our professional photos (see the previous post).

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty excited, and I can’t wait for it to arrive. I think I may spend the first three days of possession just going through it again and again.

We also want to make a photobook of the candid photos taken on the wedding day (and including some of the other events, like karaoke, rehearsal and engagement party). But to do that, we need your help!

If you were at the wedding and you took photos, could you please contribute them to our online wedding album?

You can do this a couple different ways:
1    1)    You can email photos to us at: tiffandcurby DOT lovebirds AT picasaweb DOT com.. No subject line necessary, just email them to us as attachments and they will automatically go into our photo album drop box.
              2) You can upload photos directly if you would like – to do that, please email us: tiffandcurby AT gmail DOT com and let us know you’d like to do this option and I’ll send you a link to an album. (this way you can upload a bunch of pics at once)

You can VIEW some of the candid pictures that have been uploaded already at this link: The Story of Tiff and Curby 

Dear friends - seriously, help us out here, and get YOUR photos featured in our memories forever.

(and in return, I promise to blog about Tiff's life very soon!)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Our Awesome Wedding Album!

This weekend I had some free time, and I decided that one thing that would bring me great joy was to work on our wedding photo album. Shutterfly had a 20% off deal on photobooks, and Curby said it was OK if I had a million pages... So I did it!! I actually think we'll end up with a three book series - 1) the wedding album, 2) engagement photo album, and 3) prewedding and reception posed and candid photos.

I love this album. It's 12x12 and has a hard cover and so that feels really fancy, and I can't wait to see how it turns out in real life.  (I know I could have done an actual "scrapbooked" album, and I like doing that kind of thing sometimes, but I was so excited to make it look as professional as our photos look!"
*(removed - link broken)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fake Baking for the Summer

Nope. I'm not talking about going to a tanning booth all summer long. I'm talking about faking up some popular mixes to be more frugal and have some fun.

The summer is upon me... school will be out in less than a month! Now, my summer is not that different from the rest of my year these days - I mean, except for the fact that I don't have to TA a class this summer, I still have my two part-time jobs (10 hours per week each) and of course that giant paper that I've been working on. I'm hoping to have my data by the end of June, so I'll be back to working regularly on my dissertation with a goal of finishing by November/December of this year.

My favorite activity/craft to do is sewing, but in our current apartment situation, there is not really a place where I can leave a workstation out - and that means that if I want to sew, I have to get out all the equipment and get set up, and when I'm done, I have to get it all put away again. Its not that easy to do and it probably takes 15 minutes minimum on each end. So my sewing has really tapered off since Curby moved in, because when I only have an hour or so to do my hobby, and 30 minutes is taken up by getting set up and put away.... you can imagine that its sort of discouraging. Who wants the set up and take down to take as much time as the fun times themselves?

So until we get that solution solved, my solution is cooking and baking.  With a little planning in advance, I can figure out new fun meals to try and also create some mixes that I can then use as gifts or when company comes over, or just have around in case Curby and I want cookies. :)

On Pinterest yesterday, I found these G.R.E.A.T. recipes for "fake frugal mixes" - basically the author decided that she was going to make homemade versions of those cookie and corn bread mixes. Now, I often make extra cookie dough and keep it mixed up in my freezer, and then I just cut off slices to bake up when I have company or want a couple cookies. But I thought that this was a great way to have the dry ingredients ready to go at any time. I also like that this is a way to avoid a lot of the filler that you find in conventional packaged goods. (especially, since I would not normally make cornbread from scratch, for example) And I'm thinking about doing it for a bunch of different recipes, not limited to just those which are posted below.

So anyway, here's to trying to do things that bring me great joy over the summer - even if that means less sewing and more snacks.

Fake-it-Frugal Cookie Mixes:

Fake-it-Frugal Jiffy Corn Bread Mix:

Finally... I would use homemade vanilla ice cream with this, but.....
Fake-it-Frugal Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Prize of My Heart (by Lisa Norato)

Captain Brogan Talvis has one goal: reclaim his young son, lost to him through the trickery of his (now-deceased) wife while he was at sea. This mission leads him to Duxboro, Massachusetts, where he has commissioned a ship from the man who adopted Brogan's son and is raising little Drew as his own, with an older daughter stands in for the boy as both sister and mother. Eventually, the daughter, Lorena, is tricked upon a vessel headed to England and it is Brogan's commission to save her. Romance and secrets are present throughout this exciting story of love and family in the early 19th century.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The presence of scripture and faith elements were authentically portrayed and appropriate for the moments in which they occurred. The story itself was fast-moving, and at times very sad and others very funny. The characters were well drawn and charming, while retaining some mystery. I found myself wanting to know more about them, and rooting for the romance that was budding.

The perspective of the author allowed for us to hear the thoughts of the two main characters, which made the book move faster. Additionally, although I normally hate how much characters just don't "talk to each other" about their real issues, in this story by and large there was much less passivity than is common in Christian fiction. In fact, the times when I felt like "just tell her!" were times when it was appropriate for the character to be worried about speaking (related to the mystery elements of the story). After reading this story, I will look out for more by Lisa Norato. I highly recommend this book - 5 out of 5 stars.

(full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House, in exchange for my unbiased review. I am not affiliated with Bethany House or the author in any way.)

Book Review: Blue Moon Bay (by Lisa Wingate)

Blue Moon Bay is the story of Heather Hampton, and her return to her (unhappy) childhood home of Moses Lake, Texas. Forced to return home to facilitate the sale of some family land, she is confronted with the memories, fears, and secrets that her family has kept hidden for the past 20 years. Unraveling these fears and secrets will lead through trouble to a reconciliation with God.

Friends, this book was trying to be too many things and as such, was none of them very well. I think the main problem that I had was that point of view of the reader was simply the first-person view of the main character, Heather. As such, it was exhausting - for almost 400 pages, we had to endure every thought and idea that she had. Even when, as the reader, you were 16 steps ahead of her. Perhaps if the author had told the story from a first-person omniscient, allowing the reader to hear the thoughts of other characters, the story would have moved faster. The other main problem that I had with the story was that it started out as a book about a girl returning home to confront her past demons, then it turned into a mystery, then a thriller, all the while still trying to be a romance. I kept saying to my husband, "This book does not know what it wants to be!" and "Why didn't someone edit this book better?"

The story did have exciting moments, and I was glad to hear the resolution of the story, but I thought that overall lit was about 100 pages too long and that the story was too ambitious. Lets not even talk about my main criticism of Christian fiction: why don't the people just talk to each other. This book was a classic example of that, and considering how strongly this pet peeve is for me, the fact that it wasn't one of my two main problems is saying something.

I'm a fan of romance, mysteries, and thrillers. But unfortunately, I just didn't really enjoy this book. Two stars out of five from me.

(full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House, in exchange for my unbiased review. I am not affiliated with Bethany House or the author in any way.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Settling In... or "Boy, We sure do have a lot of laundry! (wedding series post #4)"

OK, first, I know that when I outlined this wedding series it went like "leading up to wedding events #1, wedding #2, honeymoon #3, married life #4" and if you are a faithful reader of this blog (and I'm pretty sure that if you are one of the few readers of this blog, you are) - you'll notice that I posted three "pre-wedding events" posts and then skipped right to this "married life" one.

I promised its not because I don't want to regale you with the funness of the wedding or the sheer joy that I had in spending three days poolside in Playa Del Carmen. Its mostly because it has officially been over 4 months since I got married, and the sum total of our thank you cards sent out remains at 2, I figure I'd better do something wedding related to get myself moving! This "settling in" post is mostly about: Laundry.

Here is the naked truth.... There is more than double the laundry to do now in this house. It boggled my mind the first few weeks, and I almost couldn't handle it. I have decided that men wear more clothes than women (undershirts, shirts, jeans, undies, socks - every day! I don't have to wear undershirts or socks every day, and I often can re-wear a shirt or jeans a few times), and that double the towels is a lot of towels. I really struggled at first, because I work from home most days and that big bin of laundry, and the (massive amount of) dishes in the sink, and the state of the house in general wore on me like water torture.

See, there is a difference between working from home and homemaking as work. I appreciate the latter, and even might take it up someday, but the former means that I have to pretend that I am not at home, but rather that I am in a professional office somewhere. But the laundry, and the dishes, etc, called out to be addressed.  And part of me said, "Tiff, just do it! It would bless Curby to do the laundry today rather than over the weekend, and you're at home already, why not just do it?" ... the other part said, "Tiff! Get to work! You and Curby can do the laundry together! Your job is not to do the laundry, its to write this giant paper."  And so I struggled.

Then, when Curby and I were together, we just wanted to hang out and not "work" - so the laundry pile got bigger and bigger. We actually have two laundry bins and they were both full to overflowing. It was driving me bananas. So on one Saturday, we tackled it and after 6 loads, we were awash in clean, unfolded clothes - huge piles. Those eventually were folded, and even put away. VICTORY!

Soon after, my friend Em and I were having lunch and she said, "Before you guys used to do that stuff when you were apart, and then you could be together and just have fun. But now you need to do that stuff when you are together - you need to do this as a part of life."

She is a very wise young (single) woman. And her insight into this issue was a revelation.


And so one of my first lessons of marriage was that those things which were chores before have to be repurposed into fun times now.

One of the other lessons we learned early on is that it is OK ("nay, better!," says Pastor Adam) to not have defined roles (in terms of chores, duties, responsibilities - gendered or otherwise). For example, its better to not have it be Curby's "job" to take out the trash, or my "job" to do the laundry. Because once something becomes a job, it becomes an obligation - and then when someone doesn't do it, they fail at their obligation. Instead, we want to have a house where each of us serves the others, where people succeed at blessing each other. And so our philosophy is to do the things that need to be done. If the toilet paper runs out while I'm in the bathroom, then I change it, if the trash needs to go out and I have a chance to do it, then I do it. This means that our actions can serve as gifts to each other - when Curby notices the trash and takes it out, its a gift to me; when I offer to do the dishes, its a gift to him. We still have our "things" that we end up doing regularly, our routines - before bed, Curby usually makes the coffee and I take the dog out to the bathroom. But we usually discuss the tasks before starting them - if I'm wearing shorts or pjs and its cold out, I might say, "Can I make the coffee and you take the dog?" or I might say, "I can do both tonight - you go get ready or bed" - there is not an expectation that one of us will do a specific chore - just that it will get done.

This has really helped our marriage.  In particular, it has helped in the area of laundry. There may be a time when one of us is a stay at home parent, and that person may decide that laundry is something that he or she can handle during the daily routine. But for now, we do laundry together - it is not a man's or woman's task, not Curby's nor mine alone. I might take the laundry down and start it, and later Curby goes and switches it. I like folding and Curby hates it, so I often fold the main clothes and let him fold the socks.

And while the laundry runs, we watch episodes of "Chopped" or "Psych" or play "Lego Star Wars" on the Wii and make the whole laundry day fun.

So even though the pile of laundry sometimes still gets large (We had 5 loads again this weekend...), it is no longer stressing me out all day long. I know that its not my "job" to do it during the day, and I know that it will eventually get done, together.

Lesson #1 complete.

More lessons to come. :)


Saturday, January 7, 2012

2011: By the Numbers (its a pun)*

Conferences attended: 2
Papers presented: 2
Papers presented at a single conference: 2 

Papers accepted for publishing: 1 (Teachers College Record - dig it!)
Chapters published: 1 (Gender and Higher Education)
Other people's papers edited and reviewed for journals or columns: 4

Dissertation proposals started: 1
Dissertation proposals finished: 0
Dissertations finished: 0
Dissertation pages written by end of December, 2011: 39**
Days spend avoiding dissertation: ~200
Articles and books consumed to write 39 pages: ~45

Jobs currently holding: 2
Maximum jobs held at one time: 4
Maximum hours worked per week: "40"
Maximum hours worked per week really: 28
Number of emails received regarding jobs: ~4,576
Decisions made about what I want to be when I'm done with this season of life (aka PhD): 0

States visited: 7 (Arizona, Washington, Texas, North Carolina, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin)
Round trip flights: 8
Road trips to destinations 6 or more hours away: 2
Road trip to Orange County: ~45
Foreign countries visited: 3 (Mexico, Canada, England)
Out of town friends and family hosted: 13 (Heather, Sarah, Kathryn, Monica & DJ, Mom & Dad, Andie & Milton, Bethany & Ryan, Laura, Barb)

Weddings attended: 4
Weddings participated in: 3
Premarital sessions attended: 6
Engagements of friends announced: 2
Pregnancies of friends and family announced: 5
Babies born to friends & family: 6 (Asher, Owen, Thomas, Natalie, Violet, Jedi)
Asked when Curby and I will be having babies: ~785

Concerts attended indoors: 2 (Watkins Family Hour, David Crowder* Band)
Concerts attended outdoors: 4 (Allison Krause, U2, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, LA Philharmonic)
Professional baseball games attended: 1
Movies attended: 14

Living room rearranged: 3
Desks assembled: 2
Couch assembled: 1
Ice Creams made: 2
Shrimp Enchiladas made for dinner: ~10
Cake pops consumed: ~20
Pounds gained: 10

Trips to Michael's Craft Store: 10
Trips to Disneyland: 9
Breakfasts at Marie Calendars: 15

Baby quilts made: 1
Baby bibs made: 6

Paper flowers made: 250
Programs sewn: 200
Wedding "thank you" cards sent: 2
Wedding "thank you" cards remaining: 70

Posts made to this blog: 29 (a new low)
Posts made to the Tiff and Curby blog: 17 (some of them were double dips with this blog)
Photos taken: 2855***

Here's to a new year, where I take fewer pictures but am involved in more lives; write more pages, but complain and procrastinate about it less; and where I make my creative side (sewing and cooking) a priority!

*i got this idea from Jess!
** including automated table of contents and reference list...
*** does not include the pics i deleted, some of these (very few) may be pics that others took and gave to me - maybe up to 150 of them?

Friday, January 6, 2012

2011: A Year in Review

One of my friends (who blogs at Portraits of a Rambling Thought) posts a summary for each month - by day. I think its really neat. Its a cool way to look back and remember what happened throughout the day/year. I however, seldom know what day it is, let alone what date it is, so this system doesn't really work for me.

But as I've been thinking about how to capture 2011 in a post, I decided that I could probably get my act together enough to remember some high points by month. Some of these things have been posted about in detail in previous posts this year, but I thought it would be fun to do a brief (ha ha) summary of what is one of (if not THE) best years of my life.

(In a weird twist of fate, or an "Enigma of the Mystical", over at the "We're all gonna die" blog, my friend Jess had the same idea! If you have not checked out this blog, now's the time, you can get caught up on her life and the peril the world was in in 2011 all in one fell swoop and it will only whet your whistle for what is to come in 2012)

So here you have it.... 2011: A (Truly Terrific) Year in Review

January: I rang in the new year with my parents in Phoenix, and then returned to LA to begin work in earnest on my dissertation. Later in the month, my parents came to So Cal for a week at the end of the month, and I got to take a mini-vacation with them in San Clemente, enjoying the beach and whale watching, as well as a really fun tour of the Mission of San Juan Capistrano.

February: Mid-month, Sarah came to visit both me and her sister, Emily, who was expecting a baby (since born, the weekend of my wedding!). We went to Disneyland, and to the cliffs of the Palos Verdes Penninsula to whale watch (early in the year is good whale watching time, apparently). She wished for me to go on a date with this guy I was talking to at the time. The guy and I did end up going on one date that weekend, and one in early March. Just after her visit, Heather and Jason came to visit for the NBA All-Star Game. Heather and I attended the game, and then an after party with Jason (who was working the game) - it was so fun to spend some time with her before her and Jason's wedding!

March: I traveled to Philadelphia for the annual NASPA conference. I had a great time with Jessica S, Matt Fulmer, Katie Treadwell, and other friends who were in town for the conference. We explored Philly, enjoyed a variety of Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches, learned about spiritual friendships (thanks Frank!), ran the "Rocky Steps", and helped me realize that the guy I had gone on two dates with was a non-starter. That was great, because mid-March I joined OKCupid (thanks to Jessica's pushing) and met Curby! By now, you know this story, so I won't belabor it. Want to relive? Click here. Near the end of the month, I hosted my cousin Monica, and her husband, DJ, for a brief visit. We explored Hollywood and went to Disney (my annual pass was already getting a workout!) and they got to meet Curby. Also in March, I celebrated the upcoming birth of my friend Casey's baby, made a quilt for Collin and Candice's soon-to-be-born baby, and celebrated my friend Jeremiah's 30th birthday.

April: In April, my parents came for a visit. It was really fun to have them in town and they were able to meet Curby, and we all got together with our friend Jessica to play games (read: DOMINION!) at my house. By then both Curby and I knew we'd be getting married, so I was especially glad my parents liked him. Curby also came with me to visit the Fergason family, where I had planned to go in April to attend Andilin's horse show. Curby's parents came down for a day, so I got to meet them, and they met the Fergs, too. And THEN, Sarah and Myles came by, too - just to meet the Curbster. It was a really great time!  Also in April, I had a short visit with Melissa Haigh and her three cute kids, had a really fun happy hour with Shark, Kevin, and Soozy Rooz at the Border Grille, celebrate Easter with Curby and his friends at Faith Worship Community, got to see the Watkins Family Hour reunite with Chris Theile for a Nickel Creek reunion-type show, and buy my first pair of authentic cowboy boots.

May: Three major events occurred this month.  First, I got to spend a few precious hours with Kathryn W and Mel Gruver, friends from grad school, down in San Diego. I almost murdered them when I found out that they were going to be at a conference in SD and hadn't told me, because they didn't know how close SD and LA were. But I relented and instead drove them to the beach and enjoyed In-n-Out with them. For the best, I guess. Second, my mom came to LA for a "Girl's Weekend" that was actually 7 days! It was amazingly fun, and we had a great time going to dinner and a movie ("Bridesmaids") with Curby, taking an Italian cooking class at the Cordon Bleu in Pasadena with Jessica "Mrs. Cupcake" Roberts, and then participating in a "Cake Ball Workshop" with Jessica R, who taught us how unfortunately easy it is to make cake pops.
As if that wasn't enough, I flew out to Greenville near the end of the month to be a bridesmaid in Heather and Jason's wedding. It was so fun! We had a great time decorating, getting pedicures, and just hanging out. Curby joined starting the night of the rehearsal dinner and it was awesome to have him there to dance with at the reception. After the wedding, we had a great visit with the Filby family, lunch at my favorite - Rancho Nuevo - with Maura and Marcus and Jenn (now Schroeder) Coppernoll, and then spent time in St. Louis at a Cardinals game and hanging out with Matt Fulmer. Maybe one of the funnest Memorial Weekends ever!

June: Life became a whirlwind in June! My parents came back out for a visit - to help celebrate the graduation of my friend Jessica. She is like a second daughter to them, and a sister to me, so we hosted a graduation party at my apartment that was filled with laughter, gluten-free snacks and reckless game playing. It was a really fun evening. The next weekend, Curby and I and our friends, the Cummings, headed down to Anaheim for a U2 concert... where Curby proposed to me! (See the story here!) As if that wasn't enough, I turned 37 and had an awesome mini-golf birthday party with an impromptu Justin Beiber theme. Finally, in the last weekend of the month, Curby and I took a road trip to Idlewild (hill country) by way of Temecula (wine country). It was a fun road trip and we enjoyed being out in nature together. Also in June: We saw Allison Kraus and Union Station at the Greek Theater!

July: July started out with a bang - of fireworks! Curby and I went with some friends to the Hollywood Bowl for the 4th of July Spectacular, featuring Hall and Oates. It was super fun. The next week I joined my dad's family in Spokane Washington for a mini-family reunion, and while there went wedding dress shopping with my mom and two of my aunts. It was a great and special experience and I loved having them there. At the end of the month, finally, after three years of waiting... I hosted Kathryn on an awesome visit to LA! We went to Disneyland, practiced making wedding bouquets and bouttennieres, hung out with Curby and friends, and spent the day bicycling down the coast of Orange County. Also in July, Curby and I started our pre-marital counseling, and in VERY exciting news, Baby Asher Bullard was born to my dear friends Collin and Candice!

August: We started the month with a visit of our good friends Bethany and Ryan Speier, who agreed to be our engagement and wedding photographers, despite living in Seattle. We just generally enjoyed their company while taking amazing photos and recording video for this little video they made that later would blow our minds. Mid-month, both our parents,and my dear friend and bridesmaid, Barbara, came into town for a fun engagement party we had down in Orange County, and I was surprised by the arrival of two of my aunts - Gloria and Donna - who decided to attend from Seattle at the last minute. What great joy!!! It was also the first time our parents had met each other, and it was really great to have Barb in town with me. Near the end of the month, my parents came back so that we could celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary at the Hollywood Bowl, listening to John Williams conduct the LA Philharmonic. It was an evening for the ages - we had so much fun together and we loved celebrating my parents that way! Also in August, I decided that working full-time over the summer PLUS working on a dissertation PLUS planning a wedding was not for me. So I stopped my dissertation until after the wedding.

September: Most importantly, Curby and I traveled to Fort Worth early in the month to visit his family, meet his extended family and granny, and meet a lot of his friends (and half of his groomsmen). We enjoyed Whataburger, Chicken Express, Babes - oh, and meeting people was fun, too. While there we also got to have breakfast with some of my Baylor friends (myles, sarah, melissa) which was a treat. Also, in September I started advising at my local Alpha Delta Pi chapter (Alpha Chi) again, mailed wedding invitations, celebrated Dustin's 30th birthday, hosted my mom for a weekend where she attended my first bridal shower (hosted by bridesmaid Jessica Roberts), and finally got the alterations going on my dress. I also spent a lot of time coming up with wedding ideas, buying crafty stuff and then making that craft stuff into other stuff.

October: The month started with an awesome "mystery" bachelorette party as me and 8 others traveled around Hollywood on foot, trying to solve the "Accomplice: Hollywood" mystery. Amazing. That same night we celebrated the engagement of a good friend of ours - congrats Dave and Sarah! The next week we had another bridal shower (hosted by good friends Nina and Wendy), a very special time. That night we drove back up to LA for the David Crowder* Band's farewell concert. Sad but great. Curby started to move stuff in that month and slowly our apartment was overwhelmed with his stuff and wedding boxes. The apartment grew smaller and smaller. Near the end of the month I traveled to Wisconsin to be a bridesmaid in the wedding of my dear friend, Jenn, who married her love, Ed, two weeks before our wedding. It was only fitting as they had met one week after us, and got engaged about 2 weeks before us! I loved being there for her and the ceremony and reception were perfect. Also that weekend, I got to spend some time with my dear friend Laura, her hubs Andy and their daughter Hope. Laura was one of my bridesmaids and it was great to spend a day or so with her before the wedding. She blessed me! AND while there, her mom took us to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which was an extra special treat. Also that month, I had breakfast with a former student and her husband - Jamie and Zach - it was very fun.
The whirlwind continued as I returned from Wisconsin, with only 2 weeks till our wedding and only one week till our mom's arrived. I'll move that into......

November: Nothing much happened in November - oh, except I got married! :) Our moms came, and then our friends, and then our family and it was glorious chaos. I loved having everyone here. We went to Disney with the Fergasons, the Flower market with my mom, Karen, Candice and my jr. bridesmaid Andi, hung out with all our friends while making flowers, and then danced into the night on our wedding day. Later we went to Playa Del Carmen for the honeymoon and mostly just enjoyed napping in our lounge chairs while sipping margaritas. That month I also headed to Charlotte, NC for a professional conference, where I presented 2 papers, hung with friends, and got reinvigorated about my research. Curby joined me on the weekend and we enjoyed a day in Charlotte together before heading back to LA. Later that month, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving together! I cooked a dinner with all the trimmings, even though it was just the two of us, and we ate on our fancy china. The last of the leftover turkey will be used this weekend in a soup. :)

December: I told myself that in December I had to start working on my dissertation again... and so I did, after a week or two. First, there was the Bel Air Christmas Tea which Jennifer Ann attended with me and some friends from small group. Then we had a variety of Christmas parties all month long (for which I made awesome hand-painted sweatshirts!). Before I knew it, I had written 30 pages of my paper and we were off to Phoenix for the holiday. We celebrated with my parents and brother and had a really nice and relaxed time. Earlier in the month we had spontaneously decided to visit Collin and Candice for New Years' weekend, so we left Phoenix, dropped off Tiny at a friend's house, and boarded a plane for England-town (as Curby and I called it). The last few days were spent in Cambridge, playing with Asher, drinking good beer and whiskey, walking around town, and baking like fiends. It was a great way to end a VERY busy and exciting year.

I'm sure I missed a bunch of stuff about 2011, and hopefully the stuff I forgot can be forgiven. Upcoming posts include a "year in pictures" collage post and a "year in numbers" post (thanks for the idea Jess!).

I can't wait to see what 2012 holds. In the meantime, reliving 2011 like this reminds me that I am grateful for my family, friends, and the faithfulness of God in getting me through it. Now, off to more dissertation writing!