My First WordPress Conference: WordCamp Raleigh 2013

This past weekend I went to North Carolina for WordCamp Raleigh. This was my first time in North Carolina and my first time ever attending a WordPress conference. I’ve never attended a conference that wasn’t for church youth groups or K-12 teachers, so this was a totally new experience for me.WordCamp-Raleigh-Banner

My fiance, Tom, was set to speak at the conference, so I wanted to go and support him as well as learn some stuff along the way. Tom works for WooThemes, a WordPress platform provider that offers a wide selection of themes and plugins for website developers, bloggers, and businesses (among others). So he has a lot of insight on all things WordPress, as well as a whole ton of general software engineer (AKA computer programmer) knowledge.

I was actually pretty nervous about going. I mean, I am going to school to be a middle/high school math teacher. Sure, I’ve had this blog for 8 months, and I’ve been learning a lot since we’ve been working on our wedding website, but I was worried that everyone at the conference would be of Tom’s caliber. So I  wouldn’t be able to connect with anyone because they would all be too knowledgeable and I would be uninteresting and unrelatable.

I told Tom my concerns before going but he reassured me that there were people from all levels, all backgrounds, and all ages that I would not be left out. I figured I was going to see Tom speak, so that was the main focus. Anything I learned and any connections I made would be a bonus.

I can honestly say that I am so glad I went – it was a great learning experience and I met a lot of cool people! Plus I got to see Tom in his natural habitat with a bunch of computer-enthusiasts. And I got to brag that I was with him. Win-win.

I’ll admit that I was a bit lost during some of the outside conversations when Tom was with other programmers. So I mostly sat back and listened or kept to myself because there was no way I would have any sort of input on the subject. This was sometimes discouraging because of my previous reservations about attending the conference. But there was always another conversation going on close by that I could slide into if I felt I could contribute.

Overall, the workshops/sessions that I went to were great. They used #wcraleigh so that everyone could connect and get insight on other talks, pull quotes from the different speakers, and give updates about their conference experience. Needless to say I used Twitter more in those 6 hours than I have in months. And it reminds me of how great social media can be. And also how annoying. But I won’t get into that so I don’t end up offending anyone.

In one of the sessions I attended, I learned that there actually exist plugins that allow you to drag and drop elements, making layout construction/manipulation so much easier! I can’t tell you how many times, while working on our wedding website, I’ve looked at it and said, “I want this here, and that to move there…” The problem is that I don’t know how to code all that, so I usually just accept the way it is and try to get over it. But this weekend the heavens opened and now I’m going to give the plugin a spin.

And I realized that I am not the only one who was blown away by this; the majority of those in attendance were making noises of exasperation, relief, excitement…so many noises that just made it known that this was not something we all were aware of. So I know that I speak for most of the people at this session when I say thank you Brett Bumeter for the insight! He tweeted out his slides, so check them out to get an idea of what he talked about. If you’re interested, the one I found to be most helpful was Page Layout Builder.

I also went to a talk by Hal Goodtree that focused on creating content as a blogger while thinking and writing like a publisher. This session was really informative, covering the best approaches, techniques, and plugins, so I plan to employ plenty of those suggestions to be a better blogger.

And, of course, I went to Tom’s talk which focused on sliders. I had been keeping up with the #wcraleigh hashtag throughout the day and was getting ready to post a picture of Tom giving his talk. I noticed that a couple of people had tweeted kind of negative views on sliders towards the beginning of his presentation. There was nothing negative about Tom, but I was surprised to find that for some reason some people just do not like sliders and see no point or place for them on websites. IMG_0244

Funny enough, by the end of his talk, a few people tweeted about having changed their view and that Tom might have convinced them to use a slider for their blog! I’m really proud of him for getting so involved in his trade (this was the third WordCamp he spoke at this year) and putting himself out there to inform others of what he’s learning.

One decision I made over the weekend was that I want to move this blog from wordpress.com to .org. Now that I know what I’m doing a little more and have been using WordPress pretty consistently, I’ve realized how limited I am with a .com blog. I’ve gotten more familiar with plugins and CSS since working on our wedding website, so I’m realizing how little I can do to customize my own blog, unless I pay to upgrade in WordPress. And that’s been driving me nuts. So that will definitely be changing soon.

If you’re interested in checking out future WordCamps, look at the schedule here. They are held all over the world – USA, South America, India…everywhere! And the registration doesn’t cost much, honestly. Everyone working and speaking at the event are volunteers – none of them are getting paid to put this together. That shows their dedication and enthusiasm for the realm of WordPress, right?

So if there’s one close to you and you would like to learn more about WordPress and connect with cool people that want to do the same, I would highly recommend that you do it! Now excuse me while I go become an awesome blogger…

Wedding Update: 9 Months to go!

Down to the nine month mark! This past month has been more thinking and visualizing rather than actually making concrete decisions and plans. I mean, we have our venue and I got my dress, the rest is a cake-walk, right?

One thing I can happily say is that I haven’t been a bridezilla.

Right, Tom? RIGHT?!?!

But seriously, if I’m being completely honest, I haven’t done any crazy complaining or stressing. I mean, I’ve watched some of those shows with crazy brides, and they totally stress me out. I can’t make it more than 2 minutes before I need to either change the channel or walk out of the room.

Like, these women are nuts. And it makes me question the sanity of the chump that asked them to spend the rest of their lives together. You really want to spend each and every day with her? And then there are her friends/bridesmaids whom she treats like total garbage. How have they not ended the friendship? Why did they agree to be in her wedding? And how on Earth do they restrain themselves from punching her in the face?!

Breathe, Holliday. Breathe.

But since I haven’t been stressing too much, I was so surprised when I had this crazy wedding dream/nightmare a couple weeks ago. I wrote about it here, so check out how strange it was.

I guess the one thing that hit home the most with that dream was the part about my mom not coming. I’ve been stressing about this the most and trying to figure out possible ways to get her down here. And then the guilt sets in.

Am I selfish for having my wedding down in Long Island instead of upstate? It has been less stressful planning it down here, and yet I feel like a horrible daughter in making it more difficult for my mom to come.

So I’ve been looking into finding resources in order to get mom down here:

  1. Her friend offered to pay for transportation down here – plane, train, whatever – so that’s one less thing to worry about. Realistically, a plane would be the best way because she can’t sit in her chair for more than a few hours.
  2. From there, we’d need to find transportation from the airport to Long Island (and vice versa when she goes home).
  3. We would need to have an aide with her for whenever she needed meds, to use the bathroom, and transporting between her motorized chair to bed.
  4. Along with the aide, the nursing home uses a Hoyer lift for these transports, so we’d probably need one of those.

Is there such a thing as renting a nursing home room or assisted living space for a night? That would be great!

On top of all this, the most important thing is keeping her stress level as low as possible. Stress exacerbates her condition, so we would need to make everything as easy on her as we could. This was actually one of the reasons we didn’t hold it upstate.

No matter what we plan, in the end, her MS will rule the day and decide how she feels. So even if we did hold it upstate, there’s always a chance that she may wake up that morning and feel like total garbage and be unable to attend anyways. See my dilemma?

Whew, okay, let’s move on. I’m becoming a stress-ball again.

On a lighter note, I’ve been designing our Save the Dates. In the wedding world, they call these STDs for short; I know, weird. Tom suggested skipping the STDs…wait…ahem, let’s just use Save the Dates. Come on Holliday, be mature.

You know you were thinking it too.

So Tom suggested just skipping Save the Dates and going straight to the invitations. Because we are having a wedding that has the potential for a lot of out-of-town guests, it would be a great idea to get a head count earlier than typical timelines suggest. This way we will have an idea of how many hotel rooms we might need to block, how many guests in general for ceremony and meal preparations, and how many would attend a separate reception if we held one upstate.

On top of that, we need to figure out a picture we both like to put on the Save the Dates and/or Invitations; we might need a few depending on what design we go with. Tom and I both like the Save the Date postcard idea, so if we do send STDs, we’ll probably go with something like this:Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 10.47.25 AM copy

Except Tom isn’t a fan of the front picture. Which brings me to finding a photographer…

So an appointment had been made to meet with the photography company that works closely with our venue. Except someone (I won’t name names) slept through said appointment. Normally I think this would stress me (or anyone) out, but to be honest I’m not too impressed with that company’s portfolio.

Since they are based in Long Island, I wouldn’t have been able to attend the original appointment anyways, since I have grad school and work during the week. I’ve had my eye on two other photographers whose work I find so much better, but obviously they’re a bit pricier. I want the photos to be amazing, so I really don’t want to skimp and end up with crummy pictures just to save a few bucks. But I also don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, either.

So I made an appointment with one of the other photography companies I liked better, and I’m hoping that things will go well and we can decide to go with them. I’d also like to set up an engagement session with them. This way we can become comfortable with our photographer and we can all get an idea of what we want for the big day.

A couple weeks ago, we asked Tom’s dad to take a few pictures at the beach where we got engaged since he has a pretty nice camera. We have this running joke about not wanting super awkward pictures, so I mentioned poses like the ‘peering around a tree at each other’ pose. So we made a point to take a picture like that for fun, knowing that it is something we want to avoid with actual engagement pictures.IMG_0241 copy

Even with our desire not to get awkward pictures, we got plenty of them that day. Not because we were super pose-y or cheesey, but because it was super windy and sunny at the beach. We wanted candid, we got candid. All I have to say is watch what you wish for. Outtakes might be posted on our wedding website, so wear a diaper for that experience.

Speaking of, Tom and I got to sit down and work on the website together last weekend. Tom did most of the work while I sat next to him and made my suggestions for overall look and functions. I’m always so amazed when I watch him do stuff with computers!

How did you know what to do to fix that? How did you know to type that? Where did you learn all this stuff?!

I’ve learned a lot along the way because he knows how to break things down and explain them to someone who is not completely technology illiterate but is nowhere near his level of knowledge. It was a nice bonding time for us and hopefully the site will be up soon.

On top of all that, I realized that this year will be the first time we get to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together! Tomorrow, November 17, is the three year mark since we met, but we haven’t actually spent a major holiday together because of the whole 400-miles-between-us thing. We’ve talked over Skype on such days, but to actually be able to be with each other and share the joy that those days bring makes me really excited.

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October 2011

And (okay, let’s get cheesy for a second) kind of emotional. I mean, you have no idea how long I’ve waited to be able to spend special days – holidays, birthdays, even just going out on dates – with Tom. It’s crazy thinking about all the time we spent so far away, all the things we couldn’t do, all the experiences and memories we couldn’t share because of the distance between us.

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September 2012

Through the difficult times, the frustrations, the doubts, the short visits, the extreme loneliness following the short visits, and the inability to share all the good times without a screen between us. After 2 years of that, you can imagine how ecstatic I am knowing that Tom and I no longer have to endure these!

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. –Romans 5: 1-5

Yes, we will still have frustrating times; I understand that marriage does not magically take away problems. If anything, problems will be brought to light or created as a married couple spending a lot of time together. But we’ll be able to work through them face to face. God seriously tested our relationship, and now we’re going to be joined in marriage! And I’m pumped!

So I told Tom the other day that we might just need to get one of those cheesy “Our First Christmas” ornaments for the tree this year! And we can put one of our awkward beach photos on it. Like this one:IMG_0184 copy 2

Or maybe something more like this:

IMG_0192 copy 2

All I know is there are plenty of awkward pictures to choose from. And all I can say is that we’re a couple of awkward people. And we must embrace it.

So, to put a twist on Romans 5: 3-5,

We rejoice in our shared awkwardness because it produces our endurance to deal with each other’s awkward characters. Let us hope that we can get pictures a little less awkward. If not, we have no shame because God loves us no matter what.

My Invisalign Journey (3): Getting my aligners!

You should definitely check out my previous posts about my consultation and my first appointment before reading this!

Have you done that? If not, reread the first sentence. Good? Okay, let’s keep the story rolling!

So we left off with Dee (my technician, remember?) telling me that the office would let me know when my aligners were ready. I would have to wait anywhere between 3 to 6 weeks. Well, during the sixth week, I actually called the office just to inquire about my aligners. I wasn’t sure if maybe they had tried calling me and for some odd reason it didn’t connect. Or maybe the voicemail didn’t work. Or maybe they called the wrong Holliday…you never know!

Dee, friendly as usual, told me that Dr. Jacquie had taken a look at my 3D images, made some tweaks to them, and that this was why it was taking a bit longer for my aligners to come in. Okay, as long as everything was running smoothly, I could wait an extra few days.

Lo and behold, the next day, Dee called me back to tell me my aligners were ready!!!!! I made an appointment the next day and went straight to the office after work. I didn’t care that I would probably be late to my grad school class. This held much higher priority.

I was so excited to get to the office and finally get to start my treatment. It was Halloween, so all of the technicians were dressed up in different Angry Bird costumes which was pretty comical. I updated Dee on my wedding plans and showed her some pictures of my dress; she had shown me a picture of hers during my consultation. She said it was gorgeous and we kept talking about weddings, but it was hard to make serious conversation with her in that costume.

After that, another Angry Bird-esque technician led me to a room to show me my 3D images, how my teeth and bite would change, and to explain everything about the aligners (proper wear/care/etc). She told me that Dr. Jacquie actually ordered for me to have a couple more aligners than originally thought. But she also said that I would be able to keep them in for a shorter period of time; so instead of wearing each aligner for 2 weeks, I would be able to wear them for about 10 days each. So it wasn’t a terrible adjustment or extreme addition of time, but man, are my teeth screwed up or what?

She pulled up my images that had been taken the last time I was there, and then showed how, with the aligners, my teeth would shift and re-align into a beautiful configuration. She showed me views from the front of both top and bottom teeth, so this is how my smile would look eventually. She then showed aerial views of the top and then the bottom teeth; it was amazing to see how crooked my teeth and jaw started and then how perfectly straight and rounded they were by the end!

My online account with Dr. Jacquie’s office actually has these images and shows the progression, like a little movie! I even have the option to share on Facebook or send a link to someone who would actually care to see it. But instead, I took 4 screenshots of each view (front view and aerial views of both bottom and top) to give you an idea of the progression. The pictures show what my teeth look like at the beginning (aligner 1), how they will look in the middle of treatment (aligners 17 and 30), and what the final product will look like (aligner 46).

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Front view

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Bottom teeth aerial view

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Top teeth aerial view

How freaking cool is that?! I watched the video about 5 times in a row for each view…and got so excited every time it got to the end!

The images at the office actually showed the attachments that will be put in place on my teeth for the rubberbands to fix my bite. I kind of freaked out a bit because the computer showed huge red pieces on my teeth. Umm you know I’m getting married in August, right? Oh, and, I also interact with people on a daily basis. So huge red things on my teeth will not exactly work for me.

“Don’t worry, I know the screen shows them as red, but they’re actually going to be tooth colored, so they won’t be noticeable.” Phew.

After she showed me these images, she took out my aligners from their little plastic bag and kind of explained the basics of how they are each labeled in case I mix them up. My top and bottom teeth are extremely different, so I have no trouble deciphering which is which, but I guess it was good to know. They also have the aligner number on them, so if all of my aligners at some point were to end up in a big pile, I would be able to group them with their corresponding aligner number.

She helped me pop in the bottom, had me pop in the top, and then had me pop them out to make sure I knew how to do it. It was kind of awkward and difficult because they were kind of tight, but other than that it was fine. I popped both back in and felt like a linebacker with a huge mouthguard in my mouth.

I know they’re clear and they aren’t as thick and huge as a sports mouthguard, but it was so foreign that I felt like my cheeks were all puffed out. She told me that it was going to feel weird at first but no one would really notice except me. “When you smile, they only make your teeth look shiny. Other than that, no one will notice.”

She went through the cleaning procedure, rules about not eating or drinking anything (except water) while they were in my mouth, and what to do when I progressed to the next aligner. She told me not to throw any of my aligners away.

“When you finish with a set of aligners and are ready to move on to the next set, clean the old ones really well and throw them back in the plastic ziplock back that they come in. This way, if for some reason your teeth do shift back a bit at any point, you can match up your teeth to one of the sets of aligners and wear them again to get them back to where they should be.” That makes sense!

During this entire spiel, my tongue was having a field day running along the smooth plastic of my aligners. I know that’s weird, but they were just so smooth! Plus, my mouth became really dry because A) I had rushed there after work, B) I was excited, C) I kept breathing out of my mouth because I felt like I couldn’t keep my mouth closed. Now, it’s not that they are thick or bulky or anything, but it was just a huge difference from what I was used to, so it felt like I couldn’t keep my mouth closed, if that makes sense. If not, oh well.

I was nervous about talking too; I remember one of my friends talking about how her aligners made her lisp a bit at first. “You may talk a little funny in the beginning, but your tongue will get used to them so it won’t be a problem.”

She sent me on my way with my first three sets of aligners, a couple tooth brushes, a travel toothpaste, and two cases for my aligners. I was very self-conscious because my mouth felt so awkward, so smiling was weird because I had no idea what I looked like.

Dee greeted me at the front desk again, asked how they felt, and set me up for my next appointment. I was told that I would be fitted for the attachments for the rubberbands at the next appointment, as well as receiving the next three sets of aligners.

So look forward to my next post about my first week with the aligners; I’ll give my first impressions, any complaints, as well as tips and pointers about Invisalign.

My Invisalign Journey (2): Consultation and First Appointment

If you haven’t already done so, read my first post about my Invisalign journey here!

So now that I had my consultation scheduled, I was really pumped. Normally the consultation would be free, which is great. However, mine was $75 since I did not have a panoramic X-ray of my mouth taken within the past year (or ever).

So when I walked in for my consultation, I met the technician (let’s call her Dee seeing as I don’t know how cool it would be to actually use names other than Dr. Jacquie. And Holliday.) that I had corresponded with over email and phone, and she was just as pleasant in person. I learned that she was planning her wedding for next September, so we bonded over that; we talked about planning and dresses and all that good stuff. She took my panoramic X-ray and then brought Dr. Jacquie to see me.

Now I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about Dr. Jacquie. Although all of the press about her was great, I was unsure as to whether she would be some fake and impersonal woman. I mean, who knows? Maybe she let the fame (she was featured on The Tyra Banks Show) and recognition (she’s an Elite Preferred Provider and in the top 1% of North American providers) get to her head.

But I was pleasantly proved wrong! The moment she walked into the room, she said she was glad to finally meet me, congratulated me on my engagement, and she was completely genuine! And she had a great smile herself.

Plus, she used creamsicle flavored gloves when she felt around my teeth and gums. Bonus!

She said that I had great teeth, my X-ray looked perfect, and they were going to not only straighten my teeth, but I had a pretty bad overbite. “You hide it well because your front top teeth are pushed back, so there isn’t the obvious gap between the top and bottom teeth.” She said it almost as a compliment…I was tempted to say ‘thank you.’ I mentioned that I had jaw pain and clicking a lot and she said that my bad bite is most likely the reason. Well, cool.

But I guess it could be worse. I could look like this dog with a crazy overbite.

So overall, my treatment would be 18 months; the first 6 months were mostly just to straighten and align my teeth. She said that they would be beautifully straight for my wedding in August! Then the last 12 months were going to focus on fixing my bite. She even explained to me how my bite had formed so unevenly using one of the fake sets of top and bottom teeth in her office. She was very clear and thorough about it and how the treatment would fix this.

Now, ironically, to fix my bite, she told me I would have to wear rubberbands connecting my top and bottom jaws. I have to say, I’m not as excited about the rubberbands as I might have been say back in middle school. I wonder if they make glow-in-the-dark ones…

They went over the price once my treatment plan was explained, including overall price and monthly payments. Now obviously everyone’s treatment cost is different based upon the length of time and necessary work. My whole treatment was going to be $7500 because of the extensive amount of time with my jaw needing fixing. They could just straighten my teeth, but without the bite alignment, the teeth wouldn’t sit correctly and this would compromise how straight my teeth would be in the end and could ultimately make my jaw pain worse.

She also said that since I was getting married, they would include a whitening treatment so that my teeth looked extra gorgeous for my wedding. And, they were going to give me an extra set of my last aligners so that I didn’t have to buy a whole separate set of retainers at the end of my treatment. Great!

I didn’t make the decision to go ahead right then and there; I wanted to talk it over with Tom before I just said, “Yeah, I’ll spend $7500 on myself.” They told me it was fine, that I could just call them after I had made the decision. So Tom and I talked and agreed that it would be worth the investment. I called the office right away and scheduled an appointment to create my aligners.

Fast forward one week to my first official appointment. Dee brought me into another room this time with a large computer-like contraption. This machine was going to take pictures of my teeth from all angles and create a 3D image of them. From these 3D images, Dr. Jacquie would determine how each tooth needed to be shifted, and how my bite would be fixed. The aligners would then be made using these images. (This picture is not mine, but that is the machine and how the images look during the procedure.)

How cool is that?! The procedure was a bit uncomfortable for a few reasons. First, it blows out cool air the entire time to prevent the camera from fogging up, so it dries your mouth out like crazy. Plus, I have some sensitive parts of my teeth and gums, so there were times when I wanted to cry out in pain because the cool air was killing me. Finally, your mouth has to be open uncomfortably wide for an extended period of time while they get every angle of every tooth. The molars were a killer to get good pictures of.

But it was cool seeing my two sets of teeth as 3D images on the screen when she was finished. It was annoying because they looked even more crooked and uneven without my skin to cover them up. But then again, they will be straight and pretty soon enough; that’s why I was there!

She then took a bunch of pictures of my teeth and bite with an old-fashioned (old-fashioned in comparison to the large contraption I just had prodding my mouth) digital camera. I assume those will be the “before” shots for the before-and-after pictures. I can’t wait to see how much my teeth change! 

Dee said that it would take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to get the first three sets of aligners, but as soon as they arrived they would call me and get me an appointment so I could start my treatment ASAP.

Next post will talk about getting my aligners; I’ll include the actual 3D images of my teeth, too! Get excited! I know I am!

My Dream Wedding (Literally)

So I had a very vivid and clear dream last night. It was about my wedding. And it was not something I would hope will happen on the real day…

I got in the car and the policewoman said, “I’m going back to the station, do you want a ride?”

I don’t know whose cat I was holding in my lap, but it was trying its hardest to get out of my grasp. I glanced at the clock on the dashboard of the cop car.

1:35. My wedding was at 2. “I better not seeing as I am supposed to get married in 25 minutes.” I was surprisingly calm despite the fact that I had less than half an hour before my wedding was scheduled to start.

I exited the car, let the cat go, and was on my way. Luckily I was already at my venue, so there wasn’t any travel time to worry about. No one ever gets married on time, so it won’t be terrible if we start a bit late.

When I got to the bridal suite, which was more like a wooden canopy that would double as the altar, two of my bridesmaids were waiting for me. They were going to style my hair, except I remembered I hadn’t had a chance to shower yet and I’m pretty sure I had worked out earlier, so my hair was in need of more than just a curling iron and hairspray.

“I was hoping to at least use some dry shampoo,” I said. But there was none available, so I just had to deal with what they were able to do.

The next thing I knew, there was a golf caddy letting us know that it was tee-time. Tom and his groomsmen had planned a golf outing before the wedding. Shouldn’t they have done that much earlier? Maybe it was busy and it had to be pushed back? Hmm, I hope they play quickly and are back in time for the ceremony.

The masseuse/makeup artist then came by to my “suite”; he seemed very fabulous, although his face was kind of scary. He went over the pricing of the treatments he suggested for me, put some foundation on my face, and was quickly on his way elsewhere.

Well I guess today is all about simplicity, I thought to myself. Today is about our marriage. I guess my hair and makeup don’t have to be too much. But at least I know my dress will be gorgeous.

Speaking of, where was my dress? I glanced to my right and saw it crumpled on a shelf. It still looked clean, so hopefully no one would notice if there were a few wrinkles.

All of a sudden, I saw my whole family walking into the canopy. My whole dad’s side of the family was able to come, which was something I had been unsure of since the wedding was a 7-hour drive for most of them. I was so happy and started greeting them with hugs and “I’m so glad you could make it.”

I then came to the sinking conclusion that my mom hadn’t been able to make it. I don’t remember telling her where the wedding was going to be, and therefore I don’t remember her saying she would be there. I felt terrible.

At this point I was all set to go; I had my wedding dress on and all of a sudden I heard the processional music begin. Oh my gosh, I’m not even in place! Tom can’t see me until I’m walking down the aisle!

So I grabbed my dad’s arm and we walked around the back of the wooden canopy so that the guys could get in place at the altar. As we made our way around, there was a whole marching band that had set up on the porch of the main building and started playing and singing a happy song to get me pumped about my wedding. They were holding a banner too, although I can’t recall what it said.

Wow, this is so nice! After all the chaos of the past 25 minutes, things are going pretty smoothly. And I’m excited to finally be getting married!

I glanced down at my dress as we walked. I think it looks nice! And I’m glad I worked out earlier because it fits great!

I couldn’t wait to see Tom’s face when he saw me. And see how handsome he looked in his tux. We made it to the aisle and started the processional. But then, about halfway down, my dad started speed walking. I tried holding his arm tighter and saying, “Whoa, where are you going? Slow down.”

He broke free from my grasp and ran the rest of the way, leaving me stumbling the rest of the way. When my dad moved out of the way, I had a clear view of Tom. He was lounging in the chair I had been sitting in earlier. And he had his everyday clothes on. Jeans. Sneakers. Striped blue and white polo.

“Are you serious? Why aren’t you dressed up?” I asked.

“I was just golfing,” he replied. I was really upset at the fact that he wasn’t taking this seriously. I then realized that my dad had been wearing a flannel shirt, cut-off shorts, and sneakers this entire time.

This isn’t a freaking hoe down! This is my wedding and I can’t believe no one is treating it like one!

Without saying a word, I just walked away. I walked around the back of the canopy, the way we had gone earlier to make it around to the aisle. The band and singers were all still set up on the porch, probably waiting to play some celebratory tunes when the ceremony was over. But they realized that this was not a good sign, that I was walking away without my groom in tow. They started chattering inaudibly, probably making up scenarios as to what had happened.

I walked down the busy road in front of the venue in my wedding dress and heels. God only knows what those in the cars passing by were thinking of me. I probably looked like a tragic mess. Greasy hair. No makeup. A wrinkly wedding dress.

I continued walking until I came to a beach. I went and stood in the sand and the water. Something was going on there; a bunch of large machines were floating on the water. They weren’t boats but more like large metal boxes as large as buildings. A crowd began to gather, so I decided I should probably leave.

I walked back down the road toward the venue thinking that hopefully the day could be salvaged. A few speed bumps shouldn’t completely bring this special day to a screeching halt. As the wooden canopy came into view, the dream ended.

Thank goodness.

My Invisalign Journey (1): Yes to Invisalign and Finding a Provider

I started using my first set of Invisalign liners yesterday! I figured I would document my journey with them so maybe I can help someone decide they want to give them a whirl. And also because I’m so pumped to see my teeth and bite transform and improve and become beautiful!!

So let’s start from the beginning: my choice to get Invisalign and the process of finding a provider.

I’ve been wanting braces since I was in middle school. Back then, everyone was getting them. But they were expensive and I never had dental insurance, so it was not an option. I guess I would say my teeth aren’t horribly crooked, but they aren’t straight. And my two front top teeth are noticeably larger than my other teeth because of the crooked way they are positioned.

Aside from their purpose in straightening teeth and correcting bites, the other great thing about those braces were the fun rubberbands. Do you remember how cool the rubberbands seemed as a kid? I was always jealous when one of my friends came to school with a new set of colored rubberbands! They usually coincided an upcoming holiday (green and red for Christmas) or they were the person’s favorite color. And don’t even get me started on the glow-in-the-dark ones!

And then, in high school, people started getting their metal braces taken off, revealing straight teeth and beautiful smiles. As if the rubberbands weren’t enough, the end product of years with braces made me even more jealous.

Since middle and high school are deemed “normal” times to have metal braces, after graduating from high school, the idea of metal braces was out of the question for me. I know there were those “tooth-colored” ceramic braces and they have come a long way over the years, but they still weren’t ideal.

I remember a teacher in elementary school with these “clear” braces, but they actually made her teeth look really yellow. And they still had the metal wire, so there really was no concealing the fact that she had braces. Nowadays the ceramic braces come with white wires to make them less noticeable (see comparison below) but they’re still kind of obvious.

Luckily within the past 10 years, the creation and improvement of clear aligners makes straight teeth without metal or an off-white appearance an option.

Except it’s still expensive. I have encountered a few people throughout the years who have been able to afford the multi-thousand dollar service and have said that it was totally worth every penny. But realistically I just could not afford it. Other than improving my self-confidence, they didn’t seem necessary.

But through the years, I knew that I wanted to have straight teeth for my future wedding, whenever that actually happened. So when I got engaged this summer, it was time to seriously contemplate whether I was going to take the plunge and get Invisalign. Tom and I talked about it and agreed that I should do it, so I began doing my research of local Invisalign providers.

“Coincidentally,” Groupon actually sent me a deal for a certain amount off an Invisalign treatment. As tempting as that was, I figured it would be a good idea to look further into this “deal”. I found a bunch of negative reviews and “buyer bewares” from people:

  • the provider offering the discount was not a recognized Invisalign provider (Invisalign “trained” instead of “certified”)
  • the provider offering the discount was new to the field and was pretty much trying to get more patients
  • treatment might not even use Invisalign liners
  • provider might try to push other services before actual Invisalign treatment is allowed

Check out this article I found about avoiding Groupons for Invisalign treatment. Among other things, the author explains that “it’s illegal for orthodontists and dentists to engage in fee-splitting activities…”

So I decided against the Groupon thing; these are my teeth and I don’t want to mess with them just to save money. So I went to the Invisalign website and looked at New York City providers. Providers are rated based on how many Invisalign patients they have treated (Elite, Premier, Preferred, and General Provider) as well as whether they are included in the top 1% of North America Invisalign providers.

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I chose one of the best: Dr. Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling. She is an Elite Preferred Provider as well as in the top 1% of providers, so I figured if anyone could give me a great smile, she could. Plus she had multiple offices throughout the NYC and Long Island area, so I figured that multiple locations meant that this lady knew her stuff and was doing really well in the world of orthodontia.

Further research of her proved my assumptions: everyone had nothing but great things to say about her, her team, and their successful treatments.

I contacted her office and scheduled my consultation with her midtown office. So (as long as I felt good about Dr. Jacquie and her team, the price wasn’t too extreme, and it seemed do-able) I had a provider!

My next post will be about my consultation and first official appointment, so keep your eyes posted!

Closing the Waist Gap

Calling all smaller-waist girls with a curvy bootay! If you’re like me, you hate shopping for bottoms – jeans, capris, shorts, trousers. Nothing ever seems to fit right.

Disclaimer: I debated for awhile whether I wanted to include pictures. I mean, it was kind of uncomfortable taking pictures of my butt from different angles with intention of posting them on the internet. But, I decided to include them because I know that I appreciate seeing pictures rather than just reading about how great something fits. I understand all bodies are different, but I thought the pictures could give you a better idea. So please don’t judge me and my round toches. That’s Yiddish for bum. Thanks!

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s continue.

The 2s (3/4s in some brands) fit great around the waist but everywhere else feels restricted. These could be my laying down and not moving pants. That would probably be the only activity (or lack thereof) that I could reasonably do in them.

If I get a pair of 4s (5/6s in some brands) to fit my butt’s circumference, there is that huge annoying gap either in the front or in the back because my waist is too small. Why must I always wear a belt to actually keep the extra junk in the trunk?

And wearing belts all the time for functionality rather than fashion gets really uncomfortable. Not to mention it always makes for a lumpy midsection. Exhibit A: I am in the center of the picture and my belt is extremely obvious. Side note: aren’t we cute?603807_10152781694520203_1574156246_n

Plus, because of my round derrière, I can’t get low-rise pants because I don’t quite feel like flashing everyone if I drop something and need to bend down. Don’t even think about sitting down. But then, when I go for mid-rise, the jean designers put the pockets so high that my butt looks like it’s half-way up my back.

Not cute. Or anatomically correct.

On top of this, I am a little taller than what jeans in my size usually come in off the rack; I’ve bought size 7s in the past just to compensate for my height. So I usually go for the jeans that come in different size and length combinations, going for regulars or longs, depending on how they fit. And it’s frustrating because these are the pants that are never on sale!

Can you say first world problems?

Seriously, this makes me want to go around pant-less. all. the. time. But that is not considered acceptable in this part of the world. Although I have seen some questionable outfits worn by girls here in New York City: Shorts so short I see butt cheeks. Leggings worn as pants without a long shirt to cover the bum. And I saw one girl running down Broadway wearing a skirt with a see-through overlay…the non-see-through layer was mid-thigh length and the overlay was floor-length…except when she was running, she was holding up the skirt so she didn’t trip…which is smart, except she was also holding up the bottom layer…so she was totally exposed…and she was totally wearing a thong. But that’s a whole different issue.

So since it’s not my style to go without bottoms, I usually just suck it up, keep trying on jeans, and hope to find a pair that I could deal with for an entire day, uncomfortable no matter which size I choose. Then, once I’m out of grad school, I’ll consider moving to a nude beach or somewhere that’s too hot to wear pants. all. the. time.

I know there are some brands that sell jeans made for curvy women. The problem? Well, to be blunt, as a graduate student I’m not willing to pay a lot for a pair of jeans. I’m looking at you Levi’s Curve ID (ranging from $50 to $100) and Eddie Bauer’s Stayshape jeans ($70-$80), to name a couple.

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Arizona flare, Arizona skinny, dENiZEN modern boot cut

I haven’t bought jeans in over a year, so I’ve been relying on the same 4 pairs of jeans (2 flare, 2 skinny), and it’s frustrating. I have to wear a belt with all 4 of them because of the stupid waist gap occurrence.

The other day I went to Target to grab a couple things. I figured I’d look at the jeans (just look, seeing as there’s no way I’ll find jeans that will work with my body) and maybe try some stuff on. I tried modern fit, slim fit, and curvy fit. And hated them all for different reasons.

Slim fit did not give enough coverage when I bent over. Modern fit was okay, but there was that damn waist gap, even though everything else fit nicely. Curvy fit is made for girls with a little more everywhere – it doesn’t work with slimmer waists. Isn’t that just plus size? But, I digress.

AND THEN! I found a great gem. Enter dENiZEN (that’s how the brand is written, don’t ask me why) Essential Stretch Modern Boot Cut Jeans. These jeans are from Levi’s. And they’re stretchy. And they’re only $27.99!

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Arizona flare, dENiZEN modern boot cut

They aren’t jeggings but they feel amazing. I got a size 4 Medium; the 4 Long was excessively long. I don’t need a belt with them, and they don’t cut the circulation off in my butt or thighs. Plus, they aren’t like some mid-rise jeans that come to my belly button and make my butt look weird. It’s a win-win!

This brand does come in a skinny jean style, but I didn’t like how they fit. They’re still stretchy, but the legs were a bit tight at the bottom. I’m not a skin-tight skinny jean gal. I am so glad I found these, and (bonus!) just in time for Back To School shopping.

Not only do I like the way they fit and look on me, but I wore them to work one day and my female coworker told me my butt looked great! Plus, Tom likes them too! Approval from both sexes. Score! Hence why I went back to Target this week and picked up a second pair.

Update: Since I originally wrote this post about 2 months ago (I’ve been busy…and debating whether or not to include the pictures…), I just wanted to say that I think I would grab a Long version of these if I were to purchase another pair. I have a 33-34″ inseam and I like my pants to be a bit long; numerous washing and drying has shrunk them in length a bit, so I would definitely go for the 4L next time.