Saturday, December 6, 2008

"I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas"

The Holiday Season is upon us! The residents of 417 Oaks Drive are ecstatic about the upcoming Christmas festivities! It's only the best holiday!! As soon as we got home from Thanksgiving traveling, we were at Lowes picking out our live Christmas tree... Since Matthew was new to this whole process, it was fun explaining to him how to spot a good tree, one that isn't too dry, too sparse, but one that is JUST right! Luckily the first one we picked up was perfect, so we wrapped it up on top of good Ole' Black Beauty and drove it home. That part was easy...getting it into the tree stand straight is a whole other story. Regardless... it is currently up looking beautiful and smelling awesome! I have had a lot of fun decorating the apartment. Of course, not as much as I would like, but I plan on hitting those after Christmas sales to stock up on decorating goodies.

(Due to our faulty tree stand...our tree is leaning!)

(the finished project!)

Since Matthew and I will be gone every weekend in December but this one, we are going to celebrating our own Christmas Wed. December 17th. We are going to be doing the whole ordeal...dinner and everything! I'm taking on my first Christmas turkey ever. I'm making sweet potato casserole, dressing, deviled eggs, strawberry pretzel salad, my mom's delicious homemade rolls, and assorted desserts of some kind. And of course Christmas cookies with our new Christmas cookie cutters. I'm so excited about it that I've had my nice china out for a week now in anticipation. We decided to go ahead and do Christmas food, since Matthew's family eats fajitas for Christmas dinner and my family does steak, twice baked potatoes, shrimp, etc... We'll see how it turns out!

(our table with the new Christmas table runner!)

We have been super busy the last couple of weeks. I have two friends getting married so Matthew and I have made plenty of trips up to Nashville recently, so I could attend several showers and parties. It's nice not being too far away, so that I am able to come back and support my good friends. That being said, it seems like it's been forever since we have spent a whole weekend in Birmingham. The last weekend we were here we went to a Hoover High School playoff football game. Hoover is a big school in the Birmingham area that is known for their excellent high school football programs. The game was so fun...and cold! Matthew being far more cold-natured than me suffered through the game, but we enjoyed every minute of it. I guess you would say we have become Hoover football fans, although I will always cheer for my David Lipscomb Mustangs!

(Hoover Football Game)

Thanksgiving seems like a blur now...We left Birmingham on Tuesday night and headed up to Nashville. Wednesday morning we left for Cincinnati and spent Wed. and Thurs. night at Uncle Grady and Aunt Jeannie's house. Aunt Jeannie is an incredible cook. She is a master in the kitchen, and she only seems to get better every year! I was so glad that we were able to spend a couple of days with my family, and that Matthew was able to make the trip with me this year! I realized at the dinner table that we were no longer all Smiths around the table...kind of weird!

(Our first married Thanksgiving!)

We left Cinci Friday morning to go to Lextown to visit with Matthew's family. We were so glad that J and K were able to come up for two days, so that everyone could be there for at least a little bit. We of course at some more yummy food, and were able to visit with family and friends, and got to meet Matthew's new baby cousin Trey. Matthew even held him, although he got a little nervous when Trey started to whine and tried to pas him off, but I convinced him that he could calm him down and he did! Overall, Thanksgiving was such a nice break from things, especially for Matthew who has been incredibly busy at work lately! We were so thankful to be able to spend time with both of our families, who knows how long we will be blessed enough to do that.

Christmas countdown T minus 20 days! And 33 days until I start nursing school! Hooray!

P.S. For those of you who haven't seen our wedding pictures they are now online at dpiercephoto.com. Click on image showcase and the password is AMHardison!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


In the wake of recent events, I have found myself very frustrated and irritated at the world around me. Tuesday, November 4th was a historic day for this country, and I was privileged to be able to vote in my second presidential election, having actually been the veteran voter in my family of two.... I couldn't believe it when Matthew said he hadn't voted in 2004!

I am not going to lie and say that I was not disappointed with the outcome of Tuesday's election, although we all saw it coming. I did not vote for Obama, and I most certainly do not agree with him on the major issues or minor ones for that matter. However, my frustration did not come from the results of the election, but of the reaction of so many of my friends, acquaintances, etc... For a lot of those who did not vote for Obama, they felt as if it was their place to express their political opinion and disrespect Obama as a leader and as a human being to everyone. I do not agree with Obama on pretty much everything, but that doesn't mean that he does not deserve respect. And maybe you do not respect him as a person, but you can at least respect the position that he has been elected to.

Are we not called as Christians to be a "light of the world" in Matthew 5? How can this judgmental spirit be an example to unbelievers? It spreads the message that as Christians we are too critical and think too highly of ourselves. How can we show Jesus to others when all people see is anger and resentment instead of letting your "light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven".

It's a disgrace to see the way President Bush has been slandered and picked apart the last four years. I know on a smaller scale that being a leader is not easy. You will make mistakes, people will disagree with you, talk about you, dislike you, but I cannot imagine it being splashed in my face in every magazine, newspaper, news show, or web-site. It only shows how little moral character is left in our country. Where is the loyalty? Why can't we stand behind someone who through every twist and turn has done nothing but try and pull this country together through these tough times. So...we as Americans have a choice. Are we going to continue down this road of cynicism, or are we going to fix it, and give President Obama the respect that Bush deserved?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

We are TERRIBLE bloggers. Doing a blog update is like writing those last little thank you notes, you know that it must be done, but you seem to have to force yourself to do it. Regardless, I will finish my thank you notes (otherwise I would not be Vicki's daughter), and here I am writing a blog.

Things have been pretty laid back since we have gotten home from our honeymoon. Matthew's boss is still out of town, so he pretty much gets to make his own schedule when it comes to work. I got a job at a local private school here in Birmingham called The Highlands School. I work in the afternoons for the Extended Day Program playing with kids, tutoring, etc... I have really enjoyed it so far, and I am now on the substitute list with my first day being Halloween for a kindergarten class! YIKES! The school is pretty spectacular. The kids learn Chinese, French, and Spanish starting in preschool. The after school program provides various activities for the kids in the afternoon that are fairly involved: Karate, Tai Chi, Theatre, Kids Stage, Chinese Art, Young Rembrants, Abrakadoodle (Which is some form of "creative art", I still don't really get what it is), Rock Band, Piano, Violin, and Guitar lessons, CompuQuest (Learning about computers), Gymnastics, Tennis, and a very extensive soccer program. I think almost every kid plays soccer at this school. The beauty of this after school program is that these kids do not have to leave campus and are exposed to all of these learning opportunities. Their parents come to pick them up and their hoework is done and they have already had their piano lesson. So...for about $10,000 a year you can send your kid to school here! Truth be told, if Matthew and I are still in B-ham when we have little ones running around, it would be very tempting.

So, that's what's going on in my neck of the woods. Matthew on the other hand just received news that his travel has been approved by UAB to go to the National Cystic Fibrosis Convention (I think that's what is called) and present a poster session on his research Oct. 23rd-24th. He was very excited to hear this news because it is a great opportunity for him, and who doesn't love a free trip to Orlando (unless you hate Disney World and your name is Andrea). Clearly all of Matthew's hard work is paying off, and I am very proud of him!

This past weekend, Matthew and I decided to take an impromptu trip to Atlanta, and it was well worth it! We found a 3 1/2 start hotel on Hotwire.com for 50 bucks and decided to take the plunge and go! We only spent Friday night because we had to get back to take care of the dogs, but we enjoyed every minute. Friday we drove to Atlanta, which thankfully is only a little over 2 hrs from B-ham (Braves games anyone?). We had gotten an excellent tip from a family member of mine (Christopher David) of a wonderful place to grab dinner that was only a 1/2 mile from our hotel. Funny, but my parents had actually stayed in the exact same hotel before. We went to eat at Pappadeaux, and let me tell you, it may be my new favorite restaurant. INCREDIBLE! The portions were enormous so Matthew and I split an appetizer of lump crab spinach dip and split the infamous Pappadeauz platter which included fried catfish, fried oysters, crawfish, shrimp, and a stuffed crab and shrimp....plus fries, you cannot forget the fries! Matthew vowed he would not even touch a fry so as to save room for all the fish, but I'm pretty sure I caught him with one in his mouth. After the platter we were stuffed, but that did not stop us from getting the praline cheesecake, which was maybe the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. So, please, if you are ever in Atlanta, check this place out.

The next day, we decided to go to the Coca Cola Museum. We had both been before when we were younger, but so long ago, we did not even realize that the museum was in a different location until we got into the tasting room and realized that it did not look the same (of course as kids we would both remember what the tasting room looked like). They moved to their current location last year next door to the Georgia Aquarium (which looked completely awesome, and I wish we could have done both!). The Coke Museum was fun and we were glad that we decided to go. We both got a free glass bottle of coke for a souvenir, but that did not hinder us from buying a blown-glass ornament for our Christmas tree. Matthew and I LOVE ornaments (especially the blown glass ones) and I think this is the 6th one we have bought together. So...we will definitely have the best tree come Christmas :) After the museum we headed home to B-ham. Yay for weekend getaways!

(the actual ornament we got is the red one...clearly we wanted the Diet Coke one, but we decided it was not nearly as pretty!)

But the most important news is that we are moving this weekend!! We could not be any more excited! I cannot wait to have my own kitchen, with an oven that cooperates and not be in a house with dogs that I am allergic to! We are so thrilled to finally have our own "home" that we can make our own. We spent all day yesterday getting apartment stuff (vacuum cleaner, lamps, shower curtain and rod, etc...) We still have some furniture shopping to do, and I am looking forward to finishing it all up! Thankfully, Matthew's parents are coming through Nashville this weekend and are graciously going to pack up all the rest of our wedding gifts and bring them down to us! Saves us a LOT of time!

Next time you hear from us we will be in our new space.... hopefully all settled in! Adios!

Monday, September 15, 2008

We're Baaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!

In celebration of the joining of our lives, we are composing our first joint post. Matthew dictating while I type. (I'm a faster typer...ha) First off, we would like to thank everyone who was involved with the Big Day! It was absolutely perfect, and we could have not been any happier with the outcome. We will try and lay this out in chronological order, starting with September 6th up until now.

I (Andrea) had a very relaxing day surprisingly. I got up the morning of the wedding after 9 hours of wonderful sleep (with the aid of some of my favorite medication Benadryl!) Dad made me my favorite breakfast of homemade waffles that morning and I relaxed on the couch and watched some TV. I headed over to the Y and ran for about 30 minutes. On the way out of the Y I thought to myself, "I really don't feel like I'm getting married today" I got to the church around two to get my hair and makeup done. Of course i had to take a peak into the reception area and auditorium, and I was completely blown away! James Brown (our wedding planner) definitely outdid himself! It finally felt like the hard work put in by my mom, James and me paid off! The flowers were absolutely gorgeous as well (thanks to John Conger!) Around 4:30 I got ready for pictures with my bridesmaids. Thankfully, our photographer Derrick Pierce is a genius, so the pictures were quick and fun. By the time we were done, I thought it was around 4:50, but was quickly informed that guests were arriving and I needed to get downstairs! The ceremony was perfect. Both of our dads did an excellent job, and I was very proud of dad for making it through the whole thing without crying! Right before my dad and I walked down the aisle he asked me if I wanted a piece of advice. He said, "Always be aware of your surroundings" Which is something my mom has said to me for the last 22 years. Thankfully it made me laugh, and I made it through the ceremony without breaking down.

(how the auditorium looked...notice the aisle runner that James spent a lot of time on!)

I (Matthew) had a slightly different, but just as good, wedding day. I arose at 8:30 after 8ish hours of sleep and got ready - showered, shaved, etc. then packed up my toiletries and such into the bags that Andrea and I were taking on our honeymoon. I left the hotel and drove downtown to drop off our bags at The Hermitage Hotel around 9:30. The hotel was awesome and the staff very helpful, I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a nice place to stay for an anniversiarry or just happens to have a money tree growing in their back yard. Unlike Ann, I did not go to the "Y" and run, I went to the "CB" - Cracker Barrel and ate! I had the Harvest Sampler, a seasonal take on their standard Sunrise Sampler (I'm a sucker for anything new at restaurants - if it has a new sauce or name, im in!). After all of my groomsmen, ushers, Dave, Micah and I ate most of us went over to Adam and KB's apartment to hang out and watch some college football until time to go to the church for pics. Scott Trevathan and I rode to the church together and he got me a nice wedding present of a Diet Coke at a gas station on the way. Once everybody got to the church it became obvious that the bow-tie tying tutorial Jonathan and Dad had received the day before had not stuck. Fortunately I managed to figure it out and got everybody's tied by picture time. Like Ann said previously, Derrick is a master and we were in and out with the picture taking...leaving plenty of time for nervous pacing and gorging ourselves on Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuits. Our tray was gone very quickly and talk was made of making a raid on the girls' room because we knew there was no way they had finished theirs. I have just been informed (rather indignantly) that they did in fact finish theirs...yeah right. Once people started to get to the wedding I started to make my way up front and got to see several people as they were being seated (you know who you are). Then the show got on th road. I will reiterate what Ann had already iterated once - both of our Dads did a fantastic job on the ceremony. In fact, we have been told by what I consider to be a reputable and rather stoic source that it was the most perfect ceremony he has ever seen and even started to tear up and make him think about getting married. In the interest of maintaining our friendship he will remain nameless...

Now on to the reception! Since from this point on we were together, we are writing together here. We were announced into the room, which again looked AMAZING! We were told by James that we were to immediately start our first dance and cut the cake. Church of Christ people get irritated if you don't cut the cake immediately! Our first dance was "The Way You Look Tonight" by Frank Sinatra. Since we are both big Sinatra fans, we couldn't think of a better song. We cut the cake and it was made clear to Matthew beforehand that there would be no smashing cake in each other's faces! Vicki was not paying the money to get my make up done if it was going to have icing smashed over it! The next two hours were a blur of talking to people, both random and dear friends, and of course hitting up the dance floor. We absolutely loved our band. Andrea had heard them at previous weddings and has known for a long time that she wanted to use them, and we were so glad that everyone enjoyed them as well. (MAtthew writing) Let that previous sentence serve as proof that most girls have their wedding planned for years and the only remaining and minor, inconsequential detail is which guy in the black suit is going to be standing across from them. Anyway... we were whisked away from the reception around 9:45 in a shower of rose petals and a white 1969 Jaguar. Our driver was really friendly and informed us that after he dropped us off, he had another couple to pick up...Must be busy on the weekends.
(picture of our delicious wedding cake..or at least we thought so)

(Matthew's grooms cake that was done by a lady at church...She just started doing this! Could have fooled me!)

(picture of the beautiful reception...Way to go James)

(Nashville BlueTones, they were amazing!)

(Leaving!!..Goodbye Nashville, Hello Jamaica!)

The Hermitage Hotel was incredible! The room was all ready when we got there, and they had even given us some chocolate dipped strawberries. The room overlooked the capitol and was complete with a big screen TV, large closet, jacuzzi style tub, walk-in-shower, and comfy robes! Unfortunately, Matthew spent half the night in the bathroom sick, and he slept an hour, while I got about two. He didn't get to really enjoy any of the food that was sent with us or cake, but I took full advantage of the portions he left.

(a picture of the bathroom in our room...ridiculous)

This is where we will end this post. Our next post will begin at 4:45 am September 7th. Honeymoon Bound!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

11 Days and Counting...

Well at the repeated request of my blog-mate I am finally putting on a new post. I apologize to those of you who check this often hoping to find a new post and have been disappointed (Happy Acres Manager). While there are many topics I could cover, and probably will, let's hit the big one first - as of the time of this sentence there are 11 days, 6 hours, and 55 minutes until the big event and I couldn't be more excited! This is the last week that I have to spend in Birmingham by myself so to me I am only counting down until Fri. Ann will be driving down then to bring her car leave here and then we will be going back up to Nashville at some point that weekend to make the last final push for the wedding.

I started packing last night for the honeymoon and by started packing I mean I'm pretty much done. I only have to get a few more little things before I can call it done - sunscreen, aloe for sunburns, etc. So I think its a bit of an understatement to say I am ready to be relaxing on the beach in Jamaica! Which brings me to my next point - please everyone be praying for good weather during the week we are there. Ann is a little worried because it is hurricane season that we will get rained on but we both agree it'll be fun no matter what the weather. In fact I wouldn't mind a shower an afternoon or two - then I wouldn't feel guilty about staying inside to take a nap and "wasting" the sunshine. The name of the resort we are going to is Sandal's Whitehouse. Some friends of our just went there about a month and a half ago for their honeymoon and they loved it. I called Stephen when he and Jill got back (you can read about their wedding in a previous blog) and grilled him on what to expect and what not to miss, etc. so that Ann and I would be able to get all we could out of our week.

So that is all the excitement of the future, but what about the excitement of the recent past...The Olympics!!! I love the olympics and I have been blessed with a fiance who is as much in love with them as I am. I has been so great to get to watch most of the big events with her usually I was in Nashville but she was down here last week and we got to see some big volleyball games together). I love almost all the sports but my favorites are swimming and gymnastics. Clearly the big stories this year were Phelps (who may be the greatest athlete of all time in my opinion) and the six 3-year-olds that comprised the Chinese women's gymnastics team. I mean come on, there is no way those girls were anywhere close to 16! Anyway, I think we can all agree that there was no more exciting performance than watching the 20k speed-walking medal, right? I know that when I'm watching people run extremely long distances for hours on end I'm constantly thinking to myself "If only they were going a whole lot slower and looked like those people that go to the mall at 4 in the morning!" Seriously, IOC, I think it's time to trim some of the fat, I know you are getting rid of softball and baseball but why not cut out some of the more ridiculous event and add back something cool like tug-of-war or motorcycle jousting?

Anyway one of the real highlights for me of this year's olympics was like I said, getting to watch most of it with Andrea. I am so looking forward to being married and her being here in Birmingham I spent an hour last night hanging up her clothes and arranging closet space for her in the house...and loved every minute of it. Well, that is it for me for this post, if we're really ambitious we might get one more in before the wedding but we'll be sure to do a joint, long one upon our return!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The BIG 2-5!

Happy Birthday Matthew! We have had a marvelous weekend celebrating Matthew's birthday.... a very busy weekend I might add. Matthew was able to come up early this weekend so we were able to spend time with lots of people and get some errands done and out of the way, which was fantastic! Wednesday night we got to go hang out with Benj at his new home. Funny story there: Benjamin has a separate closet for his polo attire that keeps his "ordinary" clothes out of the way. Guess we know where those hard-earned Dolly dollars are going ;), just kidding Benj. It was fun getting to hang out with Benjamin and his roommates for a couple of hours.

Friday, Matthew and I went to get our marriage license! Yes, it's official. We expected to be caught in long lines at the county clerks office, but fortunately we walked straight in and the whole process took about 15 minutes! We spent the rest of the day taking inventory of our wedding gifts and returning any gifts that we had doubles of. We were very proud of how productive we were! But most importantly, Friday was of course 08/08/08. I cannot tell you how much of an Olympics junkie I am. My dad and I watched every night of the trials for goodness sakes, swimming and track, so this was a big deal. I don't know what it is that I love about it so much, but I'm obsessed. So on Friday night, dad grilled out some hamburgers, and we all sat down to watch the incredible opening ceremonies in Beijing. After dinner, Matthew and I headed over to our friends Adam and Katie Beth Allen's apartment to hang out with JD, Steve and Jill, and Blake and Julie. We spent most of the night wondering just when the United States was going to come into the stadium....I mean good grief; I never thought they were going to light that torch!

Saturday morning I had to get up for a mother/daughter shower that was being thrown in my honor at the home of one of my very good high school friends. This shower was so fun because it was for all of my good friends from church and high school and their moms. It is such a blessing that I have been friends with these girls for so long, and I cannot imagine what my life would be like without them. Of course the life of the party was Emma Mankin, my three year old flower girl who is a fireball! She has more energy than three kids her age put together. She loved being the entertainment and center of attention. I cannot wait to see what she does at the wedding!

Matthew was able to go to meet his parents for breakfast on Saturday morning while they were in town. Sadly, I was not able to go, but we will see them soon at the wedding! I was glad that Matthew got to see his parents for his birthday.

Sunday was birthday lunch and welcome lunch! Clearly it was celebration for Matthew's birthday but also a welcome to Laura's friend Yuri from Mexico! Laura Klapheke is my sister's best friend (more famously known as the brown-eyed child of our family). Laura and Ashley became friends about 5 years ago after my sister pledged Pi Delta, and she has basically been a part of our family since then. She is an added blessing and an extra dose of sarcasm at the Sunday dinner table (who thought we could handle more). For the next year Laura will be teaching English to kids in Mexico while Yuri is teaching Laura's kids Spanish here! What an awesome experience for Laura, but we are so sad that she is going to be gone for ten months! Mom had an excellent spread for lunch that included Smith family favorites: brisket, squash casserole, okra, twice-baked potatoes, and baked beans. Clearly the best part was dessert: a German chocolate cake ordered from Puffy Muffin in Matthew's honor and homemade butterfinger ice cream!

Matthew was able to get off for his birthday on Monday, so we were able to spend it together! We were pretty lazy all day, but Monday night I took him to dinner downtown at Demos (one of our favorite places in Nashville). We ate A LOT! It was the perfect ending to a great weekend. Happy Birthday Matthew....I love you!

By the way....tell me you didn't see the men's 4x100 meter swimming relay....INCREDIBLE!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Beach or BUST!

Smith Family Vacation 2K8. Smith, not meaning just my immediate family, but my "cousins" as well. I say cousins in a loose sense. It is my Uncle Grady and Aunt Jeannie and their kids Andrew and Katherine, whose last name is Smith as well (I know it's not really a common last name). Grady and my dad became best friends in college through being in the same social club (Tau Phi till you die) and rooming together my dad's senior year. Therefore, I have known Andrew and Katherine since they were born and literally thought they were my cousins for years.... It wasn't until I was in late elementary school that my mom informed us kids that they were in fact not my "real" cousins. Needless to say, we were all sort of devastated. It didn't hinder our relationship thankfully, and we have stayed best friends with the Smith's for the last twenty-five plus years, spending countless family vacations and all Thanksgivings together in one another's company. My childhood would have been so boring without them!

For the last eight years or so we have traveled every summer to Panama City Beach for family vacation. It's a tradition, and we all know how important traditions are to my family. This year has not been any different. We have hit all of our favorite dinner spots, been night swimming, shopping, putt putting, played poker (not for money of course), spades, and made Smores! It's been especially funny this week because dad has gotten into a habit of being obnoxiously nostalgic about things since the wedding is coming up, in a cute way. He will say things like, "This will be the last time you eat at Captain's Table as a single person." or "This is the last time you will be in Florida as a single person." I kid you not right after we got engaged we were sitting down to watch a Titan's playoff game and dad looked over at me and said, "Ya know, this is the last time you will see the Titans kick off as a single person." Hilarious.

The highlight for me of course was Matthew being able to come down for a couple of days! Yes, I know his last name is not Smith, but since he is my betrothed he was allowed to come :) It was so great to have him down there with my family and be able to relax for a couple of days. He had never really been around Uncle Grady and Aunt Jeannie, so I was really glad he was able to spend some time with them. I was so sad when he had to leave!

The highlight for the rest of the family was the recent purchase made by my parents......ROCK BAND! I confess, I had been begging for weeks for them to get it in time for family vacation. And the very night before we left, we went to Costco and found it for a great price. It took some coaxing from little Matthew, but they can never say no to the Golden Boy! So needless to say, we have been playing all week. Big Matthew impressed everyone with his mad "skills" on the drums, and we have had lots of laughs. I recommend it to any family who loves music and is mildly coordinated. It's a blast!

We are heading back tomorrow to Nashvegas. Goodbye Beach! See ya again next year....not as a single person :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Turn

Well the time has come for me to contribute something to our little blog. I was so proud of the first post that my lovely counterpart wrote, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say "well done" and "way to set the bar high" and "great post" and "The Sandlot is the greatest kids movie ever." I know that last one had nothing to do with the previous post but I still think I can speak for everyone when I say that. Upon Ann's repeated insistence I am writing this post and have been wanting to for sometime but I told her that I would wait until "something happened" before I did. Well I think that one of my best friends getting married and passing my first thesis committee meeting qualifies so here goes...

This weekend my good friend Stephen Hasselbring married Jill Dyer in Nashville, TN. I was fortunate enough to be in the ceremony and Andrea and I, along with my family and several other guest got to enjoy the wedding and the killer reception at the Hermitage Hotel (a Nashville landmark) At least in our eyes the whole thing went off without a hitch, the music, ambiance, and most importantly the food was great! It was really great to actually get to see the inside of the Hermitage, I had never been there but had heard so much about it and had had a few friends stay there when they got married.

After the reception was over Ann and I thought for about five seconds that we were going to go see the new Batman movie...that was until we sat still for more than a minute and let the exhaustion of the last couple of days catch up to us. Also, it didn't help that I was just getting over a sinus infection and Ann was still battling one. So we postponed the cinema trip until the next night. Sun night my Bride-to-be, Adam and Katie Beth Allen, JD Hindman and I went to eat at Cheesecake Factory in Green Hills and then went to go see the much anticipated movie.

It. Was. Phe. Nom. In. Al. I mean, incredible, you know those movies that you build up so much in your head that when you go see them you are secretly disappointed but you go with a big group of people and you have all made such a big deal about it that you spend the whole way home saying "oh yeah it was all i expected" but secretly you die a little inside because there is just no way that Pirates of The Caribbean 2 and 3 were anywhere near as good as the first. Well this was completely the opposite. I have been reading reviews and bits of info on this movie for months now and it still blew my expectations out of the water. I can't wait to see it again, I will for sure be going to back to the theater to watch it because I'm afraid that I might have missed about half of it because Ann and I would just poke and stare at each other every other scene in awe. I was so glad that I got to go see it with my future spouse - we have been talking about it for months and it was great to getting to see it for the first time together!

After this great weekend what could be better than having to most important meeting/presentation of my nascent career right? Well that was just what happened - on Mon. afternoon I had my first Thesis Committee meeting to determine how I was progressing and when I might be able to qualify for candidacy. See there are various stages in the program I'm in. Obviously these are not technical terms just come general ideas about how it works.

  1. Rotational Student - spending about 3 months in different labs to find a match for you to do your dissertation in

  2. New to the Lab - have picked a lab but not formed your committee and are getting preliminary data to define your project

  3. Moving towards qualifying - have had a committee meeting or two but not qualified

  4. Doctoral Candidate - have passed both a written and oral qualifying exam by your thesis committee

  5. Scribe - writing your dissertation and preparing to Defend

  6. PhD - successfully passed your public and private defenses

I just got through #3, and this went pretty well. At each committee meeting the student gives and 45 min-1 hr talk about their research and what they have been doing and then the committee basically grills them about it for a while until they are satisfied that the student knows what they are talking about and are actually doing the work. Yesterday was my first meeting so it went pretty well, they generally take it easier on the first one. As soon as I got done I went and called Andrea to tell her how we had done. She had been so supportive leading up to my meeting and had been texting me and praying for me all day. I can't say enough what a blessing she is in my life and how thankful I am for her!

Anyway, I think I have rambled on for far too long so I suppose the "blogging ball" is now firmly in my more capable fiance's hands.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Hello my name is Andrea Smith (soon to be Hardison) and I am not technologically savvy. It's true. I confess that I made a B in Computing and Infosystems in college. So, I am new to this whole blogging thing....But, I am going to give this a chance. I have many successful blogging friends (aka J and K), so hopefully I can learn from them. If not, I will hang my hat and pick up another hobby :)

Matthew and I are getting geared up for the Big Day. For those of you who are uninformed, we are getting married September 6th. Most of my days are filled with running countless wedding errands and tying up all the loose ends. Fortunately, Matthew was in Nashville this weekend and he got here just in time to help me stuff wedding invitations! We decided to curl up on the couch, watch a DVR'd House episode and stuff invitations. Twenty seconds into the episode, we realized we would not be able to both concentrate on stuffing and watch our favorite show at the same time. Our solution? Stuff until we got sick of it then relax and watch our show. Great minds think alike.

My dad and little Matthew (my brother) are at church camp this week, so the house seems empty. Little Matthew was so excited about camp, although maybe a little apprehensive. Dad called me tonight and told me to make sure when I come up to visit on Wednesday to bring a little package from Mom. Dad explained that everytime they have mail call at lunch or dinner Matthew anxiously waits to see if he has received anything. So cute! I cannot wait for them to come back and hear about it. Church camp was always the best part of my summers growing up, and I pray that Matthew gets to experience God in that place like I did.

Big Matthew has his first committee meeting next Monday. The outcome of this meeting basically dictates when he will be able to graduate from his program. So...kind of a big deal. Prayers would be much appreciated! I know that he will do a wonderful job. He would not be where he is today if he were not so dedicated, and I am very proud of him. As for me, I will be hanging out in the 'Ville trying to spend as much time with my family before I leave the Music City for the Magic City.

Stay tuned!