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!