Getting Personal #116: Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad V.!

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With Al on our wedding day, November 2015.

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I’m pretty sure this is the most recent picture of us. This was taken at Andy Boy’s, a local pizza place, for Momma V.’s birthday, March 2018.

Happy Anniversary to Al’s parents, Mom and Dad Vardaro!

It’s easy to remember how many years they’ve been married, because my parents have been married for the exact same number of years. Crazy, right? Both sets of parents got married in 1982, just in different months!

Bruce and Debbie, I hope you both had a great day today!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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Getting Personal #114: Happy Birthday, Dad!

Father-daughter dance. Dad and I danced to "Carolina In My Mind" by James Taylor. This was a surprise for my mom as well - Dad played this song when he proposed to Mom!

Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

Today is my Dad’s birthday!

Writing this post makes me realize we need to take more pictures.

This is one of my favorite photos. This was taken during my birthday dinner last August, when Mom and Dad surprised me with “the gift I’d always wanted” – So many laughs!

I think this is the most recent photo of us, taken in October at Nick and Savy’s wedding.

Have a wonderful day today, Dad! We can’t wait to see you on Saturday for the 18th Anniversary blood drive, and take you out to dinner to truly celebrate soon.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #67: “God Hears His Children” – A Music Review

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Image Credit: Pinterest

I have an amazing friend, Chloe, who lives in Tennessee. We’ve struck up a friendship because of our shared love of American Girl dolls. We’re involved in multiple AG groups on Facebook, and we message each other several times a week. Chloe has autism, but nothing is stopping her! She has competed in several pageants, including Miss Shining Star, several online Facebook photo pageants, and Tennessee Miss Amazing!

Recently, she shared on Facebook that she had written a poem, titled “God Hears His Children.” Well, a family member helped her put music to the words. The iTunes release of the “God Hears His Children” single happened today!

To purchase, go to iTunes and search for “God Hears His Children – Single.” The thumbnail image is yellow lights with a microphone. Chloe’s name is in the upper right-hand corner, and the title is in the bottom right-hand corner.

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Image Credit: eBay

When Chloe gave me a sneak preview of the single, I loved it!

I’ve already downloaded it, and I anticipate listening to it often.

It’s a good first start for her, and I’m thrilled that she took such an awesome leap of faith. First, she wrote the poem. Then, she asked her family member to help her set it to music. And, she wanted to get it submitted to iTunes!

I’m so proud of her!


Her passion, drive, and determination has blown me away from the day I met her on the American (AG) Girl Doll Obsessed BST Facebook group!

In addition, she’s a faithful member of the American (AG) Girl Dolls Obsessed: His Rock Facebook group. She also recently created the Amazingly Ag free online doll pageants Facebook group!

I hope she continues writing poems, and maybe creating more music in the future!

Congratulations, Chloe!!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Newport News & Williamsburg, VA Edition (Greyhounds, Colonial Williamsburg, and Romantic Escape Package)

Al and I had a great weekend! We got to meet and greet some greyhounds, and then spent some time at The Williamsburg Winery!

We went to a meet-and-greet with Old Dominion Greyhound Adoption. This was their first meet-and-greet at the Care-A-Lot in Newport News. There were nine greyhounds there, with their owners, along with the Director of the group. Everyone was so nice and friendly! The dogs were incredibly sweet. We went home with an application, and are excited to start this process!


After the greyhound meet-and-greet, we went to Colonial Williamsburg for lunch. The Trellis Bar & Grill is a really nice restaurant, right in the heart of Merchants Square.

We enjoyed a hearty lunch – Al had “The Burger” and I got their tortellini.

I love the unique touches, from their birdcage lanterns, to their cute salt and pepper grinders.. Their water comes in epic bottles!

We weren’t quite full after our entrees, but we decided to spring for dessert and their signature mock-tails. For dessert, I chose their Flourless Chocolate Torte, and Al had their Burnt Sugar ice cream. Al had the “Moscow Pony” mock-tail, and I had their “No-Jito” mock-tail. They were awesome!


After lunch, we ventured 12 minutes away to The Williamsburg Winery. Al won a very generous gift card at his company Christmas party in December, which allowed us this experience!

We chose the Romantic Winter Escape Hotel Package:

  • One Night in a Tradition room, with king-sized bed and wood-burning fireplace*

  • A Tour and Wine Tasting for two at the Williamsburg Winery, including a tour of the barrel cellar and a tasting of seven wines

  • Bottle of Williamsburg Winery wine

  • Artisanal chocolates

  • $100 Dinner Voucher for Café Provençal

  • European-style Continental Breakfast for two including croissants, pastries, fresh fruit and more

We got to the winery around 4:00. We checked in around 4:15, which gave us just enough time to unload the car before the 4:30 tour and tasting.

These are the giant oak barrels where the wine is stored!

Barrels of wine in the cellar.

This is the “reserve cellar,” where a more extensive tour and tasting is held.

The shelves hold different vintages of wine, dating back to the late 1980s.

These are the three concrete eggs that hold the white wines.

Once the barrels are past their prime (Their life span is about 10 years), they are sold to private collectors, or used as trash cans in places like Colonial Williamsburg.

The tour and tasting were fabulous. Our guide, Stephanie, was incredibly knowledgeable and awesome! We tasted several different wines. It was really nice and relaxing!

The view from our hotel window. That’s the winery in the distance.

Our room at Wedmore Place was the “Brittany.” I felt like we were in Europe! The bed was incredibly comfortable. I wanted to take the mattress home!

I got to wear my new LuLaRoe Maxi!

Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes.

Filet Mignon.

Poached Apple Tart.

Pumpkin Cheesecake.

We had an amazing dinner at Cafe Provençal, which was located in the lower level of the hotel. Everything was divine! Al got the Caramelized Onion Soup (no photo), and the Filet Mignon. I had their delicious Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes, along with a glass of their A Midsummer Night’s White.

For dessert, Al got the Pumpkin Cheesecake, and I had the Poached Apple Tart.

There were exquisite pieces of furniture, like this, throughout!

The courtyard.

Our complimentary bottle of merlot, wine glasses, and artisanal chocolates!

Part of the package was a bottle of wine of our choice, wine glasses, and artisanal chocolates! We took it home. With our complimentary tour glasses, we have four new wine glasses at home!

On Sunday morning, we ate breakfast at the cafe. It was a lavish feast, with fresh fruit, strong coffee, assorted croissants, and quiche! We took our time, and checked out about an hour later. We went back to reality quickly – Getting gas, grocery shopping, getting ready for the new work week.

It was a much-needed mini-getaway. A piece of Europe is only 45 minutes away!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #95: Second Wedding Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, Al! Here’s to two years of marriage!

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I love the black and white.

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One of my favorite photos from our wedding! Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

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We had an amazing reception!

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December 2016 – Al’s company Christmas party.

As I write this post, I realize we need to take more photos of ourselves!

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August 2017 – We celebrated Casey’s birthday at Topgolf in Virginia Beach!

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October 2017. My current profile picture – One of my favorites, taken by my dad!

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October 2017 – Celebrating Nick and Savy’s wedding! Amanda photographed all three of our weddings – Al and me, Steven and Crystal, and Nick and Savy!

Thank you for everything this year – We’ve definitely learned to be homeowners, that’s for sure! I look forward to many more years with you. Can’t wait to celebrate tonight!

I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Scottsburg, VA Edition (Round 6 – The Bengdaro Wedding!)

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This was the bottom of their Polaroid photo-esque hanging photo booth!

This was the weekend we’d all been waiting for. For nearly two years, we eagerly cheered on Nick and Savy as they planned the wedding of their dreams!

Come along with me as I take you on this grand adventure!


Friday, October 13th

Al and I got up at 4:15 a.m., our normal weekday wake-up call. However, we quickly drank some coffee, and made sure we had everything important in my car. We left our driveway at 5:00 a.m. sharp!

Aside from one hasty bathroom break for me, we made it to the Beautiful Morning Farm (a.k.a., the Vardaro Farm) around 8:30 a.m. Al kept me awake with stories, water, and jelly beans!

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I think Savy took this on Thursday? I can’t remember. Regardless, this is our favorite niece, Mia. She was gathering greenery for the centerpieces. She turned 12 on Monday! Photo Credit: Savy Beng Vardaro


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This was the choose-your-own-adventure sign at the welcome table!


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Hand-painted by Savy! Isn’t she talented?


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The full photo booth, with the pond in the background.


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The pole barn, where the reception took place. The bounce house was awesome!


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Savy painted these epic cornhole boards for Mom and Dad V. several Christmases ago!


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Setting up the ceremony space!


Saturday, October 14th

I was impressed that I got eight hours of sleep. The farm was buzzing very early on Saturday morning – Savy’s family got up early for coffee and breakfast! Al’s mom was the perfect hostess and had plenty of coffee, plus egg casserole, donuts, and cereal on hand.

Around 10:00 a.m., everything got started. I was lucky enough to get my makeup done by an amazing make-up artist (MUA).

We had spouts of busy and crazy, but it was fairly relaxed, since the festivities didn’t truly start until 4:30 p.m.

Al took this awesome photo of Mia!


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This was Savy’s GORGEOUS bouquet. She designed it! So unique, so Savy.

Nick and Savy did a “First Look,” and Amanda had a field day with the two of them. So many amazing shots.

Then, the Red Army started off the wedding with a bang! The color red symbolizes good luck, and everyone made a ton of noise to scare off the bad juju and usher in celebration for the bride and groom. We had drummers. We shouted. We hollered. Flags were waved. There were bubble guns. Al flew his quadcopter above us!

 

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The Red Army processional! Photo Credit: Dan Harris.

The ceremony was beautiful and touching. The officiant, Christina, quoted The Princess Bride. Nick and Savy never stopped smiling. Nick wrote a special set of vows to Mia, and he gave her a beautiful necklace. I loved how they included her in the ceremony!

After the kiss and final music, the party began! We took family photos, and then Amanda whisked Nick and Savy away for more photos. The farm was the perfect setting – I can’t wait to see the official photos!

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I don’t know who took this particular photo, but it was requested that Nick and Savy, Al and I, and Crystal and Steven got photos together. Amanda was the photographer at all three weddings!


The handsome groom, Nick, and the stunningly beautiful bride, Savy!

 

My dad took this awesome photo of Al and I. It’s my new favorite.


We ate off of cafeteria trays, and head lamps were our favors. “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.”


The gorgeous centerpieces. Everything was either handmade or found.


My parents!


Mia is showing the beautiful sea turtle necklace that Nick gave to her during the ceremony. All of us ugly cried.


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Photo Credit: Dan Harris.


Cornhole!


The paper cranes were beautiful!


The bounce house, with slides!


The cake table.


The cards collection was an old guitar case!


The memory table.


Two of the amazing bellydancers, Ginger and Rachel!

There was SO MUCH FOOD. The estimate was roughly three pounds of meat per person – Basically 300 pounds in all!

During the reception, we had lively music, three incredible bellydancers, Paolo the juggler and fire performer, and more food! Nick and Savy danced to “Fools Rush In,” and Nick and his mom danced to “Simple Man.”

Uncle Dan captured this incredible shot of Paolo!! Photo Credit: Dan Harris.

And then, we danced!


Sunday, October 15th

After an amazing Saturday, we wound down the weekend on Sunday. Breakfast was simple, and Al and I hung around until 2:30 p.m. We took home tons of leftovers – Pot roast, pork butt, and BBQ chicken! I won’t have to cook at all this week – Thanks, Chuck and Angie!

Al and I got home safely around 6:00 p.m., and vegged out!

Everyone came together to make this weekend absolutely spectacular for Nick and Savy. For me, personally, I gained a sister and a niece, so I’m beside myself with happiness.

Al and I were thrilled to be a small part of it!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Newport News, VA Edition (Virginia Living Museum & Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks)

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Image Credit: QuotesGram

With every “dating anniversary,” Al and I try to do something fun and different.

This year, since our anniversary fell on Labor Day, we decided to head up to Newport News!

For lunch, we ate at Harpoon Larry’s Fish House & Oyster Bar. I had eaten there a few times with my work department, but it was Al’s first time. I figured, since Al loves seafood, it would be a good place. It was delicious! I had their Mediterranean-style pasta with shrimp and scallops, and Al had their fried shrimp. We also split their crab dip. Yummy!!


After lunch, we headed to our destination: The Virginia Living Museum.

We were mainly going for their Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks exhibit, but neither of us had been to the museum since we were in elementary school. We had so much fun!

In addition to traveling exhibits and displays, the museum has permanent indoor galleries, the Boardwalk Trail, Dinosaur Discovery Trail, Living Green/Gardens, and more. They also have the Abbitt Observatory and Abbitt Planetarium. The museum’s main goal to educate visitors about Virginia life and conservation. It celebrated it’s 50th anniversary in 2015!


Can you tell that I really like turtles?

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The Aviary was so cool!

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I love all the animals!

The beautiful scenery makes me feel like I’m in the woods or at the lake, far away from sirens and cars!

The flowers are gorgeous!


Now, on to the LEGO sculptures!!

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This bonsai tree was the only indoor sculpture. What a great way to start!

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Beautiful deer family.

Amazing spider!

Grandfather and Grandchild working in the garden, with red wheelbarrow.

Better photo of the red wheelbarrow.

Cardinals and squirrel in birdbath.

Bumblebee visiting a pansy.

Galapagos tortoise!

I think this one was my favorite!

This is a depiction of a rare pink dragonfly.

Stunning peacock. Did you know – The male bird is called the peacock, but the female bird is called the peahen?

Which sculpture is your favorite?


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We loved visiting the museum! We can’t wait to come back when we have kids!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂