Getting Personal #139: Eight Years

Love Quote - BrainyQuote

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

I love writing these “dating anniversary” posts every year!


Today, Al and I celebrate eight years together!

Here are eight photos that are special to me.

Image may contain: Laura Beth Vardaro and Al Vardaro, people smiling

September 2010: This was the very first photo that was taken of us!

Image may contain: Laura Beth Vardaro and Al Vardaro, people smiling, outdoor

January 2015: Spending the weekend with friends in Richmond.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, wedding, tree and outdoor

November 2015: One of the best days of my life!

Image may contain: Laura Beth Vardaro and Al Vardaro, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor

October 2017: One of my favorite photos of all time. This was at the start of Nick and Savy’s wedding reception at the farm.

Image may contain: Laura Beth Vardaro and Al Vardaro, people smiling, people standing

October 2017: Dancing the night away!

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April 2018: We took this at The Main in Norfolk!

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April 2018: This was part of the “Love Gallery” at LanternAsia, the amazing display at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

 

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August 2018: This was the Norfolk Tides game on my birthday!

Happy Anniversary, Al. I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #83: Seven Years

saraparetsky1

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

I can’t believe another year has passed.

On this day in 2016, I posted the following:

I loved doing it, and since I received so much positive feedback, I’ve decided to make this an annual post!

Plus, I’m really proud of myself – In the last year, I’ve posted nearly 50 “Getting Personal” posts. Wow!!


Today, Al and I celebrate seven years together.

Here are seven photos that are special to me.

Facebook July 26

Photo taken July 2015. I made this photo my Facebook cover photo on July 26th: “Two years ago today, we had our amazing engagement photo session with Amanda Kyle MacDiarmid, who owns and operates Stellar Exposures. I had completely forgotten about this photo until it popped up on my Facebook Memories! I need to get a photo canvas!” Image Credit: Amanda Kyle MacDiarmid, owner / operator of Stellar Exposures.


November 2015 (3)

November 2015: I think we were laughing during Al’s dad’s toast as the best man. Image Credit: Amanda Kyle MacDiarmid, owner / operator of Stellar Exposures.


November 2015

November 2015: Obligatory photo! We had a blast at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in Orlando, Florida, for our honeymoon!


November 2015 (2)

November 2015: All smiles at Universal Studios!


February 2016

February 2016: When Lane came home to visit! Cannot wait for the end of October! Image Credit: Lauren Lane Bellar.


September 2016

September 2016: Al took this photo while we were sitting around the fire at the Vardaro Farm, Scottsburg, Virginia.


Bauer Holiday Party December 2016

December 2016: Bauer Compressors company Christmas party.

We need to take more pictures to round out 2017!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Book Review #40: “The End of Everything”

The End of Everything

Image Credit: Amazon

A couple of weeks ago, I found this book while I visited 2nd and Charlesย with a dear friend of mine. They opened a new location across the street from my office last year – They have every type of book, DVDs, Blu-ray, vinyl, CDs, toys, games, and more. Some things are brand-new, still in the packaging! It was only $5.00, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I immediately recognized that Abbott is the author of other books such as You Will Know Me (currently on my TBR). I was intrigued by a combination of the cover and the synopsis on the inside. And, I can’t really turn down a hardcover book for $5.00!


I found myself reading multiple chapters per night, and I ended up finishing the book after less than a week.

In the 1980s, Lizzie and Evie are finishing up eighth grade, best friends since childhood. They’re attached to each other’s hips, but they appear to be going through their own paths and struggles. What 13-year-olds don’t?

Lizzie’s dad left years ago, but her mom looks like she’s been having a man over to the house recently. Evie appears to be living in her older sister, Dusty’s, shadow, but also excelling at soccer while trying to figure out what happens next.

Then, mere weeks before eighth-grade graduation, Evie Verver suddenly vanishes. As her family and the police investigate, Lizzie proves to be invaluable, finding multiple clues and helping assemble the complex puzzle. Everyone is desperate to get Evie back, although different characters are going through different emotions and handling the situation in different ways. One suspect, from their own neighborhood, looks promising, and the intensity continues to increase.

The book weaves together the complex topics/subjects of a child abduction, painful childhood memories, blossoming sexuality, and the relationships of parents with their children. The setting was the 1980s, and Abbott stays faithful to it the entire time. She also does a good job with balancing tragedy with triumph in her writing.

The only major complaint I had was that Abbott focuses so much on the relationship between Lizzie and Mr. Verver, and then tries to also explain/develop the relationship between Dusty and her father. The lines started to blur, and it was hard to tell sometimes who Abbott was referring to, and to figure out what exactly was going on.

It was challenging to differentiate between the two, and I felt a little creeped out by the end of the book. Mr. Verver appeared to be the sweetest, least-pervy of the fathers in the book, but some of the allusions that Abbott was making, absolutely made my skin crawl. Part of me didn’t want Lizzie, Evie, or Dusty to be taken advantage of, but part of me knew that the setting was also a different era (in a way), and parent-child relationships can still be taken too far, if you catch my drift. It makes me shudder just writing it.

Abbott is a great writer overall, and I look forward to reading more of her books! I just hope this one is just a fluke.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #39: “The Truth About Toxic Relationships” (Reblogged)

Carla’s post about toxic relationships is spot on. I sincerely appreciate her writing about this, since this topic is something I have been struggling with immensely, for a good while now.

No names mentioned, but seeing this post this morning makes me feel so much better, and so much less guilty.

Thank you, Carla!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #34: Six Years

Love Quote - picturequotes

Image Credit: picturequotes.com

Today, Al and I celebrate six years together.

Wow!

Time flies when you’re having fun.

I want to share a few special pictures with you, my readers. But, other than that, I’ll keep this post short.

I’ve expressed my love for Al several times on the blog:


So, here’s six photos that are very special to me.

Al - November 2010

November 2010: This was a candid shot taken at the Alpha Sigma Tau Anchor Banquet, just a couple months after we started dating. Photo Credit: Tina Bird Stewart.

Al - August 2013

August 2013: I entered a contest on Busch Gardens’ Facebook page, and ended up winning VIP passes to their KC and the Sunshine Band concert! We had a blast!

Al - August 2014

August 2014: We decided to visit the Norfolk Zoo for the first time in years, and had a great time! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Al - December 2014

December 2014: This was Al’s company Christmas party at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. I absolutely loved the Kate Spade sparkly dress!

Al - July 2015

July 2015: This was just one of our fabulous engagement photos at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront! Photo Credit: Amanda MacDiarmid, owner/operator of Stellar Exposures.

Al - November 2015

November 2015: One of the many spectacular, gorgeous photos of our amazing wedding day! Photo Credit: MacDiarmid, owner/operator of Stellar Exposures.

Happy Anniversary, Al!

Here’s to the rest of our lives!

I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Book Review #10: “If I Am Missing Or Dead: A Sister’s Story Of Love, Murder, And Liberation”

If I Am Missing Or Dead

Image Credit: amazon.com

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

~Friedrich Nietzsche


This book was recommended to me by a friend, Mike H. He’s a wonderful man from my church who gives blood at our blood drives. At the latest drive in February, I realized that he was a writer for the Daily Press, one of our local newspapers. I mentioned to him that I had studied journalism in college andย created this little blog of mine.

Shortly thereafter, he messaged me on Facebook and we started chatting about the blog, writing, and a few mutual friends. I told him about the review I wrote on Tornado Warning, and that I was an abuse survivor.

That’s when he recommended this book.

I bought it almost immediately.

Once it arrived, it took me at least a week to get the courage to start reading it, but once I started, I couldn’t stop.


Janine’s story haunted me. Her abuse started at a younger age, and it happened repeatedly, by multiple men, over a period of 25-plus years. Reading her descriptions of her sexual assaults, in particular, made my skin crawl.

Still, reading those passages only drove me to continue. I knew the story was primarily about her sister, Amy, but it was fascinating to see her story interwoven with Amy’s. How two sisters suffered similar abuses, yet in different ways.

One of the biggest marks that it left on me was that Amy worked for Kimberly-Clark in Knoxville, Tennessee. My aunt was slated to transfer to Knoxville while working for K-C years ago, but it didn’t happen. My heart hammered, wondering if she had ever crossed paths with Amy.


Regardless, as an abuse survivor, several things that happened to Janine and Amy resonated with me.

These are several of the signs of abuse that I didn’t recognize until years later:

  • The constant feeling of walking on eggshells when talking to / being around your partner – You never feel calm / relaxed around them.
  • Being contacted multiple times by phone / text/ Facebook message, etc. – Always checking in, concerned if I was minutes late to something with him.
  • Restricting time with friends and family.
  • Manipulating ideas and thoughts (Example: John put the idea in my head that my own mother was one of the laziest people on this Earth, and he convinced me to tell her that. It was absolutely awful. Mom forgave me, but I still feel terrible about that, all these years later.)
  • Certain habits become routine / expected – John was always hunting for the new trends, and wanted me to go along with him. He wanted me to wear what he thought looked best. He asked me multiple times to change clothes (phrased as, “You’re wearing that?”), even if I felt great in what I had been wearing.

This book hit me harder than Tornado Warning, which surprised me. I remember reading the end of this book while Al was asleep next to me in bed, and my eyes filled with tears as I closed the book, filled with gratitude that I found and married the man who loves me for who I am and doesn’t want to change me.

I’m glad I read this. It renewed my gratitude that I am a survivor, but also renewed my awareness that women (and men) still suffer from, and die from, abuse every single day.

This book has motivated me, finally, to write down my own story, piece by piece.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #18: Best. Day. Ever.

I hesitated to use the word “perfect.” I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate.

But, during our thank-you speech at our wedding reception, I couldn’t think of any other word that was better.

November 14th was truly a perfect day.


Disclaimer: All photos in this post, unless otherwise stated, were taken by Amanda MacDiarmid, or her second shooter, Cathy. Amanda owns and operatesย Stellar Exposures.

All credit goes to them.


We started the day early – My parents and I arrived at the church at 6:45 a.m. Hair and makeup quickly followed, and our ceremony started at 11:00 a.m. sharp.

My dress was in a tree!

My dress was hanging in a tree!

One of my all-time favorites.

One of my all-time favorites.

Amanda is so creative!

Amanda is so creative!

Getting dressed!

Getting dressed!

Our save-the-date postcard and our invitation.

Our save-the-date postcard and our invitation.

Our program on the brick steps leading to the sanctuary.

Our wedding program on the brick steps leading to the sanctuary.

Amanda and her second shooter, Cathy, were absolutely FABULOUS!


Our ceremony was held at the church that I have been attending since I was four-years-old. Aldersgate United Methodist Church holds a special place in my heart. We were so fortunate that our former associate pastor, Eric Song, came down from Winchester to marry us!

The sanctuary.

The sanctuary.

Beautiful shot.

Beautiful shot.

He played his guitar during the groomsmen entrance, and I could hear it as I was waiting to enter the sanctuary.

Dea Atkinson, a long-time church friend, played a lively variety of music on the piano. She is amazing!

Pastor Eric Song playing his guitar during the groomsmen entrance.

Pastor Eric Song playing his guitar during the groomsmen entrance.

Walking down the aisle with Mom and Dad.

Walking down the aisle with Mom and Dad.

Al seeing me for the first time :)

Al seeing me for the first time ๐Ÿ™‚

Married!!

Married!!

One of my favorites :)

One of my favorites ๐Ÿ™‚

The ceremony had a lot of laughter, and a few tears. Eric did an amazing job! It was a whirlwind – It was over in just 25 minutes! But it was amazing. I felt completely surrounded by love and peace.

One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was the love letters that Al and I wrote to each other. Eric asked us to write a letter to each other, but neither of us could see it. We both ended up writing about our first date on September 4, 2010. It was awesome!


About 100 people came to our wedding, which was perfect.

I married into a HUGE family. Being an only child, it’s so awesome! We were so grateful that most of our family members were able to join us for our special day.

Mom and Dad.

Karen (Momma) and Jim (Daddy).

My family. L to R: Uncle Richard, Auntie Marn, Mom, LB, Dad, Cousin Ryan, and Uncle Butch.

My family!
L to R: Uncle Richard (Mom’s brother), Auntie Marn (Dad’s sister), Karen (Mom), LB, Jim (Dad), Cousin Ryan, and Uncle Butch (Dad’s brother-in-law).

Al's immediate family! L to R: Bruce (Dad), Debbie (Mom), Al, and Nick (Brother and brother-in-law)

Al’s immediate family!
L to R: Bruce (Dad), Debbie (Mom), Al, and Nick (Brother and brother-in-law).

91-year-old Grandma Helena came!! L to R: Al, Grandma, Nick

This was spectacular – 91-year-old Grandma Helena came!!
L to R: Al, Grandma, Nick

Pastor Eric and his wife, Heather!

Pastor Eric and his wife, Heather!

Beautiful and handsome.

Beautiful, and handsome.

Wholesale Flower Market, Inc., in Chesapeake, did our arrangements. They wrapped my bouquet with one of my grandmother's handkerchiefs and attached one of her gorgeous brooches.

Wholesale Flower Market, Inc., in Chesapeake, did our arrangements – They were absolutely gorgeous. They wrapped my bouquet with one of my grandmother’s handkerchiefs and attached one of her gorgeous brooches. Grandma Grace, who passed away in July 2013, was definitely with us in spirit.

Aunt Pam and Uncle Bill.

Aunt Pam and Uncle Bill.

L to R: Cousin Kellie, LB, Al, Aunt Rosalind, and Uncle John.

L to R: Cousin Kellie, LB, Al, Aunt Rosalind, and Uncle John.

L to R: Nick, LB, Al, Mia (future niece), and Savy (future sister-in-law).

L to R: Nick, LB, Al, Mia (future niece), and Savy (future sister-in-law).

L to R: Uncle Ken, Aunt Karen, LB, Al, Aunt Brenda, and Uncle Joe.

L to R: Uncle Ken, Aunt Karen, LB, Al, Brenda, and Uncle Joe.

Uncle Dan and Aunt Jeanne.

Uncle Dan and Aunt Jeanne.

Uncle Bill and Aunt Susan.

Uncle Bill and Aunt Susan.

Cousins Micah and Ashley.

Cousins Micah and Ashley.

The whole family!

The whole family!

The proud parents.

The proud parents.

The wedding party! Y'all rock! L to R: Liz, Katie, Stephanie, Melissa, LB, Al, Bruce, Nick, Joe, and Mike.

The wedding party! Y’all rock!
L to R: Liz, Katie, Stephanie, Melissa, LB, Al, Bruce, Nick, Joe, and Mike.

Stylin'!

Stylin’!

The girls!

The ladies!

No one planned the coordinating black and red shoes!

No one planned the coordinating black and red shoes!

Mom and Dad :)

Mom and Dad ๐Ÿ™‚

The men!

The men!

Standing in front of the floor-to-ceiling stained glass piece.

Standing in front of the floor-to-ceiling stained glass piece.


After the ceremony, Charlie from Orange Peel Transportation came to pick up the wedding party and shuttle us to our reception at Cedar Point Country Club in Suffolk, about 15 minutes from the church. It was a brisk day, but sunny and crystal clear!

Our gorgeous cake, made with love by Tracy Grandon.

Our gorgeous cake, made with love by Tracy Grandon.

One of the three amazing art pieces that our future sister-in-law Savy made for us! Check out SavyArt for more!

One of the three amazing art pieces that our future sister-in-law, Savy, made for us! Check out SavyArt for more!

Our first dance. We danced to "Who I Am With You" by Chris Young.

Our first dance. We danced to “Who I Am With You” by Chris Young.

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!

Father-daughter dance.
Daddy 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!

Mother-son dance. Al and Mom danced to "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts.

Mother-son dance.
Al and Mom danced to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts.

Aunt Karen said a beautiful blessing over the food.

Aunt Karen said a beautiful blessing over the food.

Our fabulous DJ, Matt! He's with Music Makes You Happy Entertainment. He was stellar!

Our fabulous DJ, Matt! He’s with Music Makes You Happy Entertainment. He was stellar!

Al and I love movies, so he edited images of famous movie couples for our tables!

Al and I love movies, so he edited images of famous movie couples for our tables!

Beautiful! I love this photo of us :) Here's to more adventures! L to R: Drew, Katie, LB, Al, Heaven, and Justin.

Beautiful! I love this photo of us ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s to more adventures!
L to R: Drew, Katie, LB, Al, Heaven, and Justin.

The beautiful maid of honor, Melissa, making her speech.

The beautiful maid of honor, Melissa, making her toast.

The best man, Bruce, a.k.a. Dad, giving his speech.

The dapper best man, Bruce, a.k.a. Dad, giving his toast.

The father of the bride, Jim, giving his speech.

The handsome father of the bride, Jim, giving his thank-you speech and toast.


After eating and toasts, we DANCED!

View More: http://stellarexposures.pass.us/vwedding

Let’s boogie!

Connie!

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

Mom and Dad!

Mom and Dad!

Chris and Donald.

Chris and Donald.

Olivia and Christine!

Olivia and Christine!

Brad Daniels with Ebb & Flow Films!!

Brad Daniels, our fantastic videographer, with Ebb & Flow Films!!

Tearing up the dance floor.

Tearing up the dance floor.

Standing, L to R: Nick, Crystal, and Savy. Sitting: Mia. Crystal was our bomb.com wedding planner! Check out Cherry Blossom Planning Factory!

Dancing, L to R: Nick, Crystal, and Savy. Sitting: Mia.
Crystal was our bomb.com (glitter bomb, of course!) wedding planner! Check out Cherry Blossom Planning Factory!

Dance, dance, dance!

Dance, dance, dance!


Around 3:30 p.m., Amanda and Cathy came to Al and I,ย and asked us for 15 minutes to go outside for some portraits. I needed it then – I was so hot! The brisk air was so refreshing!

Amazing.

Amazing.

It was a little windy, but it felt awesome!!

It was a little windy, but it felt awesome!!

I forgot that we were on a golf course!

I forgot that we were on a golf course!

Beautiful. That light!

Beautiful. That light!


November 14th was perfect. The pictures that Amanda and Cathy took, they number in the thousands. I’m incredibly grateful for each and every one. Thank you, Amanda and Cathy, for capturing our special day so beautifully!!


A HUGE thank you goes out to our families, first and foremost. Thank you for supporting our love since 2010. Thank you for being amazing every day!

To our friends, thank you for your love and support. It means the world to us. Thank you to those who hosted bridal showers, offered help of all kinds, were a phone call away when I wanted to pull my hair out, and much, much more. We were so happy that so many of you were able to come celebrate with us!

Thank you to our fantastic vendors!!

Ceremony Site: Aldersgate United Methodist Church

Reception Site & Caterer: Cedar Point Country Club

Linens: Waterford Event Rentals

Videographer: Ebb & Flow Films

Photographer: Stellar Exposures

DJ: Music Makes You Happy Entertainment

Flowers: Wholesale Flower Market, INC.

Hair & Bridal Party Make-Up: Mystique Salon & Day Spa

Transportation: Orange Peel

Wedding Ninjas: Cherry Blossom Planning Factory


Happy New Year, friends.

Here’s to 2016!

Dancing and singing to "Don't Stop Believin" - The last song of the night.

Dancing and singing to “Don’t Stop Believin'” – The last song of the event!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚