Monday, November 19, 2007

Holy Matrimony

We've been busy the last few weeks getting the house ready and going to wedding receptions! Not the actual weddings... just the receptions. It has come to my attention that as we get older there are fewer and fewer actual church weddings with the big white gown, 500 guests, and heavy hors d'oeuvres. Most people we know these days are getting married quietly in the mountains or in the tropics, and later having a reception at home. So, for the past two week ends, we have been to wedding parties honoring the brides and grooms of such wedding ceremonies.

Bonnie and John Pearson were married in Mexico, and had their wedding party at a farm in Montevallo, AL two week ends ago. They invited a lot of family and friends and had a taco bar and Tex-Mex appetizers to munch on! The first floor of the barn was your typical, well, barn. Stables, hay, maneur, etc. The main room on the top floor was decked out with rusty antiques (shoe shining chair, farming tools, etc), tables, chairs, and do-dads from time gone by. Adjoining the tribute to the "Good Ole Days" was a great room with a bar, fireplace, comfy chairs and a buffet area (host to the taco bar). The entire barn was designed for parties. Bonnie and John had their "first dance" on the main level with all the guests overlooking from the balcony above.

This past week end, a lot of Justin's family came to Birmingham for the wedding party of my sister-in-law's brother Shawn and her best friend, Shawn's new wife Marla. Shawn and Marla recently moved to Birmingham, whiched seemed like a central location for both Shawn and Marla's families. We hosted their party at the Ross Bridge Welcome Center, and just over 50 people were there to share the day with Shawn and Marla. Hilary, my sis-in-law, and her daughters Meghan and Caitlin stayed with us on Thursday night, and Friday I went to the spa for a manicure and pedicure with Marla (the bride), Hilary, and their friend Che. Shawn and Marla married a few months ago at a mountain chapel somewhere in North Carolina.

We enjoyed spending time with family and friends, and wish both of these couples a very happy life together!

Monday, November 05, 2007

30 Great Years

Dear Justin,

When I look at my life, no one has quite had the impact that you have. Through highs and through disappointments, we have overcome victoriously. When I look back, I see a life full of God's blessings, but at no point in my life have I ever felt so complete. The Lord is truly shining on us right now, and I can't wait to see what other little blessings God has in store for us. Over the past 30 years, you have become the man I am proud to call my husband. Although you are human, and you make mistakes, you are committed, strong, caring, considerate, determined, successful, passionate, loving, supportive, brilliant, and exciting. I could go on and on. You are truly celebrating 30 great years. I look forward to the next 30, and the next 30. I love you!


So, Justin's 30th birthday was Sunday, November 4th. I couldn't wait to give him his present, so I let him open it late Saturday night... hey, it was almost midnight! I had searched high and low to find a Nintendo Wii, but after unsuccessful attemps at 7 different stores, I got in touch with a few friends, and our friend Tim happened upon one at GameStop, so he bought it for me. Thank you SO much, Tim!

Here are the presents, all wrapped up.
Surprise! I think I was more excited about the Wii than Justin is, but I'm sure he'll learn to love it! I wanted to get him something that he wouldn't buy for himself. Something that we can just let loose and have a little fun with. Justin set the Wii up Monday night, and we've had fun with it so far!

Sunday morning, Justin woke up to birthday cards from me and from the dogs, and to what he was thinking was just another typical birthday. And it was, for the most part, until the end of the day. We went to church, went to lunch with our friends Brian and Kristen, and then wasted time at the mall for an hour or two before going home to play with the dogs. We always have Small Group on Sunday nights at 6:00, so Justin thought nothing was out of the ordinary when we left for one of our favorite restaurants, Jim 'N Nick's at about 5:45. See, we usually meet at people's homes, but about once a month, we usually do something different like go to a park, or something like that. We walked into the restaurant, and went straight to the back room, which is a semi-private room they open when they are busy, or for parties. Rounding the corner, Justin saw a lot of familiar faces, but it wasn't until my dad yelled "SURPRISE!" that it really clicked. Somewhere around 50 people showed up to wish Justin a happy 30th birthday. It was fun to surround Justin with so many people who love him! I knew that surprising him would be a huge feat, but we were able to pull off the huge party without any sort of suspition from the guest of honor! Here are the pictures from the party.
Justin and Me at the Party! He was so surprised!
Red Velvet Cake, Justin's favorite!

Justin blew out all 30 candles with one breath. Hope his wish comes true!

The Castleman Family
Amy, Elyse, Steve, Justin (a Hardy, not a Castleman), and Emily
Missing in the picure is Erin.
Our Small Group at Church (clockwise from bottom left)
Maghan, Martina and Camron, Shaun and Ashley, Jared and Rachel, and Hal
More of our awesome Small Group!
Jessa and Mike, Bret and Lanie, Cortney
The Koski Family
Todd Howell, David Sr., PK, Momma Koski, and Melissa

The DeRosa Family
Cherry, Joe, Meredith, her boyfriend, and John

Britney and Scott

Ken, Kameron and Kelli Gunnells (Kelli is one of my work partners)

The Leach Family! (clockwise from bottom left)
Mom, Mimi, Krista and Jordan, Daddy Bill, Josh and Becky, and Dad
Jordan and Josh are my cousins. Their mom is my dad's sister.
Not pictured here are my brother Matthew, and his wife Amanda.
Ashley, Me, Justin and Daniel (Daniel's wife, Dana, couldn't make it because they had a sick little boy. Get well soon, Chase!)

Glida and Richard Magnani

Justin and one of his best friends, Daniel Pittman

My good friend Ashley and Me

Kim and Keith. Keith is Justin's long-time good friend. We recently went to a party celebrating their marriage!

And last, but certainly not least, two of our very best friends, Andrea and Tim

A big thanks to everyone who came to the party, and to all of you who wanted to make it, but couldn't. And a big Happy Birthday to my fantastic husband. I hope your 30th year is the best yet!

Thursday, November 01, 2007


So, apparently, Halloween is back. Or maybe it’s always been here, but it’s just now become cool again. Or then again, maybe it’s always been cool, but I’m just now living in a neighborhood that makes Halloween fun again!

For a month now, our neighborhood has been decked out in Halloween d├ęcor… and I mean DECKED OUT. I wrinkled my nose at the first house that had spider webs draped across the windows, but by two weeks before Halloween, I was ready to put tombstones in my yard and hang friendly ghosts from the trees just to fit in! My street has a lot of young couples who either have no kids, or toddlers, so it was cute to see Hill dressed as a spider, and Wilson who was the cutest little Octopus ever. But the REAL fun was one street over. That street has a lot of families about 5-10 years older than we are. A lot of them have early elementary school kids who are in Halloween PRIME! These are the kids who have been waiting for two months to go around as Hannah Montana, or a High School Musical Cheerleader, or a Ninja and collect more candy than the entire Hershey plant! There were literally hundreds of people out and about last night!

My friend Andrea came over with her little boy Caleb, and she and I trick-or-treated with him for an hour or so before I camped out with Justin on our front porch to pass out candy. Justin didn’t want us to be known as the house that gives out crappy candy, so he bought all name-brand candy. Nothing but the best! ;-) I dressed up as a cowgirl so I could have an excuse to wear my cowboy boots and cowgirl hat again! By the way, if you would like some candy, you're welcome to stop by and pick some up. Our bowl of candy was like the five loaves and two fish, so we have plenty of leftovers! What is it with parents not letting their kids take more than one piece?!

Backtracking just a bit... Sunday afternoon, our neighborhood had a Halloween parade. Kids from all over the community met on our street and paraded in costume into Ross Park! In the park, there were refreshments for the little skeletons, bugs, animals, and princesses. A few spectators looked on, while most of the parents rushed around taking pictures!

Sunday night was our church’s annual Trunk-or-Treat. Although none of us have children yet, our small group of young married couples decorated a truck in hot pursuit of the grand prize. We never really knew what we were trying to win, but we wanted it really bad! We built a wooden frame and hung blue painted butcher paper to resemble water. The “water” was decorated with fish of all shapes and sizes. Each kid cast the fishing pole over the top, and we clipped candy onto the line and threw it back over. We didn’t win the award, but we are all convinced that if the kids were allowed to vote, we would have won in a landslide. Next year we're lobbying for a People's Choice Award.

Justin and I really enjoyed the Halloween season, and are embracing Fall with open arms. Bring on the changing of the leaves!!!