Give me a break.

That is what I kept telling My Man. I don’t remember the last time he and I got away, just the two of us, just to chill. I demanded more than just one night away. I wanted a full weekend. Friday and Saturday night and no rushing back on Sunday.

While he was in Denver a couple weeks ago, he phoned me about a deal he found on Living Social Escapes and would I be interested? Um..that’s a big, fat yes. I didn’t even have to know the details. I wanted in.

Of course The Wild Boy came down with a wicked case of food poisoning (we think) on Thursday, but by Friday morning was already on the mend. We decided to risk it and headed out, as planned.

We had a wonderful weekend away, at a lovely Virginia Bed and Breakfast. Friday night we had a wine pairing class and dinner here. Drove the countryside looking for wineries and stopped here and here. Met the Big Boy in Fork Union to grab some dinner here, after picking him up a couple pounds of bbq from here. (Apparently the bbq was pretty much consumed around 1:30 am that night/morning.) After another incredible gourmet breakfast, we headed towards home with a stop here. We even signed up as volunteers to pick grapes at Gray Ghost in the Fall.

I can’t tell you what a weekend away did for my soul. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the last three years of our life. I didn’t ponder, sort it out, try to make sense of any of it. I just breathed. And napped a little.

A handful of people have already told me they can see and hear a huge difference. I see and hear and feel a huge difference.

It’s not that my circumstances have changed; my attitude has changed. Not that I had a bad attitude. I just couldn’t see past the pain. One thing that has really helped me: I read and have started reading over again, A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis. In fact, I just ordered a copy to be sent to my sister. I had a really rough start with reading it. Couldn’t get past a paragraph or two before breaking down. But I was encouraged by my favorite Navy (Go Army! Beat Navy!) Chaplain, Terry Gordon, to keep giving it a go. There was one point that C.S. Lewis made that I truly feel was a turning point for my grief. When I was in full-blown grieving mode, all I could see was the pain; I couldn’t see past it; I couldn’t begin to believe what the next 1, 5, 20 years would be like with this pain. Most importantly, I couldn’t see past the pain to see and remember Andy, Beth, Katie, and quite often, those standing right next to me, including my husband and children. I repeatedly read these particular paragraphs and every time I read it, a piece of the wall chipped away. Our weekend escape finally knocked out the rest of the darkness.

I am absolutely still going to have some moments, even some days where the grief will consume me again; for a time. Shortly after Andy died, a friend of my sister’s sent her a note about grief. The gist of it being that grief consumes us for a time and then walks along side of us for the rest of our lives.

I see that now. I feel that now. It is not that I am loving or missing them less; I am remembering them more.

As always, I love you guys. Especially those of you who have prayed for our family, and for me. I am so thankful for the friend’s God put into my life, our life, who totally get me and love me anyway.

P.S. Our Virginia Wine Lovers Weekend trip has us passionately in love with Virginia wines and thirsty (get it? ar ar) for more knowledge, so I’ve ordered a few books on wine and Virginia wine. You can order directly from the links on my sidebar. I do receive a small stipend towards more books if you do so thanks!

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Happy Prez Day!

Dear Diary. 

It’s only been six days since I’ve last written you. Where does the time fly!?! Possibly lost to my new obsession that is all things Downton Abbey. Oh, Diary! It’s so wonderful! Will Mary and Matthew finally become engaged? Will Bates be able to pay off his wife and marry Anna? Will Countess Crawley stand up to Mrs. Crawley and take back Downton Abbey? I must confess I am hooked, body and soul.

Love, Me.

Seriously, y’all…Downton Abbey is amazingly delicious. Check it out when you have a moment. But be warned…it will suck you in and you will suddenly find your dirty laundry piled up, your sink full of dishes and your family staging a revolt from lack of attention.

Fairly quiet day here at Smith Manor. The Man is off to the Starbucks to bring me back a cup of bold yumminess. The kids are still asleep. I totally blew off bff, Annette for a walk today. I am trying to play a bit of catch up. My birthday was Jan 31 and I have yet to write my thank you notes…#1 on my list to complete. Our taxes are done and submitted so we have been working on father-in-law’s taxes. My husband is going to have a huge mansion in Heaven. He truly has been so wonderful about taking care of his father.

Our small snow shower last night only made me long for Spring even more. A nice big fat snow storm would be wonderful. A piddly dusting only makes me mad. Let’s just get on with Spring, shall we?

Laundry, cleaning, note writing and a possible Twilight Marathon with My Girl is on my agenda today. What are y’all doing?

Husbands, dogs and Valentine’s Day.

Some random thoughts.

  • Right now, I am sitting in my living room (still no working fireplace, by the way…I’m trying not to be bitter.) Sipping a glass of The Black Dog. Chloe’s tail is flicking me in the back of the head, now and then. 
  • The Wild Boy is in the basement watching…something. *update on the Wild Boy…His Princess just came by and they are off to a basketball game. On Valentine’s Day.
  • My Man is in Denver (I had planned on going with him, but as often happens…it didn’t work out as planned. Next time, The Simple Wife!) My Man did have a dozen chocolate covered strawberries delivered to me today. He has been On. It. lately. Seriously. 
  • Sarah is pulling a double Valentine’s Day shift at the restaurant (cha-ching). 
  • This week I have been…distracted. Like my ADD has been on steroids. I feel like I can’t get anything done…or even started. I know that this, too, shall pass. 
  • Every year Sarah and I look forward to the Westminster Dog Show. This year did not disappoint. The German Shepherd won the Herding Group. The one and only time a GSD has won Best in Show was 25 years ago and that was the magnificent Hatter. Hatter’s handler is also handling Capi this year, who will represent the Herding Group tonight in the Best of Show ring. I’m DVRing the nightly judging and following online during the day. We Smiths are a dog-loving bunch. Growing up we had miniature poodles. Russell and I have always had German Shepherds. My sister and her family have always had Golden Retrievers. We are currently owned by Jack Bodacious, aka Jackson, who I refer to as The Super Model…all looks and no brains. My Man and I have already agreed that our next dog will be a GSD…I need my dog to have some intelligence. Our girl, Sammi was the single most intelligent dog I have ever known. I miss her terribly.
  • See? ADD on over-drive.
  • New NCIS tonight! Woo-hoo!
  • I am currently watching a DVR’d NCIS episode. From December. The Christmas commercials are throwing me.
  • February 24 would be bff, Beth‘s 51st birthday. I miss her every day.
  • One of my sweet friends, also named Susan, keeps me sooooo grounded. She is one of my friend’s who tells me like it is. Especially when she knows I don’t want to hear it. Which is usually when I need to hear it most.
  • I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to put things in perspective. Trying to put this crazy, wild ride called life into perspective. 
  • Thanks to all of you and to a great big God, to Whom none of this has been a surprise, I’m beginning to find it. 
  • Perspective, that is. 

More soon. Love y’all.

Dear God, may I please have my life back now?

I have felt particularly whiny today. I haven’t verbalized it much. Except for a 45 second rant at my uber stressed out husband who calmly looked at me and said, “okay, but I’d like for you to go with me to the meeting with the realtor.”

I immediately felt ashamed for blurting out, “I have had enough of this.”

Cuz seriously, dude, The Man has had it up to here when I have only had it up to there. You know what I mean. *hand to neck vice hand to chest*

So this morning I played hooky from Sunday School and church. I had announced last night that I was going to do this so I guess it’s not really hooky when everyone knows about it and it did lose some of it’s appeal by the time this morning rolled around. But I was determined.

And yes, I really missed being at Sunday school and church with everyone.

However, I did work on my bible study homework and I knew when I started this one particular day’s worth of homework that it was all part of The Plan for me to have not done it last week *ahem* and to be *frantically* trying to catch up today. And tonight.

I’ll just throw out some of Bethie’s words from today’s lesson

  • deception
  • rebellion
  • giving up
  • God bestows

This day’s homework really had me thinking; praying; engaging; weeping; writing; repenting and a whole lot of other “ing” words.

Sadly, I have to confess, my rant at my husband and subsequent, “I want my life back” was AFTER I did today’s lesson. No one’s perfect. Oh, wait, perfect was also a word from today’s lesson as in, “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17, NIV.

“…who does not change like shifting shadows” totally captivated me. “Shifting shadows” and “deception” and “rebellion” are all intertwined in my brain now.

So, you may be asking yourself, as I was asking myself this morning, what does “every good and perfect gift is from above…” and “shifting shadows” and “deception” and “rebellion” have to do with “I want my life back…NOW?” Well, I’m here to tell you what it means for me. Ready? Here it is:

This IS my life.

There it is. Or maybe…THIS is my life. Or is it…this is MY life. No matter how I said it (and it was planted in my heart and in my brain by the One who bestows good and perfect gifts upon me, and you, by the way) it rang true.

this is my life

it was bestowed upon me by the God of Heaven

i don’t always like it

i don’t always ask for it to be this way

Would I say that every part of it was good? From a human standpoint…read: “pain”…absolutely not. But does God make good out of bad (or even horrific?)…yes.

Ya know, I can’t even let my mind and heart go to the “God allows everything that happens” place. At least not very often. Do I believe that statement is true? Yes, I do. And I know that I need to go there. Eventually.

For today, though, I am sticking with the following:

This is my life. And it is good.

Love y’all.

Anymore.

I think I’m pretty open and honest here on This Girl. It ain’t all roses and parties. Case in point: I just sent this to my husband via email:

Can I just be honest here? I am done. D.O.N.E. I can’t take the stress anymore. I can’t take the always running behind on everything. I can’t take the boxes anymore. I can’t take the cancer anymore. I can’t take the grief anymore. I can’t take any of it. Anymore. Whew. Glad I got that out. Carry on. 
Sometimes, it just helps to get it out in order to keep moving forward.
Love y’all.

NCIS, Family, BF’s and GF’s and Cleaning.

Prepare yourself, big time random coming up! *as if you couldn’t tell by the title*

1. First off, y’all know I love me some Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Tony, Ziva, McGee, Abby & Vance are my bff’s in tv land. But seriously, the 200th episode this week? Well, I was dumbfounded. Speechless. In shock. As it ended, I turned to My Man *with tears in my eyes* and said, “Honey? WHAT THE HECK?” Anyone else have this reaction? I had prepared myself with drinks, snacks and, of course, tissues. I was too stunned to drink, eat or cry. What did y’all think? I truly contemplated spending today in bed…mourning.

2. In case y’all didn’t get the word, I was out of town last week. I snuck *sneaked?* down to Roanoke to surprise my mom with a visit. She had a lung biopsy scheduled the next day. Thankfully, the biopsy came by negative. She has a follow-up appointment with her oncologist today, if y’all wouldn’t mind tossing up a prayer for her.

3. We had all decided to be in Roanoke over the weekend and my peeps did not disappoint. Russell, Sarah, Brett, Harlee and Travis arrived around 11:30. Travis and Harlee had been thoroughly prepared for the circus that is the Wheeler/Odenthal/Smith/Wilhelm family gathering. And we were definitely in rare form this weekend. Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, Harlee and Travis weren’t scared off. Truthfully, they fit right in and were hugged and smooched on as befitting members of our family. That’s how we roll.

4. Cleaning. I just threw that one in there to make it interesting, but, really I was gone 6 days and the fur and dirt dust bunnies absolutely, positively exploded while I was gone like they were on steroids or something. I have filled up the vacuum bags. Twice. Seriously. I have vacuumed every day trying to catch up. Surprisingly, the boxes in my basement, dining room and on the back porch actually seemed less encompassing.

5. There has to be a number five…stopping at four just doesn’t feel right.

Let’s catch up. Soon. Love y’all.