Is Christmas over yet?

christmasMaybe this is your first Christmas without a loved one. Or the seventh. And you are thankful for all that you have. Family, children, friends. But you can’t stop thinking about the one(s) not here. Because they should be.

Maybe you are looking over the last year…or years…and you just don’t understand how you ended up here. Still…again. The way life didn’t turn out. The work you put in didn’t pay off. The job you dreamed about didn’t come through. The child who struggles still struggles.

Or the test results you are waiting on…or maybe you have already heard, and you are waiting until Christmas is over to break the news. The marriage that hasn’t come…or came and now is over.

And this time of year…with all its joy and presents and parties and light…illuminates the dark we may be feeling and we long for January 2 so that we can get back to normal.

Friend, there is Hope. Yeah…it’s trite, its cliche, but it’s also true. I’m not talking religion. I’m talking Emmanuel…God with us. Or my favorite name Jesus calls Himself in Revelation 22:16, Bright Morning Star. He is what Christmas is all about. He will renew our strength, and His plan is to give us hope and strength.

I wish I could assure you that having hope in Him always brings us physical healing and always means that things will turn out as we want. I can’t because it doesn’t always. But this I know to be true: He loves you and me…all in…unconditionally…yesterday, today, and tomorrow into eternity. And when we call out to Him in desperation, in grief, in fear, in hope…He answers.

Merry Christmas, beloved.


November 7 and I can’t think of a thing to say

Well, that’s actually not true, because I have a lot to say. Just not sure how to share it here in an, um, palatable way.

So I’m just gonna start typing and see how it goes.

My heart hurts that our country is so divided. And I’m wondering what it will take to bring us back together. I think it is going to take me. And it’s going to take you. And it is going to her. And it is going to take him. Doing what we were created to do. To encourage. To listen. To help. To love.

Does anyone actually eat candy corn? There always seems to be a shit-ton of it left after Halloween in the “clearance” section. I don’t ever see M&M’s or Kit Kats or Reece’s Peanut Butter cups in the clearance section. And Peeps…Peeps are on the clearance shelf year round. #justsayin

Does anyone else leave up some sort of stringed lights year round? Not the Christmas lights…this isn’t West Virginia, but the soft white lights? We do. On our fireplace mantle and our deck and porch. They are calming to me. And festive. And remind me of the constellations. And how teeny tiny we humans really are in the grand scheme of life. And eternity.

Wine? or beer? Or maybe a girlie drink (no judgment here.) Or maybe just a soft drink? Which do you prefer? Comment below.

I love this time of year. The weather temps and humidity go down and frankly, my hair is at it’s happiest. And if you have hair like mine (curly, prone to frizz, thick) you know exactly what I am talking about. It’s not about vanity; it’s about time and containment of all the hair.

I know that this time of year is difficult for some. And, if I allow myself to focus on it, painful for me, too. Of course, I miss the generations that are no longer here with us, and I miss them, and I still embrace and practice a lot of their traditions. It’s the ones that left us too soon. That break our hearts over and over, every day, but even more so at this time of year. That has us wondering, “what if?” That has us missing not just them, but all that they would be now.


I love Y’all.


Christmas reflections.

So I might have been a tad depressed in the two weeks or so leading up to Christmas. I really, truly appreciate everyone’s support during that time. I suppose it was weird to y’all that I took the death of The Wild Boy’s fellow Spartan so hard. I think putting into words for you why, will help me sort it out also.

I knew what his family was going through. Having lost a child so suddenly in our family, anytime I hear of the loss of a child, the memories of the first night Andy died and the days and weeks following, all come rushing back. It is no secret to any regular This Girl readers (all 10 of you now!) that I suffer from a wicked case of OCD at the best of times. Imagine the obsessive thought cycle of a horrific loss.

The shock, the why, the what-if and if-only…our family knows it. Our family also knows the love. The people who called, came by, sent cards, sent food…not just to my sister but to all of us. My church family and friends did all of that for me and my family. They would catch me when I wasn’t running back and forth to Roanoke. They brought food for my people at home while I spent a week in Roanoke being with my sister and parents. It matters. You may think that your card, your phone call, your casserole or cake doesn’t. But, it does matter. I can’t begin to tell you how much. I still have all of your cards and notes and I have read through all of them. About a year later, but I did it. And I’ve kept them.

So, yeah. I did lose about a week of Christmas Joy. Not that I was wallowing in depression, but just wasn’t into the whole Christmas thing. I helped the Stevens family as best I could. And then I had to pull my head together and get back to my own family. There was a lot of rushing around the last few days before Christmas. But it was a blast. My Man did a bunch of last minute shopping for me. He wrapped every single present for the kids and I only had to wrap his and my family’s. He and I surprised my mom, dad and sister by showing up at their doors the morning after Christmas and it was good to spend a couple of days with them.

We came home to a group of The Big Boy’s Longwood buddies and had a great time catching up on their lives. It turned out to be a great Christmas. Like it always does. I’m ready for the New Year. New goals, new plans and new lists. Change is good, y’all, but just to be clear…getting rid of coffee is not on any of my lists. Nor is getting rid of any of my lists. You will just have to suffer through like the rest of my family.

Love you guys.

If there is cat barf on the Christmas Tree skirt, it must be Wednesday.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Wednesday. Sure it has a classy nickname, “Hump Day,” with an entire commercial dedicated to it. It does signify the middle of the week. If you are a glass-half-full person, that means only two days left in the work week. Or, if you are a glass-half-empty kinda girl like me, panic because that means only two days left in the work week with a whole lot of work left to do.

This morning, as I was straightening the Christmas Tree skirt for the 3,468th time, I stuck my hand in a glop of sticky tree sap. Except it was cat barf. Really? I mean it isn’t enough that the cats roll around in the skirt material, eventually dragging it half way across the living room floor 22 times a day? Oh, sure, we could tie the ends together so they wouldn’t be able to carry it away, but we learned that lesson the hard way. Fact: a tree falling in the dark in the middle of the night in the living room really does make a sound.

Current state of living room tree

The entire two rows of tree branches are now devoid of ornaments. Most I have had to move up the tree. Some, however, have completely disappeared leaving only the little crown attached to a hook as evidence that they ever existed. *which could explain the cat barf* It was less work protecting the tree when the kids were toddlers.

I put up a fake tree in the dining room for the first time ever. The cats and puppy are leaving the ornaments alone on that tree. And eating the fake needles, instead. Right off the fake branches. That tree is firmly(?) secured to the window pane with fishing line. If my critters read my blog, they will take that as a challenge.

Having two trees up instead of one caused several other unique problems. I shared with you, my 6 dear readers, awhile ago that I had finally hit the too-much-stuff-in-this-house wall and there was not a single available “has its own place” spot left in my house. Try putting up two Christmas trees in your house. There is now stuff stacked to the ceiling in the basement. No one but me seems bothered by this as it has not deterred the boys at all from having a crowd of people over to sit around down there on the newly arranged furniture from the living room and dining room to play video games whilst eating all my food. Thank goodness, as I wouldn’t want to upset their routine or anything.

I’m doing my Christmas shopping in bits and pieces online. Everything is going to be delivered at one time, however. Again, what do I do with it as there is no room left in the inn? I suppose I will have to start wrapping as soon as it all comes in this week and put it all under the tree…at least the wrapping paper will protect the gifts from the cat barf. None of the gifts I have ordered that need to be mailed to family has been delivered or even shipped yet. I foresee a mad dash to the post office, standing in line for hours, sending the boxes overnight at a cost 3x what the gifts cost. For Russell. Again. I think it is only fair that he has to be the one to do that since I spend hours online ordering the gifts, opening the boxes they arrive in, wrapping them in pretty paper (no bows, no ribbon) and repacking them and slapping a label on them. It’s the least he can do. Well, that and putting up all the outside lights, driving from store to store to find the exact replacement lights I want and hitting the mall two days before Christmas to get whatever I have forgotten. See? Fifty-fifty. That’s what marriage is all about. *says the people who are all divorced*

Love you guys. It’s definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Snow Day #2.

Snow Days. Now that the kids are all grown up…I love them. Let’s face it, when you have children Snow Days are Extra Work Days for moms. Snow clothes, hot cocoa, breaking up fights…at least that was the way it was here at Smith Abbey. Whilst in the midst of it, I was not such a big fan. Looking back, however, I miss it. Sort of. Okay, a little. But I love Snow Days now!

I put up a fake tree for the first time, ever. It’s in the dining room. My OCD kicked in…big time…and I spent two hours just pulling apart and arranging the branches. Another two hours spent on the lights and the ornaments. It’s a sickness, y’all. I’m still not happy with the tree. It was supposed to be our White House Ornament Tree. It morphed into our White House Ornament/Peanuts Ornaments/Patriotic Mickey Mouse Ornaments Tree. I suppose, technically, all of the decorations are American Themed. I’m okay with it. I am not okay with this, however:

I also did some baking yesterday so I had plenty of time to do some thinking. A few of the things I was pondering:

Me. Blessed. Beyond measure. I began counting how. Couldn’t count that high. Sure, started with the obvious: Man, Children, Family, Friends, Home. Began to break it down and name names; name blessings. Blown. A. Way.

The joy I feel when I do something for someone that brings them joy. Selfish? Sure. Sue me. I love doing things for others. Because I love them. The fact that it also brings me joy is just a bonus. Even more so when they don’t know it was me!

I know I have whined talked a lot about The Wild Boy heading off to college. It all came together and became uber real this weekend when we visited Radford and Ferrum. As we walked around Radford, I could totally picture him there. He was silent, as always, about his thoughts. He processes. Then he speaks. The Wild Boy and My Man are the same way. Is it a guy thing? Cuz My Girl and I blab blab blab nonstop about everything and you always know what each of us is thinking. Come to find out, pretty much on the way home to Springfield two days later, that he loved Radford. Ferrum was nice, also.Still rather difficult to believe that we will soon be technically empty-nesters. I say technically since the two oldest are still at home. And don’t appear to have any immediate plans of leaving. Ever.

I found my Christmas binder, by the way. And will be updating it this morning after my Quiet Time. I did a bunch of online Christmas shopping Sunday and yesterday. Not feeling so overwhelmed about it now. Need to get out this week and finish up, at least for the packages I need to get in the mail. I do the bulk of my shopping online and have for the last 5 years or so. I actually suspect I spend more online since it is so easy to do.What do y’all do? Mostly online or mostly in stores? For the record, I hate shopping in stores. I would rather go to the dentist and get my gums scraped than go shopping in stores.

Confession: while sitting here typing this last night, I consumed an entire order of chips and guac from Chipotle.

Since My Man didn’t get the word this morning that OPM closed the feds in DC, he was up and dressed and ready to go when I told him. So he headed up to Starbucks to get me a Venti Christmas Blend. A Venti because it’s a Snow Day. He. Rocks.

The Big Boy came up from his dungeon to see what all the ruckus was about. Apparently, we sound like a Herd of buffalo in the kitchen. His dungeon room is right under all the main traffic ways on the main level. He’s become quite short about it all. Maybe it is time for him to Move. Out. I will definitely make that suggestion the next time he stomps up the stairs complaining we woke him up.

For the first time, Chloella DeEvil is intrigued with the Christmas Tree. I have moved all of the lowest ornaments up from the lower branches because, like a child, she can not resist messing with them every time she is near the tree. She and Tux love to snuggle into the tree skirt. And then they start to wrestling and the tree skirt ends up across the living room floor. Exciting times at the Smith Household.

Off to wipe down the kitchen before I begin some baking. Pecan Pie and some sort of cookies are on the list today.

Love you guys. Happy Snow Day!

It’s not about the tree.

I loved blogging every day in November. I loved the break, for a few days, from blogging. I also missed blogging the last few days.

I’m complex like that.

It is finally Christmas in the Smith household. How do I know? Because I can’t stop stressing about all I have to get done. Shopping…I don’t even have a list together yet and normally, by the first week of December, it’s all over but the stocking stuffers. I have a few things, but really…I am at a loss this year. I planned on cutting back this year, but this is ridiculous. Baking…I baked three pies for Thanksgiving and I have long list *still not written down and in my Christmas binder* that I want to bake. Decorating…the tree is up. That might be all of the decorating that gets done this year at this rate.

Really, I am being slightly over-dramatic. I will be my usual chill self after this week/weekend. A couple of college visits with the Wild Boy has me all wigged out. Once those are over, I will get back on track. I will!

I have to share a story with you. Last night, while we were decorating The Tree, I stopped and reminded My Man and The Children of just how much I have grown. There was a time, not too long ago when clearly, I was still That Girl, when decorating The Tree wasn’t fun, carefree and joyous…like it is now. Now I basically just place the lights on the branches, rearranging a bit here and there, and leave it at that. Then, That Girl had to individually position each and every light in its proper place. Sadly, I have even been known to strip the entire tree back down again, including ornaments, and start all over.

People. What was I thinking?

It’s not about The Tree! It is about having all of us together as I pick out The Tree. Okay, so there is still a touch of That Girl…but, we all go together to bring The Tree home and we have our traditions along the way. Cracker Barrel for breakfast on our way to the tree farm; stopping at the Sheetz in Warrenton for gas and bathroom break. It’s the together and the traditions that make it. My Man and the boys put up the outside lights, the Saturday and/or Sunday after Thanksgiving. My Man’s inner Clark Griswold comes screaming to the surface and frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. He loves those big, honkin’ C9 bulbs that burned down many a tree and home back in the day and I think *hope* that we have now finally replaced all of the hand-me-down fire-starter strands from my childhood and his.

It’s just a tree. This year, our tree is The Best Smith Christmas Tree yet. Yep, the tree is leaning just a smidgen to the right; the one strand of all white blinking lights that I run up the center and wrap around the trunk for some bling is definitely not spaced properly; because all of The Children are now grown up and tall…instead of the tree being ornament heavy along the bottom…it is ornament heavy along the top. To top it all off…pun intended…I have yet to find any of the tree toppers I cycle through.

There you have it. The Best Smith Christmas Tree ever truly is the best yet. And next year, no matter it’s size, location, degree of leaning, missing branches, crooked trunk…will be the next Best Smith Christmas Tree. Ever.

Love you guys.

Lack of Control.

Saturday Morning before Thanksgiving. My Girl was the first one up. Let’s clarify that. She was only the first one up because Wesson, her GSD puppy, was the first one up. But she stayed up and chose to make sure we all knew it by apparently touching every dish in the kitchen according to My Man. In truth, she knew I was stressing about the condition of our home and was jumping in to help.

The Big Boy and The Wild Boy are still sound asleep. Typical.

My house is a wreck right now. So much has been going on; my OCD has had plenty of other avenues to walk down but today my focus is back. Pray for the children, My Man and all of our critters as I’ve already had a temper tantrum involving the linen closet and sheets. The aftermath is not pretty and will need to also be dealt with today. I think I will snap before and after pics for your viewing pleasure but mostly as a reference for the rest of them. *them being these messy peeps I do life with in this house*

Control. I’ll be honest, the more I try to have it; the less I actually do. I think it explains a lot about some of the other, shall we say cute personality quirks I possess. For example, my need to begin playing Christmas in October. I really believe that I subconsciously think that if I begin playing Christmas music early, I will actually have a jump on Christmas and be done shopping, wrapping, decorating weeks before Christmas. For the record, that’s never happened. Next year I will try again. And guess what? The Wild Boy will be away at college *gulp* and there will be no last football season and all that entails. I will miss it. But, I’m totally done. This last season did me in.

Control. Not only has my house been out of control, over the top messy, so has my eating. Hmmm…just made that connection. Again, I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I really do have a list of changes I want to make in 2014. My eating and weight and exercise commitment is numero uno. Among other items that I will attempt to control. Realistically, I have very little control of the four most important things in my life, my family. Therefore, I must attempt to control all else that is around me.

Also on my need to change in 2014…the need to control. Clearly.

Love you guys.

Current Obsessions.

Still no pics or video of my Christmas Planner/Binder. By now, y’all are probably wondering if said planner/binder truly exists. I assure you that it does. *and not just in my head*

Today instead, I want to share with you some of the things I am currently obsessed with/in love with/enjoying. This is not a list.

Not a list #1: Christmas. Duh. Clearly, I am totally infatuated with all things Christmas. Just because my love language happens to be gifts does not mean I am all about the gifts. *well, yeah, actually, I am*

Not a list #2: Christmas Blend. In case you live on Mars and don’t know what I’m talking about:

Hello, Lover

Christmas Blend is my absolute, all-time favorite Starbucks blend. I know that a few of you know that since I usually receive about 20 pounds of it for Christmas. FYI…so far, I have only received ONE STINKIN’ POUND of beans and that is because I made My Man drive to Starbucks and get me some. Get with the program, people. *please note that I had two cups of Christmas Blend this morning and then hit the Starbucks on the way home from the Walmarts and grabbed a grande Christmas Blend to go…I may be over-reacting a bit*

Not a list #3: Christmas music. Wait, I’m beginning to see a theme. Doesn’t matter. I love Christmas Music. My favorite Christmas album is this one:

We bought this years ago and it is still my favorite. A close second would be this:

Not a list #4: Fall/Winter/Christmas-y scented wax melts. I have my tart burners going at home (3 of them) and also the one in my office at the church. Goose Creek is my favorite. I love their humble beginnings. The melts are the yummiest. This one is melting and filling my office with heavenly smells this very moment:

Not a list #5: These:


I will end with those little discs of awesomeness.

Love you guys.

It’s all about the gifts, baby. Santa, Baby, that is.

I texted The Children this morning and asked them to text me some ideas for Christmas presents for them.

So far, I have this response from The Big Boy, “idk. i haven’t even looked yet.”

This response from My Girl, “Don’t care. lol. Let you know if I think of something.”

And, typically, from The Wild Boy, he sent me two pictures:

Both of which, by the way, were on MY Christmas list to My Man Santa this year. 
The Wild Boy also texted me the following items for his list, “cigars & ammo, PS4, BF4, C4 (yes, the explosive).” 
And y’all wonder why I refer to him as “The Wild Boy.”
I’ve been working on my Christmas Planner/Binder. I wanted to have up a video or at least some pics today, but that’s just not happening since I’ve been down with the stomach crud. So I am just going to share my dividers with you:
Receipts (I’ve put these in a zippy pencil pouch)
To Do (everything I need to do, including, “put together Christmas Planner/Binder” which now looks like this, “put together Christmas Planner/Binder”.
Christmas Gifts (a blank page as of this moment)
Christmas Meal (because we are all about the food here, this page is pretty filled up)
Christmas Baking (ditto)
Christmas Card List

All of my dividers are written in red sharpie. I am using red, green, silver and gold Sharpies and pencils for all of my Christmas Planner/Binder entries because I am OCD festive like that.
Once I’m feeling better, tomorrow morning at the latest is my self-imposed deadline for feeling better, I will at least post pics if not a quick video.
If you decided to create a Christmas Planner/Binder, let’s see some pics or at least hear about what you did!
Also, remember we are going to do this beginning the first week of January. If there is enough interest in participating, I will even set up a site for us to share and chat on!
Love you guys. 

‘Tis the Season to make lists…

Christmas Binder

We are officially in crazy-overdrive-good-golly-it’s-the-Christmas-Season here at Smith Abbey. This time of year brings out the uber-obsessive in my OCD and I make lists for all of my lists. Some of the things I’m listing:

Christmas presents, of course.
Thanksgiving Menu items. I haven’t even begun the grocery list for this…just the menu items.
Apparently there are 1,345 people joining us for Thanksgiving if you read my planned menu.
Making a printed menu for the tables is also on my list.
We have a ton of things going on at church, also, so I have many lists involving church events. My fibro fog, yes, it is a real thing, has to behave between now and January 1.
College applications are done, thanks to My Man, but we have several college visits in December.
Next week is the Senior Football Banquet. Guess who is in charge of that? Thankfully, My Man, who is just as OCD as his wife, took over the planning and is making it happen.
But I still have duties (for you, Jen A.) that I am responsible for. Thus, a couple of lists.
I’m also pulling together my annual Christmas binder. This is the first year I am doing this officially, but I totally believe it will become an annual thing.
If I remember to do it next year. See fibro fog reference above.
I’ve begun planning my Christmas Menu. I think it will be just us, Trav and hopefully, Bryan and Gunner, for Christmas Day.

After I finish my Christmas Binder, I will share it with you here on This Girl.

How do y’all handle this time of year? Has anyone else begun thinking about some changes they want to make next year, in general? I refuse to call them New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions sounds so…final decision like.

Love you guys. Off and running to the Costco, Party Depot, Giant, Lunch and movie (Thor) with My Man and children!