Sunday Slideshow

My uncle and his new Granddaughter

Bacon & Onions…what Heaven smells like

Lil Sis…Big Sis…birthday present to my Lil Sis

My beautiful niece…Courtney
Our first Trick-or-Treater…The Princess

Graves Mountain

Sacred Ordinary Days

My Girl and Future Son #3

The Preacher Man, The Smart Beauty & The Redneck

You’re Welcome


Catching up on life.

Saturday mornings are so lovely…especially when spent sleeping in with your husband of 32 years. This is what empty nesting is beginning to look like…My Girl working full time, hitting the gym, time at the stable, and squeezing in time for her fiance, we might as well BE empty nesting already. And I have to admit something I never thought I would…we are really loving it. So much so, last night we looked at each other and just grinned and toasted the fun we have had…and the fun to BE had.

Don’t get me wrong; y’all know how much I love our three darlin’s. But this…this new place we are finding ourselves in? It is good. Remembering…oh, hey…we DID get married because we actually liked hanging out together. 

The Big Boy moved out and has an apartment with an old college roommate. The Wild Boy is back at Radford for year two. This weekend he is actually at Eagle Eyrie for the Kairos Collegiate/Young Adult Fall Gathering. So proud of my boys and the things they are doing and choices they have made.

Wedding plans are moving forward. We meet with the reception hall people today. In one of those wacky, must-have glitches…the person we made the reservation with has left and somehow, we were not in the books, although they had cashed our deposit. We have a contract, so we are good. If this is the only glitch…we will be lucky.

Fall has officially arrived in Virginia. The leaves took their time turning but are in full Fall glory. I’ve been spending a lot of time staring out the windows at the trees and walking the grounds at church just enjoying their beauty.

My Man started a new job recently. He is now working with the Canine Explosive Detection Program. He sends us regular pics and articles about his dogs. The entire mojo of our home has changed now that he is out of his last job. Peace and joy have returned. I write that with a grin because peace and joy is always here…unless the momma of the house ain’t happy. 

Because planning a wedding isn’t enough for My Girl and I, we both jumped onto the Women’s Ministry Team at church and are helping to kick off the new season with a gathering at our place next Saturday evening. Pray for good weather for us…we are planning an outdoor event to include fire pits, heaters and s’mores. 

Bridal Party Luncheon

My Girl has also convinced me to join her at the barn fostering a horse each. What is involved with fostering? Being at the barn every day to groom, exercise and love on our four-legged beasts and helping out with the other horses. If you have ever been around horses, you will get what I am about to say…I leave the barn totally energized and filled with a calm that I can not even imagine possible. There is a reason horses are used for therapy.

Sorry this post is so disjointed. Getting back into writing and blogging after 6 months is equally frustrating and rewarding. I plan on participating in the annual November National Blog Posting Month. Not only am I going to be posting here all month, but we are also launching our church women’s blog this month sometime. Stay tuned to see how it all goes.

My Favorite Little Monkey

See y’all tomorrow for Day 1 of NaBloPoMo!

Soon…a Wedding.

I hear her singing in the kitchen as I finish up my quiet time. Praise songs…worshipping as she makes her breakfast. My happy child. My Girl. Singing has always been her morning go-to. Waking up alone in her crib she would call out, “Momma?” I don’t answer right away because I know. The singing would begin. She didn’t snuggle into sleep with lovies or blankies or toys. Music was her comfort. 
That child…My Girl…turned twenty-four last week. The child I first went into labor with at 24 weeks. The news I wept over while holding her 3 month old brother became a blessing I begged would not be lost. We rarely know the treasure we hold until it is nearly snatched from our grasp. The blessing that is now twenty-four years long.
My Girl…became engaged last week. At the impossibly childlike age of 24. It does not matter that I was two years into a rocky, pain filled marriage at that age. she is too young! she is not ready! She can’t be leaving me already…the painful truth right there…leaving me.
She assures me she won’t leave. Emphatically stating she…no…they…will follow us wherever we go. We. Suddenly a much smaller sounding word. The Big Boy having moved out days before The Wild Boy returns home from his first year of college. Here only a few short months before back to Southwest Virginia…into an apartment for year two. We…will soon mean just The Man and I…not We Five.
I linger there this morning…We Five and our adventures the first half of our lives together. Next year we become We Six. I love even numbers…had lobbied for child number four to make us a rounded out, complete, even number Six. Soon we will be complete. For a time.
My just shy of six pounds, chicken legged, surprise blessing…to marry. Today I have finally accepted… embraced…praised. The planning has begun. So has the stress, according to this soon to be son number 3 of mine. He knows My Girl so well. He is calm to her storm. How like me, she is. How he is learned, these four years, to accept her and love her as her father has her mother. The calm to my storm, her father has always been.
He has jumped headlong into our wedding planning for his little girl. The first full day of diamond ring wearing wrought from him a wedding breakdown structure. My Logistician husband…pushing aside giving away his Goose to another man, by immersing in what he knows.
So a new adventure begun. I will cling to My little Girl these next twelve months or so as she continues her bloom to wife hood. And I will cherish the mornings filled with her song.

February, March and April.

February. A cold, snowy, bleak month. Always made bright and sunny by the birthday celebration of the one who always laughed and smiled and truly just made this world a better place. This is the first year I have not gone to the cemetery on her birthday. I thought about it. I even headed out intending to go there. I just…couldn’t this year. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe we (all of us!) are getting older and the painful stuff is just so much more painful. Also. The joyful stuff is just so much more joyful. But this February, I chose to celebrate her by remembering her and the impact she had, continues to have, on my life. Dude. I could tell some stories. And one day, maybe I will. But she was the best. Our Beth. The best.

March. Beth was diagnosed with the horror that would take her life. Spent a lot of time in the hospital with her. Spent a lot of time lying on her bed with her. Spent a lot of time sitting beside her bedside. I felt like an intruder. But I couldn’t stay away. It was a blessing in the same breath that it was a nightmare. I could do nothing. Nothing to help her. To help her parents. To help her husband. To help her children. I would not trade a single moment of that time. One day, I will write about it. I promise you…it still brings a certain…peace…to remember it. As horrible as it was.

March. Getting a phone call one evening that changes the very essence of a family. Four years ago on March 21. But every 21st day of every month since…a reminder of loss that is just beyond imagination. When I think of him, I picture him as he would be now…26…not 22. I dream about him. As I dream about Beth. And always…always…I am surprised in my dream that they are alive. And I always tell them so. Without fail, they tell me something of Heaven; of God. I know they are there. I know Andy is there. I know Beth is there. And it makes me smile. Lucky SOB’s.

I’ve written of it before. The pain that Andrew, Stephen and William endured at such young ages. The sorrow that my nieces, Court and Minz have lived. And the loss my own three children have experienced at such young and precious ages. I just never experienced any of that. Sure… grandparents, great aunts and uncles…but honestly…it is expected, isn’t it? But the young ones dying…so shocking. So not right. And I wonder…and I marvel. I know that my own Wild Boy has written many, many essays about losing a cousin so young. And the mark it has left on his life. And I wonder if we are better for it. Or did we not recognize it.

And April. The Boy’s birthday month. A time of celebration. And celebrate, we do. And we reminisce and we talk and we laugh and we cry and we live through…all over again…his life. And we will continue to do this for as long as we are able. As long as we remember.

Selfish. I feel selfish in writing this tonight. In sharing it with you. Selfish because we all have lived through, some times more horrendous than other times, loss and pain and sorrow and death. Mine/ours is not any greater or less than yours. Talking about it…writing about it…selfishly helps me get through it.

And I love you for being there with me. And us. And I selfishly beg your prayers and understanding. Thank you.

This Blog.

Obviously, I am messing around with the formatting a bit. I need a change. It is actually pretty easy to change the templates here using Blogger. I could change the template and colors every day, if I wanted to.

Why can’t I do that with my home?

Or, my wardrobe?

Or, my hair color?

Or, my weight?

Today…I think I will weigh in at 145. Yes, that sounds perfect! Tomorrow, I will go back up to maybe 165 because it is going to be a little cooler and I need some extra padding.

Ha. Sounds futuristic, doesn’t it? How quickly I would tire of all of the choices!

I am actually thinking of moving to a WordPress format for my blog. We use WordPress for our church website and I like the option of being able to do whatever I want, as far as my personal blog goes.

What does everyone else use? I don’t know much about creating websites and I don’t want to spend a lot of money paying a designer. I think I can wing it myself, don’t y’all?

Just wanted to give you a little update as to why things look differently!

It’s Not My Plan.

This is post number two I have started today. Post number one will eventually make it’s way back to the forefront and, as a teaser, it is Part Two in my You Asked for It series and has to do with kids. That totally narrows it down for you, I know.

If you are still hanging in there reading, I have, sadly for my family, been in serious reflection and frustration mode. Possibly, those should be reversed in order…frustration and reflection. Something has been tugging at my heart and my brain cells lately and I just could not reach out and bring it into clarity. Until this morning.

For the past 25 years or so I have not been living. I’ve been surviving; existing; getting by; making do. Any and all of the cliche terms apply here. I’ve been reactive and not proactive. Defensive and not on the offensive. You get what I’m saying by now, I am sure.

So. What to do about it? My first inclination was to do what I love to do best: Take. Control. Oh to be able to control it all…how wonderful life would be! Or so I convince myself into believing at times. It cracks me up that I am always the first to say to My Man, our Darlings and anyone else who will listen, “it’s not our plan…it’s His plan.” *gag me* Don’t get me wrong. I one hundred percent believe that it is truly God’s Plan;  that He is The One in Control. Then what does that make us? Chopped liver? *I love liver and liverwurst…anyone else?*

We are not mindless, powerless, robots totally controlled by God. Or our circumstances and the acts and mindsets of others, for that matter. We have a brain. We have resources. We have feelings and abilities and can decide for ourselves whether we blindly allow ourselves to be drug along the path our problems and circumstances take us or, whether we ask and seek and learn and decide for ourselves how we will respond, even if we can not physically control how it all plays out.

I totally believe God has been thumping me on the head with this truth lately: I have been more of an audience to my own life than a participant. Absolutely I have been there with my kids, doing what needed to be done, but I always felt like it was all spinning and I was running from plate to plate, giving it a quick touch to keep it spinning and then dashing to the next spinning plate. Ugh. It just hit me: trying to do it all, be all, please all. I just don’t think that is what we were created to do.Or, at least not what I was created to do.

And I have to be honest with you here…it hasn’t let up. Even with three adult children. I still feel like I am running from thing to thing, never catching up.Which is why I am so certain that this is not the way it is supposed to be.

So. Again. What to do about it all? First things first. I am focusing on me for a bit. No, seriously, this time I really am doing it. Focusing on my health (it’s totally out of control); my eating (ditto); and the things I need to be doing. Not necessarily the things I want to be doing. Does that make any sense at all to anyone? Cuz I’m really struggling with what it will look like.

I’ll let you know.

Recognizing the Perfection.

I began writing this post two days ago. I’ve brought into real-time the things that need to be, but left others, such as July 30’s stunning weather description. It’s my blog so I can do what I want, right? Or as we say in our family now:  It is what it is.

I wish you could feel how wonderful The Porch is today.

Let me see if I can describe to you what it feels like this July 30. A light breeze is blowing in non-stop waves. The sun is out. The sky is blueblueblue and there isn’t a breath of humidity to be found. I’m sitting on The Porch and, although it is 98% shaded, in the dead of Summer…read NOW…it is normally way too hot to sit out here at 5:00 pm. Today….perfection.

This? Perfection.

Pretty much describes my life right now. Perfection. And because those two words, life and perfection, don’t really belong together I will explain what I mean. Perfection, according to my google online dictionary means, “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” Or as free as possible…*emphasis mine.*

I’m trying to recognize, more, the perfection. And less of the flawed, the defected, the painful, the ugly.

I’m an admitted amateur at this perfection viewing. For me, the flawed, defected and painful is way more easy to focus on I have never been an optimist. I married one. His momma was one. I would say of my three darling children, only one is a true optimist; one flirts with optimism after first jumping head long into pessimism and the third one is just a grump most days with not much that is positive to speak of. You figure out which is which.

I am finally feeling like I am getting a handle on things around here. On me. Notice I did not use the “C” word, Susan D….control has been eradicated from my vocab. Today, however, I feel almost on top of things…work, relationships, my health (knowing what I need to do and mapping out a plan to get ‘er done…I’m a huge planner, fyi. Follow through…not so much.) My house, well, it’s all a work in progress, right?

This weekend we are having Thanksgiving in August. Some have been mocking the event, but really, what’s not to love? Turkey (assuming I can actually find a whole turkey in August), stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, pie and more pie, cranberry sauce, gravy, all of it. Even my own foodie children were making grumbling noises about it. One even asked if this meant no Thanksgiving in November. Where did I go wrong with these brats children?

Pulling together all of The Wild Boy’s college gear…Pretty much have it all purchased just need to wash it up, organize it…as if that will matter to him. We head to Roanoke on August 21 and move drop him and run the morning of August 22.

Have I mentioned to y’all that I am giving up wine the month of August? That’s in two days. I’m giving up the wine, and I have my food plan working and my workout plan lined up. Been doing it all sporadically. Need to focus on a month of Just Doing The Thing. The healthy eating, getting serious again about working out. It’snotforeverIt’snotforeverIt’snotforever. Am I the only one who has to say that to myself? I can give up food or coffee or whatever if I tell myself that today I am not eating this but I can have some tomorrow if I want to.

My only cup of coffee this morning: half coffee, 1 tsp raw sugar, heated and whipped lactose free half and half.

My Facebook peeps really have me thinking about the running thing. A few years ago, okay maybe ten, when I lost a ton of weight by working out 2 hours every day and pretty much starving myself…I’m not condoning it, just being real…I was getting bored with walking 3-5 miles and started throwing in some jogging. I didn’t hate it. So give me some time to start walking regularly again and I will look into, seriously, the running clubs/programs y’all recommended. Although I don’t understand why I would consider it after long-time runner Diane S was running, took a nasty fall and broke bones just last week.

We have a humongous storage unit that is paid for through December. My In-Love’s stuff and, truth be told, some of our own stuff so that we could actually move around in our basement. Between now and December, that will all have to be pulled out, gone through, gotten rid of. My Husband is now using the term, “down-sizing.” *shudder* I pretend to be on board but honestly, we had to go through his parent’s stuff and help my mom and dad go through their stuff and why shouldn’t we torture bless our own children with the task? Okay, I get it. Down-sizing it is. I’m totally on board. Not.

So that’s enough for now, I guess. For those of you counting, there are exactly 20 days until the umbilical cord is cut and my baby moves in to his dorm at Radford; 145 days until Christmas (No, I have not started playing Christmas music yet…give me some credit. I wait until September.); and 351 days until the 2015 Annual Smith/Secrist Beach Week at OBX.

Thank you, by the way, for all of the love during the last few weeks. We know we have The Best Family and Friends and are truly thankful for you all.

Mamie’s Brownies…A recipe.

I know I have raved about my Mamie’s brownies before, but seriously…they are The Best. You can not mess them up, no matter what you do. Believe me, I have tried. I have added everything out of order. I haven’t beaten the eggs beforehand. I never sift the dry ingredients together. And each batch? Purrrrrrfection.

Lately, I have been doubling the recipe. Let’s face it…one can never have enough brownies. I always say I am going to freeze some. Insert hysterical laughter here.

So here’s the recipe…exactly how My Girl wrote it out for me when she was ten. My original copy, written by me as dictated from my grandmother, Mamie, had met an unfortunate demise involving oil, sugar and the sink.

Love My Girl’s 10 year old handwriting and spelling

I’m so disappointed you can’t see my sweet pink nails

Bake away. And be sure to let me know how much you love them. Cuz you are so gonna! Oh, and for the record…I only use buttah…no margarine for this girl.

Catching up with The Smith’s.

I should be at CFA aka “bible study” with The Girls this morning. Instead, I am sitting on my not-so-new-anymore beloved blue couch trying to function. Fibromyalgia has won the battle after a very long and stressful two weeks of getting ready for vacation; having beach house keys in hand and receiving a phone call that My Man’s father had suddenly taken a turn for the worst; deciding to unload at the beach house and sending Russell back home at 0400 the next morning to say goodbye and finalize arrangements. Thankfully, his sister was able to drop everything and make the four hour trip to be with their father. The boys and I tried to enjoy some vacation time but our hearts were back home. Russell did show back up at the beach the very next day at 10:30 am after another early morning drive. We spent a couple days pretending to relax and enjoy the beach but honestly, when we received the call that Granddad had passed, we were all ready to pack it up and head home two days early.

The Wild Boy on his Skimboard with his GoPro 

You know you have good friends and church family on a day-to-day basis, but when they really slam your heart to a standstill is during a crisis. Friends who show up at your beach house to help you pack up and clean up. Sure, they were only half a mile down the beach, but still. Friends who call and text and encourage you to stay at the beach because we’ve got anything and everything you need covered at home. Friends lined up to provide food and meals for “as long as you want.” Friends who offer you their vacation homes so you can rest and vacation after the funeral. Friends who show up and stay the entire visitation time. Friends who say, whatever you need me to do, I will do and mean it and do it.

The Big Boy took this one of his little brother

Don’t even get me started on family. We are unbelievably blessed by our families. My sister, aka The Laundry Queen, arrived at our house the day after we did, set her bags down, rolled up her sleeves and never looked back. She and my bff from high school are notorious for doing that, without a word. I like to think it speaks more of their love and servant hearts than it does of the condition of my house and lack of cleaning/laundry schedule.

Found this heart while walking the beach thinking of ABO

Not surprisingly, my body has crashed after the adrenalin rush dissipated. My body and brain are at a stand still and I have to be honest: it is The Most Frustrating Thing. Ever. Being one who must be in control at all times…having no control over this is infuriating. Also, it is a lesson. One that, apparently, I have yet to master. I know that my body does this. I know that there are things I can do to lessen the impact of the crash. Eating well, lots of water, taking my supplements and meds and giving myself a break, to name a few. None of which I did since returning home from Topsail Beach. I pushed myself. Ate crap. Sipped too much Black Dog and refused to slow down. I jumped right back into work Monday morning and decided I could push it until Friday when I would take a day off from work to catch up on the house. I’m sure My Plans have God laughing and shaking His Holy head while He murmurs, “silly girl.

The Wild Boy took this with his GoPro

I haven’t even pulled beach photos off my Nikon yet, but wanted to share a couple pics with you from Topsail.

I’m thinking I will work from home today, from the beloved blue couch and may not even change out of my jammies. My boss knows how to get in touch with me and where to find me. He lives right next door.

In the meantime, I wanted to catch all of you up on Life with The Smith’s and thank you for loving us so well.

A rambling list of new things.

So I gave up on last week’s New Thing and have moved on to a New, New Thing.

Just kidding. But really, I know you want to know how the New Thing is progressing. Fine and dandy, actually. I’m not here to chat about that this morning, however. Today…a list.

Just for you, Di.

1. Beach week is fast approaching and I still have 50 pounds to lose. That would be 25 pounds each day so…I’m guessing this year is a no-go for the big weight-loss bikini reveal at the beach picture. Maybe For sure next year. *I promise…you will not have to see me in a bikini unless it’s that pic I just ran across from when I was 18 and even then…nope*

2. I’ve really, really had to loosen the old control reins/umbilical cord on The Wild Boy since graduation. As he reminded me a zillion few times, he will be doing what he wants in just a month or so anyway so what’s the difference now? Yep…that comment brought loads of comfort to my controlling momma bear personality.

How I long for those days, these days!

3. In other news, I’ve enrolled as a full time student at Radford University and am awaiting my dorm assignment. Already got my roommate lined up and his initials are BJS.

4. My Man and I are seriously ready to be empty-nesters. He keeps putting the ladder up to My Girl’s bedroom window and Her Guy keeps taking it down and putting it back underneath the deck. Clearly The Big Boy is never leaving either. Why would he? He has the dungeon to himself with all the amenities a twenty-something needs…a bed, a fridge a comfy chair, big-screen tv and X-Box Live.

Always a bridesmaid…but a stunning bridesmaid at that. Trav is okay, too, I guess.
We are so ready for this next stage…we adore our Ella Mac! Thankfully, she lives right next door.
5. I’ve hit that really awkward stage. Semi-menopausal with teenager tendencies. You know what I mean…when I can actually remember how old I am I try to forget by cranking up some Oldies (from the 90’s) and pull out my yarn bag to work on my crocheting.

6. I am loving shopping at Costco these days. How did I never really discover this mecca of good stuff until now? We would purchase the occasional cake now and then, but really it is just now that I shop there regularly. My other fave shopping place is Trader Joe’s. Mercy. Every time I shop there two things happen: 1. I find tons of new items to try and 2. I get into an altercation with someone driving the wrong way in the one-way lane in the parking lot. Seriously, why do people do that? And more importantly, why does it infuriate me so? I guess I’ve always been a rule-follower at heart. Except for rules that were clearly made to be suggestions like the speed limit, curfew and the number of items allowed in the express check out. But going the wrong direction in the Trader Joe’s parking lot? Capital Offense, baby, and I am always one four-letter word short of making a citizen’s arrest.

Okay, Di. I hope this satisfies your love of my lists and will hold you over until the next one. I will check in with y’all Beach-side.