Wear Sequins

If you got sequins, wear ’em.

If you don’t got sequins, get some, then wear them.

I don’t remember buying this blouse. Knowing me, it was a deal on a clearance rack and something I bought because it was pretty and I justified it just in case I ever had the occasion to wear such a thing.

I’ve only worn it a time or two, mostly because I don’t go to very many fancy things where sequins would fit in. But it’s so very pretty and each time I pass it over and choose some other top I think things like why did you buy it if you’re never gonna wear it or worse, you’re never going to go anywhere fancy enough that you’ll need to wear something like that.

Negative, insecure thoughts.

So this one night a few weeks I had to go to a thing — nothing too fancy but a business casual thing — and I wore my sequins. I also wore hoop earrings. Not because it was a formal event just because I wanted to and I felt good wearing it. I felt pretty and feminine, attractive and stylish even.

I figure if I wait for the perfect occasion to wear my sequined blouse I may never wear it again, so might as well wear it other times. Especially if it boosts how I feel about myself!

So my challenge to you is to buy something you think is pretty but that you think you’ll never wear … and then wear it!


Hangin’ Out with Twenty-Somethings


Me and Marla, back in my 20s, when I thought I knew so much, only to discover … I still had a lot to learn

I used to be the 20-something in my peer groups.

Do you remember those days, Marla Jones?

My friend Marla was a 30-something when I was a 20-something, and I remember this funny expression on Marla’s face whenever I talked about things that I thought I knew all about but really had no idea because of my youth.

Of course I had no idea that I had no idea, but Marla knew that I had no idea.

Thus the smirk.

Now, I know exactly what my good friend Marla was feeling when she had that humorous little smirk on her face.

I’m now the 30-something with a bunch of 20-somethings in my life — my work, my network, my church, even my family (my 3 nephews, who are more like little brothers, are all in their 20s now).

It’s not that 20-somethings think they know it all, per se (although some of them do think that). I think it’s that for the first 18 years of their life they are dependent on others to give them approval and permission, and now, in their 20s, they give their own approvals and permissions which gives them a new found confidence. So with confidence they exert their viewpoints and opinions and decisions, and they are confident they know what they’re talking about.

And sometimes they do, which is awesome! I learn a lot from the 20-somethings in my life. Just because I’m a decade or so older doesn’t make me the smartest person in the room. And confidence is good!

And other times … they have no clue … and I smile my best Marla smirk and think “Oh how cute” or as we in the South like to say, “Bless their heart.”



An Open Letter To the Couple Who Bought My House Today

I sat across from you today while you signed your names over and over and remembered being you, remembering being a first time home buyer and the excitement and anticipation that brings.

I bet you didn’t know you’d sign your names a million times, did you? I didn’t the first time I bought a house.

You’re newlywed-ish and pregnant — I knew this before meeting you for the first time today. When you made your offer I googled your names, and your wedding website and baby registry were the top two results. It made me feel good about selling my home to you. Ironically I was pregnant too when I bought the house that is now yours.

That was 11 years ago. That baby took his first steps and said his first words, then learned to ride a bike and shoot basketball at that house, just like your baby will now. I joked with you that if one of my sons were elected, that house will be the one they designate as the President’s childhood home.

Today was a little awkward, I’ll admit. Perfect strangers connected by a house that I’ve live in a third of my life — the longest I’ve lived in one place ever — a house that with the signing of your names umpteen million times now belongs to you.

I told you a few of the things on my heart — that the neighbors on the right are amazing and that you’ll never see the neighbors on the left, except when he mows the yard and sprays for weeds and collects Amazon Prime packages from his larger-than-everyone-else’s mailbox. I felt the need to tell you about the family behind us and their teenage son who plays basketball on our — now your — basketball goal and that you may have to tell him if you don’t want him to play there anymore. It was sweet that you said you might go out there and play with him.

But I kept a lot in and pondered quietly.

It’s just a house, I know, but the selling of it is an end to a big chapter of my life and the beginning of a new one. It’s a little scary, but in a good way. I’m excited about this new chapter and the new home I hope to buy now that you have purchased this one. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it’s bittersweet.

I wish you an enjoyable life for as long as you live in our house. May it be filled with laughter and love and many happy memories, as it has been for us.



December 29th is THE best day to be born


I was born on December 29.

A Christmas time birthday.


No one likes a birthday around Christmas.

You get the combined one big gift for Christmas and Birthday.

If you happen to get a separate birthday gift, your birthday gift comes wrapped in Christmas paper. You wouldn’t wrap it in snowman paper if my birthday was in June would you? No, I didn’t think so.

None of your friends can come to a birthday party because there’s so many Christmas parties and time spent traveling to grandma’s.

Snow and ice can cancel any party you do manage to plan.

So in general it’s not the best time of year to be born.

Which makes the following most unlikely story even more hilarious.

First, I have to say that my family always did a great job at making my Christmastime birthday special. Most of the above complaints I didn’t experience, at least not too often. My birthday was always it’s own celebration separate from our Christmas traditions.

So the night before my 17th birthday we had a family birthday party with hot sub sandwiches from the sandwich shop where I worked and mom’s famous red velvet cake. My sister was pregnant with twins who were due the end of January, but of course twins are full term about a month early. There was joking about them being born on my birthday but I’m not sure any of us took it too seriously.

But sure enough, the next day, on my 17th birthday, my sister got sick, went in to labor and my twin nephews were born. I blame it on the combination of a hot Reuben sandwich + red velvet cake + a late night action flick. I mean sauerkraut + really rich cake would make anybody sick enough to go into labor.

So my birthday became “our” birthday.

Fast forward a few years to my child-bearing years. Because of my December birthday I wanted to have children any other time of the year than Christmas. Things worked out pretty well with my first born. Finn was born in July.

A few years later though, I was ready to try for baby no. 2, and I thought it would take a little longer to get pregnant than it did. I remember using an online due date predictor and shaking my head at the estimated due date: Dec. 28, the day before my birthday.

The drs. expected me to deliver early — common with second babies they said — and one of the drs. even suggested that if everything looked good she’d induce me on Dec. 21 and we’d be home by Christmas.

I even bought a baby’s first Christmas outfit.

But Dec. 21 came and went and no baby, no induction.

So Dec. 28 my dr. decided to schedule my induction for the next day. I laughed of course. She noticed my birthdate and asked if I wanted to pick a different day.

Ha, no, I told her, at this point I’d rather share a birthday with my child than be one day off. Plus, who would choose to be big & pregnant any longer than they had to be.

So the next day our trio of birthdays became a foursome.

Pretty crazy huh?



Book Review: Of Stillness and Storm

Before I get in to what I thought about the book “Of Stillness and Storm,” I gotta give a little background for my viewpoint.

First, I grew up a PK — preacher’s kid —  and growing up a PK is hard. People joke about how the call of a pastor isn’t just on the pastor but on his family too. Unless you’re in that family you have no idea how true that really is. The families of pastors and missionaries sacrifice that member of their family to the Lord’s work, and you feel bad getting too upset about it because well, they’re doing the Lord’s work. But too many times ministers forsake one call for another, leaving behind the call of a husband and father to their family at home to the “more important call” to their church and community. I’m not so sure that’s what God intends. Yes, it’s tough to manage both roles, to pastor a church and ALL that that entails and to be a husband and a father, but just because it takes extra effort doesn’t mean it’s not worth working at or doing well. I’ve seen it done bad and I’ve seen it done well. The impact on the family is significant either way.

Second, ‘Of Stillness and Storm’ involves an emotional affair by a woman who’s missionary husband has emotionally forsaken her and their child for the lost in Nepal. He’s there physically, albeit intermittent, but his heart is sold out to the lost and that doesn’t leave much left for his family unfortunately. Shades of her story resemble some of my own experiences.

So for these reasons I related to parts of this story in a very personal way.

So the book … left me wanting more! Which is a good thing. Author Michele Phoenix did such an amazing job creating characters and situations that I care about that I want there to be a future book that tells me what happens next. In fact I actually tweeted the author to ask if there was a sequel in the works. It turns out there’s not, but I wish there was! Without spoiling anything let’s just say the story comes to an end but doesn’t come to a conclusion, if that makes sense.

One of my favorite moments was early in the book when Lauren and Sam are falling in love. Lauren is a little scared of what’s going on with Sam and tells her friend she’s trying to play it safe with him, not take the risk of anyone getting hurt. Her friend encourages her with a quote from C.S. Lewis:

‘To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”

Then her friend says something just as profound as Lewis:

“You can keep your heart safe or you can lay it on the line and mend it when it breaks. A heart unrisked is a heart unshared — and yours is too good to waste.”

I’m kinda scared to fall in love (again) so I understood well Lauren’s fear and found the Lewis quote and the friend’s comment poignant to my own situations.

Later in the story I underlined this thought by Lauren as she reminisced about someone she loved in the past:

Love, like grief, doesn’t die. It bleeds until it can no more. Then, pale and listless, sleeps.

Hmm. Interesting to compare love and grief; I’ve experienced both deeply. I think I get it though. When do you fall out of love? Like, can you name the moment when you stop loving someone. Similarly, when do you stop grieving a loss? Some say never but for most grief wanes over time and then one day, after enough time or distance has passed, grief kinda stalls and lies dormant, which means it can be awakened again without notice, rhyme or reason. Is love like that too? Maybe so. Something to ponder.

One more thing to point out: This story incorporates the dangers of reconnecting with old boyfriends or old crushes on social media. One of the neat things about sites like Facebook is reconnecting with people from your past. But many relationships and marriages have been uprooted and undone by it. Something to be extremely careful about.

Review in a nutshell:

  • Enjoyed it
  • Related to struggles and characters
  • Underlined some cool quotes
  • Wished there was a sequel
  • Be careful reconnecting with old boyfriends on Facebook
  • 3.8/5 stars

I received a free early release copy of this book exchange for this review from Litfuse Publicity Group. More on Litfuse and Of Stillness and Storm here.



Book Review: The Invoice will make you think

What if you had to pay for your perceived happiness? Not your actual happiness but how happy someone else says you are based on factors they determine and measure. I imagine if this were the case there’d be a lot less folks portraying picture-perfect lives on Facebook.

So in ‘The Invoice‘ by Jonas Karlsson this guy gets a bill for his happiness quotient, and he completely disagrees with the charges. I mean, the bill is egregious. He owes millions of dollars (actually kronor, which it turns out is Swedish currency; who knew?) and he doesn’t feel like his life is that great to owe so much. Especially when friends who he thinks have happier lives owe less than him.

See how this book will make you think? Cool, eh?

So he sets out to prove how crappy his life is so that the people who decide such things will lower his bill. In the process he discovers that maybe his life isn’t so bad afterall.

Quick, quirky read that made me think. And since I like thinking, I give the book 3/5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Blogging for Books for this review.



Moving Out & Moving On

The moving truck with all our stuff!

Moving Out

The boys and I moved across town yesterday.

“Across town.” My country roots are showing. I’ve lived most of my life in the country so on Saturdays as a kid we “went to town,” and even though that town is now a bonafide big city that mentality has stuck with me.

So, we moved across town. If you’re reading this and like “oh my gosh I had no idea this was happening” (either at all or so soon) you’re in good company because it happened kinda fast, and I haven’t talked about it online, so the only way you’d know if we talked about it face to face, and I’ve not done a lot of that either.

Here’s the scoop: the boys school is on the other side of town from our house. About 25-27 miles. This is our 5th year to do the commute, and while the drive is long and we wake up super early and stuff, the real disadvantage all these years was that living far away from the school limited our involvement in the extracurricular. Like Friday night football games and after school volleyball. We had such a long drive we couldn’t feasibly go home and come back. To wait around in town killing time til games started was just too much so we did what we could and missed out on a lot. But as the boys have gotten older and as I’ve made more friends with parents too, we want to be at those things more. The cost is high though because we often spend that time between school and the school-thing we’re doing later by doing homework, reading, listening to radio or watching a movie, eating, studying, napping, etc. IN THE CAR. I keep the car stocked with drinks, snacks, blankets, movies (I’m not kidding) for this reason.

The boys are in 8th and 5th grades; the number of things they/we want to be involved in at the school is increasing, not going the other way. For example, Finn has cross country practice every day but usually not til 5. So we have a gap from when I pick them up at school at ~ 3:30 til practice at 5. It’s a 30 minute drive to our house, so if we go home, we drive 30 are at home for 30 then drive 30 back. Then Caden and I sit in the car for the 1 1/2 hour practice. Or maybe we’ll hop out and toss frisbee or play ball, but we’re still killing time and time, my friends, is too precious and fleeting to be killed.

I hit my wall with this about 6 weeks ago when we went to the Target cafe during this 3:30-5 window to get a snack and do homework. Caden was working on math and was very distracted by a family with a noisy toddler near us. He frustratingly said in a low voice to me “Can you ask them to keep their baby quiet, I’m trying to do homework here?” No, we’re in a public place, we’re in a grocery store even, can’t ask that. So I knew we couldn’t make this work any longer. They need a place to do homework and study that’s conducive to learning, and Target is not it. And they need to be able to go home after school and grab a snack from the fridge and plop on their couch and watch some TV or play a video game. As much as the experts says that’s a waste of time, they need time to veg and be kids and we’re aren’t getting enough of that. By the time we get home after practice everyone is starving so there’s dinner to figure out, showers, homework, studying, and all of that takes right up til bed time, which is pretty early because of how early we have to wake up to do it all again the next day.

Moving though? Ugh. Who wants to go through the hassle of selling and buying and moving. Not me. That’s part of the reason why we haven’t moved til now because moving is SUCH a chore! Their dad and I moved 7 times in 6 years before building this house 10 years ago, so 10 years without a move has been heavenly. I considered moving when they first changed schools, but the housing market wasn’t as good then and just seemed too risky. But the housing market has bounced a little from then with lots of houses selling in my area in a good price range too. So maybe now was the time, I thought.

Call me inpatient, but I didn’t want to wait all the months I knew it would take  to get the house ready to sell (i.e. de-cluttered, super-clean, painted, repaired, etc.) all while still living in it and trying to sell it, so I made a move (literally) that would force my hand to do it quicker. I decided we’d move as soon as I could find a good apartment for the rest of the school year. That gets us where we need to be physically ASAP and forces me to more quickly get the house ready to sale and on the market. I just knew that if we continued to live in it while trying to get it ready to sale that it would take forever and it would be next school year and we’d still be there.

So I found a nice apartment complex with plenty of room for us very near the school and willing to do a short term lease and here we are!


Moving On

So that’s the facts of the move — the who, what, where, when, why — but what’s missing from all of that is the emotions. Moving can be hard emotionally. We’ve lived in that house 10 years, so this is the boys first move that they’ll remember.

If that’s all there was, that’s emotional enough. My sons learned to walk, talk, crawl, everything in this house! But that’s not all there is. Because this is the house that their dad and I built, the last house he lived in, so moving out is a form of moving on from that too. It’s brought back memories of building it and choosing all the colors and fixtures. Moving out of the house we built and bought together closes out that chapter of my life in a big way.

Truth is I/we have lived in that house longer without him than with him. But because it started out as “ours” it’s still felt like “ours” even though we’ve lived in it without him the last 6 years.

When I talked to John’s mom about the move she said, “Well it’s time, time for y’all to move on,” and that puzzled me because that’s not what this move is about. We’re moving to be closer to the school and to be rooted in the community where they go to school. But it’s moving on too, even if that’s on the reason.

It was inevitable, of course. I had no grand illusions of living there forever. I just had no hard-and-fast reason to move before now so we just stayed put until life’s circumstances urged me on. We were comfortable with our stuff and our routine and “home” felt like “home.” My parents live a few streets over from the house, so it’s been nice to have them close enough for the boys to ride their bikes to their grandparents and to help when the boys were little. But they say home is where the heart is, and our heart has been moving to this side of town little by little for 5 years. Part of my heart is still VERY MUCH over there, but it’s the past part not the present or future part. Acknowledging and accepting that that house and it’s memories is part of my past is harder than I thought. Especially when part of my heart is really happy to be over here and have so much time and life back! It’s a happy-sad moment, goodbye to good things, hello to other good things.

Finn bungee-ing stuff on the truck to move

So this is Phase I of the Smith Family Move. The plan is to be in the apartment the rest of the school year. The guys are coming to paint and fix up my house the next few weeks and we’ll get the realtor in there the next few weeks too. I’m praying it sells quick and for the amount I need to cover the mortgage, repairs, temporary moving expenses and a downpayment on the next one. Because there will be a next one. The apartment is temporary so in Phase II we’ll buy a new house. So more Smith Family moving adventures to come ….