Saturday, May 2, 2009

Letters to Obama and E-Mails to An Editor

We received our first shipment of the Letters To Obama book this week. It was so exciting to see Sarah open a box of books that contained her writing; we are incredibly proud of her.

I don't know if I ever explained how she came to even be in the book; if I did, please bear with me as I re-explain.

David Tabatsky, the editor I worked with for my Chicken Soup article, e-mailed me earlier in the year and said, "My colleague and I are putting together a book of letters from children to the President; it's going to press in a couple of days but if Sarah can get something to me tonight, we would love for her to be included."

Well, let me just say that Sarah jumped at the chance and dived into super intense writing mode; by 9 pm, her letter was finished and e-mailed to David. He wrote the next day and said how much he loved it. Since there were 1,000 submissions and only 179 made it into the book, Sarah was extra honored to get his special invitation.

If you go to the following link, you'll find a heartwarming story about some of the other children involved in the the book.

As happy as our family is about this whole project, there has been one small glitch. When I started glancing through the book, I discovered that the entire last paragraph of Sarah's letter had been left out!

I gaped! I gasped! I was taken aback! I asked myself in a distinctly discombobulated way, "WHERE did the paragraph go?"

I immediately sat down and e-mailed David, thanking him again for inviting Sarah to be involved and then very nicely letting him know that an important part of her letter was missing.

The next day I received an e-mail from Bruce, David's co-editor. In essence his letter said that while he couldn't put his hands on Sarah's letter right at that minute, the deletion of the paragraph was not a mistake. He said that he and David had discussed it at some length and had jointly made the decision to leave it out.


Well, don't you know that my momma hackles raised right up and I immediately prepared myself to jump on a plane to New York City and personally bang David and Bruce's heads together. In the nicest possible way, of course.

However, I am not a veteran minister's wife for nothing. If I've learned nothing else in twenty-seven years of trodding the pastoral pathway, I have learned the art of diplomacy and tact.

And so I composed a lovely e-mail to Bruce to express my "concerns." (Don't you love that word?) I thanked him for involving Sarah in the project, I complimented his work on the book--and I truly meant every word of it! He and David did an outstanding job.

And then I went on to say that I was curious as to why he and David would omit the most poignant, meaningful part of Sarah's letter. I said that the letter now ended awkwardly and the edit, in simple terms, just did not work. (And since he couldn't put his hands on her letter, I included the original letter in the e-mail.)

And then I took a deep breath. And waited. With hackles still slightly raised.

Only a couple hours passed before I received a return e-mail from Bruce. He was appalled but thankfully, not at me. He was appalled at himself and David.

He said that he had gotten Sarah's letter mixed up in his head with another child's letter (which they DID have to edit, for whatever reason). He agreed with me that the (inadvertent) edit done on Sarah's letter was awful and he apologized profusely that the paragraph had been left off. He said that in the hurry to include her letter at the last minute, the last paragraph must have been accidentally chopped off in the typesetting process.

He went on to say that although the book is not yet being printed on a large scale, they may very well be headed in that direction soon. If so, he promised the change would be made to her letter and that he would send us some free books in apology.


At least it was nice to know that they hadn't done it on purpose. You can probably imagine how puzzled I was after being told that they had discussed her last paragraph and made the decision to leave it off. I just couldn't quite wrap my mind around the fact that her little sweet paragraph was somehow inappropriate.

Anyway, if you order one of the books through us, I am going to print out and include the last paragraph of her letter, just because you folks are special and need to see the whole thing!

So that's the story! And as I mentioned, the first order of books is in and the second order is on the way. Info about how to order the Letters to Obama book can be found in the right column.

Friday, May 1, 2009

He Has GOT To Be Kidding!

I have so enjoyed reading every one's Happy Pandemic Lists. Talk about a lot of variety--you guys are amazing!

Last night, I was reading some of the lists out loud to Sarah and we just had the best time getting to know you all better by getting to know about your "thanksgivings." And by the way, if you haven't written your list yet it's not too late because I am definitely in a "reading more lists" mood today.

Yesterday, Steve and I splurged a bit and went to an afternoon matinee. Now there's something you need to know about me and that is whenever I go to a movie, I HAVE to have peanut M&M's. It is a Long Standing, Non-Alterable Becky Smith Tradition.

Steve almost always gets popcorn but yesterday as we were going into the theater he said he was going to save the $4 and not get any.

I said, "Well, what are you going to eat for a snack?"

He replied, "I'll just have some of your M&M's."

Just like that. Matter of fact. Calm. No big deal.

I thought, "This man has been married to me for twenty seven years and he STILL thinks he can partake of my limited, hoarded, splurged-on supply of chocolate? He has GOT to be kidding!"

I stopped dead in my tracks, looked at him and (quietly) shrieked, "You're going to share WHAT?"

He looked sort of surprised and said, "Um. Your M&M's?"

I just shook my head in sadness and disbelief. I know our wedding vows said something about "With all my worldly goods, I thee endow" but I really don't recall those wedding vows specifically mentioning chocolate. Or M & M's."

With a great "Harrumph," on my part, we filed into the theater auditorium and settled into our seats. I immediately began to happily crunch on my candies while all the while Steve crunched on, well, absolutely nothing.

It wasn't long before his blatant, non-crunching behavior started creating in me a few teeny tiny twinges of guilt.
I thought to myself, "This is the man who has put up with my moods, foibles and insecurities for twenty seven years. He told me I looked beautiful even when I was fourteen months pregnant and weighed more than a walrus. He changes the oil in my car. He makes our bed on a regular basis. He holds the door for me. He surprises me with flowers. He tells me often that he loves me. He (occasionally) picks up his dirty socks. He mops the kitchen floor when I'm too tired. He kills hairy, scary spiders."

Now people, you would have been so proud of me.
After going through that mental list of my husband's wonderfulness, I made a decision. I made a difficult decision. I made a self-sacrificing, Wife-Of-The-Year kind of decision.

I reached deep down into my bag of treasured morsels.

And I gave him SIX M & M's.

My generosity amazed even me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


/panĖˆdem ik/ –adjective

1. (of a disease) prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world; epidemic over a large area.

2. general; universal: pandemic fear of atomic war. –noun

A pandemic is not usually thought of as a happy word but since this is MY blog, I am going to happify it.

If I want to.

And I do.

This morning a Facebook friend of mine wrote that she was going to start a pandemic of good news which sounds a lot better to me than a pandemic of swine flu or a pandemic of housing foreclosures.

She went on to write about a few things she was thankful for and by doing so, she got the pandemic going. In fact, it got going so strongly that it spread all the way over here. What? Did she sneeze sunshine, or somethin'? It's now taken over this blog for the day!

Usually the temptation is to run the other direction in the face of a pandemic but with this one, I'd like instead for you to gather 'round and think of happy things; things you're thankful for.

When you're done thinking, list a few of them in the guest book. And if you need to be reminded of other things to be happy about, read through what everyone else has listed and then see if you don't leave here feeling all pandemic-y.

In a GOOD way, of course.

I'm going to start with a few of my own "happy thoughts" and then I'm going to add a few miscellaneous happy family pictures too, just to ensure that the pandemic gets off to a strong start.

1. I'm thankful that I can go to a grocery store that doesn't feature live chickens. I've known enough missionary wives over the years who have shopped in open air markets and cooked dinner without electricity. I'm thankful for neatly wrapped poultry and a working stove.

2. Nathan is home from college for a while. That makes me very, very happy.

3. I'm extra, super, incredibly thankful for books. And knowing how to read.

And I'm thankful for happy family pictures. . .

I can't wait to read what YOU'RE going to write! And please don't feel any pressure to make your entries extremely high minded, or extra impressive or even fabulous. Small blessings are good to notice, too.

Your turn!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Passe Posse

I was thoroughly amused and amazed by the all the guest book responses to the Toilet Paper Stand Off. You guys have made me feel so much better as you have reminded me that I'm not the only person living with children who have "selective vision."

By the way, I keep on forgetting to mention that if you would like to advertise on this new site (your blog, your business, or your newest book about "How To Get Children To Pick Up Toilet Paper Rolls," etc.) please e-mail me at (Or else have your people call my people. )

Okay, moving on today's random topic: sunglasses.

I'm sure most of you have noticed that the latest trend in sunglasses (for women at least) seems to be the over sized lens look. I first noticed this when I looked at the pictures that Nathan took in Jerusalem earlier in the year; all of his female college classmates were saucily sporting The Latest Look.

As I continued to peruse the pictures of the impeccably turned out Collegiate Women, I felt a small tremor of discontentment. I thought, "Oh no. The sunglasses that I currently possess are much smaller. They are non-stylish. They are out-of-style, outdated, and outmoded.

What is a girl to do when her sunglasses have become old hat? Can she continue to hold her head high when going out to Wal-Mart or does she have to hang her head low, ashamed of her absurd archaic appearance?

Well, those are the questions. And you can find how I answered those questions in these pictures taken at last week's Blue Angels Air Show.

Sarah and I have decided that we are going to be on the cutting edge of non-stylishness.

We are going to wear our small rimmed spectacles with pride.

We are going to be the Passe Posse!

And just in case you would like to see us striking some other poses with our non-fashionable eyewear, here's a picture of Sarah. (The guy in the picture behind her is sporting some overly over sized glasses. I think he may need some fashion lessons.)

In this picture, I just wanted to stand next to something that would make me look and feel petite and this airplane certainly did the trick!

To be quite honest with you, I DID have one moment of temptation last week when I saw some newfangled sunglasses on display. The shiny lenses beckoned to me with their lovely largess and cooed, "Come and buy me! Then you too, can be one of the cool people!"

I stood for a moment and listened to their seductive siren song. And then I looked into my (empty) wallet and quite amazingly, that ol' siren sung just faded off into the distance. Isn't it incredible what empty wallets do to temptation? I figured I didn't really need those new glasses after all!

As I've been thinking about this subject over the last couple of days, I was reminded of an incident about ten years ago when I was going to visit a friend who was very lovely and self confident. Before the visit, I started putting all this ridiculous pressure on myself that I needed to get all my fashion ducks in a row before seeing her and that included purchasing some new and impressive sunglasses.

The first day of our visit, she and I got in the car to go somewhere. I reached into my purse and smoothly donned my glamorous glasses, so happy that I was going to be able to keep up with my sophisticated colleague.

She saw me with my glasses and said, "Oh yes. I need to put on my sunglasses, too."

To my great surprise, she reached into her purse and proceeded to don a pair of incredibly tacky glasses saying, "I got these at the zoo last week for a dollar."

Suddenly my glasses seemed just a bit overdone. Over cool. Over eager.

It was such a small thing, but that moment has stuck with me for years. My friend was perfectly comfortable in her own skin, perfectly comfortable with who she was, not at all reliant on the latest fashion gizmo's and gadgets to make her anything else. She just was.

And so Sarah and I just are. We're two gals who don't have the money for the latest fashion colors and styles and shapes. But we can do some rip roarin' shopping at Goodwill and come out of there wearing smiles, happiness and unfashionable sunglasses.

And you know what?

That's okay.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Toilet Paper Stand Off

I'm sure you've all been sitting around your computers this entire day, completely incapable of tearing your eyes away from the screen for even one second for fear that you might miss the first installment of the first moment of the first word of the first telling of our first Toilet Paper Stand Off.

But the moment has finally come. The time for the telling is here. Here's the whole story.

Last week, I bought toilet paper. Nine rolls of toilet paper. On sale.

What I normally do when I get home with the Smith Family Supply of toilet paper is to put three rolls in the downstairs bath, three rolls in the master bathroom, and three rolls in the kids' bathroom.

(Aren't you ever so excited to have the inside scoop on how our family's toilet paper is distributed? I realize that blogging really doesn't get much better than this.)

On this particular day however, I did my first two drop offs and then I thought, "I'll just throw these three rolls down the hall towards the kids' bathroom and one of them can pick them up and take them in when they go that direction."

Just so you know how well that plan worked, I would like to share a picture of what the hallway looked like on Thursday evening, several hours after I had tossed the toilet paper down the hall.

Now I'm just asking this for the purpose of scientific research, not because I'm dissing my children or anything, but if you walked down this hall and into this bathroom several times a day, would you notice those three rolls on the floor?

I kept on thinking with my perky positivity, "Any moment now, either Sarah or Nathan will pick up the rolls and carry them the two or three steps into the bathroom and put them into the Official Toilet Paper Storage Area. It's a no-brainer!"


On Friday afternoon, this is what the hallway (still) looked like.

Now it may just be me, but I can't really tell much of a difference between those two photos, can you? Once again, I'm asking for research purposes only. I am not in any way insinuating that my lovely children would ever ignore such a vital housekeeping issue for TWO days in a row.

And you'll never, ever guess what the hallway looked like on Saturday.

Even though I'm not going to post a picture, you won't even have to use your imagination. All you have to do is to scroll slowly back up the screen to look at the pictures on Thursday and Friday. There was No. Change.

My first instinct was to make my way down the hall and with my patented, martyred maternal sigh, pick up the three rolls and put them away. But then I thought, "Nope. I'm not going to do it because first of all, both of those children bend much easier than I do and secondly, it's their toilet paper and their bathroom."

By Sunday, the (unspoken) stand off was still going strong. At dinner however, Steve casually mentioned the toilet paper that had been sitting in the hallway for three days.

I said to him, "Oh, you weren't supposed to say anything. I was going to see how long the kids were going to let it sit there!"

Both Nathan's and Sarah's heads shot up and their eyes opened wide. By the looks on their faces, I could tell that they either hadn't even noticed the toilet paper lying there--on the floor, right in front of them, that they were tripping over and stepping around---or else they hadn't thought it was any sort of a big deal. They both kind of made a joke about it and we went on with the meal.

After we ate, Nathan disappeared upstairs. Steve followed a few minutes later and when I heard him up there sort of chortling to himself, I went upstairs to investigate. This is what I saw.

Well, I just stood there and laughed and laughed. It was such a Nathan-esque thing to do; it was like he was saying with his Tower of TP, "Okay, Mom. I moved the toilet paper. Are you happy?"

Now if your heart is longing for a more artsy view of the Tower, I took a picture from a different angle. I know how important it is for toilet paper to be portrayed in an artsy manner.

When I had finally finished my laughing, I called Sarah upstairs and she got a pretty good giggle out of the TP Tower, too. However, when all the laughing was over, Sarah (being a female), figured out that enough was enough and that it was time to get the toilet paper moved to its rightful home.

After posing for the inevitable picture, she cheerily deposited the aforementioned rolls into their aforementioned Official Toilet Paper Storage Area and just like that, the stand off was over.

Later on, I was kidding Nathan about the whole "toilet paper in the hallway" situation and asking him how long he had been planning to leave the toilet paper in the hallway. He replied with the kind of sincerity and wide-eyed innocence that only a 19-year old college student can muster, "But Mom! I was planning on going out there and getting a roll whenever we ran out in the bathroom!"

Like that was the obvious solution. Leave the toilet paper in the hallway and just get out and get some when you need it. No biggie!

He is SUCH a male. Such a beloved, funny, "non-picking up the toilet paper" kind of male.

And Sarah is SUCH a female. Such a beloved, funny "I'll help Mom and and pick up this toilet paper for her" kind of female.

And I am SUCH a Mom. Such a beloved, funny "Those kids had better jolly well pick up that toilet paper or I will have a major mamma hissy fit!" kind of Mom. (smile)

I am very happy to report to you all that the stand off ended peaceably. The toilet paper is where it belongs and the hallway is neat.

And that's the end of the story, right?

I wish.

I had actually written most of this entry before dinner and was going to finish it up and post it after we ate. Well, while Nathan and Sarah and I were at the table (Steve is away at a conference) I casually said to them, "I'm about to post a blog about the toilet paper and how Nathan stacked it in the hallway."

Nathan looked at me with great puzzlement and said, "Mom, I didn't stack the toilet paper in the hallway!"

I gaped at him and said, "You didn't? Well, who did then?"

He said, "It must have been Dad!"

Sure enough, when Steve called home a few minutes ago I asked him The Stacking TP Question and he said, "Oh yeah, I stacked it. I just called you upstairs because I was having such fun with it."

Somehow all along, I had assumed it was Nathan's doing. And now my entire blog is ruined because I told the story wrong.
Hmmm . . .

Here's the deal, folks. I would like to earnestly request that you please just ignore the untrue portion of the blog that talks about Nathan's stacking because I have spent way too much time already writing about toilet paper and I'm not going to re-write the entire blog over one little ol' stacking error.

The bottom line is that the stand off is over. The toilet paper is put away. Peace reigns.

Life is good.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Coming Soon! The Toilet Paper Standoff

I just updated Sarah's Site but have run out of time and creative brilliance to update Smithellaneous right at the moment. Not that I EVER have a lot of creative brilliance; I am just experiencing less than my usual non-existence of it right now.

(Did that makes sense? No? I didn't think so.)

Anyway, head on over to Sarah's Spot and I'll be back here in the next day or two to write a scinitillating update about The Toilet Paper Standoff.

Don't miss it!

Oh yeah, one more thing. If you'd like to go to the column on the right and sign up as a Follower I'd be pickled tink! (Er, I mean, tickled pink.)

Or if you'd like to sign the guest book (either here or at Sarah's Spot) I'd be even pickled tinker! (Or, well, you know . . . )