Saturday, July 25, 2009


I've been on a muscle relaxer since last night due to my back going "kapooy" on me for the first time in over a year.

I've never taken a muscle relaxer before and I've found it to be very, um, relaxing. I just loll around the house like The Great Smith Sloth and drift in and out of naps. Really rather fun.

Tomorrow morning I'm scheduled to play keyboard for two services at our church. I'm thinking that I should probably discontinue the medication before the services because it would not be a good thing for me to be lolling in la-la land in the middle of a song.

On the other hand, it might actually be sort of entertaining! The keyboardist suddenly falling alseep on verse two? THAT doesn't happen in church just every day.

Thankfully, I have Meagan and Nathan around so I'm happily working them like slaves; in fact, right now they're at Wal-Mart picking up a few "easy to make" things so that we can have supper with a minimal amount of concentration and focus involved.

So here's the rest of my day.

Go to bed.

Okay. I'm off to do so some more pre-dinner lolling . .

The Post In Which Steve Decides That His Picture-Taking Wife Has Finally Taken Leave Of Her Senses

A couple days ago, Nathan and Meagan went out to the backyard to swing. Meagan told me later that she had said to Nathan, "I bet that within the next five minutes, your mom will be at one of the windows taking pictures."

Meagan knows me too well.

I was working upstairs when I just happened to glance outside. I immediately grabbed my camera, ran to the upstairs bathroom window, threw it open and yelled, "Smile! I'm going to take your picture!"

And then I yelled again even louder, "Smile! I have the camera!"

They heard me. They saw me. They smiled.

I took their picture.

End of story, right?


Let's now take a look at this whole scenario from Steve's perspective.

He and Nathan had just returned from the gym where they had played a ferocious and highly competitive game of racquetball. Steve decided that since he was sort of sweaty, he would take a shower.


So there he was, standing happily in the shower, humming merrily to himself, and just as naked as a newborn. And then suddenly, crashing into the middle of his placid, peaceful, showery existence comes the sound of his wife's voice. And his wife's voice is uttering some very strange and scary words."

Her voice is shrieking enthusiastically, "Smile! I'm going to take your picture!"

And then even louder, "Smile! I have the camera!"

It occurred to Steve that his wife had finally crossed the line. It occurred to him that in her frenzied efforts to come up with enough pictures to adequately supply her blog, she had finally gone completely loopy, not to mention loony and had decided to start snapping pictures of nekkid men in the shower.

So he did the only reasonable thing he could think of--well, reasonable to him, at least.

He flung open the shower door and hollered, "WHAT in the WORLD are you doing?"

Now let me just insert this little wifely thought.

If I was in the shower and I heard a voice outside saying, "Smile, I'm going to take your picture" I would not, repeat, WOULD NOT fling open the shower door to find out what was going on. No, I would commence to huddling in the corner of the shower until the maniacal person had left the room, with his or her accompanying maniacal camera.

When I told the Shower Story to the family later, Steve took a lot of ribbing about flinging open the shower door all the while knowing there was a wild camera woman lurking outside.

But in his defense, I guess that when you hear someone in the bathroom yelling about taking pictures, you very well might experience a temporary bout of discombobulation that could cause you to do things you wouldn't normally do.

Let me just say that he was very happy that I was NOT taking his shower picture for his blog. And let me just say that I am very happy that he now believes that I would never do such a thing.

Well, unless I got really, really desperate for blog pictures. And then? All bets are off.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Plan That Was Almost
Unraveled By A Shampoo Bottle

Nathan's girlfriend, Meagan, emailed me recently and told me that she was planning to fly into Smithfield to surprise Nathan. Since he didn't think he'd be seeing her again until college started again in a month, I knew he'd be thrilled.

Her flight was due at 6 pm, which meant I wouldn't be home for dinner that night. So I creatively concocted a story for Nathan about how I was going to be meeting a new friend for dinner whom I had had met through Smithellaneous. I even wrote it on the calendar, "6 pm. Susan."

Susan. My new friend. My new, imaginary friend!

So everything was all planned out. Every piece was in place.

Until late last week when Nathan casually mentioned to me, "Mom, I'm going to the beach this weekend; I'll probably be back Tuesday night."

Meaning he would not be here to be surprised by Meagan on Monday night. Meaning all our careful plans were down the tube.

I stayed calm, played dumb and then immediately e-mailed Meagan. She replied in very mature fashion, "Well, he'll really enjoy being with his friends and that'll be a good outing for him. I'll be okay with not seeing him until Tuesday night.


But then Sunday right as he was leaving, Nathan nonchalantly said, "Oh by the way. My work schedule changed so now I'll be able to stay at the beach until Thursday night."

NOT so fine.

Once again I stayed calm. Barely. As soon as he left, Meagan and I were in panicked conversation on the phone. She had been okay with him not being back till Tuesday night, but Thursday night? Not so much.

She said, "WHAT are we going to do?"

What were we going to do, indeed?

Steve, Sarah, Meagan and I started thinking, worrying, stressing, discussing, plotting, planning, and pondering.

The big question was: HOW could we get Nathan to come home without giving the surprise away? We didn't want to say anything that would make him worry (like Dad's having an unexpected surgical procecure) or make him overly excited (like we found a job for you on CraigList where you can earn $100 just by working all day Wednesday.)

Nothing we thought of was was workable, and believe me, we came up with a whole bunch of plots! And yet, I knew I just couldn't get on the phone and order my mostly grown up son to come home from vacation for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

I could just imagine that conversation!

"Hi Nathan. It's Mom. Come home. Immediately. Because I said so."

After some further discussion with Meagan, I finally just took the plunge. I called Nathan Monday morning, chit chatted a few moments, let a long second unwind and then said, "Nathan do you trust me?"


Then he said, "Uh. Yeah."

I then asked, "Nathan, do you love me?"

Another silence.

"Um. Yes."

I said, "Okay. If you trust me and love me, then please believe me when I say that I need you to come home on Tuesday night, just for two hours. And since you're having to interrupt your vacation unexpectedly, we'll pay your gas home and then back to the beach."

(I put in the "two hour" detail just to confuse him; I knew that once he got home and saw Meagan, there would be no thought of going back to the beach.)

A long silence ensued while he processed this very strange request.

But he agreed! BIG sigh of relief!

When Meagan talked to him the next time on the phone, he started telling her about this very strange request his mother had made. In fine feminine form, she played along as though she was very puzzled about it as well and said, "Well, be sure to tell me all about it when you find out more details."

You know, women can be very devious when it comes to plotting surprises for people! In about three days, Meagan and I told Nathan more falsehoods and half truths than we have told anyone in our entire lives, just to get him home from the beach without suspecting anything.

He was due to arrive at about 5 pm on Tuesday. Steve, Sarah, Meagan and I went through agonies of indecision as we tried to plot out the best way to make the "presentation." We'd think of something, discard it and think of something else.

Here are two of the "plotting ladies." Don't they have such innocent faces?

And here is Meagan, making final preparations for The Great Surprise.

We finally decided we would hide Meagan in Sarah's closet, one of the places in the house we KNEW Nathan would never go. Sarah and I posted ourselves downstairs a few minutes before five o'clock to listen for the garage door opening so that we could yell up to Meagan to get into position.

Minutes passed. No garage door. More time passed. No garage door.

And then all of a sudden Steve hollered from upstairs, "I just saw Nathan! He's coming around the front of the house instead of through the garage!"

I heard panicked running feet from the second floor as Meagan scampered into the closet. Sarah and I burst into action and started furiously doing "normal things" in the kitchen, setting the table, cutting up fruit, etc., trying to look as non-suspicious as possible. (And also trying not to smirk.)

The plan was for Steve, Sarah and I to chat with Nathan a few minutes in the kitchen; then at a certain point, Sarah would excuse herself to go upstairs and get Meagan from her closet. Then Meagan would come down the stairs and suddenly just "appear" in the kitchen,

Which was a good plan.

It was a good plan until suddenly Nathan said, "I need to run upstairs a minute." Sarah had just that minute headed up to her room to retrieve Meagan; however, as soon as she heard Nathan's voice on the stairway, she SHOVED Meagan back into the closet, SLAMMED the door on her and then hid herself beside her book case to await further instruction. (What we really needed was a bunch of walkie talkies!)

I walked frantically (but calmly) up the stairs behind Nathan, trying to hide my camera, and desperately hoping that Nathan wouldn't accidentally encounter Meagan before I was able to get myself into prime picture taking position.

I peeled off from my own personal Nathan procession as he disappeared down the hall into the bathroom. Racing into Sarah's room I retrieved the shoved and hidden Meagan from the closet and said, "That plan didn't work. WHAT are we going to do now?"

Meagan just said she would stand out in the hallway and wait for Nathan to come out of the bathroom; she positioned herself at the end of the hallway while Steve, Sarah and I waited at the other end of the hallway, peering anxiously out of various doorways.

As we waited (Meagan said her heart was pounding so loud she could hear it) we three ladies were suddenly attacked by a terrible fit of giggles; Meagan came sprinting back up the hallway and flung herself back into Sarah's room, trying to get herself under control so that Nathan wouldn't hear her.

Right about the same time that she disappeared from her hallway waiting point, the bathroom door opened and Nathan emerged, turning the other direction to head into his bedroom. I quickly stepped into the hallway and said in a very serious voice, "Nathan, son. I need to talk to you for just a minute."

As he turned around to come back toward me, he suddenly caught a glimpse of Meagan who had stepped out into the hallway with me. She was standing there just grinning. And giggling!

Was Nathan excited about that? Was he happy? Thrilled?

Let's see if you can guess at his emotions from these pictures.

Do you think any human being could possibly smile any bigger?

Here's Meagan explaining to him everything that went on in The Great Deception and why she'd had to lie to him repeatedly in order to preserve said deception.

The funny thing is that we did SO well keeping the secret from him the entire time. But you know what? When he was in the bathroom, right before he saw Meagan, he happened to glance at the shower and saw this.

He thought to himself, "Hmmmm. I don't think Sarah uses those brands." And a little snigglet of suspicion entered his brain.

For crying out loud! What kind of a guy is so observant that he would notice a particular brand of shampoo and come close to unraveling an entire, well-plotted plan because of it? Fortunately, the unveiling was only thirty seconds away, so he didn't have too much time to ponder.

I will leave you with one more picture representing a surprise well executed, lies well told, and two very, very happy people.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nathan. A Wig. A Police Car

I am working on a post that features the sort of deviousness that is even worse than the deviousness involved in labeling Cream Cheese Bars "Green Bean Casserole" in order to keep them from being eaten.

We're talking about a majorly unbelievable, world class, edgy, breakin' all the rules kind of deviousness. That I was a part of! Quite a happy part of, might I add.

But I'm not writing about that right now because that particular post is not yet ready. (It takes quite a while to put deviousness into words.)

In the meantime, I'm going to write in response to a question Jodi asked about the story behind Nathan's "wig picture" in yesterday's post. Actually most of the "wig story" happened before that particular picture was taken; I shot that photo at the dinner table after we were telling some dinner guests about the earlier story. They requested to see the wig from the story so Nathan put it on and (momentarily) acted like a caveman so I could get a picture. (He's such a charmer.)

But since the question was asked about the picture, I am going to go ahead and post the whole story behind the wig. (This was posted the first time in July 2008 on
Sarah's Site)


I have a story. A story about Nathan.

A story about Nathan, a wig, and a police car.

But first a little background. Nathan's friend, David has been staying with us for a week and they were in Nate's room one day while I was cleaning out a closet down the hall. When I happened upon a wig that Sarah had bought several years ago for playing dress up, my first thought was to toss it out. But then I thought, “You know, it would be really fun to put this on and go scare Nathan and David.”

Take a very careful look at this picture and see if you don’t think YOU would be thoroughly frightened if I unexpectedly flung open your door and stuck my head into YOUR room!

The looks on their faces were utterly and absolutely priceless. I NEVER thought I would be able to scare two teen-age guys, but I accomplished that feat with copious quantities of verve, vim, vigor and panache. Their mouths opened wide and their eyes opened even wider; in fact, it took a full ten seconds for them to re-close the aforementioned mouths and return to their usual “cool guy” attitudes. But they were really and truly alarmed—it was absolutely great. (I still find myself chuckling about it whenever I think about the looks on their faces.)

Well, after they had fully recovered from their mom-induced mini heart attacks, they decided that THEY needed to take turns modeling the wig. And so they did.

After a few minutes of horsing around, they got the idea of walking up the street to the home of one of the girls in our youth group. (With Nathan wearing the wig and sunglasses and David wearing a hat and sunglasses) I happened to know that her family was on vacation but I certainly didn’t want to rob the boys of an adventure so I let them go.

Leaving the house

Sarah and I plopped ourselves down on the steps in our entryway because we wanted to be nearby when they arrived back at the house; we didn't want to miss even one moment of hearing how their wacky “wig walk” went.

As we were sitting there in companionable mother-daughterness, I remarked to Sarah, “Wouldn’t it be funny if someone saw Nathan and David walking in the neighborhood and called the police on them?”

She replied, “Yeah, Mom, that would be pretty funny.”

We sat for another moment or two, chortling over that highly unlikely prospect. Well, at least we chortled until we glanced out the window and saw a police car turn into our quiet neighborhood and head in the direction Nathan and David had gone!

I sort of panicked. I sort of wished rather fervently that my husband was home.

He wasn’t.

He had left the house just five minutes earlier. I couldn’t send him down the street to sort things out. I couldn’t send Sarah. I certainly couldn’t send Snowy! As it turned out, I was the only sendable person available.

I threw some sandals on my feet and took off in a state of great discombobulation. And may I also point out that while I was hurtling frantically down the street, my hair was completely askew (from a recent nap) and my make up (applied hours earlier) was completely gone. Not only was I looking rather uninspiring, I was probably scarier looking than Nathan was in the wig!

While I was trying to find the guys, I walked by a particular house and saw a few people standing around by the curb and talking. I overheard one of them mention “a man with long, brown hair.”

Yikes. That sounded suspiciously like Nathan. I was briefly tempted to just play dumb and walk on by them (long hair? what long hair?) but I stopped, introduced myself and tried to find out what was being said about the aforementioned “man.”

They told me that some little boys passing by had just told them that a man with long brown wig and his friend tried to get into one of the cars in front of our house.

And hence the call to the police department.

I thought, “Oh great. Nathan (wearing an alarming wig) and David are currently sashaying through our neighborhood being stalked by a police officer. And David is in our care for the week and his dad is a pastor and how is it going to sound for us to call him in New York and say, ‘Uh. Hello? Would you like to make a pastoral visit to your son? In jail? And would you like to visit OUR son too, while you’re at it?’”

By this point I was starting to perspire (er, glisten) because although I knew that Nathan would never try to break into someone’s car, this family had the little boys’ report that it was “the man with the long brown hair” who had tried to do it.

In the meantime, I couldn’t see Nathan, David or the police car in any direction and I was having wild visions of them having already been hauled away and removed from the neighborhood.

I stood chatting with the neighbor lady who had called the police (along with another neighbor who also happens to be a member of our church) while she apologized left and right for having called the police. I assured her that she had done the right thing and it wasn’t a problem.

As I was talking with her, I thought to myself that I was surely not the most inspiring person to converse with, with my hair sticking up everywhere, beads of sweat adorning my yucky-without-makeup face, and my “official frantic mother” look firmly in place.

And the more time that went by, the more frantic and stressed I was feeling. Finally, in the middle of our conversation, I glanced down the street and who did I see striding in our direction but Nathan and David! (Thankfully, there was no police car in sight!) I gestured for them to come over to our side of the road, asked Nathan to PLEASE remove the wig (It’s hard to have a serious conversation with someone who looks like Ozzy Osborne) and then in my sternest mother voice, I asked if either one of them had tried to get into this lady’s car as they walked by earlier.

They both vehemently denied it; however, David did say that as they walked by, he had leaned over to adjust his hat and sunglasses in the side mirror of the car. Obviously, the little boys just saw the “man who was with the man in the long brown wig” lean over toward the car and assumed they were trying to break in.


We finally said our good byes to the neighbor lady and our (wonderfully patient and understanding) church member. As I was escorting my two young hooligans home, I asked them if they had been stopped by the police. Nathan said, “Well, yes, a police car did pull up to us and the officer asked our names. I gave him my name and told him I lived here in the neighborhood and gave him our address.”

Then he added, “He also asked me my date of birth but I was so rattled, I couldn’t even remember it!”

Fortunately, Nathan had the presence of mind to remove the wig while talking to the officer; it would have been a bit much to have been interrogated while wearing a wig!

At any rate, by the time we all finally arrived back at the house, Sarah had gotten quite anxious. She was traumatized at the thought of her mom, her brother and her brother’s friend out there in the neighborhood being followed by a police car! And when we didn’t come home for such a long time, she was thinking that the guys had been hauled off to jail. She was, understandably, pretty upset.

After the boys had headed back up to Nathan’s room, Sarah and I sat side by side on the steps again and tried to calm our frazzled nerves. She rubbed my back and said, “Wow, Mom. I bet that was really stressful for you.”

Yeah, it was a bit stressful but it was kind of funny too. In a stressful sort of way.

When Sarah and I were finally able to peel our traumatized selves off the steps, we went into the kitchen to fortify our trembling nerves with brownies.

Ah. An excuse to eat chocolate. The whole experience was well worth it.

And just so you know?

This is how I look when I DON’T get my chocolate. Don't ever forget it.

As if you ever could.


Okay, now if you've recovered from seeing the scary be-wigged Smiths, I have a few more things to cover.

1. In the next few days, there will be a small adjustment made to the layout of Smithellaneous to create more space for my writing and pictures. I've kind of been feeling a bit "stifled with the small middle column and I think you'll really love the change!

2. I just want to make sure that
Lesley saw the several birthday wishes coming her way in the comments section. If not, go back and take a look!

3. A new discussion about blogging has been started by Trine over at The Backyard Fence. And there are still some recipes being shared over there. So stop on by!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Sorta Like My Son

You know this son.

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And why am I showing you all these pictures? Is it his birthday? Is it a special day in the history of a certain special Smith guy?

Nope. It's just a plain ol' Tuesday.

However, on this plain ol' Tuesday I'm still feeling compelled to post Favorite Son Photos because the word on the street is that in less than one month, Nate (you know, that son that I like?) will be back at college. Five hundred miles and sixty miles away.

And I miss him already.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Question for the "Mature"
Smithellaneous Reader

Where were you forty years ago during the first Moon Landing?

All the younger people are saying, "Huh? Forty years ago? I was still in the waiting room of heaven!" (Great theology, huh?)

Steve was twelve and living in Hawaii with his brothers, mom and Air Force dad. He remembers that at 3 am, his whole family got out of bed and walked across the street to their neighbors' house because they had a new fangled invention called . . . wait for it . . . color television. (Although the moonshot was obviously in black and white, the rest of the coverage was in color.)He said he'll never forget the excitement of getting to witness that amazing and historic event.

As for me, our family didn't own a television when I was growing up. (Hence my love for books!) So even though I was seven years old at the time of the landing, I have no memory of seeing it on TV.

But if YOU remember it--please share. Where were you? What are your memories?

Two Quick Things . . .

Don't have time to write a lot right at the moment but I did want to pass on two things.

First of all, there's a veritable flurry of recipe discussion going on over at the Backyard Fence. Head on over there to read and/or contribute.

Also, for those of you wanted the green bean casserole Cream Cheese Bar recipe, here it is! Please be warned that just reading the recipe will cause you to gain seven pounds.

Cream Cheese Bars

(This is the original recipe; however, the recipe can also be cut in half and put in a square pan instead of the 9x13 pan.)

2 cans of crescent rolls
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese (light is fine)
1 C sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
nuts (optional)

Spray pan with cooking spray. Spread out one package of rolls (or half package, if halving recipe.) Beat cream cheese (for about a minute) with sugar, vanilla and eggs and pour over first layer of rolls.

Spread remaining rolls on top.

Melt 4-5 T butter; brush over rolls. Sprinkle butter with 1/2 C sugar mixed with 2 t. cinnamon. Can also sprinkle nuts on top.

Bake till light brown; about 30 minutes at 350. Can serve warm or chilled.

Absolutely one of our favorites and you have the Smith Family Permission to label them "green beans" if you really want to keep them safe from marauders.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Green Bean
Casserole Deception

We are a law-abiding family.

A pastor's family.

A Christian family.

Deception is not in our DNA.


Desperate times call for desperate measures.

May I introduce to you Exhibit A.

These are cream cheese bars. One of my favorite recipes. Not real cheap to make so when I do make them, I tend to be a bit possessive of them. (Or maybe I should say, a LOT possessive.)

May I now introduce to you Exhibit B.

Each of these pair of shoes represents a young man. A young man who joined Nate last night for the 2009 Great Summer Sleep Over.

Now let me just say that Nate has had these certain young men over before and I have actually witnessed with my own eyes an entire 9x13 pan of brownies disappear into their yawning caverns of teeth in as few as seven seconds.

A one dollar pan of brownie mix? No biggie.

A pan of bars that cost me cream cheese AND crescent rolls? Yes biggie.

And so here comes the deception part. I do hope you all can still respect me after I share this with you.

I am here to hereby admit that Steve, Sarah and I (cream cheese bar lovers, all) put our devious heads together to try to come up with a plan to save the bars from the impending horde of hungry male humans who were about to invade our home. After bringing up several solutions that didn't seem "tough" enough to handle this particular challenge we finally hit upon a winning deception stratagem.

May I introduce Exhibit C.


Yes, I am here to admit that we decided to cover the bars with a piece of foil marked, "Green Bean Casserole."

And do you know what?

When I got up this morning, the bars were still there. Untouched. Unsullied. Unconsumed.

And so you know what I did, don't you?

I had a little bite of green bean casserole, just to celebrate.

I love me some green bean cassesrole.