Saturday, August 8, 2009

Old Pictures, New Prayers

It was certainly fun hearing from you all and discovering which of you have the same a) measuring cup b) toaster c) cooking spray as I do.

I'm just waiting now for some one to sign in and say, "Hey, I have that very same box of Bisquick!" You guys are just too funny.

Since I am a woman of a certain age, and since certain women of the certain age that I certainly am sometimes search for the certainty of the joy that can be found in certain archived photos and family happenings, I am quite certain that I would like to post certain photos from a certain time in 2008, namely the month of August, so that we can all ascertain the joys and memories of the Smith family that were certainly reported to have happened one year ago this month.

In other words, we're takin' a trip down memory lane! Get on the bus! Or the boat! Or the train! Or the donkey cart! Or whatever!

The "What We Were Doing One Year Ago This Month" Photographic Memory Lane Tour starts here:


Nathan and Sarah hanging out with our "wild neighbor." Don't you love the look on Sarah's face?



The Yard Sale Saga where Steve picked up a megaphone and yelled at the customers at the yard sale across the street that our stuff was better. Thankfully, the people across the street are (well, at least were) our friends. (Until the Yard Sale Saga happened, that is.)


The Princess and the Haircut


Meagan and me, back when Meagan was just a special friend of the family's and not yet a special friend of Nathan's.


Nathan and his courageous, amazing mother, fighting the fury of a distant, mighty ocean even as were are about to be set upon by giant squids and even gianter sea monsters. Or something like that.



The Smith Women who deserve extra stars in their crowns for putting up with the Smith Men.




Nathan using sonorous big brother tones to convince Sarah that she needs to get on his back. Sarah wasn't buying it. Sonorous tones or not.



Could she be any cuter?



Getting the car ready for Nathan's first big road trip to Florida for his sophomore year. What you don't see in the background is his weeping, sniffling, mourning mother who is wondering when her little baby boy turned into such a grown up fella.



Those two are usually in the midst of some endlessly fascinating conversation.



Forever friends.



Happy (Almost) End of Summer!



__________________

One final thing: If you think of it over the next few days, please pray for my dad, Ed Campbell. (He and my mom live in Wisconsin.) He's in the hospital and not bouncing back well from a couple surgeries he had this month. He's lost about twenty pounds in a month and is extremely weak and not able to eat. Dads are irreplaceable and it hurts my heart to know how much he's struggling right now. Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Recipe Post: Part 2

Mary H. asked (concerning today's earlier post) what I was making that involved Bisquick. Mary, I'll post that recipe next week; it's another easy favorite!

Lesley asked if she had to cook a ham for the Potato Boat Recipe. The answer is a big, ol', fat NO! If that were the case, I would never make it.

You can use canned ham, deli him or sandwich ham; just cut it up and throw it in. I happened to have ham on hand because our grocery store was offering a "buy a pound, get a pound" free sale; I just had them slice it for me, I diced it when I got home and I was good to go.

Update On Life, Thanks, and Recipes

Some of you may be wondering in some little back corner of your mind how things are actually going with the Smiths of Smithellaneous.

You may be wondering, "Are they ever going to sell their house? Are they ever going to get to their new chapter of life? Are they ever going to move to another city? Will Steve ever start in a new pastorate? Will Becky ever stop loving chocolate?" (Sorry. That last question kind of slipped in there.)

The reason I know you might be asking those questions is because I am asking myself the very same questions! So here are a few answers.

First, the house.

Steve was talking with our realtor recently about what changes are occurring in the housing market. She said that it appears as though a lot of the foreclosures are being bought up, and the houses that builders are reducing drastically are getting snatched up and so it shouldn't be too long before "regular houses" like ours have more of a chance in the market.

Basically what that means is that selling our house at any sort of decent price is still going to take a miracle. But that's okay because we do believe in miracles. And we also believe that God's timing is perfect.

If you're like me, you might sometimes think that He's moving a little too fast or moving a bit too slow in a particular circumstance of life; however, the fact that He sees the Big Picture (and we don't) makes a big difference. It's almost like we're watching a parade through a knothole in a fence and He's watching it from a blimp overhead. Quite a change of perspective.

So I'm just going to keep on looking at life through my little ol' knothole and trust the future with Someone who sees the whole picture.

Steve received an email last night from a church that would like to interview him as a pastoral candidate; he'll be going there in about a week. There is also a second church in the same area that is interested in him, although we're not certain yet that if that church would be a good "fit" for us. Steve has been invited to preach there in the next couple weeks in an unofficial capacity, just to give him a chance to look over the situation before deciding whether or not to submit his name as a candidate.

The downside of these two churches is that they are even further east in North Carolina than we are right now. We really wanted to move more toward the western part of the state but we're certainly not going to say no to any church based on its location. I told Steve I would much rather be in God's will in the east than out of God's will in the west!

In other ministry news, Steve preached in Mooresville, NC last Sunday and will preach there again this Sunday, filling the pulpit for a pastor friend who's out of state. He'll be preaching on the coast next Sunday, and also teaching a Wednesday night class at a church nearby during September. In addition to that, he has gone through training to be a volunteer hospital chaplain and is on the schedule to that for a week in August.

Although we're not in "official ministry" we're both still managing to stay plenty busy.

So that's the story on that. As you can doubtless imagine, we are getting a bit anxious and antsy, more than ready to move on to the next permanent chapter of life and yet we're concentrating on waiting patiently for all of the pieces to fall into place.


Since "Thanks" is in the title of this post, saying thank you is what I would like to do next. My thanks is directed to those of you who take the time to leave comments when I update. Other bloggers will know what I mean when I say how wonderful it is to put time, effort, and heart into a post and see a response from readers in return.

Many of you sign frequently and it's becoming a real joy to see your names pop up over and over. I have officially dubbed you as my VBFF. (Virtual Best Friends Forever.) Others of you only chime in every once in awhile but I still appreciate your participation more than you know.

In short, I am grateful that you even take the time to come by here at all and read my many rambling posts. For those of you who take the extra time to comment, please know that I never take that for granted; each comment makes my heart smile. Especially during this "limbo chapter" of our lives, I love the feeling of being a part of the Smithellanous community.

The last item on today's list (at least according to the title), is recipes. I'm going to try and post recipes more frequently because I know it's always fun to get new food ideas.

We grilled out hamburgers last night using our Smith's Secret Seasoned Hamburger Recipe. Since you all are such wonderful folks, I am willing to share the formerly secret recipe with you. (But only you.) I know a lot of you already have favorite stuff you put into your burgers, but this recipe comes highly recommended by the whole Smith crew. (Even Snowy!)


SMITHBURGERS

1 1/2 lbs hamburger

2 t. onion powder

2 t. Worcestershire sauce

1 t. garlic powder

1 t. Lowry's salt

Mix into meat and grill. (And eat.)


And lastly, someone at Sarah's Spot had asked for my recipe for Potato Ham boats a few months ago when I mentioned that I had made it. At that particular time, I had misplaced the "real recipe" and had just given an approximation. I finally found the original recipe and wanted to post it here. This is one of Sarah's favorite meals and can be on the table in about ten minutes if you do the potatoes in the microwave.



POTATO HAM BOATS

4 baking potatoes

2 T butter or margarine

2 T flour

1 C milk

1/4 t salt (I use Lowry's)

1/8 t. pepper

1 1/2 C diced, cooked ham (could use other meat, too)

1 C shredded sharp cheese

1/4 C minced green onion (optional)


Wash potatoes; bake at 400 degrees for one hour (or prepare in microwave)

Melt butter over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook one minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly.

Add salt, pepper, ham and cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Split tops of potatoes lengthwise. Spoon ham and cheese mixture over potatoes. Sprinkle with green onion.

(This serves about 4 small eaters, or 3 big eaters. Double the recipe if desired.)

Enjoy!


Let me close by saying that I am aware of many wonderful blogs that share recipes and accompany the recipes with artistically taken photos that look like something out of a magazine.

Of course, I didn't want to be left out of the "Lovely Photos of Cooking Ingredients Blog Movement" so I snapped a picture of my own.




Isn't it inspiring? Can't you see how much time I took to carefully arrange the little driblets of Cheddar cheese across the counter? Aren't you impressed by the beautiful way the measuring spoons are laid out in front of the Bisquick box? And don't you love the artful angle of the white cutting board that makes up the composition of the forefront of the photo?

I tell ya. Sometimes I impress even myself.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In A Dresser Drawer

On September 18, 1989, Steve and I were introduced for the very first time to a little guy named Nathan. He was a little red, a little wrinkly, and a lot loud, but we liked him well enough to decide we would take him on home with us.

As many of you know, back in those ancient, olden days, Steve and I lived in an RV and traveled around the country full time. Our plan had been to come off the road a couple weeks before Nathan's due date, park our RV at our home church in Charlotte (where we "lived" during our road breaks) and spend that time getting things organized for Nathan's arrival.

Good plan, right?

Have you ever noticed that babies don't tend to pay a whole lot of attention to good plans?

As it turns out, I started having complications several weeks before the delivery. I had gained seventy pounds (much of it was water), was experiencing severe edema (shoe size went from a 7 to a 10), and had developed high blood pressure.

When we got back to Charlotte (2-3 weeks before the due date) I went in for my check up and the doctor said, "I am admitting you to the hospital. NOW."

Now just to be clear, I need to let you know that I was very conscientious about having regular prenatal visits on the road; this was not the first doctor I had seen in recent weeks. However, things just happened to get real bad real fast.

And so I was admitted to the hospital as a high risk pregnancy as all my happy thoughts of organizing baby clothes and baby supplies flew straight out the window. And I had plenty of organizing to do. Some friends had given us some beautiful, gently used baby clothes which were being stored in large plastic bags at Steve's parent's house. They needed to be sorted and put some place where they would be easy to find when I was in a "middle-of-the-night, new mom, woozy frenzy." Also, we hadn't yet bought a bassinet or diapers and had really made no preparation whatsoever for the impending arrival.

Thinking we would have plenty of time.

Yeah, right.

After a couple days of being closely monitored, my doctor started seeing signs of fetal distress and decided to induce labor. In spite of a few slightly scary moments in delivery, a healthy baby fella was delivered.

Two days later, Steve drove that little guy and me from the hospital to his parent's house so that I would have a place to recuperate that offered a bit more space than the RV.

There was only one small problem.

There was no place to put a baby. No crib. No bassinet. No nuthin'.

In fact, at that particular time in my life, I was having a whole new appreciation for a certain Christmas carol, you know, the one that says, "Away in a manger, no crib for his bed . . . "

I guess Nathan was getting a pretty good start on life; he had the same newborn sleeping challenges as Jesus!

And so, just like Mary and Joseph, Steve and I improvised. We got out some soft blankets and lined a dresser drawer with them; in fact, it was this very dresser drawer! (I took this picture last weekend when we were in Charlotte.)



And presto! Our newborn Nathan finally had a place to "lay down his sweet head."

And everything was fine. And good. For a short time.

However, just two days after getting home from the hospital, when I was still sore and stressed and exhausted from childbirth, a hurricane named Hugo came hurtling through Charlotte, doing a lot of damage and leaving thousands of people without electricity for almost two weeks. Not such a fun thing for anyone, but especially stressful for a family with a newborn on board.

I have vivid memories of getting up in the middle of the night to care for Nathan. I remember stumbling through the house with a flashlight, digging through the bags of miscellaneous, non-sorted baby clothes trying to locate a clean sleeper, foraging through a hastily purchased pile of diapers, and warming formula over a candle. Then when I finally got my little guy attended to, I would take him back to his drawer and tuck him in again.

Of course, two hours later, he would awaken me--or Steve--again with his newly discovered, newborn lung power, inviting us to get up and go through the whole drill again. Nathan loved his middle-of-the night social time!

As I think back to those bleary days of being a new mom and the sometimes weary days of living full time on the road, one of the very few regrets I have from that period of time is that I never had the chance to decorate a nursery. Nathan's "nursery" was a dresser drawer and Sarah's entire nursery consisted of one pink bassinet.

In fact, I remember a day just a short while before Sarah was born when Steve and I were in a Toys R Us store, buying her bassinet. I stood there and looked around at the displays of darling baby furniture, decorative knick knacks, whimsical wall hangings and all manner of sweet little baby supplies and I felt such a longing to make a lovely nest for my baby girl to come home to. But I had no space for any extra stuff in my life, living as I did in a 320- square foot RV with Steve and 6-year old Nathan. I actually remember leaving the store that day in tears because I so wanted to have the chance to put together a real nursery for my sweet daughter.




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But after a few minutes, the tears dried up and I got right back to anticipating the arrival of the second Smith kid who, as it turned out, was born in rather dramatic circumstances and was on a cross country airplane flight within six days of her birth.

Of course, Nathan was back on the road with Steve and me when he was only two weeks old, so he wasn't allowed much in the way of an Adjustment Period to Life either. In fact, from the moment both of our kids was born, they were adapting and traveling and flying and being laid down to sleep in dresser drawers. I'm amazed they turned out as well as they did!

As unorthodox as Nathan's and Sarah's upbringing has been, one thing I learned along the way is that our babies don't really give a hoot as to whether or not they are ensconced in nurseries that are decked out with with all sorts of darling do-dads. They don't notice if their living quarters consist of one simple bassinet in the living room of a a travel trailer. They don't care if their baby togs are stuffed into plastic bags or if their very first bed is a drawer inside a dresser.

They care much more about things that can't be bought at Toys 'R' Us, things that are priceless and intangible and invaluable and cost no money at all.

They just want to know that as they sleep, they will find layers of love and pillows of peace.

Even if they are in a dresser drawer.










Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Momentary, Temporary, Transitory Fit of Goofiness

Since yesterday's post was all serious and somber, I thought I'd do a complete change of pace and post a video! Of Nathan! Making funny noises! And acting goofy!

Is that "change of pace" enough for ya?

When I asked for his permission to post the video he said, "But Mom, the people who watch it will think that's how I am all the time. They'll think I'm some sort of a goofball."

So I am hereby here to tell you that Nathan is not a goofball all of the time--just most of the time!

Actually, he really doesn't act goofy all that much, which is why it was especially fun to capture his momentary, temporary, transitory fit of goofiness on video.

video

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Where Seventeen Went

While we were eating lunch with Steve's parents last Sunday, I looked around the table and remembered that I had first sat on those dining room chairs when I was just seventeen years old. And now, amazingly enough, my own children have grown into teenagers and are sitting there at the same table.

Steve and I are about the same age now that his parents were when I was first introduced to them as a teenager. And now Nathan is bringing his girl friend to that very table, except that Steve and I are the parents instead of the starry eyed youngsters and Steve's parents are the grandparents of the children I hadn't even thought about when I first set foot in that dining room thirty years ago.

At some point when I wasn't even looking, the generations regenerated. And when they did,
they took me along.

Truthfully? I'm not sure that I'm quite ready for all this generational shifting. I'm not sure that I'm ready to acknowledge the fact that I'm no longer the seventeen year old teen, the new kid at the table, the daughter-in-law-to-be, the young girl on the brink of the rest of her life.

I'm not sure that I'm overly thrilled with the fact that I somehow morphed from seventeen into forty-seven and no one even told me it was happening. No one told me that I would go to sleep a few times, cook a few meals, change a few diapers, travel a few miles, and then wake up a few mornings later to discover that thirty years had passed.

Seventeen-year old kids should be warned about that.

Seventeen-year olds should be told, "Don't take Thursday afternoons for granted. Or Tuesday mornings. Don't wish for the day when you'll be eighteen. Or twenty-one. Be happy you're seventeen because one day you'll turn a page on the calendar and you'll be forty-seven and you'll wonder where seventeen went. You'll wonder where the wrinkles came from. And you'll wonder how you survived the heartache that life brought with it. You'll question why you didn't always treasure the joys that were birthed out of the heartaches. You will be well aware of the fact that you made a few mistakes and learned a few lessons as you glance in the mirror and see a face that is no longer young. And you will ask, 'Why didn't I know all this at seventeen?'"

Seventeen doesn't last forever. But neither does forty-seven. I know that the next time I blink, I'll be seventy-seven and looking back thirty years at today. The generations will have once again shifted and I will be the gray headed lady at the dinner table everyone is calling, "Grandma." I'll remember the days when I was forty-seven, and when I was seventeen and I will be ever so glad for those lovely days.

And yet I wouldn't ever choose to go back, because seventy-seven will be a good age. Just like forty-seven is a good age. Just like seventeen was a good age.

In fact, you know what? Every age is a good age. Every age reminds me that I'm still alive, and I still have gifts to give, adventures to experience, pain to bear, joys to treasure.

I am very much aware that the days I'm living now will soon fade and that the calendar leaves will soon fall. I know that in some nostalgic moment down the road, I will look back at this sweetest of all generations when I had Nathan and Sarah's laughter filling the house. I'll think of how I was so aware that the winds of time were blowing harder and stronger and that one day they would blow those children right out my front door and take them to meet the loves of their lives and they would have children of their own and put their feet under their own tables in their own houses.

But happily, beloved children who go away also come back to vist. And the day will come when Nathan and Sarah will bring their own children home; they will sit at our table and look around and say, "I remember when I was seventeen." They will feel sad about it. They will feel happy about it. And then they will count their blessings and hug their mamma and go on living.

But you can't see all that at seventeen. And that's how it should be. One of the things that age carries with it is those kinds of special secrets, imparted only to those who make the journey through a whole lot of years. Nathan and Sarah will arrive at forty-seven and they'll find that it's really not so bad hanging out in the Land of The Middle Aged. And my hope is that by the time they get there, I will have paved a straight path for them, set a good example and helped to make their journey meaningful.

They will discover that in the ongoing reshaping of their lives, each generation will come to be inhabited by new faces, new stories, and new lives. And in the midst of the shifting of the generations, in one of their houses, at one of their tables, someone will have turned seventeen, someone who will be on the brink of the rest of her life.

And a generation's journey will begin again.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Talking Back

Steve and Sarah just left to take Meagan to the airport (after her lovely two-week visit) and Nathan is due to arrive home from work in a little over an hour. So for the moment it's just Snowy and me at home, updating the web site and having scintillating Snowy/Becky conversations. (Which tend to be a little one-sided since Snowy is a man of few words.)

There will be a longer update coming soon but I wanted to briefly address a few comments/questions about our newly painted wall.

Guerrina asked what color the paint is: it's Bungalow Gold by Eddie Bauer. A couple other people asked why we painted the wall when it already looked so nice. It was mainly because we are trying to "neutralize" the house as much as possible so that when potential buyers come in, they have a little bit of an easier time picturing their "stuff" in our rooms.

Now if we could just get a few buyers to come by and look at it, we'd be set. We're still stuck at our record of TWO viewings in seven months! "Anonymous" left a clever rhyme in that regard:

Mirror, mirror on the wall
How many buyers did new paint call?

At this point, the paint has called zero buyers but we will continue to wait. And pray. And hope. And paint.

My back is doing quite a bit better after four chiropractor visits. The long hours in the car on the way to and from Charlotte were not real pleasant (pain wise) but fortunately there was a lot going on in the van to take my mind off my discomfort.

First of all, I had this handsome van driver at my side.


And behind me, I had Nathan who was doing his best to be an entertaining van guy. (If you're wondering why Sarah is not intently watching the "The Nathan Show" going on in front of her, it's because she's listening to her favorite music on her iPod.







And of course, I also had Sir Snowy by my side, keeping a careful watch out the window for any Marauding Squirrels or Evil Birds. He's very protective, that way.


And that's all I'm going to write for the moment because my back is currently yelling at me, "Hey YOU! Get up and stretch, and walk around a little!"

Or something like that.

At any rate, I'm outa here!