Saturday, November 28, 2009

Childbirth and Moving

It has occurred to me that moving is very much like childbirth.

Both are painful. And messy. And exhausting. When you're in the middle of either activity, you think it's the worst thing you've ever been through. But then when you look back at it later, it seems as though it really wasn't all that bad after all.

That's where I am with moving. I originally thought, "Well, how bad can it be to just throw a few things into a few boxes and move to a new house. It's not that big of a deal."

"Ha." I repeat, "HA!"

It is bad. It is worse than bad. It is badder than worst. It is hard and tiring and frustrating and awful. I have packed boxes and carried boxes and made decisions and organized and re-organized and sorted and thought and pondered and run amok in a house that has collapsed into congealed chaos.

Ug. Yuck. Ewwww. Phooey. Patooey. Ish. Ick. Icky.

Need I say more? No?

Good, because I've run out of icky synonyms.

I know that we will eventually get moved and settled in and the boxes will get unpacked and the chaos will unravel itself to reveal order in our lives once again. But for now, I am sort of overwhelmed. Not a lot. Just a little. But it's okay. It doesn't last forever. And that's the best part about childbirth. And moving. They. Do. Not. Last. Forever.

And now I have for you a few pictures to gaze at which should go a long way toward making you thankful you are not the one who is moving right now.

And to make things even happier, when I got up yesterday morning, I discovered that my entire closet rod had collapsed. It was just what I needed. A bigger mess. O happy day.

Becky M. asked in the comments section what we would do if someone wanted to see the house now.

Funny you should ask, Becky, because our realtor just called to say that someone wants to see the house tomorrow.

I am happy. And sad.

Happy to have some interest. And sad because now I can't leave the house in the kind of mess I was thinking of leaving it in when we head out to Manteo later today. Now I have to clean toilets, counter tops, and mirrors. I have to make sure that my incredibly messy house is somewhat unincredibly clean.

Is it time for my nap yet?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Last Night

Last night the four of us grilled out hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner and then we watched a DVD together.

Last night. When I write those words, I really mean them in a whole different way. What I really mean is last night. As in final night.

When our DVD got over at about 9 pm, I looked around the room--at Steve, at Nathan, at Sarah, at Snowy and I thought, "This is the last night the four of us will ever sit in this room."

And before I knew it, I was crying. From "funny movie laughter" to "moving trauma tears," it was a dramatic emotional dive.

And it's not just that our whole family is moving to another house. That's traumatic enough. It's the fact that this is the last house we will ever live in as a family of four. From here on out, Nathan will be away more than he's home and then, in the not-so-distant future, he will be gone from us altogether.

I sat in that living room last night and was so emotional about all the memories. And then Sarah, bless her female little heart, started crying too.

With Steve and Nathan being empathetic, and Sarah and I both sniffling and Kleenex-ing, we all sat for about thirty minutes, and shared memories--both good and bad.

The well used Kleenex box.

Sarah remembered that she had sat in that very room when Steve and I told her she had relapsed. We all remembered our tears (even sobs) when the unspeakable news was spoken.

We reminisced about the times Nathan had gotten all dressed up to go to his school's formals. We talked about the phone call I got in February of 2008 saying that there was a 90- 95% chance I had breast cancer. We talked about birthday parties and sleep overs and how I used to come downstairs on a summer morning and look at all the flip flops and tennis shoes piled at the bottom of the stairs; that was the only way I had of knowing how many of Nathan's friends had camped out in his room overnight.

We talked about the parties and dinners we've had over the years and reminisced about Sarah dressing up for two Daddy/Daughter Dances and her Honor Star Crowning ceremony. We mentioned that Sarah was eight and Nathan was fourteen when they moved into this house and talked how much they have changed and grown up since then. We looked back at Nathan's 15th summer when he had mono and slept 12-14 hours a day for a couple months.

Nate and I also recalled a big talk we had in the living room a couple years ago as he grappled with whether he should go to the local community college or to Southeastern. After three hours of conversation I remember him saying, "I feel like I should go to Southeastern." And what a life altering decision that has been for him.

After we had all been talked out and cried out I said, "Okay. The first person to get up and leave the room will close this chapter of life (all of us living full time under the same room) and will usher in the new chapter."

No one moved. No one wanted it to end. No one wanted to acknowledge that five years of life in our house in Smithfield was morphing into something different, something new, something unknown.

We sat in the silence and looked around at the room, looked around at each other, looked behind us, looked ahead of us. We reluctantly came to the realization that we couldn't keep on reading a chapter that had already ended; we could only turn the page and find new memories on the new pages.

Steve slowly stood up. And then Nathan. And they walked out of the living room, leaving Sarah and I behind. With the memories. And the tears. And the joy. And the promise of new chapters and new last nights yet to be written.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Too Tired To Think Of A Title For This Post

Who knew packing could be so much work? And involve so much thinking? And chaos? And decision making? And pondering? And organizing? And downright hard stinkin' physical labor? At least I'm burning up a lot of calories in the process! One hour of jogging: 300 calories. One hour of packing: 1800 calories. (In case you're wondering, it's new--and improved--math.)

In Nathan News, his blood work came back yesterday showing that he has high thyroid levels. Of course, being a mom, I immediately consulted Dr. Google and discovered that high thyroid levels can affect the heart. With him being diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in North Carolina and then heading back to Florida on Saturday, I'm not sure which doctor in which state he'll be dealing with. But you can be quite certain that I am going to "politely nag" him to make sure that the condition is treated--whatever that may take.

He's going to spend a few hours having Thanksgiving with Meagan's grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and sister who will all be gathering about half an hour away.

And then tonight and tomorrow night, he will sleep in his bedroom for the very last time. He's done so much growing up in this house and in that room; his last night under this roof will be a bittersweet moment. And when we say good bye to him on Saturday, knowing he'll never come back here to live? Kleenex will definitely be the order of the day.

With all of our house guests, we've been playing "musical beds" this week; for instance, on one particular night, Ken and Vernie slept in Nate's room, Meagan slept in Sarah's room and Sarah and Nathan had their own slumber party in the living room.

It was such a dear sight to see the two of them together. And you can take my word for it. There really is a College Dude somewhere under all the greenness of that green blanket lump.

Such a sweet face.

With several extra people (and excellent packers) in the house, we've gotten quite used to the sight of piles of luggage all around.

And speaking of packers, here's Nathan working on his room. And his stuff. (I was so thankful he was home to do his own room; I would have had a terrible time trying to make decisions for him on what to keep and not keep.) Meagan worked with him and they did a great job on it.

Here is my favorite packer, hard at work. His Official Packing Gift consists of taking oddly shaped, fragile items and custom-creating packing solutions for them. MY Official Packing Gift is to throw things into boxes willy nilly, haphazardly slap on some tape and then run to the kitchen for a Little Debbie snack cake.

These are the kinds of things Steve excels in packing. (While I run screaming in the other direction.)

Okay. Now I'm going to take a risk and allow you to see the disaster that is our garage. I would just love for you all to believe that we keep our garage as sparkling and tidy as an operating room but I'm afraid it just ain't so. (Well, at least right now. We have had momentary periods in our life when the garage has been neat but this isn't one of them.)

While you're sitting in your box-less home today, eating your Thanksgiving meal, please think of us laboring from sun up to sundown in the chaos that is our home. (And garage.) And eat another piece of pie in my honor.

And speaking of laboring, here's a couple people who deserve national recognition, a huge paycheck and a vacation to Hawaii. They worked tirelessly for two days straight and, in addition, Vernie helped me with the Thanksgiving meal on Monday night. By Tuesday night, they had slap worn me out but about 7 pm, Ken was still saying cheerily,"I think we could work another couple hours at least."

And I was saying, "Um. Is it time for bed yet?"

Ken and Vernie: thank you, thank you, thank you! You were both amazing and you made the packing task bearable, doable and even fun.

And in other news, thanks to all of you who weighed in on painting and decorating Steve's office. You guys are impressively knowledgeable in that area--much more so than I am! I'll be sure to post some pictures when we get everything finished up.

Since today is Thanksgiving, Sarah and I will take the day off from school which we're both excited about. I'll probably let her take tomorrow off too, except for doing math. She has a lot of ground to make up in math so we'll probably be doing that subject all the way through the summer. Just think how smart I'm going to be by the time she starts ninth grade at Manteo High School. I could start my own TV show and call it, "Are You Smarter Than A Home Schooling Mom Of An Eighth Grader?" (You probably are smarter, but it's a nice idea, anyway.)

Oh, and before I forget, the question was asked in the comments section if the ring on Meagan's left hand was an engagement ring. Nope! It's just a regular ol' ring. Worn by a very special young lady!

And one more thing before I close. (Or as I continue to ramble . . . )

Yesterday, I posted a picture of us all sitting demurely at the dinner table on Monday night. What I didn't show you was the picture that was taken a few seconds earlier when Steve (who was in charge of the timer on the camera) didn't quite make it back to his chair in time, after pushing the button.

A smile producing photo!

I hope your Thanksgiving day gives you many reasons to smile.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fully Displaying the Rotating Foot ( A Video)

As you know, we had our family Thanksgiving meal on Monday night so that we could launch into Major Packing Mode first thing Tuesday morning.

I've put together a little video of excerpts from the evening but before you watch it, a few explanations are in order.

Usually, we are a moderately polite and relatively refined family and are not prone to putting our feet on the table during any meal, let alone Thanksgiving.

However. The video will reveal to you a momentary lapse into unseemliness and we have only the lovely Miss Meagan to blame for it. She told us that if you stick your foot out and rotate it clockwise and then try to draw a "six" in the air (or on the table), your foot will immediately change its direction and go the other way.

Steve was trying the experiment under the table but no one could see it so, being the helpful sort of fellow that he is, he thought that he would enhance the demonstration by propping his leg on the table so as to more fully display the rotating foot. As the hostess of a meal which included crystal goblets and cloth napkins, I turned a blind eye toward the rotating of the foot and instead concentrated on the laughter of the dinner guests.

Laughter always trumps rotating feet, in my book.

You will also see our tradition of preparing a little Thanksgiving plate for Snowy containing a bit of ham, turkey and sweet potato. In the video, Steve puts the plate on the floor and tells Snowy to "sit" and then "come." You will notice that our highly obedient dog moves a fraction of a second before Steve says to come. Ham always trumps obedience, in Snowy's book.

After the video, you will find a few more Thanksgiving pictures and a question/answer session. Enjoy!

For awhile I had been thinking that I would have to cook our Thanksgiving meal just a couple days before moving and wouldn't have my regular stuff to cook with; however, the way it worked out was great because all of my dishes were still in place, since we had the meal so early.

We did, however, have a few "collisions" of packing and Thanksgiving-ing. On the right side are the dishes for the meal. On the left side are the dishes to be packed and the big ol' roll of packing tape.

Getting the goblets ready for the table.

Nathan and Meagan did the wishbone.

Our wish for you is a Thanksgiving filled with, well, thanksgiving!


Note on Nathan: He is due to return his heart monitor to the doctor later this afternoon. They'll send a report to him once they study the results.


The (very logical) question was asked: Why did Meagan need a sound check when she was doing a song with sign language?

The answer has two parts:

1. Meagan wanted to see how the music on the soundtrack sounded on the platform coming through the stage monitors. Was it going to blast her out? Be too soft? Also, the sound man needed to hear what level to set it at for it so that it would sound good to the congregation.

2. In addition, she just wanted to go through a few lines of the song and do some of her signs just to get comfortable in the "space" up there and not have to walk up there cold.

Great question!


The question was also asked recently what the inspiration was for the name Smithelleneous. Actually, when I was desperately looking for a name for this blog, our friend Pam suggested Smithellany. I loved the idea, switched it to Smithellaneous and voila! The blog was named.


I mentioned last week that my computer was having some issues and was on its last leg. (It's a 7-year old computer and I understand that lap tops usually have a lifespan of 3-5 years.) So I thought old age was settling in. But for whatever reason, the problems seem to have worked themselves out and the computer is working a bit better this week. Yay! And hooray!


I wrote a week or two ago that someone had viewed the house and seemed very interested in in it. We heard from our realtor this week who said that couple is vacillating between which of two cities to move to; if they move to Smithfield, our house is definitely high on their list. So we wait!


And now it's on to home school and pack. And pack. And pack some more. I think I'd be packing in my sleep if I weren't so tired.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nathan Update

The cardiologist did an EKG and ultra sound of Nathan's heart this afternoon. He said he didn't see anything that was too "odd," but he did put a heart monitor on Nathan to wear 24-hours. Nathan will take the monitor back in tomorrow and see what the results are.

Thanks for your concern!

Nathan's Heart

You can find a long entry about our weekend in Manteo posted below but I wanted to add that Nathan went to our family doctor this morning concerning the irregular heart beat he was told to have checked.

The doctor here did a few tests, drew some blood and eventually said that Nathan does not have an irregular heart beat; however, he did say that there is something odd going on with Nathan's heart.

Nathan will leave in about an hour to go to a Duke-affiliated cardiologist to see if that doctor can shed some more light on the situation. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

A Good Weekend

Our Thanksgiving dinner last night was wonderful and I'll be posting some pictures in the next day or two. But for now, I have a few Manteo Moments to share with "all of y'all!"

Early Saturday afternoon, our convoy of three vehicles took off with the greatest of alacrity only to turn back after just half a mile of intensive and efficient travel to retrieve Steve's forgotten beard trimmer. At least I had my beauty bag along! As we all know, that is the most important item in the Smith Line Up of Smith Travel Items.

And speaking of the Smith Line Up of Smith Travel Items, here is a partial packing list to help you appreciate the logistical maneuverings it takes to keep this family supplied for a weekend:

Oatmeal, peanut butter, cold cereal, crackers, popcorn, potatoes, soup, brown sugar, chips, sandwich bread, garlic salt, tea, peanuts, white sugar, mac-n-cheese packs, coffee, mayo, slice cheese, cheddar cheese, milk, sandwich meat, tortilla shells, fresh fruit, carrots, eggs, Parmesan cheese, butter, cooked veggie, casserole, yogurt, Saran wrap, aluminum foil, hand soap (liquid), Kleenex, paper towels, Ziploc bags, garbage bags, dish soap, paper plates, paper cups, dog food, dog treats, linens, leash, music stuff, school stuff.

Can you tell I'm sort of anxious to get moved?

Anyway . . .

Once we arrived in Manteo, we had a few minutes to show Steve's parents and Nathan and Meagan around town. We walked near the waterfront in the downtown area and just about froze. (For all you Northerners, it was about 55 degrees. And don't laugh.)

We also took everyone by to see the outside of our house. It felt strange to show Nathan a town, a house, and a church that Steve, Sarah and I had seen but he hadn't. For so many years, everything in our family was decided on as a foursome; however, years pass, and little birds fly away from the nest and foursomes somehow turn into threesomes. Insert "big mommy sigh" here. (Um. Meaning the sigh is big. Not the mommy.)

A few ladies in the church graciously offered to provide a meal for all of us on Saturday night and so after our brief tour of the town, we sat down at a beautifully decorated, candle-lit table in the fellowship hall and feasted on fabulous lasagna, homemade bread, a colorful salad and lovely desserts.

Here is a mere sampling of the aforementioned desserts and goodies. And yes, I was smiling very big at such an inspiring sight!

The next morning, a certain trio of fabulous people showed up at church. For some reason, they looked just vaguely familiar.

Nathan said that he and Meagan resembled a watermelon when they stood together because they had all the watermelon colors represented!

This shepherd's staff and sash were on the front pew of the church in readiness for the pastoral installation ceremony that was to be conducted in the morning service. The staff, of course, is symbolic of Steve's role as shepherd of the congregation. The shawl is embroidered with the date he was voted in, the name of the church, and the city.

As Meagan went to the stage before service to get a sound check for the song she was going to do interpretive sign language to, Nathan thought he would bring her encouragement and cheer by threatening to drag her off the stage with the shepherd's staff.

Pastor's kids. You can't let them out of your sight for even one minute.

Here I am with my one of my favorite pastor's kids.

During the service, Steve and I had the great joy of making music with our son; his drum playing has improved so much over the past year and he just fits in seamlessly with whatever is being played. We are proud of him and his hard work and dedication in that area.

To make the morning an "all in the family" kind of deal, Steve's parents sang "He Touched Me." It's always a treat to get to see them sing together.

And although I don't have any pictures of her, Sarah was not left out of the morning's line up. She was back in the sound booth, running the computer that showed the lyrics to the songs up on a big screen.

Finally it was time for the installation ceremony. The chairman of the board made a few remarks before and after he placed the sash on Steve's shoulders.

Then another board member presented Steve with the symbolic shepherd's staff and the rest of the board members, their wives and the congregation gathered around us to pray. There were tears on many faces and full hearts everywhere--in the pastor's family and in the congregational family. It was a poignant and moving ceremony.

Following the ceremony, Steve made a few additional comments . .

. . . and then Meagan did her incredibly beautiful sign language to "My Redeemer Lives." I could watch her do this a hundred times a day and never get tired of it. Most of the congregation was in tears when she was done.

And just so that we wouldn't leave town hungry, a church member showed up with a platter of sandwiches from Subway for our lunch.

Sarah, Subway and smiles.

After the Smiths had finished our sandwich scarfing, we all adjourned to Steve's office to start an intensive period of ponderment concerning all the possibilities pertaining to his office decor.

The wall is currently painted a bright blue so we all sat around for awhile with paint swatch thingies and tried to decide what paint color would work best with the rug. (And we DID finally decide on a rug--oh happy day.)

Here is a faintly fuzzy picture of the couch (from Craigslist), the current paint and our chairs. (Purchased at Big Lots.) Also, you will see my son holding up a bag with one remaining home made cinnamon roll in it, a leftover from the embarrassment of (dessert) riches that was bestowed upon us.

And please do not even ask me why my child is wearing shorts and flip flops in the middle of November. I think it has something to with him being a resident of Florida and somehow being compelled to believe that the Florida climate will follow him wherever he goes. (I'm just guessing here.)

After some conversation, friendly argument and the offering of various opinions, most of the decorating decisions were made and we headed home.


To the unpacking of suitcases and the packing of boxes. To a general aura of happy chaos. To stacks of stuff everywhere and piles of smiles to go with them.

Beginnings and endings. Blood family and church family. New friends and old friends. It was a good weekend.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Home Is Not A House, But A Feeling (A Video!)


Today is the day that starts the beginning of the end of our chapter here in Smithfield.

Today, I will cook our last Thanksgiving dinner in this house. (We're having it a few days early because family is in town.) I will unpack from yet another trip to Manteo. Today I will do home school with Sarah. I will start (seriously) packing boxes. Today, I will start to dismantle and unravel the pieces of our life in this house.

I will pack up memories and box up five years of yesterdays. I will spend way too much time wandering in circles, wondering what I should do next, wondering what I should be doing that I'm not and wondering what I should be remembering that I'm forgetting.

Today, I will laugh a lot (having family in town tends to do that) and may even shed a nostalgic (or overwhelmed) tear or two.

I will eat too much Thanksgiving dinner and I will be thankful for Thanksgiving dinner to eat too much of.

Today I will count my blessings and divide my sorrows and try to figure out how to fit five oven dishes in a "four oven dish" oven. I will hug my son and be happy he's home. I will step on my underfoot dog a few thousand times while cooking. (But I still won't ban him from the kitchen.)

Today, I will be glad for home. Because as the video says, "Home is not a house, but a feeling."

Enjoy watching five years of memories.