Friday, December 31, 2010

Between The Hurt And The Healing

You know how some moments in life stay imbedded in your memory without the benefit of a camera? Or a written account? Or anything else that might freeze them into your story forever?

Well, the Wednesday before Christmas was one of those moments for me.

For several days prior, we had been in the throes of taking Snowy to and from the vet and trying to figure out what was going on with him. I had gotten a preliminary phone report on him earlier that day but (as I wrote earlier), I received a second call during our family dinner on Wednesday night saying that he was “beyond treatment and we should just enjoy the time we had left with him.”

It was a call that reduced me to tears—many, many tears. It was a call that produced this pile of Kleenex on my dinner plate.


But tears are okay. Tears are good. As Sarah said when she was a little girl, “Tears let the hurt leak out.”

However, those particular tears tended to not be quite as good because they decided to gush from my eyes just forty-five minutes before I was due to play the piano for our annual candlelight communion service.

Also, in the case of those particular tears, I had just done my makeup twenty minutes before they arrived on the scene. And tears and makeup don’t usually co-exist very peaceably.

After the phone call, and the crying, and the building of the Kleenex pile, I left the kids to clear the table and ran upstairs to completely re-do my makeup and change clothes. Halfway through the process of talking Cover Girl into covering my teary, weary face, Steve walked into the bathroom and said something compassionate to me--as he is wont to do. Well, that did me in entirely and the next thing I knew, he was hugging me and I was sobbing yet again.

And the makeup I had just that moment applied? It was gone, gone, gone. Again.

By this point, I had just a very few minutes to try and regain my composure, apply some makeup that would actually stay put, and get myself over to the church.

(Just as a side note: I know that Steve and the congregation would have completely understood if I had just said, “Sorry, I can’t be there. I’m just too emotional.” I know that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if everyone had to sing the Christmas carols acappella instead of being accompanied by my piano playing, However, this particular candlelight service is so meaningful to our family, and to the congregation as a whole. I didn’t want to miss out on the evening, especially since Nathan was in town and could attend it with us.)

So I took the deepest of deep breaths and called on ye olde Cover Girl one more time. My face looked like a wreck: nose red, eyes even redder, cheeks puffy, mascara smeared--not the most inspiring sight. But then it occurred to me that I would mainly be viewed by candlelight so I thought maybe I could get by without causing too much alarm among our dear congregants.

Steve had gone to the church a few minutes earlier, so I gathered up Sarah and Nathan, took one last deep breath, tried to locate my emotional equilibrium and drove to church. My immediate temptation was to run into the building and hide in a corner until it was time to go to the piano, but instead I walked around, shook hands, gave (and received) hugs and chatted with all the people who were gathering. And though I still felt a little tremulous, it really lifted my spirits to spend just a few moments with those sweet folks.

Thankfully, I made it through the three opening Christmas carols with only a few precarious moments when the tears once more threatened to burst forth. After the singing was done, I went out and sat with the congregation as Steve prepared to read a story about Christmas. Easing into my place on the second row between Nathan and Sarah and sinking back into the pew, I was grateful I had made it that far without a public meltdown.

As Steve began to read, I relaxed a little and allowed the serenity of the lovely surroundings to creep into the corners of my heart. The lights were dimmed and most of the illumination came from a large single candle and the white lights that ran through the exquisite Christmas decor that covered the stage.

(This picture was taken before a different service but it gives you an idea of how pretty everything was.)IMG_1901

Suddenly, without even knowing I was doing it, I let out a huge, shaky sigh of sadness.

And of peace.

The sigh must have been a little louder than I realized because Nathan immediately glanced over and cast a concerned, sonly look at my face. And then without the slightest hesitation, he reached over and put his arm around my shoulder and held on tight. At the same moment, Sarah (sitting on my other side), grabbed my hand, and laid her head on my shoulder.

And there I sat.

Surrounded by the lights and loveliness of Christmas. Warmed by the voice of my wonderful husband as he read. Cocooned in the love and comfort of my sweet children. Thankful for the Prince of Peace who had come to earth and was even then drawing near to a pastor’s wife with a weeping heart.

It was a memorable Christmas season in so many ways and I got several special gifts. However, nothing I received could ever measure up to the gift of peace that was presented to me in that quiet candlelit moment when my heart was so tenderly cared for . . . between the hurt and the healing.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Tale of Two Cameras. And A Dog.

So  I now own two camera.  My beloved point and shoot that I keep in my purse at all times and my new Nikon D5000 that I adore. (And am slowly learning not to be intimidated by.)

I brought both cameras to Charlotte for our Christmas gathering with Steve’s family and all was well.  As well as hunky dory.

And then?

And then Steve, and Sarah and I decided to go to uptown Charlotte yesterday to visit the Mint Museum, ride the trolley cars and walk through an art gallery housed in an old stone church that I have admired for years and always wanted to see inside.

After we had found our way through the busy streets of the city, we were walking up the huge steps to the museum when we saw an enormous Christmas ornament, complete with the little wire hangy thingie on top.  And I said (as I am wont to do), “Oh, what a cool picture!”

I immediately reached into my trusty little purse for my trusty little point and shoot and guess what?  It wasn’t there.  It was back at Steve’s parent’s house, where I had forgotten to return it to my purse after taking a few spontaneous shots of our Christmas celebration.  And guess where the Nikon was?  You guessed it?  Also back at Steve’s parent’s house.

You photographers out there will recognize the little sinkin’ feeling I got in the pit of my stomach when I knew I would spend the entire afternoon bombarded with fabulous photo opportunities with no camera!

I managed to put on my philosophical mindset and say, “Oh well.”  But I’m sure you know that at least a hundred times that afternoon I said to myself, “Ooooh. That would have made such a great shot!”

Since I couldn’t stand to write this blog without a picture or two, I’ll post a few of the shots of what we saw that I found online.


photo courtesy of:



photo courtesy of:

The McColl Art Center (This building partially burned and stood abandoned for many years before being restored.  I just love old and interesting buildings!)


photo courtesy of:

We are hitting the road  shortly for our trip back to Manteo. Snowy did fairly well on the journey over; however, the first sedative the vet gave us for him didn’t work real well so about three hours into the trip, we got her permission to give him a second one.  He was one loopy fella by the time we finally arrived! 

I talked to the vet about him again on Tuesday and she asked (in a rather sober voice) how he’d been feeling over the last few days. She sounded quite surprised when I said that he’d been eating and drinking well and acting quite perky.  She replied, “Well, that’s quite amazing, considering the terrible shape his liver is in.”

She wants us to bring him back to the office in a week or two and she’ll do the liver tests again to see if he’s improving at all or continuing to slide downhill. When I asked her how long he might live she said, “Well, two of the other vets here and I talk about Snowy and his case quite a bit, but unfortunately we can’t really can’t tell you a timeline since without further testing—biopsy, sonogram, etc.,—we can’t  be sure of what he has.”

She added, “But I am really thrilled and amazed that he is feeling relatively good right now.”

And thrilled and amazed are good words to describe how the Smith family is feeling, too.  We’ve got our little buddy for a while longer, even though it seems no one can really say how much longer a little longer will be.

But we’ll take what we can get and continue to enjoy each bonus day we have with Sir Snowy. 



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To Grandmother’s House We Go . . .

We were supposed to make tracks for Steve’s parent’s house in Charlotte yesterday morning but a few inches of snow arrived on the scene and changed our plans.  

I know, I know.  We Southerners are stymied by a couple inches while you hardier folks in the more northerly climes don’t even bat an eyelash until the snow drifts loom over your rooftops. We are Snow Wimps around here, no doubt about it.

In our defense though, many of the roads on our prospective commute were reported to be snow and ice covered yesterday and we just didn’t feel like spending six hours “skating” our way to Charlotte.  Although Steve has had a lot of experience driving in those conditions, most of the other people haven’t.

And so we hung out as a family all day, ordered in pizza (a rare treat) and watched Angels in the Outfield together, all snuggled together on the couch under a big afghan while Snowy took turns napping with each of us in turn.  (He’s an equal opportunity napper.)

Tomorrow morning, Nathan will fly back to Florida from Charlotte. Since the airport is 20 minutes away from his grandparent’s house in Charlotte and two hours away from our house in Manteo, we figured it would be a lovely idea to have him fly out from there instead of here. 

Actually, it’s not such a lovely idea to have him fly out at all, but . . . life goes on.  We sure have loved having him home.

Speaking of Nathan, you know how college kids are always reputed to bring home their dirty laundry for their moms to do?

Well, Nathan is no different.  A day after he arrived he said, “Mom, are you going to be doing laundry anytime soon? I’ve got something to add to a load.”

He then disappeared up the stairs to his room and returned with his arms full of dirty, stinky College Dude stuff.

Or not.


Yes, ladies and gentlemen.  Two little ol’ socks comprised his entire “load of laundry” that he brought home from college.   I got quite the chuckle out of that.

And then because Nathan is always full of entertaining thoughts and ideas, this was his contribution to our after dinner entertainment last week.



Would anyone like to take a guess as to how he got the salt shaker to balance like that?  (And yes, we are very easily entertained around here.)

Before I close, a Smithellaneous friend e-mailed to say that she had gotten a new Kindle for Christmas and is very excited about ordering some books to put on it.  Her only problem?  She’s not quite sure which books to order.

So she and I thought it would be fun to ask you all for some of your favorite book titles and a sentence or two synopsis if you have the time to add that.  I am ALWAYS on the lookout for new books and since we’re a family of friends here on Smithellaneous, what better thing for us to do than to share the books that are special to us?

Thanks in advance; I’m looking forward to see some of your reading lists!

I’ll close with our annual Christmas photo.    Have a happy day!

family photo serious


Monday, December 27, 2010

A “Snowy” Christmas

Hi. Snowy here.

Let me just start off by saying that I’m not exactly sure what’s been going on lately, but I will say it’s been a strange couple of weeks. For one thing, my mom keeps on dragging me down to the vet’s office every few days.

And what have I done to deserve that?

I mean, for crying out loud, I vomited a few times, stopped eating and drinking for a while—nothing big enough to merit a trip to a place where they insert a thermometer into my, um, hindermost parts, and then stick some sort of something into my leg called an IV.

I’ll tell ya one thing right now, I did not appreciate that IV. Not one tiny little bit. In fact, last Friday morning, I’d had quite enough of it, thank you very much. I just put my efficient doggie teeth to work and when no one was looking, I yanked that thing right out of my leg and tossed it on the floor. Ha. Take that, all you fancy, schmancy, thermometer-wielding doctors!

And the worst thing about two IV’s in two weeks? They put one in each leg, shaving the leg before doing so. And now? I have two shaved forelegs and look just like a pretend poodle!


I’m really not quite clear as to what all these recent developments have pertained to, but I do know that my mom has been exhibiting a strange tendency to get all this watery stuff in her eyes occasionally when she looks at me.

In fact, last week at dinnertime her phone rang and it was that mean ol’ IV-placing doctor from the vet’s office calling. I don’t know what the whole conversation was about (I took a nap during it), but I did wake up long enough to see her end the call and then stand in the middle of the living room crying.

Dad went over to her and hugged her a long time and she kept on crying and I was thinking, “Well, what’s going on here? What did that bad doctor say to make my mom sad? Am I going to have to march on over to the office and get all up in the doc’s grill? I mean, really?”

Mom eventually went back to the table to finish dinner with the family but I caught a look at her plate at the end of the meal and it was piled all high with Kleenex.


And now? Ever since that call? She’s always pickin’ me up, and huggin’ me way too tight, and kissin’ me on my head, of all things. Girl kisses! Yechh! Why can’t she let a fellow be all macho and tough without all this increased snuggling-type activity going on?

I just don’t get it.

To make matters worse, my sister has been acting about the same--hugging me a bit too much, kissing me a bit too often, just like mom. What is it with all these women and their kisses?

I mean, just the other day, I was busy minding my own macho doggie business when my sister suddenly swooped me up from the floor and insisted on holding me while she was talking to my big brother.


Can’t you see my urgent plea for help?


I finally just decided it was time to assert myself by jumping down and letting my sister know in no uncertain terms that it was really not very manly to be snuggled and huggled every single minute of every single day.


Here I am halfway to success making my getaway. But alas; it was all for naught. Sarah caught me at the last minute and restored me to Official Snuggle Position.


How embarrassing.


And then to continue with the ongoing humiliation, yesterday when it snowed, I figured that I should probably trot on outside and assess the situation, secure the perimeters--that sort of thing.


Next thing I knew, I was scooped right up by you-know-who and was forced to watch The College Dude do all the important assessing stuff. Women!


I mean, for crying out loud. The girls can’t even wrap presents without me. I have to lie up on the bed and pose in cute doggie poses, just so that they can dither over me as they wrap. What’s a guy gotta do to a break from these women?

I need some help over here.



Every time I turn around, someone is hugging me.


So yesterday, I was in the kitchen trying to gather my thoughts and escape from further hugging.


I finally just decided that I needed to take a little break from all that thought gathering and chill out a while. But since I’m a helpful sort of doggie person, I figured that before I did that, I would perform a little demonstration of how macho doggies like myself go about getting themselves into Official Lying Down Position.

First of all, you take one small little jump into the air to re-arrange the leg positions.


And then you plop right down on the rug and fervently commence to praying that no women will swoop down on you and kiss your head. Again. Sigh.


Now in my sister’s defense, I will admit that she did allow me outside last night to ponder The Falling of the Snow.


However, I asked to get back inside really quick because it was quite cold on my tootsies. Feet! I mean, feet! (See? The women are even affecting the way I talk!)


But as much as I complain about my family members, I guess I’ll have to admit that secretly I really do sorta, kinda like all that snuggling stuff.

My very favorite place to hang out is between two warm bodies. Ahhhh.


Dad’s lap makes a great snoozing spot, too.


And lying next to mom is always a sure fire place to be comfy. (Hmmm. I don’t know who got her a book calling her a dummy, but she seems pretty happy about it. So. Who am I to judge?) IMG_2367

But just so you don’t get the idea that I’m only capable of snoozing and snuggling, let me close out by sharing a nifty story featuring my mental acuity, ingenuity and athletic prowess.

The other night, The Fam was watching a video that Sarah had made on her computer. I was napping over on the side of the couch but eventually, I got a little curious as to what they were all laughing and talking about.

I made a few little “Hello? Pick me up, please?” noises, but no one seemed to noticed, entranced as they were by the mysterious images on that little screen.

Finally, my curiosity got the best of me. I did a bit of quick thinking and some calculating of distances and angles. (Just so you know? I did not get my math skillz from my mom.) After I had my game plan all figured out, I got up from the end of the couch and embarked on a nifty, stealthy, patented “Walk across the back of the couch, arrange myself between two people, put my paw on Sarah’s shoulder for support” adventure.

And this is where I ended up.

Pretty impressive, huh?


Here’s another view with The College Dude.


And an even closer view, should you want to further study my amazing technique.


No wonder they all love me so much. I’m a pretty impressive fella!


Note from Snowy’s mom:

We’ve all been amazed at how well Snowy has acted this weekend. He’s done very well eating and drinking, and “doing his business” and while he’s not frolicking around like a puppy, he seems content. No vomiting, no nausea, no odd behavior’s saying he doesn’t feel well.

We’re thankful for at least a temporary Christmas miracle!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry and Bright


We had a merry and bright Christmas, enjoying the day and each other.

Snowy says to tell everyone hi, he’s feeling pretty perky and that whenever he’s not busy snuggling with the nearest family member, he’s been hard at work on a post of his own.



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Today . . .

christmas collage2


P.S.  Snowy had another good night; he seems happy and comfortable and content. So thankful.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas. Smith Feet. Snowy.

Snowy Report.

If no one had told me Snowy had severe kidney disease, I would never have guessed it by looking at him yesterday after he got home from the hospital. He seemed energetic, happy and (most importantly) pain free. He drank well and has eaten just a little. He trotted up and down the stairs at a relatively energetic clip and was in major Snuggle With The Fam Mode. (Which I love.)

He’s still on a special diet and on several medications but all in all, he’s acting pretty perky which truly makes my heart happy.


Unpacking the New Camera



With all that Snowy’s been going through, I’ve gotten a bit behind on acquainting myself with the camera and taking some pictures to post; however, here are a few I managed to snap shortly after the camera arrived. I’m still at the “just turn it on and push the shutter button” stage so anything good in any of these pictures is entirely due to the camera and not me.

I just can’t begin to tell you how pumped I am about all adventure ahead of me as I discover the marvelous mysteries of good photography.



DSC_0050 DSC_0059


Tree Decorating Night

Here are a few pictures (taken before new camera arrived) of our tree decorating; as I mentioned earlier, we were a little bit late with it because we wanted to wait until Nathan got home. We realize that each Christmas we spend as a foursome is extra precious since each year that passes finds him flying further and further from the nest. (sniff)

We all drank the traditional eggnog and then, of course, we had to kid Sarah about the year she went to the kitchen to top off our eggnog glasses and accidentally pulled out the buttermilk instead. We were all standing there, sipping away, making polite little faces and murmuring, “Hmmm. This eggnog has quite the unique flavor!”


Holding a favorite ornament . . .


Snowy Snoozing with Steve and Sarah Smith. (With all those “s” sounds, it’s a good thing I don’t spit when I write.)IMG_2215


Smith feet. View one.


Smith feet. View two.


Snowy cuddled between Sarah and me.


Later on he moved to the other side of me. With an entire huge couch to lie on, he chose to plop himself down in the teeniest little corner on the edge. Nothin’ like living dangerously!


This was the view under the tree five days before Christmas. Can you tell we’re running a little behind?


Merry Christmas Eve!