Melancholy Musings

Sunday, October 8, 2017

As the sun set on a glorious weekend, it dawned on me that it wasn’t only their shadows growing and lengthening as the sun got low on the horizon.  These babes of mine are babies no more and its bitter and sweet all at the same time!  Ive been coming back to this photograph all week, somewhat shell-shocked when I looked and realized we have more big kids then little……and I had to go dig up the old one.  When did that happen?

Apple Day fall 2017

Apple Day fall 2012

A brief five years have passed since our last “annual” apple-day and somewhere in that time, they all just, sorta, grew!  Gone are the days of all the girls in matching apple-attire.  Littles who used to have to be carried, now are carrying the bushels of apples themselves and dragging the wagon through the orchard and hoisting baby brother onto broadening shoulders.  And our “little” family (that I if I could, I would keep “little” forever,) is in a new beautiful chapter of young-adult children, toddlers and teens, and it is just as sweet.  A new season I am loving!  But, Im keenly aware that there won’t be too many years left that we’ll be able to coax our teens to spend a whole Sunday driving (crammed in a car double-buckling).  Someday soon, someone will have a job and shifts that aren’t conducive to Sunday drives up the mountains, and school studies will elbow out free time and social calendars all be full for our teens.  But this, another golden day in my treasure trove of memories, is one for he books.  The little snapshots form a collage of memories Im tucking away…..
Beautiful, blessed autumn afternoon…..Tristan and C pelting each other with McIntosh missiles and the playful banter of father-and-son…..Kids darting and ducking between low-hanging branches and weaving down the rows calling to each other to see who can reach that perfect cluster of  Cortlands…The squeals of the six-year-old when she steps in squishy rotten apples with her prized new boots…..Granny (to the) Smith’s, hand-in-hand with Izzy, patiently waiting out the endless line to get her grands the coveted “fresh, hot apple donuts”… daddy, (always larger than life,) with his stick, reaching the apples that no one else can (oh, how we’ve missed grandparents!!)….the big girls taking the little girls to the port-a-pottys (so I don’t have to!)….someone has my diaper bag…..someone has my baby……….wait!
When did all these littles tugging at the hem of my shirt turn into helpful hands, bearing the load?

How I love this little tribe of mine…..
We drove home at dusk with the golden glow of the sun setting in our rearview mirror and music blasting on the radio and Eden dancing along from his car seat.  I looked back at our kids genuinely enjoying eachother  and was overwhelmed with gratitude that through all our moves and changes and transitions and uprooting, that they’ve had eachother.  Theirs is a unique sibling bond.  And much to my surprise, teens are more delightful than I could have imagined.  This is a sweet new season!

And…I no longer have to carry a camera, because my Abi documents everything on hers and I actually get to be in some of the photos now.


Fragments and First Impressions

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Our POD arrived.  We spent the weekend hauling boxes and hampers up our driveway and into the garage because it was too steep for the truck to bring our container up near the house.  A hefty workout for the kids, but it felt like Christmas in September to be discovering the treasures and keepsakes that we’d stored and forgotten about.   We’ve lived fairly minimally over the years and the frequent moves (this is move # 10 in 16 years for our family) have kept the clutter down.  So, the boxes mounting in the garage were a bit overwhelming to be honest.  When you’ve lived without something for 5 years, you start to realize that actually, you probably don’t need most of it because you can’t remember much of it!

There is one sentimental box tho, that I knew I was looking for and told C to keep an eye out for it.  My loves in life are the Lord, my family, and my blue & white china!
Ok….there are some other things, but my dishes are up there!
I didn’t want traditional china, so didn’t register for every-day dishes when I was engaged.  Instead, before I got married, my daddy took me antique shopping and we bargained for beautiful blue & white miss-matched serving dishes, chargers, dinnerware, salad plates and tea cups & saucers.

C located the box as he unpacked the POD and handed me the oversized rubbermaid bin labeled “FRAGILE!  BLUE & WHITE CHINA! DO NOT STACK!  HANDLE WITH CARE!”
This sickening “crunch” as I lifted it from his hands was undeniable.  I peeled back the lid in horror to find shards of pottery and glass and fragmented porcelain in a rubble of broken beautiful pieces.  Much of my blue and white china didn’t survive the storage and move.

I needed a minute.

The vast majority of boxes in our POD I honestly don’t care much about.  An embarrassing amount I actually don’t remember.  We’ll be making some runs to Goodwill this week!
But my dishes!?  Why is this the only box we’ve (thus far) found damaged?

I have to think its another gracious lesson from God for me as a reminder to hold things loosely.  Im so richly and abundantly blessed!  We’ve been given a lovely home to call our own for the next year.  Our church family has warmly welcomed us with furniture on loan, a vehicle at our disposal, free extracurriculars for our kids, and sweet hands of friendship extended to us.  The temptation is always tho to take the blessings and begin to cling to the gift instead of the Giver.  The sentimental value of my dishes cannot be replaced.  The memory attached to them is precious to me.  But in the end, its still just “stuff”.
Stuff that’s going to burn, that has no eternal value.
The constant uprooting of our life tugs at my melancholy heartstrings at times, but Im grateful – I am – for reminders that our inheritance lies elsewhere and that when this all passes away, there is treasure that moth and rust (and moves) cannot destroy!

(….sidenote… mother made me save it.  Now, who has a “Pinterest” idea for some mosaic or something I can make outta this as a “reminder” to myself that broken is beautiful and a reminder to hold loosely to his gifts!?….)

We’re finding America strangely familiar.  Comfortable, convenient, but definitely dealing with a bit of reverse culture shock!  Here are some of the first impressions coming back to The ‘Merica:

~ Cars.  My kids are amazed that mommy knows how to drive!  I assure them Ive been doing this since before they were born, but some have never seen mommy behind the wheel!  Our littles think only bonafide taxi drivers are allowed to operate a vehicle!

~ No traffic!!  We’ve just come from a city which is rated in the top ten worst traffic cities in the world.  You don’t get anywhere quickly!  Wide lanes and short traffic lights here are a beautiful thing.

~Driver on the left side of the car and cars on the right side of the road feels completely backwards to us.  Gonna take some adjusting!

~Car seats and seat belts.  Eden is not a fan.  Restraints for the first time are making our happy little guy mad!

~ Everyone here calls you “honey” or “sugar”.  Warm welcome to the South!!

~ Convenience.  Dishwashers, clothes dryers, garbage disposals save you SO much time and simplify life!  And whoever invented seats for kids in grocery carts has my undying thanks.  Free refills on drinks, drive through banking and toaster waffles make this country great!

~ Drinkable sink water.  The kids are having a hard time with this one.  “You mean you can drink right out of the faucet?  Even in the bathroom?!!”

~ Shoes worn inside.  On this one, we think Asia’s got it right and we will not be adopting the western model.  It really is gross when you think of it!  Leave your shoes at the door please when you come to visit!

~ Target.  Its huge….that is all.

~ Clean and cool!  God bless America!  My house doesn’t need top-to-bottom cleaning every day here.  Bangkok’s pollution and city grit meant filth all the time.  And the 90-100 degree temps year round meant sweaty kids and 2-3 showers every day for everyone.  Things just don’t get as dirty and sweaty here in this brisk fall weather!

~ The great outdoors!  Bliss!  The sounds of birdsongs is foreign.  Shade, breeze and green lawns for my kids to play in…..forgot what that was like.  We are savoring the refreshment of beauty around us that we’ve missed!

We’re BACK…with a birthday surprise for Daddy!

Monday, September 11, 2017

We announced we’d be homebound in September, but we may have told a little white lie about WHEN.  We led my parents to believe we were arriving later in the month.  My sweet siblings had arrange a special surprise for my daddy’s 70th birthday and planned months ago to fly me in for the occasion.  As things panned out for our whole family to be coming back for a year of fundraising, we managed to coordinate the timing so that our Smith tribe could attend this special family reunion in the North Carolina mountains.

Daddy knew my mom was taking him away for the weekend, but we kept under wraps that almost all of his ELEVEN children, and spouses, and 20-something grandchildren would also be there for a weekend in log cabins in the beautiful blue ridge mountains.  18 months later, our little Eden finally got to meet his American cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles.

This is our tribe!  We are many.  We are loud.  We are sometimes a little crazy.  But we are loyal and happily FAMILY!

….normal we are not!…..

Not exactly “restful” for our tired jet-lagged minds and bodies, but so good for our hearts to have time with these people we love so dearly.

The kids picked up with their cousins right where they left off 5 years ago.

We hiked the beautiful Smokies, roasted s’mores, played in the hot tubs, drank gallons of coffee, ate inordinate amounts of food, caught up in rocking chairs watching sunsets, played corn hole, star-gazed, and laughed….and ate some more.

This is a blessed man right here!  We are the lucky ones to have a daddy that has so faithfully loved, patiently served, and intentionally poured into our lives.  He is a man of integrity who has sacrificed and prioritized us, his children, and modeled Godly character for us!   This is what a full quiver looks like!

My talented friend Melissa has just started a business called Breadcrumbs creating memory books for special milestones and birthdays to tell stories of family members or commemorate relationships or honor individuals.  We loved working together with her as siblings to tell stories about my dad and bless him with letters and pictures through a beautiful book that he will have to read and cherish from all of us!

And check out these cakes by Cecilia Villaveces Cakes!!  We heard remarkable things about their bakery and were not disappointed.  In the book we wrote for my dad, there were dozens of references from us as kids sitting on the kitchen counter helping him make pancakes every Saturday morning.  It is a tradition he has continued with his grands as well.  It seemed fitting that we’d have a “pancake” themed cake to commemorate his trademark brunch contribution.

We just loved how this turned out and the grandkids got a kick out of it.  Delicious Italian Cream cake under all that frosting.  And since one cake isn’t enough to feed this motley crew, we had a Reeses Peanut Butter cake for him as well.   Delish!  Check out Cecilias Villaveces Cakes – a family owned specialty cake bakery located in Athens GA.

Happy Birthday daddy!  Hope these golden years are rewarding and full!  You are the daddy I would have chosen if I could!!

We’re back in beautiful America enjoying fall temps (and bracing for hurricane Irma).  Grateful for many things, not the least of which is proximity to family to get to participate in special gatherings like this and renew ties with the people we love the most!