Lost Christmas Traditions


Yesterday was the last Saturday before Christmas. To many folks, it was a last-chance opportunity to buy the few presents left on the shopping list, get important errands completed, or to rest before the holiday events begin full force. I did all three of those things, but as I drank my first cup of black coffee this morning, I realized that yesterday I did something I did not even realize I was doing.

I mourned.

I mourned for that Saturday that will never be again. The Saturday that has been dedicated for “Granny’s Christmas” for decades, blocked off from all other activities so that 50+ members of my maternal family could get together and just… be together. Yes, there was food, food in abundance. Yes there were presents to open and white elephant games to play. But that was secondary to the gift of that day.

We were together.

Granny is now gone. Grandad has been gone for 3 years and she held on as long as she could, but 3 months ago I held her hand as she asked me “Can I go now?” and I told her yes, yes she could. She left and took her Christmas with her.

So yesterday I sat in her house that I now own. I wrapped presents and prepared for my own Christmas Eve dinner. I washed clothes so that I would be ready to go to my husband’s family get-together. I read text messages from my family talking about their plans for the next few days – across the country. Yesterday I sat at my dining table and cried and didn’t know why.

But today I know.

I know that there is no more Granny’s Christmas. No more of the gravitational force that was the center of my world for so very long. No more story telling and second helpings and baptist hymn singing on the back porch.

I understand that this is a part of the story of life. I understand that our loved ones have to go away and that as they do, we substitute ourselves in the roles that they played for the generations before them. It doesn’t make it any less sad. It doesn’t make it hurt less. The next chapter has begun. The feeling, the mood, the memories that my children and grandchildren carry with them begin with the way I decide to approach each day.

Today I sit in my Granny’s living room. The furniture is different, but it’s about the same location that she sat in for many years. I feel her and my Grandad in this place. I feel her stress and anxiety as I prepare food for many people. I feel his need to go off to a quiet place and think and pray alone for a few moments. I feel their love and sacrifice and investment in the only thing that really matters in this world.

Being together.


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220 to 40 ~ the paper pile

President’s Day, so no school today. I spent the morning tackling a chore that I absolutely loathe to do… the paper pile.

The current paper pile was so very, very large. It consisted of 4-5 smaller piles of house bills, medical bills, insurance papers, school forms, junk mail… and the pile of things that don’t go anywhere but you can’t throw away.

It was out of hand.

At least the first two hours were devoted strictly to medical bills. Our “insurance” that’s not really insurance, Medi-share, does a great job covering all of our needs, but it is important to make sure that the medical billing office works correctly with them, so I like to double-check everything. I’m working on getting reimbursed for a few things which would be SO GOOD at this point in time.

After bills were all sorted (whew), it was time to address the budget system again. After a little research I decided to go with Mint (instead of continuing with Everydollar), and set up the monthly cash flow.

The Smiths are horrible budgeters.

We have tried budgeting so many times. It’s just not in our systems to be that organized! However, it is one of those things that is important (necessary) if you want to get ahead and not just be okay month to month, so here we go again.

The paper pile was massively reduced today, so today was a victory. No-guilt days are the best days. I’m looking forward to not having that mess hanging over my head tomorrow 🙂

In other news, I’ve started making space in the day for music again. A little guitar everyday to learn a song that’s on my guitar playing bucket list (songs I want to memorize and have in my mental library), and I pulled the drum set out of storage and made a place for it in the garage.


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222 to 40

Tiling the house is exhausting. Also, bending…

Squatting. Pushing. Pulling. Lifting. Stretching. Hauling. Cleaning.

Which is why I only got one “real” workout done this week (yesterday’s run). The Man tells me it all counts. I believe him. All mobility is better than sitting, and all lifting is better than none.

I’m up to 8min runs/2min walk x 4 on my Run for 60 Minutes program. It’s almost getting enjoyable. I’m slow as molasses, but I’m getting it done. And I say that, but I’m getting a little faster week by week as well. All in all, I’m happy with my progress so far.

27 days until Tough Mudder New Orleans! Along with the running, I’m working a little everyday on my upper body strength for this event. I still won’t be able to complete all the obstacles, but I hope to do a few more than last year. Looking forward to it, though! So much fun!

I sometimes second guess writing all these mundane things, but then I remember how I am inspired every day by someone that has posted their own workout on social media. Any annoyance I have from someone else’s exercise posts usually stems from my self-conscience guilt knowing that I should be doing more in my own life. 

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Spent the day outside. Got a good lesson on life while digging in the dirt but I can’t get the words out tonight. Maybe tomorrow when the rainy season starts again…

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227 to 40

Oh my goodness, it’s been busy. The Man and I worked all weekend painting and laying the rest of the tile in Abby’s room. The girls have been sharing an airbed and it has almoooost worn out its stay. I’m proud of them for being such good troopers throughout all of this.

They have been so good that it might have been the motivation for a major treat I signed them up for yesterday.


Well, kinda space camp. Abby’s older so she will be going to Space Academy, and Savannah is my little creative so we signed her up for the Robotics Camp. They will be going the same week this summer and they are both pretty excited about it.

I wasn’t able to run today like I wanted (and was super motivated for, for real). It was my day to work on the floor. After a morning of prepping, I started grouting at 1pm. This was me after the first line was done. I feel like I got an adequate workout today, nevertheless.

I perservered and was able to finish up six hours later (lots of mom-duty breaks).

  • My hands are raw.
  • My knees are raw.
  • My back is tight.
  • I’m looking forward to Netflixing with the cat tomorrow.

Just kidding. I need to wipe it down 58 more times to get the haze off the tile, then seal . I’m liking the look so far, though. This is the Metro Charcoal tile from Home Depot.

We are definitely not professionals but I think we did pretty good. We’ll be experts by the time we finish Savannah’s room. And the living room. And the kitchen. And the laundry. And our bedroom.

Yikes. This is going to be a process.

I need to go to sleep now 😉

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231 to 40

Abby’s room is the first to get the new tile floor. We weren’t going to redo everything but you know how that goes. I put a fresh coat of white on the window trim and baseboards yesterday, so that made the rest of the room look dingy and beat up. So…Abby gets new paint.

She picked out “restful” from Sherwin Williams. It doesn’t look like this iPhone pic at all but here it is…

Goodbye to the bold blue she picked out when I last did her room (a beach theme for her 8th birthday )

So there’s that. It’s one of those days when your house is still in mass chaos, there’s a billion things to do and none of them are getting done, so you start something else instead.

You cover up your little girl’s room.

I’m going to be honest. I spent the rest of the afternoon taking naps and hiding in my bed from the chaos and floors and big kid room color.

Sometimes it’s too much.


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232 to 40

Welp, I’ve already screwed up my “write everyday till my birthday” goal. I am pretty sure I knew that wasn’t going to work out, but I had the best intentions.

Part of the journey this year is allowing myself grace and forgiveness. I am VERY much an all-or-nothing person, and in the past, if I could not complete something successfully (in the way I had planned), I would drop it immediately.

…then I would stew about it for a while.

…then I would claim myself as a loser that can’t ever finish anything.

…then, maybe, possibly, I would eat a bag of Cheetos while perusing the internet for inspiration for my next big achievement.

…maybe. Don’t judge.

But today is a new day! I can choose to behave differently! Free will and all that jazz! So I’m just going to keep writing after missing some days. And I’m going to allow myself an extra rest day today, because, darnit, yesterday was stressful and it’s okay to rest.

I’m not going to feel guilty about anything today. I’m just going to keep going.

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Sit in Your Mess

The current state of our house is DISARRAY. We are putting tile in the whole house, and the first section is both of the girl’s rooms. All of their things are ALL OVER our house, and will be for several days as we go through the several-step process of tile work.

It’s a great reminder that the clean slate of new beginnings is usually preceded by mass chaos and dishevelment, and that it’s okay to sit in your mess for a little while.

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237 to 40

Today was just a day, really. I’m tired of winter and can’t wait to get out in my yard and work. But before that, there is work. Floor work.

And before floor work. There was work.

Just good ole fashioned work. Like unloading over 2 tons of tile and supplies off a trailer and into the garage work.

  • Pick up a box of tile (60 lbs).
  • Carry the box.
  •  Put down box, carefully.
  •  Go get another box.

That was enough work for today. Work more tomorrow 🙂

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The Women that Stand Beside Us.

The most valuable thing a woman can possess is the ability to see that she is not alone. It may be that this is something that we don’t truly understand until we get older, when the stubbornness and independence of youth starts to fade, and space is made for wisdom and understanding. Or maybe I have just made a little bit of open space in my head and heart this past year.

From my view, the community of women surrounding us falls into three different areas:

The Women Outside

These are the ladies that you know only from a distance, but their actions or words have lit up dark places inside of you. These are the writers and the activists. The storytellers and the trailblazers. The woman who just popped into your head? That’s the one I’m talking about. Whether it be from books, podcasts, articles, or stories passed around the dining table, I believe it is important to seek out women that have been on a similar path that you, and can give you indirect advice from their point of view.

These are the women that you follow on social media who inspire you, not the ones that make you feel inadequate about your current status. Positive vibes only.

The Women Next Door

These women are the friends that pray for you, the coworkers that listen and work you through your bad days, and the strangers that give a helping hand when your toddler runs away from you in the grocery store. Each one of these women are so valuable in their own way.

These women float in and out of your life. It’s a bittersweet event over time and in the space in which you live. You generally want to hold on to them all as much as you can, but that’s just not the way it works. Cherish them while they are there, however long or short the time may be.

The Women that Stand Beside Us

These are your rocks. These are the women that celebrate your happiest moments with as much joy as if the moment was their own. These are the women that sit on the ground with you when your life has been shattered. Rocks cannot be forced or coerced into becoming rocks, and there is no time requirement for this relationship. These are the women you just KNOW are your people, and you know that they are standing beside you.

These are the most important women.

Today, I was surrounded by all of these beautiful ladies. They were in my stereo, at the dining table, on the phone, and in my memories. It was a beautiful day full of community and love.

I’m looking forward to another one tomorrow.

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