Tag Archives: motherhood

Learning to Love Laundry Day


No matter how hard I try, I can never seem to catch up on laundry. My [failed] strategy  has been to pop in a load or two between other activities in an effort to be as efficient as possible. But the other projects always seem to take more of my attention or take me to another part of the house away from the laundry room. The result is that I get distracted and forget all about the clothes in the washer. Today, however, I am trying a new strategy. I am learning to love laundry day.

Due to a series of unexpected distractions, I have gotten way behind on laundry over the last few weeks. The pile I confronted this morning seemed like the size of an elephant. It finally occurred to me that my usual strategy was not going to work. Instead of running all over the house cleaning and working on projects as usual, my main focus today will be laundry.


My first task was to gather and sort: lights, darks, delicates, towels and sheets. My laundry room is minuscule so I only brought down a few loads at a time. After loading the first batch into the washer and turning it on, I sat down to make a list of the projects that needed to be done in the kitchen and den–both within close proximity to the laundry room so that I could hear the buzzers and move through the process without distraction.

This list included three types of projects: those that need to be done regularly (planning menu, making grocery list, loading dishwasher); special projects (inventory pantry, purge utensil drawer, tidy laundry room); and projects from elsewhere in the house that could be relocated to this area (sort, clip and toss old magazines, update calendars, iron shirts). The key to the list is that each project can be done relatively quickly–i.e., between loads of laundry.

Tea with laundry day

I also added a few “me projects” to the list just to keep things interesting: apply a face mask, file and buff nails, catch up on email and social media, read several chapters of Clean Slate. I knew these few perks would help make the task of doing laundry less daunting.

pajamas and laundry

The final step to learning to love laundry day? Do it in your pajamas!

How do you keep up with laundry in your household? What other domestic projects overwhelm you? Have you come up with creative strategies to tackle these projects?



When a Break Turns Into a Sabbatical

I’m back. I took a little break from writing and blogging this summer thinking I would be back at the keyboard by late-August or early September…it is now October 13. I suppose that is more of a sabbatical than a break. I didn’t expect that I needed or could even tolerate this much time away from writing. I guess I was wrong.

I stepped away from my laptop in June for family and for personal reasons. I will be writing more about both of these in future posts. In short, I wanted to spend as much time with my daughter before she started her senior year and I needed some time to process some things privately. I was concerned that if I continued to blog I would process publicly–and prematurely. Given these few months, I know I made the right decision in both of these cases.

The time away also allowed me time to get started on some much-needed and long-overdue projects around our house. I will be posting regularly about our “Take Back Our House Project.” I have some great before and after photographs, will share some of our dirty, little secrets and the solutions we have found. We are still very much in the process of this project and will be continuing to work on it throughout the year.For a sneak preview, check out my Instagram posts.

I’d love to hear from you about your own projects: how do you get started, what keeps you motivated, how you juggle the long process with living life, etc.

So…I am glad to be back. I am determined to keep writing and to continue to share my journey and struggles, battles and blessings.

God’s peace, my friends.



Evidence of living life

Time Flies When You Are Living Life

I sat in front of my computer this morning wondering to myself what I should write for my next post.

A blank computer screen rarely provides me with inspiration.

My mind drifted to the well-intentioned blog editorial calendar I created in January.

Where did I put that thing anyway? Why don’t I have a few pre-written posts ready to publish at the hint of a dry spell?

My excuse, as usual: too busy.

Too busy? I looked around me to find evidence of my busyness. There appeared to be too many “unresolved domestic issues” to account for that.

I took a five-minute break for my daily dose of would haves, should haves, could haves…the Voice of Doubt enters (I thought I had learned to silence that thing)!

My mobile phone buzzes with a notification: a calendar reminder of a scheduled meeting for which I will undoubtedly be tardy.

Picking up my cell phone is often a big mistake.

Ten minutes and multiple social media interactions later, I glance up at the blank screen again. Well, that was helpful, Amy.

Disturbed by my earlier excuse of busyness, I pick up my phone again scrolling through my camera roll.  Maybe the evidence is right here.

Apparently I have taken more than one hundred photos on my phone over the last seven days.

Here is what I found:

Photos of the “new” sofa we found last Saturday along with fabric swatches for reupholstering it.

upholstery swatches


College visits  during winter break to Clemson and Wofford with my daughter who is a high school junior.

Tillman Hall, Clemson University, Clemson SC

Tillman Hall, Clemson University, Clemson SC

Wofford College, Spartenburg, SC

Wofford College, Spartenburg, SC

Daddy-daughter chefs preparing a weeknight meal.

Daddy-daughter chefs

Letterpress class at Redux Contemporary Art Center on Wednesday evening.

Letter press class at Redux Studios

Website header and background updated.

Newest header

Darius Rucker concert in Columbia SC with teenage daughter and her boyfriend.

Darius Rucker, True Believers Tour, Columbia SC

Saturday morning Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts

Flower arrangements made and safely delivered for the Ashley Hall semi-formal pre-event dinner (seated dinner for 26 teens at a private home).

Flower arrangements for dinner party delivered

Front porch cleaned and planters replenished by husband in hopes that the beautiful Spring weather is here to stay.

planters replenished for Spring

Girl Scout cookies located, purchased and consumed.

Girl Scout cookies at last!

Girl Scout cookies at last!

House full of teens preparing for dance finally leaving.

Teenagers leaving for dance

Pre-dance photo shoot.

Pre-dance photo shoot

All of the essentials of a great Sunday afternoon.

Sunday afternoon essentials

Watching this season’s last episode of Downtown Abbey with my daughter.

Downton Abbey

Not pictured: Meetings, meals, work, school, family time, date night, talks with teenager, laundry, cleaning house, errands, doctor’s appointments, etc.

Evidence of living life

Evidence of living life

Ahhh. So that’s what I have been so busy doing.

L I V I N G  L I F E

Most of it is unscheduled, unquantifiable and cannot be crossed off a list.

Not distractions.

Not interruptions.

Just living life.

And thankful for it all.

Halloween for Scaredy Cats

Vintage black cat

I have never been a huge fan of Halloween. I’m not saying I didn’t participate in the festivities. I loved the costumes and the candy but I was never very big on the actual “trick or treat” aspect of the event. I have always had a pretty vivid imagination so I was able to completely freak myself out walking in the dark on Halloween night passing all of the other children in costume. Unfortunately I think I passed these feelings on to my own child.

Driving through my neighborhood last night after dark, I realized that at least half of the houses on my street had extensive Halloween decorations: spiderwebs, skeletons, pumpkins, ghosts…the works. It seems to me that people are decorating for Halloween as much as they are for Christmas. That just seems strange to me.

Cute vintage pumpkin child

I suppose that if Halloween decorations were more like this cute vintage pumpkin child, then maybe I would enjoy it more. But that does not seem to be the trend. Just going into a party store in the month of October is terrifying. Gone are the days of Little Bo Peep and cowboys.

Vintage Halloween costumes photo

So tonight I will celebrate Halloween as usual–with some reservation–welcoming the little ones in the neighborhood early then turning out the porch light at the first sign of the older kids. My daughter and I will be counting down the minutes to November 1st when Halloween has passed and the “good holidays” are ahead of us!


All images are from The Graphics Fairy.


Game Day Done Right: Road Trip to Ole Miss

Ole Miss Road Trip

Watch the video “Road trip to Ole Miss.” To watch the video on a pc, click here. If you are watching this on a mobile device, click here.

My daughter is a junior in high school so we are beginning to look at colleges. Two weekends ago my husband and I  took her and a friend back to our alma mater: Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. We had not gone to a ball game in over twenty years and we were so excited to show off Ole Miss and to see friends and family.

Driving to Mississippi

Driving to Mississippi

Our 10-hour drive from Charleston  (really more like 14 hours when you include bathroom stops and meals) began on Thursday after school. We stopped outside of Atlanta for the night and got back on the road early Friday morning in order to make our 12 noon appointment for a campus tour.

The Lyceum, Ole Miss

The Lyceum, Ole Miss (Photo by M. K. Smith)

Several weeks ago one of my friends asked me if I really wanted my daughter to go to Ole Miss to college because if not, I should definitely not take her on a game day weekend.

I should probably have listened to her.

I’m not sure we could have arranged a better visit if we had been recruiters.

We arrived on campus just in time to make the academic fair where the girls had an opportunity to talk with representatives from various schools and programs. Next we took a tour of the campus and housing options. After a quick walk along Sorority Row and a brief tour of my sorority house, we found ourselves in the Grove, the heart of Ole Miss and its Game Day activities and one of the country’s top tailgating venues.

The Circle at Ole Miss Before Game Day

The Circle at Ole Miss Before Game Day (Photo by M. K. Smith)

Afterwards we left campus and gave the girls a quick overview of Oxford before heading over to Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner.

Rowan Oak, Home of William Faulkner, Oxford, Mississippi

Rowan Oak, Home of William Faulkner, Oxford, Mississippi (Photo by M. K. Smith)

The house and woods surrounding the site were favorites of ours while in school.

Front Parlor, Rowan Oak

Front Parlor, Rowan Oak (Photo by M. K. Smith)

Draft of "The Fable" by William Faulkner

Draft of “The Fable” by William Faulkner on the wall of back bedroom (Photo by M. K. Smith)

View from Rowan Oak second floor (Photo by M.K. Smith)

View from Rowan Oak second floor (Photo by M.K. Smith)

After our behind-the-scenes-tour of Rowan Oak, we headed south to the tiny town of Taylor for the best catfish around at Taylor Grocery.

Taylor, Mississippi (Photo by M.K. Smith)

Taylor, Mississippi (Photo by M.K. Smith)

Taylor Grocery (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

Taylor Grocery (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

Taylor Grocery (Photo by M.K. Smith)

Taylor Grocery (Photo by M.K. Smith)

The girls agree: "Eat or we both starve." (Photo by M.K. Smith)

The girls agree: “Eat or we both starve.” (Photo by M.K. Smith)

We headed into town early on Saturday even though kick off wasn’t until 6 pm. Parking is limited in Oxford and we had much to do that day.

The weather was perfect for football but a bit colder than these Charlestonians were used to. We needed supplies so we headed to one of Oxford’s most venerable establishments: Neilson’s Department Store on the square.

Ole Miss Rebel banners at Neilson's on Game day (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

Ole Miss Rebel banners at Neilson’s on Game day (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

We spent the next couple of hours wandering around the square stopping at some of our old favorites and many new shops.

Oxford Square (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

Oxford Square (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

The double-decker bus shuttles fans to the Grove on Game Days (Photo by M.K. Smith)

The double-decker bus shuttles fans from Oxford Square to the Grove on Game Days (Photo by M.K. Smith)

One of our favorite old haunts is Square Books, one of the country’s best independent bookstores.

Square Books (Photo by M.K. Smith)

Square Books (Photo by M.K. Smith)

After shopping and eating lunch on the square we made our way down to the Grove to participate in the time-honored tradition of tailgating with family and friends.

Ole Miss tailgating

Ole Miss tailgating

Tailgating tent complete with chandelier (Photo by M.K. Smith)

Tailgating tent complete with chandelier (Photo by M.K. Smith)

College friends

College friends

The girls with Colonel Reb, former Ole Miss mascot (Photo by M.K. Smith)

The girls with Colonel Reb, former Ole Miss mascot (Photo by M.K. Smith)

One of the best parts of our trip to Ole Miss was seeing our Mississippi cousins,



The walk to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with the thousands of other Ole miss fans was so exciting.

Ole Miss band's pre-game show

Ole Miss band’s pre-game show

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

The game was thrilling!

Ole Miss vs. LSU, October 19, 2013

Ole Miss vs. LSU, October 19, 2013

Hotty Toddy! Do you know the cheerAre you ready?

Ole Miss Rebel fans

Ole Miss Rebel fans

Amazing game! Ole Miss 27- LSU 24 (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

Amazing game! Ole Miss 27- LSU 24 (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

Our ride back to Charleston began early the next morning. It was a long, long drive.

Driving through Alabama (Photo by M.K. Smith)

Driving through Alabama (Photo by M.K. Smith)

My friend was right about taking our daughter to Ole Miss on a Game Day. She was impressed. We have only started exploring her options so who knows where she will end up.

Just to be safe, maybe we should start looking into condos in Oxford…


Check out this video for more about Game Day at Ole Miss.


A Guilty Pleasure: School Supply Shopping

The August Break 2013Day Six


School supplies

School supplies for a high school junior

Ahhh, . . . buying school supplies. This has always been my favorite end-of-summer activity. When I was in elementary school, the first day of school was always the Tuesday after Labor Day (not these days– in the South at least). I remember going to the Ben Franklin and getting everything on the list, crossing items off as I put them in the buggy. Once home I would spread everything across the living room floor lining things up, categorizing like items, writing my name carefully across each notebook and folder (I guess I was a geek at the time). Every year or two I would get a new lunch box. My favorite was the puffy plastic one featuring Josie and the Pussycats that I got in second grade. I still remember the way it smelled when it was brand new (and the awful smell of stale peanut butter sandwiches and apples later in the year).

Yesterday I went school supply shopping with my daughter. It’s not that I am trying to rush things. It’s just that we are going to the beach next week so when we return there will only be a couple of days before school starts. And of course you never want to wait too late or you won’t get the notebooks you want or all of your favorite pens will be gone. Besides, the process of “getting organized” for the new school year takes some time. You’ve got to color coordinate, write your name, add things to your calendar, . . . . I guess this is something I passed on to my daughter.

This year is different however. My daughter is entering eleventh grade and her school doesn’t give out supply lists. I guess they expect you to know what you need at this age–how you want to organize things. She didn’t get as much joy out of shopping this year either. There was a level of anxiety present that I have never seen before. I think reality has hit her hard. The fact that she is a junior, that she has a very rigorous academic schedule, that she has to prepare for and take the SAT and ACT, and begin getting very serious about college preparations. By the time we left the store, she was practically having an anxiety attack.

An hour later with all of her supplies spread across the den floor, she calmly labeled and sorted and color coordinated . . . and I think I caught a glimpse of a little smile growing across her face.


Breaking All the Rules

Okay. I admit that just saying this makes me a little apprehensive. I’m not much of a rule breaker. I’m more comfortable with boundaries and limits and schedules.

Needing fences

I operate better with some boundaries.

Now I am not saying that I’m not rebellious. I certainly push against these very limits but breaking them is a different matter.

I guess that is why I was so intrigued when Susannah Conway gave me permission to break the rules this month.

Like most bloggers, I have set up a pretty rigid schedule of posting to keep me on track and accountable. It has been a bit more difficult to follow my self-imposed schedule during the summer and I have to admit that I have felt a bit guilty when I have missed a deadline or skimped on content.

With only a few weeks of summer left before my daughter heads back to school, I don’t want to miss out on any time that we may have together as a family. That is why Susannah’s August Break 2013 is so welcome.


So what is the August Break 2013? It is a photo challenge for bloggers that encourages us to simply be present in the moment (not unlike the 1000 Gifts list idea from Ann Voskamp). What challenges me about this is that there really aren’t any rules. She suggests taking a photo and posting it every day but you can also participate less frequently. You can add words or not…it is simply about freedom and enjoying taking photographs.

I need this break in my schedule right now. I am determined to not miss out on any time with my family as the summer slowly slips away.

I know that September will come barging in with its meetings and activities and demands. I also have a big writing project that I will begin in September, so I think a break from words might be a good thing for me.

So, thanks to Susannah, I am giving myself permission to break the rules. Check back in with me when you can to see what photos I am posting. And then come September, I will be back on track.

Savor the summer, my friends!