“Mommy, You’re too heavy to go up in the sky.”

We were lying in the Climbing Tree on Monday. I found this one branch that if I reclined on it just right, it actually felt really good on my back. (Hello? Am I 112 years old?)  Olivia was conversing per usual about her life as a fairy in her tree house, and how she would not be going back to “our house in Williamsburg to live.” I was zoning out and thinking about getting Cheese Shop.

Side note: Fall is hands down the most perfect time in Colonial Williamsburg. The temperatures are warm enough to still eat outside but not so hot that you wonder why shade was not historical. And Fall is when people come back to Williamsburg, people who know it and love it and want to enjoy wine and cheese outside and not scream at each other in tri-cornered hats. I’m just saying. Christmas is beautiful and packed. Spring is lovely and flowering and baby lamb time. Summer is festive and concert-filled. But fall is pinch-me, I’m alive time, (especially if I have a new scarf and some bright colored JCrew skinny jeans, just dreaming…)

Then Olivia, describing her eminent ascent into the sky with her fairy wings attached to her Halloween costume of a Dress that Is Not Itchy (suddenly the Dorcas outfit is sounding refreshingly normal), intones that I will not be joining her because I am too heavy.


And I smiled because it has been a few long months of me using the “I’m too heavy” as an excuse for things – The Bounce House, the Climbing Nets at Busch Gardens, the Diving Board, the (thank you Lord) Zip Line.

So it’s natural that O concludes I will be to0 heavy to join her in the sky.

And then my heart kind of broke because I don’t want too be too heavy to go up in the sky. Can’t I be at least metaphorically light  in the fantasy world? 

It’s like the time Sophia asked “what does that noise mean , Mommy?” and imitated my deep sigh…

I don’t want to be too  heavy.

But so often, I am. I bring heaviness into routines and into relationships and even into worship. Weighted stuff I’m carrying around from the past or from a constantly critical mind or from a fear of being disappointed. It pierces my Belief and my joy and my ability to trust, be present, and strap on some wings.

And tonight I was too heavy to allow Sophia to hang her homemade pumpkin decorations from our front porch ceiling. I couldn’t tolerate the tacky (because I normally have standards?!). And so there were tears and bath and bed and then regret and guilt and the realization that I might have missed another chance to go up into the sky. And the fear that soon, they might  stop inviting me altogether.


Thank you for all the name suggestions! And for the ones that keep coming in the comments and via texts. I am overwhelmed with options. I thank you as does Shakira Cinderella Sloaney Bologna Simoney. Keep them coming!

Open Call: Name Suggestions, Yes I’m Really Asking

We’ve agreed on two girls names in the past.

And we’ve already used them. (And they did not come from a deep or symbolic source.)

So, now, we have 6 weeks to go and have a couple of names floating around but we just haven’t landed. Which means we could have this moment in the hospital when we decide. But that scares me just a little. Due to the nature of my highly medicated births…sweet sister could be named Vicadin (Vica?).

And in the late hours when I Go to the Google, I’m being told that a lot of naming trends have been set by the Hunger Games. Peeta? Rue? I can’t do it.

So, I’m ready for suggestions…I am. I’m not afraid of naming opinions. And chances are you have thought of something I haven’t.

Here are my perameters.

First, know this, I am a traditionalist…my wedding was in a big ballroom, everyone in floor length dresses, DJ. (One day I will develop an App: What your wedding says about you (or your mother)”) These are merely my opinions. You and your children may vary completely from these rules and have gorgeous names and gorgeous lives. This is just my taste, and admittedly not very exotic:

– I like the name to be gender specific.

– If the name has a traditional spelling, I will use it. Life is hard enough.

– Multiple syllables.

– End in “a” (to roll with the other two, not a deal breaker, but a goal.)

Okay, your turn…send me suggestions, favorites…names that might make you think of someone horrible but I lack the relational connotation so I can use it….

And Happy Birthday to my sweet sister today…the only woman strong enough to carry a name with familial, Puerto Rican, and now German affiliations…



photo credit.


Jessica Smith Jewelry Giveaway Winner!


Molly chose the Black Geode…which Jess will get in the mail to her right away.

Thanks everyone for your participation! Remember you can contact Jess through her blog (jessicasmithjewelry.blogspot.com) for orders…Christmas is coming…Now go forth and enjoy your day. I officially give you Pumpkin Lovers permission to start getting the lattes today, though I know you started downing those things a month ago. Today feels like Fall. I’m not a pumpkin fan but am intrigued by this Salted Caramel Something I saw on a Starbucks poster…Onward to overpriced seasonal drinks!

(Oh, Here’s something to show I used a legitimate site to host the drawing:)


Jessica Smith Jewelry Giveaway
1st drawing held by Nina
Completed on Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 13:27:29 UTC
73 entrants, 1 winner

GIVEAWAY! Jessica Smith Jewelry

I have this issue. I have really talented friends. Friends, who you know, make things. I do not make things. I cannot even help them make things. I cannot even hand them the right tools as they make things.

I can provide commentary as I sit idly around (usually eating) while watching them make things.

And I can WEAR THE THINGS THEY MAKE! And carry around cards in my wallet to give out when people ask. I have given out Jess’s cards at weddings up and down the East Coast and restaurants all over Williamsburg.(Apparently,  those are the places I go wearing jewelry. One day…awards shows… one day… ) People always ask about the jewelery when I wear her pieces and because I am incredibly proud and incredibly useless in every other way I gush and promote.

But all I am going to do today is give you a chance to win a necklace.

You have until Thursday morning at 9am. Here’s how it works.

Comment on this post telling which necklace you would choose if you won.

* The following are for ADDITIONAL entries, you do not need to do anything but comment with your choice in order to be entered:

Tweet about the giveaway (with a link back to this post) for an extra entry. (Come back and comment with your Twitter handle )

– Post about the giveaway on your blog for an extra entry (Come back and comment that you posted with your link.)

Follow Jess’s blog (jessicasmithjewelry.blogspot.com) for an extra entry. (Come back and comment that you did.)

Pin your favorite necklace on Pinterest for an extra entry. (Come back and comment that you did with the link.)

Here are the choices:

Black Geode:

Fall Neutral:

The Leila:

The Teresa:

The Louisa:


Best of Luck!

 (And FYI, Jess is still able to do custom orders so contact her through her blog: (jessicasmithjewelry.blogspot.com) with your requests!)

*This giveaway is now closed…results coming soon!

Ian Falconer! How do you see into my soul?

Because this is the best thing I have read in weeks:

We are fans of Olivia the Pig  for obvious reasons. And the previous books are great…that smart kind of humor that is totally over the kid’s heads but still engages them.

But this latest one? Oh sweet rest for the Princess Weary.

Falconer’s sattire on the pink, princess, fairy obsession is unmatched.

Olivia does not want to be a princess, or at least not one in pink. WHY WHY does everyone else around her? She explores the alternatives and finally figures out her true vocational dream.I laughed out loud as my Olivia really didn’t get it at all. This one will connect the least with kids but should be on the bookshelf of any adult who has accidentally (or not accidentally) been caught vacuuming up tulle.

Letter to My Teenage Self

 Dear Teenage Self:

First, the essentials: Please stop trying to tan. It’s not working. At all. But one day you are going to turn thirty and the area around your eyes is going to resent every ill-fated attempt.  Oh and take heart, straighteners  are about to get BIG. This will change your life.

And some encouragement: that feeling of constant awkwardness…wrong shaped body, overuse of big words, a lot of that goes away. Some of it never does. But you’ll learn to embrace it. Oh, and this Swing Dancing Craze that’s all over the place right now? It will pass. And no, you will never be good at it. But that’s okay, sometimes wisdom is knowing which trends to wait out…

You have a lot of answers right now. This will change. One day, it will feel more natural to sit with a grieving friend in silence  than to offer the right words.

You will learn this. It will take a while, but you will learn.

Soon your faith will become a struggle and you will fight waves of  violent disappointment…Your faith is still a struggle, but it’s not disappointing any more, it’s alive.

Teenage Self, You are kind of a jerk to the people who love you most. This will be a lifelong affliction. Be aware of it. Get over yourself.

You know that sense you have every once in a while that you have the GREATEST FRIENDS? You were right. And they are still your friends. You even married one of them. Be a great friend. Get over yourself.

You always wanted to grow up fast. Don’t rush it. You will get there. Along the way, you will make messes, and have regrets. You will leave issues unresolved and be constantly distracted by a terminal case of selfishness.

Oh and you aren’t really going to get much better at driving.

But you know the truth of it, Teenage Self? Sometimes I miss you.

Sure, your theology was narrow, and your opinions slightly askew.

But I miss your passion and your earnestness. I miss your desire to change the world and your belief that everyday you were.

I miss the way you saw constant opportunity – to do good, to love hard, to spend yourself.

You were innocent, and idealistic, at times dogmatic and definitely too sure. I bet you annoyed some people.

But when I remember you, I worry where I deviated from BIG and BEYOND to there’s never enough…enough time, enough relational energy, enough courage, enough faith.

Probably somewhere around the time I began having to purchase new ovens, pay for four kinds of insurance, and live through disappointment.

But you, Oh Teenage Self, sought abundance, believed abundance, received abundance.

You thought anything was possible.

And for that…I might even trade my straightened hair.


Emily over at Chatting at the Sky started this series to celebrate the release of her new book, Graceful. I will be linking my letter up with the others tomorrow, Sept.14, so it’s not too late to join in!

Coming Monday…Jessica Smith Jewelry Giveway!  Check back for details…

Tom and Nora…artistic appreciation

Apparently hanging out at Lynnhaven Mall wasn’t the only thing Tom Hanks had to do in late June. I remember sadly hearing of Nora Ephron’s passing…she who brought me Sleepless in Seattle and convinced me to name my son Jonah (is there a female version?) and there’s a scene in When Harry Met Sally that I still refer to on a regular basis. Her film style was human and connective. Meaning: these are movies we watch EVERY TIME they show up on Lifetime.

I know I’m behind here…but I just stumbled up on Tom’s sweet comments in Time Magazine. Something I can never get enough of:  artists discussing other artists…with awe, respect, and the reality that they were really friends. ( And here’s to beautiful and tender eulogies as well…)

If interested, read on…

As wives are wont to do, mine announced one evening in 1992 that we were  going to a movie.

The movie was This Is My Life, the writer and first-time director  was Nora Ephron, and within  the hour, there we were in the cinema watching the opening credits of a  middle-aged-chick flick about a woman (played by the wonderful Julie Kavner) who  becomes a stand-up comic, moves to Manhattan from one of the not-Manhattan  boroughs and sort of neglects her kids in the process but actually makes  everyone’s life better in the long run. Though that movie would be considered  only a middling success, it was inexpensive to make, had wonderful, real  performances, looked great (though Nora said to me years later, “Why didn’t I  move the camera?”) and made some money.

I thought it was much more, an ideal debut film that sparkled with bits of  genius. Take one otherwise unremarkable scene in which the lead character moves  across the East River, her dreams, courage and household items packed into a  rental trailer she is towing across the 59th Street Bridge. She steers uptown on  First Avenue, then turns left toward Central Park, winding through it on one of  the familiar cross-park routes, turns right on Broadway,  then left onto an Upper West Side street, finally stopping in front of the  family’s new home. What’s so special about that? Here’s what: this was the first  time I had seen a geographically correct moving montage in a movie — real cars  in real traffic in the actual order of transit required to get from point A (the  ordinary life in not — Manhattan) to point B (Manhattan), a distance of miles  physically but light-years culturally.

(MORE: Remembering Everything: Nora Ephron’s Legacy)

Nora, with her sense of story, understood the value of the turn-by-turn  realism of her character’s trek, transforming what could have been a standard  moving-the-kids-and-couch bit into a journey of hope and glory. When I was told  she was going to direct a second movie — Sleepless in  Seattle — and wanted to meet, I actually hollered at my agent, “She  shot that geographically authentic move into Manhattan!”

It was her journalist’s curiosity that made Nora the directing talent she  was. Her writing was always voice and detail. I once sent her a piece I was  trying to write, and her response was three words: “Voice! Voice! Voice!” Reading her work from the 1960s is like listening to her over dinner last  February, except the old stuff pulls you back with its vibrant social history.  She covered the Beatles’ arrival and Pan Am press conference at JFK airport  along with most of the reporters who showed up to work that day. But read Nora’s  coverage and you’re in the Rockaways in February 1964. Her plays — all that  voice and detail — are so universal. Love, Loss and What I Wore played Mexico City, Paris and Australia  and, I bet, killed.

Nora’s films, of course, mine the same veins of society’s gold. Go back and  watch Sleepless in Seattle. Notice as Rosie O’Donnell and Meg Ryan talk  about the guy with the shop that sells only soup, but it’s so good, people line  up for it. That was Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi years before Seinfeld  discovered him. Nora’s sharp eye helped her in more prosaic ways as well. While  shooting in Seattle, the crew found this great new place for coffee called  Starbucks. As we bought lattes, Nora bought stock in the company. After reading  her screenplay (co-written with her sister Delia) for You’ve Got Mail,  I told her I was in. “Good,” she said, “but we have to start shooting in the  next five minutes, before AOL disappears and something else takes the place of  e-mail.”

(LIST: Nora Ephron’s Best Film Moments)

Knowing and loving Nora meant her world — or her neighborhood — became yours.  She gave you books to read and took you to cafés you’d never heard of that  became legends. You discovered Krispy Kremes from a box she held out, and you  learned that there is such a thing as the perfect tuna sandwich. She would give  your kids small, goofy parts in movies with the caveat that they might not make  the final cut but you’d get a tape of the scene. For a wrap gift, she would send  you a note saying something like, “A man is going to come to your house to plant  an orange tree — or apple or pomegranate or whatever — and you will eat its  fruit for the rest of your days.” Rita and I chose orange, and the fruit has  been lovely, sweet and abundant, just as Nora promised — a constant and perfect  reminder of the woman we loved so much

Read more: http://entertainment.time.com/2012/06/27/nora-ephron-a-life-of-voice-and-detail/#ixzz26JJR4Ysi