Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas is Over. Crap.

Christmas tends to go one of two ways -- awesome or suck. This year I would definitely have to say "awesome" for various reasons. Mostly because it was our first Christmas in our own space. So we got to wake up in our own bed, open presents under our own tree, and make breakfast in our own kitchen. This is a big deal considering we've spent 3 Christmas mornings together in various houses. Plus, my parents, my brother, my grandparents, and my uncle all make for a really funny crowd.

For those of you who heard of the Thanksgiving turkey dethaw with a hairdryer story, here's another one:

Because I work at St. Mark's Church, Christmas is a big deal. So the week leading up to Christmas was spent working all day and collapsing on the couch when I got home late at night. This left me one day to prepare for the grocery shopping and food consumption. So, Christmas Eve eve I went to Walmart, got all the grocery's and unloaded them with time to spare. Until I realized Christmas Eve when everything is closed, that I do not have a pie tin. And that I had promised my mom that I would make chocolate pie. Bowls were too deep, baking pans too long. So in the 11th hour, I used a skillet. True story.

Now Christmas is over and we're waiting for the cover of darkness to dispose "legally" of our Christmas tree. For the record, you know, like if I'm in jail; the landlord did say that she would dump the tree in the woods if she were us. Otherwise we'll have to pay to have it recycled at the dump--I think we'll take our chances.

Monday, November 23, 2009


My apologies to all 3 readers out there--I am terrible at the update-on-a-regular-basis thing. In fact, you may have given up on this due to lack of updating. Oh, well I guess you'll just have to wait for our annual Christmas letter to catch you up. (Yes, Virginia, we're putting out a letter this year!)

This past month has been a crazy one! I'm finishing up rehearsals for the Christmas musical I'm directing at church. This has been one exciting time for all involved, and it's going to be super cute when it's all done. Mark your calendars, December 12 and 13th! You know, there are times when I wonder why I'm doing this, but then I get through a rehearsal and see the improvement the kids have made and the excitement on their faces...I can't help but love it. Call me a glutton for punishment, but this is just one of those things that just makes sense to me. It just doesn't seem like Christmas unless I'm up to my eyeballs in stress and rehearsals. I'm not planning on making this year any different. That would just be silly.

We have a new addition to our family that we're excited for everyone to meet. Lucy, our Corgi/Lab/Beagle mutt (a Corlabagle?) has decided that we're going to be her forever family. Which is brilliant for us because we're now in full-fledged "practicing" mode. We figure if she's still alive in a couple of years, we must be fit to be parents. Thus tabling the Baby Issue for another couple of years. Collective sighs are heard around the world at this revelation I'm sure :) She's cute, she's funny, she's mellow, and she's determined to spend all her waking hours making sure someone is rubbing her belly and she has, no doubt, completed our little Burlington family. As I write all of these glowing wonderful things about little pup, she decided now would be a great time to fart on me. It's so obvious that she belongs to us it's not even funny.

Well, actually, it is a little funny. But I'm not laughing, I'm trying not to breathe.

Thanksgiving is upon us and Meme, Pops, and Boy Wonder are heading down on Wednesday! This will be my first (and hopefully not last) attempt at turkey-ing. Here's to hoping that we don't have to cut the turkey into quarters :)

We love you and we miss you. Hope to see you all soon!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Case of the Rotting Pumpkin

About a month ago, I came to work and saw that a pumpkin had been decorated to look like a face. It looked like a Mr. Potato Head--lips, ears, nose, and a hat. It was really very cute but it was something that I did not make. I assumed that it was something that CB had decorated at some event and left on the table. I didn't think much of it over the last month, other than it was a cute harvest addition to our information table.

Today, Robby and I are moving some things around and notice that some papers look like they've had coffee spilled all over them. I then notice the pumpkin head is looking a little droopy. When I go to move it, the whole thing squishes in my hand like a sponge.

Here's the part where you go, "that's disgusting."

After we stop laughing/choking/crying, we go to let CB know that her pumpkin has died. To which she responds, "that's not mine, I thought you made it!" Call Nancy Drew, we've got a mystery to solve!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Catalyst, Pumpkins, and Ice Cream

Catalyst rocked.

Matt and I (and like, 20 people from SMC) packed our bags and spent 3 days listening to some of the greatest thinkers, speakers, and leaders from the Christian and corporate world. Malcom Gladwell, Tony Dungy, Rob Bell, Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Margaret Feinberg (not Leslie, champion Lesbian writer for the masses), Matt Chandler (who we missed. Sad.), Charles Swindoll...it was awesome for sure. Each speaker made you think, challenged you, and then... Professor Splash dove into a kiddie pool from 39 feet in the air. Not really sure where that fits in the scheme of Greatness, but it happened and that's all I know.

Coolest part of the weekend was definitely running into Brad--one of my friends from highschool in Ohio. OHIO. I haven't seen this kid in 8 years and he just casually shows up again in my life. It was the weirdest reunion I think I've had in a while. He was actually the team leader for my church's Land of a Thousand Hills coffee kiosk. So basically, all my SMC friends met him and then their mouths dropped open when he basically hurdles the coffee stand to hug me. Matt's mouth dropped open too until I told him how we knew each other :)

This weekend included a trip to a pumpkin patch with the Rocheleaus. Pictures to follow, which explain the adventure far better than I could. Although, Shea's unconditional love for a baby cow with a tail full of dingleberries really might have been one of the most memorable moments I have of Shea. I think it was the "Can we keep her?" look that she gave Jim that solidified the morning.

And by the way. Matt got his Harvest Decorations. We have a mum and a pumpkin outside our door. There is now balance restored to the Smalling Household.

And now, because it's 49 degrees outside, we're going to get ice cream. Because freezing on the outside just isn't enough--we need to freeze on the inside, too. Sham on.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Love/Hate Relationship with Mailboxes

When you're a kid, when you get mail it's usually a card for some great holiday like birthdays, Easter, or Christmas. This card usually contains money.

Now, when I go to the mailbox, my cards don't contain money. It asks for my money. I get mail every day--mostly junk, bills, more bills, and well.. more bills. It's a broke life for the Smallings. I dread getting the mail because I have to drive to my mailbox, get out of my car, take my key, unlock the box, get my mail, and then open. It makes me tired and I avoid it at all costs.

A couple of days ago I went to the mailbox and began the routine of shuffling through the contents--bills, junk, and then there was a card. With my address written in child-like scribble and when I opened it, I realized it was a handmade card from one of my kids at church. For your viewing pleasure I have included the inside:

Dear Nikki,

Thank you for letting me have a part in the play. I was worried that I wouldn't get a part. I like that you teach us now. Thank you for being my friend.


The best part was the drawn picture that was included--a little girl holding the hand of a big girl walking down the street with balloons on all sides. This card now resides in a prized place on our kitchen bar. I think I'll keep this forever.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Project Runway

It appears I really enjoy sewing things; my current project includes hemming curtains (let's hear it for the straight stitch!), new pillows for the couch, and some curtains for my office at work. I think, upon successful completion of said projects, I may find myself venturing out into the world of dresses. Or maybe not. I tend to think I am WAY better at stuff than I really am. Although, with a whole season of Project Runway ahead of me, I may stay completed focused on this at least until the finalists go to Fashion Week.

In other news, visit with the grandparents and the parents proved to be another excellent time for all--and watching Jamie compete in the 10K kayak race made Matt and I feel completely out of shape and caused a re-evaluation of our current physical shape. Status: Pathetic. This may or may not push us into a least one gym visit a month, but it's possible!

Glee tonight. Huzzah!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I went to two high schools. My first high school -- football was not a game, it was a state of being. My second high school -- football was a game. That we lost all the time. Maybe, just maybe if we could have taught them how to do this, we wouldn't have lost our Homecoming Game 3 years in a row.

I love this show. It's like a combination of my high school experiences, only with better looking and way more talented people.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Part of my job requires that I do randomly awesome things. Tonight was no exception, as I ran around in a pirate costume for 2 hours telling pirate jokes to any bloke who would stop to listen. The other part of my job includes me being a rock star. Last week, Allen asked me, "Are you in a band?" to which my little heart fluttered as I responded with how I've always wanted to be a rock star but never got my break.

Let's face it. I'm not really a rock star. Or a pirate. I'm just a girl who desperately wants to be both of these things. And somehow I managed to stumble into a job where all of my wildest dreams have come true. At least for tonight.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Case for Kids

Our desire is to reach these kids with entertaining, fun, relevant messages. We’re fighting to win a generation that is over-stimulated, overwhelmed, and under attack. Marketing campaigns are designed to reach kids; television channels like Disney and Nickelodeon can sustain themselves with shows about preteens and tweens; and the High School Musical franchise has set the standard for what our kids are expecting from everyone else. Somehow we have to tap into that mentality and do a bait-and-switch with the messages. If our Worship Teams sound like Miley Cyrus but sing about the redemptive power of Jesus Christ; if our room looked like the set of iCarly but centered its design around the 3 Basic Truths, we would be getting somewhere.

But shouldn't the message be more important than what it looks like?

Well sure. But how often are you going to go into a restaurant that is dingy and falling apart? It doesn't matter how good the food is, people will not walk through the doors to find out. The Church is dealing with this same identity-crisis: the message is amazing, the image is lacking. Let's look at my cable channels for example. On any given day I can flip through at least 45 channels that have their own specific identity--Lifetime uses a lot of colors that are pleasing to the female eye, Spike uses a little bit of an edgier image that reminds me of a construction site... all these things subconciously tell the viewer, "This is where you belong."

Then there's the one channel that is a Christian TV channel--it features commercials by churches that look like something out of 1987. The discussion panel sets look like the inside of a Goodwill. I'm watching these channels wondering, "who is really going to listen to what's going on if they are so distracted by what it looks like?" That is not a channel that screams out to 23 year old me, "This is where you belong." But I'm a Christian, so immediately I feel like I need to support this channel, but I can't. It's boring.

But Christianity is not boring, our messages are not boring, we're not even a boring group! We're individuals who can design, dream, build, and create with the best of them. But how am I going to communicate that to someone who, when they hear the words "Children's Ministry" immediately think of flannel boards, goldfish snack crackers, and the song, Father Abraham? The Church needs a makeover. Not a makeover that compromises the message of Jesus Christ, but a makeover that encourages the Seeker to give us a second chance. A makeover that will appeal to the overstimulated masses. A makeover that makes it okay for a messy-heart to belong? A makeover that screams, "This is where you belong."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Inconsistency is the New Blog

It appears that the girl that lives upstairs needs a beatdown. I'm not sure if she's wearing cement shoes, enjoys skipping, constantly falls, or just weighs a ton, she makes so much noise in the general vicinity of her kitchen my light fixture shakes.

Oy vey.

Things that rock:
  1. My job; especially that part where we went to a lake house for a vision casting planning retreat that included a steak dinner and all the fixins'
  2. Robby and Heather -- newly married (like us) most excellent friends. We also have mad love for Logan and Jack, the dogs.
  3. Joyful Noise children's choir -- it's the all-singing, all-dancing, stage spectacular! We had a record breaking 60 kids show up, huzzah!
  4. Midday pedicures and pizza with my two favorite office girls
  5. Shea's kids, Nathan and Brady. Or as they like to refer to themselves... Super Nathan and Wonder Brady. Or as I like to refer to them... Captain Candy and the Sweet Tooth Kid
  6. Pretty much the entire Rocheleau clan; we want to be like them when we grow up. For reals.
Things that suck:
  1. Kanye West making an idiot of himself at the VMAs
  2. Matt's schedule
  3. Dishes and laundry
  4. Our "Dances with Wolves" couch pillows motif currently uglifying our couch
  5. Little Miss Cement Shoes
Since this post is merely a random collection of ridiculousness, check it. If you don't laugh or hurl, you're not an American.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Yesterday's City of Today, because Tomorrow is Soon.

Sometimes it seems like we've never left Maryland.

Jamie stopped through last night on his way back to Maryland (I know it was just for the food, but I like to think it's because he misses us). We then felt the need to take him to Southpoint mall, the mecca of all things Mall-esque. $9.99 cds at FYE, a quick run through Urban Outfitters where I proclaimed myself entirely too uncool to be even thinking about shopping there, and a CookOut run were all on the menu for the evenings adventures. We tried to go see Tarantino's new film, but alas, it's not out for another two Fridays (epic fail.)

Then today, the Thomas Clan (and Libby!) stopped through Burlington for a Steak N Shake lunch hour/dog walking. It was a shame Matt had to work, those Frisco Melts never disappoint! It was good to see them, all tan and beachy while I, in my pale working-in-an-office-all-summer skin turned green with envy. Come to think of it, both Lassahn kids looked pathetically Casper-ish next to the Thomas'. People probably thought we were sick with disease or something. But I digress.

Tomorrow promises to be equally as exciting as Jason and Jacy (and Selah!) are coming to see us on their own personal East Coast Tour of Williamsburg/Burlington/Sparta. Matt has already planned out our eating stops of All Things Greasy and Delicious. Nevermind that delicious spinach lasagna that I had planned :)

Work continues to be amazing. The new project is getting something like this built by the end of the year. This is going to take some creative negotiating judging by the looks of the budget but it's going to be worth it. We'll see. Maybe I'll win the lottery (you know, Matt and I play every night when it interrupts Fraiser, neither of us have ever guessed all the numbers correctly so we're not going to buy a ticket just yet. But we have a system, and it's ... still not working. Good thing we're too lazy to get tickets and just like to shout out random numbers at the TV instead.)

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Day In the Life

Bank of America sucks.  Don't ever bank there.  Ever.

Long story short, my old account was closed incorrectly and now my final Grace paycheck is currently floating out there somewhere in cyberspace.  This all starts because of the idea that BOA has regarding charging for checking accounts.  This, in itself, is ridiculous.  Everybody needs to move their accounts to a credit union that doesn't suck.  The end.

In other news, The Smallings are heading off to Blowing Rock, NC tonight to see the soon-to-be-famous Derek T. Pickens in Bye Bye Birdie.  This is exciting for a couple of reasons:  1) This is the summer Derek is getting his long-awaited equity card and 2) I haven't seen him since his bang-a-rang performance at our wedding!  Plus, who doesn't love an excuse to drive to the mountains and see a show?!

Laundry's done so this update is officially ended.  We love you all!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Life is finally settling in and we're getting back to "normal." That "normal" goes in quotations because for the Smallings, our life is anything but "normal." But for us, we're getting our routines and our patterns set. We're both now officially employed, Matt got his first paycheck! To my chagrin, it was only for a week's worth of work instead of two. Oh well, we should be back to our regularly scheduled money making by next Friday.

Last weekend was my official debut to the kids as SMC. They, unlike most adults, think I'm very funny. I guess part of my desire to work with kids revolves around the fact that they think I'm awesome. It's a self-preservation thing, don't judge me. I also had the privilege of meeting the SMC Consistory Board last night--excellently excellent people. It was nice to meet a group of people who are dedicated to trying all kinds of new things in order to reach all kinds of new people. THAT is what church should be about. I'm glad to be here!

Last weekend Matt and I went to Kingsfest with our MD friends Paul and Tiffany--awesome time filled with roller coasters, water rides, and awesome Christian worship music. It was a fulfillment of one of my lifetime dreams--see Switchfoot in concert. While I was standing in line right before Switchfoot was to go on stage, these two boys (middle school) behind me were wondering what was so great about Switchfoot. I wanted to turn around and explain to them what Switchfoot did for Christian music all those years ago. I wanted to tell them that Switchfoot was a part of this movement that made it okay for bands to put God in their lyrics. It's because of bands like Switchfoot, Newsboys, DC Talk, that awesome festivals like Kingsfest, Creation exist. Somehow these bands (and many others before and after) were able to bridge the gap between Christianity and Rock. I wanted to tell them that before these bands, our only options included Michael W. Smith--who, while an excellent singer and musician, is not an inter-generational artist--and others who had great music, but...may have been missing something that is so important to a teenage kid.

But, these kids were like, 10 and would not have understood a word I said. Plus, they probably would have labeled me as some "crazy old lady" because I totally lectured them at a concert. I guess as some point, you just wave your white flag of surrender and listen to "Breakfast" all the while thanking God that somebody understood you when you were 12.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Great Outdoors or The Smallings are Out of Shape

Last weekend (well, I guess 2 weekends ago now since I haven't posted in a while) was a riotous good time had by all.  Since Matt hadn't started working just yet, we decided to go visit my Granny for her birthday in Clayton.  While there, Jamie acted as our personal tour guide for all things Nature-ous and practically killed us with two days of hiking and almost-dying.  Not surprisingly, Jamie was unphased by the treacherous mountain terrain and practically hop-skipped over the river crossing while we clung furiously to the rocky boulders protecting us from certain river-y death.

You think I'm kidding.  I wish.

This is Tallulah Gorge (oooh, aaahhh) and part of its appeal is the natural waterslide on the floor of the gorge (some 300 steps down and another 1/2 mile of trail-less danger hiking).  Apparently you needed passes to get to the floor and the first day we missed the last passes by about 39 seconds.  Not ones to admit defeat, we hiked to Hurricane Falls (you might know it as the "bottom of the stairs") and all the while challenging ourselves to not only hike back up the stairs but to do it all again the next day so as not to miss the wonder of nature's natural waterpark.  Totally worth it, but a terrible idea.  Especially considering I left my inhaler in the car that day.  Epic fail.

This is Hurricane Falls.  We only had one good shot because the kid behind the camera was a little... strange.  I was afraid to ask him to take any more.  This is also before the Great Sweat of 2009 began.  We still look half-decent.

To occupy our time until the next morning, we went to a little tourist shop called Goats on the Roof.  And no, it's not a metaphor for life or something, it's really just a gift shop/ice cream parlor/Amish furniture dealer with goats.  On the roof.  I think it's brilliant and this guy who owns it, Old Goat, probably makes a lot of money.  Maybe I'll start a place called Frogs on the Ceiling, or Flies in your Food.  I could be rich!  The most entertaining part was watching the kids pedal this bicycle that would send food up to the roof for the goats to eat.  I guess you had to be there!  Or just understand that it doesn't take much to amuse me.  Either way, this place was hilarious.

The next day proved to be equally as fun as we hiked not only to Hurricane Falls but to Bridal Veil (the floor of the gorge).  It was very hot, but very beautiful as long as you didn't fall between the cracks in the rock crags or touched anything that looked poisonous.  Both of which I managed to do at some point during our hike :)  The good news?  I didn't die.  The bad news?  I couldn't feel my legs for the rest of the weekend.  Awesome.

This is us, feeling very smug about ourselves.  Try to ignore the fact that Jamie is practically glowing.  We're a very fair-skinned family.  You're just going to have to wear your sun glasses when viewing this picture!

Even though Granny and Jimpop live in a sleepy little mountain town, every Saturday night there is an auction house in town and of course, we didn't miss it!  We went a little early to scout out the items--lots of beautiful old furniture and rugs--and I had my eye on several pieces.  Fortunately for our bank account, I walked out of there with just a table and a painting.  Both of which will become my prized possessions!  Matt thinks I'm crazy, but I'm ADDICTED.  Auctions are like garage sales on eBay.  Simply magical.

Sunday was Granny's birthday and we made sure we did it up in style.  We have bragging rights because we were the first of the family to go to their country club!  It was nice and dinner was really good.  Following dinner was an attempt at timed photography so we could have a nice family shot.  This of course took several attempts and resulted in some slightly strange photos but all in all, it was a great time for sure!

Friday, June 26, 2009

King of Pop

Sure, Michael Jackson might have been a freak this decade.  He may have had some legal, parenting, and nose issues but I like to remember MJ during the 80s and early 90s, when I thought he hung the moon and when I couldn't get enough of "Bad."  Somehow, as long as MJ was still pioneering new and innovative things in the music and dance world, everything kind of just worked for everyone else.  Yesterday, was a sad day for this fan in particular.

MJ was my first introduction to pop music, I used to watch him ALL the time--I even learned to Moonwalk in college (little known fact).  I defended him in my circle of friends and still faithfully listened to his albums as I drove with my windows down.  Artists today would have nothing to imitate if it weren't for MJ.  

In closing, I leave you with my favorite MJ video of all time.  10-4 good buddy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Adventures in Driving

Mapquest sucks.  

Thanks to Mapquest (or as so I have aptly renamed, "GetLost") our adventure to the Chick-fil-A in Greensboro ended up in a 90 minute quest for impossibly hidden street names, endless games of "I know where we are, turn left! No, right!" and 4 roads with 3 different names.  We finally made it, battered and bruised but not defeated.  Turns out, this store is awesome.  The management loved Matt, wanted to hire him (yesssss!) and is willing to work around our crazy schedule complete with my church responsibilities and our family visitation promises.

Sometimes God even outdoes Himself!

In other news, the apartment is still shambly but the gym is fabulous.  I would also like to state for the record that Mrs. Smalling has held Mr. Smalling to his closest winning margin in basketball since our first game Summer 2006.  Either he's really rusty or I've gotten better--I like to think it's because I've gotten better AND he's a little bit rusty--but he only won our "first to 5" by 1 basket.  Lucky shot.  He thinks he's Kobe.  I, on the other hand, was also wearing tennis shoes--a true first for me--instead of some sort of cute flat, or wedge heel.

Further basketball updates and hopefully a potential win for Mrs. Smalling will soon happen! 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes

We. Are. Officially. Moved.

((huge sigh of relief/exhaustion)

After a week that was... unexpected, we finally got ourselves moved down here and "settled."  the amusement began at 7am Saturday morning as we rolled out with 3 cars and a Penske truck.  Somehow I was nominated as the lead car and we began our journey.  MTOs at Sheetz and one, ahem, "alternative" route to find a gas station somewhere outside of Durham, we arrived at noon.  The St. Mark's Welcome Wagon made our moving in slightly less traumatic with a huge basket of goodies--from gift cards to toilet paper--which has proven to be quite the blessing.  In fact, St. Mark's has quickly proven it's awesomeness with a fabulous team of people that I am thrilled to be working with for... hopefully the rest of time.  Shout out to Shea for bringing lunch and hugs from the staff!

I found it incredibly amusing to wash clothes in our new washer and dryer.  The good news is that our new washer and dryer does NOT sound like a space ship waiting to take off.  The even good-er news is our loads are cut down because of the magic that is a "front-loading" unit.  In addition, our bathroom is the size of our previous kitchen and we have a separate area for both LIVING and DINING.  A true first for the Smallings.  I love North Carolina.

As I'm writing this, Matt and Dad are attempting to hang a key hook/mirror thing and may or may not have just drilled into the AC unit.  Even five minutes before my parents leave, we're still having the adventures.

Moving could have been terrible, but having Mom and Dad there to laugh with us (like when Matt fell off the ramp with a pile of boxes or when I forgot where we lived or when Dad almost backed into the car at Chick-fil-A) made things go a little easier.  Exploring the town, finding the Target and watching Dad and Matt bond over things like the Simpsons and Family Guy are some the things that make leaving them just a little bit harder.  We will never be able to thank them enough, but I hope they know that we are eternally grateful.  I hope they know that they are welcome ANYTIME.

Once we get the boxes moved out of the guest bedroom, we are open to visitors.  So, that's You, reader-of-this-blog.  The challenge has been issued, you are officially invited.

Pictures to follow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009



Matt and I decided (and by "Matt and I" I really mean just "I") that in order to keep everyone involved and updated (and maintain our sanity) we are going to document our major life events--minor events too pending on time and day and humor level of said author--here.  Please read about us and feed my ego.  Follow us as we navigate a new town, new jobs, new apartment, and potentially a new house here in the future.  We promise to keep in touch with phone calls and cards, too, but we want to share with you what we're up to daily/weekly/monthly as well.  

My family is accustomed to my writing styles, but I feel that it's my wifely duty to welcome Matt's family to my mindless chatter and wanderings that vaguely resemble an update about our life.  Don't be scared.  I'm really quite harmless but secretly desire to be one of those salacious Hollywood bloggers that uses words in amazingly hilarious, yet socially poignant ways.  But I digress.

Countdown to moving day: 8