Gina G. Smith

Not just another 'mom' blog….okay, that's exactly what this is.

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Folding Me In

December 18, 2014

Can I just be real honest here and say that I’m a little tired? This season of our life has been wonderfully exhausting. No one can keep up the levels of excitement we’ve been experiencing while caring for young children forever. It just can’t be done. But seasons change and relief comes and I have been graced with rest and friendship that I simply must acknowledge here.

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A friend invited me and my children over last week to build and decorate gingerbread houses and eat homemade pizza. I thanked her before hand for the invitation and I thanked her afterward for the hospitality, because truthfully, I haven’t had nearly the energy or enthusiasm for “Christmas” yet this season. (By putting “Christmas” in quotes, I just mean creating the atmosphere and providing the magic for my kids, not the actual event of Christ’s birth. There’s always energy for appreciating that amazing gift.) It felt so nice to take part in something delightful that I didn’t have to plan or host.  Anyway, her words back to me have gripped my heart. She answered simply, “We’re so happy to fold you in.”

I cannot even express how many times I have felt the beauty and comfort of those words throughout the past months. I’m beyond grateful for the simple lunch invitations, play dates, errands run or responsibilities assumed on my behalf. Timely text conversations with a buddy far away when I needed a moment of sanity have been little gifts. Even my house guests and children have been bright spots of grace and understanding to set my heart at ease. My family and friends have understood all the times when plans have changed at the last minute or when I forgot to do something I was supposed to do. Even when I’ve felt like a total flake, I’ve most certainly been “folded in” and I won’t soon forget it.

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It’s been a happy, busy year for our family. But when you opt out of certain traditional activities with your kids or community because they require an effort from you that you simply cannot muster, there is a lot of guilt that creeps in. A mama can certainly torment herself about what all she’s NOT doing for her kids. It took everything in me to put up a tree this year, because I couldn’t bear the thought of how much work it would be to put it all away again. We put it up, but I didn’t unpack a single ornament. This post from The Nester inspired me to cover it in snowflakes and call it a day. It might be my most favorite tree ever. And there are paper snowflakes stuck to every window, which seems just right.

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This beautiful post from my dear friend Julie was also perfectly timed. There couldn’t have been a better time for me to have read it than during this week before Christmas. Instead of experiencing panic and dismay about everything I haven’t done or won’t accomplish, I’m learning that being “folded in” is a treasure. Even those words from a friend far away about her own worries enveloped me with peace, which I can tuck away and pass along to my little family in so many tangible ways. Grateful is an understatement.

Have you experienced the joy of being “folded in?” Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of such a gift.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 49 (And, What’s Next?)

December 12, 2014

How can 2014 be nearly over? And can I just say how grateful I am for how so many of you, my lovely friends, have joined me in recognizing, appreciating, and creating beauty in our lives this year? This project has been so encouraging to me and I hope it has been for you, too.

As I’m attempting to quiet my heart over the next couple weeks of Advent, I’m also thinking ahead to what 2015 might look like. I’d love to keep up the blog, simply and similarly to how it was this year. I just don’t have time or energy or motivation to post as frequently as I once did, but if there is an easy way to continue to be a tiny presence on the web, I’m all ears. I have a few ideas, but would love to hear from you. (It could be as simple as changing the date on our hashtag to AddingBeauty2015.) What do you think?

And here is some beauty from the 49th week…the completion of a long-awaited project. We’re all exhausted, but brimming with thankfulness in our hearts. It’s been a week of hard work, late nights, celebrating, and soaking in the experience of finally sending The Green Ember out into the world. You can purchase it at Storywarren or Amazon.

Prepped and cleaned this house like a boss. (I was actually very bossy while doing this. Just ask my kids) My five year old let  me use his big gun to decorate with. As long as we have the understanding that it still belongs to him. Fair enough.

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Oh, how I love the details.

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Some of Maria VonTrapp’s favorite things are my favorite things too.

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An occasion for some bubbly! My friend Jamie gave us the bunny stopper and napkins. It’s so nice to be loved. (Keeping it classy with paper cups for kiddos) How about a toast to all who helped make The Green Ember a reality? Cheers!

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Just Like That

December 11, 2014

I’m not sure how to describe a weekend like the one we just experienced. We finally unpacked The Green Ember. We held it in our hands, sniffed its crispy pages (yes, I’m a book-sniffer), then promptly bundled it up and sent it out into the wide world. Just like that. We had loads of help all week long, prepping for a long few days of book-signing, wrapping and mailing. The phrase, “many hands make light work” is no understatement. It took many hands, but went exponentially quicker than it would have, had we been doing it all on our own. (I can’t thank our team enough for all the help! You know who you are!)

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My sweet mother-in-law wrapped books all. day. long. My nieces and nephews did whatever was asked of them and played so nicely in their downtime. At one point during the day, as he stood out in the cold on our front porch taping boxes shut and putting labels on them, my nephew looked up at me and said, “I looooooove working!” (I’ve been instructed by his parents to keep this account for future reference.)

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I can’t believe how smoothly it all went, mostly because of our awesome publisher Andrew Mackay. He thought of every little detail to make packing day efficient and fun. We ate well, celebrated, worked our buns off, and finally, after years of dreaming, many of you are now holding it too. Just like that.

Here is a picture of some of our helpers. We didn’t get one with everyone, but this was part of the crew.2014-12-06 14.13.58

My house is once again relatively quiet and empty of boxes upon boxes of books. The food has all been eaten, the bubbly consumed and the excitement is dying down…for us. But now it’s your turn. Finally, our family, friends, and friends of friends, who have supported us eagerly are able to join in the excitement and we couldn’t be more thrilled. The calls, messages, texts, wall posts, pictures and tweets are like little gifts that keep trickling in. It’s so encouraging to read them all and feel your support and love once again. Thanks so much, all you dear folks. We hope the story delights you.

Here, my sweet boy and his dad sign books together. It was a collaborative effort and a memory they will treasure forever.

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Soon you’ll all have your books in hand, and as you’re sharing, we’d love for you to hashtag your posts with either #rabbitswithswords and/or #thegreenember so we can all get in on the fun. (It’s great to see so many new pictures that I didn’t take, like below!) If you missed out on the Kickstarter, don’t worry. You can still order your copy either through the Storywarren Store (which helps us a lot!) or on Amazon.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Weeks 47&48

December 9, 2014

The last two weeks were a total blur, as we pushed to finish our last week of school for the semester and then celebrated a lovely Thanksgiving with dear family. Amid all the rushing around, there were some sweet moments of beauty and rest. I’m so grateful.

It doesn’t take much snow to get my children out the door. This day, there really wasn’t enough to make it worth their while. But I needed some quiet, so I bribed them with cookies if they would stay outside for a while.

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A sweet friend sent us a package of Christmas goodies to help with all the preparation that takes place during Advent. This little activity gave me ample time to locate my lost keys, and warm my coffee in the microwave 3 times. Yay!

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I can feel it. Time to quiet our hearts and focus on the waiting, on the coming King. These candles are the only bit of Christmas you can see in our house as of right now. But it’s enough. We’ve still got time to observe how the light grows in the darkness and to make our own preparations.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 46

November 17, 2014

Two great meals that weren’t just thrown together at the last minute and a completed sewing project made this week extra special!

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 45

November 17, 2014

Just a spot of beauty to share for this week. We’re on the home stretch with our fall semester of homeschooling, so there’s not a whole lot of time for observing and reflecting. Right now, we’re just getting it all done. But this little vignette was such a fun thing to assemble. I found this shell in our back yard with moss already growing in it. We added some bunnies and put it in a cozy, abandoned nest that the kids brought in. And we keep it watered so we’ll have a little bit of green to enjoy this winter.

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The ‘Adding Beauty Project’: Week 44

November 17, 2014

Fold some clothes. And make some soup. These things will leave you feeling accomplished and satisfied.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 43

November 17, 2014

There was a morning/afternoon spent making food for the next few days and cleaning up the messes that occur when the mama is flurrying about. It felt endless and I was disheartened at the prospect of putting it all back together.

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But focusing in on one task at a time puts things in perspective.

And a thoughtful reminder from a friend on Facebook helped me remember the value and beauty in time spent this way.  

“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4 (Thanks, JR)

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This was one of the results. Sweet rewards indeed. It’s my favorite easy pastry to make and share.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project : Week 42

November 17, 2014

Some busy, busy days resulted in that desperate need to feel free and happy. We ditched it all and went to the park just down the road from us. It was a beautiful, precious day.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 41

November 14, 2014

Empty vases on a clean, clutter-free surface.

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Pumpkins: $1.79 and everyone has their own method of decorating…

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Fancy breakfasts mean we often eat popcorn for lunch!

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