New Tattoos


69256412_10157858930845715_5477274915306471424_nI’ve been chewing on this post for almost a year now.  The meaning this picture had for me back then is not entirely different than it is now, but for many, I think these words MUST sink in if our humanity can persist.

I do not understand why so many people I know think their opinion overrides that of others.  Have we become so selfish and so self rightous that we cannot consider or accept ideas that diverge from our own?  That we result to hate, opinionated actions and divisive speech?  It is a shameful state of things.

Too many words will do this photo injustice, so I will end by saying that I strive to use positive words in speaking to everyone.  I want my speach to be beautiful and reflect the beauty I see in all things.  It is ALL about persepctive and I choose to have a perspective focused on love.

What words would be boldest on your skin?

Celebration at Sea – Marseille, France

I am a Francophile.  I love all things French!!!  I really enjoyed Marseille – I had it imagined in my mind with lavendar all over and very romantic….while it was beautiful, I was a little disappointed.  But that’s ok – it was a great day of exploring!!


I love the Parisienne architecture!


Basilique Notre Dame de-la-Garde



Marseille Cathedral


Inside the Marseille Cathedral


A nice square for lunch.


And a yummy lunch!


Notre Dame de-la-Garde on the harbor.

Social Distancing – Day 101

Well, we’ve exceeded 100 days – and many are still social and physical distancing.  I won’t get into the debate – there are so many opinions out there, but the fact is, for us, life is still not quite normal.

Our circle is still small, and while we are attending our first in-person church service this coming Sunday, it will look different – masks required while moving, family groups sitting together in pre-determined spaces 8 feet apart, and outside.  But we will be together in a way!

One hundred days is a timeframe we use to measure events in our society – the first 100 days in a presidency; our kids mark the 100th day of school; Phineus and Ferb seem to have 104 days of summer….

I have marked a few significant things in our house for the 100 days of Coronavirus…

100 days at home with my kids mean I have had, on average, spent an extra 420 hours with my children that I would not have had if they were in school.  That is like getting an extra 17.5 days with my kids that I would not have had.  THIS has been a blessing!!

100 days at home has resulted in about 90 loads of laundry – of which NONE were folded immediatly after I took them out of the dryer!

100 days at home meant that I prepared way more meals, ate a lot more food, and worked out a lot less…..

100 days at home means that I have watched more than 75 episodes of a Escape to the Chateau.

100 days at home has allowed my hubby and I to work closer together and we are still happily married.

100 days at home has meant long walks in the woods with Cooper, gardening, building, painting and attempting to declutter my house (still working on this).

100 days at home has brought more good to my life than bad (the lost income from no one traveling and the prospect of travel is still too daunting for people to explore has been tough, along with the isolation).  It has given me precious time with my family that I otherwise would not have had.

It will be almost fall when the next 100 days rolls around – I wonder what that will look like?

101 Days and counting….

Celebration at Sea – La Spezia

So you’re thinking, La Spezia?  Where is that?

La Spezia, my adventurous friends, is in northern Italy – and this port is the gateway to (longer) day trips to Florence, Pisa and for the Smith family, Cinque Terre.

Ah, this was one of our favorite days!  The night before we went online and found a place to rent scooters for the next day in La Spezia.  We got off the boat and started walking.  We found the scooter rental place just as it opened, signed our life away, and rode off into the sunrise….pretty framatic, but let me tell you…..the non-Itlaian speaking Smiths taking directions from the friendly scooter guy was comical.  We got out helmets (Char rode with Kelly and Kelton rode with me), got some sort of directions towards Cinque Terre, and off we went.

Have I told you how much we love adventure?  Adventure brings us closer.  It challenges us.  It makes us think “outside the box” and forces us to rely on eachother.  Because of all these things, we grow personally and grow closer together.

Cinque Terre will forever be one of my favorite days ever!  We are always very aware of our land time while cruising – while I would love more time to explore, being left behind isn’t a great option!  This trip, we only explored two of the five villages; Manarola and Riomaggiore.  I guess we will have to go back!  Check it out!


Our chariots for the day!


I just love this view!


Sable along for the adventure!


They always find the cats!


Ancient, winding streets.


Wine terraces.


Walking room only!


Hold on tight to those cliffs!


The village just waking up.


Stunning views from the sea –

Celebration at Sea – ROME if you want to!


For any amature (or mature) historian, Rome is the place of dreams!

Our gorgeous ship docked in the nearby seaside port of Civitavecchia.  This port is a good hour or more outside of Rome, and since we work on a budget, we didn’t take an excursion to Rome; rather, we got to the train station and figured out how to get round trip tickets to Rome and off we went.

To spend only a partial day in Rome is kinda crazy, but we did it and it was amazing!

And HOT!  Wowzers, was it hot!

We decided to do the Hop On Hop Off buses that traverse the city and they were, for the most part, useful (not so much in Barcelona).  We visted the Colosseum (got tickets ahead of time – a MUST) and Roman Forum/Palatine Hill and also went to Vatican City – but NOT for a tour – we didn’t know if we would have enough time.  We DID, however, have pizza near the Vatican – isn’t that a must?

Here are some pictures from our day!


The Hop On Hop Off bus ride was a blast!


Sable really got into it!


This photo looks like a postcard but I promise I took it – It looks like everyone is social distancing!


Sable loved Rome!


The Colosseum was really stunning!


The picture quality is lacking but it is because it is SO HOT and the air quality was not great. The Roman Forum area.


Amazing architecture.


Char and Sable with St. Peter’s in the background.

Celebration at Sea – Villafranche Sur Mer (Nice and Monaco)

Villafranche-sur-Mer was our thrid stop on our fabulous trip!  Here, we had to sit in the bay and be “ferried” into the port.  Once on land, we could hang out in Villafranche-sur-Mer (famous for their parfumeries) or head east to Monaco or west for Nice.  We figured out how to catch a bus andhead headed to Nice.

This was the first time we left the kids on the ship.  They wanted a break from “all the old stuff” and we didn’t think there would be a TON of things the kids would like in Nice, so they stayed aboard in the kids club and enjoyed some kid time.

Kelly and I enjoyed some adult time and when we arrived in Nice after a short bus ride, we decided to rent scooters for the day!  What an adventure that was!  Here are some of our photos!

Here are our picutres from Villafranche-sur-Mer


The view of our ship from our ferry.


First selfie of the day!


Close to land!


A beautiful harbor.


Near the harbor in Villafranche.


Fabulous old streets to explore.







Life on the Med!



Nice harbor…some fancier boats.



Another selfie!


At the sea with our scooters!


From the hills – we had no idea where we were going – we just went!!!!



Gorgeous tree lined sidewalks!


The kids and I near sunset. Reunited!

Next stop, ROME!!!!!

Social Distancing – Days 88-94 – A Diary

UGH – OK – I am kinda over this.

It’s like groundhog day again but now the weather is nice.

I am not complaining.  I love the gorgeous weather, but seriously – nothing new is going on!

The She Shed is done, the gardens are just being maintained, school is done.

Char is still going to the barn.  She is seeing her “inner circle” of BFFs.

Kelton started work this week.

Kelly is working harder than ever with in-person outdoor church services begining next week.

I am starting to get more and more inquiries for travel for next year.

The kittens at the barn are growing!

I am thinking I will start updating the Social Distancing Diary every week….soorner if anything goes on!

In the meantime, happy Father’s Day on Sunday and I will leave you with a few evening pictures of my gardens.  Enjoy.


Celebration at Sea – Barcelona

Barcelona was our first port in Spain – and again, I had no expectations of what we might see!  We do not book excursions through our cruise ship or other venues – we tend to wing it!

We got off the ship and started exploring!!!


Char and Sable always have the best time!


Sagrada Familia….you’ve gotta see it!



The light is just breathtaking!


Char liked it!



This made Char’s day!


AND Kelton’s…


AND Kelly’s!


Barcelona Cathedral


You could get to the top and take a picture – amazing views!!!


Kelton meets Christopher Columbus?


One of my favorite pictures!

Next stop…Villafranche sur Mer, France.

Celebration at Sea – Gibraltar

After two days at sea (I think) – on May 9th we arrived in Gibraltar.

I didn’t have many expectations for Gibraltar – so I was pleasantly surprised with everything!

We did the touristy stuff – got a taxi to take up into the hills, had monkeys sit on our shoulders, explored British defense tunnels and spied AFRICA from the mountain tops!  AFRICA!!!! To someone who spent the first 38 years of her life mainly on the North American continent (with a few trips to the Caribbean and South America), seeing Africa blew my mind!!!  Now to actually GET there!!!

Here’s what did and saw in Gibraltar!


The ROCK!!


Gorgeous Spanish and Moorish influences in the architecture!


Sable holding on for dear life!


My handsome buddy!


That land behine Char….AFRICA!!!!


Kelton loved the ROCK!


Long lost bros!


New friends!


My new buddy…don’t be fooled – they wanted the treat the taxi driver had for them – otherwise they would take stuff from you – glasses, hats, purses – they were stinkers!


The Anthem behind Char – you can actually SEE our porthole – we were in one of the rooms on the forward starboard corner – pretty cool!

Our next stop…Barcelona!

Social Distancing – Days 86 & 87 – A Diary

Tuesday and Wednesday – cloudy and no meatballs!

Well, let me take a few minutes and celebrate my kids!

Char just turned 14 on Monday – and after only video chats and an occasional porch viewing since March 12th, she finally got all of her BFFs together to celebrate.  This was super precious and there were tears of pain, joy, loss and hope.  These young ladies really know how to tug at my heart strings!  They have been together for years – have had their ups and their downs, but they always look out for each other and THAT is worth all their weight in gold!!!!


They all are officially high schoolers next year – even though we don’t know what exactly that looks like!  All but one of them stayed over last night in the She-Shed and I hope it is a summer filled with memory making, laughter and joy!  I am guessing some, if not all of them, will be working next summer!

Kelton picked up his metal and award yesterday from his Technical School.  This guy is going places!  We are so proud of him and as he enters his senior year (GASP!) we have high hopes that he will follow through with his invitation to National Honor Society and attaining his Eagle Scout award.


Ya know, I love teenagers.  Some people think I am crazy, but I just do!  They embody, represent, and personify endless possibility.  They have no frame of reference for the advice we give them – and the goodness and unhindered future I can see for them will continue to be lost on some – but man!  I do envy them!

Days 86 & 87 and counting….