What Counts

There is a picture currently on our refrigerator that was taken during the summer of 1989. Or early fall.

But what’s the difference, right? Well, technically, I am the difference. I came along on September 5, so I was either not born yet, or typically relegated to my carseat. The life of the third child. Kidding.

In any case, the picture serves to remind us of the time we bought this house. (And to document another chapter in the story of Luke’s incredibly stylish wardrobe. What a player. He claims those shorts were the precursor to spongebob squarepants. A man truly ahead of his time).

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I can’t wait to get back home and make them remake this picture with our new sign– just over 21 years later. Until then, here are some pictures of our front yard now, many seasons later.

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And a few memories along the way:

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(This is some Easter– I *think* 2000, the year before Luke graduated high school)

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(If you could refrain from commenting, my esteem would appreciate your consideration :D)

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(Emily’s high school graduation–2004) (Apparently our side neighbor hates us because you notice she fortified her fence…)

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(My high school graduation– 2007)

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(Hudson–2008– with the monstrosity of a trunk that tree has developed over the years)

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(My sister in law, Stephanie with her niece and nephew, Addison and Hudson, and my good friend, Katie– 2009) (yes, those are the same babies you keep seeing)

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(Fourth of July–2010)

As much as I love the dirt pit of 1989 and the beautiful chaos of the garden in 2010, I continue to find solace in the age old adage, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” That certainly applies to this blog as I attempt to convey what’s gone down inside 4 Beeson Ct. for two decades. But it mostly pertains to the coming months as I remind myself that the house was always just an external surrounding– the sense of home I have with my family and the comfort we bring each other is what counts.

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Learning Curve

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In 2006, Mom and I went to a scrapbooking class. This was Mom’s layout. The letters have taken a beating since then, but the pictures still tell the story of Emily’s 16th birthday.

It felt appropriate to take a picture of this “document” in Mom’s red chair because Emily’s first car was a fire-engine red Mazda protege, aptly named “Clifford.” This was the first day she got to drive me to school– February 20, 2002– and I was so thrilled. By this point the my sister, my friend thing began panning out and I was discovering that our being different was actually meant to be the source of our respect and admiration for each other– not the polarizing force it could be.

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Now she’s 24 years old and brilliant as ever. A double major in chemistry/biology with a minor in psychology, she decided to take the MCAT with just a few weeks to spare in 2007– and passed!  Now she is following in our Dad’s footsteps to become a pediatrician– only  pressured by her desire to make a difference in the field we’ve watched our Dad impact, never a pressure imposed by Dad himself.

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She is driven and thorough and has the curious mind of a diagnostician. She is practical and questioning and diligent. She gives other people the confidence that she sometimes forgets to have in herself. She likes to know how to best help and then do it to the utmost of her ability. She is mostly like Mom, but strongly favors Dad’s character, as well. Her heart is kindred with Moms, but she often thinks like Dad. Case in point– they enjoy doing puzzles together. Power to them. 😉

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She writes sweet things like this on my facebook wall to encourage me:

you’re sleeping on my couch right now…and I’m thankful for you. Best friend/sister. Yin to my Yang (or did you want to be yang?) I love you so much and I love hearing or reading your perspective on life. You teach me something new all the time. I am so proud of you! I love you.

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I wrote a super-long blog post about my feelings towards her a while back that goes into more detail about what I specifically admire about her, but suffice it to say this: I really used to always want to be more like Emily. For example, if I could substitute my passivity with her assertion, how much better a person would I be?

But with time I stand corrected. Knowing Emily doesn’t make me want be her, like a substitute; it makes me want to be a better me; a better complement. She makes it a point to appreciate my strengths as I work on the areas in which I am weak. It may sound cliche, but truly where I am weak, she is strong. I am so thankful for a sister with the patience to see the good in me as I follow 3 years behind her on the learning curve.

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And I will forever treasure the days of pulling away from 4 Beeson Ct. for joyrides with her.

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Sunroom

We used to have to clean this bad boy every single spring– so it could be enjoyed until fall. I mean, hose, clorox, windex and all, we shined this place up nice. And then went to hobby lobby or garden ridge to buy a little something new to jazz it up.

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Since we’d just finished our Great Kitchen Overhaul of 2002, the boys were *dying* for a new project. Well, no. But there they stood on the cusp of a grand construction venture that they could not refuse. So Dad and Luke walled in our back porch almost entirely by themselves.

I can’t remember much of what Emily did, but I imagine she had an excellent time with deconstruction. Read: demolition. Mom put up a fight when Dad wanted to install surround sound speakers for the stereo system (they weren’t “cute”). We had a great time (and time again and time again) shopping for furniture for our new room. And I distinctly remember helping to grout the tile. Mom and Em were there for that, too.

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(this is the picture listed online by our realtor– not the best. But gives a great view of the speakers :D)

We painted it yellow to match the kitchen (a much more relaxing yellow) and picked a light blue ceiling. It is surrounded by windows, has a great surround-sound stereo system (:D), and is hands down the best place for studying. Mom has her quiet time out there in her red chair nearly every day. Emily has since moved to her own home, but when she can’t get into a study groove there (she’s in her 3rd year of Medical school)– she has the blue chair in the sunroom to cozy up in for inspiration.

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It’s my favorite room to take pictures in– has the best lighting. It also has its own heating and air unit, so I can make it warm for playing with the kiddos.

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It’s fun for entertaining– makes the house “flow” a little better by connecting the living room and the kitchen two ways.

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And while I don’t have any pictures to prove it, it’s really good for family meetings and mother/daughter cries.

As far as rooms go… yep– I’ll miss this one, too.

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Kitchen

It’s a favorite, this kitchen. We wallpapered it. And painted the cabinets white. The red floor stayed the same. That was about 13 years into living here. It used to be blue with hearts. Bland.

You could say a lot about this kitchen, but one thing you cannot call it after its 2002 makeover is bland. It’s the life of the party around here.

It’s for doing puzzles on Thanksgiving.

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Baking Sister Schubert rolls.

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Cooking big breakfasts.

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(for dinner.)

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Bathing babies in the sink.

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Make-shifting high chairs.

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Taking pictures!

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Baking cookies.

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Fancy bed and breakfasting.

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Fun!

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Mishaps-turned-practical joking

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And even with the pot rack that cuts the room in two and makes conversation from the bar to whoever’s cooking nearly impossible*, it’s a favorite.

*this could be a slight exaggeration.

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Little Me

As I went through the box, that I rescued from the top shelf, I found this manilla envelope of pictures.

At different points throughout my childhood, I’ve pulled these photos from the book my mother so tenderly assembled in order to get them in my hands, show them off, love on them, and reflect on their content. For projects or frames or presentations, I’ve taken these photos for a ride. And then failed to actually put them back where they belong. Hence, they’re stockpiled in an envelope.

My bad.

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All of these pictures were taken at this house. Top left to top right:

1. My second birthday, sitting in that big bulky high chair. I loved when my cousins came to town because Mom would pull this contraption back out and then I could play dolls with it for a few days after the real babies left. That is the dining room.

2. My parents bathroom. 4 years old. Mom tries to scold me for smearing her Mary Kay lipstick everywhere, but the fact that she snaps pictures while she does it is sort of contradictory. Mixed messages aren’t good for kids, Mom.

3. One year old, in our garden. This place has taken on many shapes, forms, and foliage over the years– it looks particularly well groomed this year.

4. LOVED that end table. Look how well I fit– I wasn’t really hard to entertain. I’m really still not. Take note of the green carpet– we replaced that about halfway through our time here. One of those kinds of things that seems like a good idea in 1989, you know? I should note that my parents actually found them building this house in time to customize things like that nice carpet and the french doors that can be partially seen in this photo.

5. Myself and my sister, Emily, on what I believe to be my 6th birthday. Side ponytail, noah’s ark vest and all. This iwas back when we *really* didn’t look anything alike– nor did we get along 60% of the time. Mom and Dad always said we would become really good friends when we got older and I really looked forward to that day. Happy to say I’m living it. (This is also in the living room.)

6. This is my crib, which I was quite fond of. The story goes that I could sit in this thing for minutes if not hours just cooing at my hands while Mom could do some work around the house or catch a little more sleep. When I did decide I wanted out, though, I apparently could let out a good wail. For Mom or for Luke. In the beginning this was my nursery (decorated with lambs, as you can see in the photo), Luke and Emily shared a room, and there was a communal playroom. Then Luke got to move into what was the nursery and Emily and I shared a room. For about a month, give or take. Something about how I talked her ear off or something. So I was successfully annoying enough to get my own room– and have Em willingly give up the idea of a playroom just to get some peace and quiet in her own room.

It’s weird looking back at these pictures, because while I don’t remember a lot of what was happening around the time these were taken, I distinctly know their setting. And I clearly know their subject.

Seeing these reinforces to me how much that setting shaped this subject. While it’s clear that I’ve grown and changed, I don’t necessarily feel disconnected from the “little me” in these pictures. It’s like we don’t realize the passing of time until we ponder that it is passed. Past. I don’t feel necessarily older until I see myself so much younger in these pictures.

In this collection and in my life, the house has been such a source of continuity. Times have changed and more often than not, Dad is greeting us at the door– we’re no longer heralding his return from work. Little things like that constantly changing. Same house.

Not anymore.

Which isn’t all that depressing, it’s just that moving is now a huge marker of time for me.

So many pictures taken within these walls. No pictures taken within these walls. There’s no way to soften that contrast. In a way I didn’t know, my home offered this sense of same-ness. I felt like the same little me over the passing of time because I walked the same halls, brushed my teeth in the same sink, stole clothes out of the same closet and retreated to the same office.

A new house makes me see that I’m not the same little me. It makes me view the contrasts and creates a marked line between what was and what is. Which is not bad. It’s just new.

A new little me.

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Everywhere

I feel like I drove everywhere and back yesterday. I didn’t, really.

Just to Clinton, Mississippi and back in 10 hours.

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(I took that last picture while our speedometer read “90 mph”, by the way. Because in the Delta that’s not reckless.

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(credit for this picture goes to Mom, who risked life, limb and hairdo to get me some pictures of the MS river for my upcoming thesis work).

Why all this travel?

To pick up my grandmother for Thanksgiving celebration, of course! My mom got the idea on Sunday to have her mom here for one last visit before we move. The only hitch is that Mam-ma and Pappy don’t drive road trips anymore. So we said, “we’ll come get you!” Pappy had prior engagements and doesn’t ride as well as he once did so we got to visit with him over lunch and dessert yesterday and plan to take a host of pictures to make him feel a part once we return Mam-ma on Friday.

It was just very important to us to have her here a.) because she needs to meet her great-grandbaby! and b.) because her mark is everywhere in this house. Her prayers covered this family as we moved in and she is just as faithfully involved 21 years later.

Some of what is in the boxes of “scraps” are not memories made in this house, but brought to here. This includes the scrapbook Mam-ma put together for Mom in the 1960s.

Here is Mom’s 3rd Grade report card, signed by Mam-ma and her late husband, Binford Truett Nash.

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The left page has Mom’s baby bracelet and the newspaper announcement of her birth. The right? That’s from when Mom took most of that box of laxatives when she was 4 😉
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But this is my favorite. Mom got bored in church one day and decided to write Mammaw a note. It is riveting.

“Please open it Mother.”

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Little captain obvious felt the need to write “there is something in it.” on the envelope. I’ll give her points on the punctuation, though I maybe would’ve gone with an exclamation point to build suspense.

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“This is you mother. You are very pretty.” Again, the fact that there is punctuation is a nice touch, but I’d have gone more exclamatory. Check the high heels 😀

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Here is a comparison photo for you to judge the accuracy yourself:

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In fairness, she would’ve looked a little something more like this back in the day:

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So now you know that my grandmother, Tommie Sue Everett Nash Dockery, has been beautiful always and is so everywhere in the memories of this home that it just makes sense for her to be here now.

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The Sitch

While I figure I should have done a much better job updating y’all on the house sitch in real time (yes that is a subtle 24 reference), I am pleased to let you know that within a week of putting this place on the market, we got a bite.

An offer, really.

I am mostly pleased because that means someone else sees in this home what I’m trying to capture on this blog.

Right now, if all goes according to plan (does it ever?), we’ll be completely moved out of this house on December 15. To recap:

–September/October/November– CRAZY amounts of cleaning!
–Wednesday, November 10– Final papers signed
–Thursday, November 11– 4 Beeson Ct. goes on the market
–Tuesday, November 16– Offer placed
–Wednesday, December 15–Moving Day
–No holiday decorations for us!

Matter of a fact, I’m writing this post at the counter in our yellow striped kitchen (with the annoying pot rack that always gets in the way of me having a conversation with Mom– or anyone, really– as she cooks on the other side) on our last holiday in this house ever. Pig-in-a-blankets are cookin’ and Dad, Emily, and Mammaw are working a puzzle at the table. I would say we’re just chilling, but it is unseasonably warm around Little Rock these days. It’s actually sort of nice outside, so all of the windows are open and we can hear the falling of leaves with the rain on this, the 25 of November. T minus 20 days.

The answer to your question is “yes, it does seem sudden.” But, it is exactly what we’ve prayed for. More than we could’ve hoped for. And since this girl has never been one for cautious optimism, my mind has traveled full speed ahead into the world of bold excitement!

Plus, pulling up to the house for Thanksgiving break wasn’t as shocking as it could’ve been because Mom– the leader of the packing effort– has been texting me every step of the way. Here is a small gallery of the images keeping me up to speed:

Did you know there is a number for trash emergencies? Well there is (3-1-1). And we’ve called on them 3 times. 21 years is a lot of junk. Of course, our baby bed and cradle didn’t so much seem like “junk” as Mom watched the workers chop it up into the back of their monster truck.

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This is the day we got a lock box so the realtor could bring people by at her leisure.

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A “For Sale” sign to make it official.

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There was also the occasional picture of my nephew (how did that get in here?)

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Walking through the door on Saturday night, I experienced this home for the first time ever as a potential buyer might. Complete with Trudy’s touches– a personal note to help myself to beverages in the fridge (I did) and a bowl full of candies (helped myself to that, too). There is a list of our house’s “features”, which is weird to think in terms of. And finally, a book that essentially says “please buy our house.” Also weird.

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But it worked.

So I’ll just rely on 20 years of memories and pictures to imagine what Christmas decorations would look like around this place.

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Nous Sommes Sept

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I always thought it was interesting that in the french language you introduce your family by saying, “dans ma famille, nous sommes…” Literally translated it means, “in my family, we are…”

I keep referring to the five of us because for a long time that’s all this house knew. Boring old (in this case we are talking redundant and are not trying to qualify age, though we could also build an argument for the latter) Mom and Dad and then the three kids. Plus there is the approximate 7 feet of white picket fence tacked on in front of the garden because Dad promised Mom such grandiose things in his proposal and the man is good on his word.

That was us. We were five. Number six came along when my brother made one of the best decisions of his life ever and married one of the best things to ever happen to him. Her name is Stephanie. I’ll tell you more about her later, but for now I inform you of her existence for the sake of setting the stage for the first “scrap in a box.”

News of Number Seven came along this past Christmas and we were ecstatic, sure that this would be one of the best things to happen to us ever. Exciting as it were, I knew to be looking out for that particular announcement. What I wasn’t prepared for was to come down the stairs on March 6, 2010 and find this sight:

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Further inspection revealed this:

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Confirmation from the baby himself (and his parents’ loving gesture) that it was, indeed, a boy. To be named Truett after my Mom’s dad– who died when she was in college. Also because it’s a sweet name, if I do say so with my biased self.

So in a nutshell, this scrap tells the story of the precious time we spent anticipating another.

Dans ma famille, nous sommes sept.

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Scraps of a Story

I’ve introduced a couple– the couple– of persons on 4 Beeson Ct. But the tagline promises a discussion of persons, places and things.

By things I mean scraps. And by scraps I mean memories. And by memories I mean little pieces of life my Mom put away for safe keeping.

What scares me is the location chosen for said “safe keeping.”

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Are you with me?

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But, hey, it’s not like my Mom hasn’t spent her time raising 3 kids and marrying one off and working at a hospital and giving her time to others. So this really is not about shaming her for the storage system. I am, above all, glad they are saved. It’s the closest anyone in my family has come to living up to my sentimental standards 🙂

Clearly, though, these pieces of our family history will not be contained by the 80’s-colored baskets much longer. Nor should they have to rest there– among our vases and linens in the secluded laundry room. Yes, these scraps are getting a new home, too. As they move in, I’ll do my best to tell their stories– our story. Thank you for caring to listen.

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And So It Begins

I received a text from my Mom on Tuesday.

It sort of shocked me.

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In a “this is really happening” sort of way, more than anything. And in that way, a “this is sort of sad” kind of thing. But then my Mom attached this jewel:

“And so it begins… or should I say Bekins.”

While Mom is always good for a laugh, I should warn you– this is not her humor. What you see there (the really corny, cheesy kind) is the direct result of being married to my Dad for exactly 30 years. There are many more advantageous correlations, I assure you.

Matter of a fact, though I credited my Dad as being the beginning of “us” in my last post, Mom coming into the picture is when we really began. In more ways than one, he couldn’t have done it without her. If the man– his character, his integrity, his discernment– set the bar for this family, then his choice of my Mom for a wife reveals just how high he was aiming.

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To us she is baby, Trudy, cruvy, honey, tutu and fro-no-mo. Of course, we also call her Mom, but that title– almost like my Dad’s professional titles– doesn’t begin to really cover her role. Or the amount of fun we have with her. Oddly enough, the use of these nicknames should really convey the amount of respect we have for her. Trust me, if she didn’t want us calling her these things, we wouldn’t be. a.) because she demands of us a certain amount of consideration and respect for her and others that we would not just slide by without showing and b.) because something about Trudy Susan Nash Smith makes you decide early on that this is a woman you want to keep happy.

NOT for fear of the consequences if she weren’t, but she is the friend, wife, Mom, daughter, sister, and aunt you want to make happy because of how she counsels, teaches, loves, prays, and leads. Because of the irreplaceable role she plays in anyone’s life lucky enough to have her. I don’t say that just to sugarcoat it. That wouldn’t be her style, the sugarcoating. She’s a “say what you mean, mean what you say” kind of woman– a real inspiration to this daughter who scarcely inherited her mother’s personality.

She is strong. Really.

Exhibit A? Her first reaction to moving to Fayetteville was to assure Dad that she wouldn’t let resentment build up for having to move away from her home of 21 years– instead she’d paint it in her mind as this wonderful adventure, embarking on empty nest 2.0 (the phase when kids are done awkwardly coming home to live intermittently), just the two of them.

Then he asked her if she really meant that or if she was grasping at air to find a way to “get happy” about it.

She advised him not to ruin it.

She is a nurse by trade, a caregiver by nature. Calm in the face of mothers worried sick about their kids as they go through pre-op. Patient with the parents hysterical with fear when they see their babies in post-op. Reliable to friends and family whose bedsides she sits herself next to out of love, not occupational obligation. Strong for the friends and family they leave behind.

She is a giver. She thinks of the perfect gifts and the recipients that need them the most. In the face of offense, she developed compassion, not bitterness. She, like my Dad, believes in the God whose gift of mercy is most perfectly embodied in Christ. So desperately has she sought that mercy, so she began to show it herself. Mercy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion.” Many describe Mom as exactly that.

Exhibit B: Around the time Mom was most inundated with sharing the grief of friends losing loved ones– of losing friends herself– her best friends moved away. Just another one of those things that happens; just another thing to bear. It so happened that my best friends were the daughters of her friends moved off, so I, too, felt alone. Having the self-confidence of a 7th grade clam didn’t help along the prospects of laugh-out-loud, share-your-soul sort of friends. But there was Mom. We giggled and we cried– tears were shed in both occasions. No need for loneliness. Years later, when by a miracle I did have new, great as well as vibrant, old friendships, they were all the better for having my relationship with my Mom to model.

You see she does so much, has given so much of herself (so much of this house!) to see other people through that you just don’t feel right when she isn’t happy. It applies to the little things– if she weren’t happy with us calling her “baby”, we just simply wouldn’t be– as well as the big. So when she says she’s getting happy about the move, then by golly, the rest of us will get happy, too.

And when she sends a text captioned “and so it begins,” we are– if not physically, then in spirit– right behind her.

(Then she sent me this text and I nearly gagged and thanked the good Lord for bringing me 1000 miles away for school: photo)

Sadie and others 200

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