So Here’s The Thing…

I never actually intended to take a ‘blog break.’

I didn’t sit down with a calendar and decide how many weeks I would wait until I posted again (who am I kidding, when have you guys EVER known me to be that organized?!) But I have never gone this long without posting since I started this blog, so after a while it was starting to feel weird even to me. And to tell you the truth, I don’t have a real good reason why it happened. I mean, I could guess at a few contributing factors, but since I never really “made a decision” to walk away for a few weeks, I don’t have anything definitive to point to.

I was not burned out. I didn’t suddenly decide I hated blogging. I didn’t have writer’s block. I don’t have some HUGE MYSTERIOUS THING going on in my life that I couldn’t talk about, or that kept me from being able to write– although I might make one up, because that would be a WAY better story!

I do know that the holiday season was a little sad this year, because it was the first time ever in my life (and the girls’ lives, too) we didn’t spend Thanksgiving and Christmas waking up in my parent’s house, since Mom moved into Fox Ridge. BUT–  big sloppy blessings from heaven were poured out all over the Taff family in the form of our ‘family of choice,’ Momma June and Daddy Bud Smedley. We always spend Christmas Eve with our thundering hordes of Smedleys, but we have never actually just moved in lock, stock and (prone-to-accidents) dogs, before. June has my undying gratitude for the loving, gracious welcome we experienced. It lessened the finality of ‘it will never again be the way it used to be,’  and turned it into “what a rich, wonderful new chapter we get to experience.” So while there was a bit of a bittersweetness to this year’s holidays, it was waaaaaaaaaay more sweet than anything else, and it certainly wasn’t a reason to stop blogging for a while. Nor was the fact that we are showing the house every dang time we turn around (which is a good thing, I know, but seriously– SOMEBODY BUY IT, ALREADY!) which means we spend an inordinate amount of time getting it show-ready (fresh flowers, spotless surfaces, Windexing the crap out of everything in sight) and then another inordinate amount of time looking for all of the things we can now no longer find because we crammed them somewhere while getting the house show-ready. Annoying and time-consuming? Yes? Rendering me unable to blog? No.

I know, I know. I totally need a better story.

One time at a blogging conference, someone asked Scott Stratten  (he’s one of the gurus of the marketing and blogging world), “How often should you post on your blog?” and his answer was, “When you have something awesome to post.” He’s a big believer in blogging with passion, and I guess I am, too– so maybe the answer is, if I was going day after day without feeling strongly that I had something to say, maybe I needed to step back, recharge myself a little bit, and see if I could rekindle some of that passion. All I know is that for a few weeks, I would wake up in the morning, look over at the computer and say to myself… Not today. I knew that sooner or later I would wake up and really want to start this conversation again– and then I would. And apparently this is that day!

If it makes you feel any more kindly towards me, please know that I have felt ridiculously guilty every single day I didn’t post. I mean seriously guilty. Which is a little presumptuous when you think about it– because surprisingly you guys apparently managed to continue to find the will to live, the entire blogosphere did not band together and in one voice demand my return, and the world continued to turn on its axis. I’m shocked and appalled.

So, here we are. Not sure how much of THE AWESOME I have to offer right now– I figure I’ll step into the shallow end of the pool first by just posting a hodge-podge of photos from the last month or so…

(And, btw– thanks for still being here. I missed you.)

(And I fully expect you guys to catch me up on what YOU’VE been doing in the comments!)


In no particular order:

**Phoebe sitting on Charlotte’s head at Momma June’s house.


**Yeah, I made The Cookies again.


**This goes all the way back to Thanksgiving, but it needs to be seen–Remember the Great Brach’s Candy Corn Shortage/Panic of 2012? Well, sweet reader and friend ‘carsmith’ TOTALLY hooked me up — and taught me the joy of throwing in peanuts, as well!


**Yes, Finley– great-uncle Russ’ DOES have a big ol’ mouth…

**A little sneak peek of a little corner of our Bell Buckle house: I was visiting sweet Donna and her husband (they are renting it while they build a new house around the corner and we are selling our house in Brentwood), and wanted to check out what was behind the fabulous cast iron cover of the coal fireplace…

**And here’s one of our Bell Buckle doorknobs!


**Russ at his new favorite place to eat in Eureka Springs:


**White Christmas in Arkansas– you’re never too old to build a snow fort:


**One of my favorite presents:


**Mom and Pandy

**Talking to Mom with Madi:


**And last but not least: Last week, for two all-too-brief songs, my personal favorite Imperials line-up reunited in Nashville!



23 Responses

  1. KellyBurton

    I don’t have anything awesome to say in response… just the house looks amazing, we so wish we coulda been at that concert, hoorah and praise-alleujah for new traditions, and I love and miss you TONS.

  2. sweeziek1956

    Nothing earth shatteringly interesting from me either but I’m glad you’re back!!! Love the pictures, especially of you and your Mom. And I totally want the recipe for The Cookies if you don’t mind sharing with an old friend!!! Love ya!

  3. LindaB

    Ya know, Tori, we don’t care if what you have to say is awesome. We just like the way you say it! You’re so entertaining! And we can always identify with your stories or point of view in some way. And you make us feel like we could sit down with you over coffee and have a great time chatting and laughing and getting a little snarky. So please don’t wait until you have something fantastic to say to post something. On the other hand, if you need a break, that’s perfectly fine……as long as it isn’t permanent. Now that you have “fans”, you have a responsibility to us which will probably be life long now. Sorry ’bout that. :)

    One more thought……little Findley didn’t have a clue that that uncle holding her is a Grammy winner and living legend of Gospel Music, did she? I love babies! They keep ya real.

    Our holiday was a bit sad too. My much loved uncle, who has been like a father to us, especially after dad died, was diagnosed with cancer around Thanksgiving. And he is determined to forgo surgery, chemo and radiation, since they say it wouldn’t cure him, but only give him a few extra months. Our knee jerk reaction was to beg him to reconsider ’cause we want every single day we can have with him here. But we’ve sort of relented and let him make those decisions himself. And we tried to make the holiday as much fun as we could, thinking it may be our last with him. I too felt like you did——have to process that old “things will never be the same again” heartache. It’s really hard when things have been so wonderful and you can’t bear for them to end.

    Oh, and your mom looks so good. Her hair is always so pretty! Every hair in place!

  4. LOpitz

    Haha I love how awkward Uncle Russ was with her, but she LOVED him!!

  5. LOpitz

    and wow her nose is orange here haha!! She has much less of the orange glow these days since she won’t eat baby food anymore.

  6. DonnaMariePatterson

    Welcome back, Tori! I love all your pictures. Soooooooo, you’ve already bought your house in Bell Buckle???? I didn’t know that!!! Congratulations!!! (see your post WAS awesome, amazing, exciting, and it has me doing the Snoopy *happy dance* for you!) When you finally get to move in, I hope to see more pictures.

  7. Gramma Jac

    First, I didn’t know you bought the house either–congrats!!!

    Loved the photos too!

    The holidays were a little weird for me this year–I was almost “Scrooge-ish” which is TOTALLY unlike me! Except for my daily song posting on Facebook (all December which is so fun!) I was kind of blah–if I’d had a blog, I would have ignored it!!! :-)

    BUT, my daughter’s third child is due any second (official due date was last Saturday)and I fly there (Washington State) on Friday!!!!! She starts every phone call to me with “No, I’m not in labor!” My younger daughter is there already, flying home next Monday and will NOT be happy if she doesn’t get to meet her new nephew or niece before she comes home! The sex of this little one is unknown although we’re all getting a little suspicious that it may be a girl because everything has been so different this time around: Caitlin has been very moody which is strange as she’s usually very even keel; she’s never made it to a due date before either.

    I am also VERY excited to see the two big brothers!!

    And, did I mention, Tori’s back!

    Life is good!

  8. Cynthia

    Boy was I glad to see that you’ve returned; your thoughts, words and snaps have truly been missed. It came to me that perhaps you’d run off to Cincinnati; and were still trying to find your way home. It was sad checking each day, and finding nothing new.

    As for the Imperials line-up – now those were the days. My hubby passed away 29 years ago; and all I have to do is hear “Eagle Song” or “New Creation” and the heart is transported back to a sweeter place and time, (They were the first group he introduced me to; I had never heard of Contemporary Christian Music). Nothing against the new artists who are called to minister through today’s music; but no one can touch the soul the way they could.

    Anyway, happy to know all is well and that you’re back. Will continue praying the Lord’s will be done re: the house.


  9. blondie

    She’s baaaack… Hooray!

    I so miss y’all and the thundering hordes of Smedleys, but being passed around on the phone to everyone is the next best thing.

    Thanks for the pictures, love them all. Sweet little Finley is beautiful!

    Cynthia I love, “Eagle Song,” too. (one of MANY that I love)

  10. rachelbaker

    Welcome back!! I’m with LindaB on this one … you don’t have to have anything amazing to say, just tell us what you want to in your own unique style! You, after all, were the one who taught us to find the blogworthy in the ordinary!

    Christmas round here was kind of subdued. Every year, until last year, we went to Mum and Dad’s for Christmas, but last year Dad managed to get a rare day off church duties and they and my Grandma came to us which was wonderful. We enjoyed being at home so much,celebrating with our church family here and the ease of not seemingly constantly travelling with the kids. So this year, we decided to just stay at home by ourselves. The idea of having a ‘just the five of us’ Christmas was appealing, and to be fair, could have been lovely. In reality the girls were both ill on Christmas day and for a week afterwards, they spent a good portion of each day asleep,I became slightly cabin-feverish and I missed the wider family!! There were good points, but nothing felt quite right!

    By the way if you don’t hear from Mum on here for a while its because she’s busy sunning herself on the other side of the world. They are in New Zealand for 5 weeks (alright for some)!! The very exciting, and completely terrifying thing is that in two weeks time I’m going to be on a plane going to the same place. One of our closest family friends (also my bridesmaid) lives out there and is getting married on 16th feb. I can only think of a handful of people I would fly to the other side of the world for, leaving my children behind (gulp), but she is one of them!

  11. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Shucks, Rachel, and I was just getting ready to invite you to come over here to visit me. However, let us be clear…there will be no wedding.

    Y-e-a-h! Tori is back. After a time, I tried to encourage everyone to write about their Christmas…but they ignored that completely. I’ve consoled myself with the idea it was because I didn’t have any great photos to go along with my plea. Shucks, I figured everyone was down in the mouth (wonder where that ever came from) ’cause they were missing you. I know I was.

    But there is one little thing I must mention to you, sweet Tori….Russ does not have a big mouth. As his no. 1 fan, I felt it was my responsibility to point this out to you.

    Welcome back….love ya!

  12. Gramma Jac

    Third Grandson arrived tonight!! Fletcher Jon Henry!

  13. delightedabroad

    So glad you’re back, Tori! Once again I enjoyed your writing and photos. :-)
    Congratulation Gramma Jac!

  14. rachelbaker

    Ah. Momma Lloyd, when I come to visit you the children are coming with me. Besides, you’re not the other side of the world – you’re only half way there.

  15. LindaB

    Tori, I love that jacket you have on in the candy corn picture!!

  16. Gramma Jac

    LindaB, thanks for pointing that out–her jacket is pretty. I didn’t notice, as I was too busy coveting the candy corn! (There goes a commandment!)

    Prayers, please! Fletcher’s blood isn’t compatible with my daughters (AB O incompatability). He was dehydrated so is on IVs. His bilirubin count was high so he’s wrapped in the lights–and his count has come down a little. Hopefully he’ll just keep getting better over the next few days and then go home–but there is a chance that he will need transfusions.

    Caitlin is discharged from the hospital but staying with him in the NICU. He probably looks funny next to the preemies–he was 9 lbs 5 oz!
    She sounds tired–so prayers for her would also be appreciated!

    Thanks all!

  17. LindaB

    (((Gramma Jac))) I will be praying for that little sweetie tonight!

  18. LindaB

    BOTH of your little sweeties!

  19. rachelbaker

    Adding my prayers for them both(and you), Gramma Jac.

    The great thing about all the different time zones on here is that there are prayers going on 24/7. Its a good thing God never sleepsxx

  20. JanetB

    Ah…He Never Sleeps. One of my all-time fave Imperials songs…it was pre-Russ, though. Sorry. :)

    Praying for the wee one and his mama, Gramma Jac. ‘Twill be alright. I believe that.

    Our Christmas was almost perfect. We went to my sister’s in Oklahoma; one other sister was there, also – but my little sister had to stay home to work. Missed her. Still, there was plenty of family there – almost like longgone times. The highlight, though, was my great-niece, Mallory. She’s five. My husband had never met her before; after spending all of Christmas day with her, I asked him in the car what he thought of her? He laughed for two blocks!
    Dan (the hubby) had fallen asleep in the recliner and once he’s out, he’s out. Kathy (my sister) found Mallory in the hallway, shaking. “What’s wrong, Mallie?” “That man in the green shirt – he freaks me out! I can’t wake him up!” Yeah…I have the same problem there, sweetie.

    I have been happy as a clam this week. (Really, just how happy ARE clams, anyway? Probably the ones in the chowder – not so much.) My preordered GVB Pure and Simple dvds arrived Monday. ***sigh*** And Tori – what a bonus to see your beautiful face so many times on my tv! (Yes, Momma Lloyd – it was very nice to see Russ, too!) :)

  21. LindaB

    Tori’s in that DVD? I’m ordering that one right now!

    I was so excited today when I learned that Russ, Bob Carlisle, and Clay Crosse are on a tour together! How absolutely fabulous is that? I love all three of ‘em—–especially Russ, MommaLloyd. Then I learned that it’s no where near where I live. (Was that on purpose, Tori?) But I’m hoping they’ll do more dates and swing by Michigan sometime before I am able to get out of “the home” for that long.

  22. tori

    KellyBurton: Love you too, my little Chicagolina darlin’!

    Sweeziek1956: I will absolutely give you the recipe! Just found it online (scroll down) copied from the Homecoming Cookbook– only two slight variations: 1) I always slosh a little more almond and vanilla extract than is called for and 2) This year I made a frosting that uses Karo syrup with the powdered sugar instead of the merengue powder and liked it better.

    LindaB: Thank you for the vote of confidence– and yeah, Russ is so used to babies being a little hesitant around him (I think it’s the big eyebrows), he was shocked when Finley reached out for him to hold her! She studied him for a minute, then reached over and grabbed his lip and held on! So sorry about your uncle, Linda– I’m glad you had this Christmas with him.

    LOpitz: He said he’d forgotten how wiggly babies were!

    DonnaMariePatterson: We have a contract on the Bell Buckle house, and it is not going to go on the market– the current tenants are building their house around the corner, and they are renting on a month to month basis until our house sells. We’re all just one happy family!

    Gramma Jac: CONGRATULATIONS on little Fletcher, I love that name! I am joining my prayers with all of the others that he will stabilize quickly and Caitlin will be able to bring him home…

    Cynthia: Thank you for the kind words– I’ll try my best to not disappoint you! Yes, it was great to hear the guys together again. I love those old songs, too!

    blondie: Well, being passed around on the phone is better than nothing, but it’s not the same as having your sweet self in the house! (Wondering if you have flown back to the states for the funeral? Please let Todd know we are thinking of him.)

    rachelbaker: Bless your heart– it’s hard to enjoy Christmas when your little ones are sick! And your mom in New Zealand?? I am so happy for her, what a great trip! We’re going to need to see some pictures when she gets back…

    Momma Lloyd: You’re right, you’re right… His mouth is fairly normal-sized. (But he’s got kind of a large head!) (Lovely, but large!) Finley sure was cute with him, though– she is a flirt!

    delightedabroad: Thank you! It’s good to be back!

    LindaB and Gramma Jac: Thanks for the compliment– it’s actually kind of a vest-thingy, ober a black top. (Hides a multitude of candy corn sins!)

    Janet B: OK, LOVE the Mallory story! And you are going to love the GVB dvds– that was an amazing night! And hey– I think I’m wearing that same vest as in the photo!

  23. Gramma Jac

    Heading out early to catch a plane to WA. Can hardly wait–but don’t know when I’ll get on a computer for awhile. Fletcher is doing better with his billi level down somewhat. If he continues to improve, he may be home by tomorrow night!!! THanks for all the prayers–I’ll miss you!

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