It’s the first day of the new year.  That means I should probably write some long and profound post about the promise of new beginnings, lessons of the past, and what it means to start fresh.  But to be totally honest, that all seems wildly overdone, so I’m going to write about something different.  


I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I realized I had a fascination with the historic beacons that light the way for ships and sailors to make their way safely back to shore, but I can tell you it began with a trip to Hobby Lobby.

Now, I’ve been obsessed with all things oceanic since I was seven years old and my parents took me to SeaWorld for the first time. One day, I’d love to make enough money to have a permanent place by the ocean, but for now, I’ll have to stick with traveling and daydreaming.  And pinning an absurd amount of photographs to my personal Lighthouse Pinterest board.

As it is, I’ve only had the privilege of seeing a handful of lighthouses firsthand, and I’ve never actually been able to explore one.  I did get awfully close to Pigeon Point in California, however.



I also sailed right past the one on Alcatraz on a tour of the Bay.



I really want to take a tour of Alcatraz one day, as it’s supposed to be one of the most haunted places in America and, as you all may know, I sort of have a thing for the paranormal.  

Other lighthouses I have seen but not actually visited include…



The first two pictured are in Scotland.  The white one sits in between Oban on the mainland and the Isle of Mull.  The second can be seen from the Isle of Inchcolm.  The third lighthouse is in Monterey, California, not far from the Aquarium.  


This is my lighthouse collection.

I’m not really sure why I felt like writing about lighthouses today, and truthfully, I’m not sure I’ve actually even said anything worth reading.  I just wanted to start my new year off talking about something I love and that really stirs my imagination.  I think it’s good to remember, as the holidays season draws to a close and we all head back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, to remember that there are places and buildings and people that really inspire us and that serve as a reminder that there is so much more to life than we often allow ourselves to experience.  

I’ve been in the real world, and to be honest, nothing has ever felt less real to me.  Stories, books, fairy tales, adventure, and lighthouses… those have always seemed the very foundation upon which life and dreams and reality are supposed to be built and based.  

Maybe I’m setting myself up for disappointment.  At almost 26, I’m probably supposed to be a little more interested in getting married and settling down and mortgages, but it hasn’t hit yet.  Maybe accepting “reality” just isn’t part of the way I’m programmed. Maybe I’m just a late bloomer.  But until the day comes when I do decide to finally take my place in the “real world,” I’ll be hard at work on my next novel and daydreaming about beacons of light over a vast and timeless sea.

Lay down your head and close your eyes

And rest your weary soul,

For the lighthouse shines through fog and rain,

And night as black as coal!

Though winds are lashing and waves are crashing

On coral reefs below,

The beacons call and beckons all

With its majestic beam aglow.

When stars are out and seas are calm,

And eventide draws nigh – 

The seafarer rocks in a cradle of waves

To the Lighthouse Lullaby.

– The Lighthouse Lullaby, Anonymous

How Do You Measure a Year in the Life?

How about Instagram!

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Seasons of Instagram…

Every good blogger knows that a New Years Eve post is essential.  Thanks to Instagram, it is so much easier to keep track and look back on the highlights of a year.

To start off… the last moments of 2012.

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Keepin’ it classy…

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And the first moment of 2013…

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The rest shall follow in no particular order.

In 2013…

I played in snow…

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Met a baby screech owl…

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Ate my favorite frozen yogurt on my birthday…

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And adopted a penguin.

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Visited a museum.

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And took a road trip to one of my favorite cities in the world to see my sister perform in the All State Choir (for the second time).

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I found out something about myself that I already knew…

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And discovered that this cool little statue that I bought in January 2002 is actually a pencil sharpener…

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I cleaned out the back room in my parents’ house and discovered a whole mountain of 1990s treasures.

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(We still have our Furbies too…)

I got to see my sister play Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.  Of course, I wanted a picture with Audrey II…

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I also saw a pink Hummer.

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And discovered this really creepy scarecrow that lurks in the upstairs of our office at work.  I bet it comes to life when no one’s looking.

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Welcomed some new friends…

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And had a lot of fun with old friends…

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Rented a car for the first time…

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And took a great trip to the Gulf Shores!

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Visited my old camp at Lake Texoma… another one of my favorite places in the world…

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And built a new home for a wolf spider!

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My sister and I took our Dad to see Roger Creager in Concert for his 65th birthday.  We got great seats on the lawn, right in front, and afterword, we all got to meet Roger.  That was one of the coolest moments, seeing my Daddy get a “Happy Birthday” from one of his favorite country outlaws!

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He got to meet Chuck Taylor from The Range and we all got a lot of free stuff since we got there so early.

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Went Downtown to get the rights for my new company, Wind Trail Publishing.

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And of course, wrote, edited, and published my first book (with a lot of help from great friends!).  At one point, Cemetery Tours made it to #92 on the Top 100 Kindle Bestsellers List in Contemporary Fiction!

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I participated in my very first 5K…


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And ate the very best cake I’ve ever had in my life…

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I got to go bowling…

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And see Bon Jovi in concert… in a fancy box… for free!!!

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My poor baby car, Niles, was in a minor fender bender…




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But we fixed him and now he is like new!  🙂

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I read some books with my oldest friend…


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Including brand new books by my two favorite authors…

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I hosted my first pool party…

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And enjoyed the summer sun.

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I discovered the self-satisfaction that comes from posting a “Transformation Tuesday…”

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Around the same time that my sister was elected Prom Queen!

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I straightened my hair for Halloween…

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And took my very first trip to Lubbock.


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I enjoyed a fun-filled Thanksgiving full of laughter.


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And survived Icemageddon 2013…

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The whole family enjoyed a wonderful Christmas… with a toilet.

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And celebrated 21 Christmases with this sweet girl!

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Now… onto 2014!!!  I’m ready!



So… How was YOUR Christmas?

The day after Christmas.

I only had one glass of wine yesterday, but I definitely have a Christmas hangover.  Way too much food, fun, and laughter.  Not that that’s a bad thing.

The holiday festivities began with our annual Christmas Eve trip to Santa’s Village.  Santa’s Village is a fun little thing that the Public Library does every year.  They set up a bunch of little fun houses for kids to go in and get cookies, Christmas ornaments, write letters to Santa, etc…  My sister and I have outgrown the actual houses, but it’s still fun to walk around and look at lights.

Funny story real quick… One year, my sister and I took our little cousins around.  Our oldest cousin was probably about nine or so.  Anyway, we took her and her little sister into Mrs. Claus’ house, where she was handing out Christmas cookies.  As expected, she smiled, wished us a Merry Christmas, and handed each of my cousins a sugar cookie.  Upon receiving her cookie, my cousin looks her straight in the eye and says, “Thank you.  I’m just getting over strep throat.”

I’m sure the look of sheer alarm and panic that poor Mrs. Claus sent me at that moment mirrored my own stunned expression.  It only took me about half a second to recover.  “Okay, then, thank you, Mrs. Claus!”  I said and quickly ushered my cousins out of her house.

After we met up with their father, my older cousin, he asked how it had gone and I told him the story.  He gives me this bewildered expression and goes, “No she isn’t!”

Anyway, that’s one of my favorite Santa’s Village stories.  This year’s trip wasn’t quite as eventful.


Although, my sister almost did get run over by a reindeer.




Afterword, we went to Midnight Mass.  It’s a beautiful service.  We sang my favorite Christmas Carol, “A Stable Lamp is Lighted.”  However, being the High Church Episcopalians that we are, we had incense that not only stinks up the entire church, but also stinks up your hair and your clothes.  Seriously, that smell sticks with you.  I also happened to be acolyting, so I had to stand right behind the thurifer (or the guy who swings the incense).  At one point, I took a deep breath because we were singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” and I inhaled a mouthful of that holy smoke and started choking in front of the entire church.  Fortunately, Episcopalians are really into their Christmas music, so no one noticed.

After the service, we headed home to wait for Santa.


Midnight was excited for Santa also, even though she knows climbing up on the table might land her on the naughty list.

After about three and a half viewings of A Christmas Story (“Agggggghhhhhh I can’t put my arms down aaaaghhhh!”), we finally headed to bed to wait for Christmas morning.

We had a lot of surprises waiting for us!


For example, I got a whole elliptical!  I love it!  I only hope it isn’t my parents’ way of telling me I need to work out more.

I also got Monsters University and Allegiant, so I’m a pretty happy camper.

My sister on the other hand…


She told my parents that she wanted checks for Christmas.  Well, they delivered.  (She actually got some really great presents.  This photo was just too funny to pass up).

After a morning of Christmasy goodness, we headed back to our friends the Kisers’ place (In case you don’t remember them, they’re the ones we spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas with…  I’m not even sure how the tradition began.  We’ve all just been friends forever.  The stories I could tell… maybe one day I’ll write a book.  The Annual Kiser-Smith Holiday Shindigs.

Mr. Kiser always has a fun new holiday toy for us to play with.  Last year, it was Robot Fighter Bugs.  I named mine Horatio.


This year, it was Robot Fighter Spiders.  Remote controlled and slightly bigger and creepier, because they actually walk on creepy little robot legs.


Just like any good Christmas gathering, there were Christmas cookies.


However, if you look closely, you’ll notice that someone ate the head off of one of the gingerbread men and then put him back.  Morbid.  And a little gross.

We (the “kids”) took a Christmas walk to the park.


December Skies in Texas are actually very beautiful.

We’re all adults, so naturally, we played on the swing set.


This is Bobby, my brother for all intents and purposes.

While we were at the park, we met the absolute cutest little boy named Keegan.  He came right up to us, with his dad looking on, and began patting our friend Ashwin on the leg and saying, “Buddy… buddy.”  Then, he walked over to Bobby’s little sister, Jenny, and said, “What a mess!”  His dad explained that he’d had a lot of health problems, and that he really liked playing with big kids.  I got a high five from him.  So, so, so cute.   I hope he had the best Christmas ever.

After that, it started getting really cold, so we scurried back to the Kiser home, where we engaged in another holiday tradition: Mario Kart.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it.  I’m not very good at Mario Kart, but my sister is absolutely disgraceful.  This year, however…


She came in third place!!!  It’s actually a Christmas Miracle!

I don’t know how to bring up the highlight of our Yuletide Celebration, so I’ll just say it.  There was a toilet.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Jenny got a toilet for Christmas.  It actually wasn’t the first Christmas toilet in the family.  Bobby got one when he and I were still in high school.  Let me tell you, he was not amused.  His mom (and the rest of us) thought it was hilarious, but he was so angry.  It was just about the funniest thing.  Now that we’re older though, we know how to appreciate the value of a good Christmas toilet.


He’s over 21, I swear.

You can use it as a wine table.

ImageOr a gaming seat.

ImageAnd of course, you should never pass up the opportunity to take an Awkward Family Christmas Photo around the toilet.

The evening ended with a delightful chocolate cheesecake dessert.


Good thing I got that elliptical, because I’m not letting this beauty go to waste!!!


Dessert and more battle bugs.

I hope everyone had the most delightful and merry of Christmases!

Now onto 2014!