What's in a {nick}name?

What’s in a {nick}name?


I’ve been thinking about nicknames lately. Anybody else do that? Just ponder nicknames? What they are? How they’ve come about?



My husband gives out lots of nicknames. To people, to animals, sometimes to objects (this is where I practice the art of mind reading when he asks where said object is located).

Over the years I have been given many nicknames… Sweet Pea, June Bug, and most recently Sweet Love.

Other times, the nicknames are less cute: take “Wookiee” for instance. I suspect this one came from the fact that my mother has always called me “Amy Woo Woo”. However, I was not enamored by being called Wookiee by my husband. It did not evoke feelings of love from me. It took pointing out that this was a giant, hairy creature (even if they are cute) to curb that nickname.

And also, not responding when called it.

But his nicknames always come from a place of love and add to the charm that is him.


When I chose the names of my children, I wanted to be sure that people couldn’t change up their given names. One of their names can technically be shortened, but I didn’t realize it at the time. That name belongs to the child that I claim named himself.

I’ve been pondering nicknames for some time because I leave my children anonymous in this space. The oldest has not chosen to remain completely anonymous, but when I started this blog, he was pursuing YouTube edits and Instagram growth, and now that he isn’t pursuing those things I find myself less active in putting his name out there.

While I don’t really have an issue with “the girlie”, calling my boys “the oldest” and “the middle son” leaves me with a distaste in my mouth.

Mostly it bothers me for my middle child. The second son. Only 17 1/2 months younger than his brother and 26 months older than his sister. This sometimes no-man’s land of discovering your role. I doubt he’ll ever read my words, but just in case he should ever look back at this blog and read his mother’s words, I want him to have an identify. Not just the nebulous “middle son” as his title.


Our teenagers have nicknames given over the years.

Most of them are used here and there and are plays on their name, which really wouldn’t work in this space.

My middle son has nicknames based on his first name and also ones based on his middle name, a name that his father loved so much that it had to be included in the Smith line.


At 6’5″, and with a size 15/16 shoe, the oldest is often called Bigfoot by his friends.

But I have a different name in mind. A name his father has called him consistently over his 17 years:

Big Mr.

And along with that, the nickname that has been consistently used for our next child:

Mr. D.


The girlie is often called “squirrel” by her dad.

I have no idea why.

But in fairness to the fact that she isn’t a hairy creature (even if they are cute), I will continue along with my previous theme and she will be:

Miss Sunshine.

Identity is an important facet of human beings. It helps us mark our place in this giant world. While plenty of people are happy living their lives behind the scenes, quietly going about their business, they still have a name.

A name mostly likely chosen by someone who knew them. Someone who looked down upon their face and said:

“Your name is….”

Big Mr… Mr. D… Miss Sunshine…

Even a {nick}name offers a glimpse into identity.

Do you have a nickname? A preferred name? Did you keep your chosen name or trade it for another?

What does a name mean to you?

Let your light shine!









Independence Day

Independence Day


We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. -Thomas Jefferson

Today is the day that the United States celebrates its Independence.

Independence that would set in motion freedoms that I would take for granted when I was born a little over 200 years later.

When I think of celebrating the Fourth of July, often what comes to mind are the parades. And of family and friends gathering to enjoy an outdoor celebration filled with barbecued foods and the sweet taste of watermelon. And the culmination of the evening fireworks.

And we can’t forget : Red, White, and Blue.


This year I will be spending the Fourth at my home in Roanoke, Virginia tending to our new puppy.

But if I had to guess where one of the places is that will be in full celebration mode…

I would say…

Southport, North Carolina.


Southport is located on the northwest bank of the Cape Fear River.

It has such an idyllic vibe as you stroll along its streets.

Almost as though you are walking along a quintessential southern coastal town.

Like one that you might see in a movie.

Well if you were thinking that… you’d be right.

Numerous series and movies have been filmed here.

Dawson’s Creek anyone?!

Or fans of Nicholas Sparks? A Walk to Remember. Nights in Rodanthe. Safe Haven.

I shared a few other names that were filmed here in this post that I shared last year for Thursday Doors.


When we vacation in Carolina Beach, we take the ferry across from Ft. Fisher to Southport.

I love to stroll along and admire the historic homes.  These photos were captured from our visit last year. This year, I just admired and enjoyed the gentle breeze that was absent on my visit the year before.

Located at 114 Moore Street, the Julius Newton House, circa 1886, was built for a Cape Fear River boat pilot.


Many places display an American flag.

And this year as we strolled along, there was even more red, white, and blue displayed.

That’s because Southport is expecting nearly 50,000 visitors to celebrate the Fourth of July in their town.

In fact, yesterday Coastal Living announced that Southport is considered the Best Seaside Town for celebrating July 4th.


If you are celebrating the 4th today, I wish you a joyous day filled with good weather and lots of laughter.

To all my other readers, I hope your day is just as amazing!!



As for me, I will spend today practicing gratitude.

Thankful for being born into a time and place where I have independence.

Thankful that with each change, transition, passing of time… I can embrace this truth:



Let your light shine!











Oh my! We've Grown...

Oh My! We’ve Grown…



I don’t mean that I’ve grown from all the sweets and cocktails that I had while at the beach.

Actually… paired with all the lounging that I did, I might have.

I’m still playing catch up on emails…so thanks for bearing with my slow responses!

But the truth is…

I’ve been keeping a little secret.

Mostly because I’m a “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” kinda gal.

But our family has grown.


Meet Maverick.

The goldendoodle who moved into his new home with us on July 1st.

The girlie chose his name, and named him after the Maverick’s surf break in California.

She is a big lover of surfing.


And a lover of dogs.

She had already been asking to add to our family prior to loss of our yorkiepoo, Kiwi. And she had it in mind that we should add a larger dog. We had lost our Golden Retriever, Nikki, to cancer in 2015. So she did lots of homework on dog breeds and had her heart set on a Goldendoodle. While they aren’t technically hypoallergenic, they do have a tendency to shed a little less than a Golden Retriever. All that fur shedding was a nemesis of mine that I didn’t want to reintroduce into my home. Plus, one of my children does have allergies that flare when visiting the homes of friends who have cats and/or dogs.

I was not on the addition of a dog bandwagon. They require me planning trips, outings, etc.. around them even more so than my teenagers require. But I knew when we suddenly lost Kiwi that the girlie would not want to be dogless all the way until college (she’s heading into 8th grade in the fall).

So I conceded to the fact that we would be adding to our family. I received pictures of every one she found while I was in Scotland.

But the original plan was to add to the family in August. That way I would commit to being home and she would still be out of school and able to deal with middle of the night awakenings and bathroom needs.

You know what they say about the best laid plans…

Here was the dog we’d been looking for and we didn’t have to drive six hours to bring him home.

And yes, he does have his own Instagram, maintained by the girlie.

During quite a bit of my lounging on the beach, I practiced mindfulness.

I focused on my breathing while the waves crashed and the sea breeze fluttered across my face.

I breathed deeply and slowly.

I practiced staying in that moment.

I practiced calming myself. Reducing my tendencies toward stress and anxiety.

I prepared for the moment that we would bring another living creature into our home.

And now I put that mindfulness into practice.

When he tries to get into things he shouldn’t

Or chew on something not allowed.

Or during those moments when I find myself back to the sleepless nights of early motherhood.


But he’s worth it!

Life is a journey to be experience, not a problem to be solved. -Winnie the Pooh

Let your light shine!


Friday Faves Edition 20

Friday Faves – Edition 20

Today is our last full day at the beach.

Friday, you’ve come too soon.

Some of my faves this week are things that I’ve brought from home to make my stay at the beach a little simpler and safer.


SPF and I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to my face.

I have family members who have had skin cancers removed from their face and I grew up in Southern Florida, so I am especially conscience of the dangers of not protecting my skin.

As a fair-skinned girl, I need to wear it daily.

Really, we all need to wear it daily.

But then I end up rubbing it in my eye… and the burning and watering makes me curse its existence.

Until I stumbled upon this Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer with an SPF of 47 and Sunboost ATB. I have not experienced any burning near my eyes. I don’t think this is waterproof, but my face isn’t often underwater at the beach.

Another perk is that I love the smell of it! I’m very particular about how something on my face smells (for example: I can’t wear any product that smells like roses. I have a past life theory on that one…). The main ingredients are argan oil, jojoba oil, and green tea, which I find to smell amazing.


I have a tendency to forget about my lips needing protection from the sun as well. Sometimes, I just rub the Josie Maran moisturizer across them as well. But with the need for reapplication due to eating and drinking, I try to carry a lip balm with SPF as well.

This time I’ve brought a few different flavors of Softlips, which has an SPF of 20.

Watermelon is a fun, summertime flavor.


While at the beach, I like to keep my routines short and sweet.

Ok… who are we kidding?! I ALWAYS like to keep my routines short and sweet.

I like this Bliss triple oxygen instant energizing cleansing foam.  It cleans my face and removes my makeup and I get the added benefit of oxygen and Vitamin C. Of course, the fact that it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin gives it a thumbs up from me.


As much as I enjoy watching the surfers in my family, I rarely surf. But I love to boogie board. Last year, two of our boogie boards finally finished their 8 or 9 year run and had to be retired. We knew that we would replace them on our next trip to the beach, so we bought a BZ and a Morey boogie board from a surf shop here in Carolina Beach.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, then you know that I had to have my ritual donut from Britt’s Donut Shop. Also, I’ve been trying to share regularly on my Instagram Stories.


Thursday nights in Carolina Beach brings music and fireworks to the boardwalk. I shared some of those on my story last night. I even went Live to share some of the music (going live was really scary and out of my comfort zone!).

It is a lively and fun atmosphere down on the boardwalk. 


To close out the night, my middle son and I went to Squigley’s for some ice cream. He opted for Fudge Tracks, while I went for Nutty Coconut.

If you have any idea about the ups and downs of raising teenagers, then you completely understand why this moment was so special to me.

And lastly my song choice..

Life should be about spreading love. 🙂

I hope that you have an amazing weekend filled with light and positivity!

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King Jr.

Let your light shine!






Sunrise Quote

This week Nikki at Flying Through Water has asked us to consider the prompt of persevere.

This morning as I watched the sun rise above the Atlantic Ocean in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, I was reminded of this quote:

A little Wednesday Wisdom:

Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise. -Victor Hugo

Keep persevering…

There is light up ahead.

And if you’ve reached the light…

Turn back and shine it for somebody else.


I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Quote by Maya Angelou

Let your light shine!




Quiet Reflections from the Beach

Quiet Reflections from the Beach


Today is Day 4 of our vacation at the beach.

We are in Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Sand dunes…sea oats…and salt marshes.

The beach is such a recharging place for my soul.

The ocean waves crashing.

The pelicans dipping low onto the horizon, skimming the surface, looking for their next meal.

The seagulls swooping down to search for a stray piece of food left along the shore.

The breeze gently blowing, lightly scented, carrying the salt that lands upon your lips.



The world seems late in waking up when you are on beach time.

I think that’s because the revelrie lasts well into the evening.

Given the fact that I have three teenagers, our mornings start late as well.

So quite often, I sit on the balcony, sipping my coffee, basking in the silence, and watch the world come awake.


I walk to the shore before the crowds of people begin to claim their spots.

An ocean in constant motion.

Ebbing and flowing.

Just like life.

Moments of frantic and moments of peace.

Sometimes the waves come in and gently kiss the shore.


Other times, they demand that their presence be acknowledged.

I am reminded that we humans have a tendency to be like the waves.

Quiet and gentle.

Loud and attention seeking.

Ever changing.


I watch my daughter as she surfs.

She feels a kinship with the ocean as well.

While I admire its gentle nature, she embraces its power.

I have watched her surf the ocean waves since she was in the single digits.

And now, at 13, I begin to see the disappearance of a child and the emergence of a woman.

And as the waves lap at the shore, I am reminded that although the ocean feels timeless, our time is marching on. My children are daily approaching adulthood. The oldest will be a high school Senior in the fall. Less than a year and he will likely pack his clothes and precious belongings and place his head under a new roof. My second son is only one year behind. The girlie following two years after that.


And then what?

I watch the sun set on the beach.

The ending of the day.

And I ponder life.

Who will I become as the journey of all-consuming motherhood comes to an end?

I long to embrace the next chapter as fully as I have embraced this one.

To find that next soul pulling phase that tells me…

This is who I am now called to be.


Let your light shine!








Friday Faves Edition 19

Friday Faves – Edition 19


It’s Friday! Hallelujah, it’s Friday!

Yesterday I shared some of my favorite beaches.

And by tomorrow afternoon I’ll be putting my toes in the sand at one.

That’s right! Carolina Beach, here we come!

So as I wade through laundry, try to remember what size sheets need packed, and decide whether to bring any groceries or buy them all there… I wanted to pop in and share some of my favorites this week.

I can assure you that the irony is not lost on me that I’ve told you I am working toward more simplicity… more minimalism… and then I share new things that I’ve added to my life.

However, minimalism looks differently for everyone. 

And I think (or overthink) through most of my purchases.


I am really enjoying photography. You may recall that I recently purchased the Sony Alpha 7 II. It is my first full-frame camera and is a mirrorless system. At the moment I only have the 28-70mm lens that I purchased with the camera.

Since most of my photography is outdoors in nature and landscapes, I wanted to get a polarizing filter. I will only be at the beach for a week and while I’m well aware that the golden hour and the blue hour are the best time to shoot, there is a real likelihood I will be taking some shots in the middle of the day. A polarizing filter darkens the sky and manages reflections and glare.

I also have a love for long exposure photography and the ocean is a beautiful place to work on this. Quite often a ND (neutral density) filter is needed to be able to create this effect. I only picked up a .6 filter, so I may be bringing along my Nikon D3200 as well since I have a stackable set of 3 ND filters for it.

The quality of filters that you put over your lenses does make a difference. Tiffen had good reviews.  There are other filters that I am looking at and learning about that I may add. Specifically, I will probably move to a drop-in filter system that covers a broad array of lens sizes.  As you can see my Sony has a 55mm lens, while my Nikon has a 52mm. As with anything, the higher the quality, the more the $$$ and since I don’t have the knowledge and experience under me, I couldn’t justify spending any more than I did.

Most of my photography is hand held, but long exposure requires a tripod. So I will be bringing my tripod along, even though I’m not a fan of this one and have been researching others. I would like one that gets closer to the ground amongst other things. I looked one up that was mentioned and when I told my hubby the price, he asked if it was made of carbon fiber and gold.  Carbon fiber: yes. Gold: No. 🙂 I’m also in the market for a 50mm (aka nifty fifty) lens probably with f/1.8, since f/1.4 costs substantially more. My camera can have adapters bought which will mount other brands of lenses.

So I’m calling on y’all. If you have any recommendations for either of these or even your favorite filter system – holler at me in the comments!


I’m super excited that we finally bought a hydrangea.

Classic southern charm.

I do not have a green thumb. I killed a succulent last year. Yes. A succulent.


I have wanted a hydrangea since we moved to Virginia. We have very shaded property so I’ve decided this first go round to plant it in a pot that we had. That way if it needs moved around due to sunshine, we’ll be able to figure out where it thrives.

Do you have a green thumb? What is your favorite plant/flower?


I needed to add some beach towels to our collection. Inevitably towels from the past get left at someone’s house or stay in a bag so long that no matter how hard I try, the sour smell lingers.

There is almost nothing that I hate worse than the smell of a sour towel. That smell lingers in my hair ALL DAY LONG. So new beach towels it is.

Do you have any must-haves for beach going?

Mine are sunscreen, water, beach towels, blanket, hat, umbrella, and sunglasses to name a few. I’m a little high maintenance with my fair skin.


While I was checking out with my beach towels, I saw this adorable set of frogs.

No, I didn’t get them. But I just had to share how adorably cute they were.

Huge jump at the quarry today 🎥: @taylorlovingg

A post shared by Hunter Smith (@hunter02222) on

Another fave of the week was this video from the oldest’s Instagram.

I’m not gonna lie, I had mixed emotions when he told me that he was gonna do this jump. He had been going to this spot with a group of friends and had already jumped from the spot that was 25 ft high. Some of his friends had already jumped from this next higher one, which is 80-85 ft high. My son is close to 6’5″ and built like an NFL player. I was a little stressed about the impact from jumping so high.

While I have no interest in jumping from those kind of heights, I can admire him overcoming the natural fear that rears its head when you are standing on the edge of a precipice.

And we all have our different limits of where we find joy in adrenaline. My husband was a regular skydiver when we met, and yet hates the drop tower that sends a gleeful adrenaline rush through me (Dr. Doom’s Fearfall at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando anyone?).


The fave of the week shown above doesn’t include anything that is newly purchased. Just something I plan to wear on vacation.

I bought the Billabong dress at the end of last summer from a surf shop in Jensen Beach, Florida. I didn’t get a chance to wear it because it was at the end of warm weather season.

You’ve seen the sunglasses in a different Friday Faves.

I purchased the canvas Gap wristlet many years ago and love its size for strolling around town.

The Puka Shell necklace belongs to my husband. I think it once belonged to one of his brothers, bought during the years they lived in Hawaii as Navy brats.

Every beach gal has to have a Lokai bracelet. Right? And the bangle goes along with my other bangles. This one having been bought at a surf shop in Carolina Beach and filled with local sand inside of the wave.

The other is just some stone and technically an anklet.

The seashells and sea glass are just a small bit of my collection gathered from years of beach visits.


I can’t leave without a song. Chosen because… it’s Summertime. And I remember Will Smith from before he played all these amazing acting roles.  I was in high school when this song came out. I owned his CD. I regularly watched Fresh Prince of Bel Air (and yes.. I can recite/sing the entire intro song).

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the faves this week!

I’m hoping for lots of sunshine and wishing the same for all of you.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Quote "It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." Background - boardwalk through a salt marsh in Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Let your light shine!