Friday, October 29, 2010

The Passing of the Bow

After watching out the window (or waiting while perched on the front steps) for the “package truck” to come for DAAAAYS…he finally came!!! And he was greeted by children who spotted him around the corner and ran out to snatch the odd-shaped package from his hands while he was also delivering something to Harry’s house across the street.

The package was ripped open…

Oct 2010 043 This is what happened to the box.

And once the 1/4 size violin was carefully unwrapped, Kirsten officially passed her 1/8 size violin (with bow included) on to Allison.

Kirsten’s pre-school now includes violin lessons. (And did I mention we get FREE pre-school here at the Smith house??!!)Oct 2010 046

The first lesson went well…

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…Not forgetting the all-important “Bow-to-the-Teacher” at the end…Allison is a wise student.

And we now have a quartet! (Diggy has inherited Ken’s smaller cello and prefers/enjoys exploring his new instrument informally. Kirsten and Ken have been taking formal lessons for about a year….and love it!) It’s quite entertaining to listen to them “practice” together. Oct 2010 039

And Cienna anxiously waits for someone’s bow to get officially passed on to her…whose bow will she get??Sept 2010 006 Oct 2010 042

Friday, October 8, 2010

Colonel Krusteaz

I wish I could remember who gave us these two bowls as wedding gifts so many years ago…I would like to thank them both.

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They are both nice bowls intended for use in making pancakes or waffles. One even contains the name brand of pancakes the manufacturer suggests we buy…how convenient.

But we didn’t need two pancake bowls…so one bowl sat unused for the first several years of our marriage. I’m glad we were poor college students back then and not yet in the mode of getting rid of things we didn’t use. We saved the unused bowl, having faith that we’d find a good use for it…someday.

And once we had children, it didn’t take very many vomiting episodes (especially the night-time ones) to realize that we needed the perfect bowl…a big bowl because throw-up tends to spray all over…but a short bowl that can fit under our bed for quick and easy access in the middle of the night…plus a plastic, non-breakable, lightweight bowl for ease in transportation…and one with a pouring spout, so transfer to the toilet is smooth and effortless.

Which bowl would you use??

For us, Colonel Krusteaz (doesn’t the name sound fitting?) has served our family’s vomiting needs for 9 years and has thus been nick-named The Throw-up Bowl. (Occasionally, we have to bring in a back-up bowl (but NOT the other pancake bowl, because once throw-up has been in it, we simply can’t use it for anything else) to help out when multiple children have the stomach flu at the same time…but surprisingly, The Throw-up Bowl handles most jobs alone. It does have to work long hours, because for example, we’ve had the stomach flu pass through twice in the last 2 months…that’s about 250 hours of on-call time (the boys and I narrowly escaped this most recent episode).)Oct 2010 019

While our children may not have fond memories of this beloved bowl, Brent and I will always treasure it as a fellow front-line trooper in the defense against virus and bacteria invaders. Colonel Krusteaz has aided us in winning many battles (and when he’s MIA, it’s NOT a pretty sight!). 

Brad Pitt once told Oprah about how parenting has changed him…(and I’m paraphrasing): I’m now a man of steel. I used to cringe whenever I saw or smelled pee-pee or poo-poo or snot or throw-up. But after having (and taking care-of) children, I can handle anything!

I agree with this statement. Nurturing my children (with natural bodily functions and all) has made me stronger, too. 

Kudos to all the parents out there who are also busy fighting battles day and night. The sacrifice is never in vain.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Our Cups Are Full

When a major spill occurs at nearly every meal (and often in between), it is hard to decide during typical daily life if our cups are half-full or half-empty. But after General Conference weekend (first weekend in Oct. and April), we don’t have to worry about that decision…our cups are all FULL.

Perhaps our cups filled up again because for the last 6 years, we have had the tradition of “pitching our tents” on Friday night as a fun introduction to listening to inspiring leaders during Conference Weekend. Tents are magical for kids…When I was playing in the tent with Allison Saturday morning, she kept saying, “Let’s stay in here forever!” And she really meant it.

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Or perhaps we’re overflowing because we opened up the hide-a-bed and crowded around the TV together and watched a whole 8 hours of inspirational speakers in one weekend (which is about how many hours the TV is normally on for an entire month at our house). Brent and I soaked up as many words as we could hear (over the arguments of “She’s in my spot!”/ “He touched me!”). Here are two talks that especially filled me up…about using time wisely and caring for children.

Or maybe we’re full because the kids enjoyed searching for Auntie Karen in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. (She’s not really in the choir, but a few years ago one of the kids thought for sure he spotted her, so yet another Conference tradition was born. Now we’ve expanded the search…we found Papa, Aunt Debbie, our Bishop, and Kirsti’s first grade teacher this year. And Grandma was playing the organ in the last session!) It’s quite entertaining to hear Cienna’s enthusiastic, believing voice proclaim, “There’s Auntie Karen!” repeated at least 100 hundred times.

The General Conference activity packet that we printed Saturday morning filled some cups, too…especially the younger cups. Their young minds were engaged in doing word searches, playing bingo and coloring the ties of the speakers they saw on TV as they listened to church leaders speak about very grown-up topics. (Kenny, however, proclaimed quite early on, “I don’t think I’ll need this next time…Because I just like listening.” And he did listen…to all four 2-hr sessions. And FYI: he also wants to be called “Ken” now.)

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Allison predicted that everyone would be wearing orange or blue ties within the first five minutes of the first session.

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Diggy’s favorite is the Bingo game. He doesn’t let any key words slip by undetected. In fact, he finished in record time this Conference, thus freeing his mind all day Sunday to think of more creative ways to enjoy listening…as a Nephite (more on this later).

I think cups were filled when Brent pretended to be the Big Bad Wolf blowing the house down as he was putting the tent away Saturday afternoon. The little pigs happily squealed inside (except for Cienna who chose to stay away from the Big Bad Wolf, so her cup wouldn’t run dry).

General Conference Oct 2010 043 Do you see the hand sticking out of there? Proof that the Four Little Pigs didn’t make it to the House Made of Bricks before the Big Bad Wolf blew their flimsy house down this time.

Perhaps we’re full now because we made cinnamon rolls on Saturday night and enjoyed them alongside the family-favorite Orange Julius treat on Sunday morning.

General Conference Oct 2010 050We can pretend to get exhausted toiling in the kitchen together, but the flour on our faces actually filled us up some more. General Conference Oct 2010 056 General Conference Oct 2010 057 General Conference Oct 2010 059

Some of the kids even filled their cups by making giant cushion thrones to sit on or by throwing arrows with suction cups at the TV (apparently pretending to be a Nephite aiming for Samuel the Lamanite…and purposely missing).

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Last week when we told the kids Conference Weekend was coming again, there was a unanimous shout for joy.

And regardless of how everyone in the family filled their cups up this weekend, one thing is certain: We had a great weekend together, and we’re ALL more ready to face the world this week because of it.

I LOVE listening to church leaders speak about inspiring topics, and particularly about faith in Christ. If I can teach anything to my children before they go out into the world some day, I hope I can teach them and show them that Christ is the only TRUE source of filling our cups.

I think tents, cinnamon rolls, and coloring pages at Conference-time will all have their place in connecting our children to Christ.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Happy Birthday for Cienna

We celebrated Cienna’s 2nd birthday a couple of days ago. As the fifth child, she is frequently showered with love on a daily basis…but she received extra-special attention on her birthday.

Allison gave Cienna her favorite doll. It’s a very well-used doll that Allison had received for her birthday not too long ago. The doll has pen marks all over her head and arms because apparently she felt left out when Allison and Cienna were drawing on themselves a few weeks ago. The excitement in wrapping this special gift up for Cienna was genuine. This doll is a true symbol of sisterly love…and may need to be given back to Allison come Christmas.

Kirsti made Cienna an elephant out of tape she had purchased with her own money not too long ago. She also gave away 25 cents and two pieces of her gum (Cienna passed the gum-chewing test recently and was very thrilled with Kirsti’s gift).

Diggy wrapped up his small Woody doll (which is another generous give-away considering he may ask Santa for the matching Bulls-eye horse in a few months). Later he made her a giraffe out of K-Nex and giraffe-looking fabric that, yes, he’d purchased with his own money a few weeks ago to make himself a pet giraffe.

Kenny, as a big brother of a much younger sister, couldn’t find any exciting give-aways in his stash (he’s already given away most of his “stuff” to younger siblings), so instead, he read books to Cienna, played “Happy Birthday” on his cello for her, made her cupcakes for the evening’s festivities, and sang a nice harmony to “Happy Birthday” just before she blew out her candles (which she did with great success, I might add).

Brent lingered longer at home that morning, enabling Cienna’s siblings enough time to convince her to let them open her presents for her before he left. AND he came home a bit early, enabling Cienna’s dream of riding bikes to the park to come true. Brent pulled her in the bike trailer, pushed her in a swing, walked her across a stream, and held her in his arms as only a father can do.

I awoke near Cienna and fed her that morning like I always do (yes…she is the only nursing two-year-old I’ve ever had). She loves being held on my lap. I carried Cienna around a lot and did all my chores with her like I always do. She loves being my partner. I prepared her favorite meal with black beans and avocados. The other kids were hoping for pizza, but that’s her second favorite. And I pondered and told Cienna how much I love her and how glad I am that she is part of our family…like I always do.

Life wouldn’t be the same without Cienna. She brings great joy to all of us. Our constant hope, but especially on her birthday, is to bring great joy to her, too!

Happy Birthday to a wonderful little girl!