Thursday, December 29, 2011

Signs of the Times

Here are 12 signs of Christmas at the Smith House:

1. Black Friday ~ I’m almost embarrassed to admit that 97% of the time Thanksgiving was discussed this year, the words “And Black Friday is the next day, right?!” came bubbling out as well. I could write 12 posts just from all the adventures of that day.

Even MaryAnn enjoyed it!


2. Visiting Santa ~ I don’t think any family had as much fun rolling around in the fake snow at the North Pole than we did. (I know because as we walked around the mall afterwards, people stared and the Lego store workers were truly confused as to why we had white stuff sprinkled all over us.)

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And because Santa pictures are $$ and we obeyed the rule about not sneaking any snapshots of our own, and Cienna wasn’t about to get close to a strange white-bearded man anyways (she even kept her distance from the innocent first-grader playing Santa at the local school play), the only picture with Santa is an attempted one from the glass elevator afterwards…but Kenny’s the only one in it and you can’t really see Santa, so I’ll keep it tucked away in our photo archives.

3. Castles and Forts made of Presents ~

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4. Concerts and Parties Galore ~ Choir, band, orchestra, dance, school play, zoo lights…we hit them all for lots of festive joy. And if you want, you can imagine our family (minus MaryAnn) standing up on a stage wearing elf hats and playing “Deck the Halls” on our chimes at our church Christmas party. Good times. 


5. 12 Days ~ To remember the 12 Christmases we’ve had as a family, we sent 12 little gifts to our cousins around the country so they could celebrate with us, too. The kids helped gather and prepare things and Allison discovered her love of present-wrapping.

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6. Secrets and Surprises ~ The house was full of whispers and hiding spots, planning and plotting. On one day, I heard some quiet hustling in the basement. After an hour or so, the kids “surprised” me with this:

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An attempt to re-organize the entire basement.

(Thankfully, the basement looks like a tornado zone regularly, so I wasn’t that surprised. And instead, we spent some lovely bonding hours together surprising Dad…which is a shock if the basement is clean and it’s not Deep Cleaning Day.)  

7. Gingerbread Houses with Friends ~



8. Good Food and Great Company on Christmas Eve ~ We hosted…time to dig out the table leafs and the China. Thanks for coming, Family! We always love sharing food, laughs, and love with you. And MaryAnn enjoyed her first taste of sweet potatoes. Mmm.  

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9. Falling Asleep by the Christmas Tree in Dad’s Arms and Falling Asleep in the Backpack because Mom is Busy ~

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10. Christmas Eve Nativity ~ There are many Christmas stories we like to tell each year and the Nativity is, of course, our favorite. It’s especially refreshing to see our children’s personal interpretations. This year, our Nativity included innocent politically correct possibilities like Mary (Kirsti) pulling Joseph (Adorable Cousin Alan) on the donkey, three tough wise men (Uncle Brad, Kenny, and Diggy) wearing Jedi costumes, a beautiful angel (Allison) with a purple halo, and Cheer Bear (Cienna) assisting a very precious Baby Jesus (MaryAnn).  Diggy shared a “We Three Kings” variation on piano. Kenny and Kirsti played “Silent Night” on strings. And Kenny favored us with a jammin’ saxophone rendition of “Angels We Have Heard on High”.

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11. Presents and Lots of Hugs ~ The anticipation and sharing of presents is full of heart-warming moments. Among many exciting gifts was THE Pink Phone from the Dollar Store. The discovery of it de-railed Cienna from picking out gifts for her siblings nearly a month ago. But, thankfully, her very aware 4-yr-old sister noticed her meltdown (actually the whole store noticed) and sneaked the Pink Phone into her basket as her “Cienna Gift”. Many more tears were shed throughout the month whenever Cienna remembered that she still didn’t own it (and have I mentioned what a great memory Cienna has??)…We were all so glad when the long wait to “see if you get the Pink Phone for Christmas” was over for Cienna. She called everyone with it to thank them for presents all day long. **long exhale**


12. Worshiping Him Whose Birthday We Celebrate ~ Having Christmas fall on Sunday was extra special because that meant attending church together and feeling the strong Spirit we always feel when we remember our Savior Jesus Christ.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Personal R2D2

My thoughtful Motorola-workin’, frugal-minded hubby bought me a Droid Razr for a penny as part of a Black Friday special on Amazon this year.

So, I’ve said, “Good-bye flip phone (and landline)!” and “Hello Personal Droid. I like you.”

Now my calendar, phone, grocery list, To Dos, scriptures, email, Skype, FB, camera, blog, music, maps, tape measure, coupons, barcode scanner, and Angry Birds are all in one place…in the palm of my hand (okay, so realistically traveling around between 6 and a  1/2 pairs of hands…but boy do we have lots of golden eggs together!!).  

I’m still adjusting to my new life (hence my previous post), but it’s heavenly and very Go-Go-Inspector Gadget-ish.

And as amazing as this personal robot is, I do get to suggest ideas for the next generation to someone who sits in meetings deciding those sorts of things. So, this is what I tell him: “I would like my next Droid  to not just tell me everything about my life, but to calmly gather my children, slip on their boots, zip their winter coats, find that missing glove (and I don't even care if it matches), and get all 10 fingers in the right holes on the first try whenever The Alarm chimes.”  I look forward to the future. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

May The Force Be With You

What do you get when you have a spectacular seamstress for a mother and an out-of-the-box handyman for a husband (with several handy helpers)?

THIS…for Halloween (and I can’t claim an ounce of credit for it, unless taking a few measurements counts as an ounce).

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My Mother hand-made all of these fabulous costumes (except for R2D2, which Brent and the kids made…out of a box). She cut and stitched everything from cloaks and belts all the way down to Yoda’s ears and toes. (And a few extra credits include: Diggy made Yoda’s light saber, Kenny made his own boots, and Kirsti braided Anakin’s trendy hairpiece.)

Halloween wasn’t going to be this big.

But a few months ago, the older kids watched “Star Wars: A New Hope” and began coordinating make-shift outfits to reminisce some of their favorite scenes. Then Allison started waddling around like a robot and saying things like, “Hello. I am C3PO.” and “R2D2, where are you?” in an adorable robot-English accent. And things snowballed from there.

I thought it would be a stretch to convince Cienna to play Yoda. But she LOVED painting her face green and carrying a light saber around (having her siblings bow to her and call her, “Master,” might have had something to do with it). The perfect Yoda she is.

So the extra $$ spent on costumes this year was well-worth the family memories!

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One of the many perks to this year’s Halloween extravaganza =

R2D2 can play along even when MaryAnn doesn’t feel like pretending.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SEEING a Dream Come True

Many years ago…after the honeymoon was over, Brent’s job was on a role (but very stressful), and 3 little ones were squealing between my legs while I tried to keep dinner from burning…Brent and I asked each other night after night, “WHAT do we want to do with our lives—besides THIS?! (ie. bring home the bacon and cook it)” 

And so our conversations about family goals, education, service, and happiness started mixing together. We dreamed up where we wanted to be in 5 or 20 or 50 years and what day-to-day living (and sacrificing) needed to be like in order to get there. I’ll spare all the details for now, but one of our lofty dreams—to take our children to a foreign country for a service trip—bloomed last week…

Brent took Kenny and Diggy to Mexico for 3 days to assist Dr. Lofgran (one of Brent’s best friends) and his associates (including his two young Lofgran boys). They tested and fitted 243 people for glasses in Caborca.

The experience was everything we hoped it would be.

The kids collected used glasses from the local elementary school and from friends/ family before the trip.  They were giddy as they packed their week’s needs into a backpack and tried to retire to bed early because their plane left before the sun rose the next morning. They visited with Nana and Papa and the Arizona gang in route to the border.


Once there, the work began. For two days, they hustled around from 8-5 sorting glasses, testing eyes, and entertaining the young children. (Remember the rubber band bracelet fad from about 2 years ago?? We Smiths collected waaaayyy too many of those, so the boys brought them along to give away to kids they met…it was a huge hit!) Challenges like 100 degree weather and the Mexican late-lunch schedule (one day lunch came at 5 pm) threatened to slow them down, but they persevered and say they would go back and do it again in a heart-beat.


I think my favorite story was about the 80-ish year-old woman pictured above. She received her first-ever pair of glasses last week. And when Brent helped her put them on, her face lit up and she said, [English translation] “You are so handsome! I couldn’t see you before, but now I CAN and you are so handsome!”

I couldn’t agree more.


Benefits went beyond the chance to work and serve in another country.  When the work was through, Mexican ice cream (which really IS to die for!) was devoured and the beach was conquered.  They watched the sun rise over the horizon, collected shells along the shore, and said hello to the dolphins playing in the distance.

My Boys were immersed in a totally different culture for three days and came away with a greater appreciation for service, friendship, life, and love. Thank you, Adam, for inviting them along. (And Thank You, Megan, for supporting your husband in that noble cause while 8 1/2 months pregnant—good luck these next few weeks!!) If the opportunity comes around again…COUNT US IN (the girls are anxiously awaiting their turn…including me)!!

While the Boys were away, the Girls hearts grew fonder for them. (And my heart felt tickled that they were off braving the challenges of a new land and learning a deeper meaning of service.)

To pass the time, we had some serious Girl-bonding time. We strolled through fall leaves, watched Mary Poppins, had a princess card-making party with Auntie Karen, and had a slumber party every night (wearing our pink nightgowns of course).

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And we were so excited about the sea-shell necklaces and beautiful fans that accompanied our inspiring young men on their journey home.