Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Spaghetti Face

Carter really enjoys trying out all kinds of table foods. Lately, he will eat just about anything off my plate. So when we had spaghetti the other night, I let him try some. He went on to eat a whole bowl (and some leftovers the next night). Think we found a favorite ...

Does this kid have cheeks or what?

Monday, December 3, 2007


Today I did something brand new.


Today . . . I sent my first text message.

Chad and I finally got our own cell phones. We used to have just one that we used for emergencies but we found that it was too expensive; on top of it, when the antenna broke and I took it to Verizon, they didn't even know what kind of phone it was (and needless to say, did not have replacement parts!) I think they thought I dropped in from another planet, at least that's the way the guy looked at me and my phone.

So anyway, as Chad and I are spending more and more time running around with the kids and with Chad sometimes traveling for work, we decided to get some phones. Okay, I admit, they are just the "pay-as-you-go" tracfones. But suddenly I have become part of the information age.

I used to wonder why my parents were so behind the times, especially when it came to technology. I think we were the last kids in the neighborhood to have a microwave, a VCR, Atari, etc (am I dating myself here or what?) And later on, I was impatient when they didn't have email or a home computer. (The addition of a long-distance grandchild kind of put that into fast forward, however.)

NOW I realize why it took them so long. They were busy living life, keeping a roof over our heads, making sure we kids kept out of trouble, helping other people out, doing the million things that parents do every day . . . Now that I am a parent I realize these things. Some days, I barely have time to brush my teeth, let alone sit down and figure out something new - who has time to text message??

So today I was checking out at Target, and looked at my phone (since Chad is out of town), and there it said "you have a message". Once I got to the car, I figured out how to look it up, and the silly phone actually said "Reply?" I tentatively pushed "reply" and next thing you know, I was "texting" Chad.

I am so proud of myself. Am I a cool, hip mom or what? :)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Handwriting on the wall

I know Thanksgiving is way over and Christmas is in full swing, but just had to post this belatedly.

Lately Audrey has a huge interest in writing and spelling out words. A few days before Thanksgiving I came out to the living room to find this taped to the wall. For a moment, I thought she was an absolute genius ... until I realized that she had copied it from something hanging on our window. :) In any case, I think it's pretty darn good for a four year old!

We have much to be thankful for, including all the things that our children are learning! (Wasn't she just born? You turn around and they're leaving you messages on the wall!)

I made an elf of myself

Okay, if you want to see something pretty funny (and a tad bit weird) that involves our family, please click on the following link:

Every time I look at this I can't stop laughing!

Enjoy. Tis the season to be jolly!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Re-learning old lessons

Why is it that we humans can't seem to learn a lesson the first time? It seems to me that we often have to learn something over and over and over and over again. I know I do.

And alas, I see this in my daughter. A month or so ago, she started throwing herself to her knees, bursting into tears, and yelling "WHY??" in response to getting the answer "No" - a word she appears to enjoy using, but seems to be not so fond of hearing. Anyhow, for a few days she would go straight to timeout each and every time she threw herself down. After a couple days, whaddaya know? - this behavior vanished. (For once I was successful in eliminating a problem behavior!!! Yeah, me!! Probably because this particular one drove me absolutely insane.) So a few days ago, I noticed a disturbing pattern - yup, once again, throwing herself down and making a scene. So. . . I guess I shouldn't have been patting myself on the back yet. And back to timeout we go.

Yet - am I so different? Do I learn my lessons the first time? Sometimes ... but unfortunately, it seems as if the most important lessons are the ones that take some time (and a few cycles of re-learning) to sink in.

For example, since we began attending our church 2 years ago, my husband and I envisioned potentially starting a small group for younger married couples. Our small church has seen a lot of growth lately, and so, with the pastor's encouragement and blessing, we decided to take on the ministry of beginning a small group. Immediately my insecurities started taking over. What if no one is interested in joining the group? What will we study? What if a Bible scholar joins the group and thinks we are spiritually stupid? What if we're too quiet/introverted/etc. to lead a group? What if people drop out? Maybe people won't like us . . . etc, etc. If I would have stayed with this train of thought, the group would have never even gotten started. And truly, don't our insecure thoughts get so absurd sometimes? I used to lead small groups as part of my JOB, for pete's sake, and no one ever ran out screaming! :)

As I began to pray about all my insecure thoughts, however, the Lord reminded me of something quite important -- this group wasn't about ME!! It was something He was fashioning and forming, for His glory. If it was going to happen, He would be the one building it. He would lead us through the process. This was not Chad & Amy Smith's group, it was God's, and I needed to put it all in His hands, trust Him, and keep my paws off of it!

This is a lesson that I have learned many times before. I could go on and on with stories of how God has provided -- for my cross-country move for graduate school, how I raised almost $3000 for a missions trip in a few weeks . . . I even see God's hand in how I ended up with my husband! God is always faithful and always provides when we trust in Him, and not ourselves. I am so grateful for this truth, even though I seem to have to learn it over and over again . . .

So, here we are, a few months into our group. In September we had the four other couples over to our home for dinner as kind of a group "kick-off", and as I sat at the table and watched all the positive energy in the room, I was so thankful. Thankful that God had brought the group together. Thankful to get to know these fellow believers. Thankful to be used by God in a way that was so exciting. And oh so thankful that God had helped me see that this wasn't about me. The real joy for me is standing back and listening to God and letting Him work through this.

Keep praying for us as we seek to serve God in this new way. I, for one, am praying that I will continue to trust God with the things He has called me to do -- and that I will believe and not doubt.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Handsome boy - with new teeth!!

Just adding some new pictures of Carter. We had a little "photo session" after breakfast this morning because I was trying to get some pictures of him with his new teeth. He cut 3 top teeth in the last month! (Can you say sleep deprivation?)

Carter is nine months old now. He is taking after his big sister and waiting to crawl until he's good and ready. I guess he's such a content little guy that sitting around is good enough for him right now. At least I'm not having to chase him around and babyproof everything yet!

Here he is!

Mommy's sweet boy

"See my new teeth?"
Audrey made this exact same face (with the wrinkled up nose) when she was little!

I love my Cheerios!

I think he was trying to look around the camera to see me!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Last night was an exciting one! Here are Audrey and Carter dressed up for Halloween. Carter didn't last too long but Audrey came home with over 70 pieces of candy! EEK! We also have lots of leftover candy, so it looks like Chad will be feeding his co-workers candy for the next 6 months. That or I will be putting on an extra 30 pounds! Double EEK!

Here's a photo of the kids with their menagerie of neighborhood friends. They all went trick or treating together. We have SUCH a great neighborhood full of friends for Audrey & Carter to play with, not to mention great people for Chad and me to socialize with. We LOVE it here and feel so blessed that God led us to such a great place to live.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Good Books

I love reading books. A number of years ago I was in a book club - well, maybe I should call it a book duo since it was just my friend Jen and I, but I digress - and I invariably found myself especially drawn to novels that were historical and took place in foreign lands and cultures.

Anyhow, lately I've been reading a rash of books that seem to take place in Islamic culture. Perhaps my interest is due to all the news out there related to this topic. But it has been fascinating and informative to learn more about how people, particularly women, live in other parts of the world. Wow, are we "western" women fortunate. We don't even know how absolutely fortunate and blessed we are to live in a free and relatively "equal" society. For example, in the US, I can get a free basic education. There are resources for me to attend college. I can choose my marriage partner (and expect them to be a partner, not my master). If that spouse is abusive, I can call the police and expect some protection. I can leave an abusive situation if I choose to, without permission from anyone else. I can work to support myself and my family. I can think for myself. I can drive a car. I can leave my house on my own, without a husband or male family member to escort me. I have equal protection under law. My testimony in court has the same weight as that of a man. . . I could go on and on.

So, if you are a reader and, like me, enjoy other cultures, here are the books I've read and enjoyed lately.

Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat
This is a true story of a young woman who was imprisoned in Iran (in the era of the Ayatollah Khomeini) for questioning the government. She escaped the firing squad at the final moment and later was forced into marriage by one of her captors. This was my favorite book of the three listed.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Again, a true story written by an African woman who escaped a forced marriage and the "imprisonment" of Islam. It describes her life journey from childhood up through the point of her becoming a Dutch parliament member and surviving numerous serious death threats by Muslims for her stand on their treatment of women.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (also wrote The Kite Runner, another great book)
A fictional book about Afghanistan before, during, and after the Taliban. It chronicles the life of two women living through this period of time. This book draws you in. I read it in about 4 days (which is probably a record for me since having kids!)

Enjoy the books and again, thank the Lord for the blessing of being a free woman in this world!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Audrey loves to ask questions.

Some days the sheer volume of questions is staggering. One day I thought I would write them all down so that later, when Audrey got older, we could look back on them and have a laugh. Then I realized that the baby would never get changed, errands would never get run, laundry would never get folded, and no one would eat all day if I took on that task. So I gave it up after about five minutes.

Her favorite question by far is "Why?"

Before I had children, I believed that I would patiently answer all my children's questions. I would not be a mom who said "because I said so." I would encourage this mentally stimulating exercise because after all, 'no question is a silly question'.

Whoever said that obviously never raised a preschooler full-time.

The majority of questions asked by small children have no clear answers. Example. Today we are driving to the store for groceries. I say, to make converation, "I think it's supposed to rain later on." First, I hear from the back seat "WHAT???" at full blast. So I repeat my comment, a little more loudly this time. Audrey says "But why is it going to rain?" At this point, I used to dive into a little explanation of water being trapped in clouds until it overflows, and rain comes down. After being met with a blank expression multiple times in regards to this type of answer, today I simply cut to the chase: "It's going to rain, because it just is." A minute goes by. Then Audrey asks, "why does Kmart start with a K?" It just does, Audrey. "Why is that car blue?" Because it's painted that way. "But why did they paint it blue and not red, red is my favorite color." Because maybe blue is that man's favorite color. On and on my day goes.

I wonder if she will ever outgrow the 'why' phase. Of course, I do want her to continue to be inquisitive and curious and thoughtful, and some day I know she will ask really good 'why' questions, as she sometimes does now. This is what keeps me from getting too impatient with all the 'whys.' I don't really want to squelch her growing interest and curiosity about the world around her. But truly some days . . .

However, if we're honest with ourselves, we never truly grow out of our desire to know 'why', do we?

A few years ago, shortly after moving about 1000 miles across the country, I miscarried our second baby. I was absolutely devastated. And angry. And boy, did I want to know why. Of all babies in the world to die, why mine? Why, God, does a crack addict in Philly with no husband, money, family, etc. carry a child to term, while I - a healthy woman with a stable and relatively dysfunction-free home - lose mine? Why did you let this happen to me when I feel so vulnerable and alone? I realize that I was like my daughter - asking a question to which there was no clear answer.

Why did it happen? Well, as I say to Audrey, it just did. I honestly don't think I will ever have a full understanding here on earth of why I lost this baby. Even the doctors couldn't say why. Some things are a mystery. I realize now, that once I let go of wanting to know why and accepted that this was part of God's plan, I could start moving on and live my life, not just look backwards and wonder what went wrong.

What I DO know is this: That God created and loved that little life, even more than I did. Yet for some reason, He was more glorified by bringing that little one to His side right away. And once I trusted in the Lord's goodness, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace.

I look forward to meeting with Jesus some day in Heaven. I have a lot of questions for Him! And like my daughter, a lot of them will start with 'why.' :) Meanwhile, I will have to learn to be content and know that for now, here on earth, the answer from God will often be "because I said so." Being okay with that answer is really the heart of learning to trust Him.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tis a gift to be simple

Audrey has a new obsession: wrapping presents.

For the past few months Audrey has been pestering me morning, noon and night for scotch tape and wrapping paper and ribbons "to wrap presents." So jokingly I said to her one day, "Audrey, I'm getting you tape for your birthday." Well, apparently she took me seriously, because when my mom asked her a few weeks later what she wanted for her birthday, she said without hesitation - "Tape!" So . . . for her birthday . . . you guessed it. . . she got 4 rolls of scotch tape.

So, she is currently in scotch tape heaven, especially since I also bought her her own roll of wrapping paper at the dollar store! For her afternoon rest time, I send her to her room with these treasured items and she spends the next hour quietly wrapping all kinds of little trinkets. When rest time is over, she presents me with these little gifts (each hermetically sealed with about half a roll of tape each) and we pretend to be surprised about what is inside each one. Usually it's a marker or shell or some small toy that she has lying around. I never knew that the secret to some peace and quiet around here could be found at Staples. So let me tell you - I'm loving it.

Sidenote: I'm not quite sure what to do about Christmas. How do you wrap wrapping paper?? Do we even bother buying presents or should we just let her collect all the leftovers and have a heyday wrapping stuff?

It does give me pause, however. For her birthday this year, she received a two-wheeler bike, a bunch of Littlest Pet Shop toys, some books, some Polly Pockets. And by far her most played with present is the scotch tape!

Simple pleasures. Sometimes we as parents get caught up in buying our kids things that WE think will make them happy. We may bend over backwards looking for the new "hot" toy for Christmas. We may get them something we would have liked as little girls. We sometimes, if we are honest, try to keep up with the Joneses. And for what? If we ask them, what do THEY want? Usually it's something simple - a lollipop, a trip to the park, a chance to lick the bowl of frosting . . .

Then again, all they may want . . . is just a little scotch tape. One of the beauties of having children is that they help us to look at the world with new and less complicated eyes. So may we all find such joy in the simple things of life. I can't say that I am able to do this every day. But I'm working on it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I recently read a quote that said that we should not pray and ask God to give us patience, but we should ask Him to help us learn patience.

Well, I sure am sorry I prayed that prayer ... because God sure is answering in the form of one certain 4 year old cutie that lives under our roof!

This kid should be a trial attorney. She will argue her points to the death, and has quite a long memory for the one time there was an exception to the rule ("but remember that time you DID let me eat two candies after dinner? why can't I have two now???")

I can just hear her in twenty-five years - "But Your Honor, in article XYZ of legal code I4GET it says blah blah blah, and besides, last year you let Person A off the hook for the same infraction. . ." (Although if the judge says 'no', I'm hoping she will have grown out of that "throw yourself on the floor if you don't get your way" stage . . .) But really, what is it about kids that they can remember the most minute detail when it benefits them but somehow forget the warning you gave them 30 seconds ago? Aargh . . .

The other area of patience with this unnamed family member is in listening to her stories (which at least do not involve bad behavior!) If this kid isn't an attorney, she will be a novelist because pretty much every story she tells lasts about 2 weeks. And listening for her requires eye contact. So if you aren't looking, she just may start over, which - let me tell you from experience - you DON'T want to happen :)

Most days I do not feel very patient. In fact, every morning I pray that I will be more patient, then every evening I ask for forgiveness because once again, I have lacked patience. However, I must be at least gaining in the patience department because others will sometimes say to me "wow, you seem so patient with your kids. Don't you ever yell? I can't picture you yelling." And my response is "ummm, well, I don't yell at the baby . . ." Of course I yell, folks! All moms do sometimes, if they're honest!

But for me, learning patience isn't really a matter of yelling or not (because generally, I'm not a big yeller); for me, it's the spirit in which I deal with my kids. Am I annoyed by one more request for juice and snacks? Am I complaining about my lack of sleep because of a teething baby? Am I frustrated when my little ones don't do things MY way? For me, this is the daily battle, it isn't just a matter of action, but a matter of the heart.

So ... I will continue to pray that I will learn patience. Not just for the sake of my children, but for the sake of my growth. I sure have a long way to go, but I'm learning . . . .

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Fun

Last week Chad took Friday afternoon off and we went to Linvilla Orchards for apple picking and to visit "Pumpkinland". Both kids really enjoyed it.

Carter is wondering if he can fit the little pumpkin in his mouth.

Audrey tried to convince us to adopt half the pumpkins off the lot!

Hanging out in the wagon

Getting a boost from Daddy

Even Carter did a little sampling of the apples!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Happy Boy

Just posting a picture of our happy boy Carter. He is 8 months old now! No crawling yet but he sits up well and plays with his toys. His current faves are spitting (aka blowing raspberries, just ends up with a lot of slobber everywhere!), playing in the bathtub, clapping his hands, and feeding himself puffs. We have finally reached the milestone of sleeping all the way through the night without an early morning meal! Woo hoo! (Of course, now a tooth is about to come in so that has thrown the sleep thing off a little bit ...)

But we are so thankful for our happy, chubby, cheeky & smiley little blue-eyed boy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The poor & needy among us

Today in church our pastor was teaching on a verse from Proverbs that says "... whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Now, Pastor D. was talking mostly about the disadvantaged in our society; however, I started thinking about my children. I have to admit, sometimes I am so exhausted by my children's neediness. As I said to my mom the other day, sometimes it feels like everyone wants or needs a piece of me, and by the end of the day there are no pieces left. I feel emptied out. Drained. I don't know, maybe I'm getting old. But the danger for me personally is that I tend to get resentful. Then I am easily angered by another request for juice, help, attention, bottom-wiping, etc. -- all normal parts of a mommy's day. I find myself snapping, having an attitude, and not serving with gladness!

A wise friend spoke recently of looking at your children as "the least of these" - and remembering that Jesus says "whatever you have done for the least of these, you've done it unto Me." When I truly embrace this thought, I find myself having so much more patience with my kids. NOT resenting another request for help. NOT losing my temper over my daughter's snotty attitude. NOT feeling sorry for myself about all the lost sleep. ENJOYING playing another game of Bingo/Chutes & Ladders/Go Fish. HAPPY to listen to another never-ending story (and my girl has LOTS of those!!)

So Lord, help me to remember that you have entrusted some "poor & needy" to me in my own home. And help me to be "kind to the needy" so that I honor You today.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Birthday Girl

I can't believe our "little girl" is already 4 years old. Here are some pictures of her celebrations!

Celebrating with family on Labor Day

Enjoying pizza and laughs with her friend Emma at Chuck E. Cheese
(on her "real" birthday)

Audrey is becoming quite a little lady. Here is a picture of her first day of preschool this year. She loves school. She thinks it's funny that one of her teachers is named "Amy" like Mommy.
(sorry that the picture is sideways, new to this blogging thing and still can't figure out how to flip it!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mommy Meltdown

This weekend, Mommy had a meltdown.

Not in any obvious sense - I wasn't screaming and yelling (this time!) - but there was a slow internal decomposition, until I ultimately found myself curled up in a ball on my bed, crying. Being a mommy is such a role of absolute, total servitude. Very few thanks. Very few acknowledgements of all the little things you do. Very little (if any at this point) understanding by your children of how much you sacrifice to help them grow up well. Not quite enough comprehension by my husband of how utterly exhausting it can be. And this year, not even a mother's day card to boot.

I was feeling very sorry for myself. Why, oh why does my husband get to play badminton at a party while I nurse a baby, fix a boo-boo, cajole a 3 year old into eating more than cake for dinner, then try to eat my own dinner with one hand, while the other hand bounces a tired baby on my knee? Will I ever get to leave the house alone again, without wondering if said house will still be standing upon my return? Will I ever have time for just me? Why does my husband get a nap when I'm the one that's up at the crack of dawn with the baby? Why, oh why am I the one doing all the sacrificing around here?

So I found myself calling out to God, a little belatedly I must admit. And he had a surprising revelation for me. I didn't hear His spirit whispering "I'll fix it" or "Your husband needs to change" or any such thing. Instead, I felt the Spirit saying. . . STOP PLAYING THE VICTIM!

Excuse me?

That wasn't what I expected. What, God didn't want to join into my pity party? Guess not . . .I think He just wanted me to face up to my problems and do something about them. Take action and stop whining. So, I started by telling my husband that I felt overwhelmed. That set off a chain of events which included him suggesting that we get a babysitter next weekend. Then instead of walking and jostling and rocking the baby till he fell asleep, only to have him awaken five minutes later, screaming - I decided to have a quiet sleepy time routine, and then put him down. After one long 2-3 am hour, he gave in and fell asleep on his own. Today has been much more peaceful as far as sleeping goes. AND, I started planning activities to keep my 3 year old busy and away from boredom. So today, while she was at a playdate, I actually sat down and wrote in my journal for the first time since the baby was born!

Not that everything is all better, or that I will never feel sorry for myself again. But to give myself some grace, it WAS a busy weekend including one birthday party and two separate extended family visits over three days. Lots to do on top of the normal chaos. BUT, perhaps next time, I will take control of my problems and find a way to take care of ME while I take care of everyone else. After all, I too am a member of this family :)

Stinky Feet

From as early as I can remember, I have not liked feet. Don't want to look at them. Don't want them touching me. Don't want me touching them. Feet get too stinky in the wintertime while being crammed into socks and shoes nonstop... and too dirty in the summer with all their newfound exposure to the elements. Quite frankly, feet are often stinky, ragged, calloused, and bunioned, with toenails that are too long and scraggly. Now I know I sound phobic, and really I'm not, but I just cannot fathom doing the job of a pedicurist!

So I found it oddly amusing the other day to find myself with my daughter's feet in the sink, washing them by hand. For about the fifth time this week. Now, I usually find my daughter's 3 year old feet cute, but since summer is upon us, she has taken to running around either barefoot or in her favorite cheap-o Old Navy flip-flops. AND, she loves to play in the dirt, digging for "juicy, juicy worms". So they were pretty yucky, not to mention the crusted-in dirt under and around her toenails. And the grass stains covering the bottoms. And the potential for worm gunk to be on them! ICK!! However, because of my love for her, here I was, washing them, not even thinking about the yuckiness of it. And doing it gladly!

I got to thinking. About how Jesus washed the disciples feet. That story in scripture always kind of made me a little grossed out - the idea of cleaning a man's feet who had been walking in dirty sandals all day. But while washing my daughter's feet it occurred to me - this is not an act of painful duty for me, this is an act of love and service. Likewise, I don't think Jesus thought too much about what He was doing for them. He saw a need and stepped in to fill it. And that's what you do for someone you love. Wow.

Thank you Jesus, first of all, for being the ultimate example of true servanthood. I figure if Jesus can wash feet, so can I, literally and metaphorically. . . even with my disgust for all things podiatric (is that even a word?)! And most of all, thank you Jesus for washing my feet . . . and for washing me clean inside. I can't believe that you would want to serve someone like me, but I guess you really do love us that much.

Thursday, May 10, 2007