Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday "Fun" Day

This summer, a bunch of us moms (and one lone dad!) from the neighborhood decided that, in lieu of expensive summer camps, we would create a Wednesday morning activity for the kids, with all of us choosing/coordinating different activities and putting them on a calendar for the summer months. Audrey quickly dubbed this "Wednesday Fun Day". Most of the activities are free or inexpensive, and the kids are LOVING it! Every week bring something new and different! And isn't everything better with friends?

This week, I chose to coordinate "Design your own t-shirt" day. The kids had fun stamping designs on their shirts, and the parents practiced patience as paint ended up on everyone's hands, faces, smocks, the table, and oh yes, on the shirts too. The parents quickly started suggesting that these be used as night-shirts. :)

Here is Audrey's finished product:

Afterwards the kids enjoyed a snack ... always an essential part of any fun day!

And here are a few pictures of previous "Wednesday Fun Days":

The kids checking out some kind of bird at the Upper Schuylkill Valley Park (aka "the farm")

After checking out all the farm animals, the kids went down to the river and threw in rocks. For some reason, children find this to be great fun. I think this was the highlight for many.

Audrey & Thomas "digging for fossils" in the playground area of the Elmwood Park Zoo, another Wednesday morning trip.

We've also had a morning of water fun & making ice cream sundaes, and a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. Next up on the list is swimming at Nathan & Kaitlyn's house! FUN! :0)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Kimberton Fair

Well, we went to the Kimberton Fair on Wednesday night, and of course, my camera batteries died pretty much immediately. So unfortunately I have no pictures of Audrey having fun running around the fair and riding the rides with her buddies Thomas and Emma. Boo hoo.

We did go back to the fair on Saturday for awhile and had a little family fun. So here are a few photos from that excursion!

The fair has a "cutest baby" contest and we entered Carter. He didn't win ... perhaps the judges didn't find nose-picking attractive?? Anyhow, Carter, you'll always be the cutest baby in our book!

Visiting the sheep, who also had some kind of contest of their own (some were sporting ribbons), although I doubt it is a "cutest sheep" contest.

Audrey and her balloon

Audrey with the sheep. I told you it's kind of a redneck fair...

Audrey on her beloved carousel ride. The next day she told me that she named her carousel horse "Thunder" (I'm guessing because we had a few thunderstorms last week?)

Carter enjoying his first carousel ride. It seems like just yesterday that I was taking Audrey on her first carousel ride ... [sigh] ... they're growing up so fast!

Time to go home. Someone's not too happy about this turn of events!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Music to my ears!

Those of you who know Carter know that while he makes a LOT of noise (!) he doesn't really "say" a whole lot. He does say cat, ball, bubble, star, sock, Dada, etc. ... but mostly it's a lot of pointing, grunting and screeching when he really wants to make his point.

Since I am REALLY getting tired of hearing the loud screeches, I decided to try a little harder to teach him more sign language. So lately he has been signing - more, please, help, eat (of course) and drink which really helps me understand what he is trying to say better.

This morning I was feeding him breakfast and towards the end he signed "all done" and I proceeded to get him out of his high chair. Then it happened. As I was lifting him out, he said "Thank you!" in a clear and sing-songy little voice! Not only did he say something without screeching, it was an unprompted thank you. I said "Carter, you just made my day, buddy!"

I know that eventually he will say lots and lots of words (sometimes more than I want to hear, if his sister's speech patterns are any indication ...) But since they are few and far between at this point, I am enjoying each one he says.

Truly music to my ears :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This is what happens ...

... when you leave a tissue box within the reach of your almost 18 month old. Only the tissues were originally spread all over the living room floor...

Tonight we're off to the Kimberton Fair! More redneck fun for the family :) If I remember the camera, I'll post some pictures in the next few days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wanted: One good photo

I just got a letter from Audrey's preschool about items to bring on the first day. One of said items is "a recent picture of your child." Since I'm not new to this preschool thing, I know that the picture is going to be used either to be hung on the wall all year long or to be made into the placemat that she will use each day for snack time. Bringing a picture of Audrey should be an easy thing, however, these are the only kinds of pictures that I can get of Audrey lately ...

Please, all you other moms, tell me that your preschoolers also refuse to smile "normally" for photos!!

So ... I am wondering if I should just send one of these crazy photos, and let them see the "real" Audrey, or whether I should spend the next six weeks trying to get a semi-normal looking picture of her (which of course, will not really be depicting the real goofball that she is ...)
I didn't even post all the lovely photos she took of herself. I am saving them for the time her first boyfriend comes over for dinner ...

Okay, just had to end with a pic of the kids together ... since it is so RARE to get a picture where they are both looking at the camera!!!

Happy Birthday Chad!

Can you believe it? Chad turned 37 on July 11th. We had a little party for him on his birthday - just us and the kids.

Chad blowing out his candles. I think it's funny that Carter looks a bit frightened and Audrey is scrunching away from him. Must be some powerful lungs blowing out those candles!

Chad and his compound miter saw, a gift from me. Now he has to finish up the trimwork in the bathroom! Audrey gave him a golf club pen, and Carter got him Skittles. :)

Next weekend Chad and I will go out for dinner to celebrate WITHOUT kids!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Got Milk?

...Or maybe just a wet wipe so I can get rid of my white mustache??

Friday, July 4, 2008


I have told many of you about how, when we were looking at home, our realtor asked me "So ... have you seen your dream home yet?" Now, this was after we had spent a few days looking at some absolute dumps (but, they were in our price range!) Of course, the houses were not all bad, but most needed work, which is why I replied "Ummm, I'm just looking for something that we can afford that has 3 bedrooms and isn't horrible or smelling like a litter box..."

Nah, my house is not my "dream home" in terms of its beauty, space, layout, yard, etc. In fact, I would likely never choose a house like this one again. However, this is just a house. But inside its walls reside some of the people whom I love most dearly and with whom I cherish spending my time. In the three short years we have lived here, we have made some incredible memories. We brought Carter home from the hospital to this home. We have had countless barbecues on our deck with family and friends. We have had play dates with our smaller friends. We have celebrated birthdays and holidays. We have had special out-of-town visitors like Grandma & Grandpa Smith, Uncle Josh & Aunt Molly, and the Voges family. The list could go on and on. These special memories, as well as our love for each other, is what makes 137 East Phoenix Drive a home.

However, what makes our home additionally special is what lies in the area surrounding us - the homes of our wonderful neighbors. I hope this doesn't sound like bragging, but we live in an incredibly awesome community, one that you don't find every day. The people here are kind and genuine and really fun. They are the kind of people who go above and beyond. I would go so far to say that they are like family for us Smiths.

Over the past week or so, the reality of how precious true community is became especially clear. As I mentioned in a previous post, our friend and neighbor Hilary Gorski died unexpectedly last Saturday, June 28. Yesterday Chad and I, along with most of our neighbors, attended her funeral. It was a very emotional day for all of us as we formally said "good-bye." After the funeral and reception, a group of us gathered outside the reception hall and had a time of remembrance for her. Some people had written out their thoughts, others just recounted special memories of Hilary. But a theme kept recurring, and that is how this neighborhood is a special place and we are all blessed to be a part of each others' lives.

Hilary was an important part of our community here. When we first moved here, she was the first person to invite us to a party. Anytime she heard a neighbor was going away, she would instantly offer to pick up mail, or watch your pet, or help out in some way. She always had a smile, a wave, a friendly greeting for everyone and she was so down-to-earth. A few months ago when Chad was away for a week in California, she invited Audrey to come over and eat dinner with Brianna. And when Hilary returned Audrey a few hours later, Audrey was fed, bathed, in pajamas, and ready for bed. A real treat for me during a long week of "single parenting." That's the kind of friend she was - someone who went above and beyond.

Hilary will be deeply missed by all of us here. But we are so grateful for her friendship and for the friendship of all those who live in our neighborhood here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer Vacation, Part II

It seems a little incongruous to be posting this after my previous post. But I am going to add the remaining photos from our vacation.

I apologize in advance for ALL the photos. I just wanted to include pictures of ALL the friends we visited! And then there are all their beautiful children ... and whaddya know ... it all amounts to lots of pictures ... so bear with me and enjoy!

First stop: Cracker Barrel with my best bud Allison (and matron of honor ... sorry, I'm sure you don't like the word "matron," Al!) Also joining us were her two awesome girls Marah & Ellie. Additionally joining us was Tom, Allison's and my former boss and a great mentor to both of us!

Audrey, Marah & Ellie on good behavior ...

... and Audrey, Marah & Ellie exhibiting normal behavior!

All the kiddos on the porch of Cracker Barrel

All the BIG kiddos on the porch of Cracker Barrel! Conspicuously missing from this photo is Allison's husband Steve, who had a motorcycle accident a few days prior and was spending a few days in the hospital. We didn't get much time with Al & the girls, but we are glad that we got to see them at all given the circumstances. And Steve, we are SO glad that you are on the mend!

Next stop: Doug & Deana Rummel's house in North Aurora

Here is Carter with their 2 year old daughter, Brooke. Brooke immediately hugged Carter, even having never met him before. He seems to have that effect on women. Heaven help us.

Doug & Deana with Carter. Unfortunately we did not get a picture of their little guy Cody (age 5 months), who needed to go to bed a decent hour! Doug & Deana are great friends of ours - Deana and I used to work together and we all attended the same church. The excitement at their house was that a hot air balloon took off across the street from their home and the kids got to watch it float away!

Next stop: The Voges home in Woodridge

How many hours did Caleb and Audrey spend together in their first year? Can't count that high. And they jumped right in where they left off three years ago. Here is Audrey with Caleb & his sister Jillian, getting ready to eat dinner.

Chad and one of his best friends, Randy Voges.

Me and one of MY best friends, Heather Voges

Next stop: The Arney home in Winfield. We spent a very fun day hanging out and relaxing with Kyle & Kirsten Arney and Adam & Mary Jo Caouette, while ALL of our kids played and napped. Chad, Kyle & Adam were all roommates in the infamous North Avenue house in Elmhurst!

Carter makes friends with Kyle & Kirsten's 9 month old Felicia, aka "Fee" :) I think he's just handing her the hammer, at least I HOPE he wasn't planning on using it on her beautiful round head!

Kyle & Fee.
The dads took all the kids to the park to play. New dad Kyle brought diapers with him to the park. Veteran dads Chad & Adam did NOT bring diapers along. Guess who needed diapers??? Hint: It wasn't Kyle ...

Audrey & new friend Annie

Next stop: Bret & Velvet's wedding. I saw about 3 minutes of the wedding thanks to 2 small children who will remain nameless...

The happy couple - congratulations!

Adam, MJ, Annie & Sophie - 2 kids who DID make it through the wedding!

Let them eat cake!

Next stop: Uncle Dave & Aunt Deb's house (okay, since we stayed here, this was also our first "real" stop...)

Carter playing dominoes with my cousin Dave

Audrey with Dave's wife, Daniela and their dog, Bailey. The kids LOVED the dog!

My Uncle Dave, Aunt Deb & I watching Bailey do tricks, which Audrey greatly enjoyed (and tried to imitate!)

It was such a blessing to see our faraway family and friends again. We miss you! And please come visit us any old time ...