Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas in pictures

Precious memories...

We're off to Buffalo, NY some time tomorrow for more celebrating with Chad's side of the family! Hoping we don't run into TOO much snow on the way there ... but hoping to build more precious memories there too.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Please pray

Yesterday I found out that a distant cousin of mine, Derek Loux, was killed in a car accident on December 23rd. He was a missionary in Kansas City, a Christian musician, and most importantly, a father of 10 children, 8 of whom are adopted (and some have special needs).

If you have a moment, please pray for their family. I can't imagine the sadness and grief they must be experiencing.

If you are interested in reading more, here are a few links:

Thanks for your prayers.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Emmanuel, God with us

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Things I would like to ask Mary

Today when I was listening to Christmas music, I heard this line from Mary Did You Know? -
"Mary did you know ... that when you kiss your little baby, you've kissed the face of God?"

The whole song has beautiful lyrics about what the small baby Jesus would one day become.

All deep and very meaningful.

However, there are a few things I would love to ask Mary, who bore and raised the Son of God.

First and foremost - Did Jesus always sleep through the night? or at least from a young age? :)

Did He every yell "NO!" in your face?

Did He have strange little habits, like spinning cars upside down or collecting all sorts of debris (not that I know anyone like this ...)?

Did you ever need to punish Him, or was He always obedient?

If He was always obedient, did his brothers and sisters dislike Him or call Him Mr. Goody Two-shoes?

What was it like to have a kid who always thought He was right, and actually was?

I know some of them are silly, but it does make you wonder... was Jesus a "normal" baby/toddler/child, or was He just naturally good in a way that our human children are not?

Just wondering.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Trust and thankfulness

This morning when I woke up, I started praying. I don't even think I was fully awake. It had been a long night. Chloe has a yucky cold and was waking up stuffy or snotty on a fairly regular basis throughout the night. Ugh. I knew I was going to need some extra strength, energy, patience, coffee, etc this morning. I was reminded in those brief quiet moments of something I read a while back about trust and thankfulness. So I tried to focus on those two things.

As I became more conscious, I noticed it was kind of cold. Then I heard Chad clunking around going up and down the stairs between our thermostat and furnace. Uh-oh. Our furnace is original to the house .... so that makes it about 26 years old. It could bite the dust any day, but so far it just keeps ticking away. I got up and looked at the thermostat. It said 58 degrees, although it was set to 67. Hmm. I immediately started feeling a bit panicky. How would we pay for a new furnace? What was I going to do with the kids to stay warm? If we need a new furnace, when would they be able to install it? Why do these things always happen at the most inconvenient times, ie right before Christmas?? Then those two words came back to my mind: trust and thankfulness.

I wish I could say differently, but it was very hard to focus on those things. As I made coffee, I said "God, I'm trying here. I want to trust and be thankful, but it is hard. Please take care of us."

Within an hour, a technician showed up. The problem ended up being very simple. It was fixed, we had our furnace cleaned while the technician was here, and I became quite thankful for the whooshing sound of heat coming through the ductwork of our home. I was extremely thankful that we did NOT need to scrape together the money to buy a new furnace.

I write this to give God the glory here. I am so weak many days and easily give into fear, worry, etc. when I really just need to trust God. Easy to say, but not so easy to do when you are faced with a difficult situation. This really was not even what I would term "difficult" but still, not what I wanted to wake up to this morning. But the reality is - even if the furnace was kaput, He would take care of us. Even if our house burned down, He would still provide. I have so much to be thankful for, and here I was focusing on the one thing going wrong, and feeling sorry for myself. I am thankful that when we know God, He speaks to our hearts and reminds us of truth. And the truth is - God promises to walk with us through every circumstance, and I need to continue to trust and be thankful.

As I went to write this, I decided to look up what I had read about trust and thankfulness. It was in a book called Jesus Calling - it's kind of unique in that it has daily readings that are written as if God was talking to you Himself. Here it is (partially):

"Trust and thankfulness will get you safely through the day. Trust protects you from worrying and obsessing. Thankfulness keeps you from criticizing and complaining, those sister sins that so easily entangle you. Keeping your eyes on Me is the same thing as trusting Me. It is a free choice that you must make thousands of times daily. The more you choose to trust Me, the easier it becomes ..."

I like the part that reminds us that we make a choice. We cannot control our circumstances, but we can CHOOSE how we react to them. We can choose to trust, and as we do, trusting becomes easier. Wow.

Hope those words encourage you as they do me.

All this from a non-busted furnace. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

We have about a foot of snow here in Phoenixville. I know, because Chad went out and measured. Yes, he is a scientist. :) It came down all day yesterday and of course the kids were out playing while Chad shoveled the driveway (he had to shovel twice ...) I stayed in where it was warm and kept Chloe occupied. :) And took a few pictures!

Snowball fight!

"Mowing" the snow

Watching the plow go by. So fascinating to a 2 year old boy!

Every time I looked at Carter he was eating the snow.

Time for snow angels

We ended the afternoon with a neighborhood party at Kelly & Norm's house. Santa made an appearance to deliver some goody bags! I love the kids' faces when Santa shows up. The kids then played Secret Santa and gave their gifts to each other. (The kids draw names and then pick out a book for the child they picked.) It was a fun time!! The kids love doing this every year.

Chad & Audrey also made our gingerbread house. I love that Chad enjoys doing this. He gets really creative ... it was his idea to make a Santa popping out of the chimney!

Today church was canceled so I'm sure that we will continue with more playing in the snow. I think we'll also make some Christmas cookies, watch a movie with popcorn, and have a big breakfast for DINNER! I love when snow days fall on the weekend and we're all home to enjoy it together ... especially the week before Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Five months old

Five months. Where does the time go?

It's been a busy month full of firsts ...

1st Thanksgiving (sitting on Uncle Andy's lap)

1st solid food (we've now sampled cereal and pears ...)

1st Christmas jammies

1st time to stare in awe at the Christmas tree

I'm sure there are a number of other firsts that I am neglecting right now. :)

Some people have asked me about how the sleep is going. Apparently I have been doing some complaining about my lack of it .... and I just fear that as soon as I say it's going better I'm going to jinx it, and it will get bad again. Totally irrational, I know. :)

The short answer is, it is getting better. I am still getting up for a feeding once a night, which I am fine with at this point. The problem before was that Chloe was eating, then staying up for quite a while -- talking, playing, fussing, spitting up -- you name it, she was doing it rather than sleeping. And it was keeping me up too! She was also cutting her first two teeth and that certainly didn't help.

I changed a few things and it has helped. I think one of the main differences is that I have turned off the night light. It is now completely pitch black when I put her to bed and this seems to help. I feed her, put her back to bed, she lays there and talks for a couple minutes, then goes to sleep.

I just want to clarify that Chloe is really a good sleeper overall. She naps on a regular schedule, and she puts herself to sleep each time. I lay her down, pop in her pacifier, put a blanket on her, and walk out. That's it. And she goes to sleep.

Just feeling guilty about my bellyaching :) But really, I was exhausted there for awhile ...

... but it's all totally worth it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A little Christmas confusion ...

Of course this story is about Carter.

A number of weeks ago, Carter heard the story of Joseph & his brothers in Sunday School class. From then on, whenever we ask him what he learned about in Sunday School, he says "Joseph got stuck in a big hole", referring of course to when Joseph's brothers threw him in a well and later sold him to some Egyptian passersby. It doesn't matter what his S.S. papers say that he learned about, it's always "Joseph got stuck in a big hole!" (Perhaps that sounds especially scary to two-year-olds ...)

So, fast forward to yesterday. I was helping Carter put characters on our advent calendar (which is a Nativity scene picture). I was showing him the different people - "these are the shepherds," "these are the wise men," etc. Then I said "And this is Joseph, Jesus' daddy."

And what did Carter say next? You guessed it: "Joseph got stuck in a big hole!"

Not that Joseph, Carter, not that Joseph ...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent season

It's been a busy week in the Smith house, especially for me! Lots of fun Christmas-y activities going on around here - Chad's work party, ladies tea w/ church friends, neighborhood Moms' fondue night, etc. I think Chad is ready for all the celebrations to be over so he isn't stuck home with the kids so much. Ha! Well, he'll be getting me back later this week ... he is having a wisdom tooth pulled... so (as he said) - I will have 4 kids later this week. ;)

The kids are enjoying this season so much. I am enjoying watching them enjoy this season! Here are a few little peeks at what is happening around here:

I keep finding Carter lying under the tree looking up at it from that angle. He did the same thing during his first Christmas - he'd just roll his way under the tree and look up at it. He always seems to find a unique way of looking at things. Seriously. I'm hoping that he is always someone who can see things from a different angle, so to speak. You need those outside-the-box thinkers in this world! (Just please, please, Carter, do not decide to grow dreadlocks and eat food out of dumpsters or something.... )

Yes, even five-month olds can get into trouble with the Christmas tree :)

This year we started a new tradition, the advent wreath. Last year my sister-in-law gave me a copy of the notes that she uses to do the advent wreath with her kids, so I thought we'd give it a try. I made this little wreath with dollar store items. You are supposed to use purple and pink candles, but all we could find is ivory ... so, I figure it's the meaning that counts, not the candle color, right? (This would have bothered me in the past, but this year my expectations for myself are WAY lower... and more reasonable, I might add.) Anyhow, each candle represents a different part of the Christmas story, and each Sunday evening we read a portion of the story from the Bible and talk about it and how it relates to the candle that week. In a very simple way. (Attention spans around here are not too long ... :) ) So far we have covered the prophecy candle, the Bethlehem candle, and the angel candle. It is going better than I expected. Audrey really gets it and enjoys it a lot. Carter really wants to try to blow the candles out. But so far we have been able to keep them both engaged in some way.

At the end of the time Chad breaks out his guitar and we sing a song related to the week's theme. This past week was the angel candle, so we sang Angels We Have Heard on High and Silent Night. (Making up hand motions really makes the kids enjoy this a LOT. Especially Carter, he is really into the hand motions!)

I am really glad that we took on this "tradition" with the kids. Lately I have been praying that I would find everyday ways to build into my children's hearts in a spiritual way, and this has been a great way to remind us all to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas - the birth of Jesus.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


This is what goes on at our dinner table every night. Manners, schmanners - it seems that silliness abounds despite our attempts to instill civilized behavior in our children ...

And we can't leave out Miss Chloe (who is too little to partake in the silliness - although it's just a matter of time....)

Bottoms up! :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hey, I resemble that!

Okay, enough of the heavy stuff for now.

Today I had a funny thought.

I have this distinct memory from about 12 years ago. I was running an errand for work, and I, a single young woman tooling around town in my little VW Beetle, pulled into the post office parking lot. At the same time, a woman with a big ol' van full of kids pulled in next to me. I hopped out of my car, picked up my package, went in, waited in line for about 5 minutes, handed off my package and came back out. I remember walking back to my car and being shocked to find that the woman in the van was just then getting set to walk in the building with her stroller full of kids and packages.

Today it occurred to me, and this is where the funny part comes in....

I realized that it took me about the same amount of time to get myself and the kids from my van into the dollar store as it did for me to drive from my house to the dollar store itself.

I am now that woman! AAAAAHHH!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Living and learning

I haven't been posting as much lately ... basically because all I have to say these days is this: I AM SO TIRED!

And I sure am tired of hearing myself complain about being tired.

Thus the silence.

I don't know that there is any "solution" to Chloe's nighttime wake-ups. I don't think I am being overly indulgent or overly harsh in my approach. I just think that she needs to get older and become increasingly mature and "sleep-trained" and eventually she will sleep through the night regularly. Honestly, my other two took awhile to sleep through the night too. I think it's just wearing me down because I am also taking care of 2 other kids who have legitimate needs for love and attention too! :)

I will say this. God is certainly teaching me to depend on Him for my energy. And He continues to provide. So many people have helped me out in various little ways, and I thank God for them.

While I do struggle some days and it can be difficult to be at home with small children, the truth is - it could be so much harder. And God has really put things in perspective for me over the past month. There is a woman at my church who I have known since I was a grade-schooler. I went to Sunday School and youth group with her daughters. And she recently had a recurrence of cancer and they basically have told her that the cancer she has now is incurable. It is so sad, even though I know she will be at peace with God in heaven. I just feel badly for her having to say good-bye to her children and grandchildren. It doesn't seem fair.

Also, I recently found out that my Aunt Linda is dying of cancer as well. I saw her 6 weeks ago at my Grandpa's 100th birthday celebration and she seemed totally fine. We spent time at her house and she had thoughtfully pulled out toys for my kids to play with, held and bounced a crying Chloe, and sent the kids off with little treats she had bought them for the plane ride home. And now literally 6 weeks later - she is in a hospital bed in her living room, unable to walk, with her hair falling out, and very little time left. I really am in a kind of shock about it.

I pray for her and my uncle, and for our friend at church, as often as I think of it. It's the least I can do. And as I said to my mom the other day, it is hard to be a whiner about my lack of sleep when I think of these situations.

It's so easy to focus on the negative in our lives. I do it far too often. But God is teaching me to find the joy in each day and I am slowly learning. Because who knows how many more days we may have?