Wednesday, January 30, 2013

To Carter, my 6 year old boy

Dear Carter,
Today you are 6 years old.  I know I sound like all grown-ups when I say this, but I can't believe you are already six.  It really doesn't seem like all that long ago you were the little guy that I was chasing down the sidewalk, and here you are, counting money and building elaborate cars out of K'nex and losing teeth.  You probably won't read this for a long time....but I write it just to capture a picture of who you are right now.  I don't want to forget this stage of your life, and maybe you will want to remember it someday too. 
You were a very much longed-for baby.  You already know this, but after Audrey was born I had another baby in my tummy that died.  It made me so sad.  I REALLY wanted to have another child right away, but I had to wait for nine long months until God put you in my tummy.  I know that doesn't seem like a super long time, but it felt like an eternity then.  I was so, so happy when I found out you were in there and again when I found out you would be a boy.  And when you were born?  Well, my joy was complete.
I love watching you become who God made you to be.  Even at 6, you have such an amazing mind.  You learned to read when you were four, and you read so well now.  When we read together, I see words that I don't think you would know, but....yup, you know them.  You have a great memory for things that interest you.  You can tell me all kinds of facts about the solar system, you like to study the globe you got for Christmas, and the other day, you quoted to me our neighbor's license plate number.  That shocked me, yet it didn't.  On the other hand, if something doesn't interest you - well, it just doesn't interest you.  Crafts, coloring, etc - yeah, not your thing.  And that's okay.  :)
You live very much in the moment.  This is kind of a blessing and a curse.  I love that you just enjoy what you are doing and get totally wrapped up in what you are working on....however, it is sometimes hard to move you onto the next thing and you don't always think ahead, because you are just thinking about right now.  But when you get soooo focused, I just think -- some day you are going to do or discover something amazing.  Whatever it is that you choose to do with your life... I am sure you will be very good at it.
I also love that - because you live in the moment - you don't worry about what others are thinking of you.  You still flap your arms sometimes.  I thought you would grow out of that a long time ago, but you still sometimes do it, mostly at home.  Sometimes someone will be over and ask you what you are doing, and you just simply say "I'm flapping my arms because I'm excited."  I need to be more like that.  You just enjoy what you are doing unapologetically and don't worry about looking silly.  Just please don't flap your arms at your wedding someday, K?  :)

You have always had a very sweet temperament, and that is still true of you.  You love to give hugs although I will say that you told me early in the school year to "stop kissing you at the bus stop".   :)  But you have always had a gift for encouragement and just naturally will compliment others on what they are doing well.  You also easily give things of your own to others and share easily. This makes my heart so proud.  I know that God will use those qualities to build others up and draw people to Him. 
 On a less "deep" note - lately you have become a better eater.  I sure hope this continues.  You have spent a good part of the past year being picky and refusing to eat much of what I serve for dinner.  Lately we just insist that before you leave the table you at least try bites of what is on your plate.  It seems to have worked because over the past few weeks, you have become increasingly adventurous and willing to try more and more foods.  Wow, this has made dinner time so much more pleasant.  I hope you keep being "brave" and that in life you will be more and more willing to try new things as well.  Your natural tendency is (like mine) to stick with the familiar.  But it is a big world out there full of lots of great things and I hope you have the courage to experience all the good the world has to offer.  (And - I'm a mom so I feel compelled to say this - I hope you have the courage to stay away from all the bad as well!!  Because that is certainly out there too....)
Well, I love you very much Carter and I pray for you each day.  I can't wait to see what the next years of your life hold for you and I pray that I will be the kind of Mommy who brings out all the best in you and helps you overcome the difficulties you will face.

God bless you, my sweet boy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oh, January....

I guess I shouldn't have made a resolution to blog more often in JANUARY.

Because a big-fat-nothing exciting happens in January.  I checked my camera and I have taken about 5 photos all month long.

I'm sorry.  My anniversary is in January!  That being said, note to any engaged girls out there:  Do not get married in January.  Your anniversary is always overshadowed by post-Christmas exhaustion and poverty!  And it is always cold and you want to dress up and wear heels to go out for a fancy dinner, but then you don't want to freeze to death.... ;) 

Anyhow, this year my parents sent us out to a restaurant they really liked (ie, PAID and babysat).  Don't laugh at me but I tried scallops for the first time.  See?  I AM learning to be more courageous.  :)  But I did get it WITH the filet so at least I had that on my plate in case I thought the scallops were ew.  But I actually loved them!  (patting myself on the back for stepping out of the box....)

Other than has been COLD here.  (If you live here of course this is no news flash to you....)  The kids have been stuck inside for long periods of time which makes for a lot of wrestling and chasing and craziness in our 1700 square feet.  Yesterday out of desperation I stuck in a CD the kids liked and told them to dance.  Chloe, my party girl, threw on a princess dress (with about 6 dress changes along the way) and went to town.  I think she danced hard for about 30 minutes.  I was taping her and she was hamming it up....and it was so worth it because last night as I was reading her a story, she said and I quote: "I want to go to bed now."  She has NEVER told me she wants to go to bed.  Partying a little too hard, were we??

Speaking of the cold, I have a new unfavorite pastime called "trying-to-get-Carter-to-wear-a-winter-coat".  He claims he does not like his winter coat because "he wants a coat with 2 colors on it."  I refrained from giving him a speech about how some kids would be glad to just have ANY coat.  (But I sure wanted to.)  He has a fuzzy fall jacket that he has been able to get away with wearing for most of the winter, but now that the wind chill is in the single digits, I have put my foot down about the winter coat.  But wowie, wow, wow.  Who knew how big a deal this could be - how many tears he would shed over it....or how many times I would have to count to ten to keep from blowing my stack?  (Which, admittedly, I have done a few times unfortunately....)  The semi-compromise he and I have come to is that he can wear his lighter jacket to run errands (since we aren't outside for long) but he HAS to wear his winter coat to school, since it involves standing outside at the bus stop and waiting. After a week of struggling, I think we have overcome the hurdle.

Keep reading, it just gets more exciting!  Or not....

In other interesting Smith news, our couch is officially trashed and we are looking for a new one!  Yay for furniture shopping!  Well, last weekend we went to a furniture store to look at a few sofas....with the kids in tow.  I bet you can guess how well that went.  And we still don't have a new sofa.  But we're working on  it.  I even had a friend come over to give me decorating advice because I just feel stuck and she is the bomb at decorating and organizing.  So she says "Once you get your new couch, I'll come back and we'll just start moving stuff around."  I looked at her with my mouth agape.  She said - "What, does that scare you?"  And I said, "You are freaking me out here!"  We just started cracking up because she is someone who rearranges her furniture seasonally or daily, dependent on her mood, and I am someone who rearranges my furniture....never.  I find a way I think it works and I stick with it.  But I am going to be have COURAGE and just do it.  It's only moving it around, right?  We can always move it back if we want to....oh my.  I need help.

Next week is Carter's birthday, so I guess January isn't all bad.  He is very excited to be turning six!  Just writing that makes my head spin - SIX??  Already? 

We are going to celebrate by getting donuts & munchkins in the morning to share with his little friends at Bible study.  Then he has to go to school, which in kindergarten is still a fun thing to do. :) Then we are going to take him out for dinner and to go bowling, which he loves.  On the weekend we will celebrate with our local extended family.  No kid party this year.  I kind of didn't want to plan one, and he didn't ask for one, and he seemed very happy to have family coming over for a party.  So it's win-win. 

January can be kind of a blah month.  But in all seriousness, I have to add that I am so thankful that I have been able to spend a lot of time with friends this month.  I have a few friends that I usually meet up with on Mondays and we take our kids to Dunkin Donuts and to the library.  I have had the chance to spend time just hanging out at home with a friend of mine who has a 6 month old sweet little boy.  It is so fun to see him grow up and to enjoy a little one (yet not have to get up in the middle of the night to feed him....)  I have started exercising more regularly so I have been meeting a few people at the Y for a class and to just work out on the machines.  There is also Bible study on Wednesdays which I love.  I even had a long visit from an old lifelong friend that I haven't seen in a few years!  It has all served to help me keep my sanity in a month that can often be filled with lonely days stuck in the house.  I am so grateful for the community of people God has placed in my life! 

And hopefully I will have a more interesting post next time....haha!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Words.  They have power.

For example, has anyone else noticed the whole "one word" New Year's resolution thing?

Basically, the idea is that you pick one word that you want to focus on in the next year.  I really hate to jump on bandwagons but I kind of like the idea.  It's not a big list of lots of things that I will forget about in 3 weeks.  It's just a word to think about, a word to strive toward over the next year.  A word to inspire.

I gave this some thought and prayed about it, and the word that kept coming to mind was "courage."  I want to be more courageous.  I can appear on the outside to have it together - but on the inside I am often fearful, worried about what other people think, and sometimes I hold back from trying new things.  I want to work on stepping out of my comfort zone and being willing to do what God is asking me to do, even if it feels uncomfortable.

So (hang with me here, this does relate to words...) back in the fall, I began helping lead a women's Bible study at our church.  I am kind of getting to a point with the kids where I feel like I can actually take on outside responsibilities and I was excited to take on something new.

But honestly, after a couple months I was doing what I often do - questioning myself. I wonder - is leading a group really my gift?  I worry about whether I am tripping over my words.  I get concerned about what people are thinking about my ability to lead.  I compare myself to other leaders and find myself coming up short.  Then that negative voice in my head starts with the negative words.  Words that discourage and tear down.

Really, what I should be doing is praying about it if I have concerns - isn't God our source of wisdom and discernment?  (Yes, duh, Amy.)  So yesterday before Bible study I prayed that God would use me through this study and that I would have a right attitude about it all.  And I was remembering that I needed to have courage to do what God has called me to (because I do feel that He has placed me in this role), even if I'm not always "comfortable" leading.  I just need to do it and trust God to help me where I am lacking.

So today I went to our meeting, and everything went as usual.   But as we were leaving one of the women in my group stopped me and said "I've been meaning to tell do a great job leading the group."  She went on to say some other encouraging things.  I thanked her and told her how much that really meant to me.  She has no idea what kind of mental wranglings I have been doing over the past months.  But her words were an answer to prayer.  Her words encouraged me and breathed fresh life into my soul.

This reminded me anew - we need to take care with our words.  What words we allow to define us, and what words we cast off.  Because, perhaps you are like me and live with a critic in your head.   But also we need to be careful about what words we speak to others - are they words of encouragement?  are they honest words?  will they help someone to grow or will they make someone wither?

God, please give me the courage this year to step out into whatever You call me to do.  Help me to be obedient.  And help my words to encourage, uplift and inspire. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

12 years

12 years ago, on a cold, snowy but clear Chicago day, I said "I do" to this guy.
I have not regretted it even one day since!

I love you Chad!
Happy Anniversary!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

December Highlights

 December was a really busy month around here.
(Duh, was it NOT busy for anyone??)
Also, blogger decided that I had used up my picture space and I needed to "buy" more.
Which I didn't do and didn't have time to figure out.
But now for some reason, I can upload photos again?
I don't get it, but I'm not complaining.... 


I am going to do some major overhauling to my blog.
It's kind of a New Year's Resolution.
I say kind of, because, well, if I don't get to it - life goes on. :)
Obviously, you can see I made some cosmetic changes.
Which has involved a lot of online research and even making minor HTML code changes.
Which is more than I was hoping to bite off as a New Year's Resolution....

I am hoping to change the name.
I am hoping to blog more than once a month.  :)

For now I am going to drop a photo bomb of some of our Christmas fun!
 Here goes!

 Chloe had her first preschool concert.
She sang very sweetly but pretty much refused to make eye contact with us the whole time! :)
But isn't she just cute as a button?
 Carter had his kindergarten concert.
He - on the other hand - very happily waved, and waved, and waved some more to me! :)
Very sweet.
The kids made their gingerbread house with Daddy.
Daddy happens to be the gingerbread house decorator extraordinaire around here.
 Christmas Eve Eve....right before church on Sunday.
 I love it when they all get along and act lovey toward each other.
 In the past month, Carter also lost his first two teeth - as you can see from the gap there!
 Chad takes the kids on a Christmas Eve morning hike every year.
This year's hike was cold and muddy - just the way they like it. :)
 Stopping for a snack break.
Traipsing through the woods.  Even Chloe is quite the hiker!
I love this tradition because I get a little peace and quiet to get some last minute things done!
 And here we are on Christmas Eve ready to go to church.
 Evidently we kept Carter up too late.  He passed out while watching the Charlie Brown Christmas show that night.
 The tree after Santa arrived.  ;)
 Kids with their stockings.
 For Chloe, this was a year of all things girly..... lots of princess stuff...
and lots of doll stuff.
And for Audrey, it was the year of Lego Friends stuff!
Carter continues to enjoy building things like Knex.
He got this perfect solar system shirt from his grandparents!
He received this globe from my parents....he also loves maps and geography and world landmarks.
Every  year I take the kids to the dollar store and have them pick out gifts for each other.
Carter picked these sour patch kids (candy) for Audrey.  It was a hit, and he was very proud of himself. :)
I love how on Christmas the kids are all best friends. 
They like each other most of the rest of the year, but on Christmas they just LOVE each other.
 I got a donut maker for Christmas.
I think it's great!
The kids were all excited and ate these donuts, but I think they were a little disappointed that they didn't taste just like Dunkin Donuts.
"Umm, kids, you kind of have to dump them in a vat of liquid lard and deep fry them for them to taste like Dunkin..."

A few days after Christmas we surprised the kids with a trip. 
First we took them to a hotel about an hour away that has an indoor waterpark and they swam and splashed and had a blast, and we spent the night.
Then we headed up to visit Chad's sister's family in Buffalo.  We had not planned on going this year, but a few weeks ago they invited us and we decided to go.  So glad we did.  It was a really fun and (don't take this personally Smith family)....a much more relaxing, less chaotic time.  That being said, we did miss the rest of the family!
 We decided to head to Niagara Falls in the midst of a 3-4 inch snowfall and trudge around and see the falls. 
 The foggy falls.
 Brrrrr, I'm cold just looking at these!
I was at Niagara Falls with Chad B.K. (Before Kids) on a nice spring day and it was a quite different experience.  Just a little.
2 families, 7 kids.  I think we've done our part in being fruitful and multiplying.

We came home in time for New Years Eve and our annual exciting trip to Chuck E. Cheese with our neighbors.  We know how to party here on our street!

Now it's  back to school and back to our routine.
After the past few weeks, I'm ready for it!