Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Christmas Present






This Christmas a chapter of my life was officially closed. Elijah no longer wears diapers. He is potty trained!!! It is my favorite Christmas present.

Around the Smith house we've had diapers in our home for about 13 years now. I'm ready to be done. And yet as I look at these sweet baby pictures I realize that we also no longer have a baby in the house.

Well I'm off to church (with no diaper bag in tow)!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reflections

Three events are banging around in my head and causing me to think seriously about life. That is quite a feat considering I've been going through my life at warp speed not really pausing to think about much. I've only been thinking about what to buy, what to cook, what to clean, what to wrap.

First, my friend Jill from college (who am I kidding, she's really like my sister and I thank God continually for her) had to leave her home of six years abruptly. When I spoke with her she was pondering what to pack (suitcases on a plane are limited) and what to ship. And, what to simply leave.

She pointed out when they moved from Las Vegas to Russia six years ago, they sold their household goods in a garage sale for $2,000. As she said "It's just stuff!!!"

The real difficulty, the gut-wrenching cut to the heart part is that they had to leave behind two precious children they've been loving on for over a year. Two children that they thought by now would be adopted as part of their family.

Second my friend Matt's (and Jana) grandparents home burned to the ground recently. Just typing that makes me want to sit down in a heap and cry. I can only imagine how that must have felt to watch your home crumble before your eyes. Granted I don't know them and have never met them, but I know their grandson and I know his character. Therefore, I know even though they are grieving the loss of their home and their possessions, their eyes are fixed on Jesus.

And finally, yesterday morning we found out that some friends from church came home Thursday, opened the door to their home and realized their house was on fire. Thankfully, they were able to put out the fire, but there is considerable smoke damage to their home. So, they are in a hotel for Christmas and are sorting through the rubble. It just so happens that their daughter and Clara play soccer together, so this family is well connected to our heart.

So three stories, if I heard them on the news I might think, "Oh, that's sad". But, since these are real people that I know personally, people I care about, I'm camping out here. These events are converging together in my mind and are really changing me.

It's changing my approach to the holidays. Last night there were about a hundred things I could have done, but I chose to sit down on the couch with three of my children and watch a movie. And I mean by sitting down with them, we were all not just on one couch, but on one couch cushion....serious snuggling (I'm glad I picked an intense movie). This season is an opportunity to slow down, relax, spend time with those we love. Why do I allow the commercial aspect to rob me of the joy of my family?

It's changing my approach to the stuff. Good grief, the last thing we need is more stuff. No I'm not boycotting Christmas and we do have presents wrapped under the tree, but this season is NOT about these gifts.

It's about the greatest gift!!! The gift of a baby born in unsavory cirmcumstances, in a less than perfect environment. His parents weren't at home when he was born, they were in a stable. It wasn't a perfect night. It had to have been quite difficult for Mary and Joseph.

Real emotions. Real fear. Real hardship. Real difficulty. Real labor. A child wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

What about the witnesses to this miracle birth...shepherds living in the field nearby keeping watch at night. They were minding their own business All of the sudden an angel of the Lord appeared.

That might freak me out a bit. It also said, "The glory of the Lord shone around them." In the darkness the glory of the Lord shone around them. Then a great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests".

So of course the shepherds go to check it out. I suppose if that happened to me I would go check it out.

They find Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the manger. Doesn't seem like that would inspire what came next. "When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told him. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."

The reality of his birth probably more reflects the experiences of my friends....hardship, heartache, difficulty, fear, tears, stress. And yet the glory of the Lord shone around them. And yet God was praised. And yet Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

The difficulties ended in Joy..Jesus was born!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Elijah's Photo Shoot

Since Elijah didn't crack a smile during his Christmas program, I thought I would snag a couple of good shots. After all I'm currently borrowing people's cameras to figure out what kind I would like to buy. So, I have a fabulous camera in my grubby little hands and am seeking a picture perfect shot of my little man.

Here's what I got...not a smile in the lot...






















Elijah Stage Fright


Elijah's preschool put on a "Christmas play". It really was adorable!! I was proud of Elijah. He had two poses in particular that I thought I'd share. The first is he did do the "O" that they were supposed to do when singing O Christmas Tree. Let me just say I was proud of that "O" considering he was one of the few children that actually did it. The rest of the pictures reveal what he did pretty much the rest of the program.
I'm fairly certain he didn't sing. And, I'm fairly certain he didn't smile. I had a blast playing with my friends DSLR camera!!!



















Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Remember the $4 turkey

Right before Thanksgiving I bought a $4 turkey at Kroger. We had it for Thanksgiving. We had leftovers a couple of times. And, I made soup. And, I froze the leftover turkey.

Two nights ago I made turkey pot pie for dinner from the leftover turkey. There was only one piece left which David and I fought over to take for lunch....I won!!! The filling however seemed to multiply before my eyes....I had enough leftover filling to make two more turkey pot pies that I gave as Christmas presents to my co-workers.

Tonight we are having the last of the $4 Turkey in Turkey Corn Chowder.

We got seven meals out of one $4 turkey. I have much to learn about frugal living, but this is definitely my biggest success so far.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Playing with Piles

The Smith's are on the long road of fiscal responsibility. We've been dabbling and now are attempting to get serious. Balancing our budget doesn't require an act of congress. Balancing our budget does require time, patience, humor and love.

Balancing our budget does require that I remember we have six people living in our home. It's like I have woken up from a drunken stupor (I mean fog) and am wondering where all these little people came from and why they cost so much money.

Anyway, I'm trying something different. As a visual person I've written each item from our budget on a separate notecard and am pretending it's a game. After all I always loved games...Life and Monopoly being two of my favorites from childhood.

After shuffling and re-shuffling, here's where I am at the moment and it's shocking realization. Our wants pile is much larger than our needs pile. We NEED shelter, food, clothing, transportation, medical care and a few things. We WANT a whole lot more.

I've read a few verses from 1 Timothy lately that keep hanging out in my brain. "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."

AND

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

AND

"Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of life that is truly life."

So, today as I play with my piles...I lay them before God and ask for His wisdom, His guidance, His heart.

Monday, December 08, 2008

When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Sometimes life just doesn't make sense. The unexpected happens. Hearts are broken. Dreams die. Life takes a turn in a different direction. For my friend Jill that I wrote about a few days ago, life just doesn't make sense right now.

She and her husband will be unable to adopt the twins (who they have invested in and loved on for more than a year). And, to add insult to injury...due to circumstances beyond their control, they must leave Russia where they have built their life for the last six years. I can only imagine the pain they must be feeling.

Only God knows where they are headed. The thing that amazes me about my friends is that even though all hell has broken loose in their lives...they continue to trust God. Please pray for them in the days and weeks ahead.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sewing

Last year Hannah received a sewing machine for Christmas. She's been taking a class through the homeschool group at church (Here's a pic of her and her friend Katie at sewing class). Recently they sewed some really comfy pajama pants.

Well, let's just say that Hannah's sewing skills have surpassed mine. Really, it wasn't that difficult for her to do.

Two of my kids are in a musical at church this Sunday and I found out a couple of weeks ago that they both needed biblical costumes. Biblical costumes...you've got to be kidding me. My idea of a costume is one you pick up at the dollar store.

Thank the Lord, some friends have had mercy on me. Hannah's sewing teacher must have sensed my panic and had some serious pity on me. She just flat out sewed Clara's Mary costume out of the goodness of her heart. Then, my neighbor came over to "help" me sew Noah's wise man costume and bless her heart she sewed pretty much the whole thing.

Here's my funny story for the day. Hannah has been helping me finish up Noah's costume. We've had some challenges, like a broken needle...which I'm happy to say we've figured out how to change.

We're putting the last hem in the sleeve. Hannah pinned the sleeve. I ironed the sleeve. Hannah sewed the sleeve.

When I handed her the costume to finish sewing I said:

"We make a great team sewing!!"

She said:

"Yeah, I do the hard part and you do the easy part!!!!" (said with sarcasm)

Wow, she's turning into a witty young lady. She wants to be a writer...I'm thinking satire might be the way for her to go.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Go Bartlett 98





Tonight was Clara's last soccer game of the season. They won!!! We love this team and the girls and their parents. The team really worked well together and each girl grew so much individually. The coaches did a GREAT JOB!!

For Clara, it was a difficult season, because of the hairline fracture in her leg which kept her out most of the season. However, we are VERY proud of her. She went to practices, sat the bench and cheered her team week after week. She also accepted gracefully the reality that it's hard to come back after an injury. Her leg may have been weak, but her heart grew strong...this was a character building year for her.

Monday, December 01, 2008

$4 turkey 4 ways

So, I scored a significant deal on a turkey at Kroger last Tuesday. My plan for Thanksgiving was to make chicken and dressing, but the $4 turkey changed my mind. In an effort to be frugal, I'm trying to make every ounce of meat count. So, here's how my $4 turkey fed my family.

1. Baked the bird and consumed it for Thanksgiving Dinner
2. Everyone had leftovers at least once, some twice (Clara...that girl can eat)
3. Boiled the carcass to make turkey stock (My house smelled so good yesterday) and made soup using stock, meat I was able to pull off after boiling, carrots, peas, onion, green beans, celery and egg noodles.
4. Froze leftover stock and leftover meat to make another dish later.

So, that's the summary of my $4 turkey four ways.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Waiting!!!!


I'd like to introduce you to one of my dearest friends, Jill. She is pictured here with Andrew and Natasha. Jill and her husband Chris and their son Christian have been in the process of adopting the twins for over a year.
They have been waiting and waiting and waiting. What continues to amaze me is how Jill continues to exude joy in the midst of this difficulty. Please pray that God would move on their behalf and these precious children would be placed in their home.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Diaper Diaries - Final Post

Okay so this is the last installment. I'm sure there's a limit on poop discussion in one week . Friday morning I woke up pretty tired. I was sitting on the couch chatting with my husband when I said, "Man, I'm pooped".

My three year-old son, Elijah ran into room and said "Did you poop?"

I answered, "No, I didn't poop".

He asked, "Who pooped?"

Before I had a chance to reply, He said, "Well, I didn't poop!!"

I'm grateful that he's becoming aware of poop, maybe we are on the verge of being done with diapers soon. That makes me want to shout with glee!!!

It also makes me want break down crying. Before you think I should be admitted to the funny farm, let me explain. That means I am moving into a new phase of my life. After all the past thirteen years have been spent changing diapers. We're moving out of the diaper era and into the teenage era. Holy Poo Poo!! (It's okay to say that...God did create poop!!)

The teenage era....That REALLY makes me want to cry. Babies are cute and cuddly. Teenagers are pimply, hormonal and nutso.

And, yet, I am excited about the years ahead. Again, before you admit me to the funny farm let me explain. Teenagers are full of insight, responsible when given the opportunity, striving for independence, energetic, committed to friendships, enthusiastic. Teenagers look at life from a different perspective. They are fearless. We have much to learn from them.

Over the next thirteen years we will begin to see God's plan for our children's lives unfolding. They will grow into who God created them to be. We pray earnestly that they will choose to follow God's path.

I really need to be like the woman in Proverbs 31..."she can laugh at the days to come"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Diaper Diaries - Part Two

This something Elijah says EVERY time we change his diaper. It's hard to get him to be still. So, we say to him. "Be still Elijah!!" He always has the same response.

"Can I move my mouth?" We always say, "Yes, you can move your mouth!" It's a little idosyncracy unique to Elijah. We're still trying to analyze what that might mean for his future.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Diaper Diaries

We really are going to potty train our son, really. But for now, he is providing so much entertainment. Yesterday when I was changing his diaper, which was FULL-er and STINKY-er than humanly possible he said....

"I ate alot so I pooped alot."

Hey, that's a pretty good awareness for a three year old!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

...That spells Tornado

I know I don't really post things on the blog, but this is Hannah writing. This Saturday, my friend and I were outside with Noah and Elijah. It was slightly sprinkling. Noah decidedto show us how smart he is. He was spelling everything he could think of. He said "R-A-I-N, that spells rain. My friend said he was very smart. That was when Elijah decided to join in and show off how smart he was. He wanted to be just like his brother and spell words about things that happen outside. "B-R-A that spells tornado," he said. me and my friend just about died laughing. When I went inside to tell the rest of the family about it they laughed just about as hard. Hopefully we can teach him soon how you really spell tornado.

Ambition

This morning while I was changing Elijah's diaper (I know, I know he needs to be potty trained...we're working on it), I asked him if he was a sweet boy. Here's his response. "Uh huh, and then, I'm gonna be a rock star. Seriously, tomorrow I'm gonna be a rock star."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Laughter is the Best Medicine!!

This morning our 13 yo is in rare form. She woke upon the wrong side of the bed. She really wants to do her homeschool at work with her daddy this morning. But our answer was no. We're therefore walking a wide berth around her and laughing a little under our breath.

She just asked what's for lunch (keep in mind she hasn't even had breakfast yet). My husband said, "That's step #27 on how to annoy your mother." Without missing a beat she said, "What's step # 1 on how to guilt your dad into taking you to work."

Okay I admit I laughed out loud for quite a while. Her tone was not disrespectful. You have to give her an "E" for effort. And, what a quick, witty comeback.

She just came downstairs, dressed and ready for the day ahead. Her little brother who is three said and I quote "Hannah, you look Cool." Now, she is laughing and suddenly her day has turned around. Laughter is a great cure!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ordination

Yesterday was a perfect day!!!

Our family photographer Ari has already posted ordination pics on her blog. She did a great job taking pictures of a truly special day in our life. Thank you to all the friends who shared the day with us. Thank you to those who couldn't be there, but we know you were praying and with us in Spirit. You've all touched our lives in so many ways.

A special thanks to Amanda for making the trek to Memphis as a surprise. She also brought a surprise from Dayton, a video suprise to David from Brian and Phil. Thank you Brian and Phil for your kind words. Thank you also to Ralph Helm for shooting the video, even though your lovely wife Stacie is going to have a baby at any moment.

Scott and Susan, what can we say? You two mean the world to us. When we lived in Dayton, you walked the road with us and made it just plain fun. We truly had a blast hanging out with you. I'm just glad it wasn't the weekend that Alabama played Georgia (that would have stunk). Scott, thank you for sharing truth and for challenging us with God's word. We love you guys and realize how much we miss you!!!!

To our church family...we really are excited to be a part of New Hope and are thrilled to live life with you.

I'm feeling like I'm getting an Academy Award or something....so I'll stop now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

PG-13 Rated Post

In our home we really do try to teach our kids what is appropriate to say and what is not appropriate to say. In our efforts, they've taken it upon themselves to label these words. For example, the "s" word is stupid, the "b" word is bored, the "f" word is fat...you get the picture. It's a little embarassing when we are in public and they say to me...."ooohhh, you said the s word"....which of course was stupid.

Anyway this morning I've been thinking about a certain "f" word. Get your minds out of the gutter people. This word is a word we avoid like plague. We seriously do not want to use it. We don't want to get near it. We don't want to touch it with a ten foot pole. Especially if we are followers of Christ. The word is failure.

We go to great lengths to hide our failures. The annual Christmas letter never highlights our abject failures for the year. We don't hang out in the neighborhood talking about our failures. We don't write blog entries about our mess-ups. We certainly don't write in our status that we blew up at our husband or kids. We don't twitter about how we were selfish. You get the picture. Our failures are NOT high on our list of things to chat about.

I wonder though how high our failures are on our list of things to think about. How much time do we spend thinking about our failures inside our minds. How many resolutions do we make? How many "do better" cards do we have? For all the effort we make publicly to avoid talking about our failures, privately they keep coming up over and over again.

What if we changed our perspective on failure? What if we realized, truly realized that our failures are vital to our growth as believers in Christ. This morning I was reading "The Complete Greeen Letters" by Miles Stanford and this quote really struck a chord with me.

"The believer who is going through struggle and failure is the Christian who is being carefully and lovingly handled by his Lord in a very personal way. He is being taken through the experience (years in extent) or self-revelation and into death, the only basis upon which to 'know him, and the power of his resurrection, and into fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.' God works by paradox. Success comes via failure; life springs out of death, etc"

My pesky little self is always saying "pick me! pick me!". "I" am concerned about failure because it is a poor reflection on "me" God is concerned about "my" failure because when I fail it leads me to die to self. Only then can Christ live in me.

Failing leads to falling on my knees before Christ and being filled by Him which leads to FREEDOM.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Renovation

There is something about renovating a room that is fun and the initial excitement is quite a rush...picking out paint colors, deciding on furniture and accessories. It also takes hard work. And, in our family it always takes longer than we think...especially that first step of cleaning out the room. How do we accumulate so much stuff?

Anyway I'm thinking about this today because we are painting our daughter's room while she is away on a retreat. And, we have a couple of friends who are expecting little ones into their home and they are getting nurseries ready for their precious children.

Why do we renovate our homes? Things change. We need the space to function in a different way. To welcome a new member of the family. To fill a void in our lives. To keep up with the Jone's. There's many reasons we renovate. Sometimes our renovation projects simply boil down to the fact that we have love spilling over in our hearts.

I'm starting to read a book called "Renovation of the Heart". So, this theme of renovation is heavy on my mind. What if I put the same care, the same energy, the same amount of time into allowing God to renovate my heart. There's a lot of clutter that needs to be cleaned out. The truth is His love is splashing out drenching me. He wants to change my heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

If God were to renovate my heart, what would He eliminate from my heart? What would He add to my heart? What needs a new coat of paint? What needs to be dusted off and actually used? What would he rearrange?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Man in Motion


Our friend Ari took this great pic of Elijah Halloween night. He was actually playing hide and seek with her. It captures my little man in motion. He is a bundle of energy!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What do you do when you have a flat tire?


Since I'm still trying to determine what kind of camera we are going to buy, there's not been many pics on the blog. So, I'm going through the library to find some that have been overlooked. This past year on a trip home from my parents we did have a flat tire. The kids found lots of things to do while waiting for Daddy to change the tire.



















Saturday, November 01, 2008

Elijah sees a...

This week Elijah and I were in the car driving out of our neighborhood when we saw a deer running by a patch of woods. He was so excited and wanted to tell his daddy about it. A few days later our whole family was in the car driving when I remembered the deer. Here's the conversation.

Mommy - "Elijah, tell your daddy what you saw this week"

(As I was looking at him...at first it didn't register, but then he remembered and his eyes lit up).

Elijah - "I saw a (crescendo-ing excitement)....A....A....KANGAROO.

(The whole family laughed a lot and I mean a lot)

Daddy (while laughing)- "Really"

Elijah (Not laughing, deadpan serious) - "Yeah, it was so cool".

For those of you who didn't know...we moved to Australia!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pancake Syrup

Yesterday we were having pancakes for breakfast. Whoops...we were out of syrup. So, I thought I'd do a little research and find out if I could make syrup from scratch with ingredients I had in the house. Sure enough I found a recipe and it turned out great. The only problem was it was a little messy getting it into my old pancake bottle. So, if you are ever out of syrup, give this a try.

Also, we were out of milk so we used Buttermilk (you may be wondering why on earth we have Buttermilk....David made homemade Buttermilk biscuits a couple of weeks ago) in our pankcakes. Good stuff!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rain

Rain, rain go away come again another day...for many that was probably the saying yesterday here in Rainville. For me I relished the rain. It was wonderful!!! I sat on the back porch in the morning snuggled under a comforter and read. And, then moved to my comfy chair in my bedroom so I could still hear the rain.

I read all day long and felt much like a bear in hibernation. I did nothing, but sit and read. And I'm serious. I mean nothing!!! There were a million things I could have done, but instead I chose to sit and soak and rest and read.

I read my BSF notes, Psalm 33, a chapter from The Green Letters, A chapter from the Light and the Glory, A History of US Book 2 (yes, the whole entire book covering the time from 1600-1740), pages from George Muller's autobiography. And then, I found a great resource of primary source documents on the internet and read from Foxe's Book of Matyr's, The Mayflower Compact, Last Will and Testaments from Settler's in Plymouth, The Westminster Catechism, and even transcripts from the Salem Witch Trials.

Rain refreshes the earth.
Rest refreshes my soul.
Reading refreshes my mind.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Smith Story Time

"Far, far away, where the trees were greener than the prettiest green and the sky was bluer than the brightest blue, there was a place called Happy Valley. In Happy Valley the brooks babbled, the birds sang, and everyone smiled all day long. The farmers whistled and hummed as they did their chores. Children sang as they skipped to school. In Happy Valley every day was a happy day."

PLEASE GIVE ME A GREAT BIG BREAK!! Last night Noah picked out a book and this was the first page. I seriously wanted to toss my cookies. But I refrained and read the book and sent my little one off to bed to dream of Happy Valley with a vow to throw this book in the trash after blogging about it.

Why do I react to Happy Valley so vehemenently? I think it's because in the past ten years in particular I've learned that life is not always so happy. People do not get what they want when they want it and everything does not turn out hunky dory.

Life is often hard. Dreams die. Loved ones die. Marriage is not on the horizon. The barren couple weeps. Sickness comes crashing in when we least expect it. People disappoint us. Money doesn't grow on trees, it flies like the wind. Our dream home needs a new roof. The children we long for go off the deep end when they grow up. You get the picture.

Our deepest longings are often unfulfilled. Happy Valley is an illusion. It's a lie. What is the truth?

The truth is Jesus came that we might have life to the full. Not once do I read that He came that we would be happy. His life resulted in death on a cross. And yet, He didn't stay dead, He came back to life. His call on my life is to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him.

Today one of my dearest friends is dealing with the disappointment of not receiving what she longed for and my heart hurts for her. For many months she and her husband have been involved in the adoption process for twins. They've been loving on them, investing in them and yet they are at home again in waiting mode without them. Unfortunately she is 6,000 miles away and I can not be with her.

She's definitely not in Happy Valley right now, but I know her. Regardless of how she feels, she is trusting God. Why? Because He is God. Because He is good. Because He is Powerful. Because He works all things for the good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose. Because with Him nothing is impossible.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Investments

Recently David and I went to Ashville, NC. We had the opportunity to attend a conference at the Billy Graham Training Center. It is a beautiful location that provides a wonderful atmosphere for refreshment through the word of God. I highly recommend it!!! (And they have scholarships if you are military.)

We also went to visit the Biltmore Estate. It is also a beautiful location. The house is mammoth. David and I walked around for hours, listening to the audio tour. I had two favorite places...the veranda, the view was breathtaking. And, the library....I really wanted to sit and read the books. But, alas, everything at the Biltmore is off-limits. It's a museum and everything is priceless. (And, I might add the cost of touring the facility is PRICEY).

While I get that it's a museum, in my soul I was saddened. Thousands of books will never be read. Thousands of sunrises and sunsets will never be viewed. It seems like a waste really.

As I dealt with these emotions, I began to think about the investments of these two men. The man who built the Biltmore and the man who built his life around sharing the good news that Jesus brings. What are the returns on their investments? What are the results of how they spent their time? How were people's lives affected?

What investments am I making in the future? What kind of legacy will I leave? How am I spending my time? Weighty questions, let me just say!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

AAAHHHH!!!

Yesterday Little E, who's three, got sick on the way to school. We promptly turned around and came home. I set him up on the couch with waterproof tablecloths all around him. And of course we put the handy, dandy bucket beside him for his puking pleasure.

He never used the bucket, but let me tell you that waterproof tablecloth he was laying on was a cinch to clean...actually he would clean it himself (pretty nice since by this time I was joining in on the sickness venture).

This am my husband went to wake up our six-year old for school and smelled the dreaded smell. I'm glad I was still in bed, let me just tell you that. So now, our six year old is laying on the waterproof tablecloth.

Well, he just got sick and I'm so proud...he used the bucket. But my favorite thing was when his little brother said. "Oh, so that's how you are supposed to do it!!!!" Education at it's finest.

I'm off to do some serious cleaning!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Crazy at the Cove

David and I went to a conference at the Cove in Ashville, NC last week. It was spiritually renewing and I will talk about that later, but I wanted to share some of the quirkiness of our trip (in no particular order).
  • We ran into a former college student from our Ohio days. He's married now with one child and one on the way.
  • I met a man from Memphis who looked vaguely familiar. Turns out he was the judge when I went to try and wiggle out of my speeding ticket. OUCH!!
  • It rained and rained and rained!!!
  • The rain kind of blocked out the view of the mountains...what mountains?
  • When you go to the bathroom in an outhouse at the top of a mountain, it's kind of breezy.
  • We ate and ate and ate.
  • We opted to stay at a Bed and Breakfast since we knew the Cove didn't have TV's, after all it was vacation. Guess what...the B&B didn't have TV's either. Guess what else...a TV free week was nice.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is a beautiful drive.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is a spooky drive when the clouds are swirling around you.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is not the quickest way to get to Memphis from Ashville.
  • Traveling without kids is so much easier!!! (Although I did miss them!!)
  • Driving a Hummer really does feel like you are driving in a tank.
  • Driving a Hummer makes you feel way cooler than driving a grocery getter (minivan).
  • It was great to go, BUT it was even more great to come home to our sweet family.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Where have I been?

It wasn't my intention to take such an extended blogger break. But, the time away from the computer was well spent. We've been up to a few things around here.

First, my house needed some significant de-cluttering. Usually I spend all my time in other areas of our home and the master bedroom seems to become the dumping ground. My nice, walk-in closet is dubbed "The Pit" and you certainly couldn't walk in it. Now, it's organized...well for me it's organized. I can actually step foot in it.

Second, my husband and I had the opportunity to go away for a few days. We went to a conference at "The Cove". It was great. I'll post more about that later. I will say that spending time with my hubby was wonderful. And, thanks to my aunt who made it all possible by caring for my four kids while we were gone!!!

Finally, I'm reading a book called "Making Room for Life" by Randy Fraze. Well, first I read Ted Dekker's book "Adam". I digress. This book by Randy Fraze is making me think.

The Smith's are in a BUSY season of life. Sometimes I miss the good ole' days. When we lived in Ohio and we hung out with friends all the time. When we only had two kids and we weren't outnumbered 2 to 1. When it was just the two of us and we....I'll refrain. You get the picture.

The fact of the matter is I want to enjoy the moment. Today is a new day. This season in life is unique and once it is gone, I will not be able to recapture it. Period. So, I'm thinking and pondering.

What is important in life? I can certainly give the textbook answer to that question....God, family, friends...people. But, can I live out the answer? Does my life reflect a full-on commitment to pursue relationships?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Smith Family Bailout

With the state of economy and the rising cost of EVERYTHING, our family is in evaluation mode. It would be easy to be fearful right now. News articles seem to be screaming that we are heading into the next Great Depression. While I am no financial analyst, it does seem that our country operates in excess mode. We want what we want and we want it now. Cost seems unimportant.

If I am honest, unfortunately I've operated in that same mode and have taught my children to do the same. So, while I can't change the world or the country, I can change myself and greatly influence my family. That is why my family is taking stock financially. We're taking baby steps.

This week we evaluated what we spend on beverages. Well, I determined that we spend an average of $130 a month on drinks and that does not count if we go out to eat or pick up a drink at a gas station. For crying out loud. That's $1,500 a year. Surely we can do better than that!! So, the Smith Family budget cut #1 is that we will reduce our beverage budget to $50 a month. Milk gets first priority...we do have some growing kids. Then, tea, coffee and juice (in that order). Anything else is considered a splurge.

Our second cut is piano lessons. Both of our girls are taking piano and while they love it and are progressing well, that's $120 a month. Yes, piano is important, but it is a luxury. So, we've gone to the drawing board. We've worked with their teacher and have come up with a plan to have the girls take piano every other week. They still have to do two weeks worth of work so hopefully it won't slow down their progress. That's a $60 a month savings.

So in one brainstorming session we've cut $140 from our budget for October.

Let me conclude by sharing my Hannah inspirations. First, our daughter Hannah gave up drinking carbonated beverages a year ago. Granted we're paying her $10 a month to do so based on a good case she made . She said she would be saving money. She's decided to continue to abstain until her braces come off. Talk about will power.

My other Hannah inspiration is my mother-in law. She is very frugal and lives simply. When I'm with her I'm amazed at how careful she is with her resources. I could certainly learn some lessons from her.

Some of my favorite frugal websites are:

http://www.moneysavingmom.com/
http://www.owlhaven.net

Friday, September 26, 2008

Who knew?


Here's a pic of our dear little boy Noah when he was four. Isn't he cute? Isn't he sweet? Doesn't he look innocent?
Well, this week he came home from school with a poor conduct grade. As we dug deep to determine the reason, we found out "he had shown his backside to some boys in the classroom".
That's a nice way to say that the moon was shining brightly at school. At least it was only a partial moon, not a full moon.
I mean seriously these boys are causing me to question my sanity. Yes, we spoke with him about the inappropriateness of this. However, I realize this just paves the way for some other boyishness.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thoughts from a 3 year old.

Yesterday after Bible study I picked up my three year old. I usually ask him what he learned. He usually says "Nothing". Well, let's just say he was a bit more talkative this time.

Here's the conversation on the way to the car:

Mom - "What did you learn about baby Moses today?"

Elijah - "The bad guys put the babies in the river to take a bath because they didn't have a bathroom in their house".

And then in the car driving home:

Elijah - "Mom, is darn it a bad word?"

Mom - "Yes"

Elijah - "Is jumping a bad word?"

Mom - "No. Where did you hear darn it?

Elijah - "Bible Study"

He really makes me laugh.

He can however recite the verse "Direct my footsteps according to your word" for which I'm grateful.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dream Big!!

This morning our daughter who has a hairline fracture and is not able to play soccer shared the following dream she had last night.

"Mom, I dreamed last night that I was playing in the World Cup. And, I was my age. And, my whole team was playing with me. And, I scored 15 goals. And, we beat Italy and won the World Cup".

"Oh, and I dreamed that I met the Jonas Brothers."

"Oh yeah, and I dreamed that I became a star on Disney Channel."

Poor girl!! All her energy is oozing out in her dreams. We'll find out today how her leg is healing. She's handling this like a trooper.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Delighting in the Unexpected

Yesterday was a day I had been somewhat dreading. It was going to be a day full of activity from morning until night with no breaks. A day when I needed a detailed plan to determine where to be and what to do.

My day started early!! It was planned to the minute. Then, at 6:30 a.m. the phone ring. Who in the world calls at 6:30 am? It was my neighbor asking me to do his family a favor. It was serious enough that I took 30 minutes from my day to help my neighbor. It did not stress me out at all, even though it was not in "my plan for the day".

Before I left for work I was reading from a book entitled "Keep a Quiet Heart" by Elisabeth Elliot and this excerpt just seemed to scream at me, with my to the minute plan for the day. "She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying that it gave her great comfort, and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship, was securing the accomplishment of His will and working out His own designs"

Delighting in the interruptions...what a concept.

Unfortunately the experience of the morning and the success I experienced at delighting in the unexpected early in the day flew right on out the window in the afternoon hours. I won't go into details, but it was not pretty. It involved a missing purple sock that was the part of the soccer uniform....minutes before we needed to leave to take soccer pics.

And no, the sock never was found. What I did find was intense frustration and agitation in my heart that spewed all over my daughter and everyone else in the house. I can't say I delighted in the unexpected. I can say God used the pressure of the situation to reveal what was in my heart.

Today is a fresh start. Thank God!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

I took the plunge

This weekend my husband set me up a facebook account. He recently spoke with his college roomate and I commented on how I really needed to get on facebook. So, he hooked my up. Now, I have a few friends and I'm still trying to figure it all out.

The plus side is I've become friends with people I haven't seen in years. My favorite comment was a friend from college who said I haven't changed much. Little does she know I used a college photo (just kidding, it's a recent photo). The truth is I have changed so much not only in physical appearance, but also on the inside. And, I have a mortgage, four kids, a cat, a husband, a to do list a mile long. Talk about life change!!!

The down side is.....wow how much time could facebook consume of my life. Hubby made a great suggestion to set a timer when I use facebook. Technology is great and yes I love my DVR, my computer, et al, but I have observed that it does eat up my time if I'm not careful.

So here are my questions for the day....what's so great about facebook? Does it eliminate the need for e-mail? How in the world did "my new friends" find me on facebook within hours? Isn't it all a bit frightening? I would love to hear your raves and digs about facebook. And, any pointers would be greatly appreciated by this newbie.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Two Steps Forward Three Steps Back

You know it has just been one of those days. It seems like when I make progress in one area, something else falls apart. This morning went well, I made some progress on the wreckage of my house. I went to Kroger and found some deals!!! My favorite were the bags of chocolate for .75!!!!!

My day got ahead of me and I had to rush to get to my "appointment" to meet some friends at Starbucks. Let me just say that I LOVE that time of the week. It's a regular time to just get together with a few women and talk about life and God. It's a time to relax for a bit and breathe.

I had to rush out of the meeting and pick up my kids at school (crutch girl can't ride the bus). When I got home it seemed like a tornado was brewing in my dining room. My oldest daughter and her friend were finishing their time capsule project highlighting different Native Americans. They were working hard trying to finish on time.

The ultimate moment that I truly haven't figured out how to deal with yet and I'm procrastinating by writing this blog entry is this...I went to put a load of clothes in the dryer. When I reached in, my hand felt cold, slimy, little pellets of yuk everywhere. It took me a moment to figure out what it was.

I washed a pull-up with a load of clothes. So, it's Friday evening and I have to figure out how to get pull-up guts out of my washing machine. SIGH!! However, in all things I will thank God.

I'm thankful that I have a washing machine
I'm thankful to have electricity.
I'm thankful for pull-ups
I'm thankful for a beautiful day

I'm praying for those on the coast who are waiting for the storm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Love/Hate Relationship

I have a confession to make....I hate moon sand. Last Christmas some dear soul (either my mother or my aunt) gave my children moon sand. "Moon sand, moon sand, sand that you can mold." It was supposed to NOT be messy and more fun than play dough. Bonk, I say!!! It is the messiest and I mean messiest concoction on the planet. In the past year my children have played with it three times max and usually when I am rendered unconcious because of some illness.

Now, I have another confession to make.....I love moon sand. This past week we realized that moon sand played outside works pretty well. It's still pretty messy, but at least it is outside and not tracked all over my house. My kids played with it and many of the neighborhood kids played with it. At one point I believe there were ten children surrounding this small table playing happily with moon sand. The funny thing is we have a ginormous sand box just a few steps from our porch that was completely ignored.

What made the love relationship with moon sand more secure is that my three year old spent an hour outside on the back porch with his sister this past Monday morning. Quiet in my house, what bliss. So, I've declared "Moon Sand Mondays" for one hour each week. It's only coming out once a week people...maybe I'll bring it out as a treat on the weekends if I'm feeling generous.

The morale of this story.....what we hate might just become what we love.

Good News/Bad News

Yesterday was just one of those days.

The good news is our oldest daughter does not have any bone damage in her wrist that was stepped on during a soccer game.
The bad news is our youngest daughter has a hairline fracture above her knee and is unable to play soccer right now.

The good news is our oldest son scored his first ever soccer goal (his smile lit up the field)
The bad news is our youngest son had to be sent to the principal's office (he's only three... did I mention my hair is gray)

The good news is I got a ton of Kashi products at Target. With my gift cards I earned we were able to get a couple of things we needed for our house for virtually FREE.
the bad news is my house fell apart yesterday and I've got some serious cleaning to do. (How does that happen in one day?)

The good news is "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose"

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The mind of a six year old

Last night I was making dinner and I happened to overhear this conversation between my six year old son and my husband. "Dad, when can I date?" My husband had difficulty formulating a response to this question. Finally he asked our son if he knew what a date was and his response was, "Well, yeah, me and a girl go to a restaurant and I pay."

After a bit he concluded that he should probably wait until he is sixteen. My husband agreed that was probably a good idea.

Did I mention that my hair is completely gray?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The mind of a three year old


Today Little E and I were reading the book, "Harold and the Purple Crayon". It's his new favorite book. We read it often and I mean often. This afternoon I was reading about Harold who decides to take a midnight walk with his purple crayon and draws many fun things. At the end of the book Harold draws his bed and gets into bed. At the end of the book Elijah asked "Where are his mommy and daddy and when are they going to come in, get mad at him and tell him to get in bed."

Very perceptive...not that we had ever "get mad at him" and tell him to go to bed. He never gets out of bed once we've tucked him into bed. Actually, I am concerned that Little E might decide to go for a midnight walk one night with a purple crayon, hence the twelve dead bolts we're planning to install!!
Seriously, if you have a preschooler, I highly recommend this book. It's creative and imaginative!!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Heart!!

Last night Clara's team played their first game of the official soccer season. A couple of weeks ago, Clara was selected by her team mates to be captain along with another young lady. Both of the captains were injured and unable to play last night. Plus, the captain from last year was also injured. Yes, three girls were injured and unable to play. AAHHH!!!

That left ten girls to play the entire one hour game (two subs). They were down 1-0 most of the game and came back in the final few minutes to tie the game. A moment of euphoria. Unfortunately, the other team scored with a couple of minutes to spare and they ended up losing.

It's one of those games where even though it was a loss, I believe it was a victory. EVERY SINGLE girl worked hard and poured themselves into the game. They worked together as a team. They passed the ball. They took shots at the goal. Most of the game was spent on the opponents side of the field.

We were proud of the girls and their victory in spite of the defeat!!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's been a long week!!

I will spare the details, but let's just say I've spent the week getting well acquainted with my bathroom. The result has been an intense desire to simply hang out and relax. It really is amazing how many habits fly out the window when I don't feel well. No blogging, no time alone with God, no exercise, no hanging out with friends, no cleaning my kitchen, no cooking (so how on earth did my kitchen get so dirty). Oh yeah I have five other people in my home.

Even though it has seemed like an eternal week and my accomplishments are tiny. My laundry piles has reduced. My kitchen counters can finally be seen. I have spent a great deal of time this week hanging out with my youngest. So much so that yesterday I really felt like he might seriously be physically attached to me. He's growing up so fast that I for the most part enjoyed the attachement.

So, my question this morning is should I eat or make a cup of coffee? Or should I just drink water?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Random

Yesterday we were sitting at the soccer game. It's almost the end of the game and our team was down 1-0. We were all realy focused on the game. If the girls either tied or won, then we would be first in our bracket.

At that moment, my oldest son loudly asked the question, "How are movies made?" Everyone just looked at him incedulously and waited to hear my answer. Then before I had a chance to formulate a coherent thought, he asked "How are channels made?" I really don't know where these questions came from. Maybe he thought it seemed like a movie at that moment.

In the movies our team would have shot and scored in the final seconds. Life is not a movie. We lost 1-0.

On Hold

Our blog renovation is on hold for a few days. This week has turned out to be CRAZY. It was the first week of the new semester at the school where I work and I worked a few extra hours.

Plus, it's soccer tournament weekend. Seriously, I'm getting OLD. Yesterday I sat on my tush and watched my daughter play two games of soccer (and watched my son practice soccer..that was entertaining). This morning I'm sore and tired and really just want to go to bed.

Clara busted her tail and worked really hard even though she is fighting an ankle injury and she's been hacking up a lung for the last few days. Hopefully she will wake up refreshed and ready to go for her game(s) today. I'm realizing she is an all or nothing kind of gal. Nothing by half measure. I wonder where she gets that?

Never in my wildest dreams did I think our life would be so full of soccer. My children seem to love it. It is becoming a large part of our life. What I am so thankful for are the families on Clara's team.

We've been together for two years now and are building strong friendships. Each family is special and unique and we are enjoying getting to know them. I realize that it takes time and intentionality to build friendships. It takes effort.

The whole concept of friendship is on my mind because I got a phone call from a dear friend last night. We were neighbors for a season and then she went and moved someplace exotic and we've lost touch. It was great to talk with her and hear about her life today.

We all need people in our lives. We need to know and be known. We need to know that someone cares. So, no matter where we are in life, what season we are in, we need to make the effort to be a friend.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Power of Advertising!!

Elijah was watching some TV this morning. He just came to me and said "Next time am I going to have light up Sketchers?".

New Look

It's time to give Chateau Smith a facelift. She's looking pretty tired these days. It will just be a little tuck here and there, nothing too major. One of the areas that I want to update is the blogs I read. It would be helpful to me if you could post a comment with your blog name so my "blog administrator" aka my husband can easily make the adjustments.

Thanks!!! I love the blog world. It makes me smile every day to read blogs. I love seeing pics. I love keeping up with the lives of friends far away. Maybe one day I'll get a facebook account.

Fresh Peach Pie

This is my FAVORITE peach pie recipe. We usually only have it during the summer when we pick fresh peaches. It's so YUMMY and EASY. This comes from the Southern Living Annual Recipes Cookbook.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 TBL brandy (don't usually have this, use vanilla)
1 baked 9 " pie shell]
6 large fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
3 TBL lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 TBP powdered sugar
1 TSP vanilla extract

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar and brandy (or vanilla), beating well. Spread in bottom of baked pastry shell; chill.

Combine peaches, lemon juice and 1/4 cup of sugar, cover and chill.

Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy adding 3 TBL powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Cover and chill. (I suppose you could use the canned stuff if you're in a pinch for time)

Drain peaches; arrange over butter mixture in pie shell. Dollop whipped cream mixture over peaches; SERVE IMMEDIATELY.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Morning Ramblings

Here's my thoughts that I don't have the energy to collect this am.

  • It is possible to have too much of a good thing.
  • 100 pounds of peaches is almost, (but not quite) too much of a good thing.
  • 5:30 is too early in the morning.
  • Coffee is a cherished gift.
  • Is it really only Tuesday?
  • Why are there so many barbecue places in Memphis?
  • This winter I'm going to LOVE making peach cobbler!!!
  • My friend's daughter asked me if I was decorating my house with peaches
  • I'm not sure where she got that idea.
  • Could be that EVERY surface in my house was covered with peaches.
  • My husband loves his job!!!!
  • I love my husband!!!!
  • He's making breakfast as we speak.
  • I love my job(s).
  • I love my children and think they are incredible.
  • Yes, I'm stalling and now I'm off to get ready for the day

Monday, August 18, 2008

Peach Pics












This morning we took a field trip to the orchard with two other homeschool families. The kids enjoyed their time. I love the pics of the girls hanging out in the trees. I'm sure they are discussing their school lessons for the week.

Friday, August 15, 2008

'nuff said...

The Individual

Educating my oldest daughter at home is a challenge and a joy. The unexpected surprise is how much I enjoy reading the books she is reading. It sharpens my mind and I'm learning so much in the process. Yesterday I read a biography of Mother Teresa.

To say I thoroughly enjoyed it would be an understatement. Here's a quote by Mother Teresa that I love and that I pray will impact my life.

"I believe in person-to-person; every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, that person is the only person in the world for me at that time."

How many times am I talking to someone, but thinking about something else? What would happen in my home, my world if I adopted this philosophy?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Peaches

This past year our youngest began to show signs of the same finicky eating that his older brother displayed. I was committed to avoid making the same mistake twice. Keep in mind I have two girls who eat great, so I'm not a complete failure as a parent.

Well several months ago I decided to draw the line in the sand with my youngest. Over the years I've heard many people recommend that if a child doesn't eat dinner you hold it over to breakfast and so on until they eat. While I had never tried it, I thought okay, I'll give it a shot.

Enter the infamous peaches. My youngest was given some peaches with his dinner. He decided NOT to eat the peaches. I firmly explained he couldn't have anything to eat until he ate his peaches (After all he'd eaten peaches before, so I knew it wasn't a matter of dislike). I put the peaches in the fridge and told him he could eat them for breakfast.

At breakfast, no can do, he would not eat the peaches. Again, line is drawn in the sand. I got firmer and said he had to stay in his room until he ate the peaches. I'll make a long, painful story short and say my willful young man spent the day in his room coming out periodically to look stubbornly at the peaches.

We were at war. Neither would budge. Although I did lose a little ground by giving him some milk (my mistake).

Finally, by the evening I could take it no longer. I put those blasted peaches in the blender and made him a peach milkshake. Technically I won. He consumed the stinking peaches, but it was a hollow victory.

Why do I tell you this story today? My husband and I took two of our kids to pick peaches and yes my youngest was one of them. He was pretty pumped about picking peaches.

It was a lovely morning in the peach orchard. The ultimate moment was when I heard Elijah who was walking slightly behind me, holding his basket muttering to himself...."I don't like peaches, I don't like peaches, I don't like peaches".

Clearly I have scarred him for life. By the way we picked 75 pounds of peaches.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ignorance is it bliss?

I'm loving the comments about camers and realize that my friends are really so much smarter than I am. I know this will make some of you laugh, but I've been genuinely trying to figure out what in the world SLR means. It's a term that's been flying through my comments section.

This morning I finally did a google search and read the information. Can't tell you what it means, but I realize it might be important to me in my search. One day a long, long time ago I actually had an interest in photography in college and remember my Pentax camera from those days.

However all that is a distant memory replaced by years of ministry to students and now the day to day ministry to four children. But, since I'm homeschooling my oldest, I'm committed to learning with her. I've decided ignorance is not bliss and my goal this month is to learn about cameras and photography. While I may never be a professional, I do want to capture these wonderful moments with my family.

Facing the Giants


Our daughter plays competitive soccer. Last year she played in a tournament with the team that is a year older.
This pic was taken with the infamous Sony camera. She may be little, but she's tough and she's hanging with the big girls. She has been known to hunker down low and send girls flying over her back.
By the way, I'm loving the helpful comments on cameras and realize this research phase may take a little longer than expected. Thanks for the comments!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Camera

Our camera has been on a slow decline this year and we've been limping along with it, not really wanting to spend the money on a new camera. The camera was a gift from my parents and it was very nice. It has served us well. However, I'm realizing it is time to purchase a new camera.

With three children playing sports, we would like to upgrade a bit. We need to be able to get a shot from a decent distance and we definitely need to be able to get the action shot. While we will not be getting the $1,200 Sony camera that we previewed at the soccer tournament last spring, we do want an amazing camera for a low price.

So, I research. Any suggestions on the best way to get a great camera and save money at the same time. I figure I've been saving pennies on groceries (which certainly add up to big-time savings over the long haul), so I should apply the same principles I'm learning with groceries.

These are my specific questions:

Where is the best place to get a camera? When do they go on sale? Does anyone know if they offer rebates? What cameras are the best while also are reasonably priced. I'm not looking to go professional here, but I am hoping to improve my picture taking capability. Is a camera worth purchasing used or should I go for a new camera?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Inspiration!!

Watching the Olympics inspires me. It makes me want to be disciplined, to be the best, to reach for greatness. There are some movies that also inspire me...Chariots of Fire, Hoosiers, the Bad News Bears, Field of Dreams, Cool Runnings, The Karate Kid, Facing the Giants and Rocky just to name a few. I remember vividly Nadia Cominici winning the gold medal in the olympics. It made me want to be a gymnast even though I had never taken a single gymnastics class.

As our family sat and watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics Friday night it was one of those freeze frame moments, when I wanted to stop time. I wanted to get inside the minds of my children. I wanted them to be inspired. I wanted them to dream big dreams. I wanted them to be moved to "go for the gold" so to speak.

Tonight my six year old son is participating in the "Field of Dreams" where he gets to run on the field with the professional baseball players and stand while the National Anthem is being performed. I imagine that is pretty big in his world. Unfortunately, my girls had soccer practice and they are learning the hard way that in order to play on a team you have to make sacrifices.

Speaking of Olympic athletes...what is it that causes some people to excel? While I doubt seriously any of my children will be Olympic athletes, I do want them to do their very best. And I want them to do it all for the glory of God.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

School Starts Tomorrow!!!

School starts tomorrow. Those words both sadden me and make me smile. They sadden me because summer is already over. Although here in the south that statement is not even remotely true. More accurately, the lazy days of sleeping late and going to the pool are over. They make me smile because a new year brings a fresh start, new clothes and supplies, new teachers and subjects, new lessons to learn.

My kids are eager and I'm excited!! The hard part will be getting them to bed tonight. And, the hardest part will be dragging my hiney out of bed at 5:30 am!!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Play Pics


Here's some pics from the play the kids were in last week. So fun!!





Surprise!!


Last Friday the Smith kids took the stage (well three of them) for the final performance of their drama camp. Their grandparents decided to surprise them and show up for the performance. It was a fun night and the kids did GREAT!!

Thanks for grandmommy and grandaddy for your extravagant and sacrificial love. We were glad you were here!!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bargain Boot Camp

My foray into couponing has occupied much of my time and attention. I feel like I'm in bargain boot camp. Day and night, hour by hour I'm training and there seems to be no end in sight. It is hard work to go from being a flabby spender, to a frugal fighting machine. Recently I was reading a book by John Piper, "Don't Waste Your Life" and he used a phrase "wartime lifestyle".

That phrase has been knocking around in my brain and haunting me. Why? Because it is foreign for me to think that way. Because it is necessary for me to think that way. Because it is right for me to think that way.

In the book an illustration is given about the Queen Mary, in the harbor at Long Beach California which is now a museum. The Queen Mary was used as both a luxury liner in peacetime and a troop transport during WWII. Currently as a museum it is set up as a contrast. One side shows the peacetime dining room with a table setting with 15 plates and saucers for the wealthy. On the other side the dining room reveals one metal tray with indentions. In peacetime there were 3,000 passengers. In wartime there were 15,000.

What would change about my life if I thought in these terms? How would this affect my spending? As I continue to ponder, let me share an excerpt from Piper's book.

"It is more helpful to think of a wartime lifestyle than merely a simple lifestyle. Simplicity may have a romantic ring and a certain aesthetic appeal that is foreign to the dirty business of mercy in the dangerous places of the world. Simplicity may also overlook the fact that, in wartime, major expenses for complex weapons and troop training are needed. These may not look simple and may be very expensive, but the whole country sacrifices to make them happen. Simplicity may be inwardly directed and may benefit no one else. A wartime lifestyle implies that there is a great and worthy cause for which to spend and be spent (2 Corinthians 12:15)."

A wartime lifestyle....what does that mean in practical every day life?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Working the Deals!!

I have a confession to make...being frugal is not really natural to me. Frankly it's a ton of work. Thanks to several websites www.moneysavingmom.com and www.couponmom.com and www.hotcouponworld.com I've been learning. Also, it has been fun to have many friends on this journey. You know who you are Cheap Chicks (+Brian)...thanks for being so great. (Spending less so we can give more!!!)

Today I want to celebrate the victories!! Saturday I went to my friendly, neighborhood Walgreens and bought $150 worth of merchandise. I paid $17 and got $10 in Register Rewards (you use them like cash on your next purchase) and will get $7 from rebate. So, doing the math I basically got $150 worth of stuff for free. This was my first MAJOR victory in the money saving deal.

Yesterday, I went to Kroger and walked through right after they had marked down meat and dairy. I bought:

Ground turkey for 1.09 a package
Ground beef for 1.48 a lb
Milk for 2.25 a gallon

Thes items cost 50% of the regular cost. It felt like I had hit the jackpot. My freezer is now well stocked with meat for the next six weeks. We start school in two weeks, so I'm working diligently now so that I will be able to pull together quick meals as we are running to and fro.

I would love some new recipes for quick, easy meals that can thrown together!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Party

There is a video that for some very, very weird unexplained reason has become a popular hit in our church youth group. At home if I simply sing the first line my girls drop everything and start dancing and joining in. It's hard to explain, so I think I'll just share it with you...pop culture at its finest...

Strawberries

At the end of the school year we went to pick strawberries to give as end the year teacher gifts. We picked twenty pounds of strawberries. It was a beautiful, cool day (surprising for the south) and we had so much fun picking berries.
I realize it's much easier harvesting fruit that you didn't toil for. But, I wonder if it is as rewarding.
Regardless, we enjoyed our day and this beautiful fruit created by God.