Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An Adventure..

Well let's face it, I am a city girl. It bothers me a bit that my girls are so enthralled with country music. It bothers me that they want camoflauge jackets (I can't even figure out how to spell it and I don't feel like looking it up). So, for all of you out there who are countryfied and hunters, please do not be offended by this post. I'm just keeping it real!!

The Smith's embarked on a great adventure today. We had tacos...made with venison. And I have a small confession to make. I didn't tell my kids it was bambi. I just couldn't. I kept it a secret. I was afraid if they knew it was deer they wouldn't eat it. The picture above was taken in our back yard last week. Deer are very dear to my children.

Hannah did know and kept commenting that it wasn't so bad. I made "be quiet" (translated shut up) eyes at her and she finally kept her mouth quiet. She came close to spilling the beans. Noah said they were the BEST tacos he ever had.

I have another confession to make....bambi tasted yummy!!

And, I must say a huge shout out to Matt for sharing his bounty with us and providing us a very low cost meal!! Actually it will make us two meals. The leftovers are now taco soup cooking in a pot.

Breakfast: Toast, Cheese, Eggs, Fried Potatoes
Lunch: Pimento cheese and hot dogs
Dinner: Tacos....usually we have lettuce or tomato with our tacos but we didn't have any so we did without. They were just fine!!


This morning I'm pondering if I am putting too much information on this blog...especially in this eat from your pantry challenge....i.e., who really cares what we eat? I really don't even care!!

However, as I was thinking about it I realized that it gives me accountability so that I do not only feed my kids Ramen Noodle and dry cereal in an effort to eat from the pantry and eat cheap. Of course that takes me back to the countless numbers of people in the world who eat the same thing every day.

And, it will help me to remember how to plan meals that are creative and cheap. Let's face it, I am a girl who has grown up to eat what she wants when she wants it. If I don't have it in my house I can go out to eat it. If I crave it, I go get it. I never really learned delayed gratification. I never had to cut the head off a chicken and pluck the feathers off to eat it (Lord knows that I really NEVER want to do that). I've never grown my own food (aside from a few tomatoes, peppers and herbs). I've really never had to do without!!

Maybe we should interview loved ones who lived through the WW II. They lived with rationing. They lived in a time when choices were limited. They have much to teach us.

Maybe we should serve at at soup kitchen to see people in our own city who do not know where their next meal is coming from.

Maybe, just maybe we should forego that fancy vacation this year and travel to a third world country to see, truly see for our own eyes how other people live.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Reading about orphaned children who are starving and who do not have medical care certainly puts things into perspective and changes my thoughts about food. Today I have been consumed with an overwhelming desire to......I seriously cannot even articulate how I am feeling. Overwhelmed. Thankful. Pensive. Sorrowful. Ashamed.

Ashamed that I even think it is remotely a sacrifice to eat from my pantry....for crying out loud. If you could see how much food is in my pantry, freezer and fridge you would be appalled!!

Today it has been easy to eat what we have in our house because I am so thankful.
I'm thankful for my dear husband who loves me and who faithfully ministers to people.
I'm thankful that he provides for our family and is currently cleaning out my boys trashed room.
I'm thankful for my children who enjoy one another (even though they often fight like cats and dogs).
I'm thankful that Noah kicked my tail playing Wii archery tonight.
I'm thankful for my neighbors and for the evenings we spend hanging out in the cove...kind of missing that this winter.
I'm thankful for my parents, my aunt and David's mom whose generosity always overwhelms me.
I'm thankful for friends who let me ramble and help me process truth.
I'm thankful for the body of Christ that reaches out in love.
I'm thankful for God's extravagant love.

My children slept in this morning so we only had two meals today.
Brunch Fried eggs with sauteed vegetables, pan fried potatoes, and leftover biscuits.
Snack: Popcorn
Dinner: Leftovers from fridge for grown-ups, boys had Ramen Noodle, girls went out to eat with friends...It's been so QUIET!!!
Bedtime Snack: Leftover friendship bread (Thanks Mona) and cheese crackers (Thanks Cheryl!!)

In the course of human events..

Sometimes God just truly surprises me by communicating and orchestrating things that at first glance seem to make NO sense whatsoever. I'm not sure where God is taking me right now, but I sense with full confidence that I am on a wild ride and that's pretty exciting. Again, no clue where this is headed. But, my cluelessness makes me giddy with excitement at the adventure!!!

December 26 - We have lots of food in our house. We should clean out the freezer and fridge before we buy more food
December 27 - Wow, there is a group of people doing an eat from your pantry challenge for January. We should join them!!
December 28 - Friends are adopting from Ethiopia, so I read her blog where she mentions this
blog which I started reading the entries from the beginning. (If you decided to read this blog, you really should start at the very beginning and read entry by entry until now) Compelling!! Really wanted to read the whole thing, but we found out some friends were in from Texas and were excited to spend time with them.
December 29 - Finished reading the blog. Many thoughts!!

People are hungry.
Children are orphans.
I am complacent.
God calls me love.
God calls me to feed the poor.
God calls me to be generous.
I am self absorbed.
I have no idea what it means to be poor.
I have no idea what it means to be hungry.
God has a plan and a purpose for our lives.
God loves children.
God is a Father to the fatherless.

Yes, this month we are going to eat from our pantry, but my prayer is that through this my family will "Taste and see that the Lord is good!!" My prayer is that we will be thankful for what
we have. My prayer is that our eyes will be opened to global realities. My prayer is that our eyes will be opened to the needs around me.

Who around me is hungry? Maybe the hunger is not physical. Maybe the hunger is for love, acceptance, or joy. Maybe they are hungry for God.

Am I hungry for God?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Barbecue Sauce

Problem: After announcing to the family that we were having barbecue nachos for lunch, I realized that I only had a tiny bit of barbecue sauce.
Solution: A google search, a recipe for homemade barbecue sauce. I thought it was good, but Hannah complained that it was not spicy enough!!

Menu from today...

Breakfast: Breakfast casserole, tiny cinnamon rolls, and biscuits
Lunch: Barbecue Nachos
Homemade Pimento Cheese w/ Fresh Baked Dinner Rolls for the grown-ups and macaroni and cheese for the kids

The Challenge!!

Before Christmas we went to the grocery store and stocked up on baking staples with full intentions to bake! I chose to cheat over Christmas and decided not to bake. Instead I relaxed and enjoyed my family!! Pure luxury and indulgence!! However, we have a plethora (one of my favorite words) of items in the fridge and freezer. And, I have flour, sugar and butter.

So I told my hubby that I thought we should try to eat from the pantry. He was game, because it will mean a drastic reduction in our January food budget. Little did I know that there were a group of people attempting to do the same thing. Yesterday I was checking out one of my favorite websites and saw the eat from your pantry challenge. Their challenge doesn't start until January 1st, but we are starting NOW!!

We will need to pick up a few basic items, but my goal is to spend less than $50 on groceries from now until the end of January. Can we do this? I don't know. The skeptic in me says...absolutely NOT. But the optimist says....attempt that which seems impossible!!

Now, I don't have a huge stockpile of groceries in my pantry. A couple of cans of this, a couple of cans of that, bread and sugar and flour. We do have a nice selection of meats that I have either bought on clearance. As I have taken inventory I'm realizing our meals will be fairly creative.

Oh, this would be a good time to mention my children's response to this plan. "We are going to STARVE."

Last night I was talking with a friend whose husband is in the hospital and is recovering from three unexpected and serious surgeries. We offered to coordinate meals for her family. However we didn't think we could get someone to volunteer to take a meal today.

We haven't even officially started and I admit I was tempted to head out to the store to buy items to make a nice meal for my friends!! Instead, we evaluated what we had on hand. The answer was we prepared some breakfast items that we arranged nicely on a platter. And we had some leftover Ham and Wild Rice soup that we had for dinner last night.

We were also able to add rolls to the mix which brings up a funny story!! We bought these nice frozen dinner rolls from Kroger that were on sale for our Christmas dinner. I checked the instructions earlier to see the prep time. The first line of the baking instructions say..."Keep frozen until ready to bake". So, about 30 minutes prior to dinner, we pulled out the rolls to bake them. The next part of the instructions say basically let thaw for 3-5 hours. There was a speed thaw method that took 1 1/2 hours. SIGH!!

$0.00 money spent (Two meals for friends.)
  • Breakfast: Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits (my husband makes the best biscuits on the planet...even though he did break his biscuit bowl this week) Bacon and Mushroom Casserole and Tiny Cinnamon Rolls, apples and oranges
  • Ham and Wild Rice Soup with DinnerRolls

Christmas Day!!

A very Merry Smith family Christmas!!! We had a great day opening presents, hanging out and eating yummy food!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve....the Christmas Eve Eve party spilled over into Christmas Eve since a few of the girls friends spent the night. They really did have so much fun!! As a mom, my prayer is that my children have fond, warm memories of childhood.

David and I spent the morning going to the grocery story (it really wasn't so bad and was made so much better since my hunky, handsome husband was there to help!!). He, of course hadn't finished his Christmas shopping, so once he dropped me off, he headed out into the fray. While he was fighting the crowds, I was drinking coffee by the fire and reading a book. I had such a relaxing day...a rainy day is sleep-inducing. The truth is I almost slept through the Christmas Eve service. In some ways I wish I had....I'll save that story for another post!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Elijah's World

This is a conversation that just happened...

I am the king.

Daddy: Who made you king?

Elijah: God did

Daddy: When?

Elijah: About a year ago.

Daddy: Who are you king of?

Elijah: The knights. I have six knights.

Daddy: Who am I?

Elijah: One of my knights.

Mom: Who am I?

Elijah: No one. You are dead. A bad guy killed you. You didn't have a weapon.

Daddy: Where's your castle?

Elijah: I'm in it. There are two castles. There's a castle next door. It's the Knight's castle (our neighbors name happens to be Knight). Lucas (their youngest son) is the King of the Knights castle. We fight bad guys together.

Christmas Eve Eve

On the tenth day of Christmas we celebrated by hosting our annual, impromtu (an oxymoron) Christmas Eve Eve party. It all started two years ago when Hannah's friends Emilie and Katie happened to be over on Christmas Eve Eve. Last year Katie and Emilie came over again for our second annual Christmas Eve Eve party. Here's some pics from this year's party. And thus a tradition is born!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ninth Day of Christmas

So, yesterday was the ninth day and pretty much our plan was to go see Starry Nights at Shelby Forest, but it was starting to rain and the kids were pretty settled in, so we decided to just hang tight. Our family time for the day was reading Eragon, which we are about 1/3 way through. It was really nice!! Hannah read. I took pictures. Everyone else colored.

Eight Pictures of the Eighth Day

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight maids a milking. We impromtuly (is that a word) decided to sing eight Christmas carols. It had been a shopping day!!! Hannah and I enjoyed a day of shopping with our friends Amanda and Katie. Seriously we shopped til I dropped.

Hence the Christmas carols, easy, nostalgic...picture a scene in your minds eye with everyone gathered around the piano, with smiles on their faces, carols flowing melodically from their mouths. Well that was not what it looked like at the Smith house. Boys were hiding, children were fighting, Elijah had his ears covered with his hands, nobody knew the words.

The group shots were posed. All the other shots occurred while carols were being sung!!

Seventh Day of Christmas

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven swans a swimming. The seventh day was a beautiful, busy Sunday. Our plan was to go out to lunch....a treat, we have tried to eliminate eating out and my kids LOVE to go out to eat. It worked out that our friend Ari was able to join us, so there were seven of us eating Mexican...loving the cheese dip (why do I ever get food at a Mexican restaurant?).

The seventh day we were supposed to talk about the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (there are certainly more, but that's what is on my list). Yeah, we still haven't talk about this part. But, I do have a card up my sleeve for sometime when we have time to sit all together as a family!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fifth and Sixth Days of Christmas

What happened to the fifth and sixth days of Christmas? They passed in a flash. We were certainly too busy to document with pictures. But we did have a good time!!! And shall I say Noah asks EVERY DAY...what are we doing for the days of Christmas!!!

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...five golden rings. (We were supposed to talk about the Torah which is the first five books of the Old Testament, but that just didn't happen) .

The fifth day of Christmas at the Smith house started with golden rings...fresh hot doughnuts. (Noah thought we should each eat five doughnuts, but we decided that would be overkill!!!) David and I were able to slip away and get some much needed Christmas shopping done. YIPPEE!! We even went to lunch together. YIPPEE!! YIPPEE!!

The girls trained for a new job in the afternoon!! They are going to help a friend care for her horses (aka feed and clean) in exchange for riding lessons. Let's just say THEY HAD A BLAST!! I wish I had taken pictures, but I was too stinking busy getting ready for a wedding rehearsal that I had in the early evening. They both got to ride a horse...that was a surprise. They had a lovely afternoon!!!

Then, we hosted the children of our Life Group at our house....14 kids supervised by 3 high school students. Noah said it was the most fun he ever had!! Hannah opted out and went to her Sunday School party where she had a fabulous time. David and I spent the evening with the grown-ups from life group at a different house in our neighborhood (Praise God from whom all blessings flow) where David walked away with an Enema as his the dirty Santa gift. Good Times and Lots of laughs!!!

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six geese a laying. (We were supposed to talk about the six days of creation, but haven't done that part yet). For our Smith Family fun we had six cups of hot chocolate in the evening while watching "A Little Princess". (Well technically we made seven cups since Emilie was over spending the night with the girls).

I did find a free lapbook about the 12 days of Christmas that I'm going to let the kids work on together over the holidays as a fun project.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fourth Day Favorite!!

We did it today!! We completed Christmas event for the day. Today is the fourth day of Christmas. The hidden meaning behind the carol for the fourth day is teaching about the four gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

In honor of these amazing stories, these biographies of Christ, we read four Christmas stories. As a family we piled into the master bedroom to read four Christmas books.

Fun!! My favorite part of today!! Here are some other favorites from today...the fourth day of Christmas at the Smith household
  • The basket of oranges at work filled with oranges and Lindor Chocolate (who am I kidding I didn't eat any oranges, just a couple of my favorite chocolate.) Thanks Susan!!!!
  • Favorite food fajitas... for lunch from La Guadalapana
  • Watching all the eager parents excited about coming to see their children's preschool Christmas program
  • Watching the little girl in front of Elijah's bow during the Christmas program knowing that his cute, mute little face was behind it
  • Leaving work knowing that I have two weeks to play with my family!!
  • Going to the seniors banquet at church where my two middle school daughters were serving food. One of favorite moment of the banquet was looking around the room as we were singing Christmas carols. These wonderful people love their Jesus and their church.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Plan Thwarted

Hannah planned to sit down and enjoy a nice cup of coffee. Enter cute Marley who jumped on her lap, spilled her coffee and promptly started to lick everything!! What I love is Hannah still has a smile on her face...even when her plan was thwarted!!
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When my children were little I learned early on to ONLY tell them they were playing with a friend when the friend was walking to the door. Because if I told them early and the friend did not show up they were devastated!!

I have slacked off as they have gotten older, but I am realizing that when I say we are going to do something the kids expect it to happen. In an effort to liven up Christmas I have developed this wonderful plan to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas.

Day plan was to decorate our Christmas Tree. We brought our tree home, started bringing the Christmas decorations from the attic. We could not find the lights. They were winning at the game of hide and seek. We couldn't decorate the tree without the lights!! SIGH!! And, it turned out that four of the families members needed to be out of the house in the evening. SIGH!! SIGH.

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me...a naked Christmas tree!!

Day plan was to watch two Christmas movies. We ended up laughing through one claymation Christmas movie and only watched a part of the the second. And, the lights were still winning at the game of hide and seek.

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me...two partially watched Christmas movies and a still naked Christmas tree.

Day plan was to make three yummy Christmas now I have learned my lesson. I am not completely stupid. I did not say what we were doing for the day. It turns out that I spent the afternoon with some families from the play Clara is in at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe. It was fun, but it WAS NOT in my plan. We got home late.

As soon as we got home, the kids asked me innocently and excitedly "what's the third day of Christmas?" There are lots of ugly thoughts churning inside my head. The good news is I kept them in my head and not out of my mouth. What did come out of my mouth shocked and dismayed my children.

The third day of get to clean three rooms. So, four very disgruntled children set out to clean three rooms. Not nearly as fun as baking treats, but a necessity nevertheless.

And at this point, I have yet to teach the history of hidden meaning of the carol for the third day. Which by the way represents faith, hope and love. Oh, the irony as all are waning in my grumbly heart!!

However....David did find the lights, so our naked tree has lights!!! But, by the time the girls got home from their event, it was too late to put the ornaments on the tree. My boys were beside themselves as they were sent to bed again with an undecorated tree. My positive spin was.."but look it's pretty and twinkly now!!".

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three clean rooms cleaned by disgruntled children.

Here's the lesson that I'm being reminded of as I venture forward. In life, we must plan with an open hand!!! Proverbs 19:21 says "Many are the plans of a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

So, even though the Norman Rockwell Christmas experience is not a reality in my home. What is a reality is that we are day by day learning as a family to deal with the disappointments of life. We are learning to stick together even when things don't go our way. We are learning that Christmas isn't about my perfect plan...

Christmas is about God's purpose being accomplished through a perfect baby born in a manger who lived a perfect life and died a perfect death. Christmas is about my imperfections being made perfect in the Person of Jesus.

Glory to God in the Highest. Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Man!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On the second day of Christmas...

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves. History lesson for the day from the 1500-1800's....This was used to teach young children about the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Our fun plan was to watch two Christmas movies. What in the world was I thinking?????

It was a busy day in Smithville!!
  • David went to work.
  • I went to work.
  • Clara performed "the Best Christmas Pageant Ever" twice in at a local theater
  • David took Clara to Physical therapy appointment (she now wants to be a physical therapist)
  • School for the Hannah and Noah. They practiced their play and made colonial Christmas ornaments.
  • School for Elijah. Santa Clause came to see Elijah at school...who by the way wanted NOTHING to do with Santa. When I asked him why he said, "Cause he's a fake. He's just wearing a costume." When I asked him where he got that idea he said "I just thought of it."
  • IB meeting at High School for Hannah and her parents.
  • The boys and Clara got to play at church with Ms. Stephanie!
So we all trudge into our door around 8:15 pm...some might say that is too late to watch TWO Christmas movies. Oh no....while we ate an amazing pizza dinner fresh from Pietros (it was so tasty!!), we decided to at least watch one short Christmas movie.

Turns out we had a DVD with three short Christmas movies on it. Wait, let me clarify...three CLAYMATION Christmas movies. So we watched the story of the First Christmas. Claymation is a whole new world for our kids.

I confess it was kind of lame!!! Me and the girls were having a good time laughing and joking. The boys were seriously wanting to watch the movie. Clara gave us all a lecture on the technique for claymation that she learned on "I Carly". Clara quoted the entire Christmas story along with the movie. Clara and Hannah sang Christmas carols along with the background music. I was laughing!! David was shushing!!

AND...meanwhile, Marley, our houseguest (aka dog, pictured with Clara) howled at the top of his lungs while we sang. At one point we were all (except David...I think he wanted a valium by this point) singing and the dog was HOWLING!! It was downright hysterical!!

Oh and we did watch some of White Christmas because well we had to watch two movies!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The tree

The boys had an absolutely delightful day!!
They picked out a Christmas tree that cetainly needed us.
It's starting to feel a bit like a
Charlie Brown Christmas.

Our Christmas tree is still a work in progress.
(Which means in Tennessee..
It ain't decorated yet!!)

The good news is our tree was discounted!
Clara did a great job taking pictures!!!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

O Christmas Tree!!!

So this morning I hatched this scheme to make Christmas exciting around here. My last blog post talked about how we are going to celebrate Christmas in 2009. Well today is the first day of Christmas for the Smith's.

We decided that to kick off the celebration, we would decorate our Christmas tree. Step one...go purchase a Christmas tree. We have an artificial tree that is being relegated to the upstairs this year. Most of the needles have fallen off and it is beginning to look more like twiggy tree. As the tree picker outers were getting their coats on, the doorbell rang.

Lo and behold it was a package from my mother. She sent the kids a package with a bag filled with wrapped goodies for the kids to open. Her instructions were clear. Reach into the bag and pick out your gift. We followed the instructions. All the kids picked out their gifts. And, one by one they opened them.

Here's the irony...they all picked out the same gift.