Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mary Alice's Cooking Birthday Party

What do you get when you combine seven little girls, chef costumes, and a big mess? Great fun! It was finally time for Mary Alice's long awaited friend birthday party. (Sometimes we celebrate things a little late around here.) We had a wonderful time at her party, a "cooking party". So much fun!

She invited six little girls over for the occasion. We converted our living room into a cooking room by using a long church table covered with a red and white checked tablecloth. The girls got there one at a time, put on their cooking gear (paper chef hats and aprons) and washed their hands. I poured flour along the length of the table and gave each girl biscuit dough and a rolling pin. I showed them how to roll out their dough and how to keep it from being sticky by adding flour. This was a huge icebreaker. Any initial hesitancy of the kids was replaced by laughing kids who were LOVING this mess making adventure.!

After they made pizzas, we went outside and had an egg cracking relay race. I explained to each girl how to crack an egg . I was surprised at how many of them had never cracked an egg before! They were too cute, running back and forth and cracking eggs into bowls. Major even cracked an egg, and then proceeded to cry about the yucky yellow stuff that was all over his hands. It was great! Messy and fun!

After the egg cracking relay race, we came inside and the girls decorated their own cakes. Each cake was definitely an expression of each little girl's unique personality. They LOVED doing this! Once they finished icing their cakes, I pulled out the "decorations" (sprinkles, marshmallows, various candy) and writing gels and canned icing to make flowers. Major even joined in on the fun, but mostly just poked his finger into his cake and ate it a little at a time.

After the cake decorating, the kids at their pizzas and cooked up a special drink. We gave each little girl a cup of ginger ale and a bag of Pop Rocks to mix with it. This was much the same effect of Diet Coke and Mentos, but with more sound effects. The girls thouroughly enjoyed their special drinks.

We finished celebrating by singing Happy Birthday and eating Mary Alice's stove cake. This birthday party was a great success! I highly recommend a cooking party to anyone wanting to have a fun filled party for their kiddoes. It was messy, which is the best kind of fun! Today Major asked me when we are going to have Mary Alice's Birthday party again. That is exactly how I feel. Throwing parties is so much fun, much more fun than Blogger, who will only let me post a few pictures.

Birthday Party Photo Blog

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fun Times At the Smith House

Ok, so I've been busy for the last couple of days. With all that has been happening, I couldn't seem to get around to chronicling all that has been going on. If I really went into lots of detail, this blog would be entirely too long, so I'm just going to hit the highlights. (This will be hard for me as I really love details.)

-We had Mary Alice's family birthday party. Lemon cupcakes, playing in her new tent, and Cinderella stuff everywhere!

-Josh and I celebrated our 8th anniversary (FINALLY!!) Our anniversary was a few weeks ago, but we waited until an opportune time to actually celebrate. We went to the Gaylord Texan. It was wonderful! We had so much fun!! We decided that we need to make time to do things like this more often. We ate at the steakhouse there (which was incredible) and feasted on way too much food!! (Note: Those miniscule people in the picture are Josh and myself.) I guess you risk getting an undesirable picture when you ask a random hotel guest to be your photographer. Oh well, at least we know what we looked like.

-I undertook the task of repainting our living room. We are renting our house, so I was nervous to ask the landlord if we could paint. The whiteness of the house was depressing and bland to me, so I finally caved in and asked her. She said, "knock yourself out" with painting. Yippee!! So, after three failed attempts at color choosing, I finally found a color scheme that I liked. I spent the last few days cutting in the walls during the kids' naptime and after bedtime. Last night and tonight Josh helped me with the easy part, the rolling part. Now, I am pleased to say that our walls have gone from drab...to fab!!

Tomorrow we can hang up our pictures. I am slowly disposing of the once loved garage sale items that inhabit our house. Some of them have to stay, for sure, but they are going to undergo a transformation. A little paint does work wonders! I told my sister on the phone today that the paint color in the living room will actually effect how I get up each morning. As I come down the stairs, my mood will be enhanced by the beautiful walls that greet me. It is quite a fix, much like a new hairdo (which I am also sporting). Ahhh. Life's simple pleasures...

-Sweet things that my kids have said/done lately, etc.:

-Major is really into being a boy. He loves to flex his biceps and, in a gruff
voice say , "STWONG!!!" Yesterday, he had on Mary Alice's girly heels. I said,
"Major, those are nasty! Those shoes are for girls!"

"Dose shoes ah fo guls?" he asked as he kicked the shoes off. "I no want them!
I'm not a gul. I'm a (gruff voice in bold) BOY AND I'M STWONG!!!" (said while flexing his muscles.)

"Are girls strong?" I asked him.

He thought for a second. "No." he said. "Guls ah pwincesses."

-Mary Alice told me last night that she was so thankful that she had been
"given" to me. :)

-Yesterday, Josh was horse-playing with the kids as he does many times after
work. This consists of tickling them, having them ride on his back, chasing them around, and other such things. He was tickling Mary Alice. Through laughter, she was saying "Please, stop Daddy!!" Major didn't realize that they were playing,though. He ran up and said, "No Daddy! You leave my pwecious sista alone!!"
(Even though Major hits his sister from time to time, nobody else better mess
with his "pwecious sista"!)

-Mary Alice was given some cooking utensils for her birthday and made a cake
all by herself the other day! She was really pleased with herself.

-The kids and I played the funniest game today. We have a long hallway in our house, perfect for this game that we call "BooYeah!" I roll a football down the hallway bowling ball style, Major runs up and kicks it back to me and yells "Booyeah!". He then runs back and tags the wall at the other end of the hall. Then it is his sister’s turn. The kids played the "Booyeah" game for at least a half hour today and a half hour last night. I'm thinking this will be a fun winter activity in our house this year. I have to get these kids in shape somehow. I'm thinking that the Booyeah game might be the ticket to physical fitness.

-We have been majorly invaded by ants and crickets this week! They are taking over our lives!! Major must have heard me saying something about an "ant track" in our house because the other day he said, "Oh no mom! It's an ant tractor! They going to bite me!" He is also fearful of crickets, probably because he sees that behavior modeled by Mary Alice (and me). We had to work on touching dead bugs, though. Today, I killed a cricket. Major proceeded to go try and "investigate" that bug that had been so scary only a moment earlier, by poking at it and trying to pick it up with his bare fingers. Yuck! Boys and bugs!

-We went to a Ranger game with our old PC Mesquite group last week. We had such fun with our old church friends. We love seeing them any chance we get. The kids were SO cute! They sat so sweetly the entire game. They shared their cotton candy and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Major danced to the songs and intently watched the game. He has been practicing batting like a real baseball player. In Major's words, a real baseball player bats "with his bottom". What he is talking about is the stance that baseball players generally take when they bat. They sort of stick their hineys out. So Major has been explaining that the baseball players like to bat with their bottoms. Ouch! I hope not.

I can't seem to post Major's strong pictures. Blogger won't let me. The rest of the week is full of preparation for Mary Alice's birthday party on Saturday. Fun times here at the Smith house. Fun times.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Happy Birthday to Mary Alice, the girl.....

"Mary Alice, Mary Alice, Mary Alice, the girl...."
"Mary Alice, Mary Alice, Mary Alice, the girl...."
"She's sweet as she can be, she knows just what to do!"
"Mary Alice, Mary Alice, Mary Alice,the girl...."

"Mary Alice, Mary Alice, Mary Alice, the girl...."
"Mary Alice, Mary Alice, Mary Alice, the girl...."
"She's so nice and so sweet, she's the best in the world!"
"Mary Alice, Mary Alice, Mary Alice, the girl..."

To My sweet Mary Alice on her 5th birthday-

My little girl, sweet little one, where is the time going? I can hardly believe that you are turning five today. It seems like not so long ago that your Dad and I found out that we were going to be parents. We were both SO excited and SO anxious. I remember on the way home from the doctor's office when we found out that you were going to be a "Mary Alice" instead of a "Major" just how excited we were. We talked about all of the things that you might do and be, but we never anticipated the huge joy that you would bring to our lives.

From the moment we knew that there was a you, we never stopped praying about your character, about your love for Jesus, and about your future. God continues to answer our prayers every day. I see in you so many good things that I am not. You are such a genuinely happy and sweet little girl. You are a people pleaser. You love to do for others. I can see God's grace to us when he gave us a child like you. He really did smile on us with the gift of you, my Mary Alice girl. Your Dad and I were both horrible kids: stubborn, tantrum-throwing brats. (We still are sometimes.) If there were ever two people who did not deserve such a sweet child, it was the two of us. You are a real treasure, one that I am thankful for every day.

When you were born, they gave you to me and let me hold you. You had your eyes wide open and were sucking your thumb. I never saw a prouder Dad than yours that day. You were perfect and beautiful to us.

I remember that first year that I was home with you as being the best year of my life. You were such a good baby, such a "little adult" from an early age. You could be reasoned with, talked to like an adult, and you understood. You were my little buddy. I had so much fun with you. We saw every day as an adventure. You always liked being read to. I always liked to read to you. So we made a good team. I must've read hundreds of books to you those first few years.! I remember friends making remarks about your vocabulary and your memory when you were so little. You were really funny to watch, because you sounded so much older than you looked.

You have always been a bit obsessive compulsive. We think you got that from a few much loved family members. :) You like for things to be done the same way, which is the RIGHT way, all of the time. We have been frustrated at times by the need to have your blanket, your socks or hair "perfectly straight". You can be a perfectionist, and that can be a good thing, but something you might have trouble overcoming later. We're still working on trying to make you understand that things don't always have to be perfect to be just right.

One thing that amazes us is that with most things, you don't have to be told something more than once. You have the memory of an elephant! (This also can be a good thing or a bad thing.) If we tell you not to do something, you generally obey. If you forget, you are genuinely, even tearfully, sorry. Also, a few weeks ago, I was griping at people in traffic. When you asked me about why I was saying those mean things, I apologized. I told you that I didn't want to do that any more and that I was going to try to work on being more patient. Sure enough, a few days later it happened again. You said, "Mom, remember that you are trying to work on being more patient." Sure feels good to have to be reminded of those things by your four year old. I was glad that you told me though. It is scary to think that you are watching ME all of the time, learning about the right things to do and not do.

You are such a friendly little girl right now. Now that is an answer to prayers!!! You greet nearly everyone you see with a smile and a friendly "Hello!" You give hugs freely and love so many people. Your Dad and I are so proud of the way that you interact with strangers and hope that your love for others continues to grow. On Sunday, we went to a friend's baby shower. As we were leaving, you ran up and told her "Congratulations!" I thought it was funny that you would say that. You are polite and make people smile with your mannerly sayings. You use words like "lovely", "perhaps", and whatever else you might have picked up from one of your books. You love words! You are always so full of silly comments and entertain lots of our friends with the proper, adult-like phrases you use and your funny ways. Just the other day, we were somewhere with some people you didn't know. You talked to a woman there like she was your best friend. The woman laughed at you and asked me, "Is she always this.....verbose?" We are so proud of your friendliness and joyfulness. We are so proud of your verbal abilities and love of language. We hope it is something that you never outgrow!

Some things you are doing right now: laughing a silly, attention-getting laugh (which we think is very cute), reading Amelia-Bedelia books, writing "stories" for your Dad, taking naps with me, The hiney dance--(though you are almost at the end of that stage. You've passed it on to your little brother.), singing songs from The Music Man-"Pick A Little Talk a Little", "Shapoopy" are your favorites, dancing around like a ballerina, being a little mother hen to Major, making him play baby dolls with you:) , eating flavored lip gloss and non-fluoride toothpaste (Big TRUBS!!), quoting Scripture, trying to sing harmony in church(melts my heart when you try to sing along with the adults), wanting to fix your own hair (Or rather, not fix it), music, playing "horseplay" with your Dad, running on your toes, being a girl

Things you love right now: Funny foods (prunes, radishes with Ranch dressing, sweet potatoes, pea pods, popcorn, koolaid ( up until this year, you called it "juice"), milk, cookies, cotton candy Also: makeup, nail polish, perfume, dresses, the stage, playing with your baby dolls, playing preschool with my felt board, reading to your little brother, snuggling with me, reading with your Dad or me, when people take time to talk to you and be with you, the library, riding in the car at the grocery store, cracking eggs, measuring things out when we cook, playing tea party, going with your Dad on a date in his black truck

Things you don't like: being sweaty, flies (You are deathly afraid of all bugs.), doing "boy" things, hot rollers, hair tangles, friends who are mean, People who ignore you (It is amazing to me how many people ignore you and Major in the grocery store or whatever when you shout out greetings to them! I want to say- PEOPLE, why won't you say hi to my kids???RUDE!) Some nice, friendly folks say hi back, though. That really makes your day!, when Major doesn't listen to you or says "NO!" to you.

A funny thing you said to me today: My kids know the verse "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." I am TRYING to teach them to use gentle answers when in a dispute with a negative person. Today, Mary Alice came bounding into my bedroom with Major. "Mom!" she said. "I gave a gentle answer to Major, but it didn't turn away wrath!!!"

Happy Birthday to my sweet, special Mary Alice! God made you just for your Dad and I to train up in the way you should go so that you can walk in His ways. We pray every day for wisdom and guidance about what to teach you, how to teach you, and about your gifts, your friends and your future family. You are a blessing to all who know you, sweet girl. We love you so much! It doesn't matter if you are five, or ninety five, you will always be my "girl".

Monday, August 14, 2006

Love Letter

To my dear, sweet forever friend-

I heard the very sad news last night. All I wanted to do is wrap my arms around you, cry with you, and let you know you that are very much loved, but I didn't know where to find you. I love you, sweet friend. You are such an example to me of faith and godliness. I have seen you put your trust in Him many times and I know that you will do the same thing now, in this dark hour.

You are a beautiful person, such a treasure to all who know you and are blessed to call you friend. I love and respect you so much!! We are fervently praying for you and your precious kids. We are praying that God will grant you peace. We are praying that He will give you strength, wisdom, and clear direction. We are praying that he will bind up your wounds and heal your broken heart. We are praying that He will surround you with love and encouragement from those who love you dearly. I love you dearly. I am praying that you will fix your eyes on Him and that He will give you an extra measure of comfort and strength that only He can give. I just wanted to let you know how much we love you and that we would do anything in the world for you. I know that whatever happens, God will use this for His glory.

I love you, precious one.

Amber :)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I'd Rather Be A Mommy

(Warning to people not interested in the "boring" life of a stay at home mom: Read no further!)

Do you ever have one of those days? Not one of those days when things go wrong, but when things go very very...right. That was today for me. In fact, this whole week has been great! I love days like today. They remind me of all that I have to be thankful for. God gives me these days usually on the tail end of seemingly awful weeks, which to me are weeks full the chaos of being away from home too much. This week has been peaceful.

What made this week so special? Nothing really extraordinary, just the simple life of a stay at home mom. I notice that the kids seem happier when we are at home. We all are happier when we don't have millions of things going on. We get up, get things in order around the house, get ready for the day and then spend lots of time together. I love it! This week we were able to start the day off with the usual morning routines, followed by lots of reading and snuggling together or playing board games, ball or chase with Major, or dolls with Mary Alice.

We spent lots of lazy time outside together. On Monday, Mary Alice and I packed snacks in a lunchbox and went for a walk around a nice shaded neighborhood. Mary Alice pushed her doll carriage and baby doll and Major pushed his stroller past several streets and houses until we were all hot and sweaty and too tired to go any more. Then we sat down in the shade and talked and enjoyed our picnic. It is amazing how easily they are entertained! Who needs Chuck-E Cheese's when you have the free entertainment of running into recycle bins with your strollers for fun?? They were so cute as their sweaty selves sat and ate their picnics. Perfect.

Another day, Josh was helping some friends move and had been gone all day. We were actually tired of being inside, so I took the kids to IHOP to eat dinner. After IHOP, we went to the local miniature golf place. Josh and I had taken the kids there before (in May sometime) and now EVERY time we pass by Major yells, "Mini Gof!" So I took them there just as the sun was setting. So it wasn't hot--AND we got in for free! Awesome!

Yesterday, I again made the kids a picnic and took them to the park for lunch. Nobody was there except for us, so we got to use the playground equipment for our personal playhouse. It is so fun to be able to play with the kids like this.

Another day we went to the library. Mary Alice has been on a big Amelia Bedelia kick lately and has gotten Major into it too. I got lots of little board books for him and he sortof likes them, but would usually rather have us read Amelia Bedelia to him. Did I mention that these books are eternally long? But there is nothing better than a little one in your lap, snuggling with you and wanting you to read to them.

A few days ago, Mary Alice and I were able to go to a tea given for some of the missionaries that our church supports. These people are missionaries in Chile, so the tea featured Chilean food and drink and the missionaries told about their work. That was a fun part of the week, taking Mary Alice to meet these missionaries. She was sweet and friendly and asked where they were from. I told her that they lived very far away, in another country called Chile. She said, "Oh, is it as far away as Florida?" (She really wants to go to Disney World, so to her Florida is worlds away.) I explained that it is a little farther than Florida. So, anyway, today we went to Mardel and bought a World Map. We had it laminated and are going to put the missionaries picture up on the country of Chile. I heard about this idea somewhere one time, helping to teach your kids global awareness and also good as a reminder to pray for those in the mission field. The kids seemed excited about it.

At Mardel, Mary Alice pointed to a sign hanging from the ceiling. "Look, Mom! That sign says BIBLES!" She seemed very pleased with herself. I explained that there were lots and lots of Bibles for sale in that corner of the store. "Oh." she said. "This place must be very holy." I tried not to laugh, but I did smile.

We browsed around the store, which was fun in itself. It is fun to me to enjoy just being with my kids, without the pressure of being somewhere soon or trying to find something in particular. It gives us lots of chances to talk. We played with the puppets and trains and books. I bought a lesson plan book for my days at home with the kids this year. I think it will help me to be more intentional. I thought I'd never be a scheduler, but I think I've changed my mind.

These kids will grow up soon and I know that time won't be as far away as it seems now. I've enjoyed kissing their little faces, wiping their little noses, and being the one that they call their "best friend" this week. I know these "lazy" days aren't lazy at all. I am working hard at my favorite job ever, being a mommy.