Thursday, August 30, 2007

Playing Catch Up

So I've been a bit of a bad blogger lately. Everyone deserves a break now and then, right?

So many things have happened in the past month or so, it is hard to know where to start...

I guess I'll start with July. Near the end of July we went to the annual Smith family reunion. It is always tons of fun. Josh's dad's family comes together for a weekend each summer. For the past two years, the reunion has been held at his Aunt and Uncle's house in Abilene. They have a gorgeous, spacious backyard. Affectionately named "Club Grubb", their yard is turned into a miniature campground. We all come, bearing tents, pool toys, and homemade goodies, ready for that year's adventures.

On Saturday morning, the women took the kids to the zoo. We also had the very good fortune of happening upon a Bluebell ice cream giveaway, complete with free hats and a trip into a giant tub of Bluebell bounce house. Perfect timing, as it was a scorchingly hot day outside.

There is nothing better than free ice cream on a hot summer day...

This year, Josh's cousin, Britney, completely outdid herself! She and Josh's Aunt Deon decorated the yard to look like a tropical island paradise, complete with luau music and food. Britney and Deon made all of the adults go inside while they got everything ready for the big surprise. They helped the kids to make these gorgeous fruit arrangements. All of the kids put leis around our necks as we came outside. We were divided up into teams, and we competed in such activities as the limbo, bowling with coconuts, hula hooping, and even a potato sack race! I learned that my brother in law Chad has quite a talent for hula hooping and limboing. He even confessed that he can do a pretty mean toe touch! :) To top it all off, Josh's cousin, Brice, even had a little tropical drink stand set up, where he made us fun drinks with cute little straws. We felt like we were on vacation. In fact, we enjoyed it so much, that Josh and I decided that we needed to go on a vacation. There will be more about that in another post...

Aren't these pretty fruit arrangements? Britney and Deon helped the kids to make them!

Josh getting ready for the potato sack race... He is one hot potato!

Chad, the reigning limbo champion...

In addition to the luau fun, the kids swam a lot---and I mean a LOT!!! Mary Alice thoroughly enjoyed playing and sleeping in a tent with her cousin, Megan. These girls giggled late into the night and had so much fun together. So sorry for Megan's parents, who had to sleep in the tent with these giggly girls. Hopefully, it wasn't too bad. Our tent wasn't big enough for any extras, including our own kids. We probably need to buy a bigger tent for next year......Naaah.

Mary Alice and her cousin Megan. These girls were practically inseparable!

Perhaps one of the best things about Josh's family is that they are all committed Christians. There are nearly a dozen families that come together to make up Josh's extended family. These people are all committed believers. I am so blessed to be a part of such a strong family.

I will move on to August... I was sick for a week near the beginning of the month and went to stay with my family. It was fun to be at my old house, without having to get ready for anything or do anything. I spent lots of time with my sister, Hannah, mainly just talking. I spent lots of time talking to my youngest brother, Ben. He educated me on the different types of music that are out there. I no longer listen to any popular music and am clueless as to what people are listening to now. The kids and I usually listen to one of three things: classical music, Christian music, or a soundtrack from some musical. Needless to say, I am out of the loop. It was interesting to sit with Ben for more than an hour, talking with him about the difference between "screamo" and "emo", if people who listen to "screamo" also listen to "emo". It was quite a funny conversation, actually. I guess this blog doesn't quite capture the funniness of the moment. We also discussed the brilliance of Rachmaninoff. (Ben is an excellent pianist.) I was quite impressed with his musical diversity. I mean, How many other ninth graders love Rachmaninoff and Weird Al? Funny kid.

Unfortunately, the move to our new house was scheduled for the week that I was sick. Josh's parents were kind to come and help Josh to pack up our old house. Josh and his mother had most of our things set up just as I was feeling better. Funny how that happened. :) Seriously, though, we couldn't have done it without their help.

I've spent the past few weeks unpacking boxes, organizing drawers, etc. I can finally say that I have only about four small boxes left. Two of these contain photographs that Josh is going to scan for me. The other two contain things that I don't know what to do with, but can't throw away. I will probably end up getting rid of them anyway. :)

Also in the month of August was Josh's birthday and our ninth anniversary! Yet another reason to take that much deserved vacation!

Mary Alice turned six on August 15th. What a blessing she is! It is with mixed emotion that we celebrate, because she is one year closer to being "an adult." My little girl is growing up! I can hardly stand it! She is getting to be such a big girl. I feel like I am so behind on blogging. I usually like to write her a birthday letter. Maybe that is something that I will do when we eventually take our vacation.

For her birthday, Mary Alice's Poppa and Gran took her to see the Wizard of Oz play. One of the things on my to do list during the week I got sick was to make a Dorothy dress for Mary Alice to wear to the play. Thankfully,for Mary Alice's sake, Gran was able to do the sewing. I am not sure if my "dress" would have been distinguishable as a Dorothy costume, as I am not a wonderful seamstress. As it turned out, though, she looked absolutely adorable! She had so much fun watching the characters on stage. Poppa said that it was more fun watching her than the actual play. Also, because she knows a little something about plays, she was asking questions like, "How did they change so quickly?" and said to my mom, "What is an ensemble?" as she devoured the program. This girl is a laugh a minute, I tell you... At least to us :)

Mary Alice with her Gran and Poppa before the much anticipated play. Toto even came along and sat beside her for the performance. :)

We celebrated her birthday with Josh's family by eating at Red Robin. It was fun, with the exception of the overwhelming brigade of noisy singers that came to our table to scare Mary Alice half to death, I mean, sing Happy Birthday to her. It was absolutely pitiful. This army of teenagers (unintentionally, I'm sure) started their birthday chant right behind Mary Alice. (It was more like a loud continuous "BOO!") Her first look was that of a baby, who falls down and then looks around at everyone, wondering whether or not he should cry. After she realized that the singing wasn't going to be stopping any time soon, Mary Alice then buried her head in Josh's mom's shoulder, while the loud chant continued...all the way the end. They presented a sundae to Mary Alice, who, by this time, had tears streaming down her cheeks. This birthday sundae thing would've been much better received had they said, "Hey there, sweetie. We are going to sing a little Happy Birthday song and give you some free ice cream." Instead it was a singing, stomping, clapping jamboree, all while a poor little girl lay sobbing in fear on her grandmother's shoulder. Note to friends and family: Nobody in our family likes to be serenaded on their birthday by restaurant personnel. I don't know about Josh, but I might burst into tears too if people I don't know sing to me, even if presented with a free dessert!!

Let's see...What else has been going on? I have been furiously trying to get Mary Alice's school stuff organized. I realized that even though I had ordered most of her curriculum months ago, I had failed to order the must have markable map for her geography as well as the amazing timeline wall chart that I am expecting in the mail any day now.... I feel just as antsy and giddy as if my first day of school were coming up. I am so excited to begin this journey with my kids and have been pouring over Mary Alice's textbooks, organizing and listmaking. I just can't wait! Josh and I feel very blessed to have support from our family as we begin this endeavor. Most of our friends seem extremely supportive as well. There is one comment that I have heard repeatedly that bothers me. Some have said, "Homeschooling! I could never do that! I just couldn't be around my kids for that long!" This attitude is something that I cannot fathom, as being around my children is one of the things that I look forward to the very most. I know that homeschooling is not for everyone, but the idea of intentionally hoping to minimize your time with your kids? That idea is just crazy! I am praying that this year will be a good one and that God will give me wisdom, diligence, and patience and will help me manage my time well. I'll let you know how it goes.

This past weekend, we went to Temple to celebrate my nephew, Jonah's, 1st birthday. He was adorable. Alisha made the most awesome cake ever. You really should check out her blog and take a look at this cake. It was incredible!

Here are the kids wearing Bubba teeth after Jonah's birthday party.

Last, but not least, I will mention Mary Alice's birthday party. We had 12 children (and their parents and brothers and sisters) at our house this past Saturday. Mary Alice has been obsessed with the Wizard of Oz lately. My sweet girl loves to read and tends to really get involved with her read of the moment. Prior to the party and in preparation for the play, Mary Alice read three different versions of The Wizard of Oz. She can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the story. In fact, I would venture to say that we are all Wizard of Oz experts here at the Smith house. All of her guests came in costume, which was fun. We played lots of Wizard of Oz games, listened to Wizard of Oz music, and ate crazy green food.

Landon ate more of the Emerald City than he built...but he was the cutest lion you've ever seen!

Just a cute picture of my Major... He really really wanted to be a tin man that day. I think these will double as their Halloween costumes.

Mary Alice running in a relay race

Here is my mom as the Wicked Witch of the West. I am so glad that I have such fun family members. Most of them came to the party in costume. Alisha came as Glinda, Hannah, as a munchkin and Dad as the yellow brick road!!!

The real Lollipop Guild...I could eat them up!

Isn't Jonah adorable? He has the best expressions. I think he looks like an old man here.

Hannah and Ben...being Hannah and Ben A public thank you to Hannah for making almost twenty little green pizzas! I think they were a hit!

There was one glitch in the party games. We had a bit of a problem with some water balloons that wouldn't burst. I had this wicked witch laminated and hung on the fence. The idea was to throw water balloons at her to melt her. When the balloons failed to pop being thrown horizontally, I suggested that we put the witch on the ground and just...drop/slam the balloons onto her face. Those balloons still wouldn't pop!!! Finally, Josh came up with a creative solution. He poked a nail through the witch's face. The kids then had to throw their water balloons directly onto the witch's face. She looked pretty funny with a nail coming out of her face, but Josh's idea worked! By the end, I'd say she was totally melted.

The house was transformed into Munchkinland. It was all worth it when Mary Alice told me that it was the best birthday party she'd ever had. They are only kids once, you know. We had such fun getting ready for this special day, a day to celebrate the day that we first met our sweet Mary Alice. She really is such a blessing.

My sweet little six year old girl...showing off her creation

Everyone after the party...Almost everyone dressed up. So fun!

Sweet girls hanging out on Mary Alice's bed

I guess that's all for now.

Mary Alice's First Book

I'm working on a post right now that will give everyone an update on what we have been up to these past few weeks. I just have to add a few pictures. I'll try to get that up tonight or tomorrow.

For now, I thought I'd post a little story that Mary Alice wrote today. She typed it on the computer and is now pasting the words to some stapled together color pages to create a book. Her first book! I am so proud! :)

I find it really funny that she can spell "scarecrow", but not some of the simpler words (back, girl, etc.) I guess it shows just how much we've been into the Wizard of Oz over the past few weeks.

Updates coming soon...

The Wizard of Oz Story
by Mary Alice Smith

Dorthey is sad Becas she is away from her parins. She waets to gat bak to her parins. And she waets to gat bak to Kansas.

Glenda the good witch is happy becas Dorthey came to her land.

The scarecrow is happy becus he has his brans

The tin man is happy becas he has his heart

The lien is happy becas he has his crig

The wikid witch is beying a bad garl.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blogging Break

Just a quick note to let you all know that the reason for my brief break from blogging. We are in the process of moving into a new house and have many many things going on here. I'll be back soon. Check back in September.