Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Case of the Stinky Bath Towels

I need some help solving a problem....and QUICK!

I have been dealing with this annoying problem for a little over a month now and I can't seem to figure out how to fix it!

The problem: a stinky mildewy smell on many of the towels in our house (This was probably caused by ONE time of leaving a load of towels in the washer for the greater part of a day...or maybe two days :) Josh will insist that I've been forgetful with our towels on more than one occasion, but I assure you....I have NOT!

Steps I have taken to fix the problem:

1) A thorough washing and rewashing of each and every towel in our household (in hot water), followed by a very thorough drying

2) Soaking them in vinegar, then washing them twice, then drying them at a high heat setting

3) Cleaning out our washer with bleach- (Our washer has a washer cleaning cycle.) I just thought, in case the washer was contributing in any way to the problem, I would nip it in the bud.)

4) I washed the towels, layed them out in the hot sun to dry, then rewashed them, and dried them at the dryer's hottest setting.

5) I bought special new Bounce Lemon Verbena dryer sheets, to help disguise any remaining mildew fumes. I now have towels that smell mildewy, mixed with a hint of Lemon Verbena.

Josh's solution is to trash the towels and buy new ones. I want to solve the problem and get my towels back to their original sweet smelling selves. I feel like I've tried every possible thing that I can think of, with minimal success.

Can anyone solve the mystery of the stinky towels? Can anyone help me with my problem or will the Smith family have to go on wrapping themselves in stinkiness each and every day? I am at my whites end! I'm about ready to throw in the towel!

Please help!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mary Alice's Birthday Week

Goodness! I have so much to post about! We have had many things going on here during the last week. I have been unbelievably tired every night and just couldn't muster up the energy to post about the goings on here. I'm going to try and cover all of the fun things that we've been doing...

First of all, I need to say a big huge THANK YOU to my friend, Traci, for the wonderful blog design that she did for me. I am so grateful to have gotten rid of that yucky pinkness that used to be my blog. I think that Traci did an excellent job. When I clicked over on her site, I noticed that she was doing a free blog makeover contest. You might click over to her website and leave a comment if you are interested.

Secondly, a big THANK YOU to my sis,Taylor, for taking some awesome pics of the kids. The pictures that Traci used in my header were taken by Taylor. She took so many great pictures of our kids. It was hard to choose just a few.

This week was Mary Alice's birthday week. She turned SEVEN! That is so hard for me to believe! She is a precious gift from God. She is a sweet little ray of sunshine that brings so much joy to our lives. Josh and I are so proud of our Mary Alice girl and pray daily for the woman that she will become.

A few things about our Mary Alice girl right now...

Josh bought Mary Alice a Bible a few weeks ago. Our girl is so enthusiastic about reading. We actually have to tell her, "Why don't you play every once and a while?" We go to the library about once a week. Within a couple of days, she has usually torn through all of her books. She will then proceed to read many of them again. So... Josh talked with her about the importance of reading the most important book, the Bible, and bought a Bible for her that she would enjoy reading. I have been so excited about how much she has enjoyed reading her Bible over the past few weeks. Mary Alice really loves routines, schedules and structure. So, each morning, like clockwork, she gets up at 7:00, does her chores, and sits on the couch to read her Bible. After the first week of her doing this, she started a little tradition. Mary Alice now comes into my bedroom and wakes me up and we sit on the couch and read our Bibles together. Sadly, I need this extra bit of motivation to read my Bible.

Mary Alice is still very excited about learning. I hope this doesn't change any time soon. She can't wait for school to start this year. We are starting our school year on Monday. She will be in first grade.

Mary Alice is a pleaser and is very helpful. She usually just wants to make everyone happy and doesn't really like conflict. She and Major get along very well, most of the time. She tries very hard to be a friend to him. She plays lots of his boy games with him, even when it isn't really what she wants to do. Lots of times they compromise, though. A few weeks ago, I walked in and found them playing an unusual game. They were playing "Princess Ball" with Major's cars. They had the cars paired up into couples and were having them go to a ball together. Weird. They are funnies.

Mary Alice is a cuddler. I always love it when a time comes where we can both take a nap together. She is so cozy and loves to snuggle.

Late at night, when I tuck her into bed, she usually asks if I can stay and talk awhile. Sometimes, I will stay and chat with her for several minutes. I've found that this is the best time to talk with Mary Alice. She will tell me lots of things at the end of the day that she wouldn't have mentioned otherwise. She talks about her hopes and dreams and thoughts about life and people. It is a wonderful teaching opportunity and a great chance to hang out with the girl.

She is SO sweet! I know I've bragged on this before, but she constantly asks me to do things like rub my legs with lotion, give me a pedicure or manicure, or rub my shoulders. I definitely don't argue with her when she asks to do these things. I think it important for kids to make their own choices about some things. I always let her do this when she asks. :)

She loves music. I love to listen to her sweet voice singing out in church. Often times, she will try to sing alto or high tenor. That is really funny. Sometimes she is a fan of vibrato. That drives me crazy. I've never liked vibrato. It is very sweet, though.

She is growing up way too quickly. I hate to see her getting older, but at least she's told me that when she is older, she is going to find the house closest to mine that is for sale and live there. I think that is a pretty good idea. :)

We are so blessed by our Mary Alice girl. I can't imagine life without her!

I will continue on about her birthday...

On Mary Alice's actual birthday, we started the day with something I saw on The Gilmore Girls. (I watched all seven seasons while I was on bed rest and couldn't wait to try out this little tradition.) The mom on that show goes into her daughter's bedroom early in the morning, jumps into bed with her, and proceeds to vividly recount the events leading up to and the day of the daughter's birth. We always tell her the birthday story, but it was so much more fun to tell it while snuggling underneath her covers first thing in the morning. So... early on the morning of the 15th, I jumped into bed with Mary Alice and told her a detailed story of how she came to be a part of our family. She absolutely LOVED this. Major came and climbed into the bed too, so he got to participate in the fun. She immediately went downstairs, jumped into bed with her dad, and told him the story in it's entirety. Next, the kids went in for a birthday breakfast of.....Barbie cereal. Sweet cereals are not something that I typically buy for our family. On their birthdays,though, the kids always get to pick out whatever cereal they would like. Mary Alice picked out Barbie cereal. Major said that he would help her eat it "even if it was girly". Thanks Maje.

At her request, Mary Alice and I went around town getting things ready for her birthday party on Tuesday. Josh had plans of his own for the evening. He had made reservations at the American Girl Bistro in Dallas. Josh took the girl on a special date to eat there. I wish I had been there to see her sweet face. Josh said that she was absolutely thrilled. Josh gave her a special birthday present that he had picked out for her, a charm for her charm bracelet that says, "Daddy's Girl". She loved it! They walked around the store and looked at all of the neat American Girl things that were for sale.

The day ended with a Bible story and with Mary Alice asking me to retell the birthday story to her. Of course, I did.

The next few days were filled with party preparations. Mary Alice decided that she really wanted to make these Funny Fondant People to go on top of her birthday cake. This was a very fun project and a little time consuming, but super easy. We had so much fun with this, and laughed A LOT!! Thanks to Alisha for sharing her wonderful fondant recipe with me. It was awesome! Here we are making our fondant people. Please excuse the ugly girl in the gray t-shirt. She is pregnant and sleep deprived.

The work with fondant didn't go quite as planned. Some of the faces were a little smashed and the some of the eyes had problems, but all in all, I thought they were pretty funny for a child's birthday cake topper. The sad thing was, we got carried away when we were making them and made them a little too large for Mary Alice's cake. Since the heads kept falling off anyway, we only used the heads on top of her cake. It turned out pretty cute. We served up the bodies to each girl with her slice of cake. This was a HUGE hit. The girls loved eating these miniature versions of themselves and laughed themselves silly making jokes about their mini selves. I was surprised at how much fun they had with these silly characters. Mary Alice and I had just as much fun making them. Major even got to help make his own fondant character. (His version of himself was "Super Maje" and is wearing a baseball cap and flying over the top of the party guests.)

(Left to right: Ellie, Rachel, Torie, Amilia, Mary Alice, Abby, Janae, and Jillian)
(Flying high above all of the party guests: "Super Maje")

This is Major on the day of the party. He pulled our ice chest over to the computer and was leading singing along with a CD of hymns that our kids made a couple of years ago. He does this during every song service each week at church. So cute!

This year, for her seventh birthday, Mary Alice wanted to have a sleepover. We are so not ready to have a sleepover here at the Smith house, so we settled on a pajama party. All of Mary Alice's sweet friends came in their pj's for a few hours of girly fun. This was great because when 10:00 rolled around, the girls were escorted home by their parents. This seemed the perfect amount of time for a herd of 6-8 year olds to be around each other. Mary Alice got to experience all of the fun of a sleepover, without all of the drama! Yay!

An hour before the party.... Mary Alice tries out some of the cucumbers.

Posing in her jammies... The excitement is building...

I was sad that this pic was blurry. They looked so cute!

Here are a bunch of girls looking out the front door as the last girl arrives.

This girl is VERY excited about telling Mary Alice about her present.

Mary Alice's friend, Ellie, smiles as "Fifi" gives her a chocolate pudding facial. All of the girls loved Fifi and especially loved her adorable French accent. Thanks Aunt Hannah for adding that extra special touch!

Some of the girls crept into Mary Alice's room and had a pillow fight. They were such sillies!

Here are some of the girls painting pillowcases. Thanks to Mom for helping the girls with this station. The pillowcases looked so cute!

Here are some girls peeking in at "Pedicure Palace" and "Facials by Fifi". I think this was when some of the party guests took over the facial station and covered poor Fifi with her own chocolate pudding facial. Hannah was such a good sport!

Here is the girl with her buddies Abby and Amilia. They were just having fun being silly.

Here is Aunt Taylor. She was stationed at "Pedicure Palace". She did her infamous nail lady accent and wowed the girls by painting their toes and adding flower designs and jewels. Thanks Taylor!

My station... We made body glitter. I just liked it because I could sit down.

Three crazy girls! This pretty much sums up the mood of the party. This is how they were returned to their parents at 10:00.

A headless "Super Maje".....This just makes me laugh. :)

The party ended with all of the girls upstairs watching Cinderella. Those girls were HUNGRY and ate 5 bags of popcorn in about half an hour!!

Happy seventh birthday Mary Alice!!! We love you!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Anniversary Weekend

I was having trouble sleeping and, since I usually have trouble staying awake, I thought it might be the perfect time to blog about our weekend.

Josh and I had a wonderful tenth anniversary weekend. We went to Dallas and spent some time together while Chad and Miranda took care of our kids. Thanks to Chad and Miranda for the great anniversary gift! We would love to return the favor in the future.

I thought I would tell you ten things that I am thankful for about Josh.(one for each year that we've been married) :)

1) He is kind to me and understanding of my many weaknesses. He doesn't put lots of pressure on me to do better or be better, even when I put that pressure on myself. (Example: My never ending battle for a clean house! I feel like I try SO hard, but can never seem to get everything done!) Josh is kind to me and focuses on my successes instead of my failures. Likewise, he praises and encourages me for those successes.

2)Josh is a strong leader and shows his leadership in our home. It would be so easy for me to take charge if I weren't married to someone who was so strong. I am thankful that God paired me up with someone who is masculine enough to take on the biblical role of a husband, yet humble enough to be a servant to both me and the kids.

3) I read a book once that described three different types of men: "Mr. Command Man", "Mr. Visionary", and "Mr. Steady". Josh could definitely be described as a "Mr. Steady". I am so thankful that God blessed me with this type of man.

4) Josh sees the importance of teaching our children about God. I am extremely blessed to have a man who teaches our children about God. I am forever thankful to those who passed on their Biblical knowledge to my husband and also to those who showed him what it means to live the life of a Christian. Josh makes it a priority to read the Bible daily with our children. He is truly knowledgeable (much more so than I) and is good at engaging our children in conversations about God. Just last night, he was reading to them from 1 Samuel. I smiled to myself while listening to the kids give their thoughtful (but funny) answers to his questions. The chapter was the one about how Saul disobeys God and how God delights in obedience more than sacrifice. Josh made his questions age appropriate and really communicated the point of the story to the kids. Josh always makes this special time a priority. I am so thankful!

5) Josh is a great listener. I LOVE to talk (sometimes too much)! I love this about him.

6) When I first met Josh (way back during our freshman year in college), one of the things that stood out most was his maturity. Josh definitely liked to laugh and have a good time. He just knew when it was time to be serious about things. I remember, during our freshman year in college, we were in a service oriented group at ACU. We had this day where it was our job to paint people's houses, mow their lawns, and do other sprucing up type services. I remember looking around at all of the lame-o college guys who were goofing off and patting each other on the back for their comedic acts when they should have been working! Then... there was Josh...the college guy who was actually working. He and his friend, Kevin, were the only two who understood that we had actually come to serve, not to tell jokes all day and sit around. The two of them mowed lawns and painted all day until the required jobs were done. I saw that as a sign of maturity and leadership and was immediately impressed. I still see that maturity in many different ways.

7) Josh is a servant and a good friend. Any time that anyone needs something fixed, something moved, something done at church, etc. they call Josh and he is available. He doesn't shirk work and helping others, but is always there where needed. He is dependable.

8) He smells good and he isn't gross. (I know this might seems silly to some, but to the girl with the most ultra sensitive nose possible, this quality is a lifesaver!) Josh doesn't have stinky feet or yucky smelliness that some guys have. He is very clean and neat and non-stinky. Of course he gets sweaty and a little bit smelly when he plays sports or mows the lawn, but always makes a bee line for the shower when he gets home. Also, I have known many women to complain of their husbands' rude and disgusting habits around the house. I am proud to announce that Josh doesn't have these nasty habits. THANK YOU!!! I am very thankful for a husband who is so conscious of cleanliness and helps keeps both himself and the air around him smelling well. I already struggle with nausea and vomiting right now. I can't imagine what it would be like if Josh added to the problem. :)

9) I love to be with him. Josh and I are best friends. We had so much fun just being together this weekend. He is fun for me to be around. I hope that God blesses us with many more years together.

10) Josh is confident in who he is and what he believes. He doesn't follow the crowd or seek out attention for himself. It always cracks me up when I tell him about something ridiculous that someone did or about some crazy stunt. He just shakes his head and says, "Now that's just stupid..." Yet, at the same time, Josh isn't a judgemental person and feels strongly about not talking about people in a negative way. Usually the "stupid" comments are reserved for someone who did something crazy, like ate 100 chocolate pies to get everyone's attention or dyed their hair magenta to be cool. I am so glad that Josh is so grounded, that he isn't "stupid" or a blabbering fool. He is a person I that I can respect.

So, there you have it, the first ten things that came to mind when I thought of ways that I am blessed to be married to Josh. Even as a young girl, I used to pray that God would bless me with a Christian husband. He gave me more than I imagined and much more than I deserve. Thank you God for Josh!

On another note...We officially have an author in the family!!! (Check out the two handsome cuties on the cover of this book!!!)

While we were in Dallas this weekend, we attended a book revealing party for Josh's dad. Kent (a.k.a. "Grumpy") Smith invited over friends and family who supported him during the writing of his book, Everyday Christianity. Josh's dad is an extremely gifted speaker and wrote the book based on a series of sermons that he gave a few years ago. I was very impressed with Grumpy's honesty and openness throughout the book. He doesn't hold anything back, but tells it like it is. Grumpy speaks from his heart with the voice of an "ordinary man". He has a style comparable to Willard Tate (for all of you ACU alums). I think Grumpy does an excellent job of communicating what he believes in a way that reaches the heart.

We had the opportunity to hear him speak on Sunday morning at his home congregation. After the sermon, Josh and I, along with Chad and Miranda, sat out in the foyer with boxes of some of the first copies of Grumpy's book. Several of the people who bought the book commented on how touched they were by Josh's dad's sermons and how excited they were to hear more of Grumpy's stories with a message.

I loved reading his book, Everyday Christianity, but really enjoy hearing Grumpy speak. If you are ever in need of a fabulous speaker for a men's retreat, prayer breakfast, or any other such occasion, I would wholeheartedly recommend Josh's dad. His stories are both engaging and heartfelt. God has truly given this man a talent for communicating His truths using everyday experiences. Here is a link to his website. www.grumpysmith.com. The book will be in stores October 7th, but can be bought online right now. We are looking forward to seeing just what God has in store for Grumpy. So exciting!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Something Old....Something New!

Yesterday Mary Alice went to a swim party. While she was there, I had a few hours to kill with the Maje, so we went on a little date. There is absolutely nothing to do and nowhere fun to go with a little boy at 10:00 in the morning around here. We weren't hungry. Sadly, the mini golf place (still his favorite) went out of business a few months ago. There was no bowling/roller skating/anything recreational nearby. He definitely didn't want to run errands. I definitely didn't want to be outside. So... in an act of desperation, where should we go but to The Goodwill Superstore.

I gave Major a dollar and told him that he could buy anything that he wanted as long as it was under a dollar. You wouldn't believe how much fun we had on this little date. First of all, there were lots of unusual items around, which led to lots of funny discussions and jokes between the two of us. When we walked in the door Major looked around and said, "Mom, this stuff looks kindof old." We walked through the aisles, picked up various things and made silly comments to each other. I found lots of things that would be treasures if found by the right person. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the clothing in this Goodwill store. You could save a bundle by buying your kids' clothing there. There were also a few items that I think belonged in the city landfill. For example... We found a naked baby doll with a broken leg and ratty hair... Who would want that??? Oh, and did I mention it was 75 cents, which was the same price of the brand new Peter Pan movie DVD that was still in the wrapper? Also... We found a remote control monster truck, minus the remote control, minus the antenna, and minus a wheel and front bumper. You could buy this for the low price of $1.00. What?!? Other than a few minor pricing issues with toys that should be discarded, we thought the wares that they were selling were pretty good. Major finally settled on the treasure of his choice, a 75 cent plastic sword. He was very excited and spent all day today playing pirate with his new sword.

As we were perusing the book aisle...LOOK what I found!!!

This is a 24 volume set of The Family Creative Workshop. This is the neatest encyclopedia of creative and crafty projects that I have ever seen! It is an A-Z how-to book for any kind of craft/art project you can possibly imagine. Some of the ideas are typical (making a gingerbread house, paper mache, etc.). Some of them are crafty type projects that I would never ever come up with on my own, but would be excited to try out some time (necktie dying, cheese making, making your own vinegar and vanilla, making your own makeup). I thought that it would be a really fun book to look through for inspiration.

Yesterday, Mary Alice looked through the book and found a section on clothespin dolls. She got out my craft box and went to town! Look what she made (other than a huge mess, I mean). I thought this was sweet.

From left to right...This is Marie Antoinette, Marie Antoinette's servant, and Miss Frizzle. When Josh saw what Mary Alice had named them, he asked why Marie Antoinette still had a head. :)

Okay... I have more interesting news than our recent trip to the thrift store... We went to the doctor today for our big sonogram and found out that everything looked healthy and that we are having another sweet baby girl. We are so thankful that things looked good. Here is the story. After the sonographer had checked all of the body parts and told us that they were looking good, he looked up at Mary Alice. He said, "Mary Alice, since you are the oldest, I am going to whisper into your ear if the baby is a boy or a girl. Then, for the rest of your life, you can always say that you were the first one to know. Does that sound like a good idea?" Mary Alice smiled, got up out of her chair, and walked across the room to the sonographer. He whispered the gender of the baby in her ear. Then....Mary Alice proceeded to calmly walk back across the room and sit back down in her chair, saying NOTHING!

The sonographer said, "Well? Aren't you going to tell your family if you are having a little brother or a little sister?"

AND SHE SAID..... "No. I think I will just wait to tell them until we get home." Just like that...

Josh said, "No way! Tell us, Mary Alice."

So Mary Alice said, "IT'S A GIRL!" All of us were smiling and laughing. Then....we looked over at Major. He was not smiling. His head was hanging down and he had a very sad and defeated look on his face.

The sonographer asked him, "Aren't you excited that you are going to have a little sister?"

Major shook his head sadly and said, "No." It was pitiful, but also very funny. I think he is already getting over it, though.

Tonight, as I was putting the kids to bed, Mary Alice sang to my belly and Major leaned down and kissed it and said, "I love you, baby!" I think Major just felt like he'd just lost some competition or something.

So there is our news...

Also... as I am typing it is now Friday morning, August 8th. 10 years ago today I married my perfect match. Happy Anniversary to us!!!