Monday, December 14, 2009


Every year, we have a Christmas tea party for Mary Alice. This year, we decided to spice things up a bit. Instead of tea, we had breakfast. Instead of them coming to us, we came to them...early...VERY the morning. We had a kidnap breakfast for our girl. It was a hit!

First we woke our kiddoes up super early in the morning and gave them their Christmas Eve pajamas.

Milla was SUPER excited! She knew something fun was happening!

In this picture, Milla is squealing with excitement.

We piled into two cars and took off to begin kidnapping Mary Alice's friends. This started a little after 6 in the morning. It was still dark outside. I didn't take any pictures until we picked up the last girl, around 7:30. Josh caught all of the surprise wake up calls on video, though. :)

Here are some of the bunch leaving the last girls' house.

Back into the car...

At our destination... This year, we held Mary Alice's party at my parents' house. Mary Alice loved the change of location. It was really special.

Quick pose for the camera...

I couldn't get over Milla's reaction to everything at my parents' house. She was fascinated by all of the beautiful Christmas decorations. Her little voice said "Pretty!" more times than I can count! The hat that Milla is wearing was made by Mary Alice. A family friend showed her how to do it. Isn't it cute? I'm waiting on Mary Alice to make one for ME. Please give her a hint, will you?

Major got to participate in waking up the girls and even got to eat breakfast with his cousins, Landon and Jonah. They are becoming best buddies.

Here is Santa Gran with Mary Alice. Thanks to Gran for all of her hard work! Everything looked beautiful! When I asked Mary Alice what her favorite thing about the breakfast was, she said, "the hospitality..." I think Mary Alice was referring to the fun extras that Gran always has at her parties. Hospitality is definitely my mom's gift!:)

Here is Miss Milla Josephine Smith in the Christmas pj's that I bought her on clearance a month before she was born. I thought I was playing it safe by choosing size 12-18 months. These long johns were a little bit more like short johns for our girl, who is now in size 18-24 months. Who would have thought that that sweet little tiny thing who popped out a little over a year ago would be so BIG now???

Milla had PLENTY of attention during the party.

Just thought I'd post these three pictures in a row. First, Mary Alice is holding Milla. She looks pretty heavy.

This was almost a picture of Milla being dropped on her head. Thankfully, Mary Alice's reflexes were quick.

Perhaps we should put Milla down for the last picture?

And finally...Here are the girls watching Josh's video of their early morning moments. It was hilarious!

Hope you and yours are enjoying this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Bothersome Chimney :)

Just wanted to share a story that Mary Alice wrote today for an English assignment. She is such a silly girl! Also... Underlining titles is something that I can't figure out how to do on Blogger, so just pretend that the title is underlined instead of in bold.

The Bothersome Chimney

(by Mary Alice Smith)

Katie was a very sweet girl who played basketball,was Beth in a play, and was home schooled.

One clear morning, Katie was sweeping the ashes at her house.

She was also cleaning the chimney so she leaned up the chimney to clean it. When she tried to get out, her hair was stuck in the chimney!

"Help! Help! Help!" she cried.

The house was silent.

"Mom, please come help me!" she said. "Oh yeah, Mom's shopping," said Katie. (not to mention that Katie was thirteen years old and old enough to stay at the house by herself.)

Just then, she heard footsteps. "Oh yahoo! It's Emily!" said Katie.

Emily said, "Katie! Poor you! You look like you've been robbed!"

"Now, Emily, " said Katie, "Please just get me loose!"

"Okay." said Emily. "There."

And that night the two girls had a sleep over.

The End

This is an initial draft. We will spend the rest of the week revising and publishing. I thought it was pretty funny! The bothersome chimney! Indeed!

Thursday, December 03, 2009


With Christmas quickly approaching, I've been doing some thinking... It seems that with each passing year Christmas seems to be more and more about shopping, Christmas lists, presents, stockings and such. I like to have a little Christmas fun as much as the next guy, but sometimes, in our little family at least, I think the joy and true meaning of Christmas can get lost in the shuffle. It all starts to run together as one great big, greedy, festive blur during the busyness of the holiday season. I mean...the things that we love to do around Christmas (making gingerbread houses, having Christmas tea parties, Christmas cards, drinking egg nog and hot cider, making Christmas cookies, etc.) are all SUPER fun, but should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

Anyway...I've been REALLY convicted to change my own mindset. Why not focus on the perfect gift of Jesus during the Christmas season and of giving and sharing that with others? I have always desired to make Christmas more about Jesus, but have never really known exactly how to go about it. Then, last week, I stumbled upon some fabulous ideas that were exactly the types of things that my family and I COULD actually do. I am so excited about some of the ideas that I found and just wanted to share a few of them in hopes that others will embrace the idea of blessing others this Christmas season. One of my relatives attended a church where someone put up a sign in the worship area that said, "IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU." Sadly, someone removed the sign from the front of the worship area. I guess they didn't agree with the message? Anyway...I thought that the sign captured exactly what I feel Christmas should mean. Not only is it not about us, but it is about JESUS.

Over Thanksgiving, I came across a book that belonged to my father-in-law. The book was entitled What Kind of Difference Do It Make?. This book was amazing! I highly recommend it. It tells many real life stories of how God uses people for His glory. It was inspirational and showed how we CAN make a difference. It was exciting, really. Often I've felt as though it is too hard for me to make a real difference in people's lives. I am at home so much of the time with my kids. I thought that ministering to others wasn't something that I could do very easily. Reading this book was a step in the right direction. God has been working on my heart, showing me how much I need to get outside of myself and my little world and start making a difference in the lives of others.

Anyway... Here are a few of the ideas that I came across (many from the same source) of just how we can bless others in Jesus' name this holiday season.

1) Christmas Verse Books- One woman made 24 of these "books" using Christmasy scrap booking paper. She printed off 18 or so verses that she felt were appropriate for the Christmas season, specifically that were about the hope or joy that we have in Jesus. She cut out the printed out verses and attached them to coordinating sheets of scrap booking paper, using double-sided tape. The books were hole-punched and held together with a metal ring to make a "book". The idea is to give one of the homemade books out to 24 people, one on each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas, whether it be someone from your child's school, someone you met at the grocery store, someone you feel is having a difficult time, etc. It is just a way of sharing Jesus' love and hope with others. Who knows what God can do in a person's life through the sharing of His Word? I LOVED this idea because it was easy and very doable. If you are like me, the idea of sharing Christ with someone is something that you find difficult. This makes it so easy! I plan on making some of these with the kids and passing them out during some of the Christmas season. And...why not do something like this more frequently, even after the holiday season? LOVED this!

2) Make A Child Smile- WOW! What a wonderful way to bless a child during the Christmas season! I was attracted to this idea because it is really simple and so meaningful. I only wish I'd known about it sooner! This website features three children who are very ill. It has their pictures and tells all about them, so that your kiddoes can get to know them and pray for them by name. All you (and the kids) have to do is decorate and write cards to them. These children and their parents have gone through so much. How exciting to minister to them by sending some Christmas joy their direction. We are DEFINITELY doing this!

3) Visiting the Nursing Home- Mary Alice's piano teacher has some of the neatest ideas! This year, Mary Alice is having a Christmas recital at the nursing home. Each piano student is instructed to bring a plate of Christmas goodies to their piano recital. After the recital, the kids will share their Christmas goodies and lovely musical numbers with the residents. SO special! And... just as soon as my kids have no trace of a runny nose or cough, we are planning a visit to our local nursing home. Those of you with kids (or babies), this is SO easy and can really brighten someone's day. There is so much to learn from these people!

4) One of the ideas I came across, which I'm such a dummy for not thinking of myself is baking cookies FOR OTHERS. Yes, in the past, I have been quite good at baking cookies to stuff my OWN face and the faces of my family, but, sadly, not for others. Maybe our neighbors? Along with some of those Christmas Verse Books, perhaps? This one is SO obvious. DUH. We HAVE to do this.

5) Well chosen music- To help in making Christmas more about Jesus, how about throwing in some songs about Jesus into the mix of Jingle Bell Rock and Santa Claus is Comin to Town? After hearing someone sing "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" at Mary Alice's Christmas play last night, I am officially declaring it my favorite Christmas carol ever. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL, and OH-so-much-more meaningful than, say, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

6) An Advent Calendar- We have an advent calendar that we bought from Children Desiring God when Mary Alice was about 2 or so. I've heard that they are revamping it and am excited to see what Noelle Piper will come up with next! In the mean time, we continue to use the original (now broken) to remind us daily of the story from Luke 2. I found this neat idea on the net for another type of advent calendar. This one has several tiny gifts that you can give your children, each with special stories having to do with the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ. Neat, isn't it?

Advent Countdown

1. Quarter
2. Grape gum (or candy)
3. Smiley sticker
4. Gummy fish
5. Birthday candle
6. Bell
7. Fish crackers
8. Cotton balls
9. Piece of a map
10. Soap
11. Heart sticker
12. Cross
13. Packet of salt
14. Sand
15. Flowers(silk)
16. Raisins
17. Seeds
18. Christmas carol
19. Small rock
20. Crumpled foil
21. Mustard seed
22. Dove
23. Small scrap of woolly material
24. Blue marble
25. Picture of a baby.

December 1 - A quarter! That equals 25 cents. But 25 also stands for the number of days till Christmas, when God gave us His best present. Jesus told about one woman's gift and the way she gave it. Read: Mark 12:41-44

December 2 - Grape Gum! Grapes make jelly and juice, raisins and wine. But Jesus didn't need grapes to perform His first miracle. Read: John 2:1-10

December 3 - Here's a smile! A smile usually expresses happiness. Jesus gave us many instructions to keep us happy. Read: Matthew 5:1-12.

December 4 - Fish! Well, if you were surprised to find these fish, wait till you read the story today! Others were surprised to find fish, too. Read: Luke 5:4-7

December 5 - A birthday candle? As you know, we are getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birthday. However, Jesus talked about something else that is related to this candle. Light! Read: Matthew 5:14-16

December 6 - You could make some noise with this. But it would not have bothered a certain man--until he met Jesus. Read: Mark 7:31-37

December 7 - These would not go very far if you were really hungry! But Jesus could make much out of little. Surely He knew how to multiply! Read: Matthew 14:13-21

December 8 - These cotton balls would be helpful in a thunder storm, wouldn't they? We could use them for ear plugs to muffle the loud noises that thunder makes. But we know someone who doesn't need cotton. Jesus can control the weather. Read: Matthew 8:23-27

December 9 - People needing to use the other parts of this map are in trouble! Don't you get lost today! Read: John 14:1-6

December 10 - It's soap. Do you like to wash? Behind your ears? Washing turned out to be a happy time for a man who met Jesus. Read: John 9:1-7

December 11 - Hearts. Wordlessly, they speak of love, don't they? Jesus spoke some commands about love. Read: Matthew 25:17-41

December 12 - We use the cross as a symbol, representing Jesus. Do you know why? Read: Phillipians 2:1-11December 13 - Ordinary salt. Yes, Jesus related salt to us and our behavior. He also gave us some advice. Read: Matthew 5:14 and Colossians 4:6. (Notice that He doesn't recommend pepper!).

December 14 - Don't try to eat this! It's sand. It reminds us that Jesus knows something about architecture, about buildings--and building lives. See His instructions: Matthew 7:24-29.

December 15 - Flowers are pretty, aren't they? Jesus used flowers to teach us a reassuring lesson. Read: Matthew 6:28-34.

December 16 - Raisins! Many children are given raisins instead of candy for a snack. That's because they are a health-promoting and delicious fruit. Jesus told us how we can produce good fruit. Read: John 15:1-5.

December 17 - Jesus told a story about seeds that man planted. Then He explained it, revealing its deep meaning. Read: Matthew 13:3-8 and Matthew 13:18-23.

December 18 -Christmas is just about a week away. And here is an appropriate song. Sing it loudly! Read: Psalms 100.

December 19 - A hard stone! Can you change this stone into a piece of bread? Do you think Jesus could? Jesus was asked to do just that. Do know how He handled it? Read: Matthew 4:1-4.

December 20 - Try to smooth out this piece of aluminum foil and use it as a mirror. It's hard to see your reflection plainly, isn't it? Many circumstances are hard to understand, but someday everything will be clear. Read: 1 Corinthians 13:12.

December 21 - The mustard seed is the smallest there is! When it sprouts, it grows into one of the largest plants! See what Jesus said. Read: Matthew 17:20.

December 22 - We've learned that the cross represents Christ, but do you know what the dove stands for? Read: Matthew 3:13-17.

December 23 - The threads that compose this fabric came from the wool of a sheep. Jesus called Himself the good shepherd. Do you know who His sheep are? Read: John 10:7-18.

December 24 - A marble! Do you know what is sometimes called the "Big Blue Marble"? The world. God made the world for us. What does God continue doing to the world? And who is the world? Read: John 3:16.

December 25 - Isn't this baby cute? When he was born, he made a whole family happy. Jesus was born a baby, too. He came to make the whole world happy. Read: Luke 2:1-20. Enjoy your celebration today. Continue to learn about Jesus--and love Him forever!

7) Do Things For People- Whether it is the homeless, those in prison, or just people who are lonely or hurting, try to bless others in small ways. Who knows what God will do just through the simplest of acts of kindness? God can use you to bring about His purposes!

8) Small One- This Disney movie is so precious! My kids love it! It is the story of the donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem. I have to warn you, this is a serious tear jerker! My kids will be watching this movie this Christmas, most likely with their cousins. I will be watching it too, but in the privacy of my own room, where I can cry with no shame. :)

Anyway, I just came across SO many great ideas (none of them mine) that I simply had to pass on to my friends and family. Remember when you are stressed about giving that perfect present or feeling less than pleased when you receive a re gift, "IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU" at all! It's about Jesus and about sharing His joy and blessings with others.

May God use you and yours to bless others this holiday season!