Monday, August 31, 2009

Elisabeth's first day of school!



Elisabeth started kindergarten last week, and this is the first official schooling she's ever had. We didn't do any preschooling, so I wasn't sure how difficult this adjust would be for her. She goes to school Monday through Friday, about three hours a day Mon.-Thurs. and then two hours on Friday. She LOVES it, and we love it too! Charles hasn't taken naps for the last year or more but the first day we brought Elisabeth to school(and every day after that), once we got home from dropping her off I told Charlie that Annabelle was going to take a nap now, that I was going to rest too and so we were going to have some quiet time. He asked if he could lay on my bed with me and I said sure. And he fell asleep! And he did this for the rest of that week! I sure hope he keeps it up because, wow, what a nice change!
Elisabeth had her one-on-one kindergarten assessment two weeks ago, and afterwards I got to speak with the teacher who told me that she asked Elisabeth if she'd be her special helper in class since Elisabeth already knows most everything they are teaching this year. Elisabeth is reading pretty well and she can count well beyond 100 and knows all her shapes and colors. As we were waiting to go into her assessment Elisabeth said to me, "Mom, I don't want to do shapes, because sometimes I forget them." And I told her not to worry because she knows enough and I'm sure she'll do fine, just to remember to count the sides if she got stuck. As I was out in the hall, I heard the teacher asking her some shapes, and boy, were we overprepared! She was asking her things like: circle, triangle, rectangle, square. Elisabeth has no problem with those. The ones she struggles to remember are the hexagon, pentagon and octagon. So I chuckled softly and shook my head at our being worried prior to the assessment.

I was a little nervous Elisabeth would be bored and wouldn't progress much this year, but her teacher is wonderful and gives Elisabeth extra assignments to work on during the week so that she can continue to learn and grow. Elisabeth loves learning and she loves interacting with other children so I think school is going to be a wondeful thing for her, and for the rest of us.

Scott was able to come home for lunch so that he too could see Elisabeth off on her first day of school. Here are a few pictures of Elisabeth with some friends she already knew from church(there are 5 of them in the class together), and her teacher is in the picture as well, and is also a counselor in our relief society presidency in our ward, which is fun.
This is Elisabeth's friend we carpool with. I pick them up one week(either in the van or we'll walk) and the next week we switch and I'll drop them off. It's a very nice arrangement since we are too close for buses. Once they're a bit older they'll be able to walk on their own or ride their bikes, but probably not for a few more years since it's about 1/2 mile.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Annabelle is 18 months old

Annabelle turned 18 months old last week and she finally hit the 20 pound mark! Weigh(get it, lol!) to go Annabelle! She's now 20 lb 10 oz(5%), and 32 inches tall(58%).

She's definitely turned into an independent little girl, and one with a lot of her own personality and likes and dislikes. She tends to screech when you misunderstand her or if you purposely won't give her what she wants. She's also a very fun loving and sweet little girl who has mastered the art of kissing(no longer the open mouth, tongue out, slobbery smooch), and loves to make others laugh. Her favorite book is, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear", which I'm happy about because both Elisabeth and Charles can read that book, so I'm not the only one who reads it to her throughout the day.
Here is a picture of Annabelle on top of the table, eating crackers. She's not allowed on the table but I've been sick off and on for awhile, and while I'm lying down resting, the kids have taken matters into their own hands. When I get up, I usually find food all over the house(it's only supposed to be eaten in the kitchen), and Annabelle climbing things she shouldn't be climbing. The big kids are good helpers for the most part, so that's nice.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Projects

We've been working on lots of different projects over the last couple of weeks:

1. Priming and spray painting some garage sale or hand-me-down bikes. We decided to spray them in colors that either boys or girls would feel comfortable riding since many siblings and friends will most likely be using these same bikes. We painted the tricycle a shiny green, and we're still in the process of painting a two wheeler, a shiny blue color.

before
after

2. A neighbor of ours brought a whole box of apricots to a ward gathering for anyone to take. Near the end of the activity, I asked her if I could take any leftovers and she said yes. So I was able to take home a lot of apricots! We made two batches of apricot freezer jam, and I made two pans of apricot fruit leather! Everything turned out delicious!!

3. Scott found a free dresser while driving home one day and picked it up. He fixed some loose shelves, sanded it down and is now in the process of giving it a second coat of paint. It looks great!

4. I've been wanting to make hooded bath towels for awhile(Gina made me a couple for my kids and I LOVE them and use them all the time) to use for the family and to give as baby gifts. I found some towels on sale and decided to give it a go. I got Samantha in on the project(she's very crafty and has a sewing machine we could use. Thanks Samantha!), we printed out some directions we found online, and made some hooded towels that turned out wonderfully! They're so cute, fairly easy(easy for anyone who has any sewing skills; which is why I say 'fairly easy' because I have no sewing skills, so I had to practice sewing a straight line a few times before I got it down alright) and a good price.

5. I was paid to teach a cake decorating class (it was basics for buttercream and fondant) at the Library this week. So I made two cakes and covered one in buttercream and one in fondant, and was able to put together an hour presentation which consisted of a lot of demonstration while talking, with questions in between and it went really well. We had about 40 people in attendance too which was bigger that I had originally thought, but cool all the same. Thanks Samantha(again) for this opportunity. I had a blast talking with all those wonderful women and talking about something I love!

Here's a picture of the fondant cake that I started decorating. I didn't have time to finish decorating either one. And the big red bin in the back is full with some of the tools and things I brought to show and use.
By the way: I'm not sure if I'm going to keep our blog private or not. I want our family to be safe, but I also like that there are lots of good people out there who can do searches and get some good and hopefully sometimes, inspirational or uplifting bits of information from our blog. And my parents are what you might call, technologically challenged(my apologies mom, if you do read this. But we all know it's true), and now that they have to put in a name and password, I'm afraid my family in Seattle won't be as updated on our lives anymore. Does anyone have any good ideas of how you can keep a public blog safe? I've heard of not using names, but I don't know if I could not use any of our names, that seems really difficult. But I don't know. Does anyone have anything else that they feel works for them or others they know?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blog going private

Hello everyone. I just wanted to give you a heads up that as of next week, our family blog will be a private blog, no longer available for anyone in the world to view. I'd still love to have all of you read up on the happenings in our lives, but I also want to filter out those people who might try and take advantage of our photos and information. I've been considering this for a long time, and finally a friend sent a link to a friends blog about a bad experience she recently had: she tracked a strange website from her blog and found pictures of her children on a porn website. Scary stuff.

And so, if you'd like to receive an invitation to view our blog, please leave me a comment here or send me an email at elisa.g.smith@gmail.com and be sure to include your email address so that I can send you an invite. Once you receive the invite, you'll have to sign in each time, before viewing our blog, and you will no longer see any of our family updates on your reader page. I know it'll be a little more of a hassle doing it this way, but I'll feel better about life. Thanks, and we hope we don't lose any of our wonderful readers!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ballerina feet

Annabelle loves to walk around on her toes. She likes that we think it's cute. And she thinks it's hilarious if you join in with her, walking around on your toes. So throughout the day, you'll catch several of us walking around like ballerinas.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Thoughts on motherhood

This subject has been on my mind a lot lately. I was recently asked if I felt like I was losing a part of myself when I became a mother; I think I was asked this because of all the responsibility you have as a mother and the personal priorities you surrender. I hadn't given it enough thought to answer the way I would've liked. So, now, after thinking about this and re-reading many things that go along with this, I think I'm ready to give my answer.

Answer: Absolutely. Yes, I do feel like I'm losing a part of myself. But it's a very good thing. Just as I've lost a lot of myself since leaving high school, and going to BYU, and getting married. Isn't that why we're here on earth? So that we can be tested and tried and give up our natural man so that we can become more like the author who created us? Whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.(Matt 16:25 and Luke 9:24)

C.S. Lewis said, "What we are trying to do is to remain what we call 'ourselves', to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be 'good'. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way-centered on money or pleasure or ambition- and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do....The more we get what we now call 'ourselves' out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become....He invented--as an author invents characters in a novel--all the different men that you and I were intended to be. In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him....The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether."

And how do we lose ourselves? "By denying ourselves of unselfish interests in order to serve others."(Dallin Oaks, member of the quorum of the twelve apostles) And then Elder Oaks said this about the sacrifice parents make for their children: "Mothers suffer pain and loss of personal priorites and comforts to bear and rear each child. Fathers adjust their lives and priorities to support a family. The gap between those who are and those who are not willing to do this is widening in today's world. One of our family members recently overheard a young couple on an airline flight explaining that they chose to have a dog instead of children. 'Dogs are less trouble,' they declared. 'Dogs don't talk back, and we never have to ground them.' We rejoice that so many Latter-day Saint couples are among that unselfish group who are willing to surrender their personal priorites and serve the Lord by bearing and rearing children our Heavenly Father sends to their care...None of this service asks, what's in it for me? All of it requires setting aside personal convenience for unselfish service. "

Now, is this a hard thing to do? Of course. Very few things in life, that are truly good, are just handed to us. We have to work hard. I have to admit, there have been times when I felt like it's too much. Too much to handle. My work days run from 630am until 8pm(13 and 1/2 hours), with no breaks in between because two of my children don't nap. It's too hard and exhausting, teaching the children to be good and kind to others. It takes up too much time: reading books, making breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks and cleaning up after it all. It takes too much energy to play with them and be a good mom, all the while keeping up on the dishes, reading my scriptures, doing the laundry, the bills, exercising, the sweeping, the messes, baths, getting children dressed and undressed, the accidents and the list goes on and on. There have been a few times, when I've had an especially hard day, that I'll think, "Why? Why, Lord, am I doing this? I've forgotten and it's so hard? I don't have the energy." And then, like I always do, I pray for help and strength. And I always get it. Always. "In the strength of the Lord I can do all things." (Elaine Dalton, the general young women president said this and it has become our family motto). He wraps his loving arms around me and I feel like I could run a marathon or move a mountain, because I know He is with me all the way, that He loves me, and that I am doing His work. This is where He wants me to be, and this is what He wants me to be doing. And He wants me to do a really good job, the best possible. And I love Him. And so I get off my knees and go to work. I get over my little pity party, and move on, and try and be better and stronger. And you know, I've found that those little pity parties that I occasionally have, are getting rarer; farther apart. And in fact, it's been quite awhile since the last one, if I can remember correctly. And it's because of Him, and His strength and goodness and power.

Being a mother has changed my life, and I'm SO grateful for those changes. Unselfish service has given me a better understanding of life, and of people in general. The relationships that I have with my family and friends are stronger, and especially the relationships I have with my earthly parents and my Heavenly parents and our Savior. As President Hinckley said, "He who lives only unto himself withers and dies, while he who forgets himself in the service of others grows and blossoms in this life and in eternity." And so, If I could go back, would I wait longer to start having kids rather than the one or two months we waited from the time we were married? Absolutely not! I love my husband more than words can express, and our love has grown so much stronger and brighter since we've served together in our roles as mother and father. And, I love my children, and I would never take back any of the time I've been able to have with them; and in fact, when I think about the future, I get sad, because I know the time we have together will decrease. But at least I have the assurance that families can be eternal, and for that knowledge, I am very grateful. Grateful for temples, and prophets and the sealing power, and that Scott and I were sealed together in the temple and that our children were sealed to us for eternity. Family is everything.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Watching dad mow

I was downstairs when I heard Annabelle calling out, 'Daddy!! Daddy, hi!' I knew he was outside, so I was curious if she could really see him(she has been known to climb on top of chairs and get onto the table) or if she was just playing some make-believe game. I ran upstairs to check and found her leaning precariously on her window sill on the arm of the rocking chair, with only one foot. She's a pretty smart girl(I couldn't believe how well she balanced on there with the rocking chair leaning so far back), but she can be dangerous too!

And just for fun: I've been putting a clip in the front of Annabelle's hair to keep her bangs out of her face while they're growing long, but she always takes them out and we've lost many of them. So Elisabeth suggested we use one of her rubberband ponytails. And it worked! She could not get that thing out no matter how hard she tried! But it looked funny(notice the way it sticks straight up. And her hair isn't that short) so I only had her wear it while we were in the house.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bunk beds

I've been keeping my eye out for a twin-sized bed on KSL(similar to craigslist, but better than craigslist for Utah), in good condition for around $50(hopefully less). The day Scott came home early for our anniversary celebration, he said a neighbor down the street was having a yard sale and there were bunk beds. So Elisabeth, Charles and I went to check them out. The bed is metal and very sturdy, in pretty good condition and the mattresses felt like they still had some good cushioning in them. And it was just under $50, so we brought them home and set them up. Elisabeth is on the bottom bunk right now(and back downstairs in her old room. Once she saw us set these up downstairs she quickly offered to move back down and we haven't had any complaints about her sleeping downstairs all by herself yet; we'll keep our fingers crossed), because we were missing a screw for the side railing. But we just picked one up at Home Depot, so once Scott gets it in, I'm guessing she'll move up. And now we have an extra bed(well two for now, but Charlie will move into Elisabeth's old one within the year), so if anyone wants to come bunk with Elisabeth, you're more than welcome to be our guest; she may even give you top bunk!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Morning scripture reading

I like to have my personal scripture study in the morning. It's a nice start for my day. I try and wake up sometime between 615 and 630am to do this, hoping I'll get some time in before the kids are up, but it doesn't always happen, especially if one of the kids had a rough night or if Scott and I didn't get to bed on time. But even when I don't get up much earlier than the kids, I'll still read, and they'll usually pull out a book from our headboard and read as well. Scott snapped this picture last week: here is our studious little Annabelle, reading her scriptures beside me.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The shoe thief

The shoe thief(aka Annabelle) has been at it again. Elisabeth got a new pair of flip-flops from Granny while in Wa, and no more than a day after we'd been home, one of the flip-flops went missing. We searched for a week with no luck. But then one day, the heaven's must have smiled on us because we found that missing flip flop, in Annabelle's room, behind the rocking chair. So we've enforced a new rule: if you want to wear matching shoes, keep those shoes in a closet with doors and make sure the doors are always shut.

A happy Elisabeth just after her flip-flop was returned; and our shoe thief in the background, eyeing the flip-flops, hoping she'll get another chance to wear the pretty sandals.