Friday, December 31, 2010

Tangled, rebounder and tongue

I want to start my blog book for 2010 so I'm doing a little bit of catching up.

1. While Elisabeth was on winter break and Scott had vacation from work we took the kids to the 'big theater' (that's what we call the normal priced theaters...if we take the kids to the theater it's usually to the 'dollar theater') for dinner and a movie. They earn activities when they fill up their fuzzy jar...they earn fuzzies by doing extra chores, listening the first time they are asked, being kind etc. We normally do free or very inexpensive activities(like play a board game together, have a movie night, make a treat) but since it was a holiday and we'd never done dinner at the theater with the kids we thought it'd be a fun experience. And we really wanted to see Tangled. They loved it! They all sat so well during the moving, they ate their food and even Jane was a gem! That movie was great!

2. We got a rebounder(mini trampoline) for Christmas. I like to change up exercises and this one is nice because it's not hard on your joints but you can get a really good aerobic workout. It can be hard or easy, depending on what kind of effort you're putting into it. I keep it downstairs in viewing distance of the TV. I love that the kids will go jump while they're watching Super Why or another movie. (By the way, Annabelle likes to dress herself or will sometimes accept the help of a sibling. I hope that explains the orange shirt, red socks, pink sparkly shoes and the ballerina outift over top. Before we go out in public I'll sometimes change her clothes....If I remember before it's too late, that is)

3. As mentioned in a previous post, Jane can twist her tongue. It's pretty cool. Here's proof, albeit blurry.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Christmas Dinner

On the Eve of Christmas Eve we delivered goodie plates to neighbors and caroled at a couple of houses. We had originally planned on caroling at a couple more, but the kids were misbehaving, and Annabelle and Jane were crying so loudly, we decided to bag it... there's always next year.
Christmas Eve was much better. We had a fondue dinner and acted out the Nativity with our good friends the Ludwigs. We act out the Nativity every year and I love this tradition. It was nice having a few more kids to help play the roles. It was a very nice evening.

When we got home we let the kids open one gift. The oldest two got pajamas and Annabelle got a pair of pink sparkly shoes. Previous years, we had thought we'd do new pj's for everyone on Christmas Eve, but before Christmas this year, we took inventory of how many girl pj's we have in each size, and it's just way, way too many. I think the only one's who are going to need new pj's are our oldest boy and girl. I know that probably doesn't seem fair, but life isn't fair, right? And besides, it's not like the younger siblings aren't getting anything. Just not new clothes. Elisabeth and Char don't get all new clothes either. They get hand-me-downs from friends and cousins which I think is great. And they don't seem to mind it either. They're in good condition and new to them so it's all good. Anyway, back to Christmas...

Christmas morning Annabelle and Elisabeth came into our room at 5:55am. Scott and I don't usually sleep much anyway on Christmas Eve because we're too excited (for the kids, of course) so we were fine getting up. The girls woke up Charlie(we let Jane sleep) and then we met out in the living room near the tree and had a prayer. We pulled our angels off the tree, read them and put them in our envelope in the gift box for Jesus. After that we did stockings and then we took turns opening presents from youngest to oldest. The whole process took about an hour and a half. Each child gets three gifts from Mom and Dad (yes, we do that because Jesus got three gifts and because we don't like to go too overboard..this helps to keep us in check, I think), there were family gifts from us plus gifts from extended family.
I was hoping for a particular blender for Christmas and I was thrilled to get it! Scott said he got a bit of flak from the guys at work when they asked what he was getting for me and he told them a blender :). I told him that they just don't know me as well as he knows me. I was and am still SO excited about my blender. I know it's only been a week, but I use it several times a day. So far I've made green smoothies(many, many smoothies...they turn out SO much smoother in this blender; we are loving that!), ice cream, soup, and almond milk(a couple of batches). Next on my list is peanut butter.

Scott got the kids some tinker toys. I think he enjoys them just as much as they do. If you can't tell from this picture, he found some string to add to the tinker toys and made an amazing (and working) crane. That's my engineer! Scott went in to work for a little while a couple days this week and the kids would then ask me to make all these fancy things. So far, nothing has turned out. I think they decided it'd be best not ask me anymore. When they were working on an elevator today and I offered to help and worked on it for awhile with no apparent success, Elisabeth turned to me and said, 'That's okay Mom. Dad can do it.' And then Charlie said to Elisabeth, 'Yeah, he can make crane's too. We'll just wait for him to get home and then we'll have him help us. Right, Elisabeth?' Apparently I don't have the talent.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The bean game




I remember playing this game fairly frequently as a child/young adult. It was often played as an activity after Family Home Evening lessons. We loved this game. I completely forgot about it for a long time until recently so I pulled out a jar, a chair and some uncooked pinto beans and the kids and I played for awhile. They loved it which made me happy.

Jane is 9 months old

I have posted Jane's stats from her nine month appointment below. I will also post the other kids 9 month stats as well, to compare. The kids always get nice and chubby during the first several months and then they thin out and stay pretty small. Their smallness always seems to worry the doctor and I always have to reassure her not to worry, that my kids are always small, but that they eat and play and are healthy and happy.

The doctor did have Jane's blood drawn to check for anemia since Jane is still drinking breast milk as her main food source and doesn't care for the iron fortified commercial cereals. I told the doctor that she drinks green smoothies and gets spinach and kale as well as several fruits, all of which contain a good source of iron, but she wanted to be sure. After running the test we found Jane's iron levels were normal. No shots today, yay! Just the single finger prick for the blood draw.

Things about Jane at 9 months: she can flip her tongue over/twist it to the side. Her doctor said she's never seen a baby this young be able to do this. She doesn't walk or crawl yet but she seems to scoot on her bum. She manages to get things just out of reach by practically doing the splits in order to help herself reach a little farther. We love our happy, sweet little baby!

Jane

Weight: 16 lbs. 7 oz., 11 %
Height: 26.4in., 14%
Head circumference: 17.2 in, 43%

Annabelle
Weight: 14 lbs. 12 oz., 2 %
Height: 27.2in., 37%
Head circumference: 42.5cm, 10%

Charles
(8 month appointment)
Weight: 17.4 lbs, 15%
Height: 29 in, 85%
Head Circumference: 46 1/2 cm, 75%

Elisabeth
Weight: 17 lb 13 oz, 30%
Height: 27 in, 30%
Head Circumference: 45 3/4 cm, 90%

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sucanat Caramel Corn

I love caramel corn. I consider it a weakness of mine. If there's a fresh batch in front of me, I really have a hard time leaving it alone. And one handful doesn't usually cut it. So, I came up with this healthier version of caramel corn that we all still really like! This caramel corn contains no corn syrup or refined sugars. I'll be making another batch for New Year's Eve.

Sucanat Caramel Corn

2 Tbsp oil(I used coconut oil*)

2/3 c popcorn kernels

(or you could do 1 1/2-2 bags of popped popcorn)


½ c butter

½ c Sucanat*

¼ c brown rice syrup*

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda


Add oil and kernels to a popcorn maker and make according to directions. Or use 2 bags popped popcorn. Dump into a large mixing bowl and remove any unpopped kernels with a spoon if still hot.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients, accept soda, and bring to a boil on medium to medium-high heat. Boil for 30 seconds and then remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and immediately pour over popped popcorn. Stir together.

*These items can be found in most local health food stores. If they don't carry it, talk to an employee because many times they're happy to order it in. My nearest health food store didn't carry Sucanat but we were able to order some and they said they'd keep some on the shelf for me in the future. Sweet!

Please keep it & don't throw it away


Scott, Jane and I got this from Elisabeth the day after Christmas. It's a picture of an Angel. On the back side is a note. It says Merry Christmas and that she forgot to give this to me and to please keep it and not to throw it away. I thought that was funny :). She knows me well. I don't like to have lots of papers lying around, and the three oldest make SO many pictures all the time that I'm constantly gathering up notes and art projects to put in the recycling.

I asked Elisabeth if it would be alright if I took a picture of both sides, put it on my blog and printed it out in our blog book and then threw it away. She has agreed :).

Books read in 2010

Elisa read:
(The first eleven books were book club books; the ones with a star were books I reread)
1. Christmas on Millstreet
2. The Wee Free Men
3. Mockingjay
4. These Is My Words
5. The Guernsay Literary and Potato Peel Society
6. Walking Across Egypt
7. The Help
8. The Hidden Christ
9. Three Cups of Tea
10. The Scarlet Pimpernel
11. The Count of Monte Cristo
12. The Blue Enchantress
13. The Windswept Flame
14. Weathered Too Young
15. The Kind Diet
16. Saphyre Snow*
17. The Prairie Prince*
18. Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me
19. The Highwayman of Tanglewood*
20. ScreamFree Parenting
21. The Goose Girl*
22. Green Smoothies Diet

Scott read:
The Giver
Leadership and Self Deception
Three Cups of Tea
Who Moved My Cheese
Superfreakonomics
Bleak House
Holes
The Christmas Child

Monday, December 27, 2010

Random

1. I recently updated our 72 hour kits. I had put together one of them 7 years ago. Apparently you're supposed to change the food and water in these every six months(or on expiration date which for some foods are a couple of years, but not for the foods in my bag). I tasted a few things. They were all nasty. Even the fruit snacks. They were hard and left a really strange after taste. The cheese from the cheesy snacks had turned a dark brown color which you can see in the picture. I didn't try that one. Sick. When I updated the bags I also wrote on my calendar for several months ahead, when to change the food again. Hopefully I'll read my calendar and do it.

2. A month or two ago Charlie got his pinky finger slammed in a door at our church building. It looked like it was okay. Then a few weeks later we noticed his finger nail area was changing color and the finger nail was really, really loose. It ended up falling off a few days later. It gave him no pain or trouble. He's doing fine, the nail just looks a little gross. Makes me shiver when I look at it. It's beginning to grow back. I know this picture is terrible, but it's all I've got.
3. This is a picture of Annabelle showing off her painted fingernails and her crazy, I mean cute hair that her brother did for her. She was wearing about 10 different clips. 4. I LOVE these candied pecans. We make them as a treat fairly often during the month of December. They are one of my favorites, partly because they're made from whole pecans and pure maple syrup and that's it. The recipe can be found under my recipe tab.
5. When Jane was born her eyes were a kind of dark blue/gray color. Now they're more of a hazel color. Always beautiful.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gifts for Jesus

We started a new tradition last Christmas. During one of our Family Home Evening nights in December, we each write down a gift(or two or three) we want to give to Jesus on a white, cut out angel. The gifts are things we can give Him with our time/agency, that we know he'd want from us. Some of the things on our angels were: read scriptures daily, say morning prayer, sit with someone who is sitting alone, help sister when she's sad etc. We put the angels on our Christmas tree. Under the Christmas tree we only have one gift out before Christmas and that's a white box with a Christmas ribbon on top. Inside of the box has envelopes (or in our case, one envelope) with the year on them and angels from previous years tucked inside. On Christmas morning, before we start to unwrap our presents we say a prayer, read aloud our gifts to Jesus for this year, read aloud the gifts from previous years(or at least I think we'll do that) and then put the new angels in an envelope of their own and tie the box up again. We've modified/added to this tradition this year in order to allow us to better remember our Savior on this very special day.
And doesn't our Christmas tree look dang good?! :) I know you're all jealous and wish you could have a tree that looks this good. Ha! Just kidding. I know it's a bit crazy looking, but it's homey, well loved, and it's a constant reminder to me that we have four wonderful little children with some amazing personality and creative skills.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Billys Bootcamp- Cardio Inferno




I like to get some exercise in every day. When it's warm outside I take the kids for walks or I run when Scott's home. When it's cold out I usually do my elliptical machine or some exercise videos I own or check out from the library. A couple of weeks ago I got a new one: Billy's Boot Camp- Cardio Inferno. I loved his Tae Bo videos and this one is good as well. I've gotten the whole family to do it with me a couple of times on Saturdays or Holidays. I love watching the kids do it. They're awesome.

Billy Blanks is a good motivator...well at least for me. It's the simple things he says like, "no shakey, shakey" and "no gobble, gobble" when referring to the flab near your tricep or under arm area. You know, the spot that's especially embarrassing when you're leading music? Those phrases make me work extra hard. At the end of the video he also says something like, "Just do it. Don't try. Try has no power. You have to do it." I can't wait until Billy Blanks other work out video arrives from the library!

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Family Newsletter

Smith Family Newsletter- 2010

Another year has come and gone. It's hard to believe that our baby Jane is already nine months old! That's the age Charlie started walking which turned him into a toddler. I'm definitely not ready for that yet. But Jane is not walking or crawling and we are, in fact, not encouraging early mobility. Jane seems to be growing very well in all areas, I just wish she'd slow down. Her two bottom teeth are adorable but they're also evidence that our little baby is getting bigger. I love this baby stage. I love that she clings to me and always wants to be near me. We all love to see Jane smile and we'll do the silliest things to see it or to hear her laugh.

Annabelle is two, though she'll be turning three in a couple of months. As the third and middle child, she has taken on the role of entertainer. She is hilarious and she knows it. She'll do anything for a laugh. She loves people and they love her. Annabelle's milestones for the year included daytime potty training, a broken foot, pumping her legs on a swing, and moving to a toddler bed and into a room with her sister Elisabeth. We can always hear them in their room for quite some time after they've gone to bed, singing songs and reading books together. Siblings are the best.

Charles is four, nearly five. He'll start kindergarten in August, but for now we have our own in-home preschool. Charlie is getting pretty good at reading and writing and he's also great on his bike; riding with two wheels was something he learned how to do this year. Although Charlie is surrounded by sisters, he is all boy. He loves to wrestle, play ball, swords, dragons, and cars. Char and Annabelle have become good friends since Elisabeth is at school full time. They take turns deciding what to do with their time. Usually they choose cars, babies, house or digging in the sand.

Elisabeth turned six this year and started piano lessons. She is in school full time and really enjoying it. She is a good little helper at home so she is missed during the day by all. Elisabeth is at such a fun age. I love that we can joke and tell stories together. She is good with her younger siblings, willing to help with the things they need, and eager to teach them the things she knows.

Meeting the needs of our young family keeps me on my toes. It's hard work and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Scott continues to work with the same civil engineering firm and we're continuously grateful that he has a job. Together we enjoy reading, playing games, wholesome movies, music and food. We've been incorporating more healthy foods into our life and I'm grateful to have a loving husband who eats and puts a smile on his face when trying a new dish/experiment.

We love the Christmas season and the spirit it brings. We are so grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the reason we're here. He is the reason we're happy. He is everything good and wonderful. We love you all and are so grateful to call you friends and family.

Love Always,

The Smiths

Scott, Elisa, Elisabeth, Charles, Annabelle & Jane

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday activities


We made gingerbread(graham cracker) houses with left over frosting from a cake, and we used candies we've had in the cupboard for a really long time. In fact, I'm pretty sure the candy canes we used were from Christmas last year. Yum :). Just kidding. But it's better this way because they're less likely to eat it when it tastes a bit stale :).
We also got together with our friends, the Arkell's, and did a couple Christmas activities.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Homemade Clif Bars


I really like Clif Bars. So does Scott. They taste good, they're pretty good for you and they fill you up! The downside is that they're not cheap. The best price I've seen is at Costco. You can get a box of 24 for $20, so 83 cents a bar, which isn't terrible. But still, a bit pricey. Especially since a couple of my kids like them too. Here is the recipe I made up, tested tons of times, and we have it now just the way we want it. It's not exactly like a Clif Bar, but it's close and we all love them. I make a 9x13 pan of 15 bars which would be similar in size to the Clif Bar, a little smaller, and I figured out it would cost me about 37 cents a bar which would save you $11 on a box from Costco. I love that these don't take a really long time to make, there's no baking in the oven, and they're a nice snack to grab on the go. Here's my recipe(which I've adapted from Enlightened Cookings website; the one where home made Lara Bars also come from):

Clif Bars
4 c ground crisp rice cereal (I use the brown rice crisps and grind them in my food processor for a few seconds)
2 1/2 c ground quick-cooking oats(grind in food processor for a few seconds)
4 Tbsp flaxseed meal
2/3 c date paste (to make date paste: put 1 c dates in food processor with 1/2 c water. Blend together. You can also do this with other dried fruit)
1/2 c finely chopped nuts or seeds (I use whatever is on hand...usually almonds/sunflower seeds)
1 c brown rice syrup
1 c chunky natural peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix together rice cereal, oats, flaxseed meal, date paste and nuts in a large bowl. Combine syrup and peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted and well-blended. Stir in vanilla until blended. Pour syrup mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until coated. Press firmly into a 9x13 pan, using a piece of wax or parchment paper, while pressing with your hand, to flatten(they're sticky). Allow to chill 30 minutes to help set. Cut into 15-16 bars. Can wrap bars tightly in saran wrap, in ziplocs, or you can just cover the pan. Store them in the fridge, though you can keep them out for several hours and they're still fine(They just get a little soft since they're made with natural pb and rice syrup...but so far, not a problem. Scott and Elisabeth take them to school and work every day.)

Here are a couple of the bars cut and wrapped. Aren't these perfect? You can just grab one out of the fridge and throw it in your purse/bag etc.

I figure many of you have probably never made date paste. Here is a picture of what it should sort of look like:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Elisabeth's first piano recital


Elisabeth has been playing piano for six weeks now. They had a Christmas piano recital this week and she played Good King Wenceslas and did really well. I was nervous through the middle of her piece, and hoped she wouldn't forget the last line that we had to practice so many times with the aid of her piano book. But she remembered it(after a slight hesitation) and did really well. Good job Lis!

Here's a video of her performance: