Monday, December 31, 2012

Nora's First Tooth

Nora's first tooth came in about a month ago.I tried to get a picture of it a couple of different times but that is not an easy thing to do. I even tried snapping a picture as I gave her a bite to eat, you know, right when her mouth opened up? But that didn't work. Once she saw the camera she stuck her thumb in her mouth and smiled like, "uh-uh. I know what you're up to and I'm not going to cooperate." The one below was the best I could get of her bottom, front tooth.

Last week Annabelle, Jane, Nora and I were down stairs folding loads of laundry while watching an episode of Chef Brad (he cooks grains into every single dish; it's pretty cool). I looked over to Nora and started laughing because she flipped the laundry basket on her head and was happily playing underneath it! See the little toy mirror in her hand and her green ring? She was just having a good ole' time.

During nap time and/or if I get another free moment in the mornings/afternoons, I like to prep for dinner so that I'm not having to stress about it when all the kids are home from school and kids are needing help with homework and piano etc. So I'll do things like chop veggies, prepare the salad, make sure beans or rice are cooked, tortillas made or food is in the crockpot. Then once it's 530pm and I know Scott will be home in 30 minutes, all I have to do is throw things together and then kids will help set the table if they've finished homework and piano and we're good!

While I'm throwing things together just before dinner, Nora is usually awake at that time and wants to be with me(read: cries non-stop if I'm not with her or if someone else tries to play with her...this is her tired and fussy time of day) so I sit her on the soft kitchen mat near where I'm standing and pull out her bucket of toys which will keep her content for about 15 minutes, which is usually just right. I remember the days when I used the kids nap time to read and do whatever I want. Not the case anymore. Hasn't been that way in awhile. Now I use that time to cook, catch up on cleaning and do some school stuff with Annabelle. And I do make sure to set aside about 30 minutes a day so I can keep up my blog, but gone are the days where I get an hour or two to myself. And that's okay with me. I actually quite prefer this. I am so blessed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

If You Cook a Pot of Oatmeal

It's Christmas Eve!!! That means tomorrow is Christmas Day!!! This is hands down, my absolute favorite holiday and day of the year! Anyway, just had to get that outta the way. Onto my post:

The other day the kids and I were in the kitchen and I was smiling, lost in thought, putting a scenario that had happened earlier that day, in poetic-ish form :). The kids asked what I was smiling about and so I told them my poem/story: (if you know the children's books, "If you give a mouse a cookie" or any of the others, this should make some sense)

If you cook a pot of oatmeal,
Baby Nora will smell it from inside her crib.
She'll wake up and start to gab,
And so you'll leave your cooking oatmeal and go in to get her.
When you walk into her room, you'll smell something unpleasant,
And so you'll give her a bath.
While the bath is filling, you'll talk and smile with Nora.
She'll get in the bath and you'll scrub her all clean.
You'll wrap her in a towel and step out into the hallway.
Then you'll smell burning food and remember you had started a pot of oatmeal.
You'll run into the smoky kitchen and give a sigh of relief when you see there is no fire.
You'll dump the pot of burnt oatmeal down the drain.
And chances are, if Nora was watching,
She'll want you to cook her a new pot of oatmeal.

True Story.

And now I get teased about how I burned the oatmeal. That's what families are for, right? I love that we always have a good time together, whether it's playing soccer games in the back together, cleaning the kitchen together or laughing over mom's burned oatmeal together. Never a dull moment in the Smith home :).

Two exhausted sisters fell asleep on their dad while watching the Christmas Devotional
Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Tree Angels

 Three or four years ago we started a tradition of making Angels to put on our Christmas tree. But they're not just any angels, these angels are special because each member of the family has their own angel and has written on their angel a gift they will give Jesus this coming year. We made our angels for a Family Home Evening activity a couple of weeks ago and before we started, we got out our angels from previous years and read what we had written which was fun(I keep them in envelopes with the year written on the outside in a white box that I keep with our Christmas decorations).

 Usually the kids gifts go something like this, "I will be nice to my siblings, I will read my scriptures every day, I will say my prayers, I will be obedient" etc. This year Elisabeth, our 8-year-old, got a little more specific. She wrote out about 5 different things and I smiled when I read this particular line, "I will try to eat the food my mom prepares and always say thank you" :). I loved it and I told her so! And the really great thing is that she's at the age where she actually remembers and works on these different things. And I'm so glad because she tends to be our pickiest and therefore our whiniest at the dinner table. I expect great things at the dinner table this year and have already seen a difference in her just these past two weeks since we wrote out our gifts. (I know it seems more like a gift to me, but she's trying to be specific in how she can show obedience and love and I think this is perfect.)
 After they finished writing(the younger ones colored them too) on their angels, they stuck them on the tree.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Concert

The last time the kids were off-track from school, we made a visit to an assisted living center and made a few new friends. We've been back a couple of times now to visit with our friends and make some new ones and the last time we went during dinner time and Elisabeth and Charles put on a mini Christmas Concert, playing Christmas songs on the piano in the dining area.
It was so much fun. I think our favorite part was after the concert when we were able to go around and talk to the people at each table.  And we made sure not to forget a single table. The kids adored all the attention! And these kind elderly folks sure loved being able to see and hug these cute little children of ours. Elisabeth surprised me by totally opening up, talking loud and clear and giving several people hugs! She's typically our shy child, but that wasn't the case this night.
Charles was so excited to find our friend Don, and Don introduced us to his good friend 'Charlie'(another elderly man who eats with Don in the cafeteria regularly). Charlie asked our Charles if he was as big of a trouble maker as himself and then he called himself the 'riff raff'! We had so much fun!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Leader of the Week

Both Elisabeth and Charles have been chosen as Leader of the Week some time during this school year. They got book bags, a certificate and a nice note from their teacher and then took a picture with the principal. Way to go kids!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Mrs. Graves on the left, Lisa from Udot and Elisabeth shyly accepting her bike
 Every year, Udot does a drawing for kids to win a bike and helmet and a few other things. In order to enter you must be a student at the elementary school in their district, and you must walk/bike to school for at least a few weeks prior to the drawing; which is no problem for my kids because they walk/bike almost year round. My kids always enter the drawings and Elisabeth actually won a couple of years ago and so we were surprised when we found out she won again! When Udot called to inform me, I told them she'd won before so if they'd like to pick someone else that'd be fine with us, but they still wanted to give it to her. And so she got another new bike, this one bigger than the last so it'll probably last her through elementary. I told Elisabeth since she has such good luck, she should probably not enter the contest next year so others have a chance :). At the same time, with three younger sisters, these bikes will be VERY well loved.
Elisabeth with principal Jacobs

 Charles was happy Elisabeth got a new bike because it meant he could ride her other one since his bike has been down for over a month. We've tried to fix the flat a couple of times to no avail. It looks like we'll need to replace the tire. And allow me to clarify; he's happy to ride it around the house but there's no way he'll take it to school because it's a girl bike :). Do you like his orange soccer socks?

 We've been trying to get Annabelle to ride without training wheels for months. I especially wanted her to learn once Nora was born so that she could go farther and ride faster while I pushed the double stroller on walks. But she just wasn't ready. When Scott took her training wheels off and we tried to help her along by holding on the back and running along with her, she wouldn't budge. She'd just sit there and cry. So we put one training wheel back on and she would occasionally practice riding with her one training wheel, but not very often. She was not motivated.  Then about a month ago I told Annabelle that once she got her training wheels off and could ride without them, we'd have a party for her. Well, that did it for Annabelle. She spent a lot more time out on her bike practicing with her one training wheel. A couple of weeks ago she asked us to take the training wheel off again, but we didn't want to take it off when she wasn't ready and then have to put them right back on again so we asked her to practice more. Finally, this past weekend she asked again and when we said the same thing she went back outside to practice and a minute or two later Elisabeth came running in and said, "Mom, she's ready! You've gotta come out and watch this!" And this is what I found(you can watch it on a short clip here):

Yep, Annabelle was riding in circles at an angle over and over again not allowing the training wheel to touch the ground! I thought it was pretty hilarious. Good job Annabelle!

 And so now they are off. And she is free and can ride so much faster and can go a lot longer without getting as tired. I now have to jog to keep up with her whereas a week ago when she had the training wheel on, I'd pause during my walk every few minutes so she could catch up.
 That night, as promised we had a little party for her. Elisabeth made this banner that says, "Great job learning how to ride a two wheeler!"

 And Scott persuaded Annabelle that Christmas sugar cookies would be a good way to celebrate :). We had to open a can of white flour from our food storage since I don't keep it on hand anymore.
 After they each had 2 sugar cookies, we froze the rest and went for a ride in the van to look at Christmas lights!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Today is my dad's 86th birthday! Growing up we had the tradition of putting up and decorating the tree on Dad's birthday, which we loved. Even though our family puts the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving( Scott has some extra work off so it's convenient; and we're overly excited for Christmas), whenever the 10th of December rolls around, I remember being together and decorating the tree.

I love Christmas! I love the entire month of December leading up to Christmas! I love seeing the snow(it actually snows here in Utah! And on Christmas! I don't recall a single Christmas in the 20 or so I spent in WA, when we had snow), I love the smell of cinnamon candles, and good things baking, I love Christmas lights, I love the red and green decorations, I love making and bringing out neighbor gifts, I love that we get a couple of extra days with with Scott home all day, to be with family, and I LOVE our Savior and am so grateful to have a time of year dedicated to Him and His entry into this world and of giving like He always is giving. People, in general, seem happier and more cheerful during this time of year. It's just wonderful!

We've been listening to Christmas music around around here for a few months already because the kids have been learning Christmas songs on the piano. Actually listening to Christmas songs on the radio started up around the beginning of November. I can't wait until after Thanksgiving. I never could. It just does not give me enough of my Christmas music fill to have it around for only one month.

In the beginning of November, Annabelle asked if we could pull out our play/lego nativity set. I told her that we had to wait to get that out until after Thanksgiving along with all our other Christmas decorations and Christmas children's books. She kept asking day after day until finally Thanksgiving was over and we could pull it out. I like putting it away during the rest of the year for two reasons: 1.) less likely to lose baby Jesus and the other little pieces and 2.) getting them out each Christmas season creates such excitement with the kids that they play with them really well, and for a really long time during that month that they get them out. If we had them available year round, they wouldn't be that exciting and the kids would most likely forget about them like they do their other toys.

Group picture with the wise mens' camel(in Annabelle's hand)

 And here's the tree with our Christmas books underneath. We bought this tree for our first Christmas as a married couple about 9 years ago; I think we picked it up at Rite Aid for $20. It's been a good little tree. We have lots of home-made ornaments from the kids and a couple of years ago we bought some shiny, bright blue ornaments and painted "Y"'s on them to represent BYU. Those are about the only matching ornaments we have. The children love putting the ornaments on and so we let them. They did a pretty good job spreading them out, though we did surprisingly have to move more down low because everyone wanted to stand on the piano bench to add some up top :).

I also love Christmas time because we make and eat cinnamon rolls! I make this whole grain recipe that's SO yummy! I have an overnight recipe so we're going to make them Christmas Eve to eat Christmas morning! Can't wait!!! You can find the recipe on my real foods blog,  here.

And let's end with a Christmas song! A video of Hugh Jackman and two other men doing a choreographed number to "We Three Kings"! I love it! Have a wonderful December!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nora and Bangs

Nora has taken a big step in solid food eating over the past couple of weeks and so I wanted to document some of the things she eats and loves: oranges (served in the soft, cloth mesh strainer pictured above), bananas, sweet potatoes(I just bake, and blend with water), carrots(steam, blend with water) if eaten with sweet potatoes, baby rice cereal if eaten with sweet potatoes, puffed brown rice cereal, cooked white beans, black beans and pinto beans, oatmeal, peanut butter and banana smoothie, green smoothie and she tried some mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving and liked those as well.

I love this picture below. She looks like this (with her thumb in her mouth) for probably half of each day. So stinkin' cute!

And changing subjects, if you've been a long time blog reader, you might remember that after I have babies, I lose hair and then it grows back and once the baby is around 6 months of age, the growth is quite noticeable around my forehead. And so I always cut bangs once baby is around 6 or 7 months old to cover up the growth. This time around, when I realized I really needed bangs, I wanted them "now" and my hairdresser was booked for the week. So I called my little sister Becca (who is an amazing hairstylist but lives a plane ride away) and complained about my dilemma and she said, "Let's do skype and I'll show you how; we'll do it together." And so that's what we did and I cut my own bangs; and I'm quite happy with the result; and so is Jane. She has told me so every day for the past two weeks which is when I did it. "I yike yowr bangs mommy" is how she says it. Love the two-year old voice!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thanksgiving with my dad

 My dad, who will be 86 next week, flew out to visit us from Washington state and we got to spend Thanksgiving together. Everyone loved having him here and we're so grateful he came especially since we know traveling is hard on him.
 Dad loved sitting with the kids and he got to hold Nora a lot!

Here's a short video clip of Dad and Nora(I love dad's thick spanish accent!)

And of course, you know I'm a foody so there's got to be some pictures of all the foods we made for Thanksgiving. Several people asked what we did for Thanksgiving this year and if we made the traditional foods; in short, yes we did. But I did healthify a few old recipes. For instance, we didn't put marshmallows in sweet potatoes or much brown sugar. Sweet potatoes are sweet as is which is why they have their name, but I did add a topping with chopped walnuts, unsweetened shredded coconut, quinoa and a little brown sugar. It was the best ever! Seriously, one of my new favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Scott made the turkey, stuffing(my other favorite of the dishes and definitely one we'll need to make again!) and cranberry sauce(which we made with pure maple syrup) and he helped with the green bean casserole (it was hard finding a cream of chicken soup without msg but I did it!). I made the sweet and mashed potatoes, rolls, pumpkin cheesecake, and a holiday salad. Everything turned out fabulous!
Scott brined the turkey overnight

And he stuffed it with fresh herbs, lemons, onions and celery. 
 I'm personally kinda grossed out by the look of meat so I didn't enjoy taking pictures etc, but Scott did a great job and even watched the Chef Brad Thanksgiving Special just for me and followed it, and so I wanted to document it. Oh and funny story, the morning of Thanksgiving once I got in from my jog, Charlie met me at the door and said, "Mom, did you know that we have a dead turkey in the house?" (with a big emphasis on the word 'dead'). I assured him I did know and that I had in fact bought the dead turkey which was even more surprising to him....yeah, we don't eat or cook much meat around our house. 

Sweet potatoes with coconut, quinoa, nut topping

 The whole spread:
And the AMAZING pumpkin cheesecake! Once we each had a piece Scott said, "I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to pumpkin pie after this". Agreed.
 Unfortunately there was way too much for our group and so we were forced to eat the leftovers. I normally have no problem throwing sugary things away, but I just couldn't get myself to do it with this one....and it took me quite some time to make so that made me want to hold on to it even more. I'm normally a one-serving-for-sugary-treats type of girl and then won't have any again for weeks, but we had this for a few days, one serving at a time, and all the sugar really wore on my immune system and I ended up getting a cold and losing my voice which rarely happens to me anymore. The price you pay for eating this way. Oh well. And will I do it again next year? Probably :). See the candied, chopped pecans and caramel topping? Wow!
Here is some of the family just before starting our Thanksgiving meal. Can you tell we've about outgrown our 6 person table? We made a make-shift chair out of the wheat container with a towel on top which is what Scott is sitting on in this picture :). I know, we're super fancy around here.
We took dad up to temple square one day after Thanksgiving to see the lights and we got to stop in on an old friend my dad was close with in Washington but moved back to Utah quite a few years ago. Since my van only seats 7, I drove up with dad and most of the kids and then Scott took two kids with him to the train station and they met us up there by train which they were super excited about. On the way home he took two other of the children so no one felt left out(Nora doesn't care yet).
Dad with the Horne family

The three oldest outside the Conference Center

And here are some other random pictures from our week with my dad:

Dad trying to feed Jane a tomato...she didn't want it but then she ate all of his lettuce

 The kids got Santa hats out, used Grandpa as their sleigh, and Elisabeth held a red plastic piece over her nose like Rudolph with a cord around her waist and they had a great time!

I made these crescent rolls a couple of days after Thanksgiving. I've made these several times; they are our favorite whole grain roll recipe. I'll share it on my real foods blog soon.
And a couple of pictures of Scott with the girls when they were sitting, visiting on the couch with Grandpa. They were being silly :). I love these pictures.

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving holiday! What was your favorite dish you ate or your favorite thing about Thanksgiving this year?