Friday, December 14, 2007

Gingerbread Houses

For FHE a couple weeks ago (that's how bad I am at updating this) we made ginger bread houses out of graham crackers. They were really easy to "build" because the icing is just like glue. I wanted to leave them out until Christmas for decorations, but as I suspected, many of them have suffered roof dammage and are missing their gumdrop shingles. Too hard for the kids to resist, I guess! Oh well, they were fun to make. I was quite impressed with Ray's skill. He had a masterpiece finished in no time at all. He says his mom trained him well. The kids also had fun decorating our "hodge-podge" tree. Many times I have thought about having a "put together" tree with matching ornaments and everything placed symmetrically, but I have decided I like our crazy tree, with ornaments ranging from a gold Navoo Temple to Chewbacca holding his weapon! Someday soon enough I'll have my perfect tree, but while the kids are little this one is just right. We decorated the tree right after Thanksgiving and only one ornament has been busted so far! We're doing great!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

FUN, FUN, FUN!!!!!!!!

Last Saturday I took all of the children shopping and it will NEVER happen again! I wouldn't have done it, but it was necessary because all of them needed new Sunday shoes and clothes, and you can't buy shoes without trying them on. Whoever is in the kids' Sunday shoe making business is filthy rich , because have you noticed that new ones get tight much faster than tennis shoes or any other kind of shoe? I feel like every Sunday we are cramming the kids' feet into their shoes while they complain that they don't fit anymore. Then I reply, "We just got these so you have to wear them one more week". We then forget they are too tight until the following Sunday when we shove them on yet again! Finally, I went to buy some new ones, and in the future I will take each child individually, because the adventure was more than I could handle! It took forever for everyone to A) find shoes they liked, and B) find the right fit. We then took even longer picking out Sunday clothes, and a lady that worked there had to tell Blake and James to "Settle down!" because they were wrestling in the aisle. We finally made it up to pay, and after the cashier began ringing up our purchases, I realize that Blake no longer has the shirt and tie I mistakenly let him carry. So, we leave our stuff and retrace our steps around the entire store to hunt down the missing items. We then go BACK to the register. Yeah! we can get out of here now, right? WRONG! Marinne chose her own Sunday shoes and placed two different sizes in the box! Are you kidding? We leave the register AGAIN and go back to the shoes to search through the boxes for the right size, which is, of course, no where to be found. We end up getting a matching pair of the next size up, (they get tight again all to quickly anyway, right?) and finally pay the cashier (third time's a charm), who no doubt thinks we are the craziest bunch he's ever seen!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Belated Thanksgiving Thoughts

After loading my cart with 10 cartons of cool whip, oodles of fruit cocktail, and the last 10 boxes of pistachio pudding in the store (I needed these items to make the biggest batch of Thanksgiving "Shluff" you have ever seen), I heard the cashier asking the man bagging the groceries what he was doing for Thanksgiving. He replied that he wasn't doing anything because he had no family. He said, " I think I have a half brother somewhere, but I don't know him". This just struck me and I was so sad for him. I almost went back in the store to see if he wanted to come to our Thanksgiving. Too bad the world is so messed up that you can't really safely do something like that. This little experience made me count my blessings! Our thanksgiving included around eighty people this year! It was a huge Smith reunion and we ate Thanksgiving dinner outside in my parents back yard. My dad had to rent an outhouse so their septic tank wouldn't be over loaded. A bit "white trash", I know, but I am grateful to have such a huge family! My Grandma Smith has 44 grandchildren and 56 great-grandchildren (half of my cousins haven't even started having kids yet). My dad even set up a big screen in the back yard to watch the talent DVDs each family made. Amy made ours, of course, and it was the best! We played lots of "Settlers" and ate lots of food!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

WARNING: contents may be smaller than they appear on box!

A few Mondays ago, I decided to pick up a quick F.H.E. treat from the grocery store. These Reeses peanut butter bars looked tasty and easy, so I grabbed them and brought them home. Upon looking closer at the box, I saw the words "Convenient Pan Inside!". Pan inside where? Surely there isn't a pan inside this tiny box! Well, as you can see in the picture, sure enough there is a miniscule pan in the box. I just had to share all of this because it was so comical to me how little dessert this actually made. This is not enough for an entire family! I laughed the whole time I was making it because I felt like I was making an easy bake oven recipe with itty bitty pouches of ingredients. The bars on the box are misleading! Don't be fooled! So, just for fun I looked at the number of servings Betty Crocker thinks you should get out of this... 15! Can you see any way to get 15 bars out of this pan? This is more like a personal pan Reeses bar, if you ask me, which they obviously didn't. I do realize I can eat more than the average Joe, but this was a cruel joke!

Saturday, November 3, 2007


We had our annual Halloween party with pumpkin bread bowls and soup, and this year Karin made doughnuts from scratch! They were delicious! Blake was a skeleton, Marinne was The Corpse Bride, and James was a Fireman. Poor baby Matthew did a face plant on our porch, and Marinne had a meltdown when she lost her spider ring, but other than that, things went swimmingly. Hey, we felt lucky that no one barfed this year! (Last year Blake threw up all over the stairs while our guests ate their soup)! Ray made a commemorative jack-o-lantern, as you can see in the picture.

Monday, October 29, 2007


We took a trip to California for Fall Break. My parents and all of my sisters came and we all stayed in the same suite. It was so much fun!! My brothers couldn't come, but Adina brought Canaya. Relaxing would not be the right word for this vacation, but we didn't expect that because children were involved. We played hard every day! Monday we went to Universal Studios, which I loved, but it was a little much for the kids, what with the fire and destruction and all (note the picture of James with his eyes closed). Amy said the Mummy ride was fine for Marinne, but the poor child was almost in tears when it was over. That one was a little too scary for me! I have to mention that we ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp that night, and it was delicious! Tuesday was Sea World, which was fun because the kids have never been, but amen to Sally's comment about the superfluous cheese at the Shamu Show! We were pretty wet the whole day, since every ride is about being soaked! Wednesday, we went to Huntington Beach and ate at The Sugar Shack (highly recommended) for breakfast. That night Ray and my dad joined us. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were spent at California Adventure and Disneyland, and yes, those are matching shirts in the pictures, because each family had to come up with their own shirts for a little contest Bethany instigated. It was far too crowded, but we had fun anyway! James was freaked out by every ride there except the Buzz Lightyear ride. Why do you end up in Hell on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride? Friday night was my mom's birthday, so we went to "Wicked"! It was a jam packed adventure with lots of loud family members and yummy food. What more could we ask for? Pure fun in true Smith fashion!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Grandma Grace

My Grandma Grace passed away, and last Thursday was her funeral. I flew to Utah, and Ray stayed home with the kids. I have great childhood memories of visiting her house, and of her coming to visit us. I was born on her birthday and have always felt a special connection to her. She was a great example of living the Gospel. The funeral went really well, and the casket and flowers were beautiful. I am so grateful for my knowledge of life after death, because it makes me so happy for her. Even though we're sad not to see her anymore, I know she is glad to be reunited with my grandpa and her other family and friends. My mom did a wonderful job taking care of her for the last seven years. I know she will be greatly blessed for this sacrifice, and I admire her for all she did. The funeral made me reflect on what really matters, and I hope I can improve my focus on those things.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


So, Melanie tagged me and now I get to share 7 things about me...

1. I Love Food! All of you already know this, but I can compete with the best of them (even large men) when it comes to eating huge portions. At least I never wasted a date's money when he took me out to eat! I realize this is not a great habit, especially since it seems way harder after 30 to maintain any sort of figure! I think I tried doing the Weight Watchers' point system for about one day before I said, "I'm HUNGRY!!! Forget this!". My mom was way more dedicated and lost a bunch of weight. I just enjoy my food tooooo much! I really don't get those people who eat just because they have to or they'll die. I love going out to restaurants and trying new food. In China, my friends would have me taste everything first and tell them what it was like. The only food I really dislike is spaghetti, so my poor kids never get it for dinner. My favorite foods include but are not limited to the following: anything cinnamon, great Chinese food, cheesecake (& anything made with cream cheese), green olives, Cafe Rio salads (sweet pork), Cafe Rio key lime pie, shrimp, crab legs dipped in melted butter, and lately I just love Greek food like pitas and hummus, yum! O.K., I may never get to number 2 unless I stop now.

2. I am completely uncoordinated when it comes to sports! I have always been more inclined to duck than catch flying objects. It comes down to lack of hand-eye coordination. P.E. was a nightmare for me! A date once took me to play raquetball and told me I just looked like I was dancing around instead of playing. I really wish I was more skilled, because I'm sure sports are fun for those who actually make contact with the ball. Maybe in the next life...

3. I love being outside. I'm glad it's finally cooling off here so we can go outside more! (sad when cooling off means were down to 95 degrees). I really enjoy camping and hiking and I don't mind getting dirty and roughing it.

4. I was very last in the hair line in heaven! All of the thick, long beautiful hair had already been handed out, so I got a few strands of thin, flat, leftover hair that will plague me till I die. Oh well, I really do try not to complain about shallow things that I cannot change. Things like this keep us humble, right?

5. I love going to Broadway plays! Here's a list of the ones I've seen: Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and most recently, Wicked, which I am seeing again in two weeks!

6. I am a very deep thinker and tend to analyze and over-analyze everything. This can lead to worrying about things I don't need to worry about, and I'm trying to work on this. I tend to think of the worst case scenario and let my imagination run wild until I've created this huge problem in my mind that may or may not ever really happen. I know, I'm a little crazy! I think pondering a lot has a good side, too and I really have learned so much by taking time to be still and reflect on my life.

7. Here's a list of some of my favorite movies: Anne of Green Gables, Count of Monte Cristo, Pride and Prejudice (A&E version), Awakenings, Deceived, It's A Wonderful Life, Christmas Vacation, Meet the Parents, and from my youth: Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Better Off Dead, & Parent Trap (the old one). We had a parrot who could whistle that entire song from Parent Trap, because we watched it so much as kids.

So, now I'm supposed to tag some people, but most of the people I know have already done this. I tag Karin and Kris, since I don't think they have.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Any bright ideas?

Can anyone tell me why my easiest, most mellow, angel child is the one who turns into a monster when I kindly ask if he wants to try to go potty like a "big boy"? This is my compliant James who always says, "I'm happy, are you happy, Mom?". He is easily talked in to obeying other rules, but for some reason the toilet training holds no interest for him. He can recite the entire Pledge of Allegiance from memory, but has gone potty a total of once in the toilet. We tried making a little sticker chart and bribing with ice cream, etc. but to no avail. This kid just turned three, so we really need to stop changing his diaper! You see, I've been changing diapers everyday (with an occasional break when we have been on a date or out of town) for the past 8 years with no lapse between children. Yes, I am having a pity party. So, the question is, do any of you have any bright ideas about getting a child to go in the toilet? Please share your wisdom with me! I am also accepting suggestions for keeping the house and van immaculate, cooking perfect meals, and getting children to listen on the first try. Enlighten me!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Time Out for Women

I was able to attend Time Out for Women yesterday with my mom and Adina. It provided a much needed break and spiritual boost. Dean Hughes was one of the speakers. He is the author of the "Children of the Promise" books, which I love and recommend. He talked about focusing more on becoming Christlike and less on "chasing things that don't matter". This is such a good reminder! He warned against competing, comparing and trying to "get ahead" in worldly pursuits. I also like something that Carol Rasmus said - "The gifts of the Spirit are yours for so small a price". It is so worth it to take time out of our busy schedules to read scriptures, etc. so we can reap those gifts that Heavenly Father is just waiting to give.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Marinne's Baptism

Here are some pictures from Marinne's baptism. It seems crazy that we are old enough to have an 8yr. old! It was a wonderful experience and we are proud of Marinne! My mom made her beautiful dress (she is so talented). Marinne got new scriptures with her name on them and I made her a scripture case. We did put her baptism jump suit on backwards at first, but Ray corrected me and we switched it around just in time! Other than that, everything went well!

Here's Marinne with both sets of grandparents.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I finally joined the club...

O.K., I know I'm a little slow, but I am now following the crowd by creating a blog! Our most recent family event was James' 3rd birthday, hence the picture of the fishbowl cake that I fashioned myself. Usually I rely on Costco for such things, but I decided to be brave and try to do something a little different. I think it turned out pretty cute, and it wasn't very hard. I baked two round cakes, frosted between the layers, cut a little off both ends, stood it up and frosted it. The rocks are "nerds", the plant is made from "sour straws", and then I added "Swedish Fish" instead of attempting to draw fish with icing as the instructions suggested (I'm afraid it may not have turned out very well had I gone that route).