Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas hearts FHE activity

Mom dropped off enough Christmas activities to last us thru all our December Monday Family Nights! She's awesome.
Tonight we talked about having a "Christmas Heart" focused on loving others. We read a cute book about Santa being saved by some barn animals who had their hearts in the right place. Then traced and cut out hearts to write our "Christmas Heart" actions on throughout this month.
If this can help my children to be even a little bit kinder to each other then it's worth the effort :)

DDR the cheap way :)

Moves like Jagger. 
So fun! 
Great to get their energy out.

Charity has boarded the potty train!

Today marks the very first occasion! She's got a great cheering squad :)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Santa stars


With Thanksgiving finally over, it was time to bust out the Christmas decor!
 I sent Brianna over to "put the skirt on the tree," assuming she knew what that meant and where it should go.... I was wrong.
Amelia-Bedelia style, she had that skirt wrapped around the tree like... a skirt!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Post-Turkey Karaoke Party

What to do the day after Thanksgiving? (or in our case - the day after the day after)... 
Feast on the leftovers, and play! 
It was seriously so fun having everyone over. 
Massive DDR party, backyard bonfire, then karaoke. 
Watching my brothers+Brian sing Backstreet Boyz "I Want it That Way" was magical. 
All the girls doing the Mama Mia soundtrack was pretty great too.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

We turkey trotted in Cheney, visited Sammy, went sledding....then had our "real" Thanksgiving feast on Friday with the whole crew! 

Starting with appetizers and talent show at our house, up to mom's for the main course, then to Steve's for dessert and games. So fun!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Vegan Thanksgiving meal

Mom and I really enjoy going to the bi-monthly "Dinner with the Doctor" lecture series at the library.
They offer a different health-related presentation, and a complete meal with no added sugar or animal products.
While I'm not totally convinced either of those are bad in moderation, it's fun trying new things and seeing what they come up with. Mom LOVES being with this group.
She calls them "her people."
We brought along our friend Joyce Rosskelly, and my favorite friend...Brianna, who is such an awesomely mature little eater.
She'll try anything and has a great attitude.
I'm in charge of Appetizers for our Thanksgiving feasting later this week, so this helped inspire me to make some good choices.
Pumpkin-date parfaits with coconut whipped cream, anyone?!

Stake conference from home!

Found a magic url that lets us view Stake Conference from home :) 
So much easier for those of us with lots of little ones. 

Brianna is doing a bingo-type activity - we made a list of all the gospel-type words she could think of...Jesus, church, love, temple, etc, and every time she hears that word she puts a check mark next to it. 
Fun way to keep her (and all of us!) paying attention :)
I love hearing messages from members and leaders in our region. It uplifts and strengthens me. And I need that. A lot. 

Explanation...umm...she's 2?


Passed out on the couch with a lollipop stuck on her body....pen marks all over her legs...wearing summer jammies in almost-wintertime....

I blame her father.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Getting serious about the coloring contest

The best school fundraiser

These coupon books are awesome! They pay for themselves quick - especially with free fish burritos! Then we hit froyo earth next door for 50% off. Fun outing for the kids on this unexpected day off school (thanks windstorm).
Most school fundraisers are obnoxious. Overpriced knicknacks or junk food, etc. But I buy a stack of these books.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

SURPRISE! Bar Mingo. Baby shower. Earthworm.

See how I'm smiling? That's cuz this bottom picture was taken BEFORE I almost died. An earthworm attacked me. I didn't do anything to deserve that kind of brutality.  Except order a salad with organic fresh field greens. Silly me for assuming they'd WASH the greens first.
I almost feel bad for the waitress, who looked nothing less than mortified as I alerted her to the crisis. I accepted her apology quite gracefully, I believe, with a "well, at least I know I won't be seeing a tab for this."
Though I would've preferred no insect encounter to a free meal.  It scarred me for life.
I'll be inspecting every restaurant meal from this time forward.
ohmyword. I'm missing the whole point here.
BABY SHOWER! Jocelyn and Brady are having #3 next month! So - SURPRISE! - all her Smith sister-in-laws show up in her town for a quick fun playdate! We put together a pampering basket as a group gift utilizing Jenny's arrangement skills. And mom gave a bunch of things, as always (love language = GIFTS!)  I'm so glad we did this trip! It's our first time doing anything like this - all together, no boys - and I hope we do it again sometime. Preferably on a beach somewhere warm though. Cuz Portland, while very beautiful and fun and fantastically crunchy, rains a lot.
Yay for babies!  I predicted a girl, Dec 21, 11:03pm, 7lb 4oz.  But my actual prediction is that I'm totally off, because I'm never good at guessing these things. 

shopping in Camas

After lunch on Tuesday at a Mexican restaurant (that did not serve any earthworms in my food, thank goodness), we wandered around the little downtown shops.  Super cute antique shops and bakery! Mere was going to buy 1 cupcake. Then found out it was 2 dollar Tuesday. So she bought 4. Of course.  Excellent marketing tactic on the Happy Cake's part.

Savana baby is just so juicy! I love her cheeks. She's got the best smile. When she's not screaming. Which she does every time she's not near her mommy. I'd almost say it was annoying... but I'm pretty sure all my kids were the same way at that age.  So maybe it actually represents a healthy attachment?!  

Scenic view in Washougal

Gorgeous Twilight-ish vista on the way home! 
My unprofessional pictures don't do it justice. 
So I figured I might as well add the 'stache and bow.

It's really windy

Arby's wasn't joking with this warning sign.....

I told mere to get on the dino

The wind storm had started, we were still 4 hours away from home, and I saw a dino at the gas station across the street. So naturally I told her to get on it for pictures. And she obeys me cuz that's how we roll. 

10 Nails in Camas

   Girls trip wouldn't be complete without pedicures!  I love that we do this every time we get together. Because I'm way too frugal to go get my toes pampered on my own.  But they need it. I walk around barefoot so much that my feet are just.... not pretty. 
But those Asian ladies fix that! 
Why is it that all nail places are run by Asians?!  So funny.
The massage chairs were heavenly.  As were the free chocolates. And hot stone massage! 
Poor Lindsay couldn't join us cuz baby Savana is too.... toddlery. Just not worth the hassle, so she watched.  It's ok though... there will be more of these in the future!

Monday, November 16, 2015


While chopping up veggies for the roadtrip (you know, to balance out the indulgences that will likely be happening), I looked over to find Charity and Courtney chowing down on my crunchy greens! Funny girls. 

Road trip!!

7am and we're off on an adventure!

Will my children survive without me?

Will Brian go crazy?

Will Mom's driving take us to Portland or Pocatello?!

We shall see!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The HaHa game

A family favorite after our nighttime routine! Courtney got out first, then Charity, Bennett, me, then a standoff between Brian and Brianna who both kept remarkable composure up to level 12 hahas. Finally Brian slipped and laughed. Brianna came out the victor.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Veterans Days 11K

Wish I had brought the kids! It ended up being a lot warmer than I assumed it'd be. Photo with myself and my friend Layla + her boys. She was actually my only friend there - I was surprised - usually I "run" (punny!) into more people I know at races. Though I did pass my entire Swift team on their usual Saturday morning Centennial Trail long run. They must be figuring out by now that I'm the oddball of the group...rarely showing up to group runs, but racing every weekend.
Weird distance, right? 11K, in honor of Nov 11th, Vet Day. Though I think the course was short - more like 10.5K or so.  I was the first female with 2 guys ahead of me, and I think my mile pace was around 6:15.  Still dreaming of getting it down to 6 flat. Dreaming, not working on. I really should start training more - like intervals/speed workouts. Maybe in the Spring. Or if I magically get any races coming up I'm really excited about.  Actually the next one is the Jingle Bell 5K, which apparently is a big deal around here, so I'm going to try my best to do well. A sub-19 would be lovely. 
Yay for Veterans! Go America!

Happy birthday boyfriend Bobby!

   Meredith's been "official" with Bobby for about 6 months now, I think. So I'm all about being the supportive seester... we took him out for his birthday!  He chose Tomato Street, which is a fun one. Color on the table, free playdough.... I haven't been there since a Homecoming date Junior year, if I'm remembering correctly. 
Bobby is a really nice guy, and he makes Meredith happy. That makes me happy.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Crazy carrots with Papa!

Check out those wild mangled messes of organic home grown Vitamin K goodness!

Christmas Open House at the Shogans

Wait, what happened to Thanksgiving first?!!
Lovely home, featured in Country crafty magazine, decorated beyond the nines and festive to the brink of insanity... It almost inspired me to get more into decorating.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

best babysitter ever

Brian was outta town, so Mom was a gem and watched the kids while I was at an RS activity. Though she volunteered a little TOO enthusiastically, making me think she wasn't especially eager to join the RS fun :) I don't blame her. Cuddling these kids on the couch with a stack of books is a very cozy way to spend the evening.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honey dipping oats

Tie a string around a cereal piece, dip it in the [greenbluff] honey, reel it back up and eat it! 
I love the ideas that come out of my funny 7 yr old's mind.

Breakfast with Bennett

I just feel like I'll want to remember him this way forever....eating his little bowl of cereal (honey on plain cheerios), Spiderman jammies, with his favorite blue monkey named Benjamin.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Caught sleeping on the job

Sometimes Charity refuses to go to sleep when I try to get her down at a normal hour. So I eventually give up and let her go hang out with Brian. Which means she sits on the couch next to him, he puts on a show for her (recent favorites include Veggie Tales and Sofia the First), while he clicks away on his laptop getting work done. And I'm free to do whatever - clean something, or jump on the treadmill for some Hawaii 5-0 watching. Usually I finish up and they're both still awake. Or at least Brian is. But apparently these late nights catch up with him every so often...

Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy birthday SammyJo!

When Sammy first came to the hospital about 3 weeks ago, I was so hopeful she'd be home in time for a birthday party at her own home. Sadly, nope, she's still at Sacred Heart. But we sure are grateful for good medical care! Pretty amazing to think about what they're able to do to improve her life that couldn't have been done 10, 20 years ago. Our timing was amazing today - she had been sleeping almost all morning until I got there. Then boom - it's like she knew the party would start! We sang to her, read books, gave Sammy her gift of new beaters,  took pictures, and just chatted about the blessing her 36 years so far on earth has been. I love my Samantha. It's so fun for me to have my daughter share a birthday with her special aunt. I hope Sammy sticks around long enough for them to get to know each other better! All Charity had to say to Sammy today was, "you not talking to me?"  We'll have to work on her social skills. At least Sammy was kind enough to give us some great smiles! That made my day.
We stopped at Edible Arrangements on the way home to pick up her birthday "cake." I wish Sammy could enjoy it with us! But her days of eating solids are sadly over. For now. Who knows what the future brings - I believe in miracles!   

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Bday parties

Brianna tends to get invited a lot!
This one was unique - parents and siblings were invited (no worries, I didn't overwhelm them with my full parade, just brought Courtney :)
They set up an outdoor movie theater, bonfire, served dinner and drinks! We watched "Inside Out"- super cute flick.
Brianna has some fun little friends!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Begging for Starfall

She wanted to ask my permission to get on the computer, but saw that I was trying to get Charity down for a nap. Which means SHHHHHHHHHHH! So my determined, inventive sweetheart created this poster...."Please may I youse your coummputer for Starfal, yes/no,"  then a picture of me nodding my head UP for yes and shaking my head for no. With excellent arrows so there'd be no confusion.
I actually came downstairs before she had a chance to hold it up to my face....
How could I say no to this?!   She got lots of time :)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Cute new educational website Brianna got us started on!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Magformer crown

Princess Courtney thought of this all by herself! Magformers are seriously the best toys ever.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Another fun Halloween in the books! I'm especially glad Lindsay came to join us for this one. Which is a big change for her - they've spent the last ten or so with Dave's fam. But since she wanted to come see Sammy this weekend, we got to have her. Lindsay and I enjoyed visiting Sammy after the 5K and before the afternoon adventures started. No pictures - it just doesn't seem right to take a bunch of photo with Sammy in this condition. But the good news is that I think she's on the upswing. A tracheotomy was never what we imagined for our girl, but it's doing the job of giving us more time with her, so I'm grateful. Anyways, back to Halloween....
So - here's how we roll with costumes:  I just have a big bin of them in the playroom/basement, and the kids go down and put something on!
I collect them all year from various sources. Makes it easy, cheap and fast :)  They changed costumes for the different events we went to - sometimes several times.
We lucked out with the weather big time! It was perfect. Not rainy and not too cold at all. There were even girls out trick or treating in their homecoming dresses (because for some odd reason the HS had it tonight).
I love that Brian is wearing the adult CLOWN costume. Had to beg him to do it. It was a hit with everyone. I think it's laaaaame when adults don't dress up, or at least wear something festive. I have pumpkin earrings I was quite proud of wearing - even to church :)  Meredith was gorgeous in her big pink dress. Cougar's Elmo costume was awesome. Charity looked sweet in her yellow duck, but refused to keep the hood on, so missed the full effect.  Isn't Bennett's pirate costume great?! Loved it.
I'm definitely not a fan of all the sugar... but we're keeping it under control, and hoping to give most of it to our dentist for his candy buy-back next weekend ;)  Gotta teach my kids to appreciate dollars over candy!
I put all their candy in a bag and weighed it - 13.8 pounds! And that's after I spent 2 hours giving out a bunch of their candy to our trick or treaters!  (we didn't have enough - and I bought over 300 lollipops!!)  I ordered them from Amazon - the YummyEarth Organic lollipops.  But I ended up keeping a bunch and giving out the kid's stuff instead that I don't want them eating - stuff like laffy taffys, jolly ranchers, starburst and tootsie rolls that are especially nasty for their teeth. And all the really weird stuff like Cheetos and random chinese/mexican candy that they got.  SHHHHHH, don't tell them :)  They won't even notice. I kept all the good stuff - snickers, reeses etc.
I'm just glad it was Fast Sunday weekend, so I stopped eating around 4pm. Otherwise I might've partook of a few too many of those favorites :)

I really enjoyed sitting on the porch with Lindsay passing out candy. It was fun and relaxing. We had our water fountain going, Charity watching youtube Frozen clips, Courtney assisting with distribution, and me getting away with being really silly to the trick or treaters  ("hey! you need to SING for your candy!")
Funny how Courtney preferred to hang out with me than go door to door! Sweet girl. Just wanna gobble her up.

This cute costume was a gift from her Grandma last year.  We barely squeezed one more year out of it!

So awesome - picked up a bunch of these cards (photo of Jesus on front, info on back) from the trunk or treat and ended up passing them out to our own trick or treaters later on. Just spreading the SWEET message of the Gospel ;) #BecauseHeLives