Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Service with a Smile

So there are seasons for just about everything in life. I'm not talking about winter, spring, summer, and fall. I'm talking about seasons of life. It's hard, while your kids are really small to do some things that are really GOOD things, it's just not the right season for them. One thing that I've really had to scale back on is service to others in the form of projects. On my own with five tiny littles at my feet or in my arms it makes it nearly impossible to be able to do any kind of work. I LOVE doing service projects, so it's really hard for it not to be in my season of life right now. I look forward to getting the chance to do more later in life, but every now and then I'm able to slip something in that is good for us to do together.
Today my local MOPS group was meeting at our city homeless shelter to decorate for Christmas. When I first heard we were doing it I wanted to go. I LOVE decorating for Christmas. I thought there was no way for me to actually help since they'd be there on a weekday morning, but as I decorated my own home I put anything I thought would be useful for the shelter in a tub.
This morning I loaded the kids into the suburban in their sock feet thinking that I'd run the tub over to the girls who were going to decorate. When I pulled up to the shelter I made a split second decision that I'd get the kids out and we'd help as long as we could, then we'd go. When I told the kids we were getting out they thought I was crazy! They weren't wearing SHOES! I said, "Well, just feel blessed that we have shoes to wear. Some people aren't blessed with shoes!" and we loaded in.
What a blessing to have my littles with me to help. Lulu and Addi did a great job with the decoration of the outside trees. Mia was a hit with everyone throwing out her constant charming smile. Here are some pictures from our day. Enjoy. I'm so blessed with great kids and great friends! Love MOPS mommas!

I had alread put the older kids in the car when we decided to take a group picture and I was NOT going to get them all back out!

Isn't this blue door fantastic. I love the details in old houses!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Minute Madness

Seriously, one minute post.

This is my littles on Thanksgiving evening after they were in their jammies. I hated that we didn't get a family picture, but by the time we got home and I realized we'd forgotten everyone was tired and not ready to put up with the camera on a timer and tripod. This one turned out really cute though.
My little darlins! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Big News in our Smittle World

I've been DYING to let this leak out, but we were waiting until the right time. Well, the time is now!

Introducing Scotty Smittle, LAC – Focusing on Children, Special Needs, and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Chenal Family Therapy PLC is proud to announce the most recent addition to our clinical staff!!
Scotty Smittle is a Licensed Associate Counselor in the state of Arkansas, with broad experience helping families, couples, and individuals chart a path towards mental and relational health. Scotty’s focus at Chenal Family Therapy PLC will be on working with families of younger children with behavioral issues, as well as children of all ages with special needs and autism spectrum disorders. Additionally, Scotty is one of the few clinicians in the state working with infants and parents on emotional and attachment issues.
Scotty holds dual master’s degrees from John Brown University in Marriage and Family Therapy and Community Counseling. He’s also a charter member of the Arkansas Association of Infant Mental Health and a sought after speaker, trainer, and consultant. Most importantly, Scotty and his wife have been married for eight years and have five children, ensuring that Scotty is someone who speaks and counsels from experience!
Scotty currently has openings Friday afternoons and evenings, as well as Saturdays in the early afternoon. To book a session with Scotty, please call 501-781-2230 or email his scheduler at Karen@ChenalTherapy.com.

Over the last few months Manly and I have been praying that God would open doors for his career. I've actually been praying the Prayer of Jabez for him: that God would enlarge his territory, and bless him and those he works with. He loves his job now, and will continue to work there. We really just felt like there was something else out there that would be great for him to do in addition to that, be good for us financially, and not interrupt our family life too much. About a month or so ago a friend of Scotty's approached him about helping him out with some private practice work. This is a dream of Scotty's that he had decided he'd wait and do after he'd retired, but to make a long story short(er) we decided this was what we'd been praying for. This afternoon Scotty will begin this new journey. I'm so proud of him! He'll be great and I can't wait to see what awaits us in the future!

If you know someone who would benefit from Scotty's services, please direct them here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Thankful Thirty

  1. Manly. He's the only man for me. I could say the best, but if something ever happened to him and I was left here alone I don't think I could ever find anyone to replace him. I'd always think they weren't as perfect for me as he is. He is my better half. The cream and extra sugar in my coffee. The love of my life. My BFF. My baby daddy.
  2. My kids. They'll each have their own numbers later, but I'm thankful for them as a whole too. They make me laugh, teach me things I never knew about myself, and stretch me to limits I didn't know I had. I am a better person because of them. They are like a warm brownie on a cold day.
  3. My mom and dad. I know they think that we are CRAZY for some of the choices we've made, but they still love us and try to respect the way we do things. They are AMAZING grandparents and they'd just about give every last penny they had just to see a smile on the kids faces.
  4. My suburban. It's so nice and roomy and gets us where we need to be. Best part. It's paid for!
  5. Scotty's ghetto Saturn. It's not roomy, but that suckah ALWAYS starts and ALWAYS gets us where we need to be(unless it has ANOTHER flat!). Great on gas and the rattle kind of calms my nerves a little...
  6. Our local library. I often hear it getting trashed by folks in the area, but I personally love it. There's even one worker that will start to collect my reserved books when he sees me come in the door. That's service! I love that they will get my books together and have them ready at the door. It saves me so much time and energy. It also saves all the library patrons from getting to watch me try to keep 5 kids 7 and under quiet while I find 1,000,000 books on the tropical rain forest. Ha!
  7. Homeschooling. There are days when I think I can't go on, but then I listen to Olivia read aloud to her siblings or watch ADDI find Brazil on the world map and I KNOW we've made the best choice for our kids education. I know what's going into their minds and hearts and I love that I am the one that gets the privilege to put it there.
  8. Fellowship Bible Church. It's been, by far, one of the best things that's ever happened to us. We've been loved on, spurred on, and have some of the most amazing friends that we've met there. It took leaving for a while to show us such a deep appreciation for being home.
  9. Music. It makes me happy. There's nothing else that can pull out so much emotion in me so quickly. It's my one thing. If I ever have to drop all my commitments except "one thing" it's the one I always keep. Singing on the praise team rejuvenates me and gives me such JOY.
  10. Addi's squishy hug. She's the best hugger of all the kids. She's always been a love bug and I just love how she gets all up in your business to give the best possible hug.
  11. KK's silly sense of humor. That girl is HYSTERICAL. I'm so thankful for her always being able to lighten things up a little.
  12. Lulu's constant desire to be her best and be helpful. This girl has a heart of GOLD. I love that she's always willing to put others before herself.
  13. Brub's kisses. That boy will kiss his momma all day if I let him. He says, "MORE! KISS!" He loves that he's able to make me smile. LOVE having a baby boy. How he knows how to melt his momma's butter heart!
  14. Mia's kicky feet. We can tell she loves music because any time she hears any music at all she kicks her feet. So sweet and charming. Her little personality is starting to come out too and we are seeing that she's tending to be a little high maintenance, but she knows when to throw on the charm and is so joyful!
  15. Lamps. Turning on lamps always makes our home feel nice and warm.
  16. Hulu
  17. Grey's Anatomy
  18. Reality TV
  19. Toms shoes
  20. US Pizza
  21. Track Suits
  22. T-shirts
  23. My back-up glasses
  24. Move nights
  25. Date nights
  26. Jimmy Fallon(he makes me laugh)
  27. Toilet paper
  28. Nutella
  29. Chocolate Chips(my skinny jeans are not thankful for this one)
  30. Popcorn
Please know that this list could include any number of other things including family, friends, and Jesus. This is just the thirty things that came to mind. If I sat here longer you'd be unlikely to read it all, so I'll stop there. This is a picture of our "organic" pinecone turkey's. They're made completely from things in our yard. The kids loved making them and they were really cute! Thanks for the idea, Renita!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Love, The Smittle Family!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's a NEW momma!

This morning, as I was reading my Bible I was reminded that the Lord's mercies are new every morning! What a blessing. Especially after the day I had yesterday! God allows us to come before Him, unload our griefs and worry, take a MUCH lighter load and start fresh each new day. That certainly doesn't undo your yelling at your children because you were so tired or your being frustrated with your baby daddy because he doesn't "get" you, but it allows you to keep going and moving in the direction the Lord has for your life. Sorrow may last for the night, but HIS JOY comes with the morning. Take advantage of that JOY and make this a good day. This is your life. Soak it up to the last drop.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's an Apple...That looks like a Turkey

Looking for a fun activity/snack for the kids this week to go along with Thanksgiving?
How cute are these little fellas?
It's an Apple...That looks like a Turkey! Ha!

I just love snacks that go along with holidays. And THESE are healthy to boot!
Simply buy the .98 per pound apples(never spend more than that on apples, BTW.)

Get your "turkey"supplies ready. You can use anything you want for the feathers, but we used marshmallows, cheese, pretzels, and grapes. For the beak we used candy corn(which was actually really hard to get to stick on the toothpick) and sliced strawberries. For the eyes we used raisins. The only other thing you need is toothpicks to get these dudes ready.

Next, call the kids in to help! They'll LOVE getting to stick toothpicks into the apples!

I tried a few variations. This one includes some lemon heads. I decided we didn't need candy and pulled this one and added a strawberry slice.

The kids LOVED them! We took some to our Friend Thanksgiving Feast and they seemed to like them too. They smell really good. I think it's a combo of the marshmallows and the pretzels and the apple, but they are nice and tastey and a good healthy snack to feed the kids maybe while your cooking your thanksgiving feast this week.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

All Eyes Are On You, Lord

We got the Christmas stuff out today. I'd planned on doing it next weekend, but I love shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving, so I wanted it to be up BEFORE Thanksgiving. Anyway, the kids favorite part about getting Christmas stuff out is that we have several kids nativity sets that I leave on the fireplace for them to play with. Tonight before they went up for bath and bed I told them they could set up the different sets.
After they were asleep I was working in the living room and came across this:
I call it "All eyes are on you, Lord!"

Oh to be a child. I just love this. They know what's important. It's so simple.

Don't forget why we celebrate.

And, because these two are simply ADORABLE! 
Mia"Little Sister" and her buddy "Sister." Mia's eyes are cracking me up!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More OCC: Small Group Style and Drop-Off Day

Our small group recently had a social and packing party for Operation Christmas Child. It was really moving to watch all the kids running around packing their boxes to perfection for another child around the world. We stacked all the boxes up and had the kids pray over them. Such sweet little voices prayed over those boxes and the children who would be blessed by them. We are so blessed to have the things we have and the comforts we take for granted. We packed over 20 boxes that evening, but it's just a drop in the bucket when it compares to the need of children around the world. This week is drop-off week for OCC. You only have a few days left to get you box pack and delivered to the drop-off location nearest you. Please take some time to bless the life of a child in need. Give the gift of Jesus to a child who may otherwise never hear the Good News.

Manly working with the kids packing. Mia looks so interested.

Our friend, Bec packing her boxes. I think she's hooked!


My Lulu so excited to pack more boxes!

Writing a note to her shoebox kid.

Addi and one of her favorite friends, "Mr. Bwy-in"

Some of the boxes our group packed.

My KK happy to be doing another box. She likes to load the boxes down with sweet tarts!

Todd leading the kids on praying for OCC.

Scotty and My Mia.

The kids praying for the boxes and other kids.

Our small group kids. What a blessing to be part of such a wonderful group of people!

The kids dropping off our family's boxes this morning.

They were so excited!

Look at all those BOXES of BOXES!

They had to find just the right spot to put their boxes.

Love this precious picture. May our boxes be a blessing to others.

VOTE Smittle 2045

We recently made a trip to our local Presidential Library with the kids. We happen to live in the home state of former Pres. Bill Clinton. Have you ever been to a presidential library? They are SO boring in my opinion! All those blue boxes everywhere... BUT, there was a LEGO exhibit that Scotty really wanted to see, and they were having a free admission day, so we decided to go. I'd been once before when I was teaching a few years ago. The kids weren't too thrilled, but there were a few things that they really did enjoy. It turned out to be an OK outing. Not QUITE worth the drive, but free and educational for Olivia.
The girls standing in front of a really creepy lego display.

More Lego art.

Olivia-Future Peacekeeper.

Addi-Future comedian

Emma Claire-Future President

Addi wanted a picture next to the "beautiful eagle."

My sweet middle smittles.

Scotty and Mia.

Lions and Tigers and Bears!

This week we had a quick trip up to NWA for Scotty to do some work with one of his clinics. While we were there I wanted to do something fun with the kids, so we decided to visit the drive-thru safari located in the armpit of the world, Gentry, AR. It has, in the past been a little nasty, but since being featured on the Duggar's show they really have done a lot of work on it and it's actually pretty cool. Still a little nasty, but cool for the kids. The best part is that you don't even HAVE to leave your car. You can go through the little petting zoo area and see some extra animals, but you don't have to do that to be able to see a TON of animals much closer than you would at the zoo. Anyway, the kids LOVED it.
This is one of the barns that are additional to the drive-thru part. I wasn't planning to get out of the car, but the kids heard the lady at the ticket booth mention baby animals and they were set on seeing them. It turned out to be just fine, and they were very well behaved. Olivia really liked knowing the names of each of the monkeys. It was pretty awesome. She's going to be a great "animals rescuer" some day.

Petting a baby boa. GAG!

The kids all love zebras. They had a whole herd of them with lots of babies!

SO adorable!

There are TONS of emus! They walk up to the cars and peck the windows! Hysterical that my kids thought this was funny, but were also scared out of their minds and would teeter between laughing and crying. It is a bit frightening, I guess...

Look at that sweet baby!! So sweet!
Lots of animals in the deer family. They were so pretty and would take off running in front of us. The kids really liked these.

They have two hippos. They've had one for a while, but have recently gotten another. It's a little smaller, but they were both visible in the water.

Olivia's favorite. This crazy ostrich would have eaten me whole, I'm convinced. He was really trying to get me through the window! The kids were hysterical over it.

LOOK! A Joey!! So sweet for the kids to see this. I just love to watch kangaroos!

They have tons of peacock's.

Look at this albino one! I'm guessing that's what it is. It's a peacock, but was almost entirely white.

There are quite a few camels. This one was one of three that were rolling around in the mud and were doing what appeared to be laughing. Ha!

The huge rhino. REALLY close!

The kids had a blast. For more information click here. By the way, they do have actual Lions, Tigers, and Bears, I just wasn't able to get a great picture of them.