Monday, October 28, 2013

Princesses, Spiders, and Pigs! OH MY!

You all know that I usually go all our with themed family costumes each year for Halloween. This year I'm really trying to be a little easier on myself. It's been a really rough couple of months, and I'm trying to get rid of any stress that isn't completely necessary. That mostly means we do everything on a much smaller scale. Honestly, it's pretty hard for me on the front end, but proving to be TOTALLY worth it in the end! Like, seriously, go easy on yourself, friends.
SO, this year, when the dreaded "fall festivals" started to creep up on us I kept trying to think of how we could pull it off in the most simple way. Saturday we got up and I just kept kind of putting it off until after snack when I finally decided we were going to just do a little "what's inside momma's costume box game." I jumped up in the attic(actually I climbed the ladder, but it's always pretty quick because secretly I'm a little worried that one day it's going to fold up with me.) and got the costume box down. This is the box that holds all of the costumes of the past. I really built it up with the kids, so when I brought the box in they were all jumping around excited about what might be inside.
After going through everything the kids each decided what they wanted to be and we went to the not so quick work of getting everyone ready to go.
Here's what they chose.
Smittle Family Halloween 2013.

Eli and I are Charlotte's Web. KK is Wilber.
Flash Back to 2008.
Oh, my hair...Please, look away. Draw your attention to the first Charlotte, Addison, and KK as Wilber for the first time. So you know, Lulu is Fern and Manly is Homer Zuckerman.
My web was a white flat sheet that we painted with puff paint. The spider is just stuffed socks pinned to the carrier.

My Mia Jane as Dorothy. She's just recently realized who Dorothy is and that she had the costume. Now she wears the shoes just about every day. She rocked the ruby slippers.

Brubbs was the, as he says, "scare a crow." These two make such a CUTE team!
Flash ALL the way back to 2007. The background, the sweet cheeks, the brown nose. I just love it! We used all the same scarecrow pieces on Brubbs as we did on Manly. Even the same brown paint.

These two had already made up their minds before hand, but even after seeing all the costumes they stayed with their first choice. Lulu was Wendy and Addi was Cinderella.
Here's Olivia in 2011 the first time she went as Wendy(Isaiah was Captain Hook).
Other pics from the fall festival.
The best thing about this season is FREE FOOD! Ha! I seriously make my menu around free food activities whenever possible. Ha! Isaiah ate THREE hotdogs that his sisters decided they didn't want.

Brubbs on his horse ride.

This was Mia's first time on a horse! She loved it. She's gotten so much more outgoing since she's started being a big girl. A few weeks ago she wouldn't have dreamed of doing it!

LOVE this one of all three big girls. You can tell Lulu and KK were giving each other a hard time about each others horses. Such a cute moment captured.
Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


This is the load on my lap while I do school with the big kids most days.
Dad and his boys. Eli was whopping Manly in the face. He likes to wrestle...
Each day when Olivia makes her bed she sets her dolls up in a scene. Some days it's really elaborate. This day her AG doll is reading a story to the others. I loved how she had the stuffed animals all bowed over the book and her other AG doll looking over her shoulder. When I walked past it I smiled and thanked God for my clever girl.
I don't remember if I've mentioned it here or not, but Mia has now successfully potty trained herself completely. Now that, ladies and gents is the miracle of being the 5th born child. She'll just go, take care of business, then put all of her clothes back on. It's really amazing. She's so big and proud of herself; as she should be! Her favorite part? Mini marshmallows for dry panties, of course.
In other news my big boy is now writing his name. It's so bizarre. Because of his vision issues(and probably his age a little too) he is still completely ambidextrous. This means that on the left side of the paper he uses his left hand and the right side he uses his right hand. It's so wild to watch him. I've been working with him trying to figure out which hand is his dominate hand, but so far no luck.
I love this time of the year. The weather is amazing and the clothes are so much more awesome. Give me denim, sweaters, and cowboy boots ANY day. And pumpkins. And mums. I could go on and on... 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

De-Stress WITH The Kids

Today, while I was trying to make dinner while listening to the big kids playing on the tire swing in the backyard, practicing music for church Sunday,keeping the babies from chewing raw meat, getting myself ready for girls night out, and timing it all in a way that would get us out the door and to Manly's office for the great changing of the guard so that he could bring the kids back home and I could go socialize, I got a little stressed. Stress is actually second nature for me. Usually before I even get out of bed my job begins. Usually around 5-5:30am each morning.
It's important to find ways throughout my day to relieve a little stress while still maintaining my mommy role. SO, today while I was in the moment of stress I jotted down a few things that I thought I might pass along to you. Take 'em or leave 'em, but their my tried and true kid involved stress busters. There are more, but these are my favorites.
  • Color. I am not very good at coloring, but I LOVE to color with the kids. They love it too. I always try to keep a couple of really easy coloring books with simple thick lines. There's something about just sitting there and moving the crayon back and forth that really just calms me down. Shop the Dollar Store for the best and biggest coloring books...
  • Listen to a lullaby. I had never thought of this until I recently heard an interview with Michelle Duggar where she talked about listening to harp music when her house got chaotic. I have an amazing lullaby station on our Pandora account, so I'll just pop that up on my phone when things start to get nutso and pretty quickly things can turn around. If you aren't sure what to add might I suggest Jewel! You'll thank me later.
  • Push cars around. There is something about laying on your tummy and just pushing a matchbox car. Sounds are optional. My best times with Brubbs usually comes from this time spent on the floor.
  • Read. Really need the check the noise level? Pick out a great story and read to the kids in your most animated voice. It doesn't even have to be a picture book, just something that they'll enjoy. Be sure to stop before they become uninterested. Leaving them wanting more will allow you to bring it back out again. Maybe while you want them to fold laundry or eat lunch...
  • Swing. It's been so beautiful outside these past several weeks. While I'm not an outdoorswoman I still have to go out and play with the kids. I like taking a moment to SLOWLY swing on the swingset. I say slowly because going fast would probably make me barf. Ha! I usually have to move my rump pretty quickly or put a baby on my lap because there aren't a whole lot of extra swings these days, but the kids are good to share at least for a few moments.
Happy de-stressing! Remember, this is your life soak it up.

Friday, October 18, 2013

We Need to Get Back to the Basics of Life

Knock Knock!!
Who's There?
Regular Blog Posts.
Regular Blog Posts, who?
Regular Blog posts are MUCH easier to keep up with!

Whew!! I feel like I've been chain blogging FOREVER! First with the Disney Blogs, then with Our Story. If you haven't read either I'd encourage you to follow the links because they both turned out really fun, but I'm exhausted from all the writing!!

We celebrated ten years of marriage yesterday with a nice regular day. Because we went on a special date a few weeks ago we didn't go out, but Manly got up and made a delicious breakfast. While it was cooking we watched our wedding video with the kids who thought it was hysterical to see what everyone looked like ten years ago.
Manly had a few appointments, so we did school while he worked. After naptime we went to a few thrift stores in search of a cool living room table. The kids busted mine that I got from my BFF, so I'm on the lookout for a cool table I can paint. We didn't find what I was looking for so we came home and the kids went outside to ride on the tire swing Manly recently placed in the tree. While they played I got dinner ready for the kids and Manly sprayed the garage for bugs. Manly went to teach, and I got the kids cleaned up, fed, and put to bed. Once they were all down I worked out, showered, and sat down for my favorite night of television and waited for Manly to bring home dinner.
It was that moment. That moment my bum hit the couch that I realized it had been a good day. Not fancy, not expensive, not really even special, just good. Special days always seem to be the worst! I think we get in our minds some expectations that our spouse should live up to. Because it's usually something that we haven't discussed we end up disappointed and frustrated. It was so nice not to have to deal with that drama yesterday. Mostly, I think it was because the night before I had a conversation that went something like this, "So...Tomorrow is our anniversary. You don't have any crazy surprise plans for us do you? Or some fancy card you made from glitter glue?" Manly kind of laughed at first then simply replied, "Uh, no. Just breakfast. What sounds good?" It was a simple conversation, but one that made a big impact on our day. Crazy what a little communication can do for a marriage. I guess we have learned a little bit in the last ten years.

A little of our life straight from my phone.
My SEVEN month old dropped his chew toy,  pulled the cushion off the chair, and climbed up for a bounce. No joke. This kid is the smartest most agile baby!!
Once he stopped jumping he sat down, looked around, then had to figure out how to get down. He crawled right off then moved on to more destruction.
I heard the fridge open and knew the big kids were all upstairs, so I went in to see who it was. This is the site I found.
I stood there in shock for a minute, took a picture, then said, "Hey. Whatcha doing?" 
Mia turned around and said, "I help you make homemade pizza for my dinner momma! I get pepperoni for you!" She was so proud. Lil Brubbs was happy to just bang on the shelf and gnaw the butter bowl. 
Mia Jane LOVES to "do jobs." Her favorite is cleaning the toilet. Have you ever seen someone this happy over cleaning the toilet!?
Me and my man. Manly said he showed this picture to his class and one of his students said he looked high. Ha! High on love, I guess!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Our Story: The End of an Era

Ready to go on a work date with my man.
Our church directory picture.  
Manly and his silly littles. Father's Day 2012.
Fourth of July Littles. Oh, baby boy! Why do you have to grow up!?!

The city built a sidewalk in our yard. They left their tractor. Brubbs got to check it out.
Brubbs also realized that he liked playing in the dirt with his trucks.

My girls LOVE summer time because it means Yeyeyeyeyes to VavavaVBS!!
Brubbs started wearing glasses. They made him even CUTER!
KK got her reading glasses! SO cute!!
Daddy daughter banquet. Lulu looks so little in this picture.

School year 2011-2012 KK's first day of K5 and Lulu's first day of 3rd grade.

These two became the hardest job I've ever had.

We visited the place where Manly and I met as a family. We have a brick on the legacy walk so we took our picture with it.


My Lulu and me on her 8th birthday.

At Livi's doggie birthday party.
Halloween 2012. The girls were yummie goodies and Lulu and Brubbs are bakers. So cute!
KK decided she loves all things cooking. This child is obsessed with food.

All the great grandkids Thanksgiving 2012.

Christmas 2012

Another Christmas picture from 2012. LOVE Mia's face.

Lulu had her first piano recital!

Lulu got her first American Girl Doll. She named her Lydia.

More jammie littles. I should just go buy out Carters!!

Our little bike parade of Smittles.

Brubbsy and Manly got to go to the MONSTER TRUCK show! It changed Brubbs' life forever! HA!

Brubbs had a fire truck party with a REAL fire truck. AWESOME.
We went to the circus for the first time!! I think it was a hit.

As I mentioned in my last post, we decided we would wait a while after Mia before talking babies. A few weeks before Mia turned a year old Manly asked me if I was ready to talk. Thinking this conversation would go much like the last I agreed and while I was making dinner and the kids were playing upstairs we started chatting. I quickly learned this conversation would be nothing like the ones we had before. It went a little like this: Manly: "So, we said we would wait until Mia was a year old to talk about if we were ready to have another baby." Me: "Yup." Manly: "Well, I've been thinking about it and I think I'm ready to be done having babies." Me: "Uh...WHAT?" Manly: "I just think we have been having babies for a long time, and I'm ready to start raising the family we have." Me: (Drop spoon and begin water works) "Uh....I'm not even sure what to say...uh...I need a minute." Manly: "OK."
Feeling panicked I went into the bedroom and shut the door. How in the world could he have come to this conclusion? What in the world was he thinking? WHY? What about my baby boy? My baby baby I'd been thinking about for the last 6 months? See, I was ready to be finished too, but not before I had my "baby!" I just KNEW that the Lord had one more baby for us. I took a moment, said a prayer, dried my crying eyes, and returned to the kitchen where Manly had taken over dinner.
I sat on a barstool and with tear filled eyes told him that I wasn't sure I could be done yet. I explained about how I was ready, but that I needed a "last time" for everything. If I had prepared myself that Mia would be our last baby I could have done all of that with her, but I hadn't, and she wasn't. I tried not to feel panicked, but that's just how I felt.
I think Manly may have been a little shocked with my response. He just sort of stood there for a while. Stirring whatever it was that we had going. Finally he said, "I think I might have spoken too soon. I haven't even prayed about this yet." Feeling a ray of hope I said, "Then you should pray. If you still feel the same way after praying about it, then we'll be done. If not, let's have one more baby, then be done." I waited patiently for several weeks until one day he came in from work and said, "OK. One more. Then we're DONE."
I know some of you wonder what made us come to this decision to be done having babies. I know because many of you have asked me, and I'm totally open with anyone who wants to know. The truth is, I can't really explain it other than to say we just knew. I felt a complete peace with having one more then being done. I mean, I've been pregnant or nursing for the last ten years, I am EXHAUSTED. That's a big factor. Other than that, there are lots of little things like not being able to add anyone else into the Suburban and not having any more room for beds in the house. Believe me, I KNOW the Lord would provide all of our needs because he always has, but this was the FIRST time in our marriage that I felt a peace about our family being complete. Not only did I have that feeling, but Manly did to. I can't really explain it any other way than to say when you know, you know. You know?
Mia had her first birthday on May 4th. On June 22nd I found out I was pregnant for the last time. Well, unless God decides to bless us with some miracle baby. It was actually interesting this time because I knew I was pregnant before I could get a test to read positive. That had never happened before, but finally, I got a positive test and was overjoyed. You can read all about my last pregnancy in the Home Brewed Smittle series on my blog where I journaled my pregnancy from the day I found out until several weeks after delivery.
This time around I knew the baby was going to be a boy. I had prayed for God to bless us with a brother for Brubbs for our last baby and I just had a feeling we had a boy baby. When we went to the ultrasound and immediately saw that he was indeed a boy I shouted for joy and scared the poor ultrasound tech to death. Brubbs was SO excited about gaining a boy for his team that he'd tell just about anyone who would listen that he was going to have a brother!
More precious pictures from Paula Bean Photography. Probably one of My most favorite pictures of the two of us. I love how you can see Manly smiling even though you can't see his face.
Another favorite. We were so goofy trying to pose. Poor Paula! Finally she said, "Just kiss her!"
 My BFF Ashley got married when I was 37 weeks pregnant. I was SO happy to be there.
Manly and I sang and I was a bridesmaid. Such a sweet happy day.
We had always liked the name Eli, so we decided pretty quickly we would name him Elias and call him Eli. THEN came the middle name debate. From the beginning I liked Elias Paul. Manly's late grandfather was named Paul, and I have always loved that name(since I had a crush on a boy named Paul in grade school! HA!) Manly liked the strong sound in the name Elias York(which is my maiden name). We never decided on a middle name for sure until we saw him. I finally just told Manly he could name him whatever he wanted. I was just glad he had let me have my baby! So, Elias York it was.
These are the birth photos are by Paula Bean Photography. I love these pictures so much.
My man being strong for me.

A precious moment.

Checking out our new sweet miracle.

My completed family.

My first and last. I cry every time I see this picture.

Probably my favorite picture. Ha! Love squishing my darling baby!

This is my dream team. These three helped me deliver my last two babies. SO glad all three of them were able to help me!

My baby and me!

Oh sweet beautiful boy!
While I was still pregnant Manly and I started to look at options. I could have SWORN I blogged about our journey here, but for the life of me I CAN NOT find it. After researching and thinking and praying about our decision we decided to go with Manly getting a vasectomy. I actually asked around on facebook about a good doctor, and we made an appointment, went in for the surgery, and it was over with before I even had the baby!
perfection.(Paula Bean Photography)
Love this cute pic.(Paula Bean Photography)
Little Brother Chub Chub(Paula Bean Photography)

In this time Manly also decided to quit his well paying, fantastic benefits package job and pursue private practice counseling. To say it was a rough transition for us is putting it lightly. We went from having excellent insurance to having bad high priced private plans, he had to work strange hours, and he didn't make enough for us to live on for the first several months. He had made a financial plan that kept us afloat, but it was a VERY rough time in our home that I think takes second position for the hardest time in our marriage right below grad school.
Manly in his office the day we moved in all the stuff.

I know that we will and already are seeing the pay off, but it was and still is a very tough change on our family. I am SO proud of the unwavering faith that Manly has maintained. He made this decision only after a lot of praying and fasting. It was with bold faith that he walked in and resigned from his position at UAMS. He KNEW God was going to take care of us. He has never lost faith that he'll be able to build a successful practice. Sure he's had bad days and slow seasons, but his faith has stayed strong, and has been contagious.
My man on TV. So proud for him.

Elias has been such a joy for me. I prayed and prayed that God would allow me to enjoy him being a baby and not wish it away, and these past seven months have been SUCH a blessing for me. Eli is a fantastic blend of sweet and silly. All of his sisters and brother are in love, and fight over who gets to play with him. He's such a strong boy. He already pulls to standing, crawls, and cruises. He can clap his hands and wave bye-bye. He knows how to give high fives. He dances to music. He says mama and baba. He cries to be held, but loves to play in the floor too. He has a smile that melts my heart and a toothy grin that would make anyone smile.
Cutest baby ever.
Big old 5 month old STANDING in his bed! Yeah. Nuts!
Cute little silly baby!
God has shown himself to be faithful in our family. He has never stopped providing for us, and loving us. We can look back over the years and clearly see the hand of God right in the middle of our family. Someone once told me that when God calls you, he always equips you. I know now that is true. There is no way I would be able to handle this crazy life of mine otherwise. People always ask me, "HOW do you do it?" The answer is pretty easy. I don't. I'm here ONLY by the grace of God. He's brought us so far in the last ten years. I can't wait to see what happens in the next chapter of our life.

We got our Palin and fell in love.
These two are a MESS! Hysterical. And covered in mud.
Smittles May 2013
Even the baby knows how we roll.
Then started teaching FIVE kids in it!(Plus the baby)
We took our third trip to Disney.

Disney Swimmers.

My pretty princess and her prince.
Oh boy! These two are going to give me grey hair!

Addi completed Cubbies in the AWANA program. This is her wonderful leader.

We had to say goodbye to our spectacular sitter as she went off to college. BOO for us! Yay for her!

We also had to say bye to our sweet Palin. Such a sad day for our family!

Sweet memories to hold on to though.
Memorial Day 2013.
First time fishing.

First time to church camp.

Lulu gets her studio!!

Father's Day 2013.

Fourth of July 2013(Also Addi's fifth birthday).

Lulu and KK got to go to music camp 2013. 

These two decided they were twins separated by a few years.
My Lulu grew up!

Easter 2013.

Eli's Baby Dedication

So thankful my Granny lived to see all my children be born. We were so blessed to recently celebrate her 84th birthday.

So that's all the story we have for now. We aren't QUITE ready for rockers on the front porch yet, but as we enter this new season of our life of raising all these littles I hope we will love stronger, be more giving, smile more, laugh harder, pray together more, invite others over more, save more money, break up less fights, watch more movies together, sing louder, share more special moments together, teach our kids factions, potty train the last two kids, eat more chocolate, vacation more, go on more dates, and soak up every last drop of every moment we are given.
I can't tell you how thankful I am that you shared in reading Our Story. Don't want the story to end? Don't worry. It's only just begun! The next chapter starts now.

The Smittles 2013.