Thursday, December 30, 2010

52 things to do in Dallas WITH KIDS?

While we were having our annual "unwind after Christmas" vacation at my mom's house in Wimberley, I read this article in the Austin paper. An Austinite had decided to blog every day about an interesting place in Austin that she had visited, she called it 365 Things to do in Austin. That sounds ambitious. Is it corny to try 52 Things to do in Dallas? On facebook there are 365 Things to do in Dallas...

So... to live large and aim high, here are my 2011 Resolutions.

1. Remember each and every day that I am a precious child of God; called to love God, love myself, love my husband, and love my kids.
2. Blog weekly about 52 Things to do in Dallas WITH KIDS. See, I was original, I added with kids.
3. Lose 10 pounds (I know I told myself I would lose these 10 pounds by my birthday in October, and then it was by Christmas, maybe giving myself the whole year is not a good idea?
4. Walk a half marathon March 27 for the Komen Marathon for the Cure (raising $250 for breast cancer research) and walk 60 miles in 3 day for the Komen 3-Day for the Cure in November (raising $2,300 for breast cancer research).
5. Since #4 above is already on the calendar, maybe a resolution to adequately prepare for those events would be a good goal...

What are your 2011 resolutions?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Express Riding Train

Last year I found out about this wonderful electric train that runs during December. We had a blast last year and it was even more fun this year with older boys who appreciated the trains even more. I can't believe this gem is 10 minutes from our house, free, and operated by the nicest man! There have not been crowds when we have been there, we rode three times in a row this year.

that's Everett and Madeleine in the front car, I'm three cars back with my blue camera bag. Papa is behind me and Nana is behind him.

Everett loved the train!

So did Austin (in the car behind Everett, Sydney and Madeleine)

Look! No hands! Madeleine, nephew Austin, Aunt Kristin, niece Sydney, and Everett

All of us - my sister Kristin and her kids Austin and Sydney, me and Lee and Madeleine and Everett, and my mom (Nana) and stepdad (Papa)

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Greetings!

Christmas 2010

Do you ever look at your life, at your job, your family, your friends and just want to hold up your hands in thanksgiving to God? We are blessed with two of the most beautiful children. Madeleine is 6 ½ and is in 1st grade. She began playing soccer this year, is a daisy girl scout, and started piano lessons this September. We are amazed that in one year’s time she has begun to read and really enjoys it. We love her inquisitive mind, her mother hen nature, and her heart.

Last week Everett said, “I’m cute.” Obviously, he hears that a lot. He sure is cute though! He loves his sister so much and loves to do whatever she is doing. He goes to school at our church, Oak Lawn United Methodist, and loves playing outside, fighting with his light sabers, and playing with balls. Although he never tried to climb out of his crib, a few weeks ago we decided we needed to move him into the toddler bed. Why would you move a child who is trapped in his crib into a bed where he can roam free? Well, that is a very insightful question… We are wondering if the terrible 2s, should instead be named the terrible 3s. There is never a dull moment when a boundary can be tested!

We give God thanks for our two places of employment. Lee continues to work at Raytheon, just 10 minutes from our house and Kerry continues to work at Oak Lawn UMC. We both feel incredibly blessed to work with people we like and to enjoy the work that we do. We also give thanks that we still like each other after 10 years of marriage! For our anniversary we used our passports for the first time in a long time and went to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica.

We keep busy ferrying the children from activity to activity, and doing endless chores around the house. This year we had a possum living in our attic, our garage door unit fell from the ceiling, and the outlet behind our washer and dryer stopped working. How do we have time to fix everything around our house, go to work, and play with our kids? It is never dull! We continue to try to stay active. Lee has faithfully walked with some friends every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning this year and Kerry participated with her mom in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walking 60 miles in 3 days. Together they raised over $6500 to fight breast cancer! And, they have already signed up for next year!

When we think back on the year of 2010, we wonder how it flew by so quickly! We are incredibly blessed with health, joy, love, and faith. We do ask you to keep Lee’s mom, Sherry, in your prayers. She is in a nursing home and we try to visit frequently. Her health is declining. From our family to yours, may you experience the wonder, the joy, and the peace of this wonderful Christmas season!

Lee, Kerry, Madeleine and Everett Smith

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pictures with Santa

I took the kids to visit Santa. Everett said he wanted a truck. When pressed, he said a big blue truck. When I asked Madeleine what she wanted and the response for a third year in a row was an American Girl doll, I said that Santa liked variety. So she agreed that an art kit would be good. The first year Santa did bring an American Girl doll, and the next year when the same request was made, Santa brought a doll for the doll (did you know that they make those? They do!).

If you want to see the progession of Everett's response to Santa, check out these previous pictures. This is in 2008 when Everett is 1 and Madeleine is 4. At age 1 Everett was having nothing to do with this new person named Santa.

This is in 2009 when Everett is 2 and Madeleine is 5. I think that age 2 is my favorite! Everett is physically trying to crawl out of Santa's lap.

And in 2010 when Everett is 3 and Madeleine is 6. Everett looks like he has accepted Santa, though not yet smiling. I love how Madeleine is grinning from ear to ear in every photo! Check out Madeleine's boots too!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A new bed...

What do you do when your child has never attempted to crawl out of the crib? They do not even seem to know that there is an option of getting out of the crib by themselves? What do you do when that kid has turned 3 and well, you have a toddler bed in the attic...?

Everett turned 3 October 5 and the week before Thanksgiving Lee said, "Do you think we should get the toddler bed down?" My response was, "Are you kidding? He doesn't know that he can get out of that thing!"

I remembered taking 3 year old Madeleine to pick out her own sheets for the toddler bed and she seemed so much older than 3 year old Everett. I just could not imagine him picking out his own sheets like she did. So, we took a trip to the store. I figured if Everett had an opinion about his sheets, then he was old enough for the toddler bed. He was very clear that he wanted Buzz and Woody sheets. Hmph... maybe he was old enough...

So, over the Thanksgiving break we got down Madeleine's old toddler bed from the attic. Everett was so excited about his new bed. I called Goodwill to take away the crib, but they said that they would not accept it because there were so many cribs that had been recalled. So, a lovely family from freecycle now has the crib that we bought in 2004 for Madeleine when we lived in Krum (I bought it from Target on-line). Lee assembled that thing so many times (he had to disassemble it to even get it out of Everett's room!)

I told Lee that there would be no more naps now that Everett was not trapped in his crib, but he has even napped in his new bed! He still calls for us to take him to the bathroom, I keep telling him that he can get out...

happy boy!
Madeleine and Everett playing "wake up!" They scream "wake up" and jump on the bed. Taking turns of course...

My sweet knight... who is growing up so fast!


Madeleine and Everett playing superheroes, they have so much fun with each other (most of the time)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fort Worth zoo

I had never been to the Fort Worth zoo, so for my birthday I wanted to visit. Unfortunately, due to the Reflections art program, the 3-Day for the Cure, and Madeleine's soccer games, the first day that we could go was the day before Thanksgiving. I was incredibly impressed. The animals had large areas to roam and play, and we even saw them play! This orangatun played with a sheet for about thirty minutes and we were all fascinated. The orangatun played hide-and-seek, put the sheet on like superman, and threw it into the river and then would reach long arms in to retrieve it.

I loved the orangutan but I loved the bonobo apes more because there was a baby. I can not remember ever seeing the bond between mom and baby in such a real way as I did at the Fort Worth zoo.

The baby laying on mommy.

The baby nursing. So cool!

Madeleine feeding the birds. She had a bird land on her stick, but I did not take a picture fast enough.

Me with the kiddos balancing on a bronze kangaroo.


Wanda is my step dad's mom and she is just amazing. We recently attended her 95th! birthday party. Here is Wanda with Madeleine and

Nancy (Wanda's daughter) with Wanda's birthday cake with (I think) 95 candles! Wanda makes from scratch angel food cake for everyone's birthday, so her birthday cake was also angel food.


My sister and I both played soccer, so it was very special this fall when our girls played on the same soccer team. Madeleine had played last spring when there were just 3 players per side and they played on half the soccer field playing two games at one time. This fall they played with 7 girls on each side, played the entire length of the soccer field (I think it was a regular size soccer field, but maybe it was smaller), and even had a goalie! I was so proud of my niece Sydney, it was her first time to play soccer and she was aggressive! Sydney was great on defense, she would run up and stop the ball, no matter what! She also played with her glasses that she got in August, and they did not bother her at all! Everyone who played on the panda team last spring signed up to play with them again this fall. Sydney was the only new player and she blended in so well. Madeleine usually played offense, but also loved her turns at goalie.

Here is Madeleine and Sydney (my niece) receiving their soccer trophies. This year only the 1st and 2nd place team got trophies, but our wonderful coaches pitched in and got our team trophies too. As for their record, I will only say that they had a lot of fun, which is the most important part!

My beautiful niece Sydney getting her soccer trophy.

Madeleine getting her soccer trophy.

The girls, I love Madeleine's hair in this shot.

The "please stay still" shot.

I love Sydney's hand on Madeleine's shoulder. They are such good friends! (unless they are yelling at each other)

Do you remember doing this? I don't think I could do this anymore...

Everett wanted to do it too...

A house

No one ever tells you how much work a house is. I miss the days of calling apartment maintenance to change a light bulb... This fall our garage door opener fell from the ceiling.

and a possum came to live in our attic.

Thank God for animal control! I have to go, we're going to try and squeeze behind the washer and dryer to fix the outlet that no longer works...

The kids this fall

Madeleine & Everett with my 3-Day flashlights and 3-Day freebies of pom poms, necklaces, and exercise headband.

Madeleine with some scary Halloween teeth!

Everett "playing"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Second Child

Mrs. Joy, an amazing woman who taught Madeleine's 3 year old Sunday School when we were at Lovers Lane UMC, and just happened to live two streets away from us, is a huge part of our lives. She lives two doors down from Madeleine's piano teacher, so every Wednesday Everett and I go to Mrs. Joy's while Madeleine is learning piano. Mrs. Joy plays football with Everett, chases him around the yard, gives him a cookie and milk, and always has a color sheet for him to color. She is an incredible woman and I am so thankful for her influence in my life and in the lives of my children. Mrs. Joy also invited me to be a part of her Book Club that she began 25 years ago, the EZ Reader's Book Club. I so enjoy these ladies, the discussion that we have of the books, and the wisdom that they share.

Like me, Mrs. Joy has two children, first a girl and then a boy.

Mrs. Joy shared with me this poem and I think it is such a treasure:

Second Child by Toby Devens Schwartz from the book "Mercy Lord, My Husband's in the Kitchen and Other Equal Opportunity Conversations with God."

Dear son, dear afterthought
memento of one tiny flight of love
for whom I sacrificed my trip to Nassau, my job promotion, the last of my waistline
Happy is the woman who hugs her child in the night and says
It was worth it.

Dear son, dear second-born
reluctant toothless dragon of my dreams
who dug in for a ten-month gestation (you still there? phone calls begin)
and a nineteen-hour labor (you still here? the obstetrician grins)
Happy is the woman who rocks her child in her arms and says
It was worth it.

Dear son, dear what will be
sweet triumph of hope over fatigue
who looks a little like his father and a little like his mother and a lot like a miracle.
Happy is the woman who holds her child in the light and says,
It was worth it.

It was worth it, Lord,
Thank you.


When I think back on this fall, it feels like it has been a whirlwind of activity since August when school started. Right before the 3-Day for the Cure, I was co-chair of this big art program at Madeleine's school called Reflections. We had a total of 225 entries that had be mounted on posterboard and judged. The night of judging was the day after my birthday and I was at Madeleine's school from 5 pm until 12:30 am! The good news was we were able to send 45 to district, and the kids had a lot of fun making the art.

The day before the Komen 3-Day, my mom flew in from Austin. I had to be at the school to hang ribbons on each one of those 225 entries, so my mom took the kids home to play. When they picked me up at school a little bit later, faces had been painted!

here the kids are at Moss Haven Elementary. Madeleine is standing in front of her red ribbon picture of our street.

Here they are face-painting!

Everett even painted himself!

And he wanted to wear the face-painting hat!

Then Everett wanted to face-paint Nana!

And boy, was she covered in paint!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Inspiration to walk

As my mom and I were nearing the end of our 3 day, 60 mile journey on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, my mom reminded me about her dad, my grandpa. Grandpa loved to walk in his local mall, Memorial City Mall. He would go every day during the week and racked up 5,000 miles at Memorial City Mall! He won a free pair of tennis shoes and his name was put on a plaque. Mom and I talked about going to visit and see if the plaque was still there. As we were digging deep looking for inspiration to make every step, my mom reminded me about my grandpa. This is a picture of my grandpa with his granddaughters, my sister and me, at my mom's wedding to Don in 1995.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure

Wow. What an experience. It was more than a month ago, but I still think about it everyday. Mom flew in from Austin the day before (on Thursday) and we woke up on Friday morning at 5 am. At 5:30 am Aunt Sally, a gift from God, arrived to take us to Plano. Aunt Sally said that she would willingly take us to Plano as long as she did not have to walk 60 miles in 3 days. In the car Aunt Sally told us what her strategy would be. Walk a block or two, go to the side of the route and put your thumb down indicating that you needed to be picked up by the sweeper van. The sweeper van would then take you to the next pit stop. Aunt Sally recommended walking a few more blocks and repeating the sweeper van pick up move. We laughed and laughed and wondered if that would be what really happened. I am happy to report that we walked the entire 60 mile route and never once had to ride in the sweeper van.

The first day seemed to fly by. Opening ceremonies (pictures below) began at 7:30 am and we saw women walking who were undergoing treatment for breast cancer, yet, still had the desire to participate in the 3-day. We saw banners with words like Anniversaries, Birthdays, Births, and heard words reminding us that there are many whose lives are cut short because of breast cancer. They deserved a lifetime, and that is why we walked. There were 2,700 walkers with 425 volunteer crew. Every walker raised at least $2300. The 2010 Komen 3-day for the cure Dallas/Fort Worth walked raised over $7 million!

The last few miles on Friday were hard, but the constant support from the cheering stations were amazing. We did not go more than 3 miles without a pit stop or a cheering station. The cheering stations were where hundreds of people lined the sidewalks with posters, candy, kleenex, trash cans, and even margaritas! When we walked through a cheering station, we felt like we could have walked 20 more miles (maybe). I was also amazed at how many people were in costume, we saw 2 pink gorillas and so many men in drag, so many pink wigs! I was totally blown away Friday morning to see Sonja Gold (pictured below), my friend from Oak Lawn UMC. Seeing her totally made my day!

My mom and I decided that if the other person was not there, we would not have been able to walk each day. Having that accountability, that companionship, that support, made it doable. If we could just make it to lunch (pictured below - we look great!), we were more than halfway through for the day! Friday night my hip was hurting, so I made a visit to medical, and was given the gift of a wonderful physical therapist who helped me stretch. When we got to camp Friday night, we had to set up our pink tents, you have never seen such a sight as 1500 matching pink tents on soccer fields! We made a beeline to the 18-wheeler showers and the non-stop hot water was another gift from God! We had a great meal of chicken parmesan that had been cooked in an 18-wheeler (not the shower one), and were asleep by 8:30 pm!

Saturday was cold. Friday night I had gone to bed with my pajamas on, and even slept with my jacket on under my sleeping bag. Saturday was colder. My hip was really hurting me, but the cold froze my legs so much, that I did not feel much of anything! What a gift! We took pictures of the frost on the ground and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. People had told us that Saturday was the hardest day, so I was determined to not have Saturday be my hardest day! I was amazed at the walkers in costume! One of the 450 men who walked was the largest fundraiser and he raised over $17,000. Every day he wore a pink bra and shorts. It was cold and he only had on a bra! There were bees (boobees), angels, and people with pink cones on their heads. It was amazing!

We were able to see Lee and the kids (pictured below) at one cheering station in the morning, and my sister, Kristin and her kids (pictured below) at a cheering station in the afternoon. Those cheering station were a huge morale booster! We somehow made it through Saturday, and even though we had heard that those curbs would hurt, walking up and down a curb by the end of the day felt like we were climbing up and down Mt Everest! Saturday night we had steak that was delicious and we danced a little bit in the dance party, but my hip and knee were pretty tired and I was asleep by 8:30 pm again.

Sunday was hard. Sunday was supposed to be the easy day, but it was hard. It was daylight savings day so we got to sleep in! but we were on a bus to get us closer to Dallas by 6:15 am! We saw Scott Trulock and Jennifer Sowders in the morning (pictured below) and were so thankful to be cheered on by such wonderful friends! At lunch we discovered that we both had blisters. We had gone 50 miles without a blister! The last 2 miles were brutal. My knee hurt so bad (I think I was walking funny because my hip hurt). When I saw a sign that said "limping is walking," I agreed. The last 2 miles were unforgettable for the pain but also because of something that my mom did. She got out the list of people that she carried with her the entire 3 days. A list of women who had died from breast cancer. Friends from her work, members of our family, people whose families had given money to us in their memory. My mom began to tell their stories. She told me about people that she worked with who had gone every week for chemo, her namesake Aunt Nan who had wondered what the large lump on her breast was. My mom telling those stories made me feel like my pain was nothing. It would go away, and as another sign said, "blisters don't need chemo."

Walking into Fair Park was amazing. We had made it, we had walked it! But at Closing Ceremonies when the people who were survivors walked out with their pink shirts, I felt like I had been a part of something that I would never fully be able to explain to someone. I had seen heroes, I had walked with them, and I would be forever changed.

It took a good 2 weeks for my knee not to hurt and even a month later when we walked the Turkey Trot, my knee hurt again. My blister eventually went away, but when my mom called and asked if I walked to walk with her again next year, I did not hesitate to say, "Yes, I'm in!"