Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I really was not much of a Halloween lover before having children. In fact, I would go so far to say that I really hated dressing up in all the grown up outfits (that all seem to be a little hookerish.... why is that??)! So nothing pleases me more than to make this special day all about the kids! And in our family.... it is.... and it is so much fun!

After the busiest week of my school year thus far- report cards done, 21 conferences completed, half day chaos, dress up day, and Family Fun Night Friday- I was so ready for a great weekend! So we kicked off the Halloween festivities by trick or treating with two little princesses at one of the girl's dorms at Asbury.

Belle and Snow White loved it! They had a blast following the colored squares through Chocolate Mountain and all the other fun of this real life Kandyland. They thought they were big stuff, dancing with the college girls and modeling in front of the full length mirrors around every turn. They scored lots of yummy candy and were worn out by the end of it all.
Ivy is so thankful that Addy invited her along for this adventure~

Sunday night, Greg and I were excited to carve our big pumpkin for the real trick or treat night. We decided to pass on the silly jack-o-lantern face and go for the wine glass inspired, S monogram! Okay, I admit this was totally my idea and my super artistic husband ran with it! And does it look awesome or what??!!

And light off.... wow.... I love it!

So the pumpkin is carved and we are ready for the Smorstad/Amburgey annual trick or treat night! Good food and good company and lots of good laughter- needless to say, we had so much fun catching up with our friends. It is great to see how our baby brood keeps growing! Last year we made the jump from two to four kiddos along for the Halloween festivities and next year we will have five. I can't wait for Baby Amburgey to make it's debut in the next 10 days. :)

Look at Minnie Mouse, Mommy, and Baby Bump ready to go!

This was the only picture that famous Bull Rider, J.B. Mauney, wanted to pose in! (Rhett, I am so sorry if I didn't spell that right!) Snow White was quite impressed with her Cowboy and wanted to show him with a big smooch with her apple red lipstick. He was not to excited about the prospect of a kiss!! Ha :)

The "babies" and Greg ready for the wagon ride!

Rob was in charge of pushing the big kids in the stroller.... Where's Rhett??! He was not into pictures this year :) Bull Riders are really too cool for picture posing!

Our little Strawberry felt so big to go get some candy! As soon as she got a little treat in her bag, she pulled it right out so pleased with the prize. Thankfully she had no idea these goodies were edible and instead, was happy to just wave them around and show them off to those passing by!

Minnie Mouse was really too big to be classified as a "baby" in the wagon so she helped pull "Too-too" most of the night :) Greg and Sidney Shea are big buddies!

We had a great night filled with great memories. These are the moments I never want to forget as my kids get big. And I hope that we will always share Trick or Treat nights with Amburgey's, babies added, kids growing up, and when we are old (and our kids are gone- tear :*( -) we can pass out candy and remember the good '0le days!

And we vow to never drive a car and drop our kids off at the houses with the lights on.... seriously.... people do that!

Happy Halloween, my friends!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Paintings

My bloggy and real life friend, Brooke, gave us such a fun idea for this fall and we ran with it! Painting pumpkins! Greg and I love to carve a pumpkin each year. However, this is usually a longer process, so Ivy is involved in the scooping and dumping but is less than thrilled to actually sit patiently while her Daddy carves every bit of his face perfectly. So for a little girl that LOVES crafts this was a perfect activity :) Thanks for the super idea, and I think we will make it a tradition for our family too!

The little artist in her work smock and loving the pink paint!

Tula says... Who needs a brush, when I can get my hands in this?? Maybe next year she will get to participate a little bit more :)

The finished products :) We are excited to carve the big one this weekend!
Did I mention that I LOVE FALL?!?!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Rest of the Best (DISNEY- LAST PART)

The Animal Kingdom's tree of life!

African Safari.... so cool!!

Face Painting :) Ivy was so proud of this!

Tula LOVED the Lion King show.... hands down her favorite part of the trip!

Chef Mickey's for a yummy breakfast and to meet all of these guys! :)

Meeting Minnie again at the Animal Kingdom~

An experience she can't stop talking about- The Real Rapunzel!

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger- You can see Tula is not thrilled to be so close to these guys!! She was more of a "wave from a distance" type of girl.

Daddy and Ivy rode the "Tea Pots" several times!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Princess Dream (DISNEY- PART 2)

Ivy and all the princesses!!! Tula even got some love from Princess Ariel :)

More than anything else about our Disney adventure Ivy couldn't wait to meet THE princesses.... the REAL princesses! So 180 days in advanced, our reservations were booked and we couldn't wait for this magical evening to take place. I must confess, we saved money in the hotel department so we could do this full princess experience and it was beyond worth it.

We began at the Bippity Boppity Boutique with Ivy's fairy god mother, Arin, who was sent to get her ready for dinner at the castle. We followed excellent advice and brought our own dress and shoes taking the $260 package down to $58 to get her hair, make up, and nails done. Ivy was very quiet during this experience. In fact, I later thought we could have passed up the boutique, and headed straight to the castle.... until Ivy told me that was one of her favorite memories! (Oops!) The fairy god mothers were over the top, with the princess hair, princess talk, fairy dust, making wishes, etc! I thought it was absolutely magical and so much fun to have a little girl. EVERYONE in all of Disney addressed Ivy and Tula as "Princess" and that was definitely the feeling Ivy got after leaving Bibbity Boppity !

Our Prince surprised his little Princess with these shoes.... perfect for the occasion!

Then we headed over to Cinderella's castle. We were greeted by Cinderella herself and it was so beautiful inside. Disney spent the big bucks here.... and so did we!! :) We were lead up a spiral stair case to our table and the princesses (Ivy, Tula, and Mommy) were given a wand and a wishing star and our prince (Daddy) was given a sword to protect us. Dinner was yummy.... by far the most exquisite Disney meal we had and during dinner the special guests arrived one by one! Princess Aurora, Princess Ariel, Princess Belle, and Princess Snow White all came in and visited with each table. Ivy was absolutely in awe! To see her face with each princess was worth every little penny.

A sleepy princess and Daddy waiting for the parade to begin!

All in all this night was our favorite Disney experience and definitely made one little girl's Princess Dream come true!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Leaving on a jet plane.... (DISNEY- PART 1)

To the Disney World Monsoon!

I actually don't even know where to begin when recording all of our Disney memories.... so I will just start at the beginning and I promise it only gets better :)

So the flight was a concern- from the day we told Ivy we were going to fly on an airplane to go to Disney World she was not EXCITED- about the flying part that is! Over the last 7 months we have convinced her that the airplane would be great.... it was a super fast way to get to the princesses. So on Saturday morning we made the trek to Cincinnati to catch our direct flight to the magical paradise of Disney World.

The girls did AWESOME! That is the flight to be on for first timers.... there were so many kids that I didn't have a worry in the world and I think it actually made Ivy feel calm knowing that she wasn't the only one. Tula was a little monkey climbing between our seats but the sounds and looks of Miss Patty Cake on our little DVD player kept her entertained (and I am sure they made innocent bystanders want to scream)!! But hey, it worked.

And then we arrive to this....

The girls stood at the window and watched the rain pour and we contemplated what to do. We looked at the forecast for the next 5 days and they were calling for rain, rain, flooding, and more rain.... so we did it. We bit the bullet paid top dollar for rain ponchos since our luggage and rain gear hadn't arrived just yet. And we headed over to a very wet, but still very magical Magic Kingdom.

It was cold and my attitude was not good.... just being honest here. I stood under a covered area with Tula while Ivy and Daddy rode Dumbo (in the monsoon) over and over. On the bright side, there was no line in sight! I stood there and I prayed.... I prayed for the weather first. Which felt very small but I really needed Him to hear and answer big. And then I prayed for my attitude in case the rain was persistent. But God took that first prayer and wow he showed himself big time!

But not so fast.... we woke up Sunday morning.... pulled open the window shade and the rain was still falling. I had a smile (there is that 2nd prayer) and we got our rain gear (2 more rain jackets and 2 umbrellas) and headed back for a day at Magic Kingdom! We even stopped for a castle picture since the day before allowed for no pictures and friends, 2 minutes post picture the sky went from gray to bright blue and that was the last rain drop we had the entire trip! Oh and the memories we made- coming soon :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mommy the Protector

Ivy and Tula talking through the glass door.... and what you don't see is the fit that follows because Tula doesn't understand why she can't go out too! This protector mommy knows that it just isn't safe for the grass eating, rock finding, sort of, kind of crawler/walker to go into the backyard without me :) But she just doesn't get it!

Being the protector of our children is hands down the most difficult job as a parent. Tula is getting to the age when I am constantly called to protect her from the dangers looming. As she toddles past sharp corners, onto tile floors, up tiny step stools, and towards the teensy "bites" she finds on the floor- my heart skips a beat 10 times over. As I remove her from one situation after another she flops back and cries not understanding that I am trying to keep her safe. I want to be able to plead with her that I just love her so much and am trying to avoid yet another purple goose egg on her pretty little face. But I know she won't understand.... and then I remember this is the time that being a protector is easy- the role is so clear- but as our children get older the boundaries get a little blurrier.

I think of Ivy.... only a little over 4.... at times my role as protector is still the "don't get physically hurt" type of protector but we are moving closer to protecting her from emotional dangers. That is hard, friends! These protector conversations often go past Ivy and straight to a discussion between DaddySmors and I. We talk about the way we have to scold her and teach her, while making sure to protect her spirit. And the way we still "help" her with her clothing choices while trying to protect her self confidence and creativity. I hear about her conversations with friends at school and the Mommy claws come out feeling the need to protect her from cliques and gossip as she grows older. We continue to want to protect Ivy physically but now also are fighting the battle to protect her from situations that we feel are a danger to our child- emotionally.

Then I think about the future (and my own past as a teenager). WOW! Being a protector to that age you work double time, protecting them both physically and emotionally every hour of every day. And at that age I still didn't understand my parent's good intentions to protect me. They were often accused of "ruining my life" or "not understanding what it's like!" Finally, as a mama myself I get it, my own parents loved me so much they wanted to protect me from the dangers looming around every corner. Now they have passed the torch and it is my turn to have the 24/7/365 job as protector for the next 18+ years. Shoooo.... I know it is going to be the most difficult Mommy job but I hope that one day Ivy and Tula will look at me and "get it!"

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cloth to Not..... A Sad Week

Well, I have promised to be totally honest about the cloth diapering and have been.... from day 1! Cloth diapering an infant was great. Tula definitely gave us loads of poop diapers but they were nothing the diaper sprayer, a good washing, and drying in the sun couldn't bring back to perfection. We had better luck in all diapering areas when compared to use of disposables with Ivy- less leaks, less blow out explosion, less diaper rash, etc. Cloth diapering forced us to dress Tula a little differently than we did Ivy simply because the poofy booty was not so pretty in some certain little outfits. But for the most part cloth diapering year 1 was a MAJOR success. Such a success that I would tell anyone and everyone that they could most definitely do cloth diapers and in fact I would even go as far to convince them that they should!

However, the second year seems to have brought some really stinky problems (haha- literally)! So I am sharing our story and honestly hoping that some other cloth diapering mama may be able to rescue me from spending dollars on diapers and filling the landfills with such yuck. It all started in August. We ran out of Tiny Bubbles detergent and in a scramble had to order something different because all of the places I had ordered from were out of stock (insert-- Stupid Mommy! Always go to amazon before giving up!). So I ordered another CD detergent- Rockin' Green (which has stellar reviews)- but after the first wash the smell was HORRIBLE! The second Tula wet the diaper everyone in the area knew because of the stench coming from her lower half. So I washed all the diapers again, a little more detergent (figuring they weren't clean), and dried them in the sun only for the smell to be worse. This cycle was repeated a couple of times before I talked to my own personal Cloth Diaper Whisperer, Cameron.

So Cameron informed me that they had made the same Tiny Bubbles to Rockin' Green mistake. She contacted GroVia and they informed her the detergent and diapers weren't compatible, wash with blue dawn, switch back to Tiny Bubbles, wah-lah good as new. Not so at the Smorsfamily house. So I called GroVia and they are the NICEST people on the planet and gave me a few more suggestions- use more detergent, soak in bubbles, extra rinse, sun dry, sun dry, and one more sun dry- FAIL! I am still in the process of communicating with these friends in far away Montana and am really hoping their next suggestion will be a cure all. But I am not sold that it will fix the problem. With every wash the diapers are getting stinkier by the day. I was gagging when I changed her, I was gagging when I sprayed diapers, I was gagging when I washed them.... and I gagged when I went to Sam's Club and forked over $40, 17 cents a diaper, for 350 disposable diapers.

Sad as I am, it had to happen.... until the problem gets fixed. Or will it get fixed? The cloth diaper gurus all over the internet seem to believe that a set of cloth diapers should last through one child and that you should even be able to use them again on your next babe. I am not sure if that will be the case. Only time will tell, but as of now the cloth diapering mama has put a sudden halt on saving the planet and my cash flow to avoid the ultimate stink!