Wednesday, June 26, 2013

a mini-trip to the zoo

The summer time is a time for me to slow down and step out of routine. I do that- but then I also have to speed up to get everything in before I blink and August is here.  This summer my sis-in-law and I decided we were going to enjoy the fact that we live a hop, skip, and an hour and half car ride away from each other.  We are planning little day dates for our families to get together and to make sure that little Graham recognizes hugs and kisses from his auntie, sweet smiles from Ivy, a little too much talking from Tula, and an Uncle G who is going to love him like the only boy he'll probably ever have.  Of course, my girls adore this time with Unc and Esie (and now Graham) and are always so excited to see them!

 Cousins- thankful for the blessing of family.

A perk of living in a city with lots of things to do is having a yearly pass to the zoo.... like I have for going to the park about the only thing to do in Nicholasville.  When my brother and his family go to the zoo it's FREE!  Then with their passes my family of 4 can go for $15ish.  AWESOME.  So Sunday post nap, husbands included, we packed up for a very hot evening at the zoo.  Hot until it stormed and we huddled under an umbrella and in the gift shop for 30 minutes..... then the zoo was empty, animals were happy, and we enjoyed the breeze the rain brought in.

Loving these chubby cheeks in awe at the sight of the elephant.
Graham has been to the zoo a few times but for the first time he actually noticed an animal :)  He loved the elephants and he ooooo'ed and awwwwww'ed at them.  It is great to take in life through the eyes of this growing boy!  I am sure he was thinking... what is that? look at his nose? and oh my goodness, his toenails are the size of my hand!!?! He was mesmerized by this ginormous creature.  I can't wait to hear about each new animal that Graham discovers as he visits the zoo.

My girls were super jealous of this tiger hanging out in a cool bath while the zoo was HOT! 

Our evening in Cincinnati was well spent, exploring the animals, indulging in some Skyline Chili, and catching up with Anthony and Chelsea.  I can't wait to see what our next summer adventure brings!

Friday, June 21, 2013


"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7 

This has been a familiar verse to our family, especially to Ivy when she is afraid and needing an extra boost of courage.  This summer I still see her spirit of fear, but it's not debilitating like it has been in the past.  I see her wrestling it, doing self talk, trying to overcome whatever is holding her back.  She is maturing in this way, but I think my response has also become more mature.  As an adult you think your years of maturing are over, but I notice myself growing as a mom, wife, friend, teacher, etc. each year.  I have not pushed her with a harsh almost teasing tone like I sadly admit from the past, but rather I have encouraged her, praised her, and given her a hug when she feels defeated.  

I have spent lots of time praying for this growing baby girl bump.... I am excited to meet her and see the perfect ways God designed her to fit into our family. 
Sometimes we expect our children to fit in a box.... brave, obedient, outgoing, smart, funny, strong..... this box that we define for them rather than the box that God gives them when he fearfully and wonderfully creates them in our womb. We are to accept them and love them- unconditionally- and help them work through the stuff in their box that is difficult while we sing praises for the easy stuff.  I am learning and Ivy is growing.

This year she finally agreed to do swimming lessons.  She has watched as many of her friends have taken this road before her, but she has been a little nervous.  This summer she has been excited about swimming and really learning to swim.  At her first lesson, I praised her for her courage.  She was willing to learn and try everything from floating on her back in the deep end, to swimming across the pool learning to take breaths and "scoop" the water while doing big kicks, and even jumping in the deep end and realizing she knows how to swim back to the top and swim to McKenzie.  She was proud of this victory.

She has overcome her spirit of fear for so many things. This summer alone she has learned to ride a bike without training wheels, go down a water slide at a friend's pool, complete tasks independently that she was fearful of before, and even simply walking into a new situation without a friend always by her side.  I have told her over and over it is normal to feel shy and nervous but it feels so so good to get past those things! This year she is feeling that feeling of reward when she does something she was once afraid to do.  

Tula isn't afraid.  Isn't it funny that God gives us one child that I beat a dead horse not to be afraid and then I just wish I could teach Tula that somethings are scary- walking through a parking lot without a hand, running around the edge of the pool, talking to any and every stranger she meets, putting all her fruit snacks in her mouth at once.  Having more than one child has helped me to find a parenting balance because of their differences.... I am sure adding Joss to our family will even teach me more.

I am thankful for all these girls are teaching me during the summer months at home.  When I have this all day, getting to soak every part of them up, I really learn a lot about myself as a parent and I have time to seek wisdom in the ways I teach and guide them.  It isn't all a walk in the park, some days are rough and I put them to bed exhausted and feeling like I totally failed them as a mama, but oh the good times outweigh the bad and for that I praise God.

I am thankful for my partner in this parenting thing and in life.  We walk hand in hand learning and failing together.  We pick each other up, pray for our family, and work together to raise our girls in a Godly way.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

hello summer

Well summer is here! {thank goodness} I think I was more excited than ever for summer to arrive.  During each of my pregnancies the month of May is a little dreadful.... it begins the waking up in the night multiple times, heart burn so bad you can't lay down, swelling of feet and hands due to the heat, and the instinct to nest- majorly.  And May just marks the beginning of the 3rd trimester when you have babies ranging July 31st-September 1st.  But then summer arrives and poof my energy level goes up, my swelling goes down, and I am in relaxation mode and am ready for this last leg of pregnancy to SLOW down!  So the slow down time is here and my family is enjoying the summer and hoping it lasts forever!

Summer is usually a time of pajamas until 10, napping until dinner, staying up way late, and very little structure.  In the past, this has worked just fine!  It is the one time of year I can jump off the OCD train and hitch a ride with my take it one minute at a time, go with the flow husband.  But this year I had to stay on a schedule.... not for Ivy, who loves lists and schedules and creates her own when no one else does.  But for Tula- a fly by the seat of your pants, busy bee, toddler that was one ugly mood after another over Christmas break- the culprit..... lack of routine.  

So a very loose summer "schedule" and memory verse list has been created for the Smorstad household and we are off to a super great start with only one sour mood day.... which I can totally handle!! Ivy loves our posted schedule and Tula is telling us "what's next" so I would say she is getting the hang of things too.  We are still relaxing and we are still napping when it works but at least we have a predictable routine and that is keeping our little fire cracker right on track.  It is a bonus that we are committing to learning 9 Bible verses as a family this summer.

So what have we done so far...... well June has been more like spring than summer but we are soaking up the cooler than normal temperatures with lots of time outside.  We have definitely taken advantage of the 5 HOT, sunny days and spent them at the pool- even if it means a picnic dinner and going to the pool until bedtime- we are spontaneously making the most of this summer weather.  Just because the 70's don't lend to good swimming weather doesn't mean we are moping around waiting for a heat wave.

We are taking walks, picking strawberries, going to the park, playing in the backyard, and enjoying many lunches with Nana.  We are enjoying the moments of riding our bikes, swinging really high, and finding pictures in the clouds.  We are eating picnics, taking care of baby dolls, and playing dress up.  We are reading lots of new library books, creating artwork, and playing games.  We are talking about our family changing in the next few months- preparing our hearts for Baby Joss.  Ivy and Tula are planning their roles for the new baby girl!  Tula's latest suggestion....

"Hey Ivy, how 'bout I'll be your baby and Joss will be my baby!"

Ivy didn't buy this deal since she thinks she is old enough to be Joss' mama but she's playing along for the time being.  

We are fully in SLOW summer mode.... even with a little schedule in place.... we are relaxing and soaking up these moments as a family!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Memorial Weekend 2013

We had a big Memorial Weekend at the lake surrounded with lots of family..... all 28 members of the Jones side were together! For the first time in a long time!  Family is super important and specifically family traditions, but things change has 4 of the 8 cousins are now married and have children of their own.  We are spread from Cincinnati to Birmingham and holidays can be difficult for everyone to meet up but this year we did it.  It was a blast!!

We are so thankful to my Aunt Dee and Uncle Paul and my cousins Josie, Dane, Shea, and Harper for sharing their lake house with everyone! They were all excellent hosts and we were blessed to all come together in a house that we could all fit under one roof.  
{My family might be a bit crazy but we don't typically dress alike.... this photo was right before a big family photo!}

We got to soak up lots of time with Anthony, Chelsea, and that smiley baby Graham!  I was a self proclaimed baby hog and wasn't ashamed about it.... I haven't gotten to squeeze him enough lately!

Ivy and Daddy bravely went out on the boat two days.  They rode jet ski but tried to stay out of the chilly water! Tula settled for a nap time and then Greg took her out on the canoe for a little lake outing.  She was just as thrilled and continued to call the canoe a boat :)

The baby cousins had a blast playing together.  Ivy and Tula were the only girls but they were able to hang with the boys and have a ball!  I am not sure where Greg and I missed the ability to have baby boys but the rest of the family clearly got it!
Tula loves her Pops..... always!  She spent lots of time snuggling him and singing him happy birthday!  

I don't think anything makes my grandparents happier than all their family under one roof.... well except maybe the fact that U of L won the National Champions!  But none the less, they spent lots of time catching up with their 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren!

My cousin Angela with her two boys Cooper (6) and Cason (1) and her sister Rachel's two boys Cole (4) and Knox (1).  Look at all those boys!!!!

Nana was definitely having a great time with all her grandbabies in one place!! And as you can see they are all smiles to be in her arms.  

The Smorstad family had a great time celebrating Memorial Weekend catching up on lost time with everyone.  There were old memories stirring as we talked about Mamaw's dumplings and new memories made as our children played together.  I am thankful for this time and cherish the moments when the stars line up and we can all free up our schedules to spend a weekend together!  I can only hope that it will become a Memorial Day tradition!