Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Annual Smith Family Newsletter 2010

Hello, all!

Well, another year has passed us by and we find the Smith family still living out their idyllic lives in Ohio. 2009 was a complete delight. Easiest year ever. In fact we were desperately sad when we had to ring in 2010.

Happy April Fool's Day!!!

Not to offend anyone, but we were more than pleased to kick 2009 to the curb! It was a year of too much yuck. But also some really wonderful things.

We'll start with the wonderfulest of them all! Lilyanna Smith joined our family in January (technically a 2010 event, but still...) She is adored by her parents and 4 older brothers. And it looks like Emilia's blue eyes may have won again!! (Emilia views all eye color in her children as a genetic competition between her and Todd. The score now looks to be even.) Lilyanna is two months old now and as long and skinny as Benjamin was at the same age. She is very sweet and such a blessing to our family at this time. Emilia, though initially wary of a girl, has embraced the pink and flowers and patent leather shoes quite nicely.

Caleb. What does one say about Caleb? Caleb is a wonder to us all. He is fearless. In fact we went to see a movie this summer with some friends, and the 12 year old girl sat next to Caleb in the theater in case SHE got scared during the movie. He had a wonderful summer at our local pool club. He is quite the fish and also spent the summer flirting with all the cute middle school girls at the pool. He would flex his 5 year old biceps for them and smirk as they oohed and aahhhed and giggled. Then he'd confidently walk over to me and say, "Yeah. They think I'm cute." He's been enjoying all day Kindergarten this year and has really discovered a love of art. His other favorite love at the moment is LEGOs. A frequent quote uttered by him, "I'm a geek about LEGOs."

Nathaniel is in 1st grade and still knows everything. He also had a great summer at the pool and came so far in swimming (he started off the season reluctant to put his face in the water) that he's decided to join the swim team this summer. When winter weather forced him inside he turned to his LEGOs. Nathaniel has discovered a love of reading and has read nearly 50 chapter books this year. Nathaniel definitely keeps us on our toes and makes sure that when we tell him something we leave no loopholes. Lawyer in training perhaps?? Nathaniel also joined Emilia on a trip to San Francisco in the fall for a wedding, so he now feels like quite the world traveler.

Benjamin is in 4th grade and has set some really high academic goals for himself this year. We have been really proud of his diligence. Benjamin is 10 years old! (Todd and Emilia are still having a difficult time with his double digits.) When he turned nine, he received a present to go to a week-long dinosaur camp in Wyoming. There he learned how bones are cared for and processed in a museum, but also took part in an outdoor dig where the kids actually did find some bones! After camp was over he enjoyed the rest of his time out west visiting with relatives. He's still dancing and doing cub scouts and theater and being a great friend and brother. We are grateful to have Benjamin be part of our family.

Warren (mentioned last year as Jake) had his adoption finalized in August and changed his name. He was also baptized in April. Busy year! Warren, a junior in high school, has been actively involved in Worthington's extensive high school theater department. He can often be found helping to build sets when not rehearsing on stage for a show. He played the part of the Reverend Brown in "Inherit the Wind" and also the part of Conrad Birdie in "Bye Bye Birdie". It is always a treat to see him on stage, and it makes his brothers excited to participate in theater, too. As much as he loves theater, after a visit to New York City last April, he decided that Broadway isn't the place for him. He was unimpressed with the noise, dirt, and bustle of the city.

Emilia is still serving as Relief Society President in our congregation. Between discovering she was pregnant (with a girl even!) and nasty gall bladder issues, life was a little rough for her. But, Lilyanna has been born and the gall bladder has come out and all is well with the world. Emilia is really enjoying having a baby to love and cuddle. She still teaches piano lessons, and is studying to take the GREs so she can apply to grad school in the next few years. Because she is crazy.

Todd still works for Chase in their marketing department. After several years managing their list processing team, Todd recently moved over to support the Retail Strategy team. What this really means is that just when Emilia was able to explain what her husband did at work, he changed jobs. Last year Todd joined Toastmasters and has competed in several public speaking competitions. His humorous speech "Seven Habits of Mildly Effective People" took top prize at several levels of competition.

And there are the Smiths' in a nutshell. Come visit us in Ohio! It's lovely here... Well, in the Spring and Summer it's lovely. But WE are here. That's enough of a reason to come. Happy Spring, everyone! Hope you had a fun April Fool's Day!!


Todd, Emilia, Benjamin, Nathaniel, Caleb, Warren and Lilyanna

What to do...

I need to go to the beach. NEED!!!

I've mentioned my issues of feeling trapped in the middle of the country before. I need an edge. Nearby. There must be annual sighting of a coastline.

I got both coasts in 2009, so I was good. But we are in a new calendar year, people, and it is TIME to plan for a beach!

So, the question is: do I load up my 5 kids and drive the nearly 12 hours from Salt Lake City to San Francisco this summer while we're out west anyway? OR do I drive the only 10 hours from Worthington, OH to anywhere on the Jersey shore some other time?

Pacific pros:
I can take my kids around my favorite west coast city and show them the beautiful CA coast.
I love the bay area. love love love.
We get to visit with wonderful friends that we wouldn't otherwise get to see.
Fabulous food. Everywhere. For cheap.

Pacific cons:
driving across NV in the summer. with kids.

Atlantic pros:
We can go see the place where my Grandma and Great Aunt (the sisters Lilyanna is named after) lived and visit the beaches I spent lots of childhood time on.
It's closer.
Lots of friends and family to visit.
Good pizza.
Frozen custard.

Atlantic cons:
It's the Jersey shore.
And I'm not sure if I'll make it out to CA any other time this year if I don't go this summer.

What to do??

Friday, March 26, 2010

More Two Months

Lilyanna at 1 month...when i could still sometimes convince her to take a pacifier.
Before I forget, Lilyanna is doing these things now:

-pushing herself into standing position, if we hold her fingers.
-trying to do a serious crunch into a sitting position if laying on her back.
-grinning and cooing and combining sounds. And generally making everyone melt. She grinned at Nathaniel the other day and I could have scraped him off the floor. "MOM!! Lilyanna LOVES me!!" Adorable.
-Sleeping at night for a 5 hour stretch, consistently. Which is good. Because Todd and I are old and tired.
-starting to reach for the little toy thingies. Maybe. Maybe it's just a coincidence that her hand slowly collides with them. I can't quite tell yet.
-with her eyes, following people or things across a room.
-She hates her pacifier. A lot.

The nice thing about being done having kids (knocking furiously on all wooden surfaces around me) is that I'm really enjoying this stage. I don't think I have ever enjoyed any of my other babies the same way due to having other small children, or both of us working, or relocating to a new state. But now all my other kids are in school, and I'm at home during the day, and Lilyanna and I can stare and coo at each other for an hour if we want. It's wonderful and I'm so grateful to have this opportunity.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Two Months Old

This is my Dad holding Lilyanna in what seems to be a favorite position for her. He put her like that one day while she was fussing and when she calmed down, he said, "Oh, well that makes sense. It's how you liked to be held at this age, too." I have since grown out of that desire, I assure you. But besides being a cute picture of my Dad with his only granddaughter, it also highlights how l-o-n-g she is. She, like her older brothers before her, has put all of her energy into growing longer and not fatter.

At two months old, she weighs ONE. I repeat ONE pound more than she weighed at birth. I promise I feed her all the time! But she has grown four inches longer since birth. Totally not my fault. Have you met Todd? All him. Except Todd never had to wear tights. (Except that one time, but we won't talk about that right now...) Do you know how ridiculous this poor little girl with her skinny little chicken legs looks in tights?? Good thing warm weather is right around the corner is all I can say.

And here is a picture of Lilyanna with my Mom. Because it is sweet and makes me smile to look at it.

Bye Bye Birdie

Warren played the part of Conrad Birdie in his high school's production of "Bye Bye Birdie". He was absolutely wonderful in the role and it was fun to see him perform the Elvis type character. And I love this picture of him!

Incidentally, this play has history for Todd and me as well. When we were teenagers and I didn't like Todd anymore, he came to see me in it. I had a crush on the boy playing Conrad Birdie, though. Also, I didn't return the favor and go see Todd's play a week later. (He was the Wizard in "Once Upon a Mattress".) He still brings it up. ;)

Lilyanna's Blessing

We blessed Lilyanna when she was one month old. Todd gave the blessing and was joined in the circle by both our dads and our Bishop. (I love how in the picture above, the lion is prominently featured between Todd and the Bishop.)

Grandma and Grandpa Bradshaw and Aunt Elysa picked out the pretty blessing dress.

She was perfectly behaved through the whole thing and didn't cry at all. (Nor did she spit up or wet the men holding her during her blessing. This is a first for our kids.) She did try to spit out her pacifier, but luckily the Bishop was quick of hand and eye, and caught it midair and got back in her mouth. Impressive.

Among other things, Lilyanna was blessed with the knowledge that her family loves her. And the ability to find joy and laugh through the trials of life.

It was wonderful to have so many family members able to join us for the experience. Both sets of Grandparents and three aunts, an uncle and a cousin all made the journey into town. Good times and happy memories.

Musical Monday

I have had this song in my head for weeks now. Spring means there are motorcycles all over the roads again. It's no "Alice's Restaurant" but I love it.

Settle in for a story:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rules for Interrupting Mom in the Shower

Shower time is sacred time as far as I'm concerned. With a new baby who I've been told by her doctor to "feed whenever she wants to eat", showers are hard to get. She wants to eat all the time. There's also the whole not sleeping thing. And needing to eat. The shower falls last on the list every time. So, when I finally get one it makes me VERY unhappy to be interrupted by children. Especially older children.

With this in mind, I've assembled some guidelines for when it is okay to interrupt Mom in the shower.

1. Blood. If anyone is bleeding in a way that can't be stopped by a band-aid, you may knock on the door.

2. Animal bites. (they don't always draw blood.) It must be a wild or rabid animal, though. All other animal bites can wait until after. Unless rule 1 applies.

3. If Publisher's Clearing House is standing at the front door with a check for me, you may knock on the door.

4. If one of my crushes is standing at the front door, you may knock on the door. You may even jimmy the lock on the door.

5. If Dad somehow gets himself arrested and uses his one phone call to call me while I'm in the shower, I will come to the phone. And then I will deal with him later.