Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Birthday Play-By-Play

We celebrated birthday number 2 for Reid on Sunday. Actually, the party started Saturday night when we took the crazies to Rain Forest Cafe. For my AZ and So. Cal friends, that may not seem like a big deal, but they don't have them in Ohio. So for all my Ohio friends, I included a couple of pictures. This restaurant is decked out! It is seriously like you're in the midst of a rain forest. There are waterfalls, giant fish tanks, trees, jungle foliage EVERYWHERE, life-like elephants, gorillas, birds, snakes, leopards....the works. After eating there, I remember why I swore I'd never go back...the food is overpriced and under flavored. It wasn't very good, but way worth it to watch the crazies enjoying themselves. I think they thought the animals were real. And every few minutes you hear a "rainstorm" or trumpeting elephants or some kind of rain forest sound. Parker asked if the Gorilla sitting nearby was going to steal his dinner.

Rain Forest Cafe is at a 'Mills' mall. Once again, Ohioans probably don't know what I'm referring to, but it's just like any other Mills mall I've ever been to. The reason we went there was actually for the train store. Following a long tradition of two-year old boys everywhere, Reid loves trains and was having a "choo-choo" birthday party. There is a great train store there with toy train tables set up all over for kids to play with and a train the kids can actually ride on that goes around the store. The boys enjoyed that as well as a free Merry-Go-Round ride for the birthday boy.

Parker is crazy about birthdays and could hardly sleep that night...he was out of control excited for Reid's birthday. He woke up at least four times during the night. And by 4:30am we couldn't get him to go back to bed. Reid finally woke up at 5:30...thanks to his persistent brother...and he opened presents then since Park couldn't wait another minute.

We had a delicious, but poorly decorated train cake. Spencer bakes, I decorate. I always have grand ideas for cakes, but not the skills necessary to carry them out. Please don't look Betheny. (Betheny makes incredible cakes.)

We finished off the night with what we refer to as a 'pajama party.' It includes pajamas (of course), snacks, and a family movie...this time a Thomas the Tank Engine movie (starring Alec Baldwin) to fit the theme.

Most parents talk about how fast time flies. It seemed to be the opposite for me this time. I can't believe only one year has gone by since his last birthday. Reid's life has changed dramatically in the past year. Beside the normal changes a toddler goes through, he had his foot amputated, has received 2 prosthetic legs, learned to walk 3 times (once before amputation, once with a prosthetic, and once on one foot and one stump). He started nursery. He had to start sharing a room with Parker (this may sound like an everyday occurrence, but was TRAUMATIC for my children...we spent almost three months of sleepless nights and days without naps trying to make this work). Reid went from being the youngest child to the middle child and took upon him middle child personality traits almost immediately after Grayden entered our home. And most recently, he moved from Ohio to Texas. What a year, huh? It's been a life altering year for all of us, but especially for Reid. I was glad to be celebrating birthday number two. This upcoming year can't possible be as dramatic as the last.


***If you roll your mouse over the pictures there's captions...just in case you have questions about any of the pictures...namely the one of Spencer's bum.***

Monday, January 28, 2008

We Thank Thee Oh God For a Prophet

I can't let the morning go by without mentioning the passing of President Hinckley, our beloved prophet. Although my own selfishness makes me tear up a little, I am happy he can finally reunite with his dear wife whom he obviously loved very much. I will miss his wit and wisdom, but mostly his unfailing love for the gospel of Jesus Christ and it's people everywhere.

President Hinckley is the prophet of my lifetime. I spent half of my life with him serving as prophet, seer, and revelator of this gospel. He is the first prophet I have much memory of. I remember so many of his addresses and specific council. I am so grateful for his council about families and his work to increase the number of temples on the earth. My love for the temple and regular temple attendance is in large part because of him. Especially my time in Columbus. We had a temple there thanks to President Hinckley. I am so grateful for his life and his divinely inspired words.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I <3 Jeff

I realize all my posts these days revolve around my big move to Texas, but that's what's consuming my life for the moment.

I've been meaning to post about our trek out here since we made it, but so far, have not. My ultra hip little brother Jeff flew out to make the trip with us. For those of you who don't know Jeff (who apparently now goes by 'Jeffrey')...he is, in all honesty, the coolest person I know, despite the fact that he's an Obama supporter. To quote the Robots movie that Parker insisted we watch on repeat all the way to Texas, he's "a little artsy fartsy. The artsy part's OK, but when [he] gets fartsy..." I wish I had pictures to show you just how hip he is. I didn't take any pictures of the trip. My camera was out of batteries and I had already packed the extras. I'd dig up old embarrassing pictures, but I haven't unpacked them. I pulled this one off his blog. (You can check out just how cool he is here, or here, or here.)

It was so nice to have an extra grown-up around. Besides helping us load and unload the truck, Jeff was our errand boy. I sent him all over Columbus completing my list of things to do before skipping town. I also made him wash windows, entertain children, sleep on the floor, drive the moving truck (in spite of his poor driving record), try not to laugh when the crazies were being naughty, figure out how to buckle car seats, put up with my dog, have no control over music or television, make bottles, feed kids, share a hotel room with our crazy family, referee fights, you name it...he did it...without a moments hesitation. Literally. And I heard not a word of complaint. Even when my crazies woke him up at 5:30am (which is 3:30am Arizona time). We were busy from before sunset (thanks to the kids) until long after sundown. We were all tired and exhausted and I heard no complaining escape his lips.

I am so grateful he was there. I'm not a big fan of driving. I refused to drive the truck and could only drive our SUV for a couple hours at a time before I needed a break. It was nice to have Spencer in the car sometimes when Jeff was driving the truck. And nice to have someone else meet the needs of my crazies while I was driving. Not only did it make the trip easier, but much more pleasant.

After a loooooonnng trip, he got right to work unloading the truck with us. Once again, it would not have been possible without Jeff. I can't even imagine getting a piano out of a moving truck and into a house with just Spencer and I. And even after that, when I felt shear exhaustion, he played with the kids. Jeff and I share the same weakness for a box of dress up clothes. And we have not one, but two 30 gallon Rubbermaid containers full of costumes. Shortly after unloading those from the truck, Jeff and the boys dug in. Just hours after that, when we were all ready to crash, he hopped on a plane to get back to his own life.

On top of the convenience, I have not spent that much time with my little brother probably since we were the crazies in the back seat making all the demands. It was way past fun being with Jeff again. My boys thought so, too. They hardly knew Uncle Jeff, but have since named one of their Little People 'Uncle Jeff' and fight over him. So thanks for that.

A million thank you's to Jeff (and to mom and Grandma for flying him out). It was a huge blessing.

We're The Best Of Friends

I've now been here long enough to really start missing my friends. Abbey, Autumn, and Kelly all posted about playgroup back in Ohio yesterday and I felt like I really missed out. I haven't really had much interaction outside my family since we moved down here and I'm about to lose my mind. I am a social person and have an inherent NEED for social interaction. I think it's time for me to start a playgroup out here. Don't worry can never be replaced. (The picture is of my very dearest friends back in Ohio. Kelly and Abbey threw me a luncheon before I left. Thanks again.)

I'm not sure If my kids quite get the whole move. I think Parker does for the most part, but every once in a while I hear him say things like...when we go back to Ohio.... And he still talks about Ben and "Baby Ross" as though he just hasn't seen them for a couple weeks but he's expecting them to be at church on Sunday. For Parker, Texas might as well be one street over. He knows we're not going back to our old house, but he has no idea how far away Texas is from Ohio.

I think Reid is still too young to think much about it. We've been reading a children's book A LOT lately about a little girl who moves far away and when we get to the part about saying goodbye to friends, Reid always says goodbye to "Baby Ross." ( I put that in quotes because he's not a baby, but he's named after his dad so we've always called him that.)

Baby Ross is a best friend to both of my older two boys. He's lived a few houses down their whole lives and he was born right in between them. Actually when they all play, it helps Parker and Reid get along better. We're really going to miss having a neighborhood friend to grow up with.

A BIG thanks to all my Ohio friends and their kids.
We miss you guys out here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's a Small World After All

Being a member of the LDS church really makes moving a million times easier and less scary. I remember thinking the same thing when I moved from California to Utah and from Utah to Ohio. It's like there's a network of people at your new place just waiting for you. When I moved to Ohio, I got a job, not because of my degree or the millions of resumes I hand delivered, but because someone in my ward had an in and referred me.

This time, being the stay at home mom that I am, it might have been months or years before I had any real interaction outside of my family besides the people checking out my groceries. But because I belong to this wonderful church, I have had interaction and can already see potential new friends. I know that I will soon have obligations and involvement in my church community because that is the way we work. What a blessing. I don't deal well without interaction. I don't know how the rest of the world handles this.

We went to our new ward this week. It's not that we skipped the week before, but we typed in our address on the meeting house locator at and the times hadn't yet been switched for 2008. So we showed up at 11:00am to the wrong ward. I was a little disappointed. I had spent a little longer than normal choosing my clothes and fixing my hair. I even gave Parker a haircut before church. You only have one chance to make a first impression and I wanted it to be a good one. So this past Sunday was first Sunday in our New Ward take 2...this time I had time to give Reid a haircut.

I am actually happy that this was our new ward instead. It seemed to be a much better fit for us. I have never felt such a warm welcome in any ward. It was like going home...only to a bunch of strangers. We couldn't even leave our pew after sacrament meeting before 4 people/families introduced themselves, asked for our phone number and offered to help find our children's primary classes. And it only got better from there. While none of the talks or lessons were particularly captivating, Spencer and I were both overwhelmed with the spirit on Sunday. Just another reminder that we are where we're supposed to be. I am really looking forward to the time we'll spend and the opportunities we'll have to serve in this ward.

Among the many people we older couple who once lived in my ward in Corona...Dave and Diane Nielson. Although I hardly remember them, they were friends of my parents and were at our wedding. Also, Brother McIntyre, the High Councilman over our ward, is the husband of Kimbie McKee...also a fellow Corona girl who babysat me once or twice (sister to the ever popular McKee boys for any of you Coronians who know them). Small world, huh?

Parker finally has a Sunbeam class. He's been dying to be a part of Primary and make some new friends. He had a great old time. On the way home from church he asked if he could go again when he "woke up from his bedtime." Reid struggled a little more which was a surprise for me. He is such an easy going, free-spirited kid. I've never left him anywhere without Parker. This was his first time in nursery without his brother. He left just fine, but he apparently cried a little bit in the middle. I'm sure that was partly due to 1:00pm church...right during nap time. But mostly due to the fact that they had trains to play with at this nursery. He doesn't share trains well. He's even worse when he has to put trains away. I'm willing to put money on it that his crying was instigated in someway by the trains. His nursery leaders are great. I'm glad they're taking care of him.

Among the many, many reasons I love being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day makes Texas seem a lot less strange.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Put On A Happy Face

I've realized that It's been a while since I've posted pictures of my crazies. We had a photo shoot at our pajama party earlier this week so I thought I'd remind you how cute my boys are...even in Texas.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Obla Di Obla Da Life Goes On

For awhile, all I had seen of D-Town was a lot of dirty, ugly nothingness. I've traveled through it on the freeway... a lot of dirty, ugly nothingness. And from the freeway to my house...a lot of dirty, ugly nothingness (see previous post). And we even had to travel deep into the heart of town to return our moving truck and once again... a lot of dirty, ugly, nothingness.

We had to run an errand the other day and it took us to a new part of town. A part we hadn't seen before. A part we didn't even know could exist in D-Town Texas. There were stores...real stores. It was a new strip mall with stores including (but not limited to): World Market, TJ Maxx, Barnes and Noble, Pier 1, and Target.

Actually, this strip mall discovery has really helped get me over my bad case of the blues. Now we know where to live when our lease is up in June.

I also read that D-Town could be the nations next hot spot for indie rock. See here. In fact, here is just a sampling of notable musicians who got their start in this small town: Deep Blue Something, Don Henley, Meat Loaf, Norah Jones, Roy Orbison and Sly Stone (the article listed many more that I didn't recognize). Maybe that will convince Jeff (my very hip little bro) to visit more often. Not to mention, it's just another sign of real life her in D-Town.

It's still not the city life I love and am accustomed to, but I am finding more signs of 21st century civilization with each passing day. Life can go on.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Our House, In the Middle of Our Street...

I was talking to my mom the other day and she didn't think "D-Town" could possibly be that bad. So I thought I'd post pictures to give you a good idea.

I took pictures of what you see from the freeway to our house (about 3 miles). These are all from the inside of my car which I haven't washed since before the trip. You can tell by the dirty windows.

There are a several down yet still open for business. Like this:

A Mexican Food Restaurant

The sign says Professional Wrestling on it. Awesome.

There are also fields of brush and tumbleweeds. Like this:

And in the middle of fields of brush and tumbleweeds stands this cute little suburban neighborhood (less than 10 years old) with an American made truck parked in nearly every driveway.

This is the street where I live:

This is my cute little house:

It's actually not that little compared to our last one. It's nearly double in size and much, much newer. In fact, when I'm at home, I forget I don't like it here. Thank goodness I spend most of my time at home. We have a fireplace, a real laundry room, and walk-in closets in every room. Because we came from such a small house, we have a place to store everything. Even an exersaucer and a baby swing and everything. In fact, we don't have enough stuff to fill this house. I'd go out and buy stuff, but we're just renting for 5 months until we decide where we'd really like to live.

And here's the best part...we needed a new fridge so we headed down to Lowe's. They had a fridge that had been used for a week, returned, refurbished, and sold to us for half the price. Check out this beaut! I never thought I'd get excited about a fridge.

I'd post pictures of the inside of my house, but I am not finished unpacking yet and there are disaster spots scattered throughout the house.

Just a sampling of D-Town. (In case you're wondering...I leave out the name for security reasons...I don't want any psycho stalkers who read this blog to find me. D-Town is pretty small, It wouldn't be hard.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Everything's Bigger In Texas?

Everything's bigger in Texas my eye! I know some of you live in small towns or are from small towns...some of you even like them. I, however, was never meant for small town life. I was handling things pretty well for the majority of the trek out to Texas. Partly due to the fact the packing was so exhausting that I was happy to be going anywhere if it meant I was finished packing. And partly because I was driving with Jeff (my awesome little bro. who helped us make the trek.) I haven't spent time with him in so long I didn't want to spend it crying.

But by the time we got to the Texas border, I couldn't hold it back any longer. It was a very depressing thought to know that this would be my home for the next however many years while Spence earns his PhD. Thank goodness this hole in the wall town is not too far from the border...otherwise it would have been a lot more tears. It got worse when I saw the first sign for "D-town." Eleven miles away and not a sign of human life anywhere. And worse than that...there were horses. And cows. Disgusting! It's always been a goal of mine to avoid living in a place where people could own horses and cows.

It was at this point I started hyperventilating. I wish I were exaggerating for the purpose of good story telling, but I am not. It was an all out anxiety attack. I couldn't breathe I was so sick. I've spent a couple days here now and things have just gone down hill. I just can't even believe that this is my home. Every time I leave the house I hope to find more signs of 21st century civilization. Instead, I find less.

In order not to leave this post on a bad note here are a couple of positives:

1. The Food
  • Jack in the Box- a favorite fast food chain of mine from my youth can once again enter my life.
  • Denny's- once again, not the best food, but it's an American institution. Can you believe Columbus didn't have one? Spencer and I spoke several times about opening a franchise while we were there. It would have to do well near the university. It's open 24 hours.
  • Real Mexican food- This should really top the list. You can't get good Mexican food in Ohio. This is the real stuff. Divine!
2. IKEA - There's an IKEA only 45 minutes away from which I have already tasted of the fruits. Awesome. Grayden's crib didn't quite make the trip (it was a hand-me-down when Parker got it). He got a brand new one at a great cost. Sweet! Not to mention a few other things that just didn't get packed (gross garbage cans, worn out bathroom rugs, etc). All replaced. Nice.

I'll write more as I get a chance. I just wanted everyone to know that life is going on here in Texas. My life that is...I've yet to see any real life in this hole of a town.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Pay It Forward

Another blogging game...This one involves getting free stuff. Nice huh? I signed on through Autumns blog. She owes me a handmade gift. The first three people to leave a comment on my blog will receive a handmade gift from me. You most certainly will not get it tomorrow and probably not even next week, but you'll get it within the year. Here's the catch...if you want to get free stuff, you have to pay it forward and make the same promise on your blog. (You must have a blog to participate.) So if you want to get something from me, you have to give to three people. Who's it gonna be?

I was a little hesitant to play. I love making stuff. And I definitely love getting stuff. But I hate shipping stuff. So it won't be anything elaborate or expensive to mail...but it will be a Katie Smith original none-the-less.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Light Update

Make that five light bulbs out.

Bright Idea

So I packed our stash of extra light bulbs on Monday. We won't need any light bulbs in the next six days right? I left one out just in case. Four lights have gone out since then. What are the chances?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008 From A Cynical Point Of View

Normally I take any excuse to PARTAY, but New Years really doesn't excite me much. I did party it up until about 8:45. We had a wild pajama party and let the kids stay up past their bedtime while we watched Toy Story and ate snacks. (Don't worry...anyone in the healthy competition...while my boys snacked on chocolate, I chose orange flavored Craisins instead.) I don't really know why it's worth letting the kids stay up. If you're not staying up to ring in the new year, why stay up?

So after the kids were down for the night, I settled in on the couch to make my attempts to stay up 'til midnight. When did I get so old that staying up until midnight is considered staying up late? A half an hour later I was asleep and uncomfortable on my too small couch with a kink in my neck. I continued to lay there unrested and uncomfortable, mostly asleep only to wake up a few minutes before midnight. We counted down. I kissed my husband twice. Then I meandered, dazed and confused, into bed where it took me an hour to fall asleep. Go figure. I can't remember the last time I actually made it until midnight. Spencer and I must have been dating. I remember spending New Years Eve at his parents house and he was still too embarrassed to kiss me in front of his family.

Spencer came to bed all excited about the New Year. I asked him what was so exciting. He said the new year was like a fresh start. He told be to think about all the opportunities awaiting us in 2008. I can't remember if I said this out loud, but my thought was aren't they the same opportunities that we would have had if it remained 2007? And why does the change in date mean a fresh start? The date changes every night at midnight and we don't stay up to celebrate it. And isn't every day just as much of a fresh start as the next...regardless of the year?

I've never been one to set New Years resolutions, either. If I have a goal I want to accomplish, I just get started on it. Or fit it into my life when I see the need. Why put it off until January first? What is it about that specific date...that one little change in number that makes people want to set goals? Regardless, goals are important to set so I'm not knocking resolutions for those of you who set them.

I do, however, enjoy the Rose Parade. I think it's awesome that all those floats are decorated with flowers and seeds and things. I have spent several New Years days watching it live and in person. In fact, probably the last time I really enjoyed my New Years Eve was when I camped out at the Rose Parade. It's hard to describe the atmosphere to make it sound fun. It is a huge, wild celebration. The streets along the parade route are lined with crazy people doing crazy things. And you just can't help but become one of those crazy people yourself. So crazy, in fact, that the COPS have to come tell you to put away your sling shot or they'll confiscate it. I guess they're just afraid that when you run out of marshmallows you may start to launch something dangerous. This craziness goes on until about 4:00am when you finally decide your tired enough to sleep on the sidewalk next to complete strangers only to get up two hours later and high-tail it out of Pasadena before the parade starts. Ahhh, good times. (No pictures...they're already packed.)

I like the Rose Bowl, too, when the Buckeyes are playing. But thank goodness their not there this year...because they're heading down to New Orleans for the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!!! Go Bucks!

Despite my cynical point of view (due in large part to this move which has made me a little bit cranky), have a happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2008. Although I would wish you all the best if it were still 2007.