Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When You Give A Girl a Cupcake....

She's bound to make a mess....

But she will laugh and giggle and enjoy every minute of it!

She will try and share with you...

And she will shove a few more bites in.

She will show you all the teeth she has....


She will enjoy that cupcake, each and every bite.

She will make a HUGE mess all over her tray.

But in the end she will make you glad that you let her have so much cupcake fun!!

The Winds of Change....

As I sit here the wind outside is blowing. First one way and then another. The leaves can’t seem to find a solid place to land. It has been like this for a few days now. One moment our lawn is filled with leaves from the neighbor’s trees and when I look out again our lawn is surprisingly clear.

Such is my life at times.

Times when it seems like everything around me is blowing and changing and I just want to find a solid place to land.

It can start from the moment that I wake – so many things I think there is to do. And although I am up much earlier than I should need to be, I find myself blowing around until the door closes behind us.

And I am missing the opportunities to see and hear the sounds and beauty around me. I am so busy flying from one spot to another, looking for that solid place to land that I miss what is right in front of me......

To read more of this post please head over to (in)courage! 

**I wrote this piece earlier this fall and submitted it and was given the honor of posting on the (in)courage site.  If you haven't checked out the (in)courage site should take a while and look around!!**

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Visit to the Farm...Christmas Tree Farm!

So I LOVE decorating for Christmas. It is a little over the top but when I was a little girl my mom and grandparents etc bought each of us kids an ornament for Christmas. I have carried this tradition onto my family and as a result we have a massive amount of ornaments.

One tree just won't cover it. We have an artificial tree in our front room but I have always loved real trees and heard about a cut-your-own tree farm about 30 miles from our home.

So right after church yesterday we headed out to Belview MN and Iverson's Tree Farm! Apparently they have some 40,000 trees. I think we saw 38,000 of them! :)

The kids enjoyed looking at all the trees while we tried to figure out what we wanted.

We came to a conclusion pretty early on that we liked the Blue Spruce tree. It just had that unique color.

Isn't it pretty?!

The problem was that we saw about 100 trees that we thought were "pretty good" and we just couldn't figure out which one was perfect for our space.

At about hour 2 (I am seriously not kidding -  we really had a hard time deciding) Elijah had to go potty. Because he is potty trained, and we had no toilet, we first tried the "natural" pee outside way which he was NOT having. So we put a diaper on him and pleaded with him that he use that. He wasn't about it...not our best parenting moment that is for sure!!

But we finally decided on the right tree and Dominic and Isaac went to the task of cutting it down.

I guess judging the height of Isaac and the height of the tree should have given us an indication that we maybe went a little large here.

Dominic hard at work trimming the branches off the bottom.

And somehow they were able to get it tied up on top of the van.  As we went back to pay for the tree the guy helping there says to Dominic... "I always wonder when I see a tree that size how the people are going to get it in the house"

Hmmm...good question!! :)

But of course my guys won't let a little thing like the size of an entryway stop them. And once they had it in and set up it we realized just how big this tree was....

It is enormous!! But we love it! And hopefully by tomorrow we will have all the lights on it so that we can decorate it. I started with the lights last night and got tired so I stopped. Dominic said he will finish it for me!  I will share pics when we are done!

Even though it was a lot harder to choose than we thought we had a good time. Next year (if we do this again) we will pack a lunch, a portable toilet and borrow a truck from someone to make the experience even better! :)

So do you do a real tree or an artificial tree or both?!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Isaac!

I can hardly believe that my firstborn son is 15 already!! Where did the time go and how can he possibly be that old when I haven't aged a bit! ;)

Isaac is a great kid. He is kind and considerate.  

He studies hard and does great in school.

He has always been a great big brother. All of the kids adore him.

He is funny and inquisitive.

When we had Isaac we had no idea what being a parent would be like.  We weren't prepared for our roles. But in spite of the downfalls we have had as parents - Isaac has exceeded our expectations.

He has grown and matured so much these past few years and I love looking at these older photos of him.

Dominic jokes now about where this other man in the house has come from....he certainly doesn't look like this innocent young man anymore! :)

Isaac we have been blessed by the past 15 years. You are an amazing son and we consider it an honor to be your parents! I can't wait to see what this year will bring for you!

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Hero

The other day another blogger friend, Sarah, wrote a post about her hero husband. I loved this and know that I share pics of the kids here all the time but I don't often share my husband with you.  Dominic is really my best friend. I can't imagine going through life with anyone else.

We don't really spend much time apart - except for work and such. But our weekends are spent as a family. Sometimes we are working on projects or watching movies or just being lazy -but we find ways to have fun together and I love that!

Dominic takes his role of husband and father very seriously. He is always concerned about our well-being and is continuously looking for ways to strengthen our relationships. He has taught us a spirit of gratitude in all things and reminds us that "we don't have to do anything in this life...we get to do these things". Reminding us that our circumstances are often  shaped by our perspective. If we have the right perspective we can get through anything.

We have been through a LOT of changes this past year. From him taking a new job, moving to another state, commuting back and forth on weekends for 10 months, selling a home, buying a home etc. It has been a year of transitions and stress. It hasn't always been easy and there are - even still - times of uncertainty. 

But when I look at Dominic I know that it has been worth it - all of it because we have done it together. We have grown and matured, faced challenges that we shouldn't have to face....but we have walked it together and I am SO proud of the man that he is.

It doesn't matter if the seas are raging around us or if they are still - we are grateful for the opportunity to journey together. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Dominic - you are a hero in my eyes. You work hard, forgive graciously, laugh with your whole body, love with abandon and fight for what is right. You have always been my confidant and I am so glad that I can share the good, bad and sometimes even the ugly with you. Thank you for loving me and for giving me this family of ours. I am grateful beyond words that I get to share each day with you by my side.  <3 K

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dear Virus....

Dr Mr. Virus,
   I can see that you have mistakenly felt yourself welcome in our home the past 5 days. I need to be clear that your stay has extended well past any acceptable length. It has been LONG ENOUGH!

  My sweet dears who have found themselves unwelcome participants in your reign of havoc would like to have their healthy bodies back. They are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

  I am afraid that you might think this would be a nice place for you to cozy up for the winter but do not be mistaken - I am ready and willing to take some drastic measures to make sure that you understand just how NOT welcome you are.

  The Clorox wipes are out and every surface will be wiped. Toilets will be scrubbed and sheets and blankets will be washed. Any place that you once found a place to snuggle in will soon become a war zone - this I promise you!

  You have reduced my sweet girl to tears for one to many nights and my potty-trained, happy son has been forced back into diapers because of the damage you have done to his tummy.

  This mama is NOT HAPPY and I am putting my proverbial foot down and demanding that you leave this house at once!

  Oh and please feel free to stay away from the rest of my family. We don't want to be repeating this letter in 5-7 days. Thank you very much!

One tired mama

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Recently I was given a very special piece of family history. It is a love seat that belonged to my great-great grandmother Mathilda.

Isn't it pretty? It just happened to "match" our decor in the new house and I am so excited to have it.

It was handmade and has beautiful, intricate details. Much like we are made - it was made with care, designed to be special and unique.

As you can see it is also worn and some of the edges have taken a little beating over the years. But those marks are a sign of the pieces' character. Reminding us that no two pieces are alike. Each worn in a different way and each reflecting its own beauty.

And so are we aren't we? Each of us have had our own life experiences and many of those things have made us who we are today.

I am grateful for all of the things - good and bad - that have shaped me and created the woman I am today.  I am not perfect by any means and I too have some rough edges.

But God has been faithful to me - reminding me that I am a thing of beauty - His beauty. I tend to forget that at times and focus on the rough edges instead of the "whole" of who I am becoming.

Hopefully as I walk with Him and seek to know Him more I will continue to reflect Him in all areas of my life. That is my life's goal. It won't always be easy and there are times that I question God and ask Him "why" bad things have to happen. And although I won't always get an answer to those questions I do know that He continues to use those times in my life to refine my character.

For that I am grateful. This piece of my families history is a reminder to me that this refinement process helps me build a heritage of faith and trust in God that I can pass on to my children.

So how about you - is there an important piece of your history that reminds you of God's refinement in your life?

Thursday, November 3, 2011


We do take our kids out trick-or-treating every year. I know that the roots of Halloween are "dark" and I don't want to get into a big discussion here about whether or not it is ok to participate in the "holiday". I think that every parent needs to make that choice for themselves and I am not here to judge what you choose.

I do know that as Christians we can take the opportunity to be light in these types of situations. Jesus didn't close his door, shut off his light and hide from sin in this world. Instead he walked with sinners, ate with them and found ways to encourage them with His light. As a sinner myself I am grateful that others have done this with me in my life!

We try to use that as our example. Find ways to reach out to others - talk with strangers who are out with their kids. Greet and thank those handing out candy. One year a family was handing out Milky Way bars and they had a sticker on them that said "Jesus is the Way". It was clever and a nice way to spread a little light.

Our kids don't see anything "evil" in the evening - for them it is all about dressing up in fun clothes and getting free candy! This year I found this adorable lion costume at Once Upon a Child for Elijah.

He hated the hood though and would rather have been wearing his cowboy hat!

I had so much fun watching him this year. He would say "Mom, I'll be right back - I go to door to do trick-or-treating". And then he would say thank you and Happy Halloween. I laughed and laughed until my sides hurt at how precious he was.

Gabriel wore his Iron man costume again - but yesterday for Awana they had Pirate Night so he had this on for that.

It was great seeing all the kids at Awana having pirate fun! And Gabriel recited all the books of the New Testament and got his "jewel" and was really excited.

We put Karlena in her $2.50 garage-sale-find costume for just a little bit,

She hated the hat but we put her in the stroller and pushed her around our block and she seemed to enjoy that.

She is our little pumpkin!

I can't believe it is already November. We have a busy month ahead and hopefully will find some time to reflect on all of the things that we have to be thankful for this month. The list is LONG and our hearts are greatful for all that God continues to do in our family.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Celebrating a Life Lived Well - Karlena Marie Cahalan

How is it possible sweet friend that we said goodbye to you a year ago today?
I wrote this post last year when I heard the news. I knew some day I would get that call but even today it is still a shock to me that you weren't here to meet our girl in December.

I know that Karlena wouldn't want today to be one of sadness. She has been praising Jesus in person for a year now! But I think that days like today - those "milestones" if you will - are just a reminder once again of what is missing.

This was taken on one of the Women of Faith weekends that we attended in Denver. She had just started using a cane. It was a big deal for her to give in that she needed some assistance. But she was the same person I had known - using a cane or a wheelchair didn't change that. I know that some people had a hard time with her deteriorating condition - but I just saw her light.

How do you live well when you know that "living" will become harder and harder? How do you wake up every morning and smile that you have been given another day to honor God?

Karlena found the secret to those questions. She never complained that it "wasn't fair"....even though it wasn't. When she was really sick last June and we almost lost her but she pulled through she said "God must have had something more planned for me because he let me live."

And for the next 3 months after that time she continued to be a light and a strength to those around her. Her church family adored her, her neighbors were inspired by her smile and positive attitude. She loved hard and well each and every day.

She had a special place in her heart for Elijah. She was SO excited to hold him. We thought that maybe he would be our last and when we were surprised to find out I was pregnant again Karlena was probably more excited than I was.

When I went to see her after her hospital stay that June I still didn't know what we were having. I remember the morning that I had to leave and go say goodbye to her. She was too weak to travel with us to the airport and so we had to say our goodbyes at the house. She hugged me hard and said "It's a girl - I know it's a girl."

And she was right. It was such an honor to tell her that we were naming our girl after her. That even though someday she would be gone, her namesake, her legacy could live on. I just didn't think we would be facing that day so quickly after that news was shared.

Oh friend how I miss you....I praise God for the times we had to spend together. For the e-mails and encouragement we gave one another. For every conversation and those moments when I was able to be of help to you. It was always a blessing to spend time with you and you are missed more than I can express. But I celebrate you today - a life lived well friend.

Well done good and faithful servant. Well done.

I am sharing the link to the tribute I was honored to share at Karlena's Celebration of Life service.  If you don't know my sweet friend I invite you to read it and be encouraged by the legacy that remains today.

I love you friend....always. Thank you for loving me and giving me courage to be a woman of faith.

The Smith Family Journey

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