Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Few Minor Changes

There are going to be a few changes here at The Smith Family Journey.....

Let me explain!

I started blogging here in 2008 after I had a miscarriage and needed a place that I could pour my heart out to.  It was a place of healing for me.  Then I started posting updates about my family. My extended family started following along and it was a way to keep us connected.  I love that about blogging to this day!

Last November I was asked to be a part of the God Sized Dream Team and I felt that I needed a space where I could focus on my writing.  So my new blog The Riches of His Love was born!  I thought that writing a book was my God Sized Dream and didn't feel family updates worked well in there.

Over the past 11 months I have struggled to keep updating both sites well. This space especially has suffered.

So I have decided to combine the two and will be blogging about all things faith and family at my new blog.  I don't know if writing a book is in my future - and I am ok with that! What I do know is that my family is one of the main reasons I blog and have a faith life so combining the two just makes sense to me!

I would love it if you would join me over there.

I have a button where you can "subscribe" to email updates. That way every time I post you will get my post in your inbox! How fun and easy is that?!

I also have a page on Facebook - if you are on FB and like my page then you can get post updates there as well.

I am so very grateful for each of you that has followed along here, encouraged me and be a valuable part of my journey! I would be honored if you wanted to continue on with me!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Long Overdue Updates

I know, most of you probably thought that I had given up blogging all together. I have found it hard to make time for updating this site and my other blog.  But a few weeks ago I was looking for an old post that I knew I had written and I was searching for it and got to re-read some of the posts I wrote about our kids and just loved seeing how they have I am going to try and keep this going a little longer!

This past Saturday we had our family pictures taken by my friend Heather from our church. She is super talented and I am just thrilled with how the pictures turned out!

Here is just one of my favorites. Love this family of mine!

Isaac is a junior this year and has a tough schedule for school. 2 math and 3 science courses along with some is going to be a hard year - but he is doing the work and his grades are showing for it. We are proud of how hard he is working!  He also has a part time job at Hy-Vee in the produce department and a 2nd side job cleaning at a financial investment office a couple of times a month.  He stays very busy!  In just a few days we are heading over to SDSU to visit his first choice in colleges!  I can't believe that we are even at the place where we are thinking about all of this....but I am confident that he will succeed at whatever he decides to do.

Gabriel is in the 4th grade and loves his teacher and going to school.  Math continues to be his favorite subject and he also enjoys reading.  Goosebumps is the series he is reading right now.  He has been getting through the books so fast that he is almost done with all of them and we will have to find another series to start. Any ideas??  He got a set of youth golf clubs from my uncle Jim this summer and would be playing golf all the time if he could. Wish my brother Mark was closer and could teach him how to play because I have no idea! :)

Elijah is in all day preschool 2 days a week this year and then also goes for "Fun Friday's" each Friday morning.  This week they are making scarecrows out at the teachers farm on Fun Friday!  Elijah LOVES school and wishes he could go every day.  Well every day except today when it was fire safety day. He was scared by the fire alarm and now talks non stop about our house burning down! ;)  We even had to walk through the house and show him all the fire alarms in every room.  But I am certain that he understands the importance of "stop, drop and roll"!

Karlena is every bit sass and sweetness. The biggest news with her is that she is totally potty-trained!! It went amazingly fast and all thanks to our daycare "mom" Markel.  She thought Karlena was ready and worked with her and had it figured out in a week! So amazing. We are very grateful for her in so many ways!  Karlena wants to go to "scoot" just like her brother and copies everything Elijah does and says. When Elijah was hunting cicadas this summer, so was Karlena. :)  They also find ways to get in trouble together and then blame the other one.  Last week Karlena found an old toothbrush and opened the tub of diaper rash cream and "painted" all over the carpet in her room. When I caught her red-handed she said "Elijah did it". :)

Dominic and I are going on 8+ months working together at LEPS.  We have been unbelievably busy. Like "this isn't us but all God" kind of busy. It can be a bit overwhelming at times because we work long hours and lots of weekends...but we can see how much of a blessing this has been so it is worth it.

But goodness we are in desperate need of a date night! :)  When Heather was taking our pictures she told us to kiss and told Dominic to put his hands on my face (or something like that)...when he did she said "Don't make it look like you are trying to kill her!"

Oh my goodness it was hilarious....seriously we started laughing and couldn't stop!

And Heather being the good photographer, caught it all! I love that we have these....but we were joking that we didn't know how to be romantic and how bad we needed a date night!

I am glad that in spite of the difficulties we have had in the past, we can still laugh together. Dominic is my best friend and I am grateful that we get to work together...(even if I drive him nuts every once and awhile)

So in a nutshell that is where we are. Goodness, what am I going to use for my Christmas letter now?? Maybe I shouldn't post this huh?! :)

Thanks for sticking with me here when I have been so bad about updating. Hope you are enjoying the start of fall! Blessings to all of you!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Scarf Swap!!

So last year was the first time I participated in a blog "swap" of any kind.  One of those was a scarf swap.  Meredith from The Tichenor Family has been doing this scarf swap for 5 years!  It is just a fun way to meet another blogger and send them a surprise in the mail.

This year I was paired with Cherry Wood from Camping at the Woods.  Cherry is a wife and mother of 2 adorable and fiesty boys. (Oh how I can relate!!)  Hop on over to her blog and give her a little comment love won't you? :)

So we have this amazing shop here in Marshall called Noble Woman Boutique. It is my favorite store here in town and I knew it would be the perfect place to find a scarf for Cherry. You will have to check out her blog for exactly what I sent! :)

But she and I have very similar taste because we both love purple and both sent each other a purple scarf! 

So I wore it to church last week and after the service I asked Isaac if he would take a couple of pictures of me showing off my newest accessory.

Let's just say I don't have the modeling skills....luckily the scarf is awesome and makes up for my lack of coolness.

In the fall especially, I love wearing scarves to add a pop of color to a neutral and because my neck is usually cold I treat it as my necklace.

My husband was outside with us and kept making me laugh...I think here is saying something like "Own it like a boss"....which is NOT something he would ever say to me so I couldn't stop laughing. And Isaac had trouble getting a clear picture too!

I think I am maybe telling myself to focus here...I just have no words.

You know when you see a fashion blog the women are usually looking down or very serious....I tried really hard but I just couldn't pull it off!

Nope...I just look either slightly angry or like I am just about to throw up. I can't quite decide. :)  So while my ability to take a good picture is questionable - the scarf thankfully stands on its own.

It is soft and the perfect shade of purple. I love it!

Thanks so much Cherry for making this a fun swap!

And that my friends is a wrap.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Preparing for College

This post is sponsored by Campus Book Rentals.

I feel WAY too young to be thinking about having a child that will be preparing for college, but the reality is that Isaac will be doing just that after 2 short years!  In fact it is already on our minds as we had to make some pretty major changes to his schedule at High School so that he could be best prepared for the career path he wants to pursue.

So when I was contacted by Campus Book Rentals to check out their site I was intrigued. I remember that when I went to college 20 years ago (how has it been THAT long?!), books were some of the most expensive items to pay for. At least the cost I was most aware of! :)

It always seemed crazy to me that I would pay $100+ on a book that I would use for a short time and then sell it back for $7!

Campus Book Rentals has decided to tackle this problem with an interesting option for students!

They rent textbooks online! And here are some of the perks:
-save 40-90% off of bookstore prices
-free shipping both ways
-can highlight in the textbooks
-flexible renting periods
- they donate to Operation Smile with each textbook rented

When the time comes we will be checking this option out for Isaac as well.

And as an exciting new option you can also chose the "Rent Back" option. "RentBack is new initiative that allows students to rent the textbooks they own - to other students... which is awesome because it makes them 2-4x more money compared to what they'd make through buyback options!" 

So if you are a college student, or the parent of an upcoming student - check out Campus Book Rentals to see if they carry the books you need! 

Watch the video below for more info!!

**Disclaimer - this is a sponsored post from Campus Book Rentals but all thoughts and opinions are my own. **

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Fun in the Pool

We are having a really lazy day today. We drove to Sioux Falls yesterday for a family wedding and had planned on staying through Sunday but our plans changed last minute and we ended up driving home really late last night. We didn't get home until after 12:30am and poor Karlena was so messed up with her sleep that she wouldn't go to bed until almost 2am and then woke several times in the night. 

Needless to say we needed a recovery day and so we have been lazy today.  Isaac is gone this week with our church's youth group in Montana on a mission trip and Gabriel got to stay in Sioux Falls to go on a special camping trip this week with his Grandpa Johnson!

Because it is terribly hot here the kids wanted to fill the pool and play a bit - here is some of the fun I captured!

The best part is when the pool is filling....

In and out they would go.

I don't even know what Elijah was doing here....he looks like he is really serious though! ;)

What can I say...I LOVE seeing Karlena with a ponytail in....she looks so grown up!

I think Karlena stole his coin...serious business happening here folks!

Karlena has this old pan and she loves to fill it up and dump it on the patio....

And drink from it of course!

Nothing better than this is there??

I asked Elijah what he was doing....he said trying to start a fire!

He tried really hard for a long time....unfortunately the sticks were wet and there was no fire today!

Love seeing their sweet smiles.

How was your Sunday??

Monday, June 17, 2013


There are these amazing rose bushes in the back of our home. They are probably overgrown but the past 2 years they have produced some beautiful flowers.

This past fall Dominic cut them down a bit and it seems that wherever he cut stopped growing, but in places he didn't cut, tons more buds erupted! (Is this normal??) I know nothing about pruning/taking care of rose bushes!!

And I have no idea what "kind" of rose this isn't the traditional rose that you find in a flower shop!

Aren't they pretty??

This is common to see 4-5 buds on a branch in a clump like that.

We have some more "established" growth...

And some new...I think these bloomed into the later part of the summer last year if I remember correctly!

Do you have roses and how do you take care of them? Do you know the secret to cutting them back each year? I'd love to hear what you know! :) 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Our Little Garden

When we lived in Beresford we decided one of our first few years there that we would love to have a garden and grow tomatoes and peppers to make our own salsa. Dominic came up with this great idea to put garden plots between our 2 detached garages. They were awesome and we used them year after year.

We moved to Marshall in mid-June so the first year we didn't have time to get anything going. Last year Dominic was feeling the pressure of starting a business so it really wasn't something either of us were ready for. But this year I really just wanted even a couple of tomato plants, even if they were in pots on the porch.

We have a big yard now, but it is odd shaped and we weren't sure where to put a garden.  There is this empty lot behind our house that "belongs" to a home on Main street that is (from what we can see) abandoned. The owner doesn't live in town, doesn't take care of the lot and it is over grown with weeds.

We had talked with several of our neighbors and they all expressed interest in a possible "community garden" in that back lot, if we could get permission from the owner.  Dominic has taken every measure possible to locate this individual and offer to mow the lot in exchange for use of a portion for a garden....but we can't find him or reach him.

We'd even like to look at buying that portion of land, it isn't very much, and then we know it would be well taken care of...but since that doesn't seem like an option now we had to come up with a different plan.

So I thought we could do it right at the farthest portion of the lot line, by our rhubarb patch...but when the electrical line locator people came out, they confirmed what I had feared...that lines are buried right where we wanted to dig.

So, at least for this year, we are going small. We found a small space behind a big pine tree that gets lots of light and set to clearing a spot. We got a tiller to use...but it wouldn't start for us :( so we had to dig by hand...and foot...which means Dominic may not be able to walk tomorrow (please pray for him!!)

The plants are a little closer together than they should be...but I think they will be fine. We bought 1 of each of the different kinds of tomato plants that Wal-mart had and then some jalapenos, red bell, yellow bell and orange bell peppers.

While it isn't quite what we had hoped for we are both excited to see how this little garden grows!

Oh and I had already started some of the pepper plants in some old hanging baskets we those 3 will just stay on our back porch area!

Do you plant a garden each year? And if so what do you grow?? I have dreams of lettuce, beans, cucumbers and asparagus someday....a girl can dream can't she?! :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent

So I heard about homemade laundry detergent from a friend on FB and started doing a little research into it. Almost every site I found had the same recipe and everyone that used it raved about it.  What I loved about the idea was that it claimed to last for months and the cost of the ingredients was $20!!

For a family of 6 that does at least a load of laundry, if not 2 every day...I can use savings like this!

The site that I found and saved the recipe is here...she has some reviews etc so check it out!!

So here are the details....

1 Box of Super Washing Soda 3 lb. 7 oz. 
1 Box of Borax 4 lbs 12 oz. size 
1 Box of Pure Baking Soda 4 lb. 
3 bars of Fels-Naptha 5.5 oz. or you could also use Ivory soap (I used Fels-Naptha)
1 container of Oxy-Clean 3.0 lb (My container was 6.0 lbs so I used 1/2)

Oh and if you like scented detergent you can add Purex Crystals to the mix - I prefer unscented so I left those out.

I was able to find everything at Wal-mart in 1 place - they are smart and know people are doing this and had everything I needed in the laundry detergent isle! Loved that!!

I forgot to take a picture of all the ingredients before I started...

The worst part is grating the bars of soap.  I started with my cheese grater and then used my food processor to chop it up even finer.

And I forgot to take a picture after I ground it up even more too! :)

It was suggested that you dump everything into a 5 gallon bucket to mix....

Which I did initially - but Dominic found a long Rubbermaid bin that seemed to work better for me.

So you just stir everything together and then put it in airtight containers for storage.

So there you have it! I have read this IS safe in HE washers (which is what we have) but you add it to the load directly and don't use the filler spot on the top of the machine. The sites have also said you only need 1-2 Tbls for each this could last a long time!

I am running my first load right now so I am excited to see how it turns out!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Karate Tournament

Today Dominic and I traveled with Gabriel to Hutchinson, MN so that Gabriel could participate in his first karate tournament! He has been taking Shotokan Karate classes through our local community services program.  It was a fun and fairy inexpensive way for him to try out a new "sport" to see if he likes it.

He started this fall (I think??) and he has really progressed. He recently got his orange belt and we are so proud of him!

He participated in individual kata and team kata. (an exercise consisting of a sequence of the specific movements of a martial art, used in training and designed to show skill in technique)

He did SO good! He was nervous about it and wasn't sure initially if he even wanted to go. But I reminded him that no matter what his score/ranking we would be proud of him and that I thought he was brave for being willing to even try something new like this.

Basically it is a elimination type event. He was paired against another child his age range and ranking and then 2 perform at the same time. One person wins and then the winner/loser goes against other people until the all have placed.

In the individual kata he got 3rd place! I thought he did great and he was excited to get a medal!

Then he and 2 other people from his class performed in the team kata. This is where they all do the same kata together.

They did really good too!

They won their 1st round, and then their 2nd and then their 3rd and finally won the last round for 1st place!!  It was really exciting and fun to watch and Gabriel was so proud of himself!!

And VERY excited to have a 1st place medal!! He said that he had a great day. After he was done we found some little Mexican restaurant downtown for a late lunch that Gabriel thought was fancy because they played music and had silverware wrapped up in a napkin! ;)

It's the little things right?!  Congrats Gabriel on your awesome performance today. We are so very proud of you!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


It seems like I never post here any more.  I apologize to those of you still sticking with me! :) I thought I would give a few updates of what have been happening in the Smith home lately.

Isaac is on his way right now with our church's youth group to see Chris Tomlin in concert in Minneapolis. I am jealous. :)  He got his "official" driver's license in February and has been driving himself to school every day. It is nice. What's even nicer are those nights when I need to wrap something up at the office and he can run over and pick up Elijah and Karlena for me.

Gabriel is doing great in school and is still taking Shotokan karate through Marshall Community Services until mid-May. Recently he tested and received his orange belt! He is learning a lot and we are really proud of him! (Will post a picture after Tuesday when he has his gi on again) A few weeks ago Gabriel has his school concert and he had the part of a general. I was able to find this costume for him at our local Goodwill for less than $18 total!!

Elijah will be 4 in just over a month. I can hardly believe that. He is just getting so big and so much more grown up. He is ready for it to be nice outside so that he can ride his bike! I think we are all ready for it to be nice outside again!

Karlena is changing and growing more every day. She is getting so tall! When I was going to start this post I hear her yelling..."mama, I'm stuck, help me!" And I found this....

She likes to follow the kitties everywhere they go and got stuck under the chair! :)

I found some more clearance paint at Menards and started painting Karlena's room.  I did an accent wall in dark brown and the other 3 walls will be a tan (with no yellow undertones) :) Here is a sneak peak....

I LOVE it. The room does look a bit smaller now...but I don't mind. I like how it looks....they are very similar colors to what we had in her old room in Beresford....I guess it is nostalgia - but now all the walls will be fresh and clean again. And I have a ton of paint left over may have to use that for something else!

 I wrote a post about getting organized over at my other blog. I am even giving away a copy of the e-book I got to review - go check it out and enter before Thursday!!

The business is going great - busy and more busy. Dominic and I both are working at finding the right balance between work time and family time....but we are both so grateful for this amazing opportunity to work together and thank God for how He has blessed this so far.

Speaking of Dominic, it has been almost 10 months since his accident. He still walks with a pronounced limp and lots of pain every day. While he tries to remain positive about is frustrating and painful and frustrating. :(  He sees the surgeon in July...we have been talking about what options he might have....possibly removing all the hardware they put in to hold his heel together. The pain he has is exactly where the plate and screws are - not the heel....he is still so young and we feel like this can't be the best it can get. Please pray with us for clear answers!

We recently bought an elliptical machine. It is the one thing that the PT's encouraged him to use for exercise to work his foot with the least amount of impact. We knew it would be cheaper, and easier in the long run, for the whole family to have a machine at home instead of paying for gym memberships.  We are loving (and hating) it....but it is already getting well used. We are going to be one healthy family! :)

Wow - is anyone still with me?! This has gotten to be a long post! I guess that is what happens when you post once every 3 months huh?!  I hope you have a wonderful week and I will try to be back sooner than later!

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