Friday, December 18, 2009

Nutcracker

Just a few pictures to recap Jensen's Nutcracker experience this year.
It was another BIG year for Jensen and the Nutcracker.
She earned "pointe" roles and her first Tutu.

A few of the Sr. Corps for Snow
Yes, Jensen is the shortest!
Jensen's Chinese group.
They were so fun to watch.

Jensen and her friend Lauren.
They went to Detroit together this summer for ABT summer intensive.
Lauren was Snow Queen this year.

It was another fabulous year for Nutcracker.
Way to go Jensen!
We are so proud of you!

It was so worth it!

Yesterday was my annual marathon cinnamon roll baking day. The recipient list grew longer this year and so more cinnamon rolls to make. I started the fun at 7:00 AM with over 200 cinnamon rolls to make. What was I thinking?

Not only did it involve making cinnamon rolls, but also making tags (homemade, of course), wrapping in cellophane and tying with Christmas ribbon. Quite the process.

The first deliveries started yesterday afternoon at about 2:00 and last night I dropped off the last batch at 7:45. Yes, you do the math...almost 13 hours start to finish!

It was so worth it!! Our neighbors are not really fond of us. We do not have a neighborly feel in our cul-de-sac. It makes me sad.

So, this year I decided to take cinnamon rolls to all the neighbors. Out of 6 houses, 4 actually answered the door. Not bad!

This morning my neighbor Collette stopped me in my driveway and came over. She thanked me over and over again for thinking of them and making and baking homemade cinnamon rolls. She was truly grateful and appreciative. We had a lovely conversation, which has not occurred in quite some time.

Those 13 hours of back breaking work were So Worth It !! One little act of kindness can do so much good. My heart is so thankful that barriers were taken down a bit.

This is what Christmas is all about!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Formal

Winter Formal was quite the extravaganza. I was exhausted and I think the teenagers were also. They played hard!

Recap...Friday night was pizza at our house and then they took the light rail to a Phoenix Suns game. Got free tacos and were still hanging out at 1:30 AM Saturday morning.

Saturday morning the girls took cinnamon rolls to their dates.

Mackenzie's date was a good sport and took Alec up on a little Nerf battle before pictures. The group took pictures at Agritopia. Formal dinner was at our house Saturday night after pictures. They dined on Cesear Salad, french bread, Fettucine Alfredo and pizzacookies (?).

Went to Temple lights, watched Elf and then danced the night away. After the dance they went to Amanda's house for an outside movie, warm fire and treats.

The pictures will tell the story. Excuse the camera work...was just learning on the new camera.

Fun memories!!


Winter Formal Group



Annie came over to help Kenzie
Tanner and Alec in a Nerf battle

Kenzie


Never serious


Friends

What a good looking group


Cute couple





Best Friends

Dinner Table

Monday, December 14, 2009

~Scott~

Happy Birthday Scott!



I sure do Love this man! Today is his special day....his Birthday! What I love about this man...


* His faith; strong and unfaltering.
* Scott is the most unselfish person I know. Rarely does he do something for just him. He doesn't want to spend 4 hours golfing, because that could be family time.
* Hardworking! Scott has always had an incredible work ethic. He will do whatever it takes.
* Scott has a great sense of humor. He is sarcastic and very good at the quick come back.
* Positive Attitude. The glass is always half full.
* Fantastic Father to our children.
* Scott is my best friend. We started out as friends and our relationship grew from that friendship.
* Forgiving, Scott does not hold grudges. He will forgive and forget.
* Smart! There is very little that Scott does not know or can not figure out.
* Scott is extremely level headed and is great at explaining another view to a situation.
* Great travel companion!


Scott, Happy Birthday!! I love you and look forward to many more celebrations! ~Brandee~

Friday, December 11, 2009

Uncanny Resemblence


Can you name this actress?

Recently we were told one of our daughters
strongly resembled her.
Can you guess which one?

at home waiting

For my Christmas Present
FedEx should be delivering this little baby to me today.
Just in time for Winter Formal pictures,
Nutcracker pictures and the holidays.
My only concern is will I be able to use this quickly?
Like by tomorrow morning?

This Week....

Life is crazy, busy, overwhelming and going faster than I like. Here is a little about all the craziness....
  1. Sunday family dinner with visiting brother in-law.

  2. Monday, family shopping for name gifts. We each draw a name then we go to Target and have a $20.00 limit. It can be tricky at times.

  3. Tuesday, baked rolls for Relief Society dinner and did prep work for Young Women's dinner.

  4. Wednesday was a half day for school. Kenzie and friends hung lights for Winter Formal this weekend. Jensen was buried in homework study packets, poor Alec was bored and lonely as I was working on Christmas cards, preparing for the dinner party, doing laundry and cleaning house. We had 30 YW and leaders at our home for the annual YW dinner. It was a fabulous night.

  5. Thursday, finally made it back to my trainer (after 2 1/2 months of back problems), errands, Post Office (need I say more), finished Christmas cards and put them in the mail, started organizing for Winter Formal and Scott's birthday.

  6. Friday...I am tired and now comes the really busy stuff. Baking dessert for Nutcracker cast party, cast treats for Jensen's friends, dinner tonight for Kenzie's formal group, cinnamon rolls for the girls to take to their dates tomorrow morning and then the Formal dinner tomorrow night at our house.

Lots of baking, cooking, cleaning and entertaining. So much fun! This is what it is all about. I can't believe that everything came on the same week.

Jensen is in her last weekend of the Nutcracker. YEAH!! Right now she is suffering from a terrible cold and laryngitis. Poor Girl!

Tomorrow we start with cinnamon rolls for a bunch of great, cute boys. We are hosting the Formal dinner, doing make up and hair for Kenzie and Amanda and taking pictures.

Tis the Season!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Family Photos









This week I was finally able to get our family together for family photos. Just a few of my favorites. Jill was so fabulous!! She dealt with our scheduling problems, met us at the temple and took some fantastic photos. Thanks Jill!! They are beautiful and I can't wait to see the rest. You can check out Jill at www.benddownlow.blogspot.com

Monday, November 30, 2009

Spelling Bee

It is hard to believe that Alec is old enough to participate in the annual Spelling Bee at school. Boy, did we practice those words. Some of them were not very easy and I wasn't sure how to say them.

I think Alec was a little bit nervous at the beginning. It is not easy to stand up in front of people and spell words.

He did so GREAT! I was so proud of him. He made it to the fourth round. His word was "monopolize." I knew the minute they said it that he was thinking Monopoly. Not good. He even asked for the definition. That really confused him.

He left out one "o". Bummer! Although he did make it to the "Top Ten." He even received a medal for his efforts. That made his day.

Way to go Alec!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Girl asks Boy

We embarked on new territory recently. Mackenzie decided she wanted to ask a boy to winter formal. This dance is a girl ask guy dance. So, the shy girl set a plan in motion.

Bat Girl
On a Tuesday night at 10:00 PM Krispy Kreme doughnuts were delivered to an unsuspecting young man...Tanner. It would be the first of 6 deliveries with clues. We enlisted the help of Bat Girl to deliver through out the next day.

The deliveries included Dr. Pepper, Chocolate Chip cookies, Ice Cream sandwiches, Homemade Cinnamon Rolls and the most delectable Chocolate/Brownie/Cheescake cake. Yes, all of the above were made from scratch with love.

Mackenzie eagerly awaited the reply. There were some up and down days. Senior girls were mad that a "Junior" girl had asked a Senior guy. In Mackenzie's credit, although technically she is a Junior, she is graduating with the Seniors and Mackenzie was smart and quick enough to ask him first. Better luck next time.


A week went by and still no reply. Oh, man it was getting hard. And then last Friday Tanner and his friends showed up with fishing line, helium, balloons and a sharpie.
The plan...tie balloons along a mile of fishing line, attach and have Mackenzie reel in to get her answer. Problem...very windy that day and the line with balloons kept going over the neighbors house and getting stuck.


Solution...leave one balloon attached to a rock send her to the park. The balloon said that he hoped her answer didn't "float" away.


Mackenzie and her posse came and found the "lone" balloon and off they went to the park. It was taking them a very long time. Unfortunately as the girls tried to undo the extremely long line of balloons, it got stuck and broke. Balloons and answer "floated" away.


Attempt #1


So, another waiting game ensued. I am sure Tanner was bummed that he had to reply yet again. Being the good sport that he is, he was up to the challenge. Boy, did he come through.

On Monday Tanner showed up with this cute poster and a gorgeous bouquet of roses. WOW! What a nice young man. What girl wouldn't love a dozen roses from a young man?

So, its official. Mackenzie has a date for Winter Formal. Now, get the dress, shoes, jewelry, plan the day-date, dinner and after dance activity. Let the fun begin!!



Monday, November 16, 2009

Thankful Tree

~Thankful Tree~

I borrowed this idea from my friend Shawni. She has the best ideas and I think this is just what my family needed for the upcoming holiday. Each day we put a couple of leaves on the tree and on the leaves we write what we are "Thankful" for. Some are spiritual, others are materialistic and so on.

Alec came home from church with this little Turkey sticker. He is our good deed turkey. Someone will do a secretive good deed and leave behind the sticker. Then it is your turn to do a good deed to someone else in the family.

We are full swing into gratitude, thinking of others and serving. Just what we needed this month. I am so proud of my family for jumping in and participating. Keep it up!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Life has been so crazy and full of changes. I have a hard time with change and not being in control. It has been difficult adapting to everything.

Last night I had the privilege of holding "Carter" for two hours. Nothing softens and melts your heart and troubles like a baby snuggling with you. Carter is the miracle baby for my friend Kristy. She and her husband waited and tried for 9 years until they were the wonderful recipients of this little miracle.

It was gracious of Kristy to let me snuggle with her little bundle. I could feel the stress, worry and troubles melting away. Thank you Kristy!

What brought me to this point are numerous emotions streaming through me. Living with constant pain (due to my back), inability to work out (which always releases my stress), daily stresses and the constant feeling that I am lacking as a YW's president.

It has become a snowball of stress and trials. I find it harder and harder to let things roll off of me.

I find our society is full of disrespect, know it alls and constant contention. How did it get this way and how do you raise your children to not fall into this mold?

Respect for adults, children, strangers, leaders... everyone! Why is it not shown and given more frequently and freely?

My wonderful husband says one of my biggest faults is that I always have to give 110%. Regardless of what it is I will give 110% and it will never be less than that. I find that a good work ethic has diminished. How are our children to learn if we do not show them by example?

As I pondered all of this I decided to set some end of the year goals. Be more observant to others, be more thoughtful, give more service and feed myself spiritually each day. If I focus on others, I will not get so down about myself. Wish me luck! I am off to serve!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lately.....

It has been crazy around here lately. I am just now getting caught up on blogging. Alec was a great Harry Potter for Halloween. He had fun with his costume and wand. Thank you to great friends for lending us all the great Harry Potter stuff.

Alec as Harry Potter
For the ladies I visit teach and for Alec's school teachers, I made Witches shoes. They turned out so cute and would be perfect for a little girl's party.

In the middle of back pain, recoveries, etc.... Our YW's had YW in Excellence. It was a fantastic night. I made silhouettes of each of the YW. They turned out beautiful, if I don't say so myself. It was so fun for everyone to try and pick out the girls.
Of course, there were a few other crafts along the way, glitter pumpkins for Halloween, white tissue paper flower balls and lots of baking.
October just flew by. Now it is on to the holidays!

Fall Break 2009

Fall break was a little interesting for us. I refer to it as the "Medical break". It all started a few weeks before fall break, I was suffering from severe back pain. At that point I thought it was a strained muscle. Several doctors and x-rays later I was told I had injured my facet joint. Not good!
It is now 6 weeks later and I am still in pain and unable to fully function. I have not been able to exercise, standing for extended periods is excruiating to say the least. At this point I am considering an MRI.
Friday of fall break Scott, Alec and I were at the outpatient surgery facility.

Not fun to see your little one like this. This is how we started our fun fall break. What a brave guy Alec was. So scary! All went well and Alec is fully recovered. It did take him the whole week to get feeling better. I was so thankful he had that time to recover.

Wednesday of fall break, Mackenzie went in to have her ingrown toenails removed. During all of this I was going back and forth to the Chiropractor for my back. Once again, I have such brave, strong kids. Mackenzie was so tough while having two shots in each toe. Oh, man! I cannot tell you how painful those are.

At this point we have, one bad back, one recovering 9 year old, and two very sore toes. Not a lot of fun at our house.

We made it through the week. Nothing too exciting. Lots of movies, treats, pain med's and poor Jensen and Scott had to help us recover.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

AMAZING!!!

Last night was "AMAZING!!!" I loved every minute of it. Before I get into the concert details, let me set the stage.

After a quick taco at Gecko Grill. Scott and I headed to the Stadium for the concert. We had plenty of time. It was only 5:15 at this time.

2 1/2 hours later we were just parking in the parking lot. YES, you did read that correctly!! Unbelievable!! The concert had already started.

I began running in my 3 inch heels. Not a pretty sight, but I could hear the Black Eyed Peas. And man I wanted to dance to the Peas.

We were able to get to our seats in record time. YES, I did get to dance, jump, clap and yell with the Black Eyed Peas. So Fun!

U2...amazing, everything I thought it would be, time just flew by! We loved every minute of it. It was 2 1/2 hours of enjoyment! I am so glad we were able to go.

Thanks Scott for the great memories!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tonight I will be here....

U2

and The Black Eyed Peas
Now to find the perfect shirt and heels.
Its going to be a rocking good night!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Life....sweet and precious


For those who do not watch Oprah, I recommend going online and watching the tidbit from her show on Wednesday, October 7th.
Oprah had a segment with Christian and Stephanie Nielsen. Stephanie has a blog Nie Nie Dialogues.

Christian and Stephanie were in a serious plane crash a little over a year ago. The pilot died, Christian was injured and burned and Stephanie was burned over 80% of her body.

These two show such love, devotion and strength. Not only to each other, but their children and life.

They are remarkable and inspiring. What an amazing reminder of how sweet and precious life is.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Road trip, BYU and Conference

This is how we felt last night when we arrived home. It was a whirlwind 3 days! Yep, Thursday afternoon we took a road trip to Utah.


The 3 Amigo's came along, Alec, myself and Scott flew in on Friday afternoon.

We loaded the car Thursday and hit the road at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Just imagine the ride with these 3!

Friday, we dropped the 3 Amigo's off at BYU.
They checked out guys, bought BYU shirts, ate and checked out guys!
Oh, boy did they check out the guys!

Yes, we froze at the game.
Arizonians are not equipped for the cold!

Saturday morning we were up and at'em early.
Off to conference.
It was amazing to be in the conference center.
If you have never attended Conference, I highly recommend it!
It was so incredible when President Monson entered.
Everyone stands out of respect and remains standing until the
1st Presidency is seated.
It was extremely quiet the entire time.
What a road trip!
We packed in a lot of fun in a short amount of time.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Deep in the Trenches

Motherhood is tricky. We wear many hats, multitask like crazy and wear ourselves thin emotionally, physically and mentally.

Right now I feel like I have been Deep in the Trenches for a very long time. I have not seen sunlight for awhile. Where is that ray of bright sunshine? The one that is to let me know that these trials have passed?

Not only am I a mother to my own 3 children, but I am a mother to 23 Young Women. The work is never done.

Recently I have spent much time in prayer and thought. There have been numerous reasons for this. One of my children going through a difficult emotional time regarding her favorite past time, finding out that another child needs a surgery and yet the other child is overwhelmed, frustrated and trying to make sense out of life.

And then there are 23 others with trials, upsets, troubles and just trying to be a teenager in a crazy world.

You know you are spent when during the primary program you start sobbing during a song that your friend's darling girls are singing. What???? Why then???

The emotions are right on the surface. I could hardly read a story during YW's yesterday and it wasn't a sad story.

I don't claim to have all the answers or solutions. All I can do is my best. It seems as if my best has not been good enough.

There are day's when I am just so tired and worn out. I know Satan is trying to get the best of me. I WILL NOT let him win this battle!

I must keep fighting and get myself out of the trench before the next battle ensues.

And so it continues....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who Knew???

Tuesday afternoon as I entered the car, my arms were full; purse, book, cell phone, keys and a glass of water. You get the picture.

I placed the glass in a cup holder and proceeded to get into my car. As I climbed in and reached over to set my purse on the passenger seat....my precious cell phone slid out of my hand and landed in my glass of water. There it sat...submerged in ice water.

As I was driving down the street, I quickly took apart the phone and held it up to the air conditioning vents. Oh, man! I did not want to buy a new phone.

When Jensen got in the car, she told me that you put your phone and its parts in an airtight container buried in rice. Yep! She said rice.

The catch is the phone needs to stay in the rice for 2 -3 days. Oh, Ya!! No phone for me.

I will say it was a little liberating. When I left the house, noone could reach me. So that is what it was like before cell phones. It was a little nice.

I could only hold out until Thursday afternoon. Much to my amazement and surprise...when I put the phone back together, it worked! Yes, sirrreee!!

The phone is working great. So far, no glitches.

All I have to say is...Who Knew???

I love that my teenagers are smarter than me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Smith Happenings

The question I get a lot is...What is happening with your family? With family and friends near and far it is always hard to keep everyone updated on our family. So here it goes!


Kenzie - Very busy with school, swim team, friends, college decisions and catching up on sleep. She loves having her car and the freedom it brings. She has recently figured out that "boys" are losers. Somewhat disappointing for her. She has some fabulous friends! She HATES swim team and really can't wait for it to be over. College decisions are overwhelming at the moment. Her school load is quite heavy, but she is doing excellent! Needless to say she is one busy girl!


Jensen - Enjoying her first year in High School. Although I get the feeling she would rather be home schooled. She has a fun dance class at school with some great girls. Ballet is still her life. Company auditions came and went. Last Saturday she had her Nutcracker audition. She looked beautiful and had a great audition. I don't think anything can top "Clara", but she is ready for a new challenge. Jens is learning to budget her time. She is up at 5:00AM and dances til 9:00PM. Not a lot of time for sleep. So far her most time consuming class is Honors Biology. Jens is rolling well with her crazy schedule.


Alec - Is having a fantastic year in school so far. He loves his teachers ( 3 different ones), has a great time in ALP and has some good friends. His weeks are full of scouts, playing with friends, piano and taunting his sisters. He has become quite the piano player and enjoys playing. He loves music and frequently can be found singing along to a song on itunes. That kid can learn the words to any song. As we find the weather cooling, he will start to venture outside for basketball and golf


It is a busy house, but a happy one. We love our weekends and the somewhat slower pace. We are all healthy, happy and truly blessed.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hope after 9/11

video

* credit to my friend Kara for sharing this great video. Thanks!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

~the pain~

The hardest part about being a parent is seeing your kids hurt from disappointment. The pain comes in all forms...friends, grades, sports, auditions, poor choices, etc... As a parent, you can feel their pain. And man, it hurts! It is even worse to see them try to cope with the feelings and emotions.

Life is full of disappointments and let downs. How does a parent ease the pain for a child? As much as I hurt for my children and wish I could take away their pain. I can only imagine what the Savior felt and endured.

The roller coaster of life has so many ups and downs, highs and lows. Its all about weathering the storms.

As I tried to console a child tonight; we talked about the positives, how we each have different paths, how this can be used positively and then I saw them. The big crocodile tears slowly rolling down the cheeks. There it was..."the pain."

I wanted to shield my child, protect them and take away all of the gut wrenching pain.

As I watch and help with the healing process, I know my child will come out stronger, smarter and blessed for enduring this trial. Time and tender mercies will help heal the wounds.

As I reflect on the events of this day, I can't help but think of the Savior and all he endured for each of us. The pain he felt on our behalf and his ultimate sacrifice.

The tears will dry, the pain will soften and eventually disappear. Until then; the tissues are close by, prayers are being said and the healing process is beginning.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Funny and the NOT so Funny

While they are fresh in my mind I need to recap a couple of stories.

Sunday morning as we were getting ready for church. Alec morphed into Darth Vader. Nothing like a 9 year old boy in church clothes armed with a light saber and the breathing of Darth Vader.

As I was bustling about the kitchen Alec kept coming ever so close with his light saber. Pretty much challenging me to take him on. I was in my Sunday dress, heels were not on at this point.

Something got ahold of me and I began to use my kung fu kicks on him. Not bad the first time, took him by surprise. The second kick was spot on, but his reflexes were quicker than I. This time he was ready. He spun his light saber around and nailed my ankle bone with the saber handle. There was pain, hobbling and immediate discoloration of the ankle bone.

Who would of thought he would nail me with the handle. I was prepared for the saber end, definitely not the hard, plastic handle.

My play time with Alec may be coming to an end. Why do they have to get so big and strong so quick?

And now the NOT so Funny ~

Last Wednesday Scott had the privilege of taking Alec to Scouts. Alec just got new leaders. The time and location had been changed as well.

As the girls and I left for YW's I left instructions as to where the leaders lived; what street, house number, where the ward list was located, etc...

Alec dressed in his scout uniform got in the car with dad. Scott pulled up in front of the house and Alec got out of the car. At this point I would be getting out of the car with Alec, but not his dad.

The door opened a crack and there was a teenage girl. Alec turned to Scott and waved good-bye and proceeded to step into the house. At this point Scott started wondering and yelled out the window if this was so and so's house.

The girl replied,"NO." I am sure she was wondering why a little boy was trying to get into her house. Alec realized he was at the wrong house. OOPS!!

With Alec in the car, Scott looked at the street name and had a light bulb moment. Same house number, wrong street. Oh, man!

Alec did arrive at the correct house. The story was told to me by Alec the next morning. Scott had somehow forgot about this little incident.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Bad....

In my posting frenzy I forgot to include the recipe for the Chicken Bundles. Sorry! I think I was so taken by the pictures and remembering how delicious they were. So, for those of you that wanted the recipe. Here it is...keep in mind that I don't have exact measurements. This is one of those recipes that I eyeball.

Chicken Bundles

12 Rhodes Rolls Thawed

3 Chicken breasts cooked and diced
1/2 lb of Ham Diced (I make sure that the chicken and ham are even amounts)
Grated Monterey Jack Cheese (you decide how much you like)
Ground Black Pepper
Dry Mustard
Oregano

Mix the above ingredients together.

Flatten a roll into a circle. Fill center with chicken mixture. Bring edges of roll together and pinch. Place pinched part of roll on cookie sheet. Brush with butter or egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Do the same to all the rolls. Bake at 350 until golden and the insides are bubbly.

You can make as few or as many as you like. Enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Falcon of the Week

Must have been one great first week of school for this kid. He got picked to be the "Falcon of the Week" for this week. He must of made an incredible impression on his teacher.

He was sure excited on Friday to share the news. Not always easy for a boy to be picked first out of a class. Way to go Alec!!

Not only does he get to be the "Falcon of the Week", but he starts his ALP classes today. Man, he was so excited for that.

Mrs. Clare has been a family favorite for 10 years. She has taught both his sisters and now gets Alec. Oh, boy is she in for a treat! That should be a fun Math class.

Language is another story. Alec has heard so much about Mrs. Murphy from his friends, but has a little apprehension with all the writing and doing it at the end of the day. I think he will do great! Every summer he has a notebook that contains pictures, stories and comics that he writes and draws in all summer.

We are so proud of him. What a great student! Keep it up Alec!!

~Yummy~

What Sunday meal is not complete with homemade rolls? Needless to say I made a gazillion rolls yesterday and Boy, they were delicious! Had to show a photo.





Jensen's All Time Favorite Meal
Chicken Bundles



On Friday I made Jensen's all time favorite dinner...Chicken Bundles. Rolls with chicken, ham, cheese and spices. She was one happy girl. She has loved these since she was little. It made the hard week of school disappear.

Now, what to cook tonight??