Monday, September 29, 2008

Final Product

Hopefully now you know what we were working on! Some of you (who don't want to sign into google) emailed some funny guesses-good job Brandon for getting it on the first picture! I wasn't sure whether to be flattered or disappointed!! :-)

Doodle's preschool has a putt-putt day when all the older kids are having a walk-a-thon to benefit the school. It actually leaned much farther but the person who set it up apparently had little confidence in my engineering skills and propped it up against the wall.

Good job Brandon! I don't think I have your home address anymore so email that to me when you get a chance!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Second chance to guess

For those of you playing along at home, here is the second and updated clue. (Click here if you haven't read the first one)
1. It is NOT related to any bodily functions (so turd and colon are out although it is hollow and would make an excellent model of either if anyone ever needs to make a model of either of those things...)
2. As a replica - in its finished state - it will be seen at Doodle's preschool on Friday.

Step two involved some painting so it is hanging below our deck. If you think Mator looks terrified of this object, you are only slightly wrong. Terrified is a strong word. Really, really frightened would be more accurate.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What is this?

Can you guess what this is? I'll post more pictures as it progresses.
1. It is rated G.
2. It is going to be a replica of something.
3. It is not yet finished.
4. It is completely edible (except the chicken wire and newspaper)

No fair guessing if I told you what we were making-mom, Carolyn and my immediate family.

If anyone guesses correctly before I put in the answer, I'll send you a $5 gift card to Starbucks. If no one guesses, then Andy gets the $5 gift card!!! Good luck!

PS-Is it bad that I had to use Doodle only in the picture since all my other kids were naked? I love living in the country!!

A Lifetime on a Few Tables

Yesterday, my mom and I spent the day at Apple Tree Auction Center where we watched the contents of my 99 year old aunt's life be unloaded onto plastic tables. My aunt Elsie recently moved from an assisted living apartment into a nursing home room thus limiting even more her ability to store her lifelong collection of treasures. The two rented storage sheds were emptied and everything was taken to the auction center in Newark.

Personally, I was glad to know that she is still living so that when leaving the center, it wasn't as if we were saying our last goodbyes to her, just her things. But it goes without saying that we were saying goodbye to a life of adventure, travel, excitement, unique friendships and beautiful things. I would describe her life now as sterile, interrupted, quiet and attended. And that is quite a contrast to the independent, genteel (sometimes quite self-centered), world-traveling lady that we all knew as little as 5 years ago.

This was the lady that, for better or worse, would drive herself across the country at 90! She also rode down into the Grand Canyon with our family ON A MULE (over 8 hours just to get in) when she was 74 years old! She had no children so my mom was her daughter and when she needed a little extra help getting around, taking care of things, my mom encouraged her to move from Arizona to Lancaster-about 15 years ago. Since then, I think she has lived in 5 different places but did not stop driving until she had an accident about 3 1/2 years ago. She really is amazing.

It's hard to talk to her now. She can hardly hear anything but has no luck with hearing aids. She sleeps most of the day and night. But it never ceases to amaze me that when I visit with one of the kids, she tries to sit up a little taller, speak a little louder and for a few minutes (until she gets completely exhausted) there is the lady I remember from my childhood. Certainly we are all more than the sum of "things" left behind after we are gone. And although the "things" that others keep will remind them of us, I think we all hope that the value of what we left behind is not totaled on the receipts of the auction house; but rather calculated on eternal gifts of faith, love and hope spread over a lifetime of relationships with people. If that's true, my Great-Great Aunt Elsie's life is priceless.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Providence Photography

Most of you know that I run a photography business called Providence Photography with my business partner and friend, Carolyn. I recently shot this little cutie and wanted to show her off. Grandparents, let me know which images you want and what size! The last picture is what I call a montage and it is one of my favorite things to do after a shoot. This particular one is 12x12 so it can go right into a scrapbook. I try to get different expressions in each of the images but some people prefer that I put their favorite images only.
Anyone recognize this little lady??

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We're Gonna Rock Down to Electric Avenue

Having just come off a 50 hour electricity fast (this was not voluntary), I have few thoughts. When the electricity went off Sunday around 5:00 due to the remnants of hurricane Ike, I really had no idea the extent of the destruction. And other than fretting about a possible loss of about $400 worth of food in my fridge and two freezers-I was OK with the whole thing. In the end, thanks to ice and then my dad's generator connected to a freezer, we only lost about $40 worth of stuff and about half of that was that stuff that should have been thrown out anyway-we were never going to eat it! Praise God! And those of you with wells and septic systems know that there is no flushing or washing since there is no well pump so that got a little gross but nothing we couldn't handle. So here are the really cool things that happened thanks to our electric being out.
1. Multiple opportunities to help family and strangers clean up debris in their yards. Since we only have tiny trees in our big yard we had no stuff to clean up. We met our widowed neighbor down the street and got to help her with sticks and limbs. The kids were great helpers too.
2. Andy has had 3 days off of school (so far, possibly more) and Muffin had 1.
3. We spent the night at Jim & Sue's one night-we never get the chance to do that so it was like a big sleepover!
4. Friends and family helping out. My friend Carolyn offered her camper for us to use and even came over one dark night to help me move food from my fridge to my deep freeze and stock it with ice.
5. Having dinner at Johnny and Carey's house (see pictures above). These are friends we've known for years but have never been to each other's house. They had power and invited anyone who didn't to have dinner at their house. Is that showing the love of Christ or what? And I've heard more of these stories from other people too-doing laundry at a friend's house, sleeping over, sharing a freezer-whatever is needed. It is such an encouragement to hear so much good around us.
6. The quiet and stillness of a non-electric house. I couldn't vacuum or mop if I wanted to so everything just seemed to slow down. The distant hum of all our neighbors' generators at night was somehow comforting to me!
So, we're back online and slowly getting back to the pace of everyday life. There are still others in our area without power though-maybe I'll go hang out at their house instead of vacuuming!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Doodle and Toad Go To School

If there is one thing that makes me love being a parent, it is being privy to the pure, uninhibited, joy of my child. And yes I know that not everyone in the world thinks it's a big deal that MY child is excited about something but as long as that something is not hurting someone else and can be set aside after a reasonable amount of time, I am going to get excited with them. Today Doodle had a moment of awe that lasted a good couple hours. I had sent her out in the rain (yes she was wearing her boots, raincoat and had an umbrella) to get something from the "store" (AKA Grammy's house next door). I had barely sent her out the door when I heard a commotion that drew me back out. She had discovered a big, honkin' toad and not only that-she caught it! We found a big box to keep him in and after he had emptied his bladder sufficiently, I sent her on her mission. Grammy has everything and not only sent back the requisite Cream of Tartar but also a nice cat cage that worked as a temporary home for "Tooty Todd the Toad" (My apologies to Uncle Todd!)

Doodle generously gave Mator a chance to hold the toad.

The best was taking it to school. Doodle repeated 100x, "I caught a toad, all by myself" to anyone who approached her cage, or even walked past us. She was so proud of herself! Her wonderful teacher even let her share it with the class even though we just showed up with it.

I wanted Muffin to be able to see it too and since her classroom is in the same building, it was just a matter of waiting for her class to get back from art. Her teacher knew a lot about toads and let me know that they drink through their skin so he needed to stay moist and have access to water. I had put a little dish of water in there and sure enough, he was sitting in it! And I'm just going to say it even though I suspect it borders on being a little prideful: I am really happy that my girls are not afraid of toads or worms or even snakes (even though the last one is a fear of mine). They love these living things and it makes living out here in the country so great because they are constantly discovering treasures and learning about life.

And here is Mr. Toad as he prepares to embark on his new life of freedom, back in the garden where Doodle found him. I like to think he is pondering the good times he had as a member of the Smeltzer family (I can just see the highlight film with "I've had the time of my Life" playing in the background).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where were you?

There are very few times in a person's life when they can go immediately to one moment in time. Perhaps a birth of a child or the moment when you heard someone was ill or died. September 11 is like that for me. Seven years ago, Muffin was 9 months old and I was teaching afternoons only. Our mornings were generally slow moving until 11:30 when Andy's mom would arrive to pick up Muffin for the afternoon and I would head to work. I remember the TV was on in our living room as I made breakfast, which was unusual. Did you, like me, hear something in the background that caught your ear or eye and, stopping what you were doing, get drawn to the TV to watch this horrific morning play out in a way unimaginable up until that point? Did anyone else have the conflicting emotions of a growing urge to gather your family together and not leave the safety of your home mixed with a sense of urgency to get in your car and drive to New York and help someone, anyone?

There was definitely a battle in my spirit about whether I should leave Muffin to go to work or whether I should place my responsibility to my child above that to my school. Ultimately, I did decide to go to work and I think the Lord provided a peace about that since I knew that Sue would have done anything for Muffin. When I got to school, all the teachers knew what was going on but were instructed to not discuss it with the kids. But somehow, by the end of the day, they were talking about something really bad that had happened and a big fire. I was concerned about my little second graders getting on the bus with some 6th grader (who would certainly have more information than my kids) who would scare MY kids beyond comprehension. I sat down my bussers and told them that something very bad had happened in New York, a place far away from Bremen, Ohio. I tried to reassure them that they were safe and to ask their parents about it when they got home.

It always comes back to me on this date how I believed that the End Times may have arrived. Most days it seems that the Lord will tarry well beyond my lifetime but not September 11, 2001. For me, this is as important a lesson as any.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come." Mark 13:32

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Big Girl on the Bus

Some days everything seems to work out well. You get the kids to school on time, have a nice balance of play time/get some work done time, serve a relatively healthy lunch, spend some quality time with neglected third child, and a public entity does something they didn't have to. Today is one of those days. What made it so smooth was the the F.U. bus brought Doodle (and Muffin) home from school today. Even though Doodle is in preschool, they were willing to do it. I am really thankful when someone considers a situation with reason and makes a decision rather than just saying "no" because it is easier for them. That's what Rhonda at the bus barn did for us and it saves us time and money (gas). Doodle not only loves school, but got to take the snack bucket today and then ride the bus home. For her, life doesn't get any better!

Now we're heading out to church for AWANA. I feel so "lucky" today. Seriously, does anyone really believe that all these great things happen because of LUCK? I praise God when He intervenes in a way in my life that makes me appreciate all the good He's given. Now, when He intervenes in a way that is harder and teaches me something else, I'll look back at this post and say, "God is good-All the time." (Thanks to Pastor Beckett for that one!)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Posted by request...

OK, so I left out "the rest of the story" or what happened after the game in order to protect the innocent. But an anonymous reader made a request for this photo to be posted and I can't resist my fans. OK, fan. Pictured are my brother in law, Todd (center), his friend Johnny and someone they parked next to for the OSU game. Needless to say, Applebees did not appreciate their taking a parking space on their lot for going to a Buckeyes game (in their defense, apparently the sign warning against parking there was postage stamp size). So, they saved $10 by not parking in a pay lot, but let's just say that would have been $10 well spent! Luckily for them, we were there to give them free transportation to the tow lot and luckily for us they had a good sense of humor about it!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Do Over

All throughout 2007 I found myself saying, I could live this year over. So many wonderful things happened that I'd love to do again. But this year is different. This became very apparent to me over the course of six weeks last spring when we attended five funerals. I would not want to do this year again. However, I would do this WEEK again!!

It's been so full I haven't even been able to write about the cool photography convention that my business partner, Carolyn, and I got to go to on Tuesday in Columbus. The speaker was Sandy Puc and she was a great speaker. The focus was on maternity and newborns and I'm really excited to get to apply some of the things I learned to my friends' baby, Kylie in a week or so!

Then there was the Lion King which I've already written about. And Doodle's first day of preschool. But then there was Saturday....Cue "Carmen Ohio" in the background Buckeyes fans!

Andy works part time for our local Christian radio station as their sports director (90.9 FM) and was convinced by a very wise woman (ah-HEM) to apply to get press credentials for an OSU game. Long story short, he got them for the game he requested (OU-incidentally, I have 2 degrees from there and Andy has his Masters from there!!) and I got to go with him.

The first cool things about getting a press pass is that it is FREE! A second cool thing is that it comes with a FREE awesome parking pass. We arrived at the stadium around 9:45 for the noon game and upon showing our badges, were given access to just about anywhere in the stadium. The day was beautiful, cool in the morning and HOT in the afternoon.

So we just started walking around the sidelines, pretending like we knew what we were doing and taking pictures of everything. I narrowed them down to my favorites so here they are...

As we're standing on the sidelines a security guard comes up to me and says, "Do you remember me?" It took a second to answer that single question I dread more than any other but it was John Souders-a highschool friend! He stands on the sidelines during the games and keeps people from getting on the field. He gave us some great tips about what was going to happen and where we should stand.

At exactly 10:00, the players, led by Coach Tressel and flanked by police officers, enter the stadium from the north end tunnel. They are all in suits and as they march down the sideline while the opposing team is stretching and warming up on the field, the music from the Sopranos begins to fill the stadium.

Then there's a cool picture of Andy with "Buckeyes" reflected on his glasses from the endzone.

The next guy is James Laurinitis. Can you see who his hero is on his eye black? Andy got that shot.

We stayed down there and while the band entered there was an amazing electricity that was everywhere. We were supposed to leave the field during the game but I got to snap a few shots of the opening kickoff and the first play before we left.

Then we found our seats in the air conditioned press box. Well, first we helped ourselves to the press buffet which included pulled pork sandwiches and oh, a McFlurry machine!!!

The next picture was our view from the press box. The row behind us had John Cooper and in front of us was Jimmy Crum (those two will only be recognizable to long time central Ohioans-sorry!)

At half time we went down to the camera deck and watched the hall of fame ceremony and then they brought in Michael Redd and Thad Motta so that he could show off his Olympic Gold Medal. I think that was the loudest cheer of the day.

Did I mention that the game could not have been better for a Buckeye Fan / OU Alum? OU (a five touchdown underdog) somehow was leading going into the fourth quarter. The next picture is the "go ahead" touchdown being scored (#3 has the ball).

During the 4th quarter we were allowed back down on the field. That next shot is our last touchdown where we were standing on the sideline right next to the endzone!! It was amazing!

The next shot of Andy on the sideline was actually taken before the game.

After the game, we rushed onto the field to find the Lancaster players on both teams to try and get a shot of the Bobcats and Buckeye together (we did!) but then were on the field for the prayer and standing about ten feet behind the players while they sand the alma mater with the band. WOW!

Finally, we got to see the press conference. As you can see, the press room was quite crowded but Andy turned around and saw this window and led the way up the stairs to an almost empty room with this great view. Then Ellen Tressel had to come in but oh well! Andy was quite brave by the time the day was over and I was very proud of him for making the most of every opportunity. He even walked behind Chris Spielman who was on the field for the post game show in an attempt to get on TV!

Thanks to Sandy and Frank for watching our kids all day and thank you Lord for just an awesome experience!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Daily Dose of Drama

When you have three little girls (and one big one) living in your house, it goes without saying that there is going to be some serious drama on occasion and today we had ourselves a little bit of drama. Above, you will notice the scariest looking fake Barbie that ever existed. It makes me wonder what the Chinese people that make these things think that white people look like! In her defense, she did start out with hair covering a little more of her head but the rest of her is just like we got her when Doodle delightedly chose her from the treasure box at the dentist's office last week. She dons a 1980's "Desperately Seeking Susan" wardrobe and her ring of hair was pulled up into a top of the head pony tail. All that being said, she is really only creepy because her arms and feet are flat like paper and Doodle regularly amputates and re-attaches the arms as part of the fun. When Doodle chose this doll (named Sally) I think I secretly hoped that all the other Barbies would prey upon Sally's inferiority and complete lack of coolness causing Sally to throw herself over the edge of the kitchen counter, falling to her death and landing (conveniently) in the trash can. I even set her on said counter more than once hoping she might get the idea. Sadly (for Doodle), a much more devastating turn of events occured this morning when Mator found Sally. Unable to resist the urge to put Sally's punky ponytail in her mouth, Mator yanked the front part of her hairline clean out thus revealing her really ineffective hairplug surgery.

Doodle shed many tears so I eventually agreed to try and fix her (hopefully Gorilla glue is not toxic to creepy fake Barbies). I'm hoping that when Doodle gets home from school she will have forgotten about her; but even if she does, I suspect that Sally will be giving me nightmares for some time!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lion King

In addition to the excitement of the first day of school, we had the excitement of going to see a production of the Lion King at the Ohio Theatre in Columbus. We went out to dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse (great idea Jason and Jill!) and the kids loved it! Mator spent the night at Jim and Sue's so it was just the four of us. Muffin suggested they wear their fancy Christmas dresses from last year so they looked so cute! I couldn't believe when we got there and saw how crowded it was, I was afraid we would be late but they seated us right away in the trolley car! Doodle asked me five times if it was going to start moving!

The girls were so well behaved and very thankful for the opportunity to have such a great night. Thanks to Sandy and Frank and Karen and Rod for the great deal on the seats! We were in the front row of the balcony (although for some reason it is called the Loge) and the seats were fantastic. They were so into the show from the first moment that it was just as entertaining to watch them. The girls were also suitably impressed with the beautiful theatre and being in the city which made the experience even more fun.

SPOILER ALERT: The second act begins with cast members running into the audience, singing a song, with bird puppets that soar all around the theatre. It is quite breathtaking and Muffin had the best comment when the song was over, "Why did that have to end?"

Andy bought a King Size box of M&Ms and one of Junior Mints at the intermission to sugar them up. A King Size box has about twice the volume of a regular size bag, hence the name "King Size". But Muffin saw the box, pulled out a Junior Mint and gasped, "These are huge!" To her, the "King" designation must mean the candy was big!

They both had so much fun with the songs they knew and even the ones they didn't. The show was over at about 10:45 so they were whipped to say the least. We didn't even get home until 11:45 so I relented and let Muffin sleep in and took her to school late. She is still talking about what a great show it was!

First Day of Preschool

Yesterday (Wednesday) was quite a day! I drove the kids to school in the morning, came home for a while, took Mator to Jim & Sue's and then Doodle and I had a "first day of preschool date". We went to "Bob Heavens" and Doodle was in heaven since I let her have a Sprite with her pancakes and sausage (yuck, I know). Throughout the morning she kept checking the plan for the day: After lunch we go to school, then a nap then we go to dinner and then Lion King. Really, since last spring, Doodle has been anticipating this day. When we would ask her at night, "What can we pray for you?" She would answer, "That I would have a good day at school...when I go". For the past week we've had a daily countdown of how much time was left until the blessed day arrived and here we were-finally. As we got ready to head into the school, Doodle had one last question, "Is Mrs. Kennedy really the best preschool teacher in the whole world?" By her tone of voice it was clear that she had heard this somewhere and was just confirming what she was ready to tell anyone else who asked. "Absolutely." I answered. And I believe it. She was Muffin's preschool teacher and she loved her too.
There was a smile on Doodle's face the entire morning and when I asked her to step on the porch for the obligatory "First Day of School Porch picture". I love how Mator is in the door window watching out just like she did for Muffin! The second shot includes the bookbag that we actually bought for her last year but since she didn't use it she gets it now. She's wearing it "like the high schoolers do" (she informed me that kids like Jill wear them over their shoulders).
We got to school about ten minutes early (yeh, I told Doodle not to get used to that!) and I was telling her how cute she looked in the outfit she had picked out at Kohl's just for this occasion-a jean skirt and High School Musical shirt. I mentioned casually that it was too bad that Daddy couldn't see how cute she looked. Just then, Andy snuck up behind her and though I didn't think it was possible, her smile got even bigger as she jumped up into his arms. He ran over during his lunch period to surprise her.
Then there is a picture with Mrs. Kennedy. Can't you just tell she is an awesome teacher!

Two other cute stories about her first day. 1. As we walk her into the classroom, Doodle finds her name on her cubby and hangs up her backpack as if she did this everyday. Mrs. Kennedy asked her to sit on a colored shape and she sat next to the only other girl that was there and started chatting her up! No shyness here!
2. After school, I decided to pick up Muffin first since I figured the preschool would take longer for pickup. Muffin practically ran out the door of her classroom, bubbling over, "Can I pick up Doodle by myself? I've been trying to see her all afternoon. I didn't see her though. Can I go ahead without you?" She was so excited for her sister. The last picture is Muffin getting the first hug as she left the classroom. She's already asking in her Mommy voice, "How was your day?" It was so sweet! I was really proud of both of them today in the way they treated each other and Doodle's excitement and eagerness to try something new.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Slime Time

Last night was our children's programming fall kick-off event at church-called Slime Time. I was there to take family pictures as kids arrived and then get a few candids too. My kids always love the bounce house (Me too!) but they had some neat bubble things this time too. This is Doodle in one of them. She's standing on a brick paver in the middle of a kiddy pool. Then a hula hoop is dropped into the bubble mixture and pulled up around her. She's inside a bubble!
Mator loved the bubble machine. The idea was to battle the bubbles with the swim noodle but she would lock in on one bubble and follow it until she popped it! The other picture is the "Slime Time" character that she was alternatively fascinated by and terrified of! I figured if I printed out this picture and taped it to everything I don't want her to touch, it might be a pretty effective behavior management strategy!

Muffin claims to have liked everything (except the face painting) although since she spent most of the evening in the bounce house I don't have any really good pictures of her. But here's one of of our whole gang!