Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

2015

December3

Brownlee Family-171

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Mayday! Mayday!

April29

Three weeks. I only have 3 weeks left until summer vacation begins for the girls. Yikes! While I look forward to turning off the alarm clock and not packing lunches, we have entered an era of bickering that makes me fear 2 1/2 months of togetherness. Everything seems to become an argument these days. The girls will argue about exactly what shade of green the grass is. I’m hoping that this summer is better than last year weather-wise so that I can distract them with the pool more often.

Tessa is currently OBSESSED with horses. She got to ride a pony at a birthday party and was in heaven.

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Easter egg coloring is serious business

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Nothing says Easter like a nerf dart gun

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Spring preview

March16

Time keeps marching forward at a much faster pace than seems possible. The girls continue to get bigger despite my best efforts to keep them my babies.  Sabrina is 7 1/2. Tessa is 5 1/2. Tessa outgrew both her bike helmet and her bike over this never ending winter. Sabrina continues to thwart all efforts to teach her to ride her bike without training wheels while at the same time starting to outgrow the bike she refuses to ride. Spring break is this week. Only 2 months of the school year remain. Then I will have a 3rd grader and a kindergartener. And I will have to figure out what the next chapter of my life holds. No pressure.

For now, let’s focus on some photographic evidence that this winter might end at some point. We had a little taste of spring last weekend and took advantage of it by playing outside.

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I’ll have a post later this week or next weekend to show off the first round of my finished pottery pieces. Warning: there will be many disclaimers about how hard it is because many of them are ugly and misshapen. But I love them anyway.

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Christmas 2013

January5

We always enjoy our trips home. We spent most of this one sick and in and out of bed but at least we got to do it in the comfort of a quiet hotel room. The girls stayed with my inlaws and had a grand time. They had their first Build A Bear experience – and both chose to build My Little Ponies instead of bears. No surprise there. They played with their cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. We spent 2 days in Ohio at the end of our trip. I actually made it out to have a beer in one of my old haunts. That allowed me to hang out with my sister and see a couple of friends. Going home always makes me home sick. I remind myself that it wouldn’t be the same living there again but it is hard to remember that some days. But it is always nice to return home too. We had some friends over for a potluck on new years eve and that reminded me why TN is home too now.

My snaggle tooth girl – her front tooth was hanging by a thread for ages. Then it and a bottom one came out at the same time.

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Tessa is into super heroes right now. I love it because I am tired of princesses and glitter. We are having fun with the superhero toys she got for Christmas. She also loves legos and magnetic tiles. I encourage anything that isn’t pink these days.

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Sabrina is starting to get into music. We managed to keep her into the 80s for a long time but she is starting to hear about other things from her friends. She got a little MP3 player this year and loves it. Taylor Swift is a current favorite.

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We try not to spoil the girls but it warms my heart to be able to make their faces light up with a requested toy. Sabrina was bummed because she didn’t get an Equestria Girl doll as she requested from Santa. She found a Rainbow Dash Equestria Girl under the tree at home and was thrilled. Tessa wanted a barbie with a horse and was happy to find that under the tree.

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Hope you all had a very merry and happy holiday.

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A few photos

November3

I realized this summer that I am kind of over blogs. Mine and everyone else’s. I haven’t been writing here (obv) but I also haven’t been reading many blogs lately. Once in awhile I check in on a couple but after 7 1/2 years of blogging and reading hundreds of blogs, I just need a break from it. It was feeling like an obligation on both ends. I felt obligated to write and to read. Don’t write me off completely. I’ll pop in and put up some photos and maybe a funny story now and then. And I’m sure I’ll come back to it all some day in the not too distant future. But for now, this few and far between thing will likely continue. Thanks to those who have checked in that we are all okay – we are all great. Just busy with life.

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When I lived in Ohio, everyone went to Myrtle Beach for vacation. When I lived in Pittsburgh, everyone went to OBX for vacation. Now that I live in TN, everyone heads to Destin for vacation. We have been here a little over 6 years (!?!?) now and had yet to make it to the gulf shore. A few weeks ago, the girls and I remedied that. We met my mom for a long weekend and frolicked in the surf in SeaGrove, FL. It was gorgeous. I haven’t been to the gulf in probably 30 years. I forgot how beautiful and clear and calm it is. The girls had so much fun. The Atlantic isn’t their favorite – it is usually cold and rough so they stay away from the water. But here we could have spent all day on the beach if 3/4 of us wouldn’t have turned into lobsters. I really enjoyed it more than I’ve enjoyed a beach in a very long time.

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This child takes my breath away. She is so beautiful.

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School is going well for everyone. We decided to do another year of preschool for Tessa so that she could mature a little bit socially. It feels like the right decision. Sabrina seems to be catching up in areas that she has struggled with. There are fewer tears this year over reading and homework. (Also less homework – yay!) Halloween is always cause for big excitement. We had Robin (or SuperGirl if you asked Tessa…she is suddenly into super heroes and after 7 years of pink and sparkle, I’m all about it) and a cat this year.

She has moves like Jagger.

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Sabrina also loves climbing trees in our front yard now.

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So there you have it. All the news worth knowing around these parts. Life is pretty quiet. And I’m pretty happy about that.

 

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OBX 2013 – now with fewer words!

July19

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Steve and I – photo (and the next couple) courtesy of my SIL…the last few are mine). A relaxing week (if hellish drive to and fro) at the beach was just what I needed. A break from the girls’ bickering, time to read books, swimming, crossword puzzles, and cocktails.

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The ocean was FREEZING so our swimming was in the pool only. But the girls liked playing in the sand.

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My BIL took some time to paint.

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We just returned from our annual family vacation. A great time was had by all. The girls had a great time with their cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. I love that they get this week every year with extended family.

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We spent the night in Asheville on the way home. We just love it there. If we could figure it out, we would move there. The girls had a great time dancing at an outdoor concert after dinner.

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Happy 4th!

July4

We are about 1/2 through summer vacation here. I’m ready to start counting the days until school starts. I’m having fun with the girls but their constant bickering is driving me crazy. They talk constantly. I answer 1,343,564 questions a day. And the eating. Holy cow, the eating! Where to they put it all? They are constantly saying “I’m still hungry!” I’ve tried discussing the difference between hungry and not being stuffed or being bored but they just look at me blankly and say “We are still hungry.” So, I got a brilliant idea from a friend. Snack baskets. I put all of the food (outside of reasonably sized breakfast and lunch and dinner) that they can have in the day in a basket in the frig. They may eat what they want, when they want. But when it is gone, it is gone.

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A couple of types of fruit, some nuts, yogurt, hard boiled egg, and a granola bar. I vary it every day. I try to do some veggies but no one is ever hungry enough to eat them. Sometimes, they spend all morning just eating it all and then have nothing for the afternoon but they’ve learned there are no refills. They seem to like the control it gives them. I like forbidding the phrase “I’m still hungry” from being uttered in my house.

Sabrina spent a week at day camp. That was a great break for all of us from the bickering. But can I just say she looks way too old/big in this photo from the last day? The growing up needs to stop now.

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Otherwise, we’ve had a low key summer. It has been unusually cool and rainy here in TN so very little pool time. They took some swim lessons at our local rec center but they were pretty worthless and the girls didn’t really learn much. We have made it to the zoo twice which is surprising because it is usually way too hot for zoo trips in July. The girls are excited beyond belief about our annual family beach vacation which is coming up later this month. We’ve been counting down the days.

Last year, the fourth festivities were cancelled due to dry conditions – the cities around us banned fireworks because of fire concerns. This year it has been raining for over 24 hours. But at least the rain let up a little to let us have a little low key fun with sparklers and smoke bombs. The girls declared it the best ever.

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Seriously – look how green that grass is. It is usually brown and crunchy this time of year. But it has been so moderate and so rainy that we could mow every 4 or 5 days.

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Big Girl

March29

Look who joined the ranks of those riding big girl bikes.

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Finally got that Christmas bike put together. And she is almost too tall for it already. That will teach me for waiting so long to get her a big girl bike…and daddy for taking so long to put it together. (Yes, her helmet is really loose here. I fixed it after the photo.)

Soon she will likely inherit Sabrina’s. Sabrina’s legs are getting long enough that she’ll need a new one by next Christmas.

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Sigh. More proof that they keep growing up. Make it stop.

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Passing geekdom down to the next generation

March28

Steve is passionate about teaching the next generation to code and program computers. He feels it is a teachable skill greatly lacking in all educational arenas. He is currently working with a local school that has started with the express purpose of providing these skills to young adults so that they can be employable in a lucrative, secure career.

He also wants to see if our girls have any aptitude or interest in his field. He recently attended a conference and received a Raspberry Pi. He had talked about getting one for Sabrina so he was excited to bring it home. He has been teaching her some basic coding with a program called Scratch which is meant to help kids learn a little bit about coding. I’m quite certain my 6 year old now knows more about computer coding than I do.

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Guatemalans Unite!

March8

There was a small gathering of families who adopted from Guatemala in Gatlinburg last weekend. We all rented little condos at a resort and hung out. I don’t want to post photos of other folks’ kiddos so you’ll have to just enjoy a couple of my little family.

It was an odd gathering. It seemed to be a group of people with nothing in common except beautiful Guatemalan children. But it was fun to step outside of our comfort zone (we didn’t know a sole…I was acquainted with 2 moms on FB) and remind Sabrina there are other families out there that look like ours. It was also fun to meet other families who had that in common with us. I miss that part of the adoption community. We didn’t spend a lot of time with the other families but Sabrina and Tessa got the chance to play with the other children while the adults chatted.

The highlight for the girls was the waterpark that was on the resort property. (Holy expensive! $84 for the 4 of us and the “lockers for a nominal fee” were an additional $10. It was a somewhat smaller and older one than the Great Wolf type place. Good speed for our little girls but wow that price tag hurt.) The highlight for me was Saturday night after the gathering of families. We went back to our little villa, popped some popcorn, got out some ice cream, lit a fire, and watched a Disney movie all snuggled up together. It made me all warm and fuzzy and squishy inside. It almost made up for the next day when they were both being gigantic butts.

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