Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Coming soon…


We are back in TN safe and sound.  I have a bazillion pictures from Christmas and a post to write.  I will do that soon but right now I am off to enjoy a little more time with my family.  Here is a preview because I know my lovely readers forgive my absences if I throw a little cute their way:



posted under family | 2 Comments »

Merry Christmas




What is wrong with me?


cookies3I haven’t had a single Christmas cookie this year.  Not one.  This isn’t bragging about my self control – this is bemoaning my serious lack of sugar cookies!

I was sick for the cookie swap with my Mom’s Club – I figured no one wanted my plague ridden cookies so I stayed home.  I’ve been sick so I haven’t baked…I’ve been painting ornaments when I have a few minutes instead.  I seriously hope someone up north will hook me up with some cut outs or I’m going to have to make New Years cookies when we get home.

hardtackAnd speaking of needless sugar, does anyone still make that hard candy people used to make at the holidays?  It was different colors and flavors and dusted with something (powdered sugar I guess).  I always liked that stuff.  I loved the black licorice and cinnamon the best but you never see it in anyone’s candy dish anymore.  No idea why but I was thinking about it today.

You may now return to your day.  Thank you for listening.

posted under food | 8 Comments »

Things that happened when I wasn’t blogging

  • princess_and_the_frog_movie_image_1I took Sabrina to see a movie in the theater for the first time.  We saw The Princess and the Frog yesterday.  She did great – she sat still up until the last 10 minutes or so – although I think she was as excited about the popcorn as she was about the movie (sniff, sniff…just like her momma).  As for the movie, I was a fan.  I thought the jazzy music was fun and some of the characters were a hoot – Mama Odie and Raymond the Cajun Firefly were awesome.  And the message about working hard and not relying on wishes to make your dreams come true was great.  The scary parts were a little scary for Sabrina but she was fine.  I think we’ll add this one to our collection when it comes out on DVD.
  • Remember my whole insurance coverage fiasco? It still wasn’t resolved.  I went to the doctor last week (specialist) and she advised that I see someone about my cold.  I don’t have a general practitioner here (I know, hush, I’ll find one) so I went to the CVS minute clinic.  They were quick, painless, and competent (more than I can say for my stupid insurance company) so I give them a thumbs up.  I paid my co-pay and they declared I had a sinus infection and gave me a couple of prescriptions.  I walked 20 feet to the pharmacy and was told my insurance company was claiming that I wasn’t covered.  (That sound you heard? Was my head exploding.)  Apparently, they have decided that I’m allowed to see doctors but not allowed to have drugs.  Steve called them yet again to get me reactivated.  (For the 5th time for those of you keeping track at home.)  He wisely wouldn’t allow me to call them.  I think he was afraid my threats rants toward our insurance company might actually be punishable under the Patriot Act.
  • Tessa, who used to eat nothing, began eating like a truck driver.  Seriously, she shovels food in her mouth now.  But don’t give her milk while she has a mouth full of food – she doesn’t realize she could swallow it and then drink so she spits out whatever is in her mouth so that she can immediately drink.
  • Tessa only says a few words but it is fun to watch her starting to understand things.  Sabrina watches a lot of Dora.  She loves Dora.  Tessa seems mildly entertained by Dora and has started doing the cutest thing.  Whenever she sees Swiper the Fox either on TV or in a book, she puts her hand out and waves it like Dora does when she says “Swiper no swiping.”  It is adorable.  She also “dances” by shaking her head no – too cute.
  • My sister and her husband love doting on children who are not their own.  They will shovel sugar into my children for hours on end and then offer them ponies.  My sister called on their way to Wally World to buy Sabrina a bike for Christmas.  I told her she would have to have it shipped to our Wally World because there would be no way we could fit it in the car to bring it home.  She and her husband laughed at me.  Not only did they buy Sabrina a bike, they bought one for Tessa too.  I explained that there was no way we could fit them in the car with a weeks worth of luggage, other gifts, and a pack n play.  They assured me it would work.  I took a picture of my not overly large trunk and again tried to explain physics wasn’t on our side here – there would be no room.  My sister then tried to go around me and called my husband to appeal to him.  (That sound you heard? My head exploding again.)  He was even more adamant than I was – it is a hugely appreciated gesture but the bikes would not fit in the car on the way home.  I think she believed him.  Why does no one listen to me?  Despite their disregard for the physical limitations of my car, we love that they want to give our girls such fun gifts.  So I’ll quit harping and just say thank you Aunt Rusty and Uncle Mike.
  • Getting sick right before Christmas means I’ve done no baking.  I even had to skip a cookie exchange with friends.  My butt thanks me but I haven’t had a single Christmas cookie this year.
  • I thought it might not be a horrible idea to go to the mall last Friday.  Quit laughing.  I thought everyone would still be working and I could run in and grab something at 1 store.  Let me just say that my county is doing its part to turn this economy around – the mall was insane.
  • Gah – how is Christmas in 4 days?  Assuming the weather looks okay, we are leaving tomorrow night to head north.  We plan to leave around 9:30 pm and drive through the night so that the girls will sleep.  We’ll see how that goes.  Anyone who follows me on twitter or is my friend on facebook might want to look away if colorful language offends you.
posted under Misc. | 4 Comments »

Nothing says Christmas like traffic


I’m still not feeling 100% but I’m feeling some better and I’m sick of sitting on the couch.  We had a Christmas filled day.  We ran a few Christmas errands and then went to the Opryland Hotel to check out the decorations.  I’ve never been to the hotel and have been wanting to check it out since we moved to Nashville.

After fighting traffic in 2 separate parts of the city, we made our way to Opry Mills.  We parked at the mall and walked to the hotel to avoid the $20 valet fee.  Yes, we chose the coldest day of the year to be frugal (although we don’t have the foot or 2 of snow that many of you do…just rain, wind and 40 degrees).   The walk was cold but the hotel was rather balmy.  We admired the lights, decorations, and sheer size of the hotel and garden conservatory then enjoyed a yummy lunch (seriously – mango pineapple vinaigrette – YUM).

The Christmas tree was ginormous! (There are 2 people standing by the banister on the right – that is how huge the tree is.)


Isn’t this a lovely angle?  Perhaps Steve was hoping to check out how my sinus infection is doing?



The hotel minus decoration is cool.

The ceiling in the lobby.


Several waterfalls inside the hotel.




Easy to forget how cold it is outside with all of the tropical flowers.


Lots of Christmas flowers too.


All of the Christmas decorations were fun to see.  Put us in the spirit.


We are in Tennessee – what is Christmas without a little Jack Daniels?




I suspect many of the decorations will serve double duty and stay up for Mardi Gras since the colors are right.



Sabrina’s favorite part?  The build your own cupcake bar at lunch.  Red velvet cupcake, chocolate frosting, and M&Ms.


And wouldn’t this be the most gorgeous venue for a wedding?  We missed the wedding but the wedding party was taking photos in the gardens while we walked around.  The bride was in gorgeous red (!) dress and looked to be 17 (hopefully she was older).  I couldn’t get over what a special place this would be for a wedding.


Hope you enjoyed touring the Opryland Hotel with us today!

posted under nashville | 7 Comments »

Blog schmog


Sorry ya’ll.  I’ve been sick.  Lying on the couch, hacking up a lung, napping for hours while my sainted (and also sick) hubby watches the kids, feeling miserable and listless, producing copious amounts of snot, not able to do much of anything sick.  I’ll throw you a few cute photos of the small ones and you’ll forgive me, right?

I took this photo before I gave up hopes of a decent Christmas card photo.  In retrospect, I should have used this one.  It makes me laugh. (I told Sabrina to put her arm around Tessa…it ended up with a bear hug…the next photo on the camera is Tessa running away from another hug attempt.)


This is mostly for me…I’ve been wanting to capture how sweet Tessa is with her froggie at bed time.  She sucks her fingers, brings its arm up across her nose, and snuggles it close.  Sabrina has stuffed animals she sleeps with and likes but never had a true comfort object like this frog with Tessa.  For her it is a more of a routine – for Tessa, froggie is necessary.  Tessa got sick in bed one night and I had to throw froggie in the washing machine.  She was quite distressed to go to bed without him.


This looks says “Momma, you got your shot now leave us.”


Please to ignore the blood stains on the sheet…Sabrina has nose issues.  All of our crib sheets look like that.

posted under family | 8 Comments »



p1010580Today was observation day at Sabrina’s ballet class.  Basically that means that the moms were invited to sit in class and watch.  I was worried that Tessa would make her normal racket and I would have to leave the room but she was enthralled by watching all of the girls dance.  She didn’t make a peep the entire 45 minutes.  I believe she actually paid more attention than Sabrina.  The girls were adorable – most wanting to show off for her mom.

p1010560Sabrina still doesn’t pay attention as much as most of the other girls and still has trouble with a few things (like galloping) but she seems to have fun.  And she is a darn cute ballerina.

posted under family | 12 Comments »

No wonder Daddy is tired


When Steve is home, all of the attention is on him.  The girls and the dog are beside themselves trying to get attention first.  He is so good about immediately engaging with the girls – it allows me to disengage a little and start dinner.  They don’t leave him alone until he puts them to bed.  I can’t imagine a better partner in parenting.




posted under Pregnancy | 5 Comments »

Operation Keep The Tree Upright


p1010532With some slight modifications to account for the shortest (and grabbiest) person in the house, the tree is up.  We left off the ribbon we usually use as garland because we felt Tessa might see it as a pull cord.  We have tree blocked off by furniture and a large toy basket – Tessa has been trying to army crawl around the basket all morning.  Sabrina is overjoyed to have the tree up – she keeps thanking me.  She was thrilled to put the last few ornaments on it all by herself after her nap yesterday.

Saturday we took the girls to breakfast with Santa – only Santa failed to show up.  What kind of person agrees to be Santa’s helper and then just doesn’t show for a room full of kids?  The ladies from my MOMs Club scrambled around and managed to find another helper pretty darn quick.  The girls’ reactions were pretty typical.  Sabrina, who had been so excited about seeing Santa, said nary a word but did sit on his lap.  Tessa sat on his lap for a second and studied him then looked at Steve and started sobbing.  I would post photos but I used 1 for the Christmas card so I’ll keep it under wraps until those have been received.  I’m not thrilled with our photos for the card this year but this is a hard age to get decent photos of 2 children together so it is what it is.


I don’t notice most of the year but at Christmas it bugs me that we don’t have a mantel.  I’m so used to having one to decorate and hang stockings from…making a note to myself that when we buy a house it will have a mantel to decorate.  So the stocking were hung by the hutch with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…


The holidays are so much fun this year since Sabrina is able to participate and be excited!

posted under family | 5 Comments »

Advent Tree


**Alternate title: Screw the neighbors

I was browsing around a couple of weeks ago and came across this post about a home made advent tree.  I was enchanted!  What a fun tradition to start with the girls – and so cute!  I had to make one for our home.  I messaged my husband with the link.  He also loved it and said we should make one.  A trip to Hobby Lobby was quickly scheduled.

p10104481As you can see, our interpretation is very, um, loose.   I couldn’t find manzanita branches at my local craft stores…and I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the money on having them shipped.  So we drove around looking for branches.  We brought home many and finally settled on some from a tree on our walking path that had recently been cut down.  We obviously ended up with a hodge podge of containers…I think in future years I might look for a little more consistency.  But Steve and I had fun decorating it together.  I haven’t finished filling the containers with things – there are some items from the dollar section at Target and some items from the party favor section at Hobby Lobby and some left over Halloween candy and a few days with slips stating the girls can stay up and watch a movie with Mommy and Daddy before bed and other little treats like that.  (Thanks Malia for the last idea.)  I got the disks with the numbers from an Etsy shop and tied them on with ribbon.

Here is another view:


The girls love looking at it and Sabrina is really excited to start discovering the surprises in the boxes.  Tessa just wants to destroy touch it.  All in all, I’m happy with how it turned out but I will probably do some tweaking each year until I am completely satisfied.

posted under family | 12 Comments »
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