Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Hey good looking, whatcha got cooking?


I’ve been cooking weird shit. Really. We discovered this vendor at the farmer’s market that has the most amazing smoked sausage which led me down the google path to gumbo. And it was good but definitely not a 30-minute meal. But I was rather proud of myself – I did pretty well for a yankee with inferior ingredients (no tasso and not real Louisiana sausage. I used an Emeril recipe as a guide because I figure Emeril must know gumbo.


At some point, I realized how much money I am spending on yogurt a month and almost passed out. The girls eat 1 a day at $.60 each and I eat it probably 4 days a week. It adds up. So I got on a kick to make my own. The first batch was way soupy. But tasted pretty good. The second batch was just right after I strained it through a little cheesecloth. Of course the girls both hate it. So I’m really only saving on my yogurt habit. But it is kind of fun to make my own – feels kind of like I have a super power. (Why yes, I am a dork.) I make it in the crockpot. I used greek yogurt as my starter. And I pay attention to the temp when I add the starter – needs to be around 115-120 degrees.

We’ve been catching up on Hawaii Five-0.  We had 7 episodes backed up on our DVR. On one epidsode, they were eating something called loclo moco that sounded yummy. So I decided to make it. Basically it is a hamburger patty over some rice with a little brown gravy and an egg on top (I added peas because I needed something green on the plate). I found it very boring – was hoping it might be more than the sum of its parts but in this case it didn’t turn out that way.

posted under food | 4 Comments »

Hard wired


Some things must be hard wired into girls. How else would my kindergartener know about the whole “circle yes or no” notes already? I found this in Sabrina’s backpack a couple of weeks ago and cracked up. I have no idea what German item the poll was about but it is clear that Myah and AnnaRyann are firmly in the yes camp while Isaias is voting no.

Sabrina has also declared she has a boyfriend. Jackson is her boyfriend and she is going to marry him. However, the thought of kissing a boy draws a wrinkled nose and look of disgust (phew) from her. The boys are going quick in kindergarten because AnnaRyann is going to marry Bennet.

I find it hilarious and somewhat comforting that no matter how much the world has changed, in both technology and the human experience, kids still circulate notes instructing other to circle yes or no and kindergarteners still declare marriage intentions.

posted under Misc. | 7 Comments »

Christmas: The Lost Photos


I realized that I hadn’t posted many photos from Christmas and that a few people (like my mom) might be interested. So a photo filled post is ahead – click away if it doesn’t interest you. My photo quality isn’t great. I hate using my flash so many of my photos weren’t great quality (no flash indoors = dark and blurry). There are more photos of Tessa than Sabrina because Sabrina was way too busy being a big kid with her older cousins to hang out where mommy and daddy were.

Tessa really got the whole unwrapping and gift thing this year. It was fun to watch her.

Grandma always gets the kids special fancy Christmas outfits.

Tessa wouldn’t stand still for me to get a photo of hers.

Sabrina wanted this Hello Kitty gumball machine so badly and was thrilled to see it under the tree. (Her mouth is stuffed full of gumballs in this photo.)

The Innotabs were a hit. But holy cow do they eat batteries. They each went through 6 set of 4 AAs before we bought cords and told they to sit near the wall.

Sabrina was so excited about her cool color hair extensions from Aunt Rusty – and her manicure.

Poor Tessa got sick during our trip and spent a few days throwing up and sleeping.

We celebrated Steve’s birthday on New Years Day.

Then we celebrated Christmas again when we got home.

Remember Fashion Plates? Loved those things! This is the closest I could find. It doesn’t have nearly as many variations but Sabrina thinks they are fun.

Sabrina is pure girl. She loves purple and sparkle so these shoes made her very happy.

And Tessa wasn’t left out of the sparkle fest. And yes, she did get some new jammies that aren’t capris on her.


posted under family | 2 Comments »



Steve and I haven’t gone away alone together ever. Like ever. We’ve taken a vacation almost every year we’ve known each other but it has always been with a group of friends or family. This year, our Christmas trip to Pittsburgh was longer than normal so we started kicking around the idea of leaving the girls with Steve’s parents and going somewhere for a couple of days. Because the weather is iffy this time of year, we decided to find a place in or near the city and have a little staycation. We rarely get to wander around the burgh anymore so this would be our chance.

We decided on The Priory – a little inn on the north side. Surrounding neighborhood isn’t one I’d want to walk around in by myself after dark but it isn’t unsafe either. It was a Benedictine monastery back in the day – and quite lovely now. We enjoyed checking out all of the period details in the lobby and breakfast area. I was enchanted by the huge, solid doors and ornate hinges.

Door to Monk’s bar

I could barely get my arms around this newel post.

We had a lovely room and spent 2 days/nights. We wandered around our old favorite spots and spent time playing our new board game (Agricola – why yes, we are geeks) each night when we returned to our room. It was so nice to reconnect with the Steve and Michelle who met and fell in love while wandering Pittsburgh. It was also nice to be reminded of how much I like my husband.

posted under travel | 6 Comments »

On co-sleeping


We aren’t co-sleepers. And I have no opinion on those who are. Okay. That is a lie. I think y’all are crazy but only because I like my sleep and I’ve found co-sleeping isn’t conducive to actual sleep for my family. My children only sleep with us if one of them is extremely sick. I tried to let Sabrina sleep with me just for fun once while Steve was out of town. She stayed up all night petting my hair and arm and reassuring me that if I needed her, she was right there.  I kicked her out around 3am. But if co-sleeping works for you? Fabulous.

On our very long trip home from Pittsburgh, we were forced to stop for the night due to snow and ice and southerners not understanding how salt can help that situation. The hotel only had with 2 double beds so Steve and I decided we would each take a girl and sleep that way. I will say this, snuggling into bed with Tessa and watching her fall asleep? So freaking cute. Like watching a cute, cuddly tiger cub. Actually trying to sleep with her? Not so cute. Like watching that cute, cuddly tiger cub grow into a full sized hungry tiger that proceeded to rip my arm off and eat it in front of me.

Maybe I exaggerate. A little. But wow, not a restful night. Tessa may be small but child can take up a bed like no one’s business. And she snores, snorts, and yells out in her sleep. Plus she kicks and pokes (managing to land in my eye more times than seems statistically possible if it was truly random).  Every time I rolled over, she would yell out “MOMMY!” in her sleep. So I was clinging to the edge, trying not to move. And I discovered Sabrina grinds her teeth loudly enough to wake me up from across the room.

That night cemented the fact that we are not a co-sleeping family. The girls spend a lot of time in our bed reading and playing with us. But when it is lights out? Everyone goes to her own room.

posted under family | 8 Comments »