Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Another school year is behind us


Time needs to stop flying by. Sabrina finished 1st grade. Tessa perhaps finished preschool…I’m still not sure yet. On the left is the 2 of them on the first day of school in August 2012. In the middle and right are the last days of school yesterday (Sabrina) and today (Tessa). Not a huge difference but both definitely are a bit taller and lost a little more of the round baby-ness in their faces.


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What I’ve been up to…


We’ve got all sorts of projects going on at Chez Smiles. First, I have been searching for chairs to go in our eat in area for 2 years. I finally found 6 at a reasonable price. Now to paint them. I’ve been wanting to play with chalk paint so I bought a super ugly, super cheap end table (soon to be bedside table) to practice with it on. I love the way it turned out but I will admit it was way more work than I was anticipating. First comes paint, then sanding to distress it a bit, then clear wax, then some steel wool, then some more clear wax, then some dark wax to age it some more, then some more clear wax. The 6 chairs will likely take me six months. Here is the before and after of my $8 side table. For my first attempt, I am pretty pleased. Let’s hope the chairs turn out well.



Last year, I blogged a bit about our CSA experience. We loved it. It changed the way we eat and the way I cook. I found ways to incorporate vegetables that I never dreamed of – and I learned that a lot of things I thought I didn’t like just hadn’t been cooked well when I tried it. We were going to do it again because it was such a fun experience. But after some discussion, we decided to try something different this year. There was some waste with the CSA either because it was something we never learned to like (beets for me…some greens for all of us) or because of an over abundance of 1 item (can only eat so many kohlrabi  or because of just an overabundance (another box before we were done with the previous week’s box). This year we decided to set aside the same amount we spent on the CSA each week and spend it on local foods at local farmers markets. That way we can tailor it to what we want and need. We also decided to plant a garden. That means as the summer goes on, we can spend less on veggies and more on dairy and meat. We are doing square foot gardening and have planted two 4′ x 4′ raised beds. I am skeptical about growing so many things in such a small space but am excited to see how it turns out. We’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, onions, herbs, pumpkins (the small pie variety), baby watermelon, cantaloupe, green beans, carrots, and lettuce. The gardening has made me think so much of my dad. First because he would be shocked to see me planning to eat so many veggies. Second because he gardened (which I hated as a kid – forced to weed in the heat and bugs but didn’t like anything that came out of it) and took pride in trying to have the first red tomatoes in the county every year.


The past month has been filled with birthday parties. Sabrina got to go to another horse riding party. Lucky kids! I never got to do cool stuff that like as a kid.



I’ve also been agonizing over some art pieces I was working on. A friend asked me to do 3 canvases her daughter’s nursery. She showed me her nursery and just said have at it. For whatever reason, this completely made my brain freeze. The canvases were bigger than I have done in the past. I had no idea what would make her happy. I wanted them to look nice together but not to be 1 connected scene. It took me months of starting and stopping to get these done. I learned that I either need to just do canvases and THEN let people buy them so that I know they like them or I need to just get out of my head and just do it. Because there was no reason for that to take so long and to paralyze me that way. Rather ridiculous. But, in the end, I was happy with what I did. And so was my friend.



Mark this under: I really need to get out more


I have this person at the grocery store that I think of as my Newman/arch-nemesis. He is a 20-something guy who mans the self checkouts. I cringe every time I see him there and consider waiting in line for regular register. I’ve had numerous issues with him – the take away being that he just isn’t the brightest/fastest/most aware human being.

We have a mutual dislike which I will admit I am responsible for. Shortly after we moved to this little town, we were walking through the produce department. Sabrina was pretty young. He walked up to us and said “Where did you get her?” I was in a mood (I think I was pregnant and therefore perma-cranky) so I didn’t respond in a kind way. I said something snarky like “Wal-Mart.” He took a minute to figure out my response and then said he was only asking because he was adopted (he looks Korean or Vietnamese…I’m not good at telling Asian heritage). I immediately felt like an ass. I apologized and told him I was just crabby. Then much more pleasantly answered his questions. Obviously, not a good start to our relationship. Over the years, I have gotten irritated with him repeatedly for not paying attention, walking away, having a bad attitude, and generally sucking at manning the self check out. He has not been a fan of mine since our first interaction and I can’t blame him.

He sealed my dislike of him during The Yogurt Incident. It was marked on sale. It didn’t ring up on sale. He very grudgingly went to check on it (there was a large price difference or I wouldn’t have made a big deal). After taking his sweet time, he finally returned and said the sale signs had been incorrectly left up (this was 3 days after the sale would have ended) so he guessed he would give me the sale price. I thanked him. Then he revealed how horribly our education system is failing our youth because he had to figure out what to charge me per item because the sign said 4 for $2. He got out his calculator. Then he got very confused because his calculator told him they should be $2 each. I then had to explain to him that they were $.50 each. He never looked convinced that I wasn’t scamming him. I was sad that he couldn’t figure out the cost of each yogurt in his head or with his calculator but my dislike was sealed by his surly attitude through the whole interaction.

Every time I see him at the registers I mutter “Newman” under my breath. I really need to get a life instead of creating feuds in my head. He gives my children copious amounts of “I’ve been Krogering” stickers so that there is no surface in my car or home that doesn’t have a sticker on it at all times as payback. Well played checkout guy. Well played.


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