Monthly Archives: December 2017

2017 Year in Review!

I can’t believe that the end of the year is almost here! Since I am having a major surgery tomorrow afternoon and will probably be a little out of it for several days, I thought that I would share some thoughts about the year today!

Last year at this time we were wrapping things up and planning our escape to Tybee Island in January. While it was colder than normal the few days we were there, it was such fun to get away together as a couple and explore a part of the country that we hadn’t ever been to before! We really enjoyed exploring Savannah, GA and hearing the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach from our VRBO rental! We came home with full hearts and lots of lovely shells too!

In February we took some extra time to love on one another. I had seen someone else share on FB that they were going to do a  week of daily affirmations for their kids. So I ordered these foam hearts and every morning the kids came down to search for their newest heart. It was fun seeing them light up at the truths we were speaking into their lives. {I should do it more often I think!!} On Valentine’s Day our Elijah had a CRAZY situation happen where our dog knocked out not one, but two of his loose teeth! You can read all about my warrior boy here!!

In April our daughter made a very important decision and asked Jesus to be the Savior in her life. It was a special moment that Dominic was able to walk her through and we are all so proud of her. It is my hope that all of my kids would grow to have a deep relationship with God, and while we can’t force that, we do pray for them and do our best to show them how it looks in our own lives!

The rest of April and May ran together as I worked on a secret project that would become a gift for my mother and grandmother for Mother’s Day. A friend from church helped me to publish a large number of my old blog posts into a book format so that I could give them something to hold and read! It was really fun to do and exciting to have so much of my writing in one place!

In late May we anxiously awaited the end of the school year and I got to help plan for one of my favorite weeks of the year – VBS!! We always have fun doing the decorations and then I also help to lead the worship time and it is just a joy every year!

Oddly enough, I didn’t write a single blog post in the entire summer! Sitting down and writing at the computer just didn’t happen. Life did, that’s for sure but I didn’t document it here well. We did take a trip up to Northern MN in late June and loved exploring the beautiful country there!


We became die-hard agate hunters and had to fight Elijah for the best ones. He could spot the biggest best agates from a mile away!! Here were a couple of my biggest and best ones! It is addicting though, once you find one you want to keep looking in hopes of finding the true beauty!!

We spent a lot of time in July taking care of our garden and canning. We canned hundreds of quarts this year of tomatoes, salsa and refrigerator pickles!

We bought an outdoor cast-iron stove that has made the process so easy, we set everything up in the garage and then we don’t have to make a mess in the house!

In July/August we started a little home renovation project. We did work in two of our bathrooms and our kitchen and laundry room. We did a lot of the initial demolition ourselves to save on costs a bit and joked that a family that reno’s together, stays together!

In September I saw my doctor because I was having some issues and discovered that there was a cyst on my only ovary that was concerning. It was a scary few weeks as we waited for the surgery in early October. While the chance of cancer was only 30%, I found that I had a lot to learn about my faith during that time of waiting. Thankfully everything came back negative from that scare.

October 3rd was my surgery and my recovery was hard on me. I don’t rest well and found myself on quite the pity pot. It makes me chuckle now as I am hours away from a more serious surgery and one that will keep me even more “at rest.” We will see how this goes!

For those that don’t know, I am now having a total hysterectomy. During the surgery in October a D&C was done of the lining of my uterus and the results of that showed that I have pre-hyperplasia. While now it is not something I have to be super worried about, it could become something later if left unchecked. The only way to check is by doing a biopsy…which due to the way my uterus is tipped, is impossible in office and would require surgery each time. Having the hyst. removes any possible future cancer risk there and because I will be able to keep my one remaining ovary, I won’t be put into menopause early. So I have really felt at complete peace over this decision.

I have 11 freezer meals prepped and frozen and know that my family will take good care of me!

Right before Christmas, I had the fun opportunity to take a trip with Karlena to Houston to visit my best friend Gindi. It was such a gift to get away even for a few days and to laugh and see our girls connect. I can’t tell you how much I needed that before the end of this year!!

Christmas with both of our families went by too quickly and I didn’t take a single family picture. Every year I think I will stop and do it, and I forget! We had a wonderful time with both sides of our families and even if it was a fast trip, it was a blessing! We came back home to try and get a little more work done before closing down the office for a week and 1/2 for my surgery! And last night as a last hurrah, I met with some of my best friends here in Marshall for a ladies night out where we laughed and ate wonderful food! They even gifted me with some goodies to keep me warm and cozy while I recover! I am so fortunate to have good friends!!

I would so appreciate your prayers for tomorrow and will be praying for you as well as we say goodbye to 2017 and look with anticipation to what 2018 will bring!!

Calendar Photo Credit: DafneCholet

Merry Christmas from the Smiths!


“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9: 6

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! May you be filled with an understanding of the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season!

Photo Credit: Stephanie Nicole Photography

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed


If you are friends with me on Facebook you likely saw my oversharing of photos from this past weekend. (Sorry) I had the opportunity to take a trip to Houston with Karlena to visit my best friend Gindi and her daughter Lillie. We also got to spend a little time with my dear friend Cathryn and her daughter as well. Cathryn was a friend of Gindi’s and over the past year I have gotten to know her through Gindi and Voxer and it has been such a gift to share life with these women every day.

It was the first time that I have ever traveled alone with one of our kids. Karlena was both excited and nervous. She was a wonderful travel companion and it was so much fun watching her experience all of these new things. Her unique personality came out this weekend and it was interesting seeing a different side of her outside of our family unit.

I was worried about Karlena being shy around Lillie, but the moment she got in the car they started talking and they played so well together the entire weekend. At one point they both needed a little alone time to rest, but there wasn’t any fighting or arguing. Gindi and I talked about how it was just such a joy to see our girls becoming friends. Just a few short years ago she and I were strangers and today I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it.

We had dinner on Friday night at a yummy Mexican restaurant, Los Tios. On Saturday the kids had breakfast, made cut-out sugar cookies and played and we got ready to head out to see an afternoon showing of the Nutcracker. Gindi had some very special tickets to the show and so we were treated to some light snacks before the show, pictures with a couple of the characters, a beautiful nutcracker to take home as a gift and the most fabulous ballet production as well. The costumes were stunning, it was definitely a show to see if you are ever in Houston in December!

Saturday night Cathryn came by with her daughter Carsyn and the girls decorated sugar cookies and had a little “contest” where everyone was a winner in one way or another! Next we loaded up the car with hot chocolate in hand to drive around and see some of the beautiful light displays that Houston residents have to offer. My favorite were the wrapped trees with the light strands that hung down. I don’t suppose that would work in the cold and snow of Minnesota, but it sure was beautiful.

Sunday morning we went to church and then made a stop at a nearby mall so that Karlena could experience the American Girl store for the first time. She was so overwhelmed, she walked in and told me that she was just shaking all over. I had a weak moment and let her pick out a little dog that she has since carried at her side non-stop. We made a few more stops in the mall and then went back home for lunch and relaxing a little before our next big event.

We had tickets to see a Broadway production of Sleeping Beauty on Sunday evening. So we went downtown to the Hobby Center and had dinner and then went over to see the show. We all thought that we were seeing the classic fairy tale rendition, but this version was a bit different. They had a bunch of audience participation, which was good to keep the kids awake through a show that lasted until 10pm, but there was a lot of “adult” humor in the show, many Houston related jokes and some songs that were way over Karlena’s head. I was entertained, but I think we expected something completely different!

Karlena showed her first real signs of being homesick on Sunday night. She climbed into bed with me that night in tears telling me that she felt so lonely and just wanted to see her brothers and daddy again. It was really sweet and was such a precious reminder of how valuable our entire family is.

On Monday we got up and Sam, one of Lillie’s brothers was home so Karlena got to hang out with a brother figure for a few hours! After breakfast Gindi pulled out gingerbread house kits and the girls got to decorating. They had planned on doing it the day before so there wasn’t an extra house for Sam, but he didn’t mind. He got out some graham crackers and set to work making his own gingerbread creation. It was fun to see him make something so amazing.

Sadly after we cleaned up our mess it was time to shower and pack and get ready to head to the airport. While our trip was a short one it felt like we filled it with so much laughter and fun. It was interesting because we got on the plane and Karlena said that she was glad to be going home, but she had tears in her eyes as she said how much she would miss Lillie. I think we all can understand that struggle when we leave a piece of our hearts with dear friends that live far away!

I too was excited to be heading home to see my family, and yet so very grateful to have been given the time to get away. We come home to a busy week of last minute things before celebrating Christmas with our families. A winter storm is now in the forecast for later in the week and we had to make some changes to our work travel schedule as a result. And I have a pre-op appointment with my Doctor on Wednesday to discuss my surgery which as I write this is a mere 9 days away. Life keeps speeding on by it seems….

But this weekend I was so blessed to be able to spend some time laughing with my girl and my best friends and it filled me up in more ways than I can count. Thankful, grateful, blessed indeed.

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