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A new regime

It has been a pretty major week around the Smith household.  In most important news the “China Flower” bloomed.  We have no idea what type of flower it is, but Wen knows.  He may or may not have smuggled some seeds into the country without knowing it (or the rules).  That’s why it’s in a pot and not the flower garden!  Anyone know what this is???  He said there is also a white flower and the red ones are used to make nail polish apparently!

Also, we are all trying to get into a routine for work and preschool and homeschool and baby sleeping schedule! Phew!  Although it’s been tough to make some changes, the kids really have thrived within the boundaries of a set routine.

For the past week, the boys have gotten up (or stayed in bed, in Rand’s case) at 7am, made their beds, gotten dressed, put their pajamas away, opened the drapes/turned off sound machine etc., and then they report to the kitchen to help set the table for breakfast.  At 7:30 we have breakfast all together and do our family time.


This week at family time, we’ve started learning The Lord’s Prayer all together and also we do a new question each morning from the Catechism.  This is the little book another mom suggested to me last year and we really like it for kids.  You can get it here or here.  Don’t pay more than $2 though! It’s a tiny little book and amazon has it mispriced.
At 8:00 the boys go brush teeth, gather their things for school and then we’re ready to go by 8:15 for either taking Philip to preschool, heading to our homeschool room (the den!) or  whatever we have for that particular day.

Since Wen uses a watch to keep up with his bathroom schedules, the other two boys have been wanting watches too… last week Rand bought one with his savings and Philip asked me if he could borrow mine, although I think he’s planning to keep it!

We don’t plan to do this routine for Saturdays or Sundays to make them special, but for the weekdays it has worked great so far!  And it has made me have to be READY myself…


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Summer days

We are easing into homeschool over here with some fun activities. We just finished up a unit study on seashells.  My mom has always loved shells/shelling and is somewhat of an expert so it was nice to do this project with her over the summer.

To complement it, we learned about the “sh” sound and identified words.  We also did some math and counted out 5 rows of 5 shells each and lined them up heaviest to lightest and tied them on strings of driftwood and made a mobile for Bo’s room!

Rand had fun with the jingle “toenail” shells.
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Don’t worry, we decided not to hang the mobile directly over Bo’s bed, just in case!!!!

We also worked on setting up our school room.  Here’s part of it, I’ll post some more photos later.


Every day, the kids have fun fixing the calendar and recently, thanks to Grandmommy’s idea, we did a project and learned about where Brazil was and what the Olympics are.  Wen and Rand also have been practicing some sight words.  Don’t worry, I know “I got a dollar” is not a proper sentence, but Wen begged me to have that be his use of the word “a” in a sentence after our recent obsession with the Little Rascals.

We’ve also been out and about some.  We went and visited our Great Uncle (the kids Great, Great Uncle) again.  The kids were begging to go as they think the retirement center is pretty fun because everyone is really happy to see them and they also race up and down the halls.  As I’ve said before, I think it works out well to take young children to nursing homes.  It brings the residents great joy and, when the kids do things (like race down the halls), not everyone can hear them!  This time, the boys made some chocolate chip cookies and some hand-made cards to go with them for some of the people we’ve met.


Wen and I went out one afternoon and visited a new jerky store in town called Sage Harvest.  A percentage of the profits are donated to orphan care (mostly China!) and so we wanted to go see what it was all about.  We know one of the families who helped to open the store as they have adopted kiddos from China and were a help to us before our most recent trip.

Wen and I both liked the teriyaki jerky best!


Rand and Wen are going to start going to a bible study with me (the kids go their own study as well) and they were really excited about it and, even though it doesn’t start until September, they wanted to go see where it was today.  So, while Philip had some daddy time, we did a trial run to see how long it would take us to get there – it is out in the country!  We found it and, to the boys delight, there was an ice cream/coffee shop on the route that we stopped to check out.


Bo has been doing all sorts of new things and has been up a little more in the night than usual (hey, would you want to sleep if you just learned how to do a bunch of cool new tricks?  No!  You’d want to stay up and practice them too, right?)


We took him over to our mom’s the other night to get some work done and he wanted to join in.  Check out that smirk.


After being up feeding Bo in the night, this happens sometimes in the afternoons.  Where are the other kids?  Philip is also snoozing and Rand and Wen are on the other side of the sofa in their lego haven.  I will have to post a photo of that soon.


The other night Bo took his first dip in the pool and really enjoyed it.  The other 3 boys thought it was the most awesome night because it was bed time (almost) and Wes thew the older 3 in by surprise with their clothes on for a night swim.  They said it was “the most fun day” as they were falling into bed that night.


Tomorrow we’ll begin our new regime of trying to be more on a schedule for Bo and for the boys.  We haven’t gone on our family vacation yet (October!) and so it doesn’t feel like summer is almost over.  I’m glad we’ll be delaying it for as long as possible!





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They never cease to surprise me

Last week, the laundry aligned and Bo, Rand and Philip all ended up in the same pajamas on the same night.  Wen was devastated because his were in the wash pile and so he’s been asking every night since when they could all wear the same pajamas.  It’s partly funny/partly sweet/partly sad because I guess this is something that is new to him and REALLY fun – even though I would have thought a 12 year old would be too cool to dress like his little brothers (he mostly wears athletic shorts and a tshirt to sleep).

But, last night, ALL 4 boys had baths and all the pajamas in the house were clean (miracle!) and so I told Wen that they could all match…and then of course we had to take a photo.

Here’s the sweet smile – and they are all looking!  I’m going to have to get a print made of it.


Next was the silly face – even Bo participated…


Then the “tough guy” faces.  Rand threw up some gang signs and even Bo looks pretty tough.


And then Wes started making everyone laugh.


And laugh some more!


But this is my favorite!


And there you have it – the story of the matching pajamas, thanks to Wen.  And Hanna Andersson.  (Although I got mine when they went on sale on Zulily for half the price;)  They are organic and well-made and I’m hoping they will last being 4x hand-me-downs!

Another funny story from the Smith house:  I was headed to a doctor appointment and the kids all said to Wes, “Where’s mommy going?”  When Wes told them I had a doctor’s appointment, Wen said “YEAH!” and gave a fist pump because they all thought that me going to the doctor = having another baby! HA! I told them I was not having another baby and asked why they wanted another baby already and they ALL started yelling: “We want another baby” and “We love babies” – it was pretty funny.

These 4 boys never cease to surprise me.  This time it was wanting to wear matching pajamas (at 12) and loving babies so much (even when the baby of the house takes me away from being with them some when they need me).  I was especially thankful for these 2 particular surprises and am looking forward to the next one to get me again.





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We have had a spider mite infestation in our vegetable garden.  I don’t like to spray to keep our gardening as organic as possible, so we looked up what eats spider mites and turns out one of their main predators is the … ladybug!  I went on and ordered 1500 ladybugs for $11 (including shipping!) and they arrived yesterday and so we released them.  It was fun.  We may even do it again. A lot of them have stayed around but I think if I had misted the garden more frequently, we could have had even more stay – there sure are plenty of spider mites to go around!!!

Much to our amazement, there was not a single dead one in the bag!  Even after sitting in our mailbox for several hours.

We cut open the bag with some scissors and they immediately started streaming out.  So we placed it around the garden so they could get on all the plants having bug issues.  Here they are arriving on the eggplant to find plentiful food and water!


The boys also enjoyed letting them crawl on their hands and arms.


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After a couple hundred took up residence on the eggplant, we moved the bag over to the tomatoes


I checked on them tonight and there were still quite a few who have decided to make our garden their home for a while and help us not lose our crop of tomato, eggplant, bell pepper, watermelon and herbs that are still going strong!

Also, I mentioned one of our seashell projects – we grew crystals on them with Borax.  It was really easy and the result is pretty amazing.  You can do it with pipe cleaners too with some amazing results (google it!).  Here’s the recipe.  I would even experiment next time with using a little more Borax than the recipe calls for.

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Things I like

I’ve already missed a few posts out of my 100.  Since it was national breastfeeding week, of course, I got a plugged duct/mastitis from feeding Bo and it took me out for a good day and a half.  I had a fever, pain and felt like I had the flu.  Brilliant timing.  So, to kick off the week’s “Things I like” post, I’ll start with…

1.  This website: If you’re a breastfeeding mom, it’s super helpful and I attribute it to helping me know what to do without having to spend time waiting in the docs office (to be told to go home and rest and drink fluids and some other things you can read about if you reeallly want to, but you probably don’t) and to know that an antibiotic wasn’t necessary unless the infection got worse!

2.  The Little Rascals (1994).  We had a movie night with the boys and they loved it!  All three boys laughed so hard and Wes and I enjoyed seeing it again too – it had been a while!  Thanks to Uncle Sam for singing “I got a dollar…I got a dollar” and giving us the idea!

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3.  Annabelle Hydrangeas and summertime in our yard.  I know I’ve mentioned the fun we are having with our vegetable garden, but I have also been loving our yard and everything that is growing in so well with all the summer rain and sunshine.  We’ve been constantly picking things to bring in or make arrangements with and it is so much fun.  It’s all exactly how I want it!  I’ve been in hydrangea heaven.


4.  The Weekly Meal Deal from the Fresh Market.  It is only $20 and it easily feeds everyone.  Bonus that it’s one less meal to plan out for the week.

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(Last week was Tacos, this week was Kebabs – both were great!  Unfortunately next week is sausages…not sure how that will go over so we may have to take a week off…)

5.  The boys skin has been so dry from all of our swimming and we’ve been loving the the Baby Oil from Beautycounter.  Bo was the one that got us all started on it! It’s less expensive than their other body oil we’d been using and the kids like the baby one better because they are weird about scents and this doesn’t have a smell.   And I love not having to worry about it having anything unsafe in it.

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6.  The moms from “Wild and Free” – a group of homeschool mothers – I mostly follow them on instagram or their individual blogs but many of them have helped me to be more inspired about what’s next for us, especially as it feels like we heading down such a different path and everyone (including Rand) is talking about starting kindergarten, etc.

7.  These tasty drinks:  The fresh squeezed OJ at our massive Harris Teeter Juice Bar, Southern Pines Brewing Co. “Malty by Nature,” Cactus Creek “Butter Pecan” coffee (you can taste it at the Roast Office), and my old standby which I have yet to tire of… Peach Pear LaCroix with a splash of Organic Cranberry Juice Cocktail.

Cheers to Monday and a fresh new week!






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Today Ema came over again and went through our seashells and sorted them and showed the boys how to clean them and identify them.

For as long as I can remember my mom has loved seashells. Walking the beach with us as children every summer we’d find them and then she’d teach us about each one. It was fun to see her teach the boys today. Sailors ears, brown cockles, slipper shells, jingle “toenail” shells, olives, moon shells, turbans, etc. I hope they will love finding seashells next time we visit the beach too!

 Bo hung right there with us too…
Bo gets a lot of attention from his brothers. Sometimes a little too much. And sometimes it’s hard to feed or change him because he’s trying to catch up with and watch what is going on. And there is always something going on!

 Today the boys took turns having Popsicles and some porch time while the other had a swim lesson! Can’t wait to show their progress they all have the confidence now to dive down for rings and can do some basic swim strokes. In just 6 lessons it is amazing how they have become such good swimmers!

After swimming Wen and Rand made beds in the living room and watched a show (we love peppa pig! A great vocabulary builder for English learners!) while I rocked Bo and Philip napped.

 I love my boys.

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Sunday Matinee

Today, after church and lunch, Wen, Rand and I went to a matinee documentary.

A friend suggested we see The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.  It’s a documentary about people from (some war-torn or communist…Iran, Syria, China) different backgrounds and cultures coming together to speak the language of music.  I enjoyed it.  Especially the music, although I do wish it went more into depth about how they wrote the music, etc.  Also, I wouldn’t recommend it for a 5 year old (Rand begged to go along and won out) or someone who can’t read since a lot of the movie is sub-titled.  However, both boys enjoyed the overall experience and made comments after about how fun and special it was.

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Things I like

Lately we are liking…

1.  Swimming a lot.

2. Using our garden veggies to make things like salsa.  And my uncle just sent me a baba ganoush recipe to make with our eggplant surplus.

3. Flash tats – so much more fashionable for the kids to have a sparkly boho fake tatoo than a superhero or cartoon animal.  We all have them on our arms (and Rand has an arrow on his leg!)

4.  Trips to the library to get more books to read…usually followed by a trip to the Roast Office to get a coffee and chocolate milk…and sometimes a cookie:)


5. Friendship bracelets.  These have been fun to teach the kids how to make on hot or rainy afternoons while the youngest two are napping.  There are so many different styles from a simple braid to a wrap to the one I linked.  We use a safety pin or some tape and either pin it or tape it to something that doesn’t move.  We are also liking these Pura Vida already made ones by Costa Rican artisans.

6. Finding caterpillars and bugs in the yard or watching the hummingbirds at the feeder and then learning about them and drawing what we learned.

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7.  Watching this little guy grow. He’s changed so much. Yesterday I overheard Rand say he couldn’t stop kissing Bo because he loved him so much. It’s so much fun to hear each of the boys talk to Bo when they think I’m not listening.



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Grandmother’s butterflies

Today would have been my maternal grandmother’s “Geah’s” 91st birthday.  We spent the day at the lake with my mom’s siblings and my cousins and their children (I only took mental pictures…oops) and on the way home Wes found a caterpillar in the car.  We brought it home and it is just like the ones we would catch with Geah and watch turn into Anise and Black Swallowtails.  In fact, these are photos I took from a book she had.

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I think of my grandparents whenever I see butterflies and when I’m on the lake since I have so many childhood from their home on the lake.  It was perfect today to be around both!




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100 days

My sister-in-law, Kristen, is doing this cool project where she does a painting every single day for 100 days.  I think maybe I should try to do the same with my blog to help me get better about writing and posting… a post every day for 100 days… which would be from today until November 4th… I wonder if I could do it?  I’m not as disciplined, but I guess that’s the point.  Some days, I forget to even answer my text messages (I answer them in my head, but then it never quite gets alllll the way back to the person…)!

Today was “Ema” day (my mom came over) and A LOT got done! Not in order:

2 loads of laundry (1 of which is folded but maybe not yet put away), 1 kid to eye doc, pilates class, 3 blackberry cobblers made (one for us and 2 to take to a family gathering), library books read, garden picking (eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and cherry tomatoes), all kids toenails and fingernails clipped, I showered!, kids bathed and fed dinner, cleaned out fridge, set up hummingbird feeder, learned how hummingbirds build a nest, and drew and colored pictures of hummingbirds, picked up some things we needed from the store…


I also was able to get a little work done for Beautycounter and for Jessie Mackay, a local artist and friend who I help with marketing and sales.  We decided to try something fun and are setting up a daily auction instagram account!  You can follow it here.  Each day, we’ll post a new painting for sale and first person to reply in the comments with their email address we’ll send the invoice to.  Most all of the paintings will be under $200 and are unframed oil on board paintings.  A few that are odd sized will come custom framed.   The first one will post on Friday, July 29th – so go follow @jessiemackayart now!

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My little cutie at the eye doc.
















One of the blackberry cobblers. Recipe is here but it doesn’t need as much sugar as it calls for. You can do less than a cup and also we just sprinkled a teaspoon or two on top instead of 1/4 cup!


1/100 done!  99 more posts to go…

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