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Welcome 2016

Apologies for not blogging lately – if you want to know a little of what’s been going on, follow me on instagram here for now!

We are doing well – I can’t believe we will have been home a month next week.  Even the past 10 days here have been so different and we’ve seen so many changes and can tell that Wen feels so much more at ease than he did the first 10 days home.  Last weekend some good friends came over to play – 2 families – 7 kids total and he did great.  I was amazed at the kind words and sharing that went on.  Wen even let the other visiting boys play with his Lego toys – it probably helped that the other kids were so sweet to him and would ask his permission!

Here’s the crew…

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plus there are 3 more on the way!  2 more boys and ONE girl.  I just love all of these kids (and their parents too!) So thankful we can continue to get them together as they grow up.


And for a recap of the last few weeks before we bid 2015 goodbye…

We had a great day at DUKE.  We were super-impressed with the spinal clinic docs and couldn’t believe how efficient the day was.  We saw 4 specialists, met briefly with the physical therapy team who set us up with someone to help with Wen’s wheelchair, met with a social worker about medical coverage, etc. and they even sent a translator to help us ask Wen some specific questions during our meetings with the doctors!  During one of our meetings with the doctor, the wheelchair tech showed up, took Wen’s wheelchair out into the hall and took it apart and re-adjusted it to fit better for the time being.

We go back at the end of January for some larger tests in urology and neurology but overall Wen is in good health and the only major decisions to make right now are some orthopedic options.  Also, as it turns out, Wen does not have Spina Bifida as his file said, but was actually born with something more rare – Caudal Regression Syndrome/Sacral Agenesis.  You can read about it here.

At Duke we could tell the doctors were pretty amazed by Wen and all he does, how good his English is, how well-adjusted he is and how he manages his disability without complaints or obstacles.  We continue to be amazed daily.

Other than the Ironman (“transformer” as Wen calls it, we’re gonna have to show him the Ironman movie) and Star Wars figurines he was given as Christmas gifts from the clinic, the highlight for him was getting to go see where Uncle Sam and Aunt CeCe live in Raleigh and meet their new pup Banksy.  If you want to see cuter and clearer photos of him – check out his very own instagram feed here.


We did a lot of fun things to celebrate Christmas.  The boys loved going to the Aberdeen Christmas parade,


and having our own special tea party followed by the event of setting up the Nativity



The Nativity is Rand’s favorite thing to do at Christmas.  We’re hoping Wen and Philip will love it too.  They all loved playing with the “play nativity set” too…you can order it on Amazon.  This one was given to us when Rand had his first Christmas and it’s the first thing he asks for us to bring out (usually at Thanksgiving!)

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Philip especially got into setting it up and learning who was who.


On Christmas Eve, Rand and Philip were in the Nativity scene at our church.  They were both shepherds.  Rand wore the same headpiece from last year – a cut up old golf shirt that was his “Grandpa Hank’s” – makes me smile to see it.  Philip’s was a last minute “Ikea hack” haha…I think I’ll need to dig out another heirloom if they are going to be shepherds again next year!


After church on Christmas Eve, the family came over for dinner at our house!  After everyone left and the boys went to sleep, Santa showed up.


A lot of people have asked me this Christmas if we do “Santa” and the answer is yes, however, pretty much everything my kids know (or think they know) about Santa is learned from books, movies or school (i.e. the world).  We don’t bring him up or talk about him at all.  In fact, early in the season, I heard someone ask Rand what was on his Christmas list and he shrugged and said he’d “get what he’d get” type answer (but really he just hadn’t thought about it because we don’t talk about it).  We don’t really have an answer on what is “best” to do and we don’t want our kids being the ones who burst their friends bubbles and shout out “SANTA’S NOT REAL” so for now, we just glaze over it throughout the season and make a bigger deal about what actually is THE BIG DEAL – THE BIRTH OF CHRIST!

We do talk about Santa if the kids have a question – for example, Rand said to me one day (when he wasn’t on his best behavior), “Mom, if I’m not a good listener then Santa won’t bring me any presents, will he?” which drives me CRAZY that they get told this elsewhere…we went through the same thing last year…our answer is the same: “No, you will get presents on Christmas because we love you regardless of how you behave.  God loved us so much he sent us the gift of Jesus to save us from our sin when we didn’t deserve it!  But in our family, we try to behave and be good listeners because we love God and want to be like Jesus.”  While Santa will show up at the Smith house to help celebrate Jesus’ birthday, he will not be tolerated as the disciplinary tool for the season!!!!  On that note, we made sure the best gift the kids got came from us…hey, I also don’t like to give Santa all the credit:)  As their only gift from mom and dad (and as an attempt for some more new family bonding) we’re driving down to Florida very soon to go to Legoland and the Magic Kingdom!

I didn’t take enough photos on Christmas day, but this was a sweet one from Raleigh – we went and had lunch with Wes’ extended family and all the kids were so welcoming to Wen.  They are always awesome with the younger kids, but I was really blown away by how they just played with him as if he’d always been in the family.  What a Christmas gift it was for this mama to see.


We spent some fun time with my side of the family (I need to upload those photos still, sorry!) and then have really been hanging out around the house.  We’ve had several successful movie night with Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.


We built one fire before it started feeling like summer here in North Carolina.


The boys have spent a lot of time outside playing – Wen can pretty much ride any of the toys somehow and he loves to hit golf balls and play baseball.


The boys play and play and play together.  Our noise level is UP and there is always some type of fun shenanigan going on with the 3 of them…


The costumes come out all the time


Philip continues to keep us laughing.  His most recent line of choice when you tell him something or he gets something he wants is, “That’s what I’m talking about!”


It’s been really fun to see them all play together and have so much fun.  Our house last Christmastime was so quiet with just Rand and this year it has exploded with noise, and laughter and JOY.  I have to say it was the best Christmas yet for me.  I’m just so happy to have all my boys home to celebrate Jesus’ Birthday and to welcome 2016.



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Happy New Year…and Happy Anniversary

Happy New Year to everyone!  We are “staying in” this year and trying to get well.  Up until Christmas Eve I thought I was immune to the stomach bug, but as it turns out, stomach-bug immunity is not a superpower that I posses after all.  Which means that my sweet mother-in-law’s oyster stew is off the hook as the culprit since Wes and Rand clearly had what I did a few days later…

Rand has been watching Santa Paws on rerun and I fear we have not done our job in teaching him the true meaning of Christmas.  How do I know this?  Today he picked up a Noah’s Ark book and pointed to a white-bearded Noah and said “Ho Ho Ho!”  Time for a little less Christmas and a little more Jesus around here.

I leave you all with my favorite thing about New Year’s…it’s my brother’s anniversary.  Happy Anniversary James & Samantha!

Samantha & James : the celebration from Inkspot Crow Films on Vimeo.

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Staying in

If you are sick, you stay away from others.  At least that is the rule my grandmother passed along to my mother and now to me and Wes (and I’m pretty sure it is what most doctors say as well).  While it’s not the fun option, and you may not even be “very sick” BUT canceling your plans when you are sick is the polite thing to do.

Well, today I reluctantly had to take our own advice and we had to cancel on our church supper club group.  I’d been looking forward to it for a while now, but Wes reminded me (as I was trying to justify why we should still have it) that missing something fun is nothing compared to the chance that we might cause others to feel bad or get sick.

As you can guess, all three of us are officially down for the count with a cold/virus.  Rand got it first, then me, and this morning Wes woke up with it.  In order to cheer myself up, I decided to look back through the photos we took over Christmas.  I never got around to posting them so here goes…

On Christmas Eve morning, I gathered with my high school girlfriends for our 15th (?) annual ornament exchange. Rand got to play with his friends Ryan and Rebecca. Here he is with Ryan…

On Christmas Eve we were so busy, I forgot to take pictures. We went to early Church and Rand was on his best behavior for the Children’s Nativity. Maybe some day he’ll be a shepherd or wise man himself. After, we gathered at our house for family dinner. James did snap a photo of the yummy apple cider margaritas we had with dinner. Recipe here.

On Christmas morning I didn’t take any pictures here at home, instead we shot a flip video of Rand, but I don’t have it uploaded yet, sorry. After, we headed over for breakfast at Grandmommy’s house and Rand was pumped about his new wagon, race cars and picaboo bear.

After Grandmommy’s, we headed over to Ema & Pop’s.  We are so blessed to have Grandmommy and Ema less than 5 min away from each other!

Here’s Rand with the only other two “blue-eyed” family members:

Ema and Pops were great hosts and spoiled us with a beautiful homemade meal.

Rand gave out lots of hugs and kisses and everyone wanted to play with him/hold him. He was definitely the best Christmas present for all of us this year.

Especially daddy!

The next day, we headed up to Raleigh for Christmas part II with the Capassos. Can you guess what MJ’s favorite Christmas present was? He sure takes after his mom and is a cheerful cleaner-upper. Now I’m thinking we should have just gotten him the real thing!

Don’t you keep your dirt devil in a circus tent too?

Again, Rand gave out the hugs and kisses. Sweet boy!

I seemed to have left out a lot of family members in the photos (most all of my photos seem to be of Rand…) and there are tons more photos from Christmas, so if you aren’t sick of us by now, you can see the entire album here.

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Introducing tooth number 3

This post is dedicated to a dear friend who came to visit Rand over Christmas.  Ryan was one of the first friends I made when we moved to Southern Pines 20 years ago! Hopefully Ryan (soon-to-be oral surgeon!) will remember all those times I helped him with his middle school homework whenever the time rolls around for this kiddo to have his wisdom teeth out…


Rand just cut his 3rd tooth!  I’m thinking there are 3 more close behind. If not he’ll be a little silly with the two bottom teeth in and only the one top lateral incisor (had to look it up). If you don’t know your teeth either, that is the one to the right (or left) of the two central incisors (front teeth).

Anyhow, we’ve been making a lot of these teething sticks lately. They are inexpensive and you can make them when needed. All you need is a slice of bread, some baby food (I use apples or pear puree but have used sweet potatoes too once when we were out of fruit), some cinnamon and a microwave.

If you can, try and use whole wheat bread – it works so much better. We only had white wheat left over and it didn’t get as hard as the whole wheat does.

Just cut off the crusts of the bread (I keep a bag in the freezer for the crusts and use them later for egg casseroles or breadcrumbs) and then roll it out flat. Spread a thin layer of puree and then sprinkle the cinnamon. Roll it up and stick it (seam down) on a microwavable plate. Start with 1 min (or 40 seconds if your micro runs hot) and then if it isn’t hard after a min, continue to microwave in 15-20 second increments until it is really hard. Believe it or not – it can burn up! If you’re making it to be used immediately, then pop it in the freezer for a min or so to cool down, but otherwise, once it is cooled you can give it to your little one.  Recipe is from

This picture was taken a while ago…I’ve been making these for Rand since he was about 5.5 months old.
rand teething

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Rand the Restaurateur

I love this pic of Rand in his highchair at Ema’s house – James took it on Christmas day with his iPhone. Apparently I need to get better with my iPhone camera, sorry for the blurry pics I took…anyhow…

Since Rand goes to sleep around 5:30/6pm every night, we rarely go out to eat unless we have a babysitter. While Wes and I both enjoy being at home in the evenings for a home-cooked meal (got some recipes to share with you soon!), over the holidays, we’ve had some opportunities to go out and so we took Rand with us. He hasn’t been to a restaurant for dinner in a while, so I was a little nervous at first but Rand was on his best behavior!

The other day, Jonathan and Shelley were in town for a visit, so we called the Butlers and took the 3 boys to Outback. Rand had a great time listening in on all the conversations and was excited to sit next to his godfather, Sean.

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Rand also made an inaugural visit to our Raleigh favorite, Dos Taquitos. He’s wearing his winter gear because we were sitting OUTSIDE. I wished I had a furry suit to wear too.
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That night, we discovered that Rand LOVES cucumbers (even though he’s making a silly face) and when they are cold, it makes a pretty good teether.
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Speaking of restaurants and eating out… is running a great deal right now if you enter the word SALE at checkout you get 80% off. While I agree that you need to watch the fine print before you buy any coupons, I just figured out we can get $75 in gift cert. ($25 each) to three local restaurants we like for $6. That is not a typo. $6. Just passing it along…


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Look, it’s a…

Rand-deer!  (or Rand-dear to us)

I have to show you his adorable “Rand-dear” outfit too…sent with love from “the Rands” down in Florida. We love it!

p.s. Friday flashback coming soon (I’m on the search for a good one)…I can’t believe I haven’t posted since Dec. 10! Sorry about that!

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Deck the halls

We are hosting a small Christmas party for my bible study group AND Christmas Eve supper this year, so I’ve decided to decorate a little more than usual…I ordered this preserved bay leaf garland from pottery barn (it is on sale and says it will last 4 years – which ends up being less than buying fresh garland that you have to keep misting)

I’m LOVING this wreath idea from Pink to Green…might have to do one of these for the kitchen.

Our wreath for our front door is an Aldena Frye classic – a sweet holiday gift from my mother-in-law each year – I can’t wait for it to arrive.  It should be here this week.  I’m going with a preppy plaid and stripes Christmas theme throughout this year.  I promise to add a photo when it gets here.

Today I picked up my fun table cloth from the upholstery shop.  Got the inspiration from Urban Grace and the fabric from IKEA.  It is perfect!

In other news, Rand is eating broccoli.  What?  Apparently he likes it steamed straight-up.  Too bad I just spent an afternoon making purees…

Uncle Sam has been here to visit again and Rand loves it.  You can see for yourself why this is. Although Rand has logged some serious drive-time, he still does not have his “after nine” license yet. He can barely make it past 5:30pm.

Don’t forget to enter the holiday giveaway!!!

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Good news, a giveaway

Where do I begin…tonight was a blast. First, we got to do our usual bedtime routine for Rand. Here’s Rand in his sleep sack ready to hit the sack, and me ready for a fun dinner out with the girls followed by…

A book launch party! My talented friend Rachel Hernandez wrote “My Secret Angel and Me” – a well-written beautifully illustrated book that is also a great tool for parents to teach their children the gospel story of Christmas, and it even touches on Santa (you could say it is the Christian version of an Elf on the Shelf type book). Brilliant.  Not to mention, the book itself is a work of art by Ashley Adorno (Rachel’s sister-in-law).  I can’t stop reading it.  It’s already sold out online, but here’s a list of retail locations who will ship one to you…or even better…just keep reading…

So you may wonder…what’s Rach doing in this picture? She is signing a copy of the book & angel set for a Paper Road reader!!! This book set will be our very first giveaway (hopefully more to come). Here’s how to enter:

1. Post a comment briefly telling why you want the book OR who you’d gift it to

For additional entries (one for each additional comment), post in the comment section that you have done any of the following:

2. “Share” this post on facebook (see bottom for link) and then post a comment that you shared it

3. Tweet the post, and post a comment that you tweeted it

4. Mention/link to the giveaway in your blog and post your blog link in comments

There will be a random drawing done at the end of the day on Monday, December 5th so start blogging & commenting!

I’m so excited that Rachel’s book is our first fun giveaway.  When I moved to Pinehurst, Rachel and I were introduced because her mom and my mother-in-law are friends.  Rach invited me to join a bible study she was starting in her home and even though I barely knew her, I went.  So did a bunch of other girls – none of us knew each other, but all were asked by Rachel, who was lead by the Holy Spirit  (She invited a girl she met at mother’s morning out and another was standing in line near Rachel at Chick-fil-a)!  Now, 3 years later, we are all still great friends and the bible study is still going.

11 super sweet ladies…would you believe that between all of us there are TWENTY-FIVE KIDS?!  (some still in utero) What’s in that Moore Co. water?

Speaking of kids…Rand had on his Tim Tebow jersey today in support of his favorite football player.

And here he is working on his Heisman pose…

Wes and I wish there were a lot more Tim Tebows out there. He inspires us to be bold in our faith.  CHECK IT OUT. (note: I fast forwarded and linked to the last of the interview, but feel free to start it over and listen to the whole clip)

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Today, I saw this fantastic Christmas swag (is that what you call it??) outside of the Aldena Frye Floral Design showroom in downtown Aberdeen.   Isn’t it fantastic?  I love how natural it is with the pine garland and pinecones, holly and grapevine all tucked in.  Magnolia too.  I think I need this at my front door.

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