Almost Famous

A few years ago, the manager of the Welcome Center in our neighborhood asked if they could have my girls pose for some photos to put in their pamphlets, ads, etc.  Derrick works closely with the Welcome Center, as his firm does the all the civil engineering for our development, but I know that had nothing to do with this request.  I know that my children were needed for their dazzling good looks and me, for my legendary stage-mothering skills.  So, here’s a glance back to good ‘ole 2004 and some of the photos that ended up in the newspaper, Creekstone pamphlets and magazines, and even in some brochures on airplanes.  (An old friend called us from the airport, wondering what the heck our kidlets were doing on his flight!) So if you’re one of the few people on the continent who haven’t seen my child stars yet, here’s a bit of what the (highly professional) photo shoot produced when Rache was just five, and Megan, three: 

Weren’t they sweet?  Well, the Welcome Center beckoned us once again this year, and–sigh–once again I consented to having our good looks exploited for no pay.  (What can you do when your public needs you?)  Picture day just happened to fall on the same day as my half-misery-marathon, so these outfits were pulled out of the closet and not ironed about thirty minutes before shuttertime.  Literally, they were the only solid pieces of clothing in my kids’ wardrobe, which is why a multitude of us ended up in brown.  (It hasn’t happened yet, but someday I’ll show up in something besides a plain T-shirt for my family portraits.)

Here is another completely candid shot of us frolicking in the clover while sharing secrets and giggles.  (A typical Saturday afternoon for our family, of course.)

I imagine these photographs will be splashed across every major magazine in the country, so be watching your Gap ads!  The upside is that we can keep these images at no cost.  So there’s our merrychristmasfromtheSmithfamily photo, free!  (I am not kidding.  Expect it in December.)

The downside is that looking at the old photos of the girls made me nostalgic and slightly depressed about how fast my family is growing up.  I’ve really been struggling with this lately, as I seem to every September when school starts.  President Monson’s talk today at General Conference , however, gave me a much needed perspective change.  The main goal I’m taking away from Conference this year:  to enjoy what I have, today, and not wish my time away on the past or future.  To stop trying to do more; rather, keep doing what I am already doing, more happily and gratefully.

I am now opening up the commentary for two answers I hope to receive from all of you:
 1.  What part of conference inspired you the most?
 2.  How cute is my family and how much do I look like I haven’t aged a bit since you saw me last?  (Comments for #2 need be neither truthful nor sincere, obviously.)

I’d better run.  Our fifteen minutes of fame are almost up, and I’m gonna make the most of it.  Gotta go find someone to do lunch with!

Reality Bites

I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between Bloggereality and, well, reality. I’ve observed a rather large gap between the two, at least for myself, and–I am hoping–for all of you (if I’m wrong on this, then I really did get the shaft and my life is pitiful compared to everyone else’s perfect children, dream vacations, and stunning good looks.) So, though perhaps my own reality doesn’t always “bite,” it doesn’t always smile, either. Case in point: Big, Annual Camping Trip, lots of planning, some of our best friends, perfect location, lots of junk food shopping, lots of packing, lots of excited kids, lots of excited adults. Bloggereality would report that this trip went perfectly, as evidenced by the perfectly posted pictures, but I am here to set the record straight. I learned last weekend that coming down with something akin to Strep Throat, complete with fever, chills and vomiting in a “cabin” (dare we give it that much credit?) with nothing nearby but an outhouse is, in the end, its own brand of adventure. Real adventure, not sissybloggingadventure. You know what I mean.

After a miserable first night, Derrick kindly suggested we pack up and go home, but I had waited all year to hang out with the Shorts and (name the B movie that made this tune famous) Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us Now. So I knocked back enough Extra Strength Excedrin to see me through the day. (btw: did you know that Excedrin is loaded with caffeine? I had no idea, but it explains why it made me feel so geeoood.) I pasted on a smile and tried to have fun, and loved Rachel and Jason all the more for forgiving my going to bed at 9 pm and the wet mop personality I surely had all weekend. (How tragic for them to miss out on my usual, fascinating self.) They even allowed me and my germs to eat at the same picnic table with them. Rachel called me today, almost one week later, to kindly ask how I was feeling and wondered: did I find out if it was strep? She just wanted to know because–and please don’t feel bad, Jen–every last one of her kids now have what I had, just in time to go back to school. (And I thought being a wet mop was my worst offense.) She wasn’t annoyed at all, just hoped I felt better. Do you see why we’re still friends?
So. I didn’t get to be hyper and goofy with my kids and howl at the moon in the great outdoors, like I’d planned. But…

I did get to go on a horseback ride with Rachael (my daughter) which was about the coolest thing we’ve ever done together (horses are super pretty and smell good when you’re buzzed on Excedrin.)
And on our last day I got to follow the children through the trees to the “secret place” they’d been doggedly hiding from us all weekend, which we parents had to admit was pretty spectacular.

I got to smell Megan’s proud find (think dead. think fish. no. think only fish skin.)

I got to consume mass quantities of Rachel’s sublime homemade-yes-straight-from-her-garden spaghetti sauce, which is the new Bomb in my life (need that recipe, Rache! need you to grow the veggies for me, Rache!) I missed out on canoeing, fishing, and the slip ‘n slide (achey body napping in said “cabin”)…

I got to be in the beautiful mountains with my great friends, great family, and great weather. When you’ve got the essentials covered, even if things aren’t blogperfect, they can still be really, really good.
There was dirt, there was a graham cracker, there was chocolate.
That’s all we know.

These two hotties got even hotter when they
made us breakfast two days in a row.

Ethan and Max. All weekend. Do not even ask.

Ethan cruelly takes advantage of Mom’s illness and realizes lifelong dream of eating nothing but BBQ Lays for two days straight.

For once, when dealing with Ethan, Dad isn’t the only horse’s as*.

The elusive Secret Place

Clara had to be the sweetest, quietest, happiest baby I’d ever been around. Yes, I am including my own children in this assessment.

We thought it would be a good idea to let the kids spend alot of time unsupervised in this rocky, secluded area that had lots of water and the lingering possibility of bears. Children do need to explore.

Meg wasn’t quite old enough to do her own trail ride, like Rache, but she was a good sport about doing a pull ride with her dad. Considering her size, she may just have a future in jockeying.

The dead fishskin find. Still not sure where she found it, how she got it, why she wanted it. Never did get a clear answer on that.

Remember that s
cene on City Slickers when they talk about their “best day?” I think the day of the trail ride was Rachael’s Best Day. She just couldn’t stop smiling. I was so happy to be there with her.
Doped up as I was.

Cool Runnings

I’ve decided on a B-movie theme for my post titles…I’ll see how long I can keep it going.
I am spending the week at my in-laws house in Seaside, Oregon. Laura (my mom-in-law) is wonderful and always insists on watching the kids if I want to go do anything. It’s only polite that I take her up on it once in awhile.
So this morning I went for a gloriously long, slow, quiet, solitary run along the beach. For the first time I can remember, the beach was absolutely empty. No people, no dogs. No kids. No cars. No running buddies. No iPod. Just me, the seagulls, the salt-heavy air, and the waves crashing into the velvety Oregon coastline.
There are worse ways to spend a Wednesday morning.
A simple pleasure, perhaps, but too good not to share. Tell me again why we spend money on theme parks?