Category Archives: Family

Summer for the Smiths 2018- Teenagers in the house


Summer officially starts tomorrow if you follow that on the calendar BUT the change of schedule happened for us at the first of June—no more school until August!  When our girls were little I would make schedules and plan our days- Make it Monday, Reading Wednesdays and so on.  But our girls are now both teenagers (eekkk!) and our schedules are all over the place.  Even my schedule was crazy these last two weeks as I was presenting at conferences, leading professional development (pd) and getting my own credits for pd.

I still was trying to figure out how to get our girls doing some things that don’t come naturally to them when they make their own to-do lists each day.  My goal was to get them doing the things that I would usually harp on them about doing but without the harping!  Then it hit me…

Duh Becki—you share with teachers the importance of voice and choice in the classroom, how is that not different at home?  One easy way to do this in the classroom is to use choice boards that I always say are “teacher directed and kid approved”.  The teacher sets up the tasks but the students get to choose what they do on the board. So I sat down and created a choice board for our girls.  I used the Tic-Tac-Toe grid but it is four in a row rather than 3.  I set the board up working to make sure in each row and diagonal there were a variety of tasks: reading, creating, intrapersonal, active and yes…some math practice too!

I rolled it out tonight and it was received as well as anything with teenagers can be received 🙂 There were a few moans about some of the tasks and I expected that.  My response was “you don’t have to do that one—it is up to you.”  That is the beauty, the tasks are there and if they want some extra spending money is is theirs for the taking.

I will have to come back and update at the end of the summer to let you know the reality of the plan.

I posted a template below—try it at your house if you would like!

Smith Family Tic-Tac-Toe Template


Enjoy your family—hope your summer is made in the shade,



Making time for Family time


The school year is well underway (finally after start two brought to us by Hurricane Harvey) and life is at that crazy-busy level.  It is our “normal” and I am thankful for the clubs, classes, Bible studies, and parties my girls are able to be involved in, yet finding time to reconnect as a family can be T-O-U-G-H.

Sundays set the tone for the week.  Sundays are a special day—that is how God intended it.  We all need a Sabbath, a day set aside for rest and worship.  Our Sundays can still be crazy though.  How can we carve out Sabbath time as a family on our Sundays when…

  • we have church in the morning,
  • a quick lunch all together before Brad heads off to his second job—thanks Babe!
  • the girls finish up the last of homework not completed on Saturday and then run off to Bible Studies at different locations
  • No one is home at dinner time and one child has dinner at Bible Study, the other snacks herself silly and Mom and Dad are running the roads to pick up everyone

I reflected on this and realized that in December our family makes time to have an Advent devotional and prayer time each Sunday night so why not do the same EVERY Sunday.  We love our time in December so let’s make it work for year-round.

I have decided that if we can’t have dinner together on Sunday night that at least we can have dessert.  I make sure we have something to snack on while we meet to reflect on our week ahead, discuss our time at church earlier in the day and then have prayer time as a family.  It has been a sweet time of fellowship.  It gives us time as a family to share concerns, laugh together and plan the week so the week can run more smoothly.

Sometimes I make an “involved” recipe dessert like the one Heather and I made a few week’s ago, salted caramel brownies, and then other times I pick up a box of “just add water” scones from Trader Joe’s and throw together the easy and well-loved “Fall Munchie Mix” (A box of golden grahams, mini-marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, and chocolate chips all combined in a bowl!).

Easy desserts for our family time- Trader Joe Scones and Fall Munchie Mix


How do you connect as a family when life is crazy-busy?  Leave a comment and let’s share our collective genius!!!

Selling my house has ruined me


Yep you heard it…I am ruined.  That is R-U-I-N-E-D.

We have had our house on the market for a few months and we are so thankful that God has provided a buyer and that, pending appraisal, we will be moving on in our journey of life.

However, I have been ruined in the last few months.  My house has been clean.  It is de-cluttered.  It is vacuumed regularly.  The kitchen is clean and clear—even the sink!

.Clean Counters!

Everything in place!


I have always loved a clean house…I mean really, who doesn’t.  But not many love to clean a house.  It takes work and discipline.

However, at the end of the day it feels so much better than staring at piles of papers, laundry and dishes.

I’ve learned that it does take time and effort.  Those two items are in short supply in my life but it takes less time and less effort to keep up with the clutter and cleaning.  You would think that it would not have taken me 41 years to realize this.  I always knew it in my head but I didn’t live it.

Taking time each day makes a world of difference in how my house looks.

It is like that with my time each day with the Lord.  When I take time daily to spend some moments with him it makes a world of difference in how my temple looks.  We are the temple of God, it says so in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Don’t you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? The Spirit is in you. You have received him from God.”  

When I take time to listen to him, talk to him and focus on him, it is amazing how much better I look.  Not in how I look physically but spiritually.  I am a better mom on the days I take time with the Lord, I’m a better wife, and I’m just better.  Why?  Because you become like those you spend time with.  Who wouldn’t want to be more and more like our Lord?  Don’t get me wrong….I have a LONG way to go to looking like the Lord.  But each day He refines me a bit more, He molds me and makes me into his vessel that reflects him.

So putting my house on the market has triggered not only the desire to have my physical house clean but my spiritual house clean too.  Each takes work but it is so worth it.

I started this post by saying that I was ruined.  Well, just to remind us all, ruined means: the physical destruction or disintegration of something or the state of disintegrating or being destroyed.  My routine of life was ruined when we put our house on the market: change of schedules to get the house ready to show, packing things away to clear up shelves and closets and many other little pieces picked away at.  However in the midst of that destruction, beautiful things have been created.  I have seen God work and move not only in the selling of our house, but also in my own life.  I am not the same person I was four months ago.  I never knew that I would be so glad to see something ruined!



Help! My Arms are Tired


Recently I had the opportunity to help one of the preschool Bible teachers on Sunday morning at our church.  The kids were studying the book of Exodus.  The story on this particular week was when the Israelites were battling the Amalekites and Moses stood on top of the hill, above the battle, with the staff of God in his hands.  He raised his hands high in the sky during the battle and as long as his hands were raised, the Israelites were winning.  When he grew tired and his hands lowered, the Israelites began to be defeated (read more of the story in Exodus 17:8-16). 

The teacher shared with the kids that Moses had his hands raised as he prayed to demonstrate the Israelites need for God’s help.

I’ve learned a few things from this preschool lesson.

First lesson was the day after I helped out in the class.  I was in the car running errands and listening to a Paul Baloche CD (The Same Love). As I listened, I was reminded of hands being raised in praise during worship.

Now, true confession here…this girl grew up Southern Baptist and, when I was growing up, hands raised all the way to the sky were frowned upon.  I guess the thought was that one should not be distracting.  While that is a good goal- to not distract others in worship- I don’t think raised hands in true worship should be distracting.  I mean shouldn’t the focus be on God for everyone?

What hit me as I listened to Paul Baloche sing was that raising my hands up like Moses did in the story was like a toddler holding hands with his Dad as they walk together.  You know what that looks like…the little guy is stretched to his tippy toes to help him reach the palm of his Daddy’s hand.  He isn’t worried about what he looks like- he knows he needs his Daddy’s hand.  Maybe they are in a dangerous parking lot or maybe in a crowded mall or maybe they just are enjoying being together.  Regardless, his little arms are outstretched to reach to his Daddy.

That is my new take on hands raise in true worship.  Our hands represent our dependence…our need..for the strong arms of our heavenly Father.  I need those strong arms to help me as I walk through dangerous paths in this life, meander through the crowds of life and just take a stroll on a beautiful day with my heavenly Father.

I don’t know if this Southern Baptist Girl will be able raise her hands up to the sky in public worship…it is just hard for me…but if you happen to be stopped at the red light next to me and happen to catch me, radio up, singing and worshipping as I traverse around town…you might just see me in some unabandoned worship.

Second lesson I’ve learned in the last few weeks from this portion of the Bible is the importance of asking help from others.  Verses 12 says:

12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.

The battle was long and Moses got tired.

Man I can relate.

For about two months now I have been in a war with various battles to fight.  No, not a physical hand-to-hand combat war but parenting battles, marriage battles, financial battles, employment battles….ugh…. I am tired.

Verse 11 tells us:

11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

When Moses kept his hands, holding the staff of God, raised then things were going well.  Moses needed to stay focused on God and His guidance as the battle raged on.  The battle was still there but it went better for God’s people when God was the focus.

Moses was human and his arms grew tired after a while.  I can only imagine…my arms are tired too!

So he had his friends help him.  They took a stone and put it under him so he could sit down and then they held his hands up for him.  They helped carry the load.  When we are fighting the battles of life, we need Aarons and Hurs to help us!  We need our friends to come alongside and help us to keep our focus on God and to help us follow through with what He has asked us to do.  It can be a bit humbling sometimes to admit that we can’t hold our hands up any longer.  It can be hard to say “I need help”.  But we need to do it.  We need friends who will give us biblical counsel, we need friends that will pray for us and encourage us.  We need friends who will sit with us and help hold our hands.

The battles can be long and hard.  Make sure you have an Aaron and a Hur in your life to help.


Volunteer SD


Sweet or Sour


Today has been one of those days that I would love to be able to play over and over and over again.  It wasn’t anything crazy and remarkable, just a day when I look back and I realize how much I love my family and how wonderful they are.  When I started this blog a few years ago, it took on this “recipes for the table and for life” tag line.  Most of the time I share recipes for the table- those seem much easier to come by!   On occasion though, there are things that I realize are great recipes for life and just have to share.

Today has been one of those days.

  • I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner with every member of my family.
  • I spent 5 hours out with my girls running errands buying stuff not for us (ok, we did pick up some candy as a treat and some contact solution for Dad since were were going by Wal-Mart too—-what errand run is complete without Wal-Mart?!) but everything was really for stuff at church and we didn’t kill each other and I didn’t have to break up any arguments.
  • We started our day round-robin reading from the book of Proverbs.  Which is something we have done a few times already this summer.
  • We had a great conversation at dinner about what it means to be a team thanks to the conversation starters.  Then my family indulged me in creating a family cheer.  I have yet to hear them all say it, but they sure do get a laugh out of seeing me do the cheer!
  • We ended the night watching a movie together– which we checked out for free from the Media library (free 7-day rentals!).  We watched Cheaper by the Dozen.  I thought it was a remake of an old movie….but I think I was thinking of With Six you get Egg Rolls.  Anyhow, the movie was hilarious and we laughed and then I almost cried at other points. It was great to be together and hear the laughter and see the smiles on each face.

The last time I can remember a day that I wanted to recapture was just over a year ago when our family experienced our first Phillies game.  It was an awesome evening.  The weather was perfect, the seats were great (very high up, but still great), the Phillies won, and we all had a blast.  Then the next day my world crashed—I was told that my job of eleven years no longer needed my skills.  Ouch.  Life is like that, ups and downs…ins and outs…sweet and sour.

The downs, outs and sours help us appreciate the ups, ins and sweets so much more.

Today has been one of the good days and it wasn’t because we were at Disney or some other crazy, fun vacation spot but it has been a good day because of the tried and true ingredients of

  • Time
  • Togetherness
  • Laughter

We took time to start our day with the One who gave us to each other.

We took time to enjoy each other and to talk.

We helped each other out.

We were a family.

Yep, this might just be my favorite recipe yet!

The great thing about this recipe is that it works for the ups and the downs.  Sure we all prefer the ins to the outs but it is family that helps us through it all.

Everyday isn’t like today.  Just last week I was ready to cut holes in the bottom of each child’s door to pass food through and let them come out on Labor Day.  Yep, our summer got off to a bumpy start even with all my planning and wishing.  I mention that so you know that life is not all “Norman Rockwell” around here!

I know that tomorrow is a new day.  I have no idea what the future holds but I know the One who holds the future.

I’m so glad that my family is with me regardless of if it is sweet or sour.

Crafty Cupid


This is a year of new things for me so why not get all crafty during Valentine’s day as crafty and Becki are usually not found in the same sentence!  Well I didn’t do a TON of crafts but two and then I made lots of Valentine’s day foods for my loves.  The crafts win out this year over the food though.

Let me share what all I did and where I found the ideas:

Craft #1

This Valentine Topiary was very easy to do EXCEPT that my 6 year old burned her finger on the glue gun.  I felt so bad as I had envisioned this activity as a happy time with Mom and daughters sitting around chatting and crafting.  Well, I ended up doing it by myself after H burned her finger and E didn’t ever care to glue the hearts…just eat them.  The styrofoam ball that I purchased was a tad big…but it worked out fine.  I bought a white ball so I didn’t have to mess with covering up the green of the “flower foam” kind of ball.  I found this idea while I was “pinteresting” one day  (that would be actively looking on pinterest one day).  Glue Guns and spatulas was the blog post that has the directions.

Craft #2:

The leftovers

I wish I had remembered to take a picture of all of the hearts in their final form.  Heather and Emily made beautiful crayon hearts and then we (or rather I) sewed them to cardstock with Valentine sayings on them.  These were fun to do, but my fingernails did take a hit with all the scraping of crayon wrappers.  We found that the newer the crayon, the easier the wrapper came off.  My favorite crayons were the ones with the yellows/greens/orange all swirled together.  There are all kinds of pinterest places to find this craft idea but this is the one that I pinned that gave the idea to do this: Crayonhearts

Food idea #1

I found this recipe for 2-ingredient fudge and thought it sounded like something Emily would like to eat.  Then a friend of mine blogged on it and said how easy it really was so I decided to make it for my girls on Valentine’s day.  Since I can’t remember where I originally found the recipe, I will link you to Amy’s blog 🙂

Valentine Desserts

 Food Idea #2

The other sweet treat on the platter is a red-velvet cookie.  It is pretty simple to make as you use a boxed mix.  This idea/recipe came from the yummy blog of Two Peas and Their Pod.  Food Idea #3 came from them too.

Food Idea #3

This Chocolate Dutch Baby was very easy to whip up the morning of Valentine’s Day and while it baked I threw some cheese filled smokies on the stove and grabbed the extra four heart-shaped muffins that I made for H’s first grade class (they only needed 18 and I sent 20 so really sending 24 would have been WAY too many…right…so it was a good thing to do–see).  It was a fun breakfast even though neither of my little loves enjoyed the Chocolate Dutch Baby—my handsome fella loved it though 🙂

Food Idea #4

This one came from Jen Myers at our Moms4Moms group that meets at Faith Community Church.  This one was the only one that my kids really loved.  It was quite simple.  Get the canned breadsticks from the store.  Stretch each one out about 12 inches and then shape into a heart.  Brush it with raw egg and sprinkle with your favorite topping.  For H we had kosher salt, for E we had cinnamon sugar, Brad and I had Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese and then there were a few plain ones.  I also made pink homemade applesauce for our dinner—another recipe from Jen.  I’ve made it before and it was a hit then too.

So our day was all about food and I was in the kitchen for most of the day EXCEPT when my handsome fella called home to tell me he was coming home early from work to take me out to lunch!  That was a fun little treat.  We ate at Qdoba and for a kiss in front of the cashier they gave us our second entree free!!

Here are some more pictures from our day:

The traditional Valentine's Day hunt ended with these treats for the girls.


Brad and H go through her cards from school.


This is where I was most of the day!






Life is about Choices


This morning my youngest was complaining that she was cold.  I reminded her that she had a nice warm robe hanging in her closet that might help her.  To which she replied, “But then I would have to leave my orange roll.”  (A favorite “special breakfast…thanks Pillsbury!)

I said “Life is all about choices” and she said “No it isn’t; it is about God.”

I am happy that this would be something she would say to me as we talk about life and why we live it.  I am extremely happy after the day I had yesterday with my two girls.  It is so frustrating to try to do all the “right” things yet not see your kids living a life that reflects all the “right” things.  Yesterday my handsome fella had to step in and talk to the girls about how poorly they were treating me.  I am not looking for accolades of praise for everything I do, but I would just like nice words or no words at all.  It seems that I don’t ever please my girls.  I hear lots of heavy sighs, cries of “I’ll never get….” and “why nots”.

I try hard to say “yes” as much as I can but there are some things I just can’t change.  Like yesterday when one of my girls said that Halloween was on Monday and I said that it was not this monday but the next so a little over a week.  She argued with me and then got angry about it.

It is a calendar.  I don’t write it.  I can’t change it.

Then there was the child that wanted a certain “pattern block”.  I had tried to get some better descriptions from her as I was not aware of anything we owned called a pattern block.  For two days I had been trying to figure this out and finally I thought of something it could be.  So on Friday, while the girls were at school, I went out the storage shed and opened up some of the boxes we packed up this summer when trying to sell our house.  I was thankful to find what I thought were the “pattern blocks” in the fourth box I opened.  I was so proud and put them on the table so she would see them when she got home.

Her response went something like this– Mom, these AREN’T pattern blocks.  Now I will NEVER have pattern blocks.  These AREN’T them.

So tell me….please…what are they.  I’ve been trying for days.

I did say to this child.  It is ok if these are not the right thing.  But could you try to say it nicer.  Something like “Mom, thanks for trying to find my blocks, but this isn’t what I was talking about.”

These are just two examples of the “fun times” we had right after the girls came home yesterday.

Then later in the evening as we were leaving a friend’s house after our small group Bible study (Brad was at work and not with us).  I was standing at the door getting a few more minutes of chatting in and the girls went to the van.  The van was in front of another house’s yard and the door was closed.  But what could I hear from the front door???

Yes, I could hear my two precious girls yelling at each other and screaming.

Ahhhh, it warms a mom’s heart to hear that as you stand talking to a friend.

I used the remote opener to open the door and let them know I was aware of the situation.  After the doors closed it was just seconds before I could hear it going again.  (Sigh)

I got in the van and didn’t scream, but instead I said “Girls I don’t understand it.  You go to church, Bible club, Pioneers, we have devotions as a family….yet I see little evidence of what you are learning.  I see little fruit.  What kind of trees are you?  What kind of fruit are you producing?  If you are applying what you are learning in all these places then I will see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  But I’m not seeing it.”

They got still and quiet.

I turned on the van and we drove away.

I used to say when I taught school that I felt like I was hitting my head against the wall—saying the same things over and over but no one was getting it.  I’m at that same place as a Mom.

As a teacher I would reflect and adapt.  So as a Mom I’m trying the same thing.

Life IS about choices.  I need to choose as a Mom to strive to raise daughters who know, love and serve him.  I need to be doing that myself in order to teach them.  I need to make sure that I am adjusting to the culture of my kids in a way that will reach them.  My kids are only with me for a season.

By the way—the “pattern blocks” were eventually found after Dad talked with the child and she came to me and did a much better job of conversing with me about what she meant by “pattern blocks”.  She was willing to answer my questions to help me understand.  We found what she was looking for on the shelf in her room, right by all the things she plays with daily.  And for the child that was cold….still as I type this at 10:30 on Saturday morning she doesn’t have her robe on but instead is curled up on the sofa under a sofa pillow to keep warm.

Ah, I love my family.