Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Season in a Nutshell

In August, the day before our world changed forever, Anna started school at Eastern.  She's rockin' the public school thing, loves the bus, has made new friends, and has a new found confidence.  She's also doing great, and we're expecting high honors on her report card.
In September we took Gabriel up to Pennsylvania to bury him next to my grandma A.
While there Earl and I were able to get away and visit one of our favorite spots in Western Pennsylvania - Moraine State Park.

We were highly entertained with the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus group.
 This one's for you, Mom.


 We made our annual visit to Evan's Orchard and made these very tastey caramel apples.....and apple pie....and apple sauce...
October brought fall break and a quick trip to Lake Erie while the kids stayed with my parents (and, ironically, ALSO vacationed at Lake Erie)
It was not warm, but it was beautiful and rugged, and we found miles of empty beaches to walk. 
 The Flagship Niagara (Google it) was making an out of season sail (errr....motor) around the lake with a group of school kids.  This was the extent of sail we were able to see.  I don't think it ever did go under full sail.

 The sunsets were incredible...

We discovered this little gem, Asbury Park, small but filled with long trails meandering through old-growth forest.


...and more sunsets...

Rain changed our plans, which ended up for the best, since we took a long ride on the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad through the mountains, along the Oil Creek, and past historic oil sites.

Here is the replica of what started our obsession with the internal combustion engine.

As part of Operation-Love-Fall we took Anna on a day trip to Natural Bridge.

October also brought about our favorite weekend - Slippery Rock Homecoming!
Every year we freeze through the football game!

As part of the oil-love I caught this picture of an Marcellus Shale oil well in progress on the road my parents live on.  The flames were to wick the oil to the surface so it could be collected.

Emma brought Aunt Kathy down for a visit over Halloween.  Indy is slowly warming up to the canine species. Shhhh...don't tell Ella!

Charlie Brown found a vampire and the Queen of Hearts in the backyard so I snapped a photo!

 Well, that was our fall in a nutshell.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Remembering Gabriel

Four weeks ago
on August 10th at 5:40 in the morning
our lives changed forever. 

Our tiny baby boy, Gabriel Joshua, was born. 
He came several months too early and we knew from an ultrasound before that his heart no longer beat.
There are really no words to describe how terrible it is to lose a child.

Any woman who's been pregnant knows that the first trimester is precarious and that miscarriages are common, and everyone's seen preemie babies on TV on the March of Dimes commercials.

But what about the babies whose hearts just stop beating?

We were just to the "fun" part of pregnancy.  We knew Gabe was going to be a boy.  We had counted his little fingers and toes on an ultrasound, watched him wiggle around and cross his legs and cover his face with his hands.  Everything checked out fine and we had no reason to worry.

I was beginning to discover his personality -
he liked to curl up in a little baby ball on my right side...
he was always more active in the evenings...
when the girls were rough housing he'd be kicking away like he wanted to join them...
he'd always stop moving as soon as I told Earl he he knew...=)

And then one day he was just....gone.

Instead of carseats we had to learn all about "burial cradles".

Instead of seeing his name on the wall decal I had picked out, it's on his headstone.

It sucks.

All we have left of him is a tiny grave, a box full of photos and foot and hand prints, a stack of little blue clothes with their tags still attached, and broken hearts.

I can't even begin to understand why God chose us to carry this burden.  WHY?  Why our baby who was planned and wanted and loved??

It makes no sense.

But if I've learned one thing through this nightmare it's that perinatal loss happens far too often, to far too many people who desperately want their babies.

And it's not fair.

I have no doubt that Gabe is in Heaven and I'll see him again, but that doesn't change the fact that I miss him now.

I also know (in my head, at heart is another matter) that God has a purpose in this, that Gabriel's death was not an accident or a mistake, and that He has something else in store for us.

So please, please, continue to pray for us over these next few weeks...months...maybe even years.


Monday, July 16, 2012


Drum roll, please............






Without further ado, we are excited to present.......

The newest Smith-to-be,

Baby Boy!
(at least, that's what he's looking like at the moment)

Santa will be bringing us an extra special present this year!

If you knew, feel special....if you didn't, don't feel bad, we've enjoyed keeping this little guy (or girl, if things should change between now and our 20 week ultrasound next month) a fun secret!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Raise your hand if you get the Evan Almighty reference. =)

A few weekends ago the sun shone bright on our old Kentucky home and we decided to head out and see what we could see around Lexington.  That particular weekend boasted the Sheep and Fiber Festival in Masterson Station.

Because we live on the wild side, we packed up the kids and some lawn chairs and drove down to watch some sheep herding in action.

It was actually very interesting!

The sheep had been shipped in from Texas - they had never seen a dog, so were not "trained" to be herded.

The dogs ran from their handler to get the sheep that were being held about 450 yards away.  The dog then had to herd the sheep in an imaginary straight line back to the handler.

The next step was to herd the sheep back away from the handler and through two gates set up in the field.  Because the sheep's eyes are on the sides of their heads they can't see the gates until they are almost on them, and then they spook and tend to run away.  The dog needs to herd all three through the gate.

...and then back across the field in a straight line to the handler.

Any type of dog is allowed, although all the ones we saw were border collie types.  Earl was curious if pigs were acceptable (we had watched Babe recently).


Using a whistle, hand and voice commands the handler led the dog in cutting one sheep away from the herd, then back in and to another pen.

These dogs were pretty impressive!  Highly trained and very obviously loving their job!

I had to laugh at the announcer who occasionally reminded spectators that they could visit the information booth to learn more about training dogs....and get some great lamb recipes!