May 11, 2016

Summer Learning Fun...No Really!

Being a mom and working in education has its advantages at times.  The past week I have spent time looking for summer reading and math challenges to share with our Fort Osage families.  I thought some of my friends might also be interested in what I found.  So if you are looking for ways to keep your kids reading and math skills up over the summer, (and really you should be so they don't loose what they learned this year) here are some of the top choices to take advantage of:

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Triathlon is getting underway.  Read 3 to 4 books of your choice, complete the log, and turn it in for a free book!  Check it out at

Chuck E. Cheese’s Reading Rewards allows for the parent to set the challenge based on their child’s needs.  Complete the form and turn it in for 10 free tokens!  You can do this for anything not just reading and math.  They have ones to reward young kids for all kinds of good behavior.  Check it out at

Read More Missouri is a statewide summer reading challenge to help prevent the summer slide- a loss of learning that many students experience while they are out of school.  It is easy to participate! Check it out at

The Missouri Summer Math Challenge is a way to encourage students to keep their math skills sharp over the summer.  On average, students lose 2.6 months in grade-level equivalency in math skills during summer break.  This fun math challenge is a great way to keep your kids engaged.  Check it out at

The Mid-Continent Library is offering a Summer Reading Program called Ready, Set, Read!  This program is for children birth through 11 years old.  Readers can earn free books and other fun prizes for participating. Check it out at

Trails Regional Library is hosting the summer reading challenge On Your Mark Get Set Read!  Earn points, collect badges and earn free books.  Check it out at

Become a reading Superhero with the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.  Read and log minutes all summer and earn books.  Check it out at

If you know of others let me know.  We are always looking for that motivation to keep learning fun! 

July 22, 2014

60 days of Me

I admit it I feel guilty when I spend time daily for just me.  I know I shouldn't, but face it there is not much time Monday through Friday that I get to spend with Stacey and the girls.  Sure there are the weekends, but between errands, household chores, and things we are invited to do, the weekend flies by too.  Recently I have been going back to working out, something I have not done consistently in about 3 years (ok truth be told I have worked out a grand total of 10 times in the past month).  Today that all changed.  Today began the 60 days of me.

The 60 days of me is a focus for the next 60 days on improving my health and fitness.  Why 60 days you might ask?  Well our next family vacation is about 60 days away and it seemed like a good ending goal. Should I complete all 60 days, then I can reward myself with a trip to my favorite spa in Estes Park!  Now talk about motivation.

Let me explain.  I did an great job of working out and watching what I was eating before the girls.  The girls came along and we still did a pretty good job despite obstacles that were thrown our way.  About 3 years ago it stopped.  Life started to get crazy busy, work got crazy busy, parents had medical issues, the girls started school and activities, frankly life happened.  The first thing to go was the exercise.  I mean really by 8:30 at night when I am just getting home or just finishing up putting kids to bed I am tired.  Chances are I still had stuff around the house that needed to get done and going to workout was not really top on the list.  I mean sure I have gained a few pounds, but it is more about just not feeling as good.  Clothes don't fit the way I want them to fit.  I feel a lack of energy some days.  While we did not eat any more fast food, we were not eating as healthy as we used to.  It was easier to grab a bit out for lunch then to actually make a healthy lunch.  Throw in that my doctor said with my family health history I really needed to start exercising and watching what I ate and I should have all the motivation that I need.  I kept saying I would work out as soon as I walked in the door after work.  "Mom can you get me milk." "Mom can you play with me." Emails needed taken care of, calls came in, all excuses and things that I would say had to be done now.  Always putting someone or something else above working out for me.  

Not any more.  I admit it, I am going to be selfish for the next 60 days.  I love my quite evenings with Stacey and I would not change stopping everything to play a game of Uno with the girls.  So today, on a random Tuesday it started.  Here is my promise to myself over the next 60 days, or rather things I hope to accomplish:

  • I will get up early and follow my P90x3 workout program Monday through Friday (well except the yoga, I hate yoga).  This means working out 5 days a week.  Weekdays i am getting up at 5:00 a.m. so no excuses of things that need my attention.    I am allowing for two days a week of rest or just life in general.  For those who know us at the lake, have no fear you will not see me lunging around the campground with my weights, but you will see me taking a bike ride or a walk on my off days.  
  • Decrease my coke-a-cola intake.  I usually only drink a 12 ounce can a day, but I would like to cut back and stop my occasional Sonic 99 cent stops in the morning.
  • I am going to order my skin care for my face and stop making excuses why it is too expensive.  My skin is driving me nuts and I am going to try it.  If it works then it is worth the money and if nothing changes then I know and can try something else.
  • As a family we are going to eat healthier.  Now this will not be a huge change for three of us in the family.  Grace on the other hand may grow to hate me. I have no idea how a child that is from Stacey and I can not stand any fruits and veggies.  Not a one unless you count fruit roll ups as fruit and I do not!
  • No eating out for lunch, except for those business luncheons that are not really an option.  
  • Make a better financial plan so we can accomplish our financial goals that have changed so much over the years.  
Stacey will be the first to ask me why I am putting this out there.  I need your help and motivation.  Ask me how I am doing on my challenge.  Keep me accountable.  Heck join in if you want.  If I can do something for 60 days then it will just keep being a routine right??????

January 23, 2013

100 Years Old

Ok so I know it has been a long, long time since I have posted something, but between work and kids I am lucky to get sleep.  Any working mom knows what I am talking about.

So with the girls activities two nights a week, our side business, and my job you can imagine that a schedule is the only thing that keeps us somewhat sane.  With the girls starting school I thought life might get a little less hectic, boy was I wrong.  Now they have homework and we are supposed to practice a lot of things each night to make sure they are getting the best education possible.  So instead of slowing down, Stacey and I find ourselves more and more exhausted at the end of each night.

You can imagine my excitement then when we get a note from school that says we should dress the girls like they are 100 years old for the 100th day of school.  WHAT????  Are you kidding me?  This was almost my worst nightmare.  I will be the first to admit that I am not the most creative person in the world so this note just made me cringe.  I am not even sure what a 100 year old woman would look like, but thank god we have the internet.  So in looking up ideas I came to the conclusion that we own nothing that would make the girls look 100.  So Ella, Grace, and I headed to Goodwill to find a little something.  Just for reference, there is nothing for little girls that will make them look 100, but lots that will make them look 18 to 20, but that is a whole other post.  $19 later, and 4 extra shirts that were just too good of a deal to pass up, we had outfits.  Now I am not really sure that they looked 100, but it was something different and the hats were too cute for words.

I don't know about anyone else, but getting the girls to get dressed in the morning can be a big undertaking.  "I don't want to wear pants I want to wear a skirt (even though it is 10 degrees outside)."  "My clothes are itchy (even though they were not itchy last week when you wore the same thing)."  "Those pants are black and black is ugly (including the black pants you are wearing mom since you have no pretty clothes besides your wedding dress)."  So I was kind of excited to get up this morning and already have approved clothes picked out and ready to go with a little excitement on the girls part to get ready.  And then it happened.  Ella starts crying and says, "itchy, itchy, it is itchy."  So fine don't wear the cute $2 sweater that matches your new skirt and gives you that I look 100 years old today look.  I did not get mad, but rather went upstairs and got her a shirt that would kind of match only to hear, "they had dressing rooms mom and you should have had me try on the sweater."  Really kid, really at 6:30 a.m. after throwing a fit this is what you want to say to me?  I just walked away, made them put on their hats and glasses and snapped a photo.

So today girls you are 100, I think, and maybe next time I can be more creative (but who am I kidding you won't dress up because it will be too itchy, not pretty, or not a skirt).  Happy 100th day of school.

And yes I know the photo is upside down, but I have a pile on my desk and at least I got a photo.

July 18, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Yeah Yeah so it has been forever since I have actually took the time to post.  Did I mention that I was a working mom who works about 45 to 50 hours a week, raises two young kids, a dog (don't even get me started on the effort it takes with that one), and who can forget about Stacey. 

This summer we have spent in a whirlwind travel pattern.  If we are not somewhere, we are at the lake.  It started in late June when we took four days down in Branson with the camper and the girls.  We had a blast!  Silver Dollar City was hot, but with water rides and the sprinklers they had going it was very comfortable.  The campground had a pool and we spent a great deal of time there as well.  Since we don't usually go to Branson in the summer we decided to rent a boat on Table Rock Lake.  Wow it was breathtaking.  Such clear water that it seemed like the ocean or a really, really big swimming pool.  The girls were a bit scared (ok well Ella was terrified since we rented a ski boat and she is used to our pontoon and as soon as Stacey took off, the back the boat goes down while the front goes up until you plane out.  The look on her face, the tears, and the screaming that she wanted to go back to the dock was just priceless) I mean after all at our lake you can't see anything let alone your toes straight down.  If there was a way that we could find to get to Table Rock each weekend without it being a 4 hour drive we would so be there. 

Ella singing in the truck

Grace singing in the truck
 After Branson we were home two nights before taking off for the lake four 5 nights.  Have no fear the 100+ temperatures just followed us.  Sure the campground was hot.  Sure you just prayed each second that the air in the camper would not go out, but being out on the water was just delightful.  The lake has to be one of my favorite places to be.  There is nothing to really do except relax (although Stacey who is always fixing something on the camper or boat would disagree) and spend time together.  It also helps that none of my electronic devices works there and for someone who always has her phone on and her ipad around plus a laptop not far away, this alone makes the lake totally worth it.  The highlight had to have been seeing the girls have so much fun with their cousins.  We have two nieces that are just younger then Ella and Grace and to see them act like "big sisters" is so funny.  We tubed, caught lighting bugs, layed and watched the stars, and even took a few bike rides. 

Despite all the travel, I was able to successfully launch a new website, get a 24 page newsletter put together, pack and unpack several times, and my most proud accomplishment, study and pass my Accredited in Public Relations Exam.  So now I should have so much free time on my hands.  Oh wait we are getting ready to leave again on two more trips.   Oh well maybe in the winter :). 

February 28, 2012

The Students Become the Teacher

As parents, we serve as our children's first teachers.  Stacey and I, with help from our wonderful sitter, taught the girls to crawl, walk, talk, eat, play, and so many more things.  Sometimes we forget that they teach us just as much.

Last summer I took my first step in my accreditation process and passed my APR readiness review panel.  I was in Texas at the time and had the chance to celebrate what I thought was a great review with my MOSPRA colleagues.  A few weeks later I got an official letter of congratulations from the UAB.  Stacey had the girls make me huge signs telling me how proud they were of me.  I used this as a teachable moment to let them know they can do anything if they put their minds too it and work hard.  This brought on the girls wanting to do so many things on their own.  I admit the hardest was perhaps taking their own bath, because really they don't wash the way I want them to and I am a bit of a control freak. 

Fast forward almost 9 months and the girls are trying new things to be "big girls" and do things themselves.  I have learned to let go of control and am really enjoying this new found freedom!  So last week I went for the second part of my accreditation and had to take a computer exam.  Having not really studied or taken a test in 10 years, I will have to say I was nervous.  I had a plan and had been working my study plan for months.  The day before I spent the day studying and the girls used that as a time to "study" too (aka practice writing their numbers and letters).  They were so proud of how much better they were getting.  Grace even said, "See mom a little hard work and I got this."  I was so proud.  From my own study session I had taken two practice tests and gotten a 100% and an 87%.  In Grace's words, I had this!

You can imagine my broken heart when after taking the computer exam I realized that I failed and failed miserably.  Almost two weeks later and I am still not sure what went so wrong.  My best friend Megan knew that I needed to just have some comfort Mexican food.  Stacey knew that I needed a hug and to just let me watch my trashy TV alone.  Mom and Dan knew to just tell me it would be ok.  After a few hours I was content knowing that this computer did not know anything about my skills and really who needed a few letters behind their name anyway.  I had no idea the girls would teach me something that afternoon.

I want to pick them up from the sitter and take them to dance class.  The girls can't remember that I asked them to pick up their toys, but they can remember that mommy took a test and they wanted to hear all about it.  How do you explain to a 5 year old that you tried but just did not do well?  As I working on my explanation of how mommy tried her best, but just could not get it, Grace said, "It's ok mommy you can try again."  Ella said, "I love you mommy and we can help you study your flashcards."  As they brought tears to my eyes, I said, "well girls I don't think that mommy is going to try again."  "But mommy you just need to keep trying like you always tell us," said Ella.  Now how do you respond to I am not going to follow the advice I give you?  I did what any good parent would do and changed the subject. 

Having thought on it now for almost a week, and receiving my official you failed but try again letter, I have decided that I need to be the teacher and show the girls that just because you fail at something the first time does not mean that you can not succeed.  It is not important if you pass or fail, what is important is that you keep trying your best until you get it right and ask for help when you need it.  So girls, mommy signed up to take the APR test again.  She is going to ask for more help and be prepared to see flashcards all over the house!  Lesson heard and learned. 

February 16, 2012

Is Honesty really the best policy?

Stacey and I have always worked to teach the girls that they need to be honest.  For example, if I asked you to pick up your room and you did not do it, tell me so and I won't be mad.  Lie to me and tell me you picked it up and then the dog messed it up and you will go in timeout and get a punishment.  I should have known that the whole honesty lesson would come back to bit me in the butt. 

It all started on Tuesday morning when our entire house just needed to go back to bed and start the day over because we were so cranky.  We finally made it out of the house, only 10 minutes late, and not really starting the day on a positive note.  On my drive to work Stacey called and said the girls wanted to talk to me.  Ella was very sweet and apologized for not listening like a big girl and for being fussy.  Then she wished me happy valentines day and handed the phone to Grace.  Grace started to say she was sorry and then asked Stacey, "what did you say that I had to tell her again?"  At least she was honest. 

So fast foward to Thursday morning when the three of us girls are getting ready in the bathroom.  Ella asks me, "mom why is your tummy so big?"  My nice response, "because I had two babies and you and sis made my tummy big."  Ella's response, "yeah but we are 5 mom so why is it so big?"  I just changed the subject and thought well at least she is being honest.  Now when you have twins, what one does so must the other.  So enter Grace with her words of wisdom.  As I am putting on my dress, it got caught on my bra strap and I asked Stacey to take a look and help me.  Grace chimes in "mommy why are you wearing a dress that is so small when you are so big?" 

You know sometimes you just have to laugh and move on. 

PS just so you know girls, you too will one day look like your mom and I am here to say that for 33, having had two kids, and such a busy life, I think i look pretty darn good!  On a side note, I will recall these comments and use them with you when you are your Nana jawhawk frequently says to me....Paybacks are hell!

January 27, 2012

Life through the eyes of a 5 year old

Growing up I was never much into drama.  I had friends that were mostly guys since having friends that were girls seem to come with drama.  I was lucky that my few close girlfriends were much like me and still are.  When we found out we were expecting, Stacey and I both wanted a boy.  When we found out it was twins we thought two boys would be nice or maybe a boy and a girl.  The idea of two girls never crossed our minds until we were told both girls.  Now don't get me wrong, I can't imagine having anything but my precious girls.  I thought I had a few more years until the drama began, but then I had forgotten what it was like to see life though the eyes of a 5 year old. 

By 5 they want to be more independent.  They like to pick out their own clothes and then we have to talk about the concept of matching.  Take for example Sunday when Ella wanted to wear a green and blue plaid skirt that Nana bought her with the blue flowered shirt.  Now in her mind they were both blue so they matched.  Did I mention plaid and flowers.....uh not so much matching.  She ran off in tears.  I know I know mean mom just let her wear what she wants the public will understand that she is 5 and dressed herself.  To be fair I did let her wear her brown skirt with multicolored butterflies to church on Christmas with her teal butterfly shirt and pink cowgirl boots so I feel that once in public with a mismatch outfit was enough (this would also be why there are no pictures of Christmas Day at our house this year). 

I am ready for battles with clothes, the girls being mad that I won't let them wear make-up and bright pink lip stick outside of the house, and the "your mean" comments when they don't get what they want.  What I was not ready for was earlier this week. 

Let me take you back to Tuesday night when the girls had just gotten out of the shower and were picking out pj's.  I hear Grace running back down to the bathroom yelling at Stacey, "you are ruining my life."  I mean really how could that be possible at 5 years old?  Well then it all made since to find out that Grace wanted to wear her summer tutu pj's and Stacey had said no it was too cold :).  After all at 5 and being Grace it is all about wear things that are pink and tutu like.  We quickly got over that with the offering of a snack and life moved out. 

Move along to Wednesday night when both girls wet their pants upon arriving home from preschool.  Grace just waited to long and who knows what Ella's problem was.  Now I found this frustrating seeing as they are 5 and at least Ella has not had an accident in over a year.  The best part was that Ella was up in her room when it happened and then she walked the entire house before coming to the bathroom and changing her clothes.  So as I am cleaning the carpet of the pee spots from her wet socks and dripping clothes, Grace has the nerve to ask me if they can have a coke.  Really kid you just wet your pants and you want me to get you a big girl drink?  I think not.  To which Grace replies, "Mom you are breaking my heart and ruining my life." 

Let it be known that my name is Stephanie Smith and my husband Stacey and I are ruining our daughters lives.  We feed them, dress them, give them shelter, and we try and make sure they are safe and happy.  In doing so we may not give them what they want and thus ruin their little 5 year old lives. 

Ella and Grace this is just the start of many many things we will do for your own good that you will not like so get used to it girly girls! 

PS remember we love you!