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I forgot how to do this...

  • Sunday, September 1, 2013
  • Jeff and Kari
  • It's been so long since we've posted something on this blog I had to look up how to do it. The kids happened to be looking back at old posts tonight and laughing at all the things they "used to do" and how they "used to be funny". And I realized I should post something here ever so often just so they have something to remember. So here's a funny thing from this evening.

    As soon as we were done reading scriptures Jeff tackled me to tickle me (retaliation from an earlier event). Unfortunately Rachel had just gone to the bathroom so as the other kids were coming to my aide, she could only scream form the bathroom "Mommy, Mommy, I'm coming".

    And here's a few photos...


    Mom went to Utah and all we got were these shirts.

    Trip for ice-cream post piano recital.

     Tubing at Beaver's Bend.

    Summer 2012

  • Sunday, August 19, 2012
  • Jeff and Kari
  • Not only are we getting behind on our blogging, but Jeff has really started slacking on photography. As you can see from the video below our photographic library has predominately been relegated to iPhone snaps in indoor lighting (not a recipe for success when dealing with active kids). Hopefully, a good slide show with a catchy chorus will make up for our wondering ways. Enjoy...

    Post-Christmas Festivities

  • Sunday, January 1, 2012
  • Jeff and Kari
  • Rachel kicking back on the ski lift after only her 2nd day skiing
    Jake taking in the views at Ski Apache outside Ruidoso, NM
    The family that learned to ski together over 2 days in New Mexico
    Post-ski scenic outlook on the way out of the canyon
    Carlsbad Caverns - mouth of the natural entrance
    A variety of speleothems - Carlsbad Caverns, NM
    Kids playing with sparklers (Hannah was nursing bronchitis)
    Jeff teaching the kids the fine art of lighting a firework

    Christmas Festivities

  • Jeff and Kari
  • Game playing at the Smith house--brings out the Christmas spirit in everyone
    Funniest part of Christmas - Ollie and Grandma taking jabs at each other
    Luke 2 on Christmas Eve (in digital form)
    Time to check the stockings after looking at Christmas lights
    Everyone's excited about Mom buying matching pajamas
    Opening presents with the McClanahans on Christmas morning
    And done!

    Pre-Christmas Festivities

  • Jeff and Kari
  • The kids getting ready to take in their first Nutcracker viewing
    Kari and Rach feigning excitement (Kari for the pic and Rach for the show)

    Crashing a burger bar with Aunt Christy and Cousin Mila
    Tackling the annual tradition of decorating a gingerbread house
    Checking out the Shrek on Ice exhibit at the Gaylord Hotel
    Jonathan making a craft Kari designed for the branch Christmas party

    Jake hitting up Santa for gifts at the branch Christmas party

    Decorating the McClanahan tree with the cousins
    Bring on Christmas!

    Christmas Card - Behind The Music

  • Sunday, December 11, 2011
  • Jeff and Kari

  • Presenting our Christmas Card picture for 2011. We are quickly coming to the realization that we are reaching a creative point in our pictures that we probably cannot sustain.

    This is particularly exemplified in this year's card. The short of it--approximately 3 weeks of concept development/execution, two location changes, three photoshoots, and two editing sessions for the final product.

    And the long version...

    First of all, the concept itself. Jeff was very disappointed with himself this year. Every picture previously taken to this year Jeff came up with the concept himself. Despite starting the brainstorming weeks in advance, his ideas this year were lame. He finally came across a picture similar to our own on the internet site Flickr. The immediate appeal to Jeff was the complexity of the shot itself. However, the original picture had some limitations (ie distracting background elements, no color, etc) that Jeff thought he could improve on. Little did we know how long an endeavor it would soon turn into.

    First off, the ornament itself. In order to make everyone somewhat visible we had to find a pretty large ornament that was also extremely reflective. As you can see from Rachel's finger in the picture, the ornament was pretty good size (8+ inches in diameter I'd say). It required an entire trip in to town by itself just to purchase the ornament.

    Second, Jeff wanted nothing distracting in the background. This proved difficult as the ornament reflected >180 degrees of scenery. Luckily, we live in an area with plenty of farms around.

    At least it seemed easy on the surface. But, Jeff wanted color--larger than life colors. The original area we picked out had a perfect little pine tree on it. The only problem was the grass itself. For those outside of Texas, we experienced a record drought and heat wave this summer. As a result, the majority of the grass in the area was an unflattering brown. We wanted green for Christmas! So the hunt continued. We found a neighboring irrigated field and commandeered it.

    Our next hurdle was the weather. Our first attempt was frustrated by grey skies. Our second attempt produced some decent shots, but 20+ mph winds blurred the already grainy reflection. That and the fact that little Rachel couldn't keep her exposed finger out in the 30 degree weather for very long. We had to wait for another week or so for the weather to cooperate.

    Lighting our faces was the next hurdle. Flash photography was out because you could see the flashes in the shot. We therefore had to shoot the picture at dusk when the setting sun would still light up our faces without casting shadows (hence the glowing faces and rim of sunlight around the ornament). We had a 10 minute window or so of cooperating light. Also, dusk was also the only way to get a frontlit picture with a super blue sky behind us.

    Of course the most difficult element was wrangling the kids and dogs for those few minutes of vanishing light. While not as crisp a shot as Jeff originally wanted (he was wanting to have another crack at it), it was good enough for the masses.

    And the final question? Where's the camera? It was mounted on a tripod in the field a few feet behind us. We were all standing about 2 feet from the ornament and Jeff was pushing a remote behind his back to fire the photos. It was tough to keep the boys' hair out of the frame, but after almost a hundred shots the only editing that was done was to crop the camera out and put grass back in its place.

    So, there you have it. Definitely our most technical shot. Definitely our most labor intensive (as far as finding a location and then getting all the elements to cooperate in turn). Probably won't be topped--but then again Jeff has 11 months to start planning the next one...

    Merry Christmas, but now the models are going on break!

    2011 - Year in Review

  • Thursday, December 8, 2011
  • Jeff and Kari
  • Well, it's that time of year. For most of you reading this, you have (or will shortly have) received our family Christmas card. Can you believe it? We actually got our card out early this year--such an accomplishment! However, we were forced to play the age old game of printing a family update. Some view an annual update as pretentious or boastful while others welcome the ritual recap. Last year we were of the former mindset and thus forewent the update. This year we were undecided and so took the middle road--we saved some trees and for those that really care what we are up to we give you a blog update (complete with ugly dog pics).
    Our family highlights of the year are as follows:

    First (and foremost) we hit Disney World over Spring Break. This was a first for our family. Most of us had never been to Florida or Disney World (or on an airplane for that matter)! Regardless of how cliche it may be, Disney really did make some great memories and I don't know how we'll top that vacation anytime soon.
    This summer we were able to get together with some of Jeff's siblings down in San Antonio for a couple days as well.
    Bomber (the first Smith family member) past away this summer on the hottest day of the hottest year in Texas. The grief felt by all was eased by the addition of Bunker (aka Bomber Jr) earlier this fall.
    Hot on the tail of reading the Book of Mormon as a family last year, the kids repeated their success by finishing the New Testament.

    We met a (semi-)celebrity favorite at our house--Alton Brown of the Food Network show "Good Eats"! He signed a copy of each of his books for each one of us.
    And probably the biggest change of all this year was courtesy of Hannah. Hannah decided to go vegetarian at the start of the year. Despite all our doubts, she stuck with it and in turn dragged us all (some of us kicking and screaming) in. At this point, the boys plead for meat and savor the weekly bacon we have each Sunday with our traditional waffles.

    As far as individual family member updates:

    Rachel started first grade this year. As a result, we have three of the kids at same school for the first time ever. Rachel is definitely the family social butterfly--she will engage anyone at anytime about any topic. She is following after her older sister in degree of selectivity in her clothing. She learned how to tie her shoes this year, but still has not learned how to ride a bike without training wheels.
    Jonathan got baptized this summer. He enjoyed having his cousins all come down and having his aunts and uncles participate. Jonathan loves riding his bike to school everyday--in fact, last year he and his brother were the lone riders and had to get special permission from the school to even allow it. This year they've recruited two more riders to their two-wheeled uprising. Jonathan is always trying to find someone to play outside.
    Jacob decided to join Hannah this year in the eyeglasses club. It may be due (not really) to the fact he wears his eyes out reading so much every day. Or it might possibly be the ever growing taste for video games. Jacob continues to receive countless comments about his goldilocks and thus he allows his hair to grow in Samson-like fashion.
    Hannah is trying to sever her ties to childhood. While only 11, she pines for the activities of teenage lore. It might have to do with the fact that she started middle school this year. Everyday is a new battle for the perfect outfit and the perfect hair. Shopping has become her vehicle to attain her goal of perfection (much to her mother's delight). Middle school has brought countless new clubs and opportunities for our ever distracted oldest.
    Jeff continues to work as a solo family physician. Despite trying to rein in the scope of his practice, his time constraints continue to narrow. As a result, his time to find new hobbies has diminished and so rather than delving head first into new hobbies, he's skimming the surface of other family members' hobbies--like taking Hannah's vegetarianism to the extremes of raw/veganism and back. Or dabbling in Kari's running. Give him a month and he'll move on (or steal yours).

    Kari continues to rule the roost. But with power comes great responsibility--mainly responsibilty for the animals (humanoid or not). She continues to pop into Jeff's office from time to time to keep the dust off her nursing scrubs. As far as what goes on behind the scenes at home--she likes to keep it underwraps.

    Well, that's the latest for the year 2011. Here's to wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas this holiday season!


  • Sunday, September 11, 2011
  • Jeff and Kari
  • So I'd like to do a "Back to School" post but seeing as I haven't done anything since March I've got a lot to catch up on.  I'm going to try it in short but sweet picture posts. It may or may not be in order because I'm too old to remember when things happened, I do have a middle schooler you know. 
    Trip to the new dallas aquarium. It was small but had some neat exibits.

    Fishing at a friends pond.
    Jake is now done fishing.

    We've discovered how much fun geocaching can be.

    Hannah played the viola for one year. Just one.

    At Fishcamp in Rockwall. They were catching fish left and right.

    Lego land!!!!
    This is Jonny's idea of heaven.

    Lost a tooth.

    Mesquite Roedo.

    Jonathan got baptized.

    Jonathan's birthday party.

    Jeff and I got to take a trip to Cocoa Beach and visit the famous "Ron Jon Surf Shop".

    They were really hungry.      

        This concludes our summer in pictures part one. I may or may not ever get part two up. We'll see.
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