Hi Friends! The Smith Family home is under quarantine, so we've not been posting much lately. Avery had croup all last week and now I'm sick, so the energy/interest to post is on the back burner. Maybe when we get to sunny AZ. Santa photos to come soon... gotta go blow my nose.
Hi Folks! The Smith's have been MIA for a while... not for any reason in particular, we just haven't taken that many photos lately! So let's catch up!

Early November brought a really fun reunion with my (Steph's) friends from high school. We get together every two years or so and have a relaxing, no-kids weekend! There is something so refreshing about being with people that you have such history with! While we may not talk as often as we'd like and we're spread out all over the world, there is such refreshment in getting together and hearing each others lives, making each other laugh, and sharing each others hurts. I love it! This year we were fortunate enough to go to a cabin near Heber, AZ. There were seven of us that were able to attend this year- representing 20 kids! There were lots of funny stories, a ton to catch up on, junk food to consume, cheesy movies to watch, naps to take... does it get any better??!! Who wouldn't want to spend a weekend with these awesome women??With the start of the holiday season, I've been working a crazy amount of hours. Jeff's been crazy busy at school- he's revamping a physics unit for his team of teachers that teach the freshman science class... yikes. This team teaching stuff bring out Jeff's perfectionistic side! So, we didn't really see much of each other for a while.

Then, Adam and Stacey came for Thanksgiving!!! YEAH!!! It was so awesome to have family around on our first holiday away from Indiana! Avery loves Uncle Adam and Auntie Stacey, so it was a great week! We didn't do too much that was exciting. We had one nice day early in the week and I took Stacey on my favorite bike ride. The got to see Avery at tumbling class! Avery enjoyed showing off all of her skills for Daddy and Stacey! Then it got really cold and snowed- which Adam loved- sometimes he's a little crazy like that. I'll say, for a bunch of rookies in the Thanksgiving dinner preparation area, our dinner came out pretty good! Not too much of it was from scratch or anything, but everything was relatively hot at the same time, nothing was too burned- pretty impressive!

I worked at 6 am on Black Friday- yikes!!! Then, we went and bought our Christmas tree!!! We watched Christmas movies, decorated our tree, and put presents under it for "Christmas morning". Yup, that's right, the Bouse's and the Smith's did Christmas morning on Saturday morning! It was soo fun to see how excited Avery was! Grandma and Grandpa Smith sent some gifts for Avery with the Bouse's, so she got lots of fun stuff!

Here's the sign of a good Christmas... Avery is wearing her new dress-up dress, playing with her new cash register! Doesn't get any better!

She's finally gotten the idea of naming her toys something other than their title- her stuffed cat is 'kitty cat', stuffed Bambi is 'Bambi'. But, she got a new stuffed puppy and the above seen penguin- they are now Erin the puppy, Bob the penguin, and a Christmas decoration she found is Jo the Moose! So fun!
Hi All! Here are Avery's Halloween pics. She had a great time trick-or-treating in Erica's neighborhood! She couldn't believe that she just kept getting more and more candy. After every house she'd shout, "Oh boy, Oh boy!!!"

Erica's neighborhood was really fun- what I remember Halloween being. Tons of kids everywhere, people just walking in the street safely, all of the houses participating, and tons of streetlights and sidewalks! Muncie folk, you know why I appreciate the light and sidewalks!

Avery ended up spending most of her time with a little guy that was a bit younger than she was- a neighbor. He was dressed as a little bear. She kept saying, "come on little bear, let's go!" She continually refrenced him by little bear instead of his name... sorta cute!

She has since forgotten all about her stash of candy... good for her, bad for us!!!

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Steph told me I needed to get on the computer, and finally post some videos she's wanted on here for a while. Plus, we got another tonight, so it only makes sense that I should finally do this thang! To lead off, here's Avery making her first snow angel ever. (It's a little long, but we think it's cute, and we don't know how to edit these videos after we take them. Anybody know of a good, free video editting program?)

This next one is from a month or so ago, when Bob was visiting. He loved this little thing Avery had started doing, and we agree. She's quoting a line from this new Winnie the Pooh show she likes, but the motion is just Cute with a capital C! (For those of you that don't watch this show all of the time like we do, Avery's saying "I slap my hat. We're on the case." Just like the Super-Sleuths do!)

And this last little gem is from tonight, when Avery was singing along with the beginning of the "Circle of Life" song from Lion King. Steph and I have thought this was hilarious for a while, but we just captured it on video for the first time tonight. So here's the thing: This song starts with some African chant thingie, and Avery just sings right along, as if it's a language that she speaks, with words that she actually knows. We love it- hope you do too.

So there's your video-show of the month! Hope you enjoyed it. I thought I'd also throw on a couple other fun pics... Avery exploring Steph's skis, Steph at the Colorado Springs zoo (with Avery and Erin and giant giraffes!), and Steph and Erin after a loooooooooooooong bike ride. Lata'.

Thanks to Jeff for updating you all on the last few weeks in words... now I'm going to show you the last week-ish in pictures! I'll also be sharing some really random quotes that have come out of my daughter's mouth in the last couple of days that I find humorous!

Jeff had last Friday off of school, so we took the opportunity to go to a farm up by Boulder and have some fall fun! It was crazy windy, so Avery didn't really enjoy being out in a wind-swept field and actually picking the pumpkin-especially when she could see the play-land off in the distance... so that job was really left to Jeff and I. No pictures about that.

At the play-land, they had six huge, inflatable jumping things, a petting zoo, hay rides, a straw-bale maze, a hay jumping pit- it was great! So Avery got into the harvest spirit on these straw bales.... she really just crouched down on her own... Being a go-getter and going down the giant slide all by herself....
Climbing on stuff....
Looking a bit mischievous in the hay-jumping pit....
Looking wind-swept and peaceful on our private hay-ride... we apparently picked a good time to go- between school groups and before the after-school crowd!
More hay-ride fun....
Goofing around with daddy....
And that about sums it up!! Our knowledgeable friends told us we can't carve pumpkins yet because the crazy-dry Colorado air shrivels them up really fast... who knew??? Then we had a lovely day of 75 degree weather where we went on our first family bike ride. It was great.

Then this day came!!! The next day it was in the low 30's all day and lots of snow! Avery got all bundled and was excited to go play in the snow! This was monumental, folks. Last year, she used to cry when she had to walk on the teeniest bit of snow just to get to the car!!! She NEVER wanted to go out and play in it! So we were iffy on how long it was going to last... but alas, she surprised us again by loving it! Avery making her first snowball...
Who knew sand toys were so useful year round??? Avery did! Check out the background people... This is October 21!!!!
Making her first snowman that never progressed beyond the first level....
Forcing out a smile for the sake of mommy.... but really, she wants to be concentrating on her snow-task at hand....
And finally, progressing all the way to full-blown playing in the snow with daddy! We have some great video of her making her first snow-angel... but I don't get how to put video on, so Jeff has to do it!
And now for the random quotes:

Here's the scene: I'm trying to get Avery to do something- get dressed or something, I can't remember....she really, really needs some completely random object in her hands before she can even think about attempting my request- and really, she just doesn't feel like complying in my time frame... she's walking down the hallway away from me-with a little too much sass in her step- glances over her shoulder and says, "lax, mommy". Yes, those of you who speak toddler got it right- my 2 1/2 year old just told me to 'relax, mommy'!!!! Yikes, 13 years old, here we come!

Scene: Anyone who knows Avery knows that if she could have an IV of milk into her arm, she'd love it. So, we've been cutting her supply down to morning, nap, and night. So today, I'm bustling around getting ready for Erin's visit tomorrow (YAY, can't wait!!!) and Avery is bouncing around me verbally trying anything she can do to get some milk. Repeatedly she says, "mommy, we'll have some lap time, some chill down time, some tv time..." Over and over again she says she needs some chill down time. Now that I see it in print it doesn't seem very funny- I guess it's funny because we don't say chill down time- never have- we've told her to chill out, but not chill down-she just made up that little expression on her own.

Scene: Mommy on couch, Avery on ottoman. Playing catch with choo-choo ball. Every time Avery makes me stick my hands out to catch the ball- she apparently doesn't know my skills- and every time asks if I'm ready. Then, one time she bust out with this one... "you ready, mama-riffic?!!!" What??? Are you kidding me? Again, not an expression that has ever been said in our home- ever... where does she come up with this stuff??

Well, its very, very late and I got really wordy- so to borrow from my hubs- congrats if you actually made it to the end of this post!
Hi there, all you blog-checkers out there. Sorry that it's been so long since we updated this thing. I've been sitting here on a lazy Sunday morning (where it's snowing outside in beautiful Denver), and I've been reading blogs of friends, and I've realized that Steph and I are pretty funny when it comes to what we choose to blog about. To be honest, our blogs are mostly fueled by when we got good pictures of Avery, and when we didn't. Well I decided to buck the system and write about some stuff that has been going on in life - EVEN THOUGH WE DON'T HAVE ANY PICTURES. (Note: On Friday we did go to the pumpkin patch with Avery and got some cute pics, so for those of you only interested in Avery's cute little smile, we'll get you covered soon, too.)

So anyway, I think our last blog was Steph talking about Bob and Jo's visit, but I never wrote anything about it, so here goes. It was SUCH a fun surprise to have out of town friends waiting on me when I got home from school on my birthday. I've got such an awesome wife who loves to plan big fun stuff for me, and such great friends to want to visit me, and such great in-laws to help fund the whole deal! In addition to just the hangin' out and talking with old friends, which was super-fun, we all drove up to Breckenridge when I took the day off on Thursday. It was great that Jo and Bob didn't really have any designs on what they wanted to do, so we decided to at least try something "mountainish" while they were here. Breckenridge is a cute little mountain town, and we got to enjoy a nice drive in the mountains, though the only hiking we ended up doing was up and down Breck's main drag.

After Jo had to leave, I really enjoyed just hanging with Bob and doing some of our old stuff. We ate Taco Bell, watched 30 Rock and Office, saw a movie (Live Free or Die Hard is definitely the coolest guy-movie I've seen all year!), and talked critically about pop/rock music that we like. It was just such a nice slice of home, brought to me in a convenient Colorado-birthday-surprise package. How great!

When Bob's trip had to come to an end, we didn't have much 'regular' life before Steph and Avery got ready for their trip to Indy the next weekend. I'm speaking from my perspective, of course, but I could tell that Steph really enjoyed her trip to visit old friends and family, and of course attend the annual Taylor Alumni Softball Extravaganza! She got to hang with lots of folks in Muncie, which she loved. She got to see lots of old players and co-workers at TU, and her old team as well. And I was sooooooooooooooooooo jealous of her when she got to hang with other Colts fans and watch the game on Sunday. I know it might seem silly, but having relaxed Sundays with friends in the fall was one of my favorite things each week, and it's just not the same watching the games at home without a full house of pizza-roll-munching Colts fanatics, making it personal! So anyway, Steph had a great time being back in Indiana, and I can't necessarily give a play-by-play of everything she did, but she loved seeing everybody, and I wish I could have been there too. Avery also loved it, coming home talking about friends and family and Daisy-dog (Adam and Stacey's pooch), and what a great time she had.

While Steph was out of town, I was having a bachelor's weekend in Colorado, and I had a nice time. In addition to just some quiet time at home, I also got to hang with a couple new friends from Arapahoe. Jeff, who's also a new teacher at AHS in the foreign language department, took me for a tour of some spots in the mountains, which was great. He's a big outdoors guy, and he loved having the opportunity to share his love of the great outdoors with a new guy to the area. I enjoyed getting to spend some time with a new friend, and also getting some insight into some outdoor things to do on weekends that really aren't that far away from my house. I also just loved getting out in nature for a short hike- it's been far too long since I've really been in nature. Praise God for what a beautiful world he's made for us- and especially in Colorado! My goodness is this place pretty! I also had the chance to hang out with other new friends on Sunday. I met Jon, another new guy at AHS, and his wife Ann(e?) at a sports bar to watch football and grade papers. It was a fun time. By the way, if I haven't mentioned it in the blog lately, I'm enjoying people at AHS a lot in general, and I'm really optimistic about those relationships. It's so much different than it was at Pendleton- not because the people are nicer or anything, but because I live so much closer and I'm really in dire need of new friends. Everybody's been so welcoming to me- I had two other offers for hanging out over the weekend that I didn't even have time for. I think Arapahoe's going to be a good fit.

So that's what's been going on with trips lately. As far as regular everyday life, Avery's still doing her tumbling class which she loves. Steph and I have decided on a church to invest ourselves in a little more. (It's not necessarily our long-term decision yet, but we like Mountain View well enough to try getting involved a little more and see what happens.) I got a bike yesterday- literally only the 3rd bike of my life, and I haven't owned one since middle school- and we went on a fun family ride. I've been tutoring a few students for some extra cash, and it's fun (and lucrative!), and it's freeing Steph up to request a few more days off work. Oh yeah, and Steph's suddenly become a coffe drinker! Weekend mornings are somehow more cozy because of that, believe it or not. And we're gearing up for more visits in the next month, as Erin (Steph's friend and former assistant coach) comes next week, and as Adam and Stacey get to come out over Thanksgiving!

So I hope that catches you all up to date on the lives of the Smiths, and we'll try to blog again soon with some pics and not so many words. (Congratulations if you actually made it all the way through this. Whew! That Jeff can sure be wordy sometimes!)
Hey Folks!! Many of you know that the end of September brings our beloved Jeff's birthday! I thought it would be a great present to fly one of his great friends from Indiana out to Colorado!!! Bob T. was the lucky one- we've been plotting and planning since sometime in August! I got the Davis Family in on the surprise and we pulled it off! We decided it would be fun to have Bob and Jeff talking on the phone while Jeff was driving home from school. Jeff would then walk in and see Bob sitting in our living room and be all confused and surprised. Well Jeff, being the good hubby he is, didn't want to be talking on the phone when he came home because he thought I had a "big surprise" in the works and didn't want to ruin it! So sweet! So he got off the phone right before he walked in, and here's what happened after that!

It was great! He was stunned most of the evening! The real kicker is that the surpriser also got surprised!! When I picked Bob up at the airport he says, "oh, I brought a surprise" and then proceeds to stand there for a second. I looked at his bags to see if he was going to pull something out of them... and look back at Bob... and then.... this girl runs up!!!!!!

What a shock!!! I just kept yelling, "what are you doing here????" in a very high-pitched tone!! It was sooo exciting! It has been so much fun showing them where we live and enjoying our old friends!!! Avery has been eating it up! Jo and Bob are the first people she asks about in the morning!! She'll be sad to learn that early tomorrow, Jo is going back to Indiana. What a fun visit, though!
This is just another little gem... a select few of you will recognize this pose... the remotes, the look of concentration, the look of semi-frustration... that's right- we broke out Mario Kart today. It felt like memory lane! We haven't played since we've been here, but it was fun to remember all of the fun times we had in Indiana playing this silly game!
For those of you who don't quite know, Jo and I won't have to say good-bye for long. Avery and I are coming to Indiana in early October. We'll be hitting the campus of TU and watching some awesome softball and just enjoying our friends in Upland, Muncie, Crawfordsville, and Indy! So look us up!
This is one of those rare "Jeff Actually Contributes to This Blog Too" entries into our Smith Family Happenings blog. I've been inspired to write a quick post because my daughter is, to put it simply, the best new little tumbling girl I know. When I got home from school today, Steph told me that Avery had fun at tumbling class today, and that she learned to do a summersault/somersault (both spellings are accepted, apparently) on her own, going over some sort of pommel-horse thing to help support her. So anyway, when Avery woke up I put down a bunch of blankets on top of each other to make her a little 'gym mat', and thought I could be inventive with some kind of pommel-horse substitute.

But as soon as I told her what the blankets were for, she started to try a somersault without any help... and SHE DID IT!!! Maybe this isn't such an amazing feat for many of you, but I was astounded and thought some video would capture the moment nicely.

This is the best little video of about a half hour's worth. She enjoyed the process immensely. And I think her little bow is pretty stinkin' cute too. She's been doing that lately- we think as a byproduct of her love for the Little Einsteins.

I don't think there's any other big news around here. I just finished up with Arapahoe homecoming week. which impacted the schooldays a lot more than I was used to at Pendleton. It was a fun but hectic week, and now things are back to normal. Steph's asked her Children's Place managers not to schedule her for quite so many hours, so we've actually seen each other for several evenings in a row, which has been a nice change.

I'll leave you with a picture of Avery in one of her favorite activities- playing with water outside our front door. She's spent quite a few hours getting wet like this over the course of this summer.

Apparently, I've been 'tagged'. Which means I'm supposed to write a blog entry about what the tagger tells me to... thanks, Jayne ;) So, I'm supposed to write 8 things about myself. In no particular order....

*I came on down and won the showcase showdown on The Price is Right mainly due to my competitors ever-so-slight overbidding...thanks, girl in black catsuit!

*I sheepishly admit that I've been to two Michael Bolton concerts...one of them opened by Miss Celine Dion. Yeah going to high school in the early 90's!

*My greatest sports memory was in high school. It involved a bit of revenge and smokin' a triple down the left field line, on the coolest field I had played on up to that point in my softball career, in front of some college scouts, off of the state champion pitcher. What an at-bat!

*On a trip to the Grand Canyon with my boyfriend- now the coolest hubs ever... we were walking along as a nice man stared at me for a long time... then said, "you Davenport??". You make the call- me and tennis champion Lindsay Davenport? Twins?

*For five years, I had my dream job with this awesome group of people. Now, I work at the mall. Good for my family, still hard to get used to the absense of softball and team.

*I leave used Q-tips broken in half all over the house. It drove my mom crazy for years and now drives my husband crazy. I don't intend to leave them there, I just forget.

*There's a chance I hold the record for most consecutive days in a row of watching "Remember the Titans". There was a span where roommate and I didn't have cable and I watched it every day after work. My hubs tells me I have a remarkable capacity for watching the same movie over and over.

*I am not a runner- at all. But, I've run a marathon. I can count on one hand the amount of times I've run since that day.

Now I'm supposed to tag people. So, I don't have a ton of blogging friends, so my options are to tag Bob, Amy and Shedd.
Avery had her 1st haircut the other day!! She really had a lot of fun! We went to a place called Lollilocks that specializes in kids haircuts. We thought with her hair, that might be important. She thought it was really fun that she got to watch "Happy Feet" and sit on a pink dragon. Her hair has really been getting quite unruly, so we thought maybe if it had a little shape, it would lie better. So far, so good! Here's her poofy before...

And during... loving the job that Heather is doing....

And here's the after! Zig zag part, sparkles, bows and all!

Then we went to a little historical festival in town. (Adam, you should be proud- that we did something historical and that the place you work at is wayyyy cooler) There was a petting zoo, that was really the main draw. There were a ton of school groups there and Avery got poked in the eye by those hooligans. They weren't really regulating how many people were in the tiny petting zoo at one time, so it was a little overwhelming- hence Avery's red eyes from crying.
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We started tumbling class today! Avery loved it and was a bit less timid than I was expecting! Here's Avery with her teacher learning to do a somersault!

And walking on the tall balance beam! Every time she jumped off, she'd put her hands up in the air like a real gymnast... where'd she learn that??

And her favorite part... the trampoline! I'm afraid she was a bit of a trampoline monopolizer... she did take turns, but she also took a lot of turns!
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...fonder? frustrated? Yes, we have been absent from our blog for quite some time and we deeply apologize. We kept forgetting to bring our camera places, and who wants to read a whole blog full of text, right?

On that note, we'll start off with a bunch of text. Probably the biggest event of note is that Jeff started school! He started with a week full of meetings back in the middle of August and started with students around the 21st. There are a ton of new things to get used to- open campus, shorter schedule, 'unscheduled' time, and team planning just to name a few. But he's enjoying his students and fellow teachers, so that's great. We went to our first AHS football game and it was fun to see even more of the culture of the school. Jeff will probably blog more about specifics later.

Avery's been adjusting well. While she enjoys lots of mommy time, she hasn't really had much yet as we've had all of the grandparents in town. My parents came for a long weekend and we got to go to the Coors Brewery in Golden. Not too exciting for a two year old, but fun for the rest of us!! We also got to spend some fun time celebrating my mom's birthday- I haven't gotten to be with her on her actual birthday in about 10 years! So it was quite a treat! Here's a funny picture of Avery in front of Coors- still hasn't gotten that natural smile thing down yet.

Then Jeff's parents came in town for a week! Avery loved all of the attention and the affirmative responses to her incessant question, "Come play in my room?" Ma and Pa get very tired of it, but grandparents seem to have a high tolerance! Yeah for grandparents! With the Smith's we got to go to the Denver Aquarium and several tasty, strip-mall restaurants. Just by coincidence, we kept researching new places to eat, and they all ended up being located in strip malls. Ya probably had to be there, but we thought it was funny.

And finally, since Jeff and I were both going to be home all day today, we decided to continue marching down our list of touristy Colorado-y things to do. Today was a trip to Mt. Evans. It's Denver's answer to Pikes Peak- only about 50 miles away and 14,240 up! The beauty is that you can drive almost all the way up and then you only have to hike the last 130 feet in about a quarter of a mile. We saw Big Horned Sheep, Mountain Goats, and a Yellow-Bellied Marmot!

We stopped at a lake right before the summit and Avery was a trooper- hiking down to the lake, all excited to be out and about. Then we got to the top and started the final hike- very windy and about 35 degrees- she was not a trooper. But, we made it to the top and had fun, overall! Here are some pictures... Avery at the Summit Lake...

And the Smith family on top of the mountain that you see behind Avery in the above picture. Yeah, the lake you see below us, is the one Avery is sitting next too, neat huh?

Above is Avery faking us into believing she's going to be a great hiker! This is her on her way back up from the lake. And then below are some shots of the Smith fam on top of the mountain!

Today we finally assembled Avery's new bike trailer that we bought at Target a few days ago. (Thanks Grandpa and Grandma Smith for the contribution!) And it turns out that Avery just LOVES this thing. Mommy, on the other hand, found out just how hard it can be to pull an extra 50ish punds behind you- in a much more hilly environment than we had in Muncie, and she is planning on being sore tomorrow. I (Jeff) don't have a bike, so I wasn't on the trip, but Steph told me that it got pretty difficult after a while. I think she's gonna give it another go tomorrow, though, and she's also assured me that there's nothing to be ashamed of if I decide to ride her bike. (I think I almost believe her, but I'm having trouble shaking some deeply-ingrained feelings about boys on girls' bikes, I think related mostly to my middle-school buddies making fun of some other poor kid.) So anyway, I just thought these pictures were cute, so I thought I'd share them with you.

I'll leave you with one more picture. Nothing special was going on, except that we were eating dinner and Avery held up her slice of cheddar and said "Cheese," as she smiled. It might be her first pun, albeit unintentional.