Nov 14, 2012

Trip to Austin

Josh and I love being Dad and Mom but getting some time away to be husband/wife, just Josh and Jamie, is a great thing.  We were able to sneak away to Austin for five days. We are on our way home refreshed, rested, rejuvenated, and reconnected.  We had a great time together and were thankful that our dear friends Kim and Zach were able to join us for this awesome weekend!  Austin was the perfect location for a fun getaway! My parents graciously gave up their time to be with the boys.  While they are tired they had a great weekend getting to spoil their grand kids and the boys loved every minute of it and had a weekend to build great memories with Mimi and Ba. 
Upon arrival in Austin we wasted no time exploring the unique culture of Austin.  We walked down Rainey Street which used to be a rundown neighborhood of abandoned homes just outside the downtown area.  Recently, a women had a neat vision for this neighborhood and purchased one of the homes, did a little work and opened it up as a bar.  Now the entire street is filled with old homes converted into really neat bars and restaurants.  It feels like having a drink in your backyard, or in the living room.  Super cool!  That first stop a famous Austin restaurant called Bangers, known for its brats.  We ate at picnic tables that were all connected together, under lights in the trees, smell of good beer, enjoying the sound of great live music.  It set a great tone for the weekend.  We had a few drinks at a few other bars along the street before calling it a night after our long day of traveling.

Love this girl!
We next morning we started the day with a walk/jog along a trail running along Towne Lake right next to our hotel.  We also walked up to a very vintage style coffee shop for breakfast.  After getting cleaned up we explored downtown, the University of Texas, and the Capital all on foot.  We estimate we walked over 10 miles this day, but had a great time!  We made a stop at the student union building and the bookstore (called the Co-Op) to load up on UT gear/gifts.  There is something so fun, fresh, inviting about walking around a college campus.   

The capital building was beautiful.  It is hard to not feel history and daydream about all the people who have set foot where you are standing.   

After touring the capital we very unexpectedly decided to go to the UT b-ball game.  It was a fun impromptu stop.  Before the game we spoiled ourselves with some frozen yogurt at the coolest frozen yogurt place I have ever been to.  All walls were filled with candy bins, you could put whatever you could imagine on your frozen yogurt.   
Nice purse Zach :)

After the b-ball game we walked to 6th street (the most famous street in Austin).  We ate what I thought was our best meal on the trip at a place called the Iron Cactus.  We also enjoyed having some cactus juice (so good…but one was enough).  What happened on 6th street as the evening went on was crazy.  The whole street was filled with bars, all with live music.  We have never seen so many short skirts, dresses, shorts, nor such high heals, boots, shoes in once place in our lives.  Needless to say we were very out of place.

The football game was the next day.  WOW IT WAS AWESOME!!  So fun to be in a stadium that holds 100,000 people.  So cool to be in a sports environment where people have so much pride for their team and their state.  The word I keep using to describe the day is pure.  It felt like what sports should be; people getting together to cheer their team on, all for fun.  It was nice to watch a game without hearing people complain, whine about the refs, get mad at coaches, take things so personal, or be negative.  It was FUN!  UT beat Iowa State 33-7.   

Halftime tribute to our military!!  Pretty sweet!
 After a little rest we rented a car and drove out to a recommended restaurant called the Hula Hut on Lake Austin.  We felt a little like we traded Austin for Hawaii but enjoyed getting to eat outside.  We love getting to spend time with Zach and Kim.  We are thankful for friends who love the Lord, want to travel, desire to raise kids to be leaders and followers of Christ, are real in conversation, care about us, support us, encourage us, and make us want to be better people.  We love time with them and can’t think of a better couple to walk through life with.   
 After dinner we headed back down town to find a place to have a drink.  We discovered the west side of 6th street.  At this point we decided that Austin/6th street is bi-polar.  The East Side of 6th Street we saw the night before never woke up before noon, enjoyed shots, any loud music, decorated with band posters, and dressed like hipsters.  The West Side of 6th Street we now were on shopped at expensive boutiques stores, spent the morning at the spa, traveled first class, and drank martinis and we liked this side a little better.  We found our way into an old renovated luxury hotel.  It was beautiful and once again you could feel the history.  We were able to go on a carriage ride around the capital.  It was beautiful at night.  It was another full but fun day. 

Sunday we started the day worshipping at the Austin Stone church.  Church was held at Stephan F. Austin High School (home to about 2800 students).  It was a great start to the day.  We then enjoyed a late lunch on 2nd street (in the same neighborhood where we had explored the night before).  It was then time to enjoy an IMAX experience of the newly released 007 movie Skyfall.  It was awesome and well worth our time that evening.  We couldn’t resist the temptation to finish the evening returning to the best yogurt place ever.  
Tickets of all our fun events!!

Our final day we decided to go to the last two places in Austin that had been recommended to us.  The first stop was a 4-block strip full of vintage shops and restaurants called South Congress.  The biggest hit was a cowboy boot store called Allen’s Boots.  It was filled with rows and rows of the coolest cowboy boots ever—too bad they were all $400-$700 dollars.  We finished our trip in the Arboretum area.  This was the new area of Austin.  We were told that on average 700-1000 people a week were moving to Austin…CRAZY.  This area was filled with all the chain stores we are all familiar with.  Zach and Josh should be glad this was our last stop with little time for shopping.  
Allen Boots
We now are on the plane home ready to see our two adorable boys and sleep in our own bed.  But not too excited about facing laundry, grocery shopping, work after being gone, snow on the ground or cleaning the house.  However, the trip was what we needed.  My parents once said they are glad we live in the Northwest and can travel to other parts of the country.  At the time I wasn’t sure I felt that way, now I couldn’t agree more. 

Oct 20, 2012

Fall Festival

We went out to a Fall Festival just outside Pullman.  IT WAS A HIT!!

Brendan loved the corn maze.  Unfortunately it had blown down in a rainstorm a few days earlier, but Brendan didn't care...he enjoyed running down the path. 

Dried Pea sandbox

Evan thought the tennis ball cannon was hilarious.  It was the first time we truly heard him have a deep belly laugh.

It was a fun family afternoon.

Oct 15, 2012

Fall Update

It has been a GREAT Fall so far!

The school year has started off well for me, it has been good to be back in the classroom.  This is the first fall in many many years (around 20) that I have not spent a lot of time on or around a v-ball court either playing or coaching.  It was a difficult decision to make to not coach this fall but one I am thankful I did.  I feel like our family has been very well balanced.  Josh is plugging away with all the crop insurance and still enjoying it.  Brendan was so excited to return to Stacey's.  He loves spending time with "his boys" (the kindergarten boys he is at Stacey's with).  He loves going each day and picking them up at the bus garage.  Brendan loves riding his big wheel bike around the neighborhood and thinks it is fun to scare me by flying down the hill...of course giggling all the time.  He continues to be the most joyfilled kid ever.  He doesn't complain about much.  He just got another tooth/molar in and we had no idea until after it was fully in because he didn't whine about it at all.  He is growing up.  He no longer sits in a high-chair, he doesn't like to be in the stroller, he now sleeps in a big boy bed, and he is beginning to work on potty training.  If we tell him we will do something later we frequently here the response "I want to do it now please", or if we tell him we will do it tomorrow he says, "I want to do it this day".  He is also learning to say "please" in a begging tone..."pleeeaase".  He is still obsessed with cars, trucks, and tractors.  And he is becoming a really good counter, he can count to 25.
Washing his car with Dad

Brother LOVE!!

Evan is growing up as fast as his little body will let him.  We are quickly finding he is our little adventurous explorer.  He is on the move and goes everywhere in our house by army crawl.  He has been found heading out the screen door, pulling over lamps, getting into plants, heading down the stairs, crawling down the hall.  He loves to follow his brother everywhere and also play with all of Brendan's toys (this has led to some new problems in the Smart house).  Evan is a great eater, and loves to talk.  He continues to be our boy who lives in the extremes.  He is either the happiest baby ever or the most miserable.  His smile draws peoples attention.  He loves to connect with people one on one.  It has been fun to begin to see the gifts God has given him.   

We have gotten to do some really fun things.  As Evan gets older it is becoming easier and easier to go out and do more and more things.  We were able to take Brendan and Evan to the Palouse Empire Fair and Brendan to the Latah County Fair.  Brendan loved riding on the rides at both fairs and loved getting to see all the animals.

Josh's Mom was able to come and spend a few days with us.  Brendan loved having Grammy here.  We were able to go up to take in the WSU pre-game football events, shop a little (Grammy spoiled the boys with some really cute new outfits), and we were able to share what our life looks like here in Pullman.

Josh's Mom was really gracious to stay with Brendan and Evan so that Josh and I could go up to Courd'A'lene and be at an awards program where my Dad was awarded a very special lifetime achievement award.  Jenni and Justin drove over from Missoula and Josh and I drove up from Pullman to surprise my Dad.  I have only seen my Dad surprised maybe one other time, it was priceless and awesome to be there.  I am so proud of my Dad!!  After the awards program Jenni and Justin and Josh and I joined my parents on a sunset cruise on the lake.  It was very special to be there and see my Dad honored.

Needless to say...LIFE IS GOOD!!

Sep 22, 2012

The Zoo

For Labor Day weekend we decided that it would be fun to take a family vacation just the four of us.  Where do you go on a family vacation with a 2 1/2 year old and a 6 month old?  THE ZOO!!!!
We drove over to Seattle and stayed Friday night at a nice hotel and enjoyed the pool in the morning.  Brendan had fun swimming, jumping, listening to sounds under the water, and floating.  We spent the afternoon by the waterfront in Kirkland (there was a treehouse play area that was especially a hit!)  Saturday night we had a friend who so graciously let us stay at her place while she was on vacation (THANK YOU KAREN....WHAT A HUGE BLESSING TO US).  Sunday morning we got up and headed for the Zoo.  Brendan took it all in.  He didn't want anything to do with the stroller or holding our hands, he wanted to run from animal to animal.  When we asked what his favorite animal was we get different answers each time, but some of the highlights was the giraffe, elephant, kangaroo, and birds.  Brendan was able to feed the birds, they flew right up onto the stick he was holding.  Brendan loved this.  It was so fun to hear and see Brendan after the zoo imitating all the animals.  It made us excited for many more car trips to come.

Sep 18, 2012

Oh Summer...where did you go?

I am posting this better late than never (seems to be my MO these days as I chase after these boys).

We had a very very very busy but fun months of July and August!

 We were able to start the month with July with a visit to see Josh's family in Sun Valley.  We had so much fun!!  They were re-doing the road in front of his parents house, Brendan LOVED to watch all the road equipment (we had front row seats for a great show).  We were able to go on a couple bike rides, go to some parks, and spend some great time with family.  

We went up to Ketchum one evening and enjoyed appetizers with Vicky and Bev in their beautiful condo and then walk over and enjoy "Ketchum Alive" (a concert in a park square).

Karen also hosted everyone at her house one evening.
Time with the GREAT

Uncle Steve showing him how it is done
Just Chillin
We also LOVED getting to spend time with Amy and Dirk.  Brendan so enjoyed having someone to play with.  It is fun to watch the two of them have such a great time together.

Cousin Love

Brendan and Evan loved their time with Grammy and Grandpa J (the highlight of Brendan's day was when Grandpa J got home to play).  He enjoyed it so much that we were not so great about capturing pictures of this great time (Karen and Kerry we are so sorry we don't have many pics to post of you with the boys...just know how much they loved being with you).  It was such a fun trip to the Valley.  We are so thankful for such great family.

We left Hailey and drove straight to NBC Volleyball Camp in LaGrande Oregon.  We had another great summer of camps.  It is always so neat to see all the ways God moves during our few weeks of camp.  We love NBC but have made the decision that this will be our last summer directing camps for a little while (it is just getting too hard with Josh's job and our two boys).  We are thankful for the awesome ministry of NBC and look forward to returning in some way again in a few years.

Our summer was completed with a few weeks at the lake (Jamie and the boys were there fore 2 1/2 weeks while Josh came up on the weekends).  It was great to have some good family time to finish our busy summer off.  Whewwww, it was a busy but great summer.