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The Smelker Seven





Updated: 2018-03-07T15:46:56.675-05:00

 



We Did It!

2009-01-01T11:32:26.491-06:00

Ok, I know it has been almost two months since I posted last - sorry to those of you who come by and check my blog.First off - Happy New Year! 2008, a momentous year for many reasons is behind us, 2009 is filled with new hope, new promises and plenty of broken resolutions! I know I have several that I do plan on keeping, one of which is to get back into training for the triathlon. December was a 'bad' month in that I slacked on the training to focus on horse riding. We were given a horse at the beginning of December and I have been spending inordinate amounts of time at the stable riding our Thoroughbred-Quarter Horse mix. Espresso is a delight and the whole family has enjoyed being at the stables, riding, grooming, bathing and just spending time with one of God's magnificent creatures. Here is Espresso: In other news - I had blogged in November about 101 days of sex, although in our case we decided it would have to be 102 days in order to ring in the New Year in the best way! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Terry and I completed our 'mission' this morning! Without sounding trite and cutesy, I will say it has been one of the best things we have done for our marriage, for our family and for ourselves. Not every day was easy, although 99% of the time it was. One night about a month ago Terry had a migraine. Recently I had strep throat which made me feel less than glamourous, but through it all we made it! When Terry had his migraine I sent him to bed to sleep it off for a while and then I came in and woke him up. When I had strep throat we just made sure we didn't kiss! There were a handful of nights where the thought of going to bed, reading for a few minutes and then turning out the light sounded far more appealing than the alternative. However the days of anticipation, the days of having fun, the days of enjoyment far outweigh the 'blah' days. And I discovered something that I know has been talked about in ladies magazines since time immemorial - having sex does make you feel better! There were a couple of times I had a headache. Pre-102 days I would have begged off sex, taken a couple of Ibuprofen and gone to bed. But instead I focused my husband and our pleasure and whammo - wouldn't you know it - headache gone! Not only that but whether my appearance has changed or not, I 'feel' sexier! My appearance has changed too though. I have lost weight, become more toned and am definitely more limber. I think it is a cycle - I wanted to be desirable to Terry, so I began to work out; and because of the work outs I feel sexier, which gives me the incentive to work out, which makes having fun in the bedroom easier...I mentioned in my November blog that one of the biggest benefits has been seen outside of the bedroom - in the area of communication. Terry and I have actively worked on our communication skills over the years; especially in the last two years. But like all couples we come at things from different angles and it is easy to be on the same side of the argument and not even realise it! However, there is something about sexual intimacy that opens up all channels of communication. Plenty of sex does not equal sexual intimacy, don't get me wrong. Porn stars have plenty of sex, but they're not intimate with the people they're having sex with - it is just an act for them. Sexual intimacy develops over time and is more than just a romp in the bedroom! It encompasses all aspects of one's married life.Since beginning our 102 days of sex in September Terry and I have had exactly three disagreements. And I am not talking arguments or voices-raised-I-am-really-mad-at-you arguments, but small "I thought you said/meant/wanted such-and-such" type disagreements. For two people who are talkers and who have differing viewpoints on issues, that is almost a miracle! Some may think that the reason for so few disagreements is the idea that you want to keep the peace so that you don't spoil the mood. That might partly be the case, but does not hold true for me. If I am upset then sex will not be enjoyable. And seeing the idea of 102 days of sex was to e[...]



101 Days of What??

2008-11-03T21:31:05.233-06:00

"So, do you think it will be like chocolate?" My friend Cynthia asked me recently, "You know, where either you get sick of it, or the more you have of it the more you crave it?""I don't know," I replied, "I'll let you know." And now, 46 days into our 'experiment' I can confidently say I definitely fall into the latter category - I crave 'it'. Crave what? Chocolate? No. Sex.Let me explain:On August 19th Fox News carried this story. I was so intrigued by it that I said to Terry, "Hey, wanna try it?" His eyes lit up once he read the story too. Of course, I had just given birth seven days earlier so starting the adventure was out of the question, but it gave us time to plan.While I was pregnant I had already planned (and paid for) a romantic weekend away for Terry and I to Port Royal. I would be 5 weeks post-partum then and we decided that would be a great time to start our 101 Day odyssey. In doing the calculations I realised that 101 days takes us to New Year's Eve.I haven't told too many people about our 101 Days, but I did tell Cynthia, Xavier's mother. "You can't stop on New Year's Eve," she exclaimed, "You have to ring in the New Year the right way!" She's perfectly correct of course, so really this should be titled 102 days, but we are following the title of the book!So, how does this relate to chocolate? Any couple who has been married any length of time knows that their sex life can vary from day to day and from week to week. Sometimes it is erotic, passionate and breath-taking, a foreign rich, exotic dark chocolate, not taken lightly and not brought out every day. Other times it starts out as one thing and ends up being something completely different - a random blindfold-pulling from the mixed chocolate box; perhaps The Three Musketeers lands up on the evening chocolate plate - light-hearted and airy; another time it might be something nutty. We might plan for a certain kind of evening and end up with something light years removed from it. But that is the joy of our 102 days, the unpredictability of it; the only predictable part is that Terry and I know that during the course of the day we will have sex. No excuses, no 'I'm too tired', 'I have a headache' excuses. There is no fear of rejection from each other during this time, no 'what if he/she says no?' because we have to say yes!Terry blogged about this a couple of weeks ago and mentioned that this was a little tougher than he originally thought. Here is what he said, "You might be thinking, “But you’re a guy- don’t they have sex on the brain all the time?” Well, the truth is, although we might think of it a lot, the body is not always so willing, especially when the event is occurring every single day. The stresses and busyness of the daily life sometimes have left me with more inclination for sleep than for sex."I am seeing only benefits to this though - we are a lot more aware of our appearance, both in the bedroom and out. I am on a mission anyway to get fit again after Xavier's birth, but this gives me added incentive. We touch each other more during the course of the day, and tend to sit close together even when performing separate tasks. We text each other and call, just to say 'I love you'. In some ways it is like we are courting again, but with the added benefit of years of intimacy attached to the thrill of dating. And because we know each other so well, we look for ways to keep things spicy and fresh. We talk more, and we are a couple of talkers anyway! But subjects that might in the past have been uncomfortable for us to discuss, we chat about with ease. We are more sensitive to each other while at the same time not being scared to express our thoughts on everything ranging from sex to salvation. Every marriage has its share of disagreements. Terry and I over 15 years of marriage have managed pretty well to 'not let the sun go down on your wrath' (Ephesians 4:26) but there have been a couple of times the ill feelings have crept into the bedroom with us. Well, knowing I am going to be intimate with someone later on [...]



I'm the mother of a 19 year old

2008-11-02T22:54:36.303-06:00

But I still feel 19 myself! I was 22 when Warrick was born. I was fairly young to be a mother, but quite honestly, choosing to keep Warrick was the best decision I made. I was in college, finishing out my degree, almost penniless and single. The odds were stacked against us, however as I look at our oldest son I stand in amazement at God's grace and mercy on our lives.

Warrick is one of the most mature, most steady and most loyal people I know. In his entire life I have only seen him lose his temper twice, but I have seen him take joy in simple pleasures. He is non-demanding, understanding, giving and loving. When I look at this young man I really do thank God for what I see.

He asked a couple of weeks ago what his budget was for his birthday. He's been 'jonesing' for a new TV for a while. We came up with a figure and he went searching. Craigslist came through for him and he found an almost new 50 inch TV for sale that was in his price limit (he had to put a bit towards it). He and Terry went and fetched it on Thursday and seldom have I seen his face light up so brightly!

The piece de resistance was the surprise birthday party that we put together. As impetuous as I am, I do like to plan ahead for things like birthday parties, so I was surprised when, with 48 hours before his actual birthday Terry suggested we throw a surprise party. And yet we had many people turn up, even with such short notice.(image)

God has blessed this young man tremendously, and I am thankful. We have come a long way since the day of his birth in Pretoria South Africa 19 years ago. And I know the Lord has good things in store for his future.



Hitting the Double Digits

2008-10-21T10:05:17.057-05:00

Garrick is our fourth child to make it to double digits. I am amazed they've all lived that long quite frankly! We must be doing something right - although all of our kids, Garrick included - have had their share of bumps, bruises, cuts, scrapes, stitches and broken bones.

As I was getting ready for the day I thought back to the night Garrick was born - he was our first child delivered at home. In retrospect it was one of the wisest decisions we made: if we had chosen to deliver at the birthing center (where both his older sisters were born), he undoubtably would have been delivered in the minivan on the side of Southfield Freeway. From the first contraction to his birth was under 50 minutes; he might have decided to arrive after his due date, but when he made an entrance, he was certainly dramatic!

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And some things never change - Garrick is a natural comedian (inherited his Dad's quick wit), and talented actor (again, shades of Terry); he has an excellent voice and is very musically gifted. But most of all, he is boy who loves Jesus.

On Friday night a group of friends will come over and a videogame-a-thon is planned - we are bringing out the Wii, the Playstation, and the Nintendo. Sleep is optional - and I doubt very much that it is on the cards!



Tri-ng

2008-10-09T08:47:17.301-05:00

Little Xavier turned eight weeks yesterday! He looks more like his father every day and his parents are quite literally glowing! Their lives have been completely transformed with the arrival of their son, and I couldn't be more thrilled.Those of you who knew me after our fifth child Carson was born, will know that I lost all the weight after having our own children. You may also remember that between pregnancies (most notably between Hayley and Garrick) I didn't lose all the weight. As a result when I delivered Garrick I was much heavier than I would have liked. BUT, I lost it all!Carrying four babies in under three years has made some changes to this body. Although I didn't gain a lot of weight with the twins, what weight I did gain I didn't lose because I knew I would be getting pregnant again. So when Jackson came along in April 2007 I was about as heavy as I was when I delivered Garrick. I dropped the baby weight pretty quickly, but again was stuck with the extra pounds that I just didn't lose after the twins. I was also a little 'hamstrung' because I fell during my pregnancy with Jackson and broke two toes on my right foot. Plus, I experienced painful braxton-hicks contractions from about 20 weeks into that pregnancy. Walking more than a block would bring one long 45 minute contraction so painful I would have to stop whatever I was doing and lie down. I would like to think I am not a pain wimp, after all I do natural child birth, but man, those puppies hurt!After Jackson was born I did try to lose the weight, and was successful in dropping all the baby weight in the first 6 weeks. He was born in April, and by the end of May we were 'matched' with our third couple and there was talk that we might try for a July transfer. My then-OB had given me the go-ahead. Knowing I was going to get pregnant again caused all thought of trying to shed extra pounds go out the window! Well, July never materialised, August was out because the parents were in Spain visiting family, and then there were delays because of medications that weren't working properly. However every month there was a chance we'd be transferring. I therefore started my eighth pregnancy at the highest weight I had ever been in a non-pregnant state.All of that back story to say that after Xavier was born I became determined to lose the weight. Unfortunately the contractions I experienced with Jackson I experienced with this last pregnancy and so my exercise was severely curtailed. Who wants to exercise knowing that walking for 10 minutes will land you on the couch for 45? I swam a fair bit, and that probably kept me from gaining too much. Two weeks after Xavier was born I started working out. My goal was just to lose the weight and get some muscle tone back. But Xavier's mom has given me a challenge. She completed a marathon while I was pregnant and she was training for a 150 mile bike ride from San Antonio to Corpus to raise money for MS. But she is also training for a triathlon. She challenged me to participate in the triathlon as well. The more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. It gives me a specific goal, and a deadline - something I work well under. And because the triathlon is not until next spring, I have time to train.Now I am working hard to participate in my very first (and possibly last!) triathlon. I am glad I have several months to get ready because I am really out of shape - it is quite pathetic! When I started working out two weeks after Xavier was born I could only walk 1 or 1.5 miles at a slow three miles an hour pace. I can now walk 4.25 miles in just under 55 minutes. I will be adding running to that this week, and then increasing the distance. The first time I tried cycling I could barely do three miles! I feel so much better, with more energy and definitely more healthy - and people are noticing the change in my shape. Although I still have 25-30 lbs to lose, I am confident I can do it. My goal is to lose most of that by [...]



Serene Sunday

2008-09-07T22:24:50.761-05:00

Our church offers three (actually four) services these days. A Saturday night service, two Sunday morning services and most recently a Sunday afternoon Spanish service. Terry teaches in the 11:00am service and now also teaches in the Spanish service. He loves teaching the kids and has great fun - but it makes for a long day for him.

I decided to attend the 9:00am service today and then take our four younger kids, and a neighburhood kid, Amanda, to the San Antonio Zoo. My in-laws kindly bought us the family membership as a Christmas gift last year, and we generally make good use of it. Today was the perfect day to go - the crowds were down, the weather was fine, 93 was the high, but there was no or little humidity. The animals were out in full force, and the kids were filled with energy. San Antonio Zoo is very pretty, with many points of interesting architecture, and is surrounded by a park, with the Witte Museum and the Japanese Tea Gardens nearby.

The kids did have a good time - we go so often these days that they know exactly when a new animal is on exhibit, and if something is out of place!

Garrick and Teagan
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Carson
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Amanda and Hayley
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School Days or is that Daze?

2008-09-02T22:59:21.309-05:00

By now most of the nation's school kids have started school. Our kids actually started back on August 25th, the week before Labor Day. I think the Texas school system is slowly working towards starting after Labor Day and ending the school year closer to the middle of June, rather than the beginning of June. Perhaps one reason they like to end the year a little earlier is the heat - our summer here starts in April and ends in November, with the hottest months between May and August. If they extend school through June, the cooling bill must be astronomical - especially when one looks at the June we just experienced.

Anyway, the kids started school. This year I had to spend big bucks to kit the kids - not so much in school supplies, but in clothes. Teagan has grown 8 inches since last year and now is only 1.5 inches shorter than me. I noticed most of her clothes were too short, so we held an impromptu fashion show a month ago and at the end of it she had two pairs of jeans, one shirt, and two t-shirts that fit her! Hayley inherited many of her clothes as a result. Garrick was in the same boat - he'd outgrown all of his pants, and quite a few of his shirts. Unfortunately, unlike the girls who can share many of the same things, Garrick and Carson are built completely differently. Garrick is in Slim, Carson in Regular. So we hied ourselves off to Ross, WalMart, Kohls and Marshalls, and $700 later all four kids were outfitted. I have never spent that much in one season on clothes! It was insane - but they needed everything from underwear out. I haven't even got around to the shoes yet - I know that is coming though. Teagan and I are wearing the same size shoe (for now) which is fun for both of us. I teased her and told her that if she grew any more, I wanted her shoes.

So, here are the first day of school photos - Garrick has peanut butter on his cheek, and the mark between his eyes was a spider bite that was just subsiding.

Garrick and Carson (image)

Teagan and Hayley (image)



Happy Labor Day Weekend

2008-09-01T09:27:13.291-05:00

The talk is summer is winding down - perhaps it is in the northern states, but here in San Antonio the general consensus is we will have another three months of summer before the cool down occurs - which is mostly true.

Unfortunately our neighborhood pool closes this weekend. It seems such a shame because the weather will be fine and hot for at least the foreseeable future. But our lifeguards have to get back to College, and school. One graduated College and now has to get a 'real' job, so there are no people to man the pool.
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We plan on spending this afternoon and as much time tomorrow at the pool getting in the last official swim of the season!



Eleven Today

2008-08-20T11:47:29.917-05:00

Wednesday is a good day to have a baby in the Smelker household - four of our five children were born on a Wednesday, and Hayley was one of them.

I asked her several weeks ago what she would like for her birthday, and I then sent an email to Terry outlining the ideas. She asked for a laptop (not even close! Warrick got his as a graduation present); a TV - again a big, fat NO; and some Polly Pockets - well, ok, but they are not really a gift I would buy. Then she asked for a Nintendo DS, a handheld gaming system for those who don't have kids. I thought that was a brilliant idea, and so did Terry.

On Monday Terry went out and bought the system, a game, a protective cover for it, and Warrick bought a second game for it. Here is the look on her face when she opened the game:

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Whenever birthdays and Christmas roll around I am reminded of God's love for us. As parents, Terry and I want to give our kids the very best (without spoiling them) and it breaks our hearts, if, for whatever reason, we are unable to. We know God wants to give his very best for us, and did, in the person of Jesus. I fall in love with Him just a little more every time one of my kids has a birthday.

HAPPY 11TH BIRTHDAY HAYLEY!!!
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Xavier Fernandez-Tello

2008-08-19T09:37:57.345-05:00

I have been fairly quiet on my blog about my latest surrogacy journey. Last April I delivered Jackson, and then almost immediately the agency I was working with asked if I would consider being matched with another couple. I was initially a little hesitant, after all, I had just had a baby! But in June Terry and I met with Javier and Cynthia, and I knew I could not say no. After a few little bumps in the road we had our transfer set - November 30th. The pregnancy was confirmed in December and in January we discovered they were expecting a singleton. I was not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed - I really thought it was twins again. Perhaps, in retrospect I am glad it was just one baby.

At the ultrasound we had done at 21 weeks, Javier and Cynthia found out they were going to have a boy. "And a big one, too." said our OB. At that moment I began to ask whether we could induce a couple of weeks early. My reasoning was if I had to be induced anyway (the previous two pregnancies ended with inductions) let's do it sooner rather than later. We talked about for a few weeks and finally settled on August 13th for a birth date. That date has significance for me for two reasons - it is my only brother's birthday; and it is the date that Terry formally adopted Warrick back in 1997.

We got to the hospital early on Wednesday morning and after 81 minutes of contractions, Xavier Fernandez-Tello made his loud entrance into the world! Weighing a hefty 8 lbs 12 oz (3.9 kilios) and measuring 21 inches (53.34 cm), he certainly is no lightweight. According to his parents he only lost an ounce before leaving the hospital, and is a champion eater.

People ask why I do this, and whether it is hard to give the baby up at the end. Well, it was never my baby to keep in the first place, I am its keeper until it is ready to go home with its parents. When I look at photos like this one, I know I have become a part of something very special, something that all childless couples long for, and this is why I do this.

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TV Spot

2008-07-16T17:03:40.248-05:00

A couple of months back (two now) I was asked to be on a morning show (Great Day SA) for the Mother's Day show, showcasing surrogacy. Knowing I was to be on the show was the catalyst that finally got my surrogacy agency started. Since then I have had a lot of activity to the agency website and have a possible match pending with a couple looking for a surrogate.

Two days ago I was finally able to pick up that segment from KENS 5 and Terry posted it to his website: iMuse

Anyway, last month one of the magazines I write for asked me to interview the former host of the OTHER morning show here in town called San Antonio Living. She saw I was pregnant and yada yada yada, we talked business (she had started her own company) but she said it was a cool story and she would send my details on to the new host of SA Living.

Well, out of the blue yesterday afternoon at 2:30PM I got a call from the host. They wanted Terry and I on the show today at 10:00AM! And they focused on the agency aspect and less on my being pregnant.

God has opened so many doors for me. Back in April I had to interview the President of one of the largest hospitals in town. It happens to be where I delivered Jackson last year, and where I am delivering this little one next month. He had heard there was a surrogate who had delivered and as soon as he realised it was me, he gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him when I came to the maternity section because 'I want to know you're taken care of'. But the hospital has its own fertility doctors and he told me that he was going to tell all the doctors at their center to start referring my agency for couples needing a woman to carry their baby/babies.

I am humbled and truly thankful as I see how God is opening these doors for us. Most people have to fight to get advertising, but people are coming to me!

We arrived at the set bright and early this morning and found out that we were to be given 10 minutes, and that we were at the top of the show, right after Regis and Kelly. After our segment was complete, my phone was flooded with calls! I have couples looking for surrogates and I even received a call from a woman wanting to be a carrier.

Here is a link to the video (need to download it for my website!):
San Antonio Living



Swimming, bowling, and kittens, oh my!

2008-07-12T12:37:26.647-05:00

The summer league swim season is done and Hayley and Carson were both happy to receive their trophies. This is Carson's first ever trophy and I know, despite some whining during the course of the short swim season, he was happy to finally have a trophy with his name on it!
(image) We have been spending many hours a week at the pool - this has been a dry, long and HOT summer, with most days hovering around 95-100 degrees, so the water comes as a welcome relief for us all.

Terry and I have had a long-standing tradition with our kids, dating back to when Warrick was young where we have a Mommy/Daddy and Me day. For a long time it was a Daddy and Me day because Terry worked so many hours, and we wanted to ensure he developed a great relationship with them. As they have matured, the kids now choose either he or I to go and do something with. This week Carson asked me if we could have a day. He asked to go bowling and then to watch a movie. It was such fun bowling with him, and he is quite the chatterbox when he is by himself!
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Our new kitten, Thandi, has made herself completely at home and it's apparent the other cats are enamoured with her as well, especially Drake, our large ginger male. I have dubbed him "Daddy Drake" because he has taken every kitten under his wing, and little Thandi is no exception, as you can see here!(image)

So, we are in the full swing of summer and loving every moment of it!



Of watermelons and Fireworks

2008-07-06T19:02:51.632-05:00

I love holidays!! I love knowing that my family can spend the day together and we get to do something fun, even if it is low-key. This year we decided to spend the afternoon at Northern Hills Pool. Our kids were/are on their swim team, and we spend most days there. And seeing this has been a hot and dry summer we have been there almost every day!

This July 4th the pool had fun, games, a silent auction and a raffle. This was our first year participating and we had a blast! The kids took part in an egg toss, and then Teagan and I swam in a watermelon relay. Watermelons were greased up and you had to swim and push them from one side of the pool to the other. We came in third, but had fun doing it! By far the best contest was the watermelon eating one. Warrick took part in it, and won! Here he is enjoying a watermelon slice. All the contestants had to eat it with their hands behind their backs. Carson participated as well, but didn't win. He was a little bummed until he realised he was allowed to finish off his large watermelon slice.
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Warrick and Carson - Carson is on the right hand side:
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The finale for us was meeting up with some friends and then driving up to a little town in the Hill Country called Kerrville to watch their fireworks. Our friends, Chris and Autumn have been making the drive for about four years and extolled the virtues of this particular fireworks display. Kerrville isn't a large town (it does have a good tourist trade), but their fireworks truly were magnificent. And the drive there was gorgeous too - they don't call this area of Texas Hill Country for nothing! The limestone hills are beautiful and in many cases the road is cut right into the hills.
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Welcome To the Smelker's AKA a Menagerie

2008-06-30T20:45:22.177-05:00

Almost a year ago, our family had to make the hard decision to put our Maine Coon, Serena, to sleep. She had crept into our hearts the way no other cat has.

We have brought two new cats into the house since then, but neither of them are Maine Coon cats (although we love them dearly). The Maine Coon is special. We have not actively looked for one for couple of reasons, we have four cats already and really don't need another one, and the other reason is we didn't realise how much we missed having a Maine Coon around.

At the beginning of June, Teagan bought a frog. While we were at the pet store, I noticed a gorgeous male Maine Coon. Now, I know better than to buy a pet from a pet store, so I did no more than look briefly at him, think he was gorgeous and enquire how much they were selling him for. I almost lost it when they told me $1000! You can get one from a reputable breeder for less than that!!

When I got home that afternoon, I told Terry about the Maine, and his response was typical - we don't need any more pets. Well of course I know that! Anyway, a couple of days later he had to return to the pet store to buy some crickets for the frog. He called me from the store and said, "OK, that Maine is gorgeous! If we had a $1000 in the budget I would so be bringing him home." Of course, he knows better. Then he said, "You know, seeing this Maine make me realise how much I miss Serena. I really think we should look at getting another Maine Coon." Just a week earlier a Maine Coon Cat rescue group had advertised on craigslist, looking for people to adopt a slew of kittens they had rescued from a Kill shelter in Austin. I asked him if he was serious because we could get one of those kittens for less than $150. He said yes, so I called the woman immediately.

We filled out the paperwork that day! The organisation called all our references, and our vet. We passed the adoption test, but had to wait three weeks for our new kitten. She was severely underweight, was flea infested and so filled with worms they were coming out both ends. She responded well to the treatments and her foster mother fell in love with her. However, this weekend she was ready to come home, so Terry and I made the drive to Austin to get her. Her foster mother has done a great job of socialising this little one, and she has made a seamless adjustment into our home as a result.

We came up with a name for her the same day we saw photos of her. We decided to use an African name, so I picked a Xhosa name meaning 'nurturing love'. The name is Thandi, pronounced Tun-dee.

So, without further ado, here is our new baby making herself at home in the little cat tower we have.

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Pageant Weekend

2008-06-23T21:10:28.782-05:00

Back in March (or April) we received a letter in the post inviting our girls to an open call for National American Miss. I checked it out thoroughly before taking the girls to the first open call because the last thing I wanted was to spend money and feel we were gypped. Imagine my delight when I realised this is a great organization, with good morals, and they encourage girls to become the best they can be, without relying on looks. In fact, up until the Jr. Teen level (age 13 and up), the contestants are not allowed to wear make up.

The open call consisted of the girls undergoing a short one-on-one interview, and speaking in public to the people who were in attendance. We were informed that we would receive a call back letter if our girls were accepted. Part of me thought, "Yea right, everyone will receive a letter!" However, in looking at the number of girls who were in our open call, and knowing that two more were offered that same weekend in our location, as well as open calls in Houston, Austin and Dallas, I see now that to be chosen as one of the finalists was actually a great honor. If the same number of girls came to each open call, there were probably close to 900 girls in the South Texas area alone who attended open call. Only 140 made it to state finals, and our girls were two of them.

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The weekend was an eye-opener for us. We opted to do just the basic pageant - personal introduction, one-on-one interview and formal wear. There is also a talent segment, an actress segment, a spokesperson segment, a modeling segment and a photogenic segment that are optional. It does not affect the judge's scoring if one participates in those optionals (they have different judges for the optional segments), but we noticed that those girls who were involved in the optional contests were also the ones who scored the highest with the pageant judges. I think the confidence the girls get from being so involved carried over to the pageant part.

Already the girls are talking about what they want to do for next year! Of course we have to go through the call backs again, but they should do just fine. And next year Terry and I will be better prepared - there are so many things we need to do as parents to prepare the girls too.

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We had planned on doing on some sight-seeing this weekend. Now we know that it is impossible to do that! Once we were in the hotel our entire focus was pretty much on the pageant! Ah well - next time...

I am posting a couple of photos here, but here is a link to an album I created from the photos we took this weekend:

Smelker Girls.



More swim photos

2008-06-19T11:12:57.483-05:00

For some reason there are no photos of Carson taken (I work as a timer at the meets, so taking a camera would be a waste of time!) I am sure that in the next meet I will get one of him - perhaps I can ask Clem to specifically take one! Anyway, here are two of Hayley from last week's meet - freestyle and getting ready to dive in for the relay (her goggles broke, so we need to buy some new ones:

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Summer's Here, and the Livin's easy

2008-06-11T20:56:42.492-05:00

Well the Smelker kids finished school last week and already we are in the full swing of swim meets, swim practice, piano practice, and the like. Actually swim practice started two weeks before school let out. Our team had its first swim meet on Saturday. Hayley and Carson are on the swim team this year. A professional photographer happens to have kids on the team, so he spent Saturday shooting photo after photo. He got a great shot of Hayley as she swam in her breast-stroke race. She took 3rd, out of 16 - so not bad at all! Carson did not place this week, but he surprised all of us with his turn of speed. He had not been doing well in practices, and I wondered whether he would even finish his race. But he came in 3rd in his heat, and I think took 8th overall (again out of 16 swimmers).Father's Day is approaching and last week I asked Terry what he wanted for his day. Now, I had just bought him Tom Servo so was unsure of what else to get him. He asked for a lightsaber - one of the ones from The Sharper Image. Part of me thought, "Well, if that's what he wants..." But it seemed so, well, lame. On Friday (June 6th) Warrick called me and asked if I wanted to go in on a Father's Day gift with him. "What do you want to get?" I asked. "A Wii," he responded. We had tried to buy one at Christmas but found it impossible. But Warrick knew a local store that got shipments in once a week. He called the store when the shipment came in, and drove over immediately and bought the system. He called me again to let me know he had it. "Do we have to wait until Father's Day to give it to him?" I took pity on him, I think he was more excited than anyone to give the Wii to Terry, so last week Terry his early Father's Day gift. Let me tell you, boxing on the Wii gives you quite the work-out!Next weekend we are on our way to Houston as the girls will take part in a pageant. We will spend a day at the Space Center, and on the way home spend some time at the Houston Aquarium. We had to buy evening gowns for the girls and I got a great deal from a place here in town. When the dresses are altered, and the girls put them on, I will put up some photos - they look stunning!So, all in all, a busy June, and July is shaping up to be just as busy![...]



Dinner Dilemma

2008-05-22T15:09:51.517-05:00

Remember the halcyon days of our youth, where our parents used to plunk a plate of food at the table and we had a choice - either eat it or go hungry? Perhaps if you're under the age of 35 you might not have those great memories! Seems like many families today, parents and kids alike, are such fussy eaters that they now eat a diet of pizza, hotdogs, pre-packaged family TV dinners, chips, salsa, cookies and ice cream. Is it any wonder then that a program like Honey We’re Killing the Kids became an instant 'water cooler' topic the moment it hit airwaves in the UK and the USA. The Joy of Tech website even took a swat at the issue with a comic strip where a group of overweight kids tease the skinny kid for not being fat.I know with the pressures of work and family commitments, and the running the kids a million different places it becomes hard to always prepare a fresh meal every night - but my own mother is a shining example of someone who worked a full day job and still managed to make from-scratch meals every night. Dining out was a rare treat. She also kept no 'junk' in the house, but we always had an endless supply of fresh fruit and vegetables to munch on. And in the days when she cooked, the microwave was a new invention. So what's my excuse?Five years ago, when our children were 13, 7, 5, 4 and 3, Terry and I did something that I have never regretted, and is something I am often asked to speak to other families about. We created a family of non-fussy eaters. Our oldest son, Warrick does not know the meaning of the word fussy, and was a fantastic eater. My girls followed, and were introduced to a variety of foods at a young age, and have been pretty good about food.But then along came child #4. As a baby he was all right, and didn’t spit too many things out. As he got older and was able to verbalise, he certainly made me aware that he was not too impressed with the family dinners! If I served pizza (rare occurrence), he was thrilled and hot dogs (maybe served once or twice a year) were heralded with crows of delight; BUT if anything coloured appeared on his plate, we heard all about it too.One night I reached breaking point. I had made a roast, with potatoes. He liked meat and potatoes, but I had the audacity to also make corn, broccoli and perhaps even carrots. He began to cry, “I hate this. I don’t want this.” I was frustrated and angry. Like my own mother, I make almost all of our food from scratch because I want to know what it is going into it; it takes time to prepare a good meal, and for the umpteenth time it was getting turned down. I am not one those of moms who considers herself a short order cook, so there was no leaping up from the table and consoling him by making him a separate meal. And we don’t carry frozen snack foods, so I couldn’t/wouldn’t microwave some pocket-pizza-type dish. I suddenly had a vision though, of this child 15 years down the line — refusing to eat any fruits and vegetables, eating only meat, pasta, bread, potatoes and junk food. I could not let him do that to himself. At that point I turned to Terry and said, “We are becoming vegetarians for a week.” It was a sacrifice for me too, as I love my red meat, but I wanted to instill an important lesson in our kids.I went online and found seven vegetarian meals and the following day went to Farmer Jack and bought all I needed for the next week. I sat the kids down and explained the plan. I would make dinner that night, and we would all sit at the table to eat. If they chose not to eat the meal I made they could be excused. They would spend the rest of the evening[...]



Special Mother's Day

2008-05-11T21:56:28.546-05:00

Some Mother's Days stick in your memory like super glue. One year Terry and the kids bought me a diamond solitaire necklace. Last year we were driving home from a vacation from Disney World.

This year has far surpassed my expectations. Firstly, on Wednesday morning I was featured on Great Day SA as they told our story of being a surrogate. That show was repeated this morning - Mother's Day.

Terry has booked a massage and facial for me at Spa Jane. I will go and enjoy that on Thursday morning, and I am thoroughly looking forward to it.

But my biggest surprise came this morning as I made my way downstairs after getting ready for church. On the kitchen table was a smallish bag with a couple of cards. I read the cards and then took the gift paper off the bag. I was expecting something small like perfume, or perhaps a watch, but what I saw instead was this:


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Warrick and Terry decided to split the cost of the phone and yesterday while they were out picking up Warrick's new bed, they stopped off at The Apple Store and bought me the one and only cell phone I have said I wanted! I am not really a gadget kind of person, I seldom use anything other than my iMac on a regular basis. But when the iPhone debuted last year, I said to Terry, "I want that phone!" It's the only time I have ever asked for a gadget! Terry was thrilled, thinking that maybe I was becoming a gadget geek like him.

So, welcome to my new phone - like any Mac product in this house, it has a name. I have named my phone Aidan, it means 'happiness' and was my first choice as a name for Warrick before I was persuaded to choose a different name. This is my first iPhone and therefore seemed appropriate.

This Mother's Day will certainly stick out in my mind!



Happy Birthday My Love

2008-05-02T17:23:24.579-05:00

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I have known you for 5,475 days (give or take a day).

We have been married for 5,178 of those days.

Today you celebrate 43 years on this earth - that is 15,706 days (I included leap years too!), or 516 months.

Can I love you more tomorrow than I do now? Well, I love you more today than I did yesterday!

Happy birthday my love, may the next 15,706 days be the best of your life!!



Spring Happenings and more

2008-04-14T18:27:27.075-05:00

Flowers are planted, the air is balmy, and all around me is the evidence of spring. Of course here in San Antonio it has been that way since February! But a month ago I planted flowers all around the front of my porch. It makes the front of the house appear so bright and cheery. I chose a lot of red to 'pop' the white facade of the house.

In other news:

I have not broadcast to too many people that I am pregnant yet again. Again, not my baby, but a baby for a deserving couple. Let me hasten to add, this is NOT my baby. I am not getting pregnant and then giving my baby away. The genes/DNA of this baby belong completely to the couple I am carrying for. I am currently 22 weeks pregnant and today we had all the important ultrasound to reveal the gender of the baby. It is a boy. This is now the 6th boy I am carrying! I have had 3 girls and 5 boys, I thought I was about due for a girl, but nature decided otherwise! The parents are over the moon, in fact the father couldn't even talk for a few minutes, he was completely stunned.

Countdown to the end of the school year begins, the pool opens in less than a month, and already it is hot enough to swim. We took advantage of an open house at a local gym, and used their wonderful outdoor pools with water slides to cool down this weekend.

Gosh, I LOVE San Antonio!



Before and After

2008-03-06T07:52:58.889-06:00

A year ago this month we brought this little one home from the vet:
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This is him today. To give you an idea of how large he is, Joshua our San Antonio Special dog weighs in at 17 lbs. Drake weighs in at 16 lbs 2 oz!! This is one big cat!!
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Carson Lee Smelker

2008-03-05T19:33:28.286-06:00

Our 'baby' is all growed up! Well, not quite, but almost. I was talking to a client this morning and mentioned that my baby was eight years old today and although I didn't get misty-eyed I came to the realisation that all my kids are truly growing up. Eight sounds so old, you know?

Carson woke up first thing this morning and raced down the stairs. He knew there would be a couple of gifts for him and he was not disappointed. He has been 'jonesing' for two lego sets - one an Indiana Jones set, where Indiana is chased by the giant ball. The other one was a Y-wing Star Fighter from Star Wars. Although he was allowed to open them this morning he wasn't able to play with them until returning from school. As Terry said, "I pity his poor teacher today. I am not sure he will be able to focus on anything!"

The minute he and his older brother Garrick arrived home they ran upstairs. Here it is 7:30pm and they are STILL building and playing! They took a short break for dinner and a bath, then they were back at it.

Here is the Indiana Jones set:
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And here is the Y Wing Fighter:
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Anniversary Weekend

2008-02-24T12:33:35.389-06:00

Waterfalls
Sunshine
Blue Skies
Lovely hotel
Riverwalk
Tower of the Americas

Perfection!!

Terry and I just returned from a weekend getaway, even though the getaway was only 25 minutes from our house! San Antonio has so much to see and do and we have barely scratched the surface. This weekend we spent time at The Buckhorn Museum and The Tower of the Americas. Terry had a bit of a hard time with the Tower (750 feet off the ground) not because of the height but because the windows are convex and threw his balance off. The Tower also has a 4-d ride called Skies over Texas. The Landry Company (who own the Tower) have taken a page out of Disney's book and themed the ride exceptionally well.

Here are some photos of us at the Tower and of the waterfalls:

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12!! She's 12??!!

2008-02-21T19:06:41.143-06:00

My littlest baby (weighing in at 7lbs even) turned 12 today.

4,384 days old
144 months
6 houses
one inter-state move
6 schools (five preschool and elementary schools, one middle school)

When I wrote in Teagan's birthday card I said she is the sunshine of our lives and with her easy smile, her sweet personality and her desire to help, she truly is our ray of sunshine.
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Twelve years ago Teagan was born and came home from the birthing center. Looking down at the black-haired baby with a mohawk Terry and I were astounded that we produced this little beauty queen.

Happy birthday my love.