Saturday, October 15, 2011

Failure to Thrive Syndrome

I am smiling again. I got my wife back after a long, long absence. When we anticipated being empty-nesters, I did not guess that it would be me alone in the nest. After our wonderful trip to the UK and Switzerland, Sheila stayed in London and partied with Chelsea; then visited Darcee in Portland to help with Keith's treatment; and finally went to Eugene to hang out with Little Evelyn. To say I missed her would constitute a ginormous understatement. Seriously, there were moments were I was pretty sure I wouldn't (and couldn't) make it another day.

For centuries, nursery workers have been aware of an obscure diagnosis to explain mysterious infant and children motality--Failure to Thrive Syndrome. I was pretty sure that I was suffering from this potential fatal ailment. While visiting my attending physician, Dr. Brett DeGooyer, for some minor lumbago symptoms, he in fact, verified the diagnosis. I have always thought him a wise physician, but his ability to hone in on this diagnosis like a laser shot, was well, beyond impressive. Fortunately, the cure for this most serious of conditions is pretty simple--gobs and gobs of TLC. The She-wolf is back in the nest, so friends and family members need not worry that I continue to suffer, nor that my life is still precipitously dangling in doubt.

In describing my near death experience to a doubting friend, I felt the need to show him the prescription written by my doctor. I have attached this very real and valid document lest there are others that doubt my experience, or are simply curious about this diagnosis. Regardless, rest assured that I am once again thriving and happy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

How Do You Measure A Man?

I'm helping my dad make his Halloween costume this year. In an effort to complete his costume in an efficient and accurate manner I sent him an email asking him for his measurements.
Here is his EXACT response:


The obvious answers are as follows:

1. All the way around the largest part of your chest: Massive and strong like a bull

2. All the way around the largest part of your arms: Massive and hard like hammers

3. Shoulder to shoulder: Massive and muscular like the demigods.

4. Waist: Tiny and svelte I’m sure

5. Belly button to knee: Long and strong like an Olympian.

Actually, I don’t know any of these measurements.

So I’ll have to go home and measure and then let you know tomorrow.

thanks so much for doing this.


After receiving this email, I promptly emailed my mom for some help.

She measured my Dad and sent back an email, but not before my Dad was

able to type several "additions" to the correct measurements.

Here is an EXACT copy of the second email:

syd: thanks so much for your help. Our clan must stick together. and now for my pathetic stats:
Chest: 44 --huh? You mother apparently doesn't know how to take a simple measurement.

Arms: 15.5--say what? why do they look like massive anacondas
when I pose in the mirror after showering then?!

Waist: 35--Hmmmm? Must be measuring in centimeters.
There is no possibility that my "Big Ab" is girthier than 32".

Belly to knee: 21. No comment. I have always been a Hobbit.

Shoulder to shoulder: 19--who knew that measuring tapes could be defective,
and that your mother would be so careless as to buy a defective item.
Thanks mucho!

After reading both of these emails, I realized one thing:
My father is an immeasurable man in more ways than one.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We really were in the Swiss Alps--Honest!

Okay. I know this picture looks totally fake, but we really were in the Swiss Alps. Rocky took this and for some reason we all look "photo-shopped" into the picture. This was the scene of a James Bond movie "On Her Majesty Secret Service" circa 1968. Sheila is positive that I could do some of the cool stunts from the movie. Her willingness to believe some of what I tell her is just one of many reasons why I love her so much.

Our Swiss adventure was most excellent--thanks to our hosts: Rocky, Sarah and E!

Our wonderful Swiss hosts--Rocky and Sarah, who despite having only arrived in country a couple of weeks ago, were willing to host us for a few days.

Amazing and beautiful No. 2 Daughter--Chelsea

E milking a Swiss cow.

E milking another Swiss cow.

Our traveling troupe looking back at some of the treacherous roads that could only be handled by James Bond and Rocky Smart.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

50 in France, 51 in Switzerland, 52 in ...

Sheila spent her 50th birthday in Paris. Today she is spending her 51st birthday in Switzerland. She kept telling us she didn't want to have a big party where people pity her because she's getting old. She wanted to go someplace quiet and private. Well, I'm not sure either Zurich or Paris qualifies as quiet or private, but at least it's someplace fun. It's hard to pack presents for her birthday so she's really gone without any big celebrations the last two years, but somehow I think the trips alone were sufficient presents. Besides its hard for us to shop for Sheila because she has fairly particular tastes and likes to do her own shopping. So a trip really is the perfect gift. This is her 11th foreign country. I'm embarrassed even saying that because Switzerland is Chelsea's 30th foreign adventure. (Very few people can compete with Chelsea.)

Empty nesters...hmmm... Seems weird just saying those words. Sheila's life has singularly been focused on our children and our home. Bearing 6 children and raising 5 of them to adulthood, caring for every lost soul within her reach and taking care of me ( ie, keeping me from derailing), has been an enormous undertaking. Its time for Sheila to enjoy time doing what she wants; and going places that interest her. For many years our family vacations have been centered on traveling to Utah and trying to stay connected to family. We are all excited for Sheila to focus on Sheila and enjoy her life. So, a big Smart family shout out and Happy Birthday to the one person who has made our family what it is. Happy Birthday, Sheila!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Be True to Your School

I was outraged to view the two comments to Chelsea's unsubtle, recent post about our various schools. In no way was the picture of her supposed "mascot" convincing of superiority. Yes, she did put it last, but is that really showing equality or was it a tactic to help those deciding on a mascot? "I don't know who to pick so I will just pick the last one I can remember." I think you see my point. But with all that aside, the truly sad part was I was sold out by my own wife. True, she has been known to wake up at 2am and watch the royal wedding by choice and then proceed from the original viewing with an 18-hour marathon of royal wedding reruns, but still, follow the Beach Boys' advice and Be True to Your School. Syd did concede that no matter how much she loved our Duck, her heart was given away along time ago to the Royal Family. I must give her props for sticking to her guns. I think all the Smart's would probably agree, which is why there will inevitably be heated debates over the next few years, or realistically decades, as to which mascot is the best. So in order to make my argument of why the Duck's are at the top of the food chain allow me to make just two arguments.

1) Ducks fly together.

2) My mascot can beat up your mascot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Team Smart

This fall 4 of the 5 Smartie sibs are back in school. The Bank of Durrelly is officially overdrafting. But this begs the questions: Which team are you cheering for?
The Wolverines
The Ducks
The Cougs
Or the Royal Family?
My alliances are obvious...I mean seriously the royal family eats cougars, wolverines, and ducks for dinner. Which team are you on?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spiffy Family

For the first time in two and half years, all the Smarts were together again! (If only for one day)
I couldn't resist posting this pic. Can't wait until Christmas when we can really party!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Future BYU Co-Ed

Just a quick shout out for the baby Kardashian. She's smart, tough, a total betty and she just turned 18!
We love you little D!

Looking this good can only come naturally.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Corner

I don't pretend to know how it works, but I know there are no accidents when it comes to how our parents are selected. I like to think I chose mine. And if I did, I must have been a good fighter to beat out all of the competition out there who wanted Durelly.
Whether I chose them or not, I know there was purpose in me being a member of the Smart family. I know there are reasons why my dad is MY dad. Those reasons have become more and more clear the older (and I'd like to think the wiser) I get.

My dad and I have shared specific experiences, conversations and repetitive one-liners that have prepared me for various situations in my life. It would take forever to recount them all; most are funny and some of them are personal, but I'll share the most recent. The second night in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with Keith, after we had received the news from the neurosurgeon about the gravity of Keith's tumor, I called my Dad. He repeated several times during our conversation, "Whatever cross we are asked to bear, we will bear. And we will bear it well."
At first I was kind of irritated. I wanted him to let me be upset, angry, grief-stricken. I wanted him to let me get all those raw emotions out before I rallied myself for battle. And I was frustrated because for a split-second I resented the "we" in his statement. I realized a couple of things though.
One, my dad has always been the coach in the corner, the cheerleader if you will. It's in the "Phyl" gene, I guess. He's always positive and always convincing me to be extraordinary. This was his way of inspiring me. His way of helping ease my pain.
Two, my dad was easing his pain, too. My Dad knows of grief. He's buried his only two sisters in untimely deaths. One passed while he was serving a mission in Japan, thousands of miles from home. My Dad buried his first-born son. My Dad has buried his own father. He has loved and lost. I can't think of anyone more appropriately prepared to share hard-earned words of wisdom during a moment of crisis.

My Dad continues to check in with me often. He is always in my corner, telling me how amazing I am and how I can do hard things. Children believe what they hear. It's a very good thing I've heard nothing but rallying-cries my whole life from my biggest fan. The constant and yes, even repetitive cheering has given me confidence, faith, determination and sheer will.
That is no accident. And for that, I am so very grateful.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jimmer You're Crowding My Birthdayness!

Some of you BYU fans were sad to see Jimmer play his last college game. I, on the other hand, was elated to see him go. Good riddance! Bon voyage, amigo! A big sayonara! Now before you BYU fans engage in acts of cyber terrorism and lace our family blog with destructive viruses, let me explain. I turned 54 years old on February 24th. As Patriarch of the Super Smarts, my birthdays are becoming increasingly more important to me. Dang it, I suffer a lot to reach each new plateau that is created by a new birthday, and I want my special day recognized appropriately. So, I feel it is quite understandable for me to be upset when my birthday gets crowded by extraneous events .

First, there was the little drama created by Sydney marrying Nick Jordan, whose birthday inconviently happens to be February 26th--a fact he failed to disclose when asking me if he could marry Sydney. Say what?! While this little omission cannot be deemed direct prevarication, it comes perilously close to fraud in the inducement, an act that gives rise to a cause of action and civil damages in a court of law. Regardless, Nick and I have worked out a little compromise. We have set aside February 25th as a day of truce; a birthday no man's land; a place of nothingness birthday related. I get everything before Febuary 25th; he gets everything thereafter. In general I have been happy with this arrangement; that is, until the Jimmer entered our arena of play. As everyone obviously knows, February 25th is the Jimmer's birthday. This year both of our birthdays were crowded by the Jimmer and the hysteria in Cougar Nation that is Jimmermania. With all of the excitement over BYU's early success in the NCAA tournament, and the Jimmer's likely selection as player of the year, there was hardly time to even notice that I turned 54 (and Nick turned 20 something).

While I complained bitterly about this, a thoughtful family member suggested that I join the celebration and send a facebook friend request to the Jimmer, since we almost share birthdays. I sent a friend request and was deeply disappointed that he never responded. Even worse, I found out that he accepted Nick's request to be a facebook friend. Nick never even checks his account! How unfair is that?

So, while some of you mourned the early exit of the Jimmer and your beloved Cougs from the NCAA tournament, I celebrated that loss. The sooner Jimmer exits the national stage and fades into the sunset, the better. Next year, Nick and I can once again observe February 25th as a birthday no-man's land and a definite boundary between our special days without feeling crowded by the hype and nonsense that is Jimmermania.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Quote Wall and the Orange Scrunchy

When I was in Portland last time, I was looking for something in Darcee's bathroom and I stumbled upon two odd things. The first offender consisted of a few pages of computer paper with some typed notes. As I got closer, I realized the paper was actually a "quote wall' of motivating verses and uplifting thoughts. I am pretty sure John Bytheway doesn't live in the Burnett house but I couldn't image who else would have put up such a thing. If anyone knows Darc you know it couldn't be her. Considering all other permanent residents can only spell their names and the names of their favorite Toy Story characters, that left only one person. But is Brent really the type to have such a pansy document up? He is the parent that cheered Keith on when he got his first bloody nose because he was officially on his way to becoming a man.

The next offensive object, I was all too familiar with. Below the subject:

This nasty piece of fabric and elastic has been in the possession of my sister for twenty years. It is disgusting. It is a hair scrunchy circa 1990 and was made by one of the basketball moms from her junior high team. It's orange. It has stars. It's a hair scrunchy. I will admit there was a time when these were both appropriate and cool. This would not be one of those times. Actually, it was never that time. By the time this came into Darc's possession it was not cool to have scrunchies let alone matching hair scrunchies with your whole basketball team. So the birth of the scrunchy lead to a long lasting belief that basketball games could not be won with out the magical scrunchy. The scrunchy then held its permanent place a top Darcee's head throughout the years of her basketball career. As the uniforms change the scrunchy did not. Fast forward to high school when the scrunchy was definitely a fashion no no and most of her teammates had gladly retired the hair accessory. But not Darcee--she insisted on the magic. Even when she made the picture on the front page of the sports section, the orange scrunchy was there in all it's glory. There was no getting rid of it. But Darcee's basketball career ended a long time ago--why was the scrunchy still prominently displayed in the bathroom?

The first thing I thought when I saw both of these things (besides wondering if the scrunchy was sanitary after all these years) is Darc and Brent can do this. When faced with trials they find ways to beat the odds and do the impossible. They always have been like that. They both thrive on doing hard things and reaching difficult goals. They are both competitive athletes and thrive on physical endurance. They may have to employ motivation from pansy quotes or magically hair accessories but they are hard core. I can't think of better parents. They are devoted to their kids and make parenting seem fun. (Maybe it is fun until kids become teenagers??) I appreciate their patience, endurance, and strength--and I know they can do anything.

Because the circumstances are what they are, I will allow the scrunchy and the quote wall as long as both remain in the bathroom. Any deviation from this and they may need to find a new way to motivate themselves.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

We Don't Share No Stinkin' Birthdays

Today we celebrate the birth of the one and only Puff Daddy.
He's tough, he's rough, and most certainly a little puff, but that's what we love about him most.
Here a picture of the Big D with someone who may or may not have a birthday in two days. But we can't talk about that possible someone who might have a birthday soon after Puff Daddy's because only one person can have birthdayness at a time.

In other words - We don't share no stinkin' birthdays!
A birthday in the Smart family is cherished, exaggerated, and spread out as much as possible because we are THAT awesome. If you know Big D, you know that as head of the Smart family he takes his job seriously. He has led us, as only the true human compass could, beyond limits and up mountains since appointing himself supreme chancellor of all things Smartypants.
Leading our family both physically and metaphorically happens to be the Puff Daddy's forte.

For example, if you know this blog exists, then you have most likely either A) Climbed a mountain with Big D, B) Suffered serious injury while in Big D's presence, C) Weeded in the dark with a headlamp on, or D) Experienced A, B, and C most extensively in your lifetime.
If you answered D, then you mostly likely A) Share some kind of genetic composition with Big D and are probably his biological offspring, B) Married to one of Big D's offspring, C) Married to Big D himself or D) Just plain suicidal
If you answered D, congratulations! You are probably one of Big D's best friends! Consider yourself extremely fortunate, because not many people can keep up with the Puff Daddy and live to tell their tale.

In fact, most people cannot keep up with the Puff Daddy period. He has more hobbies, interests, and talents than everyone you know combined. You've say you've got a quirky friend? Well Puff Daddy will do your friend one better every time. Big D has often been quoted saying, "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing," and he speaks nothing but the truth. His hobbies include mountaineering, cycling (road/mountain), climbing (rock/ice), skiing (water/snow), snowboarding, snow cave building, landscaping, floral arranging, basketball (aka fouling), learning foreign languages, kayaking/canoeing, fishing, skateboarding, hiking, bragging, hunting, and fighting for the poor injured worker as Yakima's contemporary Robin Hood.

Listing his talents would simply take a lifetime, so here are a few of his most notable accomplishments:
1. Playing the harmonica with both his mouth AND his nose.
2. Unleashing the "bag of trick" at various family vacations.
3. Fitting 48 hours of work into a 24 hour work day.
4. Being more romantic, good looking, and mysterious than Edward Cullen.
5. Never loosing a game of pool basketball.
6. Being the world's best Grandpa
7. Entering and winning wrestling tournaments for more than 35 years.

Big D's life has been nothing short of zesty and way more than all that jazz. While it is clear that his many talents and hobbies inspire and motivate us to all be better people, it is his pure love for life that make us all happy to say we know and love him.
To the world's hardest worker, sexiest husband, most devoted dad, and coolest grandpa - we love you!
Of course we wouldn't make you share your birthday with anyone else!

Friday, February 4, 2011


When Darcee was 13 I took her, Chelsea and Sydney on a fairly long backpacking trip for young kids . Sydney was 5 and couldn't carry much. She had a small backpack, but could only carry her blankie and her sleeping bag. In order to get everything on our backs I placed a very heavy load on Darcee. She was always physically a very strong little girl. She didn't complain or question my wisdom in putting most of Sydney's stuff and most of the food in her pack (I had the tent, stove and fuel). On the second day Sydney began to fade. She started to cry and said that she couldn't carry her sleeping bag. I looked at Darcee and told her that she would just have to man up and carry her little sister's sleeping bag. She didn't complain. Again she didn't question my decision to put more weight on her back. The third day, she whimpered a little bit when we got ready to put our backpacks on.

"What wrong?", I asked.
"Dad, I think my hips are bruised from the weight."
"What you can't bruise your hips?! That's crazy! You just need to be tough for one more day. I know you can do it!"
She then hiked down her pants far enough for me to see the bruises on her hips! Who knew that you could bruise your hips from carrying heavy weight? I felt terrible. However, we were in a pickle. I couldn't fit anything more in my pack, or on my back. Again, Darcee was just going to have to man up and be in pain a little while longer.

I have always expected a lot from my kids, especially Darcee. Experts say that if you raise a perfect first child, the rest of the herd will follow. (Okay, I don't know if any real expert actually said such a thing, but I believe it to be true.) Regardless, Sheila and I raised in every way imaginable a perfect first child. And, in deed, the rest of the herd has followed.

I have always expected my kids to do hard things, whether it was climbing mountains, enduring epic bike rides, or simply working in the garden, I have wanted them to do hard things without complaint. Actually, I have expected a few complaints here and there. However, in looking back on the things we have done, I don't know of anyone tougher than Darcee.

She and Brent are facing a very tough battle right now. We keep telling her, "You can do this!" Although it breaks our hearts to see her carrying such a heavy load, if anyone can do this, it's our perfect first child. I have never doubted her strength, her faith or her courage. We stand in awe at what an amazing mother she has become. While we might falter and doubt, we have complete faith in a most remarkable daughter.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Edible Sugar Cookies

Every Christmas, we have a Smart Family Tradition of frosting sugar cookies. Shelly makes the most amazing sugar cookies and Favorite Aunts 1 and 2 were excited to show their favorite nephews the tradition.

Keith and Cole had other ideas.

They didn't really get the whole decorating thing but they did enjoy the eating part.

As you can see.

When it was all over we weren't sure if we had any edible ones, but Cole tested them for us and they seemed to be alright.