***I'm determined to catch up on cataloging our family's events this year. Be ready for outdated posts galore!


The Aftermath

this holiday season has been wonderful but exhausting. am i the only one that feels like i barely survived? my motto was supposed to be simplify, simplify, simplify but it wasn't implemented until a couple days before christmas. i'll have to try it sooner next year.

once again i have posts and pictures waiting for me to play a game of catch-up - that game is being put off until next week. we rolled back into town yesterday and have been enjoying the time together again as a family (dan was on call this weekend and missed out on a quick trip we took to mexico). madison is taking full advantage of his attention.

for now we are doing things like finding room for all the goods santa brought and in madison's case - having her dad paint her fingernails bright red.

hope everyone had a wonderful christmas and rings in the new year doing something fun. see you next year!



{engagement photo: Nov '03}

six years have come and gone.

dan's lost some hair.
i've gained some weight.

we've moved.
we've graduated.

we've had a couple kids.

we've had ups
and faced some downs.

but most of all we love each other.
more today than we did yesterday.
and more tomorrow than we do today.

i found a man who stands next to me
and helps me face everything this life brings.
he lifts and supports me without criticism.
he makes me want to do better. be better.
he is an incredible dad.
and i love seeing him with porter.
he loves his family and isn't afraid to say it or show it.

he is passionate.

he is worthy.

he is good.

and he married me.

what else could a girl ask for?


Spirit of Giving

madison asked what the salvation army volunteers were doing outside the grocery store the second she got out of the car. i tried to explain that people walking in and out of the store put money in the bucket to help other people that don't have very much. on our way out she said she wanted to put money in -much to my surprise. i gave her some change and she walked right up and dropped it in the bucket. it became a regular thing and every time we saw someone ringing that little bell madison would get excited to give them money. i was excited for her to feel the spirit of giving at christmas time.

fast forward several weeks. we came home from church and the girls found a handout i received in young women's, wrapped in ribbon with a bell hanging from it. they were running around the house laughing and taking turns ringing it. next thing i know madison is tugging at my skirt and says,

"mom! put some money in my bucket!"

we laughed for awhile about that one.

Christmas Miracle

we had a little miracle happen this season. madison has quite a personality and is definitely a chatterbox. but get her around a group of people and she freezes. we joke that it takes her about an hour to warm up and after that she's your friend.

this year was her turn to be mary in the lebaron family nativity (they take turns by age). we figured there was no way she would put on the costume, let alone stay in front of the whole family for the duration of the skit. we prepped her long and hard - who mary was, what she wore, what madison would do, and how it would be fun. madison was really excited but i still thought there was no way she'd do it.

when it came time to get dressed and ready at gma lebarons that night i was prepared for a stubborn little refusal to cooperate. much to my surprise, madison happily got dressed and donned the costume in front of the whole family. and not only that - she was SMILING THE WHOLE TIME. every time she saw a camera she grinned from ear to ear. it was so fun to see her all of a sudden grow up and play her important part in the nativity. she was so careful with baby Jesus and lasted almost to the end of the program before finding her way to dad's lap. i couldn't believe how well she did and was so proud of her.

taking good care of baby Jesus

isn't little quinn the cutest, chubbiest little shepard you've ever seen?

what about this little sheep?
hilarious but adorable.

{the great grand-kids}

i loved watching my girls participate in the nativity program because it brought me back to when i was a kid and did the same thing with my family. i loved the chance to to focus more on Christ and be reminded what the season is all about.


Christmas Rambles

*one of my absolute favorite things about christmas in AZ is having fresh navel oranges. i didn't realize how excited i was for them to be ripe until i tasted my first one of the season and finished it plus a second whole one, in two minutes flat. and they were huge. if you haven't ever tried a freshly picked navel orange, grown in the AZ sunshine, then i'm sorry. you haven't lived until you do. trust me on this.

*i'm thinking the chance of our neighbors giving us homemade salsa or bean dip for christmas next year, in missouri, is pretty slim. or fresh squeezed orange juice from the previously mentioned navel oranges.

*my mother in-law makes delicious caramels every year to pass out to neighbors and friends and i thought it would be a good, fun tradition to carry on for our family. she gave me extra foil wrappers and everything. i was gung ho. here's how it went down: first two batches - rock hard {my thermometer was off}, next batch - turned out ok, next batch - gross and grainy {forgot the karo syrup}, last two batches - kind of hard but manageable. thats a 50% success rate. the jury is still out on whether or not caramels are making a comeback next year. i might have to leave that tradition to my mother in-law.

*i totally planned our tree decorating around nap time. as in, when both girls would be asleep. i figured it would be easier, faster, and obviously look better. i love how my tree came together this year and it even registered a few compliments. well, two days later i read a friends blog post and what a wake up call it was. for DAYS afterward i looked at my cute little tree and felt so guilty. all the evenly spaced ornaments and carefully placed berries that looked so cute and coordinated suddenly seemed stiff and uninviting. i contemplated taking all the ornaments off and starting over with girl's help but just decided next year would be different - i'd make it a family affair. thankfully a few days ago my mother and sister in-laws helped my girls make cute ornaments with their little hand prints which are now "clustered perfectly" and "match perfectly" with the rest of my red, white, and silver tree.

i love it.

*this is the first christmas the whole santa thing has mattered since madison is old enough to understand who he is. we are trying to envision christmas morning and mesh our two family's traditions - some gifts vs all the gifts from santa, wrapped vs. unwrapped from him... how does your family do christmas morning and the whole santa thing? we are up for suggestions seeing how we both prefer the way our own families did it. isn't that usually how it is? :)

*decorating gingerbread houses stresses me out. i don't have one bit of creativeness in my body so i just imitate and copy the picture on the box. that makes for a very generic gingerbread house that never looks quite as good as the original. starting next year we're just using graham crackers - then i'll have to come up with something on my own.

*speaking of lack of creativeness - i made a really cute advent calendar with my in-laws {they had all the supplies and instructions and i literally just copied them}. i might get a picture taken and link to the instructions posted after christmas.

*next year my goal is to be done christmas shopping by thanksgiving {slim chance, i know}. i have felt so frazzled the last few weeks and feel like i'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off. hopefully the next few days at my house will be more calm and centered on the true reason for this season!!


Christmas Cards

much to my own surprise, we're sending out christmas cards for the first time ever. i really didn't think it would happen. i had high hopes of getting new family pictures taken {still on my to do list} and since i never followed through, i gave up the idea of any sort of christmas card...

... until i went to costco.com and threw a little something together.
{oh how i L.O.V.E. that store}

so WE want YOUR addresses. our blog is public {for i don't know how much longer- i keep toying with the idea of going private but never quite do it} so just email them to me at


or if you don't mind posting it for the whole wide world to see go ahead and leave it as a comment. either way, we want it.

and watch out, next year we might even send out a letter with the christmas card! but lets not get ahead of ourselves.
{for those of you that sent it to me via email or facebook, prior to right now (6pm on wed), i've got you down already}

Thanks and Merry Christmas!!!


He Knows Better

tonight i asked why?
i couldn't get it out of my head.
why us?
why kamber?
why porter?
what are we supposed to learn from this?
and why?

kamber and porter came with us to our ward christmas party and we were eating dinner/chasing three wiggly kids when poor little porter had an upset stomach all over the floor, table, diaper bag, and kamber. never a fun thing to deal with, let alone in a public setting. we got things in order, cleaned up, and helped kamber get ready to go home with porter. as she drove away i felt overwhelmingly sad - for her and us. she should be attending a ward christmas party with dallin somewhere across the country, in medical school, not driving home to an empty house, with a sick little boy to take care of all alone! *its the holiday season bringing it out in me, sorry.* after a few hours of feeling unsettled, frustrated and sorry for us, something happened.

i randomly checked my friend's blog. for the first time in seven months it was updated - a quick, simple list of the things that have happened since their last post. one of those things was christine recording some of her hymn arrangements. included was a link to her music.

christine was one of dallin's best friends and she played "if you could hie to kolob" at the funeral last year, one of his favorite songs.

so tonight i listened to her play it. over and over and over. it's still on right now. i cried and then smiled and then felt peaceful.
another tender mercy - i am grateful.
the timing of this experience was not a coincidence, but an answer to prayers.

what am i supposed to learn from this?

long suffering
and faith.

He knows better than me-
so the why doesn't really matter.



putting up a christmas tree with fragile, sparkly, eye-level ornaments and telling kids not to touch it is totally taunting them. i feel so bad when grace walks up to it and shakes her finger saying, "uh,uh,uh,uh!" because we've told her so many times not to touch it. normally she just stands in front of the tree in awe, smiling because it makes her happy. but every once in a while she's sneaky and i catch her with an ornament in hand.

or both hands.
and by her feet.
and then she knows she has to put them back.
and she's not very happy about it.


Keep On Scrolling

a couple down - much more to go.
keep checking back because my goal is to be updated and current by the end of the week.
wish me luck!


Someone's Ready For Christmas

i told madison to think about what she wanted to say during her prayer tonight, while i put grace to bed. i knelt next to her as she started and it's too bad i didn't have a recorder.

"Heavenly Father,
thank thee for dis day.
thank thee for santa;
he'll come to my house.
bless gracie's teethies that they won't hurt more,
and feel better.
thank you for santa.
bless me to sleep in my bed,
all night long,
and be good and not get out,
and have a good nap,
and then see santa when i wake up.
bless stephy, and gracie, and mom.
and dad. (prompted - we can't forget dad!)
and brett and chris on missions.
and santa.
name of Jesus Christ.

i love that she included things she noticed or that we talked about today. and i love even more that they are things important to her. even if it's santa. we just might emphasize the true meaning of Christmas more tomorrow. :)

{oct 2008}


Golden Birthday

i turned 27 on the 27th - isn't that called your golden birthday?
{indulge me for a moment}

i have to admit i am not a huge birthday person. it's fun to get presents, and have a cake with candles but i don't need a huge party or big surprises or expensive gifts. just choosing what's for dinner would keep me happy.
{i have never liked all the attention on me during the happy birthday song. and when we got married, i was stressed about being the center of attention all day long, with everyone looking at me. on my wedding day! when you're supposed to be the center of attention! i actually lost sleep over it the night before. i think its a complex i have from standing in the front of the primary as a kid while being sung the "hello, hello"song, too many times as a visitor. it scarred me for life.}

anyway, it was a relaxed but productive day - dan was home from work and we both did a little bit of black friday shopping. then it was a quick dinner with the girls, cake and ice cream and presents with my in-laws.

madison was a great unwrapper. i really, really wanted a pressure cooker after going to a cooking class at Shar's Bosch but thought there was no way it would happen. my mom totally surprised me and I WAS SO EXCITED!!! {picture below: ok, maybe i just look happy, not really, really excited... because i happened to peek in the bag earlier in the week and knew what it was. but i swear when i saw it for the first time i literally freaked out!}

i got some awesome presents this year and a dozen of these incredible cupcakes:

are they as good as all the hype?
worth it.
the money
and the drive.
thank you.

i felt happy and loved. and full.

afterward we ran home with the girls, left them with the babysitter, and headed back out again. i thought we were maybe going to see new moon and i was pretty excited. but dan said, "i left my coat at my parents so we need to stop by there." my wheels were turning at this point and i wondered what was going on; by the time we got back to his parents i just about had it pieced together and was hoping we weren't going to see a movie. turns out we weren't - dan had something better planned. much to my surprise he arranged a family game night with his parents and siblings. i LOVE games and it was so fun to stay for a few hours and just play and play without kids climbing up and down from everyone's lap.

everything turned out perfect - an awesome day with great presents and even better company. i think my favorite part is that my husband knows me so well and knew exactly what to do and plan to make it a special day for me. i love you dan and thank you for the fun night everyone.
it was perfect.


Thanks Giving

{actual date of this post: dec 17th!
whatever brilliant thing i was going to confess or describe about thanksgiving this year has long been forgotten. so food, family, and fun will have to do as the summary. i love the picture though. thank you google.}


I Wish

{rocky point, mexico - thanksgiving 2007}

i wonder if they miss us too.

i wish i could ask, "do you know how much i love you? do you really, really know?"

but most of all, i hope that i make the most of the time i have,
with the people i still have it with.


I've Turned Into THAT Person

you know, the one in front of you at the grocery store trying to do five different transactions, with a pile of coupons and holding up the line for 10 minutes. i don't know who was closer to tears today, me or the cashier. but it was worth it.

yesterday's goods

{23 cans green beans/corn, 4 bags of sugar and 16 cans of soup}

spent: $21.12
saved: $63.64
total savings: 75%

right now you might be wondering why this was a big enough deal to warrant my first blog post in how long?

let me back up.

i'd thought about coupon shopping ever since we got married but first started to seriously consider it when my friend started a blog called Frugal, Not Cheap last spring. it was kind of like a wake up call for me and this is how i see it: dan leaves our family every day to go work to support us financially. my job is to stay at home to care for our girls and run our household. part of that is managing the finances it takes to do that - which includes grocery shopping. that is the one area i have always splurged and probably waste the most amount of money (somehow i don't feel as guilty when it benefits the whole family) so i decided i needed to put in the time and effort to make the most of dan's hard earned money. for me, that meant coupon shopping.

i never thought i would be THAT person buying twenty of one thing, just because it was a killer deal, or the one going to four different grocery stores within 24 hours just to maximize my pennies and take advantage of great offers. i never thought i would have a filing cabinet dedicated just for 'couponing', with organized and dated folders, or that i'd have a mini accordion folder with the names of grocery stores on each tab that i carry with me up and down the aisles as i hunt for one specific item to match the coupon in hand. i've turned into THAT person.

so for months i watched prices and sales, talked to friends, read blogs, printed coupons, joined pinching your pennies, took a class from dan's cousin {who saves incredible amounts of money}, and will finally sign up for the newspaper today to get even more coupons. i've been convinced.

i will be the first to admit that much of my motivation was THOSE people's blog posts - the ones with the pictures like mine above, of all the groceries you could get for such a little amount of money. i wanted to be able to do that - to save that money and post that picture. and finally the time learning and watching and saving coupons paid off.

i feel like i'm just at the tip of the iceberg and i'm still learning how this whole things works but it makes me SO excited. {i know this sounds crazy but hey, i'm one of THOSE people now.} i can't wait to add to our food storage and cut our grocery budget at the same time and make the most of what dan works hard to bring home.

here's to all THOSE people out there and THOSE blogs and THOSE posts that finally got me motivated!!

**on another note: i've got other posts and updates in the works that just need to be finished so hang on just a little longer. {all that technical stuff i complained about is on the back burner.}
we've been busy but loving it- especially spending time with these little people.



our neighbor let us gather some freshly laid eggs after our walk one morning. other than worrying about my toenails getting pecked off and being too paranoid to let madison in the chicken coop with me, it was fun. she loved that the eggs were brown and pink.

grace took advantage of the situation and loved the goldfish all by herself.

and yes, madison looks this lovely every morning in case you were wondering.
her hair has just as much personality as she does.




i'm in one.
a full-fledged blogging slump.
i have a ton of pictures.
lots to say.
and no motivation.

i want my pictures to be BIG when i post them, but i can't seem to figure out a way to do it without it taking forever. (lara, i will be emailing you! here's a link for those interested - bigger blogger pictures. i still have a hard time, even with thorough instructions.)

i don't even want to get started about my header.

and photo shop has been on my computer for almost a year now and i haven't taken a single tutorial! talk about lack of motivation.

so please get on my case.
tell me i am horrible and that i need to keep blogging for family history and such.
or because i have two darling girls and you just can't get enough pictures of them.
or because you want to know what life is like when it's 9o degrees outside in november
or even just because you don't want to see a half-naked picture of grace slumped in her high chair every time you check the blog because it makes you think, "that poor girl - why doesn't her mom stop taking pictures and just put her to bed!"

because thats what i think every time i see it.

so please, give me some motivation.

i need some.


Grace's 1st Birthday Bash(s)

the birthday girl!

classic picture of grace
wide eyed, inquisitive, and eating

birthday bash #1
i threw together a last minute party with our family, the skinners, and g&g lebaron.

one of 15 tries to get a picture of all three kiddos - this is the best we got

we had homemade soups for dinner: chicken noodle and chicken taco. yum!

this cracks me up. i'm busy posing for the camera, madison is telling everyone about whats in the box and poor grace is doing her best just to see what all the commotion is about. who's birthday is it again?

grace has a very helpful older sister to show her how its done.

grace meeting her pig for the first time. she carries it around everywhere now!

our little family

me and my girls!

i wasn't even thinking about grace when i bought her an ice cream cake, just what would be fast and easy. the poor little girl had to dig in with her fingers.

birthday bash #2
with friends - two other babies born the same week and a sibling (we missed you soelbergs!)

the birthday kids - tanner and grace - and their mom's (looking at their respective cameras and husbands :)

cupcake cake

wishing she could have more of that ice cream cake instead...

my baby is one!
where has the time gone?

Post Call

when dan's on call, naturally, its hard on the whole family. he and i are both worn out and exhausted by the time he gets home. and both girls, especially madison, want enough attention from him, the minute he walks in the door, to make up for the 36 hours he was just gone. but we've figured out a little system that seems to work pretty well. we have lunch ready when dad gets home and eat together as a family {dan can barely keep his eyes open at this point}. after lunch is nap time and madison gets to take a nap with her dad, on our bed. to say she loves it, would be a huge understatement. i don't think you've ever seen a kid so excited to go to sleep. ever.

one of these post call days the two of them were laying in bed and dan kept saying,

"madison, please hold still."
"madison, you have to stop moving."
"please stop kicking me."
"you can share my pillow with me but you have to not wiggle."
"madison, i am so tired, please don't."

a few times i could tell dan and just fallen asleep only to be woken up by madison again. this went on for awhile and finally i went in to see what was going on. dan had fallen back asleep, beyond exhausted at this point and i asked madison what was wrong.

she had been moving and grunting and making frustrated noises because she was trying to arrange her pillow perfectly in the right spot.

on top of dan's back.

this poor little girl wanted to be so close to her tired, sleeping daddy that she was trying to use him as a pillow. i helped her fix her pillow, tucked her in with the blanket, and off to sleep she went.




the annual lebaron family pumpkin carving - several days prior to halloween.
picking out pumpkins, in costume, at the local corner pumpkin stand.

madison - fancy nancy

grace - pumpkin fairy

porter - leopard

lebaron cousins

title of this picture - 'focused'

madison designed a jack o lantern on starfall.com - a website she loves - and was so excited dan made a real one that matched!

halloween night

it was pretty hilarious. three kids under the age of 2 1/2, two in strollers, the other one wanting to be carried. we trick or treated about ten houses and then headed to our ward's trunk or treat.
whoever invented trunk or treats - i love you.

in comparison: grace age 13 months above and madison age 8 months below.

look at those cheeks. i love them.

{i've decided i'm not a fan of halloween.
the whole dress up and ask for candy thing is overrated if you ask me,
but i'll admit that it is way more fun when you have kids.}


My Nephew


this is a special little boy.

he brings a smile to everyone's face and i experience a happiness that i can't explain. for a long time it made me really sad to think about porter and how he's going through this life without his dad by his side. but it's been wonderfully theraputic to see him just about everyday. he's helping me heal in a way i hadn't expected. having regret is a hard thing and i have found that as much as i've tried to dispell it, it's remained very prevalent. but when i'm with porter, i feel like i'm making it up to dallin and that those things i regret- teasing and not being the sister i should have been and the sister i now wish i had been - are being appeased.

despite my probably typical but inappropriate teenage behavior, dallin and i did became close friends. he was one of my best friends. he called me one day, while kamber and i were both pregnant with porter and grace, concerned about how we were going to make sure our kids knew their cousins since it looked likely the four of us siblings would be spread out. i brushed him off, laughing and teasing him that he was jumping the gun. of course we would make sure our kids were close, is what i was thinking, but surely we didn't need to worry about it then. i am grateful for that conversation {tender mercy} and that now, what dallin wanted, is truly happening.