***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 Be ready for outdated posts galore!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}