Saturday, December 29, 2007

Let it Show

A little movie of our Christmas activities:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas 2007

Christmas was wonderfully busy this year with 2 active kiddies, tons of family in town, and party after party (and we didn't even make it to all of them!)

I am beginning to see how amazing it is to be a parent during this time of year. When I think back on how often we have talked about Jesus in our home during the past few weeks I can see how it has been such a blessing for our little family, and certainly helped me feel more connected to the true meaning of Christmas.

It has also been so fun to feed off of Bentley's sheer excitement and joy over all that is associated with this holiday. He literally jumped for joy when he saw Santa on Christmas Eve--it was too cute :)
Our gift for Grandma and Grandpa (they are part of a set of 5--one of each grandkid)
Caroline wasn't as sure of Santa as the older children but Aunt Heidi helped her feel reassured. Plus, she is Caroline's new personal stylist :)
Christmas babes on Christmas Eve

Cuddling with Caresie on Christmas morning who loves to abide by the no-pants rule :)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Alley Days

Bowling. Once Heidi and Ben arrived in SLC for Christmas we figured we should get together and Fat Catz bowling alley and arcade. We had so much fun! Whether we were eating yummy Pizza Factory pizza for lunch, hanging out and visiting together, taking a turn on the lanes, wrangling wandering Caroline, or trying out games at the arcade, it was a great way to ring in the holidays :) I must admit that some of us Smiths take bowling pretty seriously (for me it must have something to do with my bowling lessons during 9th grade gym--we also perfected out skills in archery, tennis and badminton that year...) But we don't take everything seriously--especially Dance, Dance Revolution at the arcade. Now that is just pure silliness (and I love it!!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This is the Season

A few ways in which I've been getting in the mood for Christmas:
1) Going to Ballet West's The Nutcracker on Cecily's birthday. I honestly love that ballet with all my heart. Even though I have seen and performed in it over 25 times, it still fills me with excitement and anticipation to hear that beautiful, oh so familiar music and see the wonderfully enchanting costumes and choreography. This year, my 2 1/2 year old niece came with us and her rapt attention and joyful little face during the entire thing brought new magic to the performance. I simply cannot wait to bring my own little Caroline!
The birthday girl and the ballerina in training :)

with the adorable Horsley kids (who I'd love to claim as my own kids :)

2) Sleeping at the Hotel Park City on Friday night as part of an overnight date with my hubby. It was super cold up there in PC but so lovely with all the fresh snow and huge dripping icicles hanging from every roof line. Our room was ultra deluxe and very dark which allowed for an amazing night of sleep--one that was gladly welcomed after the busy, busy week we'd just had. In the morning we shared a huge, delicious breakfast with John and Krista at a local joint, Good Karma, before heading home to pick-up the kiddies from their sleepover with Grandma Bobbi and Grandpa Sherm.

3) Seeing the Christmas Lights at Thanksgiving Point for FHE last night. The best part of this little adventure is that we never had to get out of our car in the 30 degree weather :) The lights were kind of cheesy but we turned on carols in our car and had a jolly old time. And I loved that the very end showed the lyrics to all the verses of the great primary song This is the Season accompanied by big, poster size illustrations of all things relating to the nativity. It was the perfect way to end our little activity and I loved hearing Bentley ask me if those were the 3 wisemen in one picture and Joseph and Mary in another--he is really grasping the story this year.

On a more random note, Bentley was looking through our "Lift the Flap Nativity" book with Joseph during Sacrament Meeting on Sunday and finding all the gifts which the wisemen brought to Jesus. He looked at a gold, trophy-like cup and said in a whisper "Daddy--he brought baby Jesus a Piston Cup"--true Cars fans will know what he means :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

One Year

In a whirlwind of growing, busy kids, family vacations, outdoor activities, and a million and one pictures of anything and everything Cares and Beans do, an entire year has passed since I began this blog. After 135 posts I feel like I shouldn't have anything more to say! But luckily for everyone--I still do :)

For now, remember these sweet things from last year's Christmas card? Just thought I'd share them again since they are so festive and make me so happy. And stay tuned for our 2007 card...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Cecily

Here goes the very last birthday tribute for this blog:

I love that I have the chance to write about my big sister today and it feels like such perfect timing. Cecily is absolutely a gift in my life and she may never fully realize how much she has shaped who I am. We are the best of friends but we didn't start out that way. During our childhood we butt heads a lot and didn't make many efforts to really hang out with each other. When I became a teenager though, I longed to be a part of Cecily's world. But our age difference of 5 years and different personalities seemed to really distance us. Because of that, it took some time for us to become close.

In the house we grew up in, Cec and I occupied rooms right across the hall from each other--if I stepped out of my bedroom door, I came face to face with her bedroom door--one which was usually closed if she were home. I distinctly remember one random night when I was probably 12 or 13 and I heard Cec playing some beautiful piano music on the stereo in her room--behind her closed door. I decided to knock and enter in to ask her what she was listening to. To my surprise, she beckoned me to come sit on her bed where she proceeded to tell me all about the songs and that they were written and performed by a fabulous, young musician named Jon Schmidt and how he was a Highland alumni and had played at homecoming assemblies and was a teacher to several of her friends, and so on and so on. I listened to everything she said with such awe--I loved all she had to a share about high school and friends and boys and really just about anything having to do with her fun, grown- up life. To me she really was the epitome of cool and hip and wise and pretty and popular. Our talk on her bed lasted through several songs and before long, it was late at night and time for me to go to bed. As I stood up to head back to my room, Cec offered to let me keep listening to her music as I fell asleep--she would just leave her door open a little and I could do the same. It was a simple offer but one that meant so much to me. It marked the beginning of us letting each other in--not only into each other's rooms but into each other's lives. The music tradition was one we continued off and on before she moved away for college. Now, when I think back on those peaceful nights with the music and light of my sister's room drifting into my own I realize just how lucky I was to have her sharing so much with me as I tried to find my way through my awkward and unsure teenage years.

Cecily and I have shared thousands of amazing memories since then: making up our silly snow queen dance one year after seeing the Nutcracker, sharing the blue Subaru and watching Princess Diana's funeral together during my Freshman year of college, bonding over study abroad experiences and then visiting our little sis during her own London adventure, running into each other at Target on Thomas and 44th St in Phoenix, braving the dressing rooms at H&M last January and each summer at the Nordstrom sale, and eating lunch together at least once a week for the past 6 years or so (SAKS, Paradise Bakery at Fashion Square, Einstein's, Rubio's, Cafe Rio, Village Baker, Arby's at Southtowne, Kneader's...). Oh, I could go on and on--and this list doesn't even touch on any of our kid/mommy based activities!! But it all just shows how much I love being around her.

Cecily is such a positive, loving, helpful force in my life. I love how often she volunteers to babysit my kids, how radiant her laugh and smile are, how great her taste in music is, how she laughs at all of Joseph's jokes (and he loves it too :) how easy it is for her to make friends and have children fall in love with her, and how passionately she feels about her family and her testimony.

I love you sis and could never ever imagine how bleak my little world would become without you there to light it up. You're among my favorite blessings every day. Have a fabulous birthday!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Playin' and Packin'

This weekend provided another Saturday filled with tons of fresh snow and happy, happy kids playing in it:

And today they decided to get all packed for Hawaii...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Baby Porter

We met this adorable and curious little guy today. As you can see, the kids were quite taken with him and he kept showing off by making sweet faces and shapes with his mouth--what a musher!! He is going to be one solid kid--his proud daddy showed us his huge footprints on his stats certificate. Congratulations Tommy and Jess--you looked so joyful and comfortable with your new baby boy--he is very lucky to be yours :) Welcome to the world baby Porter--we love you!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Santa and Skating

Last week we went down to The Gallivan Center for free food, skating and a visit with Santa (it was a work event which LeBaron and Associates was invited to). Luckily for us it ended up being the coldest night of the year. And, Bentley decided he didn't like ice-skating after all once we had gone around the rink a total of one time. So much for the effort of donning the skates in the first place! It ended up being one of our many short-lived adventures but at least we got a great Santa picture out of it. Oh--and it was one more outing where Cares could wear her totally adorable and glam gold coat :)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Reno 30-11

I just spent a fabulous, way too short weekend with my little sis who lives in Reno. I must admit, we have had this trip planned for about 3 months--ever since the tour dates were posted for So You Think You Can Dance. Yes, Heidi and I joined hundreds of tweens and love-crazed girls to attend the show on Friday night (November 30--thus my cheesy title :) And we loved it!! As Heidi mentioned in her blog, it was the very last night of the tour so the cast added in a few extra dances and ad-libbed a ton of silly moments (some were fun--some were just kind of annoying...) I only wish that those amazing Mia Michael's pieces and Dimitri's samba for Lacey and Danny lasted much longer than 3 minutes because they were so entertaining and so technically accurate that I completely loved watching them performed live. Wow--too much fun!

Before the show on Friday, Heidi and I had lunch at a very chic little spot downtown, mulled around Target looking at baby registry items and Christmas present ideas, and then painted our nails black to add a little spice to our girls' night out. After the show, we headed home, ate some Oreos and milk, and then hit the sack. I was so excited to sleep in a quiet room and big bed without busy little children to wake me up at the crack of dawn (ah--the simple pleasures I yearn for as a mom :) And so, I slept in until 9:30 in the morning. It was fabulous to say the least!

On Saturday, I had to be back at the airport just about 24 hours after I had landed--boo. But there was one bonus--I saw Lauren from SYTYCD just hanging out with randoms at my gate before my flight left! Tons of passengers took pics with her and asked her all of these questions about the cast and the tour and who is dating who while I intently listened in while pretending not to care :) BTW--she said Sabra and Kameron became a couple during the tour ;) Anyway, I loved my Friday night away, and loved coming home to my cuddly, smiley kids and sweet, sweet hubby.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Heart Christmas Music

Who doesn't love Christmas music? It reminds me of all things festive and happy like snow falling outside, family gathering around, eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve, welcoming Santa to our family parties over the years, and most importantly, it continually reminds me of the birth of our Savior. I don't know if I am finally 'growing up' but I honestly cannot make it through my favorite songs about Jesus' birth without tearing up while feeling the beauty of that event fill my whole heart. I actually love it but it makes me laugh afterwards when I am simply driving around town with the kids and I suddenly have a face full of tears and squeaky voice due to my emotions. Here are a few of my favorite songs:

1) Favorite New Song: In a Bleak Midwinter by Sarah McLachlan
It's a gorgeous, less popular song which showcases Sarah at her finest. See here for lyrics.

2) Favorite New Arrangement: I'll Be Home for Christmas by Michael Buble
I just love Michael's voice and this sentimental song is always comforting--fills my heart with joy for actually getting to be home for Christmas with all my family around me (in-laws included:)

3) Favorite Random: Were You There?
The only arrangement I have of this song is a piano solo by John Schmidt which is mild and gentle, and very lovely. But I love this song because the lyrics are so tender and beautiful. My husband and I sang it as a duet for our ward Christmas party our first year living in Phoenix. Since then it has been a favorite. Here are the lyrics:

Where you there? Where you there
On that Christmas night?
When the world was filled with a holy light?
Where you there to behold as the wonder foretold
Came to Earth?

Did you see? Did you see?
How they hailed him king?
With their gifts so rare that they chose to bring?
Did you see how they bowed as they praised him aloud
At his birth?

Did you hear how the choirs of angels sang
At the glory of the sight?
Did you hear how the bells of Heaven rang
All through the night?

Did you know, did you know
It was God's own son?
The salvation of the world begun?
Did you know it was love that was sent from above
To the Earth?

Did you know it was love that was sent from above
To the Earth?

4) Lifelong Favorite: any German Christmas carol
I am certain that the very first Christmas song I memorized as a child was either Kling Glokchen Kling or Leise rieselt der Schnee. My family is all a little German at heart due to our 3 years living there back in the 80s. Thanks to the fabulous Heintje, we enjoyed all our favorite Christmas music auf Deutsch every year even after moving back to the states (and we still do thanks to the option of recording records onto CDs).

5) Favorite Classic: Silent Night
See here to read my feelings from last year (captured on Heidi's blog...)

In all honesty, I love every song and especially love this time of year :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm Dreaming Of...

The view from my back porch last night.And the view this morning :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

2nd, I Mean 3rd Dinner

Wow. 3 Thanksgiving dinners in one week. Such yummy food but more importantly, such wonderful company every time! First, Ruth Ann hosted a LeBaron dinner at her home last Sunday for all her children and grandchildren living in Utah. Second, my mom had us all over on Thanksgiving, and then Cecily hosted us one more time on Saturday in honor of Heidi and Ben's 36 hour weekend in town. At this rate I shouldn't need to eat anything for about a week! It's so worth it though to have reveled in so much family time--we had a ball at each dinner :)
crazy Cares at her finest :) such a contrast to the shy refined Maddie--at the moment anyway!the boys doing their silly snowman skit--Beans was super excited to be included with the big boys