Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Eve

We spent the last several hours of 2012 doing what we love best....just being together. Grandma Julie, Suzi, Thomas, Hayden and I had take out Olive Garden for dinner. We then sat down for a family game night with Suzi. Boys vs. Girls on Sequence....girls pulled out a victory by a very small margin. Then we were taken down by the boys in Logo game. Hayden is absolutely amazing and knows every logo out there. After playing that game, I wonder if I ever pay attention to commercials or slogans. After those two games, we decided to watch a couple of movies on Netflix and HBO. And, rounded off our crazy night, watching the ball drop and heading off to dreamland.

I loved that we did make time to talk about a few of our favorite moments of 2012.
#1 in our surviving treatments and that no matter how weak I am, I was hear to celebrate another new year.
#2 - Simonton Family Cruise to the Carribean. Definitely a dream vacation.
#3 - Oceanside Beach - always our favorites.
#4 - Secret Santa and Christmas Angel.... oh how we felt loved by them.
#5 - The many games, talks, movies watched and all the time we spent cuddling up on the couch together.
#6 - New school. New friends.
#7 - All of our family that has taken such great care of us. Our friends that we consider family. And a ward family that is remarkable.
#8 - Our Father in Heaven and Savior being apart of our lives every day. Feeling the Holy Ghost and making it a priority to choose to do right.
#9 - Cousins. Cousins. Aunts. Uncles. Grandparents. And all the fun family moments.
#10 - Miracles. We have seen and experienced so many miracles this year. We are grateful for each and every one of them. We are in awe of the goodness in our lives.

Although the above list was in no particular order, it made us realize how blessed we are. How many wonderful people that surround us. The love that has been shown to our family in 2012 is something we will never forget and always cherish. The acts of service that we have received has been so far reaching, meals brought in, treats dropped off, homemade bread enjoyed, testimonies born, friends to play, reaching hands to pull us up, multitudes of people have come together to bless our lives, quiet acts of service, surprises for Hayden, love showered upon us, and more gratefulness than our hearts can even hold.

It has been a year of miracles like no other. We have felt the Lord's power and seen His hand each and every day in our lives. Whenever we choose to look, we see Him. He has not left us alone but has walked each and every moment of our trials with us. We cherish the relationship we have gained with our Father in Heaven and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

2012 will be a year we look back on with so many mixed emotions. Mostly, we will cherish the love we have experienced and all the ways that we were blessed by so many, especially our Savior and our Father in Heaven. We most treasure one another and our Savior. We have gained a testimony that He lives. He knows us, our circumstances and is aware of all of our needs both big and small. To Him, we matter, whatever our hearts desires, the Lord is aware of them and desires to help us. We will leave 2012 knowing that our Savior has walked this path with us. He has never left us stranded, he has lifted us, guided us, sustained us and greatly blessed our lives... we are beyond grateful and our love for Him is without words.

Thank you 2012. We definitely experienced life to the fullest. We learned a lot and we are a better family for having experienced all you had to offer. Thank you for a wonderful year.

Health update

This Christmas holiday has been one of so much joy. I have received so many priceless gifts from my Savior. For about the last month, I had been praying and asking the Lord a favor. I asked that I could have the strength and endurance to celebrate this special season with my family. I told our Savior that if I could have three really good days in a row, that would be my best Christmas gift. As the weeks went on, I became more specific and asked that December 23-25, I would be able to enjoy and celebrate Christmas with my family and be able to store all those memories away to lean on in harder days to come.

I really wanted to be able to sit through all three hours of church on the Sunday before Christmas. I love the Sacrament meeting where the story of the baby Jesus is told, my heart finds such comfort and joy in the songs and my heart fills with the Spirit and I am in awe of the talks that are centered on Christ and His humble birth.

I asked to be able to go to my Dad's house on Christmas Eve and celebrate Christmas with all of the Simonton's. I love traditions and this one goes back as long as my memory can go back. I wanted to spend the evening with Thomas and Hayden and be able to enjoy the moment of excitement and love and awe in Hayden's and my nieces and nephews eyes.

Last, I wanted to be able to get up Christmas Morning and enjoy all the festivities. I wanted to be able to open gifts, enjoy watching the faces of those I love open their gifts of love. I wanted to soak in the magic of the Christmas Spirit and feel the closeness of family. I wanted so badly to just be able to enjoy each and every moment of this magical season.

My prayers were heard and answered. Sunday, December 23rd, although in quite a bit of pain, I was able to make it through the entire three hours of church for the first time in a long, long time. I basked in the Spirit and felt enlightened and uplifted with each talk and testimony shared. I felt my Savior's love so strongly in church that day. I felt His strength take over when mine began to fail. Not only was I granted my request, I was able to come home and sleep all afternoon until the Murphy's showed up and was able to enjoy time with them celebrating the birth of our Savior that evening.

On Christmas Eve day, I was able to get a lot of rest during the day and was able to go to my Dad's house and spend time with all of my family. What a precious gift. I only took one nap while there. The rest of the time I was able to play the grinch game and take part in all of the beautiful talks and festivities.

When I walked in the door from my Dad's house, I collapsed on the bed. In tears, cried out of pain and sheer exhaustion and didn't know how I was going to pull Christmas morning magic off with my sheer exhaustion. I collapsed on the bed and slept for several hours. I was able to then get up and fill stockings and put the magical and finishing touches on Christmas.

Christmas morning I woke up and was able to find the strength to stay awake and really enjoy each and every moment of Christmas morning. I was able to stay awake until every gift was unwrapped and every surprise opened up.

After the morning festivities, I crashed. I crashed hard. But, I was given everything I asked for. In fact, I was given more. My pain was releived quite significantly during Christmas break. I was able to participate in more than I ever thought possible. Other than those three days, sure, most of my memory making was from the couch, but I was able to stay awake and laugh and talk with my boys. It was truly a gift.

Being able to have those three days, just as I requested, was a true miracle in and of itself. I am so grateful for my wish being granted. I felt so much love and peace from my Savior during those days. He knew how important it was for me to be able to celebrate these three days with Thomas and Hayden.

More than that, my health improved for almost a week. I had the best week yet. It was wonderful. I talked with the guys, played a few games with them, watched movies and stayed awake, and played a few games with Hayden on the I-pad. Oh the miracle that was granted.

My health has returned back to where I was. I sleep a lot. The pain has returned. The aching and symptoms have returned. Starting Wednesday, I am back at doctors and back to the grind of trying to stop my body from literally killing itself. But, I will always be grateful for my own Christmas miracle, where I was given the strength, energy and ability to celebrate Christmas exactly how I wanted. the mercy and love of my Savior, always amazes me. Not that He can't do it, but how freely and willing He is to meet our requests, if we just ask.

Searching for answers

I am never sure whether or not to keep my health updates going via this blog. But, if I go too long in between health updates, I get several emails, phone calls, comments and questions as to any latest updates. The other reason I have decided to keep updating my health is so that someday Hayden and his sweet wife, my grandchildren and whomever else may get a hold of these books will know that some times trials in life last a long time. Life is not a series of 30 minute television shows that have problems that are solved in a week. Most real life trials are not cleanly figured out and overcome in a short couple of hours or days. Sometimes trials continue for months and years and sometimes decades.

With my mom passing away when I was 17 years old, I only knew her as a child looks at a mother, never as an adult or from the viewpoint of how she handled trials. For years and years and years, each person I would ask about my mom would reply with how perfect she was, what a wonderful mom she was, how she juggled all five of us kids with no problems and met each of our needs always. I was told continuously that she served and served and served more, even when she was so ill. I was told that she was always upbeat, always positive, no one ever saw her having a bad day, no tears, just a strong woman with the ability to conquer any trial set before her like a warrior, no bad days, no frustrations, no heartache, just acceptance of life and joy.

I idolized my mom and wanted to live a life to make her proud. Yet, with each heartache, each teardrop, each moment of frustration and with each doubt, I felt even worse, because I had always been told that my mom never struggled with any of these feelings or emotions, but always was positive and always knew exactly what to do. I felt like I never measured up. I felt like an even bigger failure each time I cried or didn't know the solution to a problem.

Years have gone by and I have come to realize that no matter how wonderful she was, she had to have had bad days. I have gone to her friends and begged them for the truth of the "real" her and received some of the best advice from one of her dear friends. She told me to quit trying to live up to who I thought my mom would want me to be. Yes my mom had bad days, yes she got frustrated, she didn't always know the answers and yes, she got scared with new diagnosis and struggling with which decisions to make. Why everyone admired her is that in spite of those things, she didn't dwell on them forever, she cried, she had bad days, she mourned the sad things and then picked herself up and went to work conquering them and trying her best to seek out answers. Finally, something I could live with. If my mom had bad days, yet she still was this amazing person that everyone talked about, it was okay if I had bad days.

Hence the reason I am so real in this blog. I want my posterity to know that I didn't always have the answers, I struggled with new diagnosis, I sometimes cried my eyes out, I hurt, I temporarily lost hope, I didn't have all the answers, and I sometimes struggled to just put one foot in front of the other.

I may not know the all the answers, but I DO know the source of all hope, the answers, comfort in trials, a loving friend when it feels like I am so alone. The source of hope and brighter days and the strength to walk the hard ones comes from our Savior.

I am sure that someday people will tell Hayden that his mom was a trooper and fought the hard fight. I want him to know how I was able to keep going is because when I could no longer do it, I turned to my Savior. In my darkest hours, He was with me, to comfort me, to guide me, to lead me through whatever trials or heartaches I was facing and to wrap His arms of love and peace around me.

Being strong doesn't mean never crying, never falling down, never facing the unknown, and always having the answers. Being strong simply means that each time that you fall down that you eventually stand back up. That although the trials faced are ones that sometimes feel impossible, that with the Savior, taken one day at a time, one piece at a time, anything is possible.

For that reason, I write my true feelings, good or frustrating, strong or in times of weakness, healthy or sick, with hope and with doubt. I write to capture that life is about conquering the hard things and overcoming the world. We are not here simply that enjoy the ride. We are here to work hard, give our all, conquer and overcome, battle the advesary, and become more like our Savior. Lucky for us, we don't have to do it alone, the Savior has provided a plan, given us a road map back to Him, and when this life is over, we will run to and embrace our older brother, our Savior and Reedeemer, and we will recognize Him because we learned to lean on Him so much and come so close to Him during this life. I firmly believe that if we have tried to do our best, that death will be a glorious reunion with our Savior and loved ones that have gone on before.

Death is not sad for the person leaving this world, for they will be encircled in love from our Savior and loved ones. Death is sad for those left behind. Those that still have to face this mortal world, still have to face trials, deal with heartache and pain. I firmly believe that our Father in Heaven realizes that earth life is hard. He doesn't want to have to keep us here one minute more than He has to. So I firmly believe that with each breath I take, as long as I am alive that there is a reason I am here and great things for me to accomplish. So I will do my best each day to wake up, face whatever trials stand before me and do my best to find all the tender mercies the Lord sends and savor all the joy that can be found in each and every day. And with each waking to a new day, I will be grateful for the gift of another day to spend with those I love and cherish.

Christmas Vacation

Thomas has been on vacation since December 21st. I cannot remember a time when he had a week off at Christmas. He always uses his vacation days throughout the year and is lucky to get off Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. What a wonderful joy it has been to have him home with us for so long. Hayden and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of his time off.

We have been able to make some great memories, along with getting a lot accomplished. As Thomas and I were talking about what we needed him to get done over his vacation, we decided that making memories with Hayden was the best way for him to spend his time. We wanted him to consciously make an effort to do something fun with Hayden each day, of course he would still take care of my needs and then accomplish what he could.

I have been having so much fun watching, and sometimes participating, in the fun that my sweet guys have been having. They have played electronic battleship over and over, rode bikes, built legos, went to the movies and saw the Hobbit, talked, laughed, had tickle fights, played the I-pad, battled in video games, read books and watched movies. It has been so fun to see the joy the two of them have spending time together.

Along with them spending time together playing, they have also really worked hard, side by side. I have felt my heart fill with joy as I have seen these two work so hard together. They have accomplished so much during this break. The hall game and art closet was totally pulled out and put back together, they cleaned out Hayden's closet, drawers, and his Lego creation shelf. The toy room was gone thru toy by toy decided what to keep and what to place up for sale. After all the new toys and games and legos were placed in their proper places, they moved on to the kitchen and tackled the appliance pantry and all of the kitchen cabinets.

They also tackled putting Christmas away and storing it away until the next beautiful season, besides my tree that I am not ready to let go of. I don't want this season to end, so I am letting it linger a little longer, if only by the twinkling of the lights on our dear Christmas tree.

It is no wonder I do not want to see this season end. I am not ready for Thomas to head back to work, for Hayden to go back to school and my life to go back to doctors and trying to figure out who is going to pick up Hayden from school, who can come stay with me, and who can run me to doctors appointments. I will go back to trying to figure out eight different people's schedules, so that I can make sure that Hayden and I are where we need to be with putting the least amount of stress and additional obligations onto those that I love.

This has been such a wonderful "break" from our day to day lives. I know that this is a Christmas season that we will always look back on and cherish. I have seen quotes stating the family that plays together stays together, the family that works together stays together and the family that prays together stays together. I have decided it is the family that works, plays and prays together stays together. And that is exactly how we spent this wonderful gift of time together this beautiful and precious Christmas vacation. Time together has been our most cherished gift of this season.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Morning

Christmas morning was magical. Santa came. Boy did he ever. We were so blessed by the generosity of our loved ones. We woke up early and had to wait for Grandma Julie, Grandma Joyce, Ann and Suzi to arrive. Hayden was dying with excitement to go see if Santa came and what all lay in store for him under the tree. Waiting is so hard....especially on Christmas morning. He was a good sport about it and was laughing and teasing. We had so much fun while waiting. I loved seeing Hayden's anticipation build and the magic and sparkle in his eyes.
Hayden was in awe as he walked into the family room. Boy did Santa ever come. I think he had a hole in his bag and left a few extra gifts by mistake because Hayden sure was spoiled. 

I love Christmas morning. I believe there is magic in the air. Love, joy, happiness, goodwill, peace, the Christmas spirit, and hope are almost tangible and can be felt so intensely on the day of our dear Savior's birth. The world transforms to peace and love and harmony. I love the feeling, the excitement, the joy, smiles, hope and love that this precious day brings.

Our Christmas was better than perfect. It all went off without a single moment of anything but magic. I love Hayden's look of awe as he first rounds the corner and sees all the treasures and packages that await. I love that early morning moment, just before everyone arrives, Santa has come, the lights twinkle on the tree, stockings are filled and everything is still and right in the world.

Hayden immediately spotted his new Mobo bike that Suzi so generously gave to our entire family. Thomas and Hayden have both been out riding on it a lot and have loved it. Hayden also loved his score of a telescope. He is excited to look at the stars and planets that will give him a new inspiration for drawing and capturing life. All that matters was that beautiful smile and twinkling eyes on his face. He was as awe stricken and feeling the magic. It was perfect.
We all sat and watched Hayden empty his stocking, item by item. He was so excited when dead-pool spiderman legos ended up in his stocking. We all laughed as he exclaimed, "Thhhaaaannnkkk yyyooouuu, Ssssannnttaa! This is aaawwwweeessssoooommee!" He received a couple of DVD's, gadgets, fidgets, sensory toys, lego guys, training chopsticks, silly putty and many wonderful gifts. When the last thing he did was pull out an orange, he paused, he looked at the tree. He commented on the Christmas Oranges book we read and hoped that children everywhere were waking up to Christmas surprises! I am so glad he paused, even in his excitement to think of others on this beautiful Christmas morning.

I love this sweet family of mine and feel blessed beyond measure that they are mine. I receive so much joy from them. They love me, they cherish me and want to make me happy. I feel exactly the same about them. We are so lucky to truly be a family in love.
I sure love my boy and love that he wanted to sit with me on the chair to open gifts. I loved each minute of it, well, besides the times that I got knocked in the head with a box. Treasure him so much!
Grandma Julie surprised us with a beautiful gift. She told Hayden to get dressed one day in his church clothes. She came and picked him up. Hayden would not tell me where they went or what they did only that I would love my present. Well, he was definitely right. I adore it. I love that it shows him looking forward to going into the temple. It says, "I'll go inside someday". Hayden explained that this is to remind him he needs to make sure to live his life so he can be worthy to go inside at 18 and go on a mission. Love it! So sweet. So thoughtful. So perfect.
We love having the gathering house and that our loved ones want to be with us on Christmas. Everyone was so kind and so generous to all of us. We love having so many loved ones surrounding us. Ann was so sweet and made a book for me, Thomas and Hayden. It had all kinds of memories of things we have done together and then a section of all the things she has learned from each of us. So touching. So thoughtful.
I love that we succeeded in creating smiles, tears of joy and a lot of happy squeals and surprises on Christmas morning. Suzi is excited to go take trapeze lessons. What else do you get her? She loves adventure and I found something she hasn't done. I loved Julie's face when she unwrapped the guitar pick for her new guitar. It had "When words fail, music speaks" engraved on the pick. Joyce loved the temple packet, hand stitched with her name and the Mesa Temple. She was truly touched. Suzi and I knew that Ann is a struggling young adult trying to figure out bills, apartments and life. My approach was baking and cooking supplies, Suzi's answer was gift cards to Olive Garden and Chili's. Oh how we laughed at Suzi and I trying to help out a situation with such different approaches.
I absolutely loved my quilt that Thomas had made for me. Perfection. Hayden loved the Optimus Prime and Megatron transformers that we found him. Bonus, he had never seen them before and squealed with delight. Thomas was happy with all of his gifts and loved watching the rest of us.
Ann drew a picture of Suzi's brother Dave, that had passed away. Suzi was brought to tears and so touched. The drawing was utterly amazing. Ann is so talented. Hayden desires to develop his talent of art, just like Ann and was thrilled when he received professional art supplies from Grandma.
One of my favorite moments was giving Thomas his best present. What do you give a guy that is always busy taking care of all of us? How do you wrap up time? I spent weeks planning dates for each month of the year that I could actually do with my limited abilities. In each envelope was a date planned out down to the invitation, activity, food to be eaten, dessert, etc. I even have babysitting all lined up. Our dates are planned and completely ready to go. We also have an envelope of extra ideas, in case we get a chance to sneak in an extra date or two. He loved it! He loved that in 2013 we are going to make our dates a priority, even if they are at home dates.
Christmas was beautiful! It was perfect. Julie prepared a delicious breakfast of egg cassorole, monkey bread, fruit and of course diet cokes. After we ate, we put on a movie, Hayden played legos, we napped, we relaxed, we just hung out. It was peaceful and perfect.

Let me not forget that we talked of Christ, we rejoiced of Christ, we celebrated His birth and gave our presents to our Savior. Hayden's were so thought out and so perfect. I have written them down so that we will see them each and every day of this next year. That will be the true gift to our Savior, that when the tree has come down, life has returned to normal, doctor visits start back up and the gifts are no longer new, that we will continue to love and serve and take care of our brothers and sisters here. What more could the Savior want than for us to love and serve each other each and every day of the year. What a beautiful celebration of the birth of our Savior and Redeemer.

All is Calm. All is Bright.

Here I sit at the computer during another sleepless night. I love the stillness and calmness of the night when all the world is silent. I have learned to cherish the silence and find it is the best time for me to reflect and receive answers to my prayers. For some reason between midnight and 3am, more answers come and I feel closer to my Savior. Maybe it is there are no interuptions. Maybe it is in the silence of the night as I watch Thomas and Hayden peacefully sleep and my heart feels so much gratitude for these two guys that are the love and joy of my life. I think more than anything I am just still. No TV, no lights besides the flickering of the Christmas tree, no noise, no distractions. I sit alone in the dark, still with my thoughts.

I find each night as I wake, that my first thoughts are turned to my Savior. This road I walk now is sometimes very difficult. The pain at night wakes me and requires me to move to find some relief. As I try to find comfort or a break from the pain, my thoughts are directed towards the Savior. I thank Him that I am still here. Every night, even when the pain is almost too much for me to bear, I thank Him for letting me continue to live. I realize that each breath is a gift from Him, that I am living on borrowed time. I am grateful that He spares my life day in and day out, even when the seizures are long, when I pass out and cannot get up and when my breathing becomes so labored that I know that my life is only being sustained through my Savior's pure love.

I am so thankful for this past year. There are so many moments that my weakened body should have failed. So many times when illness and disease was so rampant that I was given no hope of recovering. So many nights when the pain was so bad that I could only fight to hold on moment by moment. But, in each of those agonizing moments, I was comforted. When I no longer could handle what my mortal body was experiencing, I had the amazing experience of feeling my Savior wrap me in a blanket of His love and comfort. I felt Him ease my pain, ease my labored breathing, bring me back to consciousness and heal my aching body.

How do I express how grateful I am for another Christmas? For another wonderful Christmas season to share my testimony and love with my son? To have another Christmas Eve where Thomas and I put all the finishing touches together to make Christmas magical for Hayden? To experience the joy and happiness in Hayden's eyes as he walks into the family room on Christmas morning and sees that Santa has come? To feel the love of my husband's arms wrapped around me? To kneel with my husband and son after a beautiful Christmas day and thank our Father in Heaven for the precious gift of His son?

My heart is so full tonight. So grateful. So in awe that my Savior cares about me so much. That He loves me with a perfect love, even though I myself am so far from perfect. He cradles me in His arms of love just as a mother tenderly holds her newborn babe. There are no words that can adequately express my love and gratitude. When the words don't come, when my mouth cannot express the feelings of my heart, I am even more grateful that my Savior and Father in Heaven know my heart, my thoughts, my deepest feelings, my love, my devotion and my immense gratitude. For although words cannot express how I feel, they know me so well, that I feel them saying to me, I understand.

So, at the end of another beautiful and perfect Christmas season, I will cherish and relish in each tender moment that I was able to spend with my loved ones. And, I will go back to bed, and in spite of the pain, try to find slumber. As I lay back down, I will drift off knowing that my Savior has once again, let me know that I am His and I am enough. No greater gift can be given. No greater present unwrapped or received than the personal and loving relationship that I cherish with my Savior. I know He lives. And I know that even with all my faults and shortcomings, my Savior, my Redeemer, loves me.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve

Dad and Bonnie threw their annual Simonton Christmas Eve party. We had so much fun. We had fun with everyone together but really missed J.D. and his family who were celebrating in Minnesota. We had food galore with our traditional honey baked ham and all the trimmings. We ate and talked and then gathered back together for the spiritual part of the evening.
Above photo collage: Murphys, Brinley, Katelyn and Kiley, Hayden teasing Jake and Kiley and Brooklyn in their new matching jackets from Suzi.
Hayden loved Christmas gifts from Grandpa and Grandma Bonnie, so did the girls. 
Below: Hayden and Kiley were having the best time laughing and playing. He sure loves his girls and they adore him.
After the spiritual evening of family, the Savior, Christmas memories and heartfelt thoughts we broke into the grinch game. This year Jodi gave Grandpa a grinch that sang the song, yelled Grrriiiinnnchh. The grinch game brought lots of laughs and fun. I love how excited Talmage was to give it to Grandpa. Talmage played the grinch game and loved it as much as any of the kids. He passed the presents and was in heaven at all the festivities. We laughed so hard when Austin ended up with a purse. He is one funny boy. Everyone laughed as this was the year for movie and Harkins gift certificates. Too fun.

Hayden absolutely loved his gifts from Grandpa and Grandma Simonton. His face was priceless as he opened up the kindle fire and squealed with delight and yelled oh yes! He ran to give Grandpa the biggest hug! He had really been wanting one and thought there was no way that he was going to get one. He was THRILLED to say the least!
Santa got lost on the way to the party. Hayden thought he would fill in. So he took Santa's velvet chair, sat in it and had the girls come up one by one, sit on his lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Oh how I wish I would have recorded it. He was so witty and they were all laughing hysterically. I love that he has such a great friendship with so many cousins.
Santa finally made it and had the kids full attention. They asked him questions and he was spot on with answers. Hayden was NOT thrilled when Grandpa asked if Hayden had been naughty or nice and Santa said "So, So". Hayden was totally offended. My boy that tries to be perfect was not happy. That was when he knew it was a bogus Santa. The real one would have DEFINITELY said he was on the good list. Wrong kid to question their goodness, Santa! But, they all laughed and had so much fun with Santa. I love the magic when Santa walked in. Giggles, whispers, questions, hushed wow's all preceded them sitting on his lap. He assured them that they all would receive a very Merry Christmas and they sure did.

Christmas Angel

Merry Christmas!

My heart cannot begin to express the gratitude and love that I feel at this very moment. There has never been a Christmas or special time of year that I have felt more loved, more grateful or more truly cared for.

Twelve beautiful days ago, something miraculous happened for our family. We received a gift at the door, filled with all kinds of treats stating that the Christmas Angel had come bearing gifts to our family. And, with each passing day, a new gift or treat arrived on the doorstep. No door bell ringing, just a quiet family sneaking up to the doorstep to anonymously surprise us with another gift of love. Each day we waited in anticipation for when and what new goodie would show up at the door. I caught Hayden checking the front door many times each day.

It didn't matter what the gifts were, although the sayings were adorable and made us laugh and smile. No matter what was left, as we read the note, our hearts were filled with love. I think mine was filled with so much gratitude, as well.

You see, this Christmas came with limitations on my part. Other people wrapped my gifts, delivered our goodies, shopped for me and even carried out most of our traditions without me. So many traditions were skipped this year or done with me missing. I tried to just be grateful I was still on earth to do any of the traditions and be here to hear Hayden's excitement and joy as he experienced this beautiful season. But there were still moments of disappointment and sadness.

But, this gift, it was new and exciting and offered us a new tradition, a new gift to look forward to and something we could relish in together. It allowed me to see the excitement and joy in Hayden's eyes and the awe in Thomas' as we received such thoughtful gifts from our Christmas Angel. How grateful is my heart? There are no words to express the joy and love and excitement that these kind acts brought into our hearts and home.

As I woke up in pain from completely overdoing it on Christmas Eve, I myself went to check the front porch, I am sure with ever bit as anticipation and excitement as a child waking up for presents on Christmas morning. I smiled as I saw the gift all wrapped in a red bag and bow. I debated waiting for Hayden but decided to just take a peak. As I opened the contents, tears swelled up in my eyes and then flooded down my checks. I sobbed. Not out of sadness but out of love and hope and joy and thanksgiving and thoughtfulness and I guess most of all at the outpouring of love. Our angel did not identify themselves. But, as I opened this gift, I felt my Savior wrap His arms around me and I KNEW that I was not forgotten. Not only was I showered with love and generosity from this dear family, in that moment, my Savior let me know that He was aware of me, my limitations, my struggles, my heartache, my fears, and replaced all those feelings with hope and joy and peace and gratefulness and an overwhelming love. Love for these sweet Angels, love for my family, love for my husband that now had his arms wrapped around me, love for this beautiful time of year and love for the one that all this is about, my precious Savior.

To whomever my Christmas Angels are, thank you. Thank you for being the whisper at the end of each day that said, "you are remembered", the joy, the hope and most importantly the love that we all felt. You were our miracle this year and I will always and forever be grateful! Merry Christmas!


We have been so blessed as a family this year with not only one secret santa, but two. We have never before had the 12 days of Christmas done for us and this year, we get not only one, but two gifts each day. We had our Christmas Angel that dropped off a variety of goodies and then we had our Secret Santa that brought a different character from the Nativity each night with a scripture about the significance of that piece of the nativity story.

The first night that it was dropped off, I was in awe. I received a beautiful backdrop and Mary. I probably read the quote on Mary at least on eight different occasions. The words were powerful, they so perfectly portrayed Mary and what a wonderful, strong, loving and righteous woman that she was. After receiving this glorious nativity piece, my thoughts turned to Mary so often. As struggles hit me that next day, I thought of her, the obstacles she had to overcome and the amount of faith that she had to carry her thru all her mortal trials. As I held Mary, I felt strength that I too could keep going, keep enduring and have complete faith that my Savior would carry me through.

The next day, Joseph arrived and we read anxiously about him. With each passing day more pieces showed up with more beautiful quotes and scriptures about that beautiful night that our Savior was born.

I found myself getting just as excited about the beautiful words to be read, as I did about the beautiful nativity pieces that were filling our table one by one. I caught Hayden on numerous occasions gently holding the figures, looking at them, reading the words, and carefully rearranging the scene.

Each morning Hayden would ask if today was the baby Jesus would show up. We told him that we guessed he would come on Christmas Eve. But, Hayden kept waiting. Each time he opened the door, he hoped he would find the precious Christ child there.

As more and more pieces showed up, we talked more and more about the events surrounding that beautiful night. We talked of Mary and what it must have been like to be accused of being unholy when indeed she always kept herself pure. The courage and trust that Joseph had to believe Mary and stand by her side, even when they both were being judged. We talked of the faith of the lonely shepherds and what it must have felt like to see and hear angels singing and have the faith to go to the baby Jesus. We talked of the wise men and their decision not to tell King Herod of the birth of the Savior. We talked about what the manger must have been like on that beautiful night. We talked of the brightness of the star. We asked ourselves questions such as, "Do we have the faith to follow the star like the wise men? Or, do we find room for the Savior in our hearts and bring the Savior in or keep him in the distance in the manger?"

Because of this beautiful gift, our hearts were turned to the events of that beautiful and holy night that our Savior was born on this earth. We talked of the Christ child, we were in awe of the faithfulness of the shepherds, the determination of the wise men, the endurance of Joseph and the strength of Mary.

We decided we wanted to have more of these wonderful qualities and sat and made a list of the gifts that we would give our Savior this year. We would give Him our hearts completely. No holding back, no hesitation, just turning our lives over to the Savior and trusting Him that He can do a better job than we can.

Oh what a beautiful gift. What a precious gift to behold. We are so grateful not only for the absolutely gorgeous nativity set that was given, but for all the talks that it sparked, all the faith it renewed, all the love that we felt and the gratitude in our hearts.

Thank you for giving us the gift of talking of the Christ child and our Savior and Redeemer each and every day during the month of December. There are no words to express the gratitude that is deep in my heart. Please know we will always cherish this kindness. It will be a memory that is rekindled and sparked each year as we set up this beautiful nativity.

Merry Christmas! May you be blessed for your generosity and love!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Murphy Christmas Party

We decided to change things up this year and start a new Murphy tradition. We usually get together on Christmas night when everyone is tired and exhausted. It is all we can do to just hang out and sit, but night we are all done with even grazing on treats.

We decided the Sunday night before Christmas would be a fun tradition to start. We are all still really excited for Christmas and not absolutely exhausted. I am so glad we did. It worked perfectly. I loved it. I am really excited for this new tradition.
Thomas traditionally always hands out gifts, he loves it!
Victoria with her neon colored necklace that Thomas made her.
I love Hayden's face when he opens gifts. He gets so excited. Aunt Kelli gave him a $25 gift certificate to Olive Garden this year. It is Hayden's favorite restaurant.
Logan loved his hat and clothes that he got. His favorite was a cookie monster t-shirt from Suzi and this fedora hat.
I love that Hayden just loves everything we do. He is so in to traditions, just like his mom.
We decided to play the white elephant gift exchange. Suzi was awesome and went and bought gifts for all of us to play the game. We laughed and laughed when out of all the gifts, Scott ended up with Hello Kitty lip gloss and Thomas was left with hot pink nail polish and lipstick. We laughed and laughed and laughed.

Then we all settled in with our hot cocoa, chocolate chip cookies and watched Polar Express. It was a great night and I am so excited to carry on this new tradition each year. Thanks to everyone for humoring me and letting us try something new. I definitely think it is going to be a great tradition.

Hayden's Toy Drive 2012

Cole Crismon called and asked if he could help with Hayden's Toy Drive for his eagle project. I was thrilled and excited but most of all so grateful. I knew that this was a direct answer to my prayer. How could I ever accomplish all I needed to with the toy drive and collect toys when I am in bed? It is so important to my heart and I know how important the toys are to the children that are in the hospital, so I prayed for a way to keep the toy drive going, even though I, myself, could not do it.

Cole and all the Crismon's did an amazing job collecting toys for the children at Phoenix Children's Hospital. All together, they boxed and packaged up over 1500 toys.

My heart is so grateful. My thanks cannot be spoken.

As Thomas and Hayden went with the Crismon's to PCH to drop off the toys, I was heartbroken that I was too sick to go. But, an overwhelming peace came over me as I realized that in spite of my illness, the Lord had prepared a way for Hayden's Toy Drive to still be successful.

Thank you Cole! I am so grateful, as are all the children at PCH. Hayden still says that dropping off the toys is one of the greatest parts of Christmas. I agree.

Thank you to all that helped us continue in Hayden's Toy Drive. During the last six years, we have now brought in over 12,000 toys, thanks to all the wonderful and generous donations from so many incredible people.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jodi and gang

I love the tradition of getting together with Jodi and her kiddos a couple days before Christmas to exchange gifts and have our own little celebration. I think next year we need to add Christmas cookies to the party. It is one of the first gifts the munchkins receive so they are so over the top excited!
Goofy kiddos
Brigham opened his first and absolutely loved the Batman and batmobile. Hayden did a perfect job picking out a present for his little buddy. I loved how excited Talmage was to see what "they" received.
Talmage absolutely loved his own batman and batmobile. He was funny and screeched if anyone else even touched it. He played and played and played with that car. He was so excited and so cute about everything. So fun to watch.
Brigham and his transformable batmobile/batcycle.
I love Hayden's face and can almost still hear him yell, "No way! Aweeeeesooome!" as he opened his Star Wars Legos that Jodi bought him. He spent the next couple of hours in one spot, building that kit, one piece after the next. Loved it!
Hayden loved her purple and pink necklace that Thomas made her. When I was Brooklyn's age, my mom started me with a porcelain doll collection. I loved receiving a special doll each year for either Christmas or my birthday. I decided that if Grandma Sue were with these sweet grandkids of hers, that she definitely would have carried on the tradition with Brooklyn. So, I thought I would throw in a Christmas gift from Grandma Sue. I hope she cherishes it because I really felt like it was something that my mom wanted her special granddaughter to have.
I was so excited to give Jodi her present this year. I had a custom necklace made for her. It says, "I can do hard things" and "Joy in the Journey". If there is anything that I have learned this year, and especially anything that Jodi continued to tell me is that I could do hard things. I also learned that there is joy even in the middle of really hard things, if you just take the time to notice them. Jodi and I have spent countless hours finding joy in the middle of really hard things. I am grateful to her for helping me through my trials and know she will always be there for me.
(*I was definitely more excited about giving each of them there gifts but must say how much I LOVE my oil holder and how darling and convenient it is to use. Perfect gift for me.)

Merry Christmas Davis Family! Our lives would not be complete without you right around the corner. Thanks for making 2012 such a memorable and great year. We all love and completely adore you all.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gingerbread Houses

Hayden invited Jackson over for our annual friend gingerbread house making party. We had all the necessary fun candy to make the houses top notch.
Jackson and Hayden laughed, talked, giggled about Christmas, tasted lots of candy and had so much fun.
I love that my boy loves it when I am right there, in the action, participating right with him.
Thomas is the master of gingerbread houses and was there for any special creations or building repairs.
Hayden is so fun to watch as he experiments with different creations and makes every project unique and exciting.
I love my boy! He is such an incredible son and so grateful for anything we do for him. He hugged me and told me thank you for a fun evening.
These boys are such great friends and I cannot express how much we love Jackson. After we decorated the gingerbread houses, the boys then made out their letters to Santa. Too funny. It was a great night filled with laughter, smiles, giggles and the entire Christmas spirit.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Lights

One day this last week, I had had a terrible day. Joyce and Julie were at my house and no matter how I tried, the pain was too intense to find a comfortable place on the bed or couch. I grabbed a pillow and hoped the firmness of the floor would help. I immediately dozed off to sleep on the floor in the middle of the family room, finally escaping the excruciating pain I was in.

As I slept there, Jodi came in with Brooklyn crying and Brigham upset and crying. Talmage was just happy to be at our house. As she walked in, so did my dear friend, LeAnn with dinner. Soon after, with all the chaos in full swing, Thomas came home from work.

They all laughed that I could sleep peacefully in the middle of such confusion and noise.

When I woke up, Thomas had fed all the kids dinner and had a plate waiting for me. The kids by now, were mostly in the toy room playing and having fun. Not long after I ate, crying came from the toy room and from how I was told the beginning of the night went, I thought we could all use a break.

I told the kids to put on shoes and get in the car. In awe, all eyes looked up at me, and asked if we were headed to urgent care. I smiled, said no, I have a surprise. They all bounded for the car. As Thomas backed out of the driveway, the kids chattered in amazement and wondered where we were headed.

I told them we were going to look at Christmas lights and make a game out of it. Could we locate more Santas or more Snowmen. Brooklyn and Hayden quickly chose Santa and told Brigham and Talmage to find Snowmen with me and Thomas. Game On.

We drove and had a great time looking at lights, excitedly looking for Santas and Snowmen and Talmage was so excited to see candy canes. I was amazed at thru the laughter and yelling and spotting of the items that I hush would come over the car when they saw a baby Jesus.

Some of my favorite moments of the entire season are from that short one hour car ride. Each time Talmage saw a target looking of lights, he would yell, "Look, another Target. My mommy no knows about this one." We laughed and laughed.

We took turns singing carol after carol, with each one in between being Jingle Bells, cause that was all Talmage knew.
We even swung into McDonald's for an ice cream cone, our tradition for looking at lights. The kids were thrilled.
It was the perfect night. One I will always cherish. The kids were so excited that I was in the car and doing something fun. They wanted to make it special and perfect for me. Oh did they! My heart still is overwhelmed with emotions with even the remembrance of our own perfect night.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Blessings

This beautiful Christmas season has brought so many blessings to our home. We have received random acts of kindness beyond measure. I am in awe as each new day the door opens to find precious treats, sweet kindnesses and huge amounts of love.

This year, two different people are doing the 12 days of Christmas for us. Talk about a fun and exciting thing to look forward to each day. The first calls themselves the Christmas Angel and drops off yummy treats, fun gifts and cute sayings each day. We have received fun cups, straws, candy canes, bubble bath and all kinds of fun Christmas goodies. Hayden's favorite is that with the candy canes, it said that the cane was to help me off the couch to have fun with my family. Another said, to help you get off the couch and relax in the tub. We are having so much fun with our Christmas Angel.
The second is dropping off Nativity pieces with quotes about each of the pieces. It is so special. The quotes remind us each day of an important piece of the events and people surrounding our dear Savior's birth. Hayden is on pins and needles trying to guess which piece of the puzzle will come next and we all stop whatever we are doing to read the sweet quote provided and talk of how it plays into the role of Christ's birth. What an incredible gift to give to us each and every day.
Other acts of kindness, even though I have not taken pictures, are too, priceless to our family.

We spent one family night writing down our gifts to the Savior for 2013. We made goals of how we would "give back" to the Savior. We decided to be better at letting Christ's love shine through our own lives, so that others would see where the source of our happiness comes from. We are going to share the gift of Christ's love with another family. We are going to random acts of kindness for others and really pay it forward with all we have been given. We are all excited for some of our plans for 2013 and fulfilling our gifts to our Savior.

We also started our annual Christmas Manger and are having so much joy in finding unique and fun ways to serve one another so that we can add a piece of straw to the Christ child's manger. We are so excited to do so many good deeds that the baby Jesus has a soft place to lay his sweet head on Christmas Eve.

I love this time of year. I love the Christmas spirit. I love the random acts of kindness that are so richly among us. I am grateful for the generosity of others and the amount of joy they have brought to our hearts.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Golfland was the location for Hayden's 11 year old birthday celebrations. Thomas hauled Jackson, Joey, Gunter, Lucas and Hayden and headed out for a fun 3 hours goofy golfing, playing laser tag, video games and being boys. They had such a great time, even if it did rain on/off.

I am so thankful for this group of boys that Hayden is friends with. I adore all of their parents and they are all such great boys.
Thomas said the boys loved every minute of goofy golfing and laughed and were silly and had so much fun.

After playing hard for three hours, boy were these boys ever hungry! They ate and ate and ate at Burger King (Hayden's favorite). While there they laughed and talked and opened presents and told funny stories.

I am so thankful for Hayden's good friends and the great parents that have raised each of them! I am so happy my boy had such a great time with his friends and his dad at Golfland and Burger King.
I hope at 11 that Hayden has as many fun adventures as the last years have brought. I pray that he stays true to who he is and continues to chart his own unique course through this life. As a mom, I hope that he always has good friends to be there for him and help him to always choose the right.

I love you, Bubba! I am so happy that you had a perfect day!