Merry Christmas, Everyone! I apologize for not sending out Christmas cards this year, but hopefully our faithful readers already know what we’ve been up to all year! We have had a wonderful Christmas holiday
and LOVED having Hayden take off work and spend some time at home. One word to describe our Christmas would be “relaxed”. How often can people say that about Christmas? A few years ago we decided not to travel anywhere for Christmas day and that Santa would be able to come down our chimney each year. Our decision to stay home is affirmed each year when we get to spend the entire Christmas day playing with all the new toys, staying in pajamas, and enjoying some family time. We have established a Christmas Eve tradition as well, Chuck E. Cheese. This year was more crowded than normal but the kids had a ball. (I laugh because every time we go to Chuck E. Cheese Hayden goes crazy wanting to play all the games himself too! Definitely a kid at heart.) After playing at Chuck E. Cheese we went home for dinner and cookie baking. Hayden helped the kids bake cookies that Santa would love- Gingerbread with TONS of icing and sprinkles.
Christmas morning was magical. I’m not sure if Hayden and I were more excited knowing what the kids were getting or if the kids were more excited anxiously awaiting Santa’s visit. I’m pretty sure it was us that were more excited. Trey came down at 3am. He came in our room and since it was WAY too early so I got him a blanket and pillow to lay down next to our bed and go back to sleep. Before going to sleep I followed him out to the Christmas tree and he just stood there staring in amazement. It was so sweet to see him just taking it all in. Two hours later, Haley came down at 5am. This time there was no going back to sleep- she was TOO excited. “Mom, HE CAME! And he brought me EXACTLY what I wanted!” Haley got a Barbie princess castle. I kicked Hayden and got him moving, Haley woke up Trey and practically dragged him to his feet so we could start opening presents. It’s amazing that we even got the other presents open after Haley started playing with the Castle. Once she started, she didn’t stop for DAYS! She really loves it and I couldn’t be happier that I was able to find it for her- thank you again, Craigslist! After opening the presents Hayden read the note Santa left commending the kids on being so great this year, especially in welcoming the Avery into the family. The note also directed Trey to go outside into the garage for his big gift- A FOUR WHEELER! This is the perfect gift for Trey because we can’t go into Bass Pro Shop without sitting on EVERY 4-wheeler in the store. He was a little nervous about it at first but after Haley showed him how to drive it, it was on! (Little did Haley know, we also bought her one- both used- but since we bought it in Jackson, MS, we couldn’t give it to her on Christmas morning. Hayden’s parents brought it up the next week.)
Avery missed the opening of gifts but the kids helped her open hers later on in the day. The kids shopped in their own toy baskets for gifts and wrapped them for her. They were so excited to give her the toys they picked out. Definitely learned the spirit of giving without having to buy anything!
I entered the age of technology with my new phone- I can take videos, send/check email, surf the web, and play Words With Friends now!! I’m so excited and have had fun playing with all the new features. Hayden did a great job picking the perfect gift for me. He took a professional step up with his gift too. He got a great leather brief case and has been looking very stylish carrying it back and forth every day.
Our prayer Christmas Eve night was one of thanksgiving- 1) for a God that loved us so much he allowed His son to humble himself to come to Earth- coming as a baby, to become the man that would bridge the gap so we could have eternal life. He is faithful to His word and promises and Jesus’ birth is just one more reminder of that. 2) for being able to buy gifts that our kids only dream about. We are not in this position because of anything we do, but because of the blessings we’ve received.
It comes every year with great anticipation…yes, I’m talking about COOKIE DAY! About 25 years ago, my Great-Grandma, Stella Bretzler, passed down the beloved Cruschiki recipe to me. This is one of the most memorable honors I’ve had. She was the only one who knew how to make these cookies that the ENTIRE family waited for each Christmas. No, there was no recipe. We just had her over to our house so she could make them in front of me while I wrote down everything she put into the bowl with my fifth-grade handwriting on lined paper from school. I still have this lined paper, grease and sugar stained now, many years later.
Each year since, my sisters, mom, and I have gotten to work- worker bees in the kitchen carrying on the beloved memory of Stella and the cookies that make Christmas complete. The St. Louis crew still anxiously await for the Platten’s to arrive with their share of the cookies. Today was even more special, now that my kids are able to appreciate and participate in the cookie making fun. Now that I have an embroidery machine and have gotten quite handy at the sewing machine…not to mention pinterest inspiration, I got to work making personalized aprons for the occasion. (a little more involved than I had originally planned but luckily, my handy and loving husband helped me out so I could meet my deadline!) They turned out "Fabulous" and made the day even more fun. Haley and Julie made my day as I listened to the two of them talk about Christmas, sing songs, and fold cookies. Haley was so happy to be so involved- I think she helped do almost every step…and I could not have been a more proud mama. (I say that a lot!) Trey was the master of powder sugar shaking and dragging chairs across the kitchen. We all ate our fair share of cookies. Haley got to thinking that Santa must have to throw up at the hospital each year after eating so many cookies.
Kathleen was missed but she’ll get her apron in St. Louis when they meet up with the family. She’ll just have to save it till next year when she can join us for Cookie Day 2012. We texted pictures several times to help her feel like she was a part of the family day.
Lame, Lame, Lame. Three words to describe our blogging efforts over the past month. For crying out loud, you’d think we’ve been too busy to post. Funny how that happens. During the busiest times, you don’t have time to write down what’s going on. But really and truly, those are the times we want to remember most.
A large chunk of the past few months has been consumed with the Singing Christmas Tree at Bellevue. I had a very minor part in the production, but had plenty of practices nonetheless. And I’m not complaining about the practice. Bellevue’s productions are second to none…so I knew going in that there would be a lot of work. We put on 7 shows over 5 days with between 4,000 and 4,500 in attendance at every show. Not too shabby of a turnout. I definitely enjoyed it, but am glad it is over too.
The kiddos are wrapping up their school year. They had their productions a week or so ago. At the end of the song they sing, each child says their name into the microphone. Haley’s class went something like this: Jimmy, Susan, Jessie, Megan, Haley Michelle Pirate Simons (followed by laughter). Sweet Haley girl really is a pirate at heart. Trey did a great job. It was cute to watch him get into doing the hand motions to the “Reindeer Hokey Pokey”. I think his favorite part was “Put your backside in, put your backside out, put your backside in and you shake it all about.” Videos of the kids songs are below. They’re only about a minute each. (which as a parent, I can appreciate very quick programs…nothing worse than having to wait through two hours of kids you don’t know singing songs).
This past weekend we went down to Brandon to have Christmas with my parents, grandmother and Laura/Ryan/Seth/Caleb. It was a special time since it was our first chance to meet Caleb! I had a fantastic time doing some hunting with dad and we really had a special time hanging out with family and catching up. While we were there, we managed to have a quick photo shoot for Caleb. I’ve still got to finish editing the pictures (my Sister’s going to kill me if it isn’t done soon). But there were a few that stuck out. One is below.
A little background on the “I Surrender All” picture. About this time last year, Laura and Ryan were pregnant with their 2nd child. Kate was going to be her name. Laura went on bed rest about half way through her pregnancy. They were in the process of building a new house and life was centered around this gift that was about to arrive. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. She went in for a checkup and the tech couldn’t find a heartbeat. Laura had to deliver Kate, stillborn. Of course Laura and Ryan took it hard. Laura and I took it hard. My parents took it hard. But amazingly, after briefly grieving, Ryan and Laura showed strength, faith and perseverance like I’ve never seen before. The truth of the matter was, they didn’t lose a child. They’d already given her to God…it was never theirs to begin with. The little hand that you see in the picture below is Caleb’s. He was born two days before Kate’s birthday- they brought Caleb home from the hospital on Kate’s birthday. That significance was not lost on any of us- God is so good, has perfect timing, and children are a reward from Him. And they’ve surrendered Caleb to God as well. Their work, their money, their marriage and themselves…they surrender. I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to pull this together into a photo.