Well, it is that time of year again. Time to reflect back on the past 12 months, but more importantly, ahead to the 12 that are coming up.
What a great year we've had around the Simons' house. As usual, it is easy to forget just how much has gone on. I like to take this time each year to do a 'review' of what's occurred.
- Each of us had another birthday
- Laura killed her first deer (and went deer hunting with me for the first time!)
- Avery started 1 day a week Mother's Day out
- Trey went to 3 day a week pre-k
- Haley started Kindergarten. And rides the bus!
- We sold our house in Windward slopes. Twice (first contract fell through)
- We moved 3 streets over and now live on the lake!
- We turned the 30 year old pontoon boat that came with the house into a pirate ship
- I got a tractor
- Our company was bought out
- Laura started teaching high school girls again at church
- I taught young adults again at church
- My grandfather passed away
- Laura's grandmother passed away
- Read the 1 year chronological bible through for the 2nd time this year.
Goals for next year:
- Live a life that will guide my children to walk in the Truth (3 John 4)
- Love my wife more
- Be present with my kids more
- Continue to take time alone (normally when hunting) to relax, reflect, refocus and talk to God.
- Read the Bible through again
- Disciple a group of men to be leaders in their family, church, community and the world. But start with having the right leader in their own life.
- Focus on being anxious for nothing. I struggle with anxiety more than any other thing.
And the list wouldn't be fun to look at next year without documenting a couple things about everyone in our family:
- Loves learning
- Loves drawing and artwork and crafts of any sort
- Loves her teacher, Ms. Wooley
- Loves church. Loves children's choir.
- Has nearly learned the Lord's Prayer
- Loves living next door to Ashton/Sarah and down the street from Carrington
- Thinks that she's one of the smartest kids in her grade. And she's right.
- Is one of the most creative people I've ever met
- Is really beginning to enjoy sharing a room with Avery
- Is 100% boy
- Listens sometimes
- Would take a bullet for either one of his sisters. Especially Avery.
- Is very protective of his sisters
- Easily gets his “heart broken” (his words)
- Loves Jesus
- Loves his daddy
- Loves spending time with his family
- Likes to snuggle
- Is a lot smarter than he lets on. He “pretends” most of the time not to know the answers, but when you catch him off guard, he knows most of his letters and numbers.
- Loves to be held and played with
- Is extremely determined
- Is very self sufficient. She usually lets you know she doesn't need help. But when she does, she quickly lets you know that as well. Usually in the form of screaming.
- Has got the biggest, prettiest eyes
- Is starting to get longer hair
- Laughs like crazy
- Can take a beating, but keeps on going. She rarely cries because she's hurt.
- Can't sit still for 5 minutes
- Can't leave ANYTHING alone. No doubt where she's been. She leaves a trail behind her.
- Usually listens and is obedient. Sometimes listens, but pushes the envelope…testing us.
- Is fanatical about keeping the floor clean. Which is a really tough job in our house. She walks around the kitchen with a piece of toilet paper wiping the floor.
- Infatuated with toilet paper. About twice a week, we find a whole roll undone and laying on the floor in the bathroom. We count it as a blessing if she hasn't “cleaned up” by putting all the toilet paper in the potty.
- Grown spiritually by leaps and bounds again this year
- Does a fantastic job teaching her girls. She genuinely cares for them and is very passionate about them.
- Has been my support. My rock. There is no way I could make it without her emotional support as well as her support around the house. Cooking, cleaning, raising our children.
- Looks better than the day I met her
- Loves to put individual dove chocolates in the freezer and pluck them out a couple times a day
- Has embroidered very little
- Has turned our house into a home. Decorating, painting and mostly, making it a loving and relaxing environment.
Just a couple of quick pics of some future duck hunters. Every chance Avery and Trey get, they go upstairs to Hayden’s office, grab a duck call and start blowing it. The other day, he came in from hunting and they each got a chance to practice their technique with dad. Trey got a duck call for Christmas from Hayden. Expecting it to be super quiet around here for the foreseeable future.
In light of Haley turning 5 and Avery hitting the the 8 month mark, we had to do a quick photo session. Trey was already in his PJ’s but we couldn’t leave him out. Scary how grown up trey is starting to look at 2. Time sure is flying.
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.
I know we are a little late in getting our Halloween pictures up, but here they are! We had a great time celebrating fall this year- the kids got to pick a pumpkin from the farmer that came to their school, we attended a Harvest Party with our Sunday School Class, and then the Big Event- Trick Or Treating!
Haley was a Pirate Princess, Trey was Mickey Mouse, and Avery was a Pumpkin. The kids had a ball dressing up and participating in their school parade. Trey won the costume contest at our Harvest Party. Avery completed our set of pictures by being the third Simons to wear the Pumpkin costume on their first Halloween.
Trick-or-Treating was fun. My parents (the Platten’s) came to walk around with us. Grandpa Bill helped Trey a lot- avoiding falls on steps. The Lucky family joined us also, which made the night even more fun. My kids can’t get enough of Connor and Carson. Plus, Mr. Chad carried all the kids through the neighborhood at one point or another. We were all exhausted by the end of the night! Hayden and I weren’t sure who would fall asleep the fastest- us or the kids!
Candy rules at our house these days. Dessert is the best part of the day when we dump all the candy out of our bags and choose a piece to eat. Trey just jumps onto the floor and starts chowing down. He usually gets two or three down before I can get to the pile. I have to keep a tight reign on him…at least attempt too. Haley sits and analyzes which piece to choose for about 15 minutes to ensure she gets the best piece possible. I crack up because she’ll ask, "Mom, have I ever tried a _________? Did I like it?" She doesn’t want to make a bad choice if she only gets one. She generously gives Trey all the suckers, tootsie rolls, and skittles…she knows what she likes and what she doesn’t! Trey will eat about anything. As for Avery, we just let her roll around in it- as you can see.
We have had a ball taking family pictures lately. In preparation for putting together Christmas cards- for us, Hayden’s parents and my parents. We thought we’d give them several options. Our favorite is the one above (click on it to see the larger image). The ones below are great too. Since we’ve been spending so much time in Millington this year, we decided we couldn’t pass up taking a family Camo picture. One of the kids’ favorite activities is riding a 4-wheeler, we thought that’d make a great center piece. Yes, we even have Camo for little Avery! Trey is currently obsessed with 4-wheelers. If we go into Bass Pro Shop, we have to let him sit on every one in the store! We’ve even asked Santa to bring a Power Wheels 4-wheeler for Christmas…and luckily Santa found one at a garage sale that will be perfect! Christmas morning is going to be AWESOME!
Now, we are just looking forward to a great Thanksgiving holiday with the family. We are staying in Memphis this year and I can’t wait to go shopping with Julie and Kathleen. It will be different this year with many stores opening at midnight…but we are up for it! We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy counting your blessings with loved ones.
Below are some of the outtakes from our sessions. The top image is a triptych from one of our sessions, you can click that image to see the full size version.
We’ve been slacking a bit on blog posts so we’ll be doing a couple this week to catch up. The weekend of September 16-18 was a bit crazy. It started of simple enough on Friday, just relaxing around the house. Haley (aka, Pocahontas) and Trey were loving the weather and enjoying popsicles outside. We couldn’t help but hang out with them. Once they finally went to bed, though, the packing began.
Saturday morning started off with a bang. We headed to the Diabetes Walk. As many of you know, Laura was diagnosed in college with late onset juvenile diabetes. She did shots for a while and soon got on an insulin pump (which she lovingly calls her "pancreas in her pocket"). What a blessing the pump has been in regulating her sugar.
As soon as she found out her parents, and especially her Dad, took on the fight against Diabetes with a vengeance. He learned all he could and was instrumental in getting Kroger to be a corporate sponsor of the Diabetes Walk in Memphis. He fund-raised like a madman and even went so far as to be on the board of the ADA. Meanwhile, Laura and I took most of that for granted.
Last Christmas we vowed to fund-raise more than him for the Diabetes Walk. And that we did. Laura set up a team called "Just My Type". A handful of folks were on the team and Laura got to work raising money. Not only did Laura beat her dad in fundraising, but she was actually the top individual fundraiser in Memphis. I couldn’t be prouder of her!
Once the walk was over, we quickly headed off to Millington for the air show. Our financial advisor, Pickler Wealth Management, had a tent set up in the VIP section. Even though it was naptime, the kids’ attention was held. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold long enough for the Blue Angels – we had to leave a little early. I’d hoped to get some pictures of the Blue Angels. I did get some pretty cool pictures of a bomber.
From the air show, we went to the land in Millington. As an aside, we really need to come up with a name for the land in Millington. Anyway, the kids got the nap they needed. We rounded out Saturday watching a movie and eating popcorn.
Sunday morning we were back up early. We really enjoy staying Saturday nights in Millington, but that means an extra 30 minute drive to church on Sunday. When you consider we’re typically a little late for church even living 10 minutes away, the extra 30 minute drive is tough. We were finishing loading the car. Haley and Trey were hanging out on the porch. All of a sudden, Haley’s sick to her stomach.
After a massive cleanup effort by Laura (way to go, babe!), we were off to church. Laura ended up taking Haley home and coming back after church was over to pick me up.
Sunday also marked our 7 year wedding anniversary. It seems like we were married yesterday and a hundred years ago all at the same time. I couldn’t be happier spending my life with my best friend.
My birthday was Monday the 19th, but I got my present from Laura and the kids on Sunday night. An electric smoker! They gave it to me early so that I could use it on my birthday. And boy did I! I smoked a Boston Butt on Monday that was absolutely unreal. I even woke up at 3:30 Monday morning to put it in the smoker. I think I just might enter BBQ fest next year!
(and I threw in a picture of Avery in her game day gear just for grins)
Avery Grace is two months old! She is growing and changing so fast. Every day she gets prettier, more alert, and engaging. She has started smiling a lot and those smiles are one of the highlights of my day. She is on a great schedule and is a very happy baby. Like her big sister, Haley, she is very content wherever she is. Trey needed constant attention and affection (and still does!) but both girls are more laid back and just take in their surroundings. Avery is my little buddy and is pretty much attached to my hip…which I love. The kids still fight over who is going to hold her but the snuggling doesn’t last quite as long now that she is getting bigger.
The other day, Haley and I ran into Kroger to grab a thing or two and we took Avery. Well, Avery had been in the car seat a long time so I carried her in since we only had a couple things to grab. Both Haley and I realized we had to go to the bathroom while we were shopping and juggling Avery while snapping pants was quite a challenge. I let Haley hold her standing up and Haley looked up at me with the brightest eyes and the proudest smile and said, “I’m like an adult!” I hope I didn’t start a new idea stirring in that head!
Avery weighs 10lbs, 5oz and is now 22 inches long. If you saw her in her newborn clothes, you’d expect her length to have increased MUCH more. All her Newborn pants are capri’s now. She is officially in 3 month clothes. I’m excited to dress her in her new wardrobe! I need the weather to stay nice so she has time to wear her summer 3 month clothing. We hardly have any long sleeve attire!
I’m obviously a proud mama and LOVE being a mom of three. I am constantly reminded how great God is and how blessed I am. He is displaying His love for me, sense of humor, and power of Creation through my kids. Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I (they) am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” I’m happy to have three beautiful reminders.
The house that we’ve been working on in Millington is done. For those that aren’t aware, my dad recently purchased some land in Millington, which is about 30 minutes from where we live. The primary intent of him purchasing it was to give us a place to go hunt when he was up.
When we bought it, it had a house on on it that was built sometime around the early 40’s. It hadn’t been lived in for 9 years and it was in shambles. We actually used the fact that we’d incur the expense of tearing it down as a negotiating tool. Once we bought it, we took another hard look at the house. We’d probably spend 10 grand or more to tear it down. And it definitely had some potential. You had to squint to see it, but it was there. The renovation process began.
The house is pretty simple. 2 bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, sunroom (that is a converted porch) and one bathroom. There’s one picture of the renovation below. I’ll post more as I remember to take pictures. We sleep in one bedroom and the kids sleep in the other. There are three twin beds in the kid’s room. As of now, Avery sleeps in ours, but Haley and Trey can’t wait until she can join them. We’ll be making a lot of memories there.
Here we are about 8 months later and I’m happy we chose to repair it. It’s got a charm to it. We’ve spent the night there a couple of times over the last few weeks. We’ve been checking off the punch list – final cleaning, brining in furniture, stocking the closets and hanging pictures. We’ve nearly got it to the point that we can grab a change of clothes and head out to spend the night on a whim.
I knew having a place to go like this would be nice. But frankly, I had no idea just how nice it would be. Away from the phone and computer. Away from the honey do list at home. Just relaxing.
We’ve been bringing a small TV and a DVD player so that we can watch a movie as a family (typically Fern Gully or Tangled) and eat popcorn. The ONLY thing that gets the kids in front of the TV out there is darkness. From the minute we get there until it gets dark, the kids run around like crazy outside. This past Saturday, I don’t think they stopped squealing for the first few hours they were there.
I love watching them run around. There are a couple of acres around the house where they can run till their hearts are content without danger of streets or being kidnapped. There’s no such thing as strangers…just a couple of overly nice neighbors that would do anything for you. We’re so grateful to have a place to go where kids can be kids like we were growing up. Where there were no worries. Where skinned knees were a clear indicator that we had a lot of fun that day. Where riding 4 wheelers isn’t something you do every once in a while as a reward for being good – it’s how you get to the pond. And where there’s always a ring around the tub after giving them baths.