Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stepping Stones

Hayden was so excited about his lesson today. On the way home from church, he talked to us about David and Goliath. Sister Call is so great at teaching the kids. She had stepping stones and stumbling blocks and asked the kids to give examples of how different situations can be either one in our lives, depending on how we look at it.

Hayden was so proud of himself. He said, "Mom, I told the kids that all of my surgeries could have been either... I have chosen to make them stepping stones."
I told him that indeed he had, but specifically what have you learned from them and how has it helped you.
Hayden: "I told them that I do Hayden's Toy Drive to help the other kids be happy in the hospital."
He then said, "I said it was like a flu shot, I could whine and cry that I don't want one and it hurts or I could say, this is better for me and although it hurts for a minute, it will keep me from getting sick. Same thing with the surgeries."
I love Hayden so much and am seriously amazed at his outlook on life and positive attitude in his situations. Yes, Hayden, you have most definitely turned your health situations into stepping stones, not stumbling blocks and I am so very proud of you for being able to do that. You make me proud to be your mother.

Monday, July 19, 2010


The best part about the beach... the cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and the memories made. We made so many wonderful memories this year. The bonds between all of us were made so much deeper. I am so grateful for those one on one moments that remind me what an incredible family I have. I feel so blessed and so loved!

Beach Fun

What would the beach week be without Thomas and Hayden getting into a water fight. Hayden gets his dad and then Thomas always ends up throwing Hayden in the waves. They both love it and look so forward to playing together. I love watching them. They have so much fun! Love this picture of Hayden. This is how smiley he is most of the time on the beach. He loves playing in the sand, digging, playing with his cousins and getting wet! It is his dream vacation!
Me, I was so cold. I fell asleep on the beach. I am wearing long sleeves and wrapped in towels. I don't make it look like July on the beach. But, boy was that a great nap!

Balloons and Bubbles

Thomas and I ranked number one Aunt/Uncle this week. We brought big bubbles to the beach and let the kids chase and pop the bubbles. I think we entertained every kid on the beach. We also brought balloons and balloon rockets.
I had no idea that Jake knew how to make swords, flowers and dogs out of balloons. I blew up balloons as quick as I could and Jake turned them into all kinds of creations.

Jodi got in on the action and made Brinley a princess hat. We were hits.
We entertained the kiddos for hours with the balloons, bubbles and balloon sword fights.


I am so lucky. I have the coolest, sweetest, most loving nieces and nephews in the world. I have fond memories of each of them on the beach this year.

Austin (12) and Dallin (13) stuck standing up in the sand. It took forever to get them out. I also love that Dallin and Austin always take the time to make Hayden feel important! He adores them. Kaylee (10) is full of it. She is a tease, just like her dad. Here she is throwing sand balls. She is a mini Jake. I love her to death! I love that she keeps up with the older boys and isn't afraid to try anything!
Casen (9) went shopping with Grandpa and Bonnie. Enough said. He wanted to be called Hollywood the rest of the week.
Katelyn is beautiful, sweet and emotional. I love that she is all girl! She wants to go to LA shopping and can actual keep up with her mom. There is no way that I could ever last as long as Rosie and Katelyn is becoming quite the shopper.

Hayden (8) is just the perfect child for me! I sure love him. I love his zest for life, his ability to enjoy whatever he is doing, his incredible eyes and smile. Yes, I am biased but hey, I am his mom and I adore him.
Braden (7) is hilarious. I think he is one of the funniest children I know. I loved that if he needed anything on the beach, he asked me... "I sure am cold or do you have any snacks?" Too cute! He is also so good to his little sister.

Kiley (7) broke her arm on Wednesday. Poor thing.. she didn't get to play on the beach much. She is fun loving and a little pixie.
Bryson (7) is sweet, quiet and one of the best boogie boarders. He isn't scared of anything. Hayden and Bryson had the best time playing their DS's. Hayden sure wishes he lived closer.
Brooklyn (6) is an angel. She is beautiful inside and out. She is my girl. I laugh that she is so me when I was little. She even cleaned the seaweed off the beach. She has my heart!
Coby (5) is my buddy! He loves his Aunt Jer. I love that about him. And oh does he give great morning cuddles and hugs!

Brigham (4) is full of it! He knows what he wants. He is either in trouble or the sweetest kid you could ever find. I love his little quirks. I love cuddling with him. I love that he will ask me for candy.
Brinley (3) is a charmer. That kid can and will get whatever she wants out of me. She had me doing make up and painting fingernails. She would sit on my lap and twirl my hair. She talked me into buying ice cream, snowcones and anything else she wanted. She was such a highlight of the beach for me. I love her spunk and her darling little personality.

Tanner (3) is not an Aunt Jer fan. I guess JD needs to move closer than Minnesota. This little boy does not know how great it is to have an Aunt Jer. He did finally start warming up by the end of the week. He is a bouncer and constantly on the move.
Talmage (9 months) is the baby of all the Simonton's. That makes him spoiled rotten. He hardly ever cries or fusses. He just smiles, laughs and loves everyone. My favorite moment... he reached his arms out for me and shook his head no at Jodi. Awwwww. You won me over the first time I held you, kiddo!

Sand Crabs

Hayden found a huge sand crab and wanted me to put a picture of it on the blog.

Hayden, Thomas and all the boys have so much fun collecting sand crabs on the beach. They see who can find the biggest/smallest ones. All the kids have voted that Uncle Thomas is the best sand crab catcher out there. He sure has fun finding them with all the kiddos.


It would not be a vacation or a Simonton party without cards. This year we played spades a lot. Jake and I played some amazing spades. We had so much fun. Josh and Suzi rotated in on cards, too. We have gotten a lot less competitive over the years. We sure have fun playing together.

Boogie Boards

I love that all these cousins love playing together so much. I looked up and here they were all lined up waiting for the waves. Tanner, Kaylee, Bryson, Katelyn, Braden, Casen and Hayden. Hayden is so lucky to have so many cousins that are his age.


We asked Hayden what he wanted to do at the beach... Sea World, Legoland, etc. All he wanted was the big snowcones on the beach. Not a problem, I can buy a $4 snowcone in lieu of pricey amusement park tickets anyday. So, we had snowcones a couple of days. Why am I the favorite aunt? I buy snowcones for any kids that are around. They all LOVED them. Brigham thought it was fantastic!
Too cute of missy Brooklyn! I sure love that girl!

Hayden, Brinley and Brigham eating their massive snowcones on a hot day at the beach. What could be better?

Birch Aquarium

We spent a day at Birch Aquarium in San Diego with Jodi and her family. We told the kiddos if they would cooperate at the outlets then we would take them to the aquarium. They loved it! I honestly think Thomas loved it the most! He loves fish and loves talking to Hayden about all the different kinds. The three of us in the aquarium by all the sardines.
Hayden, Brooklyn and Brigham loved touching the starfish, sea slugs, sea cucumbers and all kinds of stuff.

Hayden is so much like his dad and loves fish, touching them and feeding them!

Talmage started squaking in the stroller, so I got him out. I thought he just wanted to be held. Nope, he wanted to touch the water and the fish, too. Funny kid!


Talmage was a riot at the beach. He is such a smiley little guy! He loved being held. Boy did I spend a lot of time cuddling and kissing on this little guy! He wasn't so sure of the sand, so he was so easy. Just hug him and hold him. I think every adult and child at the beach cuddled with Talmage. He brings so much joy to my life. I love my little buddy!


I had a shadow the entire time at the beach! I have spent three years trying to convince Brinley that she loves he Aunt Jer. It finally paid off. Brinley would wake up in the morning and want Aunt Jer. We played, I painted her fingernails and toenails, we ate ice cream, snowcones, cuddled on the beach and played. She asked her dad if she could have Jer come spend the night. Josh laughed and asked when Aunt Jer was coming for a sleepover. I am going to get her soon and going to play! I love having a little girl that adores me. She gives the worlds best cuddles.


Coby is JD's middle child. I hardly ever get to see them since they live so far away in Minnesota. But, Coby and me have a special relationship. He saw me, darted for me, arms up and gave me the biggest hug. He even told me he wasn't going back to Minnesota after the beach, he was going to live with Aunt Jer. What a kid! I was lucky and got to stay in a condo with JD's family this year and it gave me more time with my cute nephews. I sure wish they lived closer. But, I am so thankful for all the wonderful Coby hugs I got each day!

5 Simonton siblings

I love it when all 5 of us can be together. We become better friends each year. I realize all the time how much more I depend on each of my siblings. The five of us have been thru a lot together and in the end, we always stick together. They are four of my dearest friends and my biggest supporters. I am so lucky to have each of them in my life. And, the five of us together is so much fun. I can't remember the last time the five of us all went out in the ocean and jumped waves together. It is true, me and the boys are wimpy and will only get in with wet suits on. We laughed and laughed as we jumped the waves. Josh made fun of me and Jodi because we didn't go out much further than the kids. Jodi still gets taken out by the waves. Josh, Jake and JD made a baricade to keep her from heading off with the current. It sure was fun. A memory that I will cherish and remember forever.
We spent a lot of time together this year, playing cards, laughing, talking, laughing, playing with our kids, laughing and just enjoying every minute together. I feel so blessed to call these wonderful people my siblings. They are definitely four of the people I respect and love most in this world! I sure love you, Jodi, JD, Josh and Jake! You are the best siblings that anyone could ever have been blessed with.


We took our annual Simonton family vacation to Oceanside, California. I can't believe we have been going to this same condo for the past 25 years. I love being at the beach with all of my family. I feel so "at home" there. I love the traditions, the new memories and all the fun times. I look forward to this incredible week every year.
Thomas, Hayden and I on the beach the first day! I was so happy just to be there with everyone!

Hayden loves playing in the sand, playing with his cousins and finding sand crabs. It is a perfect vacation for our boy!