Sunday, October 31, 2010


On Halloween, Hayden wanted to go and scare Grandma Julie... poor little Millie dog, I think he scared her the most.

Halloween Party

Happy Halloween! Hayden went with Jodi, Brooklyn, Talmage and Suzi to Jodi's ward Halloween party on Saturday night. We were supposed to be there, but I ended up in urgent care instead...not fun. But, I am so thankful to a wonderful sister that will step in and just take Hayden like one of her own. Couldn't ask for a better sister....she is simply the best!

When Thomas and I arrived, the kids had done the cake walks, fishing ponds, games, trick or treated around the circle twice and each had a bag full of candy, messy faces and huge smiles! They had so much fun.

I sure love this picture of my little dragon slayer. He was so excited to see me and show me his loot. He loves Halloween and all the parties and fun times it brings!

Braden's Baptism

Braden turned 8 years old on October 29th and had the blessing of being baptized on his actual birthday. He was so excited to get baptized and make that covenant with our Heavenly Father.
Hayden and Braden are cute little buddies, especially being less than a year apart. Hayden was so excited for Braden.
I love any chance I get to see this little one.
Jodi gave a talk on baptism and Lisa Sawyer gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. Hayden was intent and glued to both of them while they spoke and they both did amazing jobs. Jodi used cheese whiz to represent sin and how we can repent and always be like the day we were baptized. Lisa used things that represented the ways the Holy Ghost can help us. Flashlight-guide us; sunscreen-protect us; seashell-we need to listen; blanket-comforts us.

On the way from the baptism to Braden's house, Hayden rode with a ton cousins in Suzi's car. The kids were all chanting "Party, party, party" and other things. Hayden speaks up and says, "I can't hear the Holy Ghost, you are all being too loud. But, I know that he is whispering to me that we are not making good choices."

Later that night, Thomas and I sat down and talked to Hayden about what he was feeling and why he was feeling that way. He listed different elements that were taking place that he wasn't comfortable with. I asked what he felt like he did vs. what he should have done. He said, "Mom, I made so many bad choices that I wasn't sure which one that the Holy Ghost was telling me was wrong, so I was just trying to make them all right. I sat in the front seat, which I am not allowed to do, we were yelling and that distracts the driver, and I was supposed to ride with you and dad."

So sweet as Hayden made the choice to listen to what he knew was right. And, listen to him decide the route to correct the problem and in the same situation again, decide in advance what he would do. I am so thankful for the wonderful talks given at Braden's baptism so that Hayden could have the opportunity to realize for himself the ways in which the Holy Ghost speaks to him. I am hoping that by Hayden listening to the Holy Ghost in the small things that he will learn how to listen when it comes to the big things. What a beautiful baptism and a great reminder to really listen when the Holy Ghost speaks to our hearts.

Simonton Halloween Party

Grandpa and Grandma Simonton put on a wonderful Halloween party, like always. There was tons of food, games galore, outside Wii, bounce house, slides and tons of fun! Only requirement: wear a costume and make a spooky dessert.

Hayden loved it and loved that he took best kid costume for his werewolf getup!
Here he is with his trophy for best costume and new toy! Can we say huge sugar high? Look at that face!
Alyssa, Ashlee and Suzi put on the games and they were amazing. Alyssa did a great job on "Guess the Gross". Of course, that was Hayden's favorite!

Hayden and Chase LOVED LOVED LOVED being werewolves together!
Casey brought new little baby Banks. He is such a cutie and I love my new little nephew. Love the new baby smell and love cuddling with him.
Josh & Steph's kids took home best family costume. They all looked so great dressed up as "Kiss"!
Brinley had to be Tinkerbell and not go with the Simonton theme. I love that she gets so excited to see me. She definitely has stolen my heart!
Rosie and Jake always crack me up and took best adult costumes.
Me, I think these two were the best. I sure love my guys! I love that even my scary little werewolf leans in for a hug from his Gorilla dad.
I feel bad for Talmage and Brigham who were both terrorized by Hayden's costume. Hayden has loved the werewolf costume! Too fun!
We sure had a fun night. I love the memories and traditions that Hayden has in his life. Happy Halloween!

Carving Pumpkins

Hayden and Thomas both love carving pumpkins. They always do something creative. This year, Hayden wanted a bat. I love that it is a father and son activity. Hayden and Thomas had the best time and laughed and talked while carving the pumpkins. I love how excited he gets. Bring on the fun week of Halloween parties, traditions and events!

Spoiling Talmage

I may or may not have let little Talmage man have his own cupcake when he was at my house. Is it any wonder why Aunt Jer is the favorite? He loved it but boy did he make a mess!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Road Lesson

I absolutely love this picture. Hayden wanted so badly to ride the road rally racers by himself. Thomas could tell that Hayden was going to struggle doing it. At first he tried pushing Hayden then quickly grabbed a bike and helped Hayden to do it. I could hear/see Thomas around the course. As the course went on, tears filled my eyes. Thomas was pushing Hayden from behind, verbally cheering him on, he reassured him that he could do it and in the end when Hayden was just out of strength, Thomas came along side and held on to him while he helped him to finish the race. Along side, TJ, Brody, Brigham, Grandma and I were all cheering him on. He did it and he finished the race. He was EXHAUSTED afterwards but so very proud of himself. The rest of that day and into the night, that moment has stuck with me. I think this race is so similar to our lives. We set out unsure of our abilities to be able to conquer the race. I think our Heavenly Father has to be much like Thomas was with Hayden....letting go when he knew Hayden could do it, encouraging us to keep trying, pushing us when we don't have the strength to keep going and in the end, right there with us, holding onto us so that we can make it and can finish the race. Not only that, the Lord has placed people in our lives and path to encourage us, support us and cheer us on when we feel like giving up. I not only saw the similarities, I felt the Lord was trying to teach me that it is the same with us on earth... he is here with us, teaching us, pushing us and carrying us when we can no longer do it ourselves. I am so thankful for his gospel and the understanding I have of the purpose of this earth life. And, especially the knowledge that he does walk with me, even when I am so tired I can't see him.

Pumpkin Patch

The guys picking pumpkins. Thomas and Hayden found the "Perfect pumpkin" according to both of them and they were so excited to come show me! I love that Thomas gets into it almost as much as Hayden. No wonder the boys all love him. When I am with him at these places, I am reminded that he is just a big boy that likes to play and have fun. He gets so much enjoyment out of playing with the kids. I absolutely love it! Brody, Talmage, Brigham and Hayden - they sure loved picking pumpkins-definitely one of the highlights of the day for them!
Talmage was so funny as I put him in the middle of the pumpkins. He grabbed one and just smiled. He wanted to just stay there throwing pumpkins. He giggled, smiled and laughed. Too cute!

Schnepf Farms-Fun moments

I love our annual tradition of going to Schnepf farms. It is close, it is fun and the weather was amazing. We had such a great day but was surprised at how tired I was after 4 hours at the place. The kids were all fantastic and had such a great time. Plus, they were all so well behaved. It was such an easy mom day! Relaxing and full of fun.
T.J. and Brody-Brody was so cute and loved posing in the mummy cut-out. He was so funny! Brigham wasnted to ride the pony so bad. He did so good and was so brave! I love getting to experience such fun things with my nephews. Briggy hugged me after and said, "Thanks, Aunt Jer". He is such a good and loving little boy. Me getting to experience his first time on a horse was priceless.
Hayden loved riding the biggest horse there. He told me he is ready to really go horseback riding, none of this walking in a circle anymore.
Thomas and T.J. took turns taking the boys on the Road Ralley race. Oh how they loved it and I was surprised at how fast they guys could get those bikes moving. Definitely the favorite for the kiddos!
Julie and I sat out on a couple of the rides. The boys were having so much fun with Thomas and T.J. It was so nice to be able to sit and relax. Plus, we were the official photographers.
Brigham and Brody loved the tricycle races...Hayden had much more fun just jumping over the hay and telling the boys to go faster and get them in a competition. They were all laughing and playing so hard.
Hayden in a rare moment of actually posing for the camera. It is amazing how much more cooperative he is for Grandma Julie than for me. Stinker!
Love this picture of Talmage. He thought he was so big and loved crawling in the hay and dirt. He did NOT like the rides. Thought I was torturing him by making him go on the carousel. I can't believe how fast he is growing up and trying to keep up with the big kids.
Hayden on the swings. He loves the feeling of flying. I think he could stay on there all day!
We had such a good time. I can't believe it is almost Halloween!

Schnepf Farm

We headed to Schnepf Farms on, Thomas, Hayden, Brigham, Talmage, Julie, TJ and Brody. The kids wanted to hit the train first. I absolutely love this picture with me and Talmage. He sure is a sweetie and melts my heart. I am so glad that he is an Aunt Jer's boy! Love him to pieces!
Talmage, Jer, Julie, T.J., Brody, Hayden and Brigham
These boys are so much fun! Way too cute! Hayden thinks of these boys as his to look after and take care of. Too cute! I love the relationship that he has with Brody, Brigham and Talmage.
Have I mentioned that I cannot get enough Talmage time? He sees me and says, "Cookie" and will repeat it until I find him one. I tease Jodi that to him I will always be, "Aunt Cookie instead of Aunt Jer". Oh, he brings so much happiness to my heart!

My mom

This past couple of months has really been a struggle for me. Those closest to me have been so great to help me walk through this time in my life. Last week, things got serious enough that I wasn't sure how I was going to keep going on. I felt completely broken and not sure how to walk forward with my life. I dropped Hayden off with a friend and I drove straight to Julie's. I walked in, and just collapsed on her bed and started sobbing. I wasn't sure what to do or how to keep moving forward. I wanted to quit but how do you just quit life? Can't happen, so I was trying to figure out how to just be comforted. Julie walked in, didn't say a word, just laid down on the bed next to me and put her arm around me. I didn't say anything, only tears came. I laid there waiting for Thomas to come get me, I was in no shape to drive. The events and diagnosis from the doctors were too overwhelming for me to face, much less deal with. I didn't know what to do. As I was sobbing, I realized where I was.

All of a sudden, a calm came over me, I realized that I was then laying in between two of the most incredible women in my life. Julie was laying next to me with her arm around me and I could feel my mom facing me with her arm around me. I was literally being surround and enveloped in love by these two amazing women. They were trying to protect me, care for me and show me that I wasn't alone, even in one of my darkest moments. The feeling that heaven was right here on earth was overwhelming. I heard my mom whisper words of encouragement and hope. She told me that I was strong enough to walk through these trials, and that it was okay to lean on Julie, she loved me and would help me sort it out. Then, I could feel her patting me, the way that she always did to comfort me.

My circumstances didn't change that night, and the feelings of despair were still present. However, when Thomas got there, I knew that although I would have to face some challenges, that the Lord would make sure that I had people in my life to hold me during those moments. I can't begin to express the gratitude I have for Julie. I don't know how I would have walked this past year without her. The love and gratitude I have for my mom is so great. The comfort I feel when I am allowed to feel her presence reminds me that she loves me, cares about me and I will see her again.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lynx Lake

Back when I was in high school, after my mom died, Julie drove me and a friend to Lynx Lake in Prescott. She handed me a journal as I sat next to the lake and told me to write. I still remember that day as vividly as it happened 22 years ago. The lake was crystal, the pine trees were so fragrant, the wind blew against me and the rock I sat on was cold, but the feeling of security and hope wrapped around me. I have always cherished that day and the feelings, emotions and peace that I felt.

This past weekend, Julie drove me back up there. The lake was different than I remembered, but the breeze, calmness and reassurance came, just as it did all those years ago. I felt still. I felt my heart was calmed and I felt unbelievable peace. My heart was happy.

Julie and I sat by the lake and instead of writing, this time we just talked. I felt so loved, so reassured that my life was heading in the direction it needed to and felt the calmness that only sitting next to water can do for me. We spent quite a bit of time sitting and reflecting until it started to rain. Oh how I love the smell of rain. To me it is a renewal, a cleansing of the earth and the smell that comes is one that reminds me of a new beginning, new hope and reassurance that all will be ok. In that moment, I knew my life was headed in the right direction.

After we were chased off by the rain, we headed to downtown Prescott, ate lunch, shopped, walked around and just talked. I had the best day! It was fun to get away and just relax, enjoy and step back from my life and look at it from a different angle. I needed the rejuvenation that came from just stepping away. I walked away and was able to realize how much I have been given and all the wonderful things, events and people that the Lord has placed in my life. I can't deny that He loves me and has and is watching over my life. I would never have guessed 22 years ago that I would be seeking out the same lake to find the solace and peace I have been longing for. It was such a good day!

TOFW part 2

As I walked into Time Out for Women last weekend, I was really at a point that I was struggling and had been really praying and pleading with the Lord for direction in my life. I knew TOFW was going to be exactly what I needed.

The speakers were all amazing and spoke words that spoke directly to my heart. My favorite quote from the day, "We are not earning heaven, we are practicing for it!" I think that is going up somewhere in my house, maybe on the door as I walk in the house. What a great reminder of the goal.

As I have walked this past year, I have learned so many lessons, been taught so much and have learned that I am stronger than I thought I was. And, although I keep praying that I will figure out what the Lord is trying to teach me sooner than later, I know that he is trying to refine me. With all the health challenges, he has forced me to stop and just listen. I would much rather serve than be served, but I am learning that there are lessons in all scenarios. I am feeling like I am finally going to pull out of this, I haven't felt as good as this in over a year. Looking back, I will say that 2010 was a year of change and challenges but also a year of overwhelming blessings that have been poured down to our family.

I guess I realized that in the end, I will be like the 2 year old insisting to carry the milk jug....she just couldn't do it, so her mom picked her up and carried her, holding the milk jug into the house. Then she proudly announced to her dad, "Look daddy, I carried the milk jug all by myself." I know that right now, I am that little girl thinking I am carrying my own load. I do KNOW for a fact that the Lord is and has been carrying me thru this year and the trials I have been facing. And, I do acknowledge HIM, and all the strength, love and encouragement he has given me. I am thankful, even when I am tired, that he reassures me that when I tell him I can't do it anymore that he gently whispers, "Yes, you can...with my help." I know that is true, even when I want him to take the trials and pain away. And, I am so thankful that he continues to believe in me, even when I doubt myself.

Time Out for Women

Jodi and I went to Time Out for Women on Saturday. I love spending the day at TOFW, especially with Jodi. It was so good to listen to all of the talks and be edified by the Spirit. It was definitely needed.

I will always remember Brad Wilcox's talk on grace and justice. It was such an inspired talk on how the atonement works every day in our lives. Not only do we need the Savior, he walks with us every day, making up the difference in our lives that we fall short of every day. His talk has lead to hours of pondering and studying on the subject. It greatly impacted my life and helped me to prioritize the things that are needed to be done in the gospel. I get so overwhelmed sometimes trying to do it all and I forget that the Savior has already sacrificed for me, I can't repay the Savior, I can't save myself, He has already done that for me. What I have to do is turn my heart to HIM, and become his daughter in deed, action and thought. I will never be able to do enough to earn the Celestial Kingdom but with his love and grace, I have the ability to change my heart, follow him and still get there.

I love when speakers use every day examples to explain gospel principles. It helps me relate them directly to my heart and life. Speaking of grace, Brad said that it is like the parent that pays for piano lessons. The parent has paid the price and the child cannot repay the parent whether or not they practice or learn the piano. Since we paid, we can tell the child that they must practice, however, practice does not repay the debt that was paid. As a parent, we tell our child to practice because we can see the end result of what practicing can do for them. Not only in the ability to learn to play the piano, but all the lessons that they will learn along the way. The Father is just a loving, kind parent that wants us to learn and wants us to grow. We are on earth practicing and he is teaching us.

I am thankful for that example because I will forever remember when things get tough that it is in continuing to practice a song, in repetitive tries that the song is mastered and learned....not the first, second or even 100th time playing it but with patience, continued attempts and endurance that the piano is it is with our lives. The Lord doesn't expect perfection today, but a continued effort to master the lessons we are learning.

Put in that perspective, I can do that... continued effort. The hitting the wrong notes and having to try again and again is all part of the process and learning.

So thankful for this speaker and the impact it has had on my life today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hayden's Fall Break

Hayden had such a fun fall break... although I have very few photos for all the fun things he did.

Monday: work with mom and lunch at Peter Piper with Grandpa.
Tuesday: Bounce U with Aunt Jodi and gang. When I got home, I picked up Hayden and Jodi's gang and went to Peter Piper for 2 1/2 hours. We met Katie, Chase and Lauren there and the kids had so much fun!
Wednesday: Hayden made cookies with Aunt Jodi.
Thursday: Grandma Julie took Hayden. They played the Wii most of the day.
Thursday night & Friday: I took Hayden to Danya on Thursday and he spent the night with Channing. I can't believe how good of friends these two are even though they don't see each other very often. He was definitely not ready to come home on Friday.
Friday: We saw Danya's new baby cute.

I am so thankful for all those wonderful people in my life that helped make Hayden's fall break so memorable and enjoyable!Brigham, Brooklyn, Hayden, Chase, Lauren and Talmage

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall Break

Hayden was so excited to get to come to work with me yesterday. After about 4 hours here, he decided it wasn't quite as much fun as he thought it was. He walked into Grandpa's office and said, "Grandpa, its my fall break. That's when there is no school and you are just supposed to be having fun. This isn't fun. How about you stop working and just play with me?". Within about 10 minutes Grandpa was done working and the three of us went to Peter Piper Pizza to play games. We had fun and Hayden loved being able to play with just Grandpa. After about an hour or so, we headed back. When we pulled up to Grandpa's house, Hayden says, "Thanks, Grandpa...that was a lot of fun! But, I'm ready to go home now, can you just let mommy go home, I am really done with her working today." Now, what was Grandpa supposed to do... me and Hayden dropped off Grandpa and headed home for the day. Thanks, Hayden buddy!

Hayden and I made the most of our time and went home and made Gingersnaps and chocolate chip cookies, all while watching the new Ben 10 movie! We even called Uncle Jake to come over since his favorites are homemade gingersnaps. Hayden and Jake were having so much fun laughing and playing and poking at each other. Uncle Jake, trying to secure his place at number one, gave Hayden $60 to go buy a new ds or wii game tonight.

I don't know how he does it but that little guy of mine sure can get what he wants out of everyone. He is definitely spoiled rotten!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Love these boys so much!

Grandma Weekend

Hayden and I escaped to Grandma Julie's over the weekend. We went to lunch, shopped and just had a great time! Hayden has decided that spending the night at Grandma's is an especially fun treat.
We had the best time shopping at Chandler Mall. I have decided I don't do a lot of mall shopping and Hayden has even spent less time at a mall than I thought. He loved it all. His favorites were the Brookstone store, Apple Store, Pottery Barn kids and Game Stop. Me, I just absolutely love Hallmark! Yes, I had to purchase a couple of new Christmas ornaments. Whoever, came up with the slogan, "Hallmark-where the nice people shop" got me! I love shopping there.
Saturday we went to IHOP for Hayden and then we went to the Hallmark ornament event! I had to buy a new Jim Shore decoration for Christmas... then we went to see Secretariat. Good clean movie that was uplifting and really good. Then back to Julie's to get ready for the birthday parties. It was such a relaxing, fun enjoyable weekend. Hayden and I loved getting spoiled rotten.

TJ, Jan and Julie Birthday Party

This has been the birthday party couple of weeks. We were lucky to be able to celebrate with T.J., Jan and Julie for their birthdays this past weekend!

We did question why it is that almost every birthday present revolved around Brody and Hayden. Oh the joys of there only being two is all about them! Hayden had to get Grandma Julie an Operation game for her to play with him and Brody! He is also excited to get to go to Polar Express with Grandma and Brody.
We had so much fun just laughing and telling stories. I feel so at home with all of them. I am so glad that they have all adopted me, Thomas and Hayden as just part of their family! I absolutely love it!
Most of all, everyone loves the high tech toys at Grandmas. Sean was so funny playing on the I-pad. Hayden thought he needed to coach him in how to play the games. Sean was teasing his mom that she would buy anything if they just put an "I" in front of it!
Hayden absolutely ADORES Milly and Misty, their cute little dogs! They are so absolutely sweet and precious. I really want to get Hayden one for Christmas!
Little Brody boy is such a doll! I have so much fun with him! I love playing with him and Hayden!
We all had such a great evening with all the Knapps!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Briggy Boo

My sweet little nephew, Brigham, wanted to come to our house after Banks baby blessing. He said, "But, I have too come. I am an Aunt Jer's boy." Now, how could I send him home with his mom after that?
Then as he was leaving tonight, I said, "Brigham, I love you! You know that don't you?"
He replied, "Yes.. and I love you, always and forever!"
Awwww..... sweet boy. I sure love him to death! He melts my heart!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Talmage turns 1

Little Talmage man turns one years old! Jodi turned her house into Sesame Street! The invitations were adorable and invited all to Sesame Street brought by the letter "T" and number "1". Too incredibly cute! She had it incredibly decorated and adorable and even made cute matching shirts for her kiddos! Dorothy the goldfish even made a visit along with all kinds of cookies and Sesame Street favorites.
Talmage LOVED his little ride on car from Grandpa and Grandma!
He was a little ham eating his cake! He LOVES food and sugar is tops in his book! This was pure delight!
The older cousins and siblings were all trying to get him to make a mess!
He had lots of help on his presents. Hayden loved that he like the chunky Tonka set we gave him!
Hayden of course got lots of loves and cuddles from Aunt Suzi, Aunt Jodi, Grandpa, Grandma Bonnie, Uncle Jake, Aunt Rosie, Uncle Troy and tons of cousin time! He loves family parties!
Talmage is such a joy in my life! I am so thankful we can live so close and get to love him and spoil him rotten!