Friday, November 30, 2012

Murphy Cousins

Hayden loves his cousins...all of them. But, tell Hayden that CJ and Nathan are in town and are coming over and that boy lights up and counts the seconds. Add Logan and Victoria into the mix and he is on top of the world.

He was thrilled with seeing them. I actually ventured out and met Terri, Kelli, Joyce, and the kids at the theater and saw my first movie in four months. We saw the Rise of the Guardians. It was a cute movie. I loved the message but really wish that Pixar had done the story instead of Dreamworks. Not a fan of Santa with tatoos. But, we did have a great time with all the Murphy's that were in town.

Afterwards, the kids all came back to our house for movies, video games, fun and a slumber party. I made it from the car to the bed and crashed until after 11pm at night. Never mind that it was a 1:00 show, I was out for the count. (Poor kids didn't eat until I woke up, too shy to ask for food. I felt so bad but couldn't believe they didn't say anything to Thomas or just get something.)

I hope and pray that Hayden turns out as well as Nathan and CJ. They are so so so good to their younger cousins. They humor them and put up with their every request. They treat them so good. I had a great talk with Nathan and CJ later at night. We talked missions, what they were doing to get ready to serve, some of the events they had to look forward to and talked about how all their younger cousins are looking up to them to lead the way. I believe these two boys have what it takes and think they are great examples to Hayden. I am grateful for them.
Love these sweet children.
Hayden loved having a movie theater/slumber party with the Murphy cousins. He was in heaven.
CJ watching Elf with the gang.
I woke up at 3am. When I went out to get my medicine, this was the beautiful sight I saw. Five sleeping kids, lights off except the sparkling glow of the Christmas tree. I stood and just watched them all sleep. I felt so much love for these great kids.
I dreamed of family slumber parties for my own children. Kids randomly sleeping all over. Thomas and I were only blessed with our precious Hayden. But the Lord knew that would just give us more room in our heart to cherish and love and find joy in all of our nieces and nephews.
I found so much joy waking up to kids sprawled all over the family room. They each fill my heart with so much love and joy.
Terri came over on Saturday and spent several hours just catching up, talking, laughing, telling stories, expressing new goals, new paths, discussed lessons learned and relished in finding new ways of dealing with current challenges. We had such a great couple of hours talking and just enjoying time spent together.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Friday

Another love of mine is Black Friday.

About a month ago, Jodi and I came up with a new plan to accomplish our black Friday goals. We knew that me going out shopping was not going to be a reality. Sweet Jodi, knowing that I was worried about it, came up with an altered black friday plan. Instead of going from store to store, and filling shopping baskets to the brim with our sales and great finds, we would sit on the couch and load on-line baskets with bargains. We would load up on QT drinks, snacks and shop on our I-pads.

As only a loving and incredible sister could do, she convinced me it wasn't the stores, cold nights, snagging that incredible deal or emptying our carts to a reasonable level that made Black Friday a cherished tradition. The cherished tradition was spending time together, finding the perfect gift for our children, spouses and loved ones.

This didn't have to be accomplished in a store but just as easily on line. We could still talk, spend time together and locate that perfect gift on-line. We could still spread out the ads and "let the stores tell us what we were looking for" based on their ads.

What a great sister. She let me know that I was more important than our tradition. I was more important than her love of shopping the sales. I was what made the tradition meaningful and special. Jodi will never ever know how much that meant to me. How much she made me feel so important to her, so loved, so cherished. How I ever got lucky enough to get her for a sister and cherished friend, I will never know. It is seriously one of the most tender mercies and greatest blessings in my life.

I was still determined to at least hit one store and push a cart, even if only for a few minutes. Jodi, hesitant about taking me out, humored me as I wanted to attempt Target. We waited in the car until the line died down. Our merciful Savior reserved us a parking spot right at the entrance, even with thousands of people in line. Even though we walked in late, walked slowly, and couldn't chase for the great deals, we were blessed to find all the great deals that we wanted. Everything we had circled and wanted for our loved ones, miraculously found a way into our cart. Jodi and I were not alone at Target late on Thanksgiving night. We definitely had our guardian angel with us, helping us find our finds. Plus, I was able to do it!

We weren't gone long but enough to be able to experience Black Friday. And, we had a great time, even sitting and talking on the couch. I am so thankful for the precious gift of my incredible sister.


I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving. To me, it is one of my favorite days of the year, for so many reasons. I think the entire month leading up to Thanksgiving we try so hard to focus on our blessings and our gratitude to the Savior for all we have been given. And, holy cow, have we been given so much. The blessings, the tender mercies, the wonderful people in my life, my family and my relationship with my Savior are just the tip of the iceberg of my blessings. And, all month, I have tried to focus on all that I have been given and all the Lord has done for me. I am in complete awe of how merciful the Lord has been to me and my family.

With gratitude running over in my heart, I get to spend time with so many people that I cherish and love so much. We gather together, express our love for one another, together share in our blessings and eat together, laugh, talk, share special moments and are again connected on a deeper, more grateful for one another, level.

This year was a Simonton Thanksgiving year. All Simonton's were present since JD, Cassie, Bryson, Coby and Tanner were able to fly in and be with us. Oh how I cherish the moments when we are all together. Not only do I love the togetherness, but in those moments, I am blessed to feel my mom in our presence. I know that on Thanksgiving and other special days that she looks down and is with us. She loved family gatherings. She loved when we were all together. I believe that she still looks forward to the days we are all together and absolutely joins in and listens to our stories, finds joy in our togetherness and is grateful for how we all turned out. I believe she "hugs" each of her grandkids and whispers her love to each of them because they are all a little happier, get along even better, and each carry around an extra special countenance that day.

On top of all our blessings, our togetherness, the presence of my mom, my Dad and Bonnie put on a beautiful Thanksgiving feast. We sit outside in the beautiful Arizona November weather and eat, talk, laugh and enjoy the moment. It is a special time which I hold in my heart.

I walked in and sat by these two precious people, my cute niece Kaylee and my incredible sister, Jodi. We laughed, talked and teased Kaylee about her new found love of all things teenager-ish. How did she grow up so fast? She is so fun to talk to and tease. Love her so much.
Hayden and Katelyn are always excited to see one another. They are the closest in age and love each other so much. I found out I was pregnant with Hayden just moments before going into the delivery room to see Katelyn be born. There are moments when I look at these two and am swept back to Katelyn's birth, holding her and daydreaming of what it would be like to have my own baby and wondering if they would be close. Definitely closer than I even imagined in my daydreams and it brings such joy to my heart.
And what mom on this earth couldn't have a heart of gratitude when I get to see this handsome, goofy, loving, funny, incredible boy each and every day. The gratitude I have for him is beyond all words.
I love that my boy thinks that teasing his Aunt Jodi is the best way to bond with her.
But those eyes show so much love in them. He loves her. He knows that she treats him just like one of her own. He tells me that Jodi treats him a lot the same as I do. He wisely said one day that Jodi was more concerned with him turning out good and doing what was right than trying to make sure that she was the favorite aunt. He went on to comment how Aunt Jodi wants to make sure that I turn out to be a good dad and a good missionary. I heart that. I love that she loves him and treats him like one of her own.

Me and my boy...I cannot express my gratitude and love enough for him. Priceless.
Hayden playing video games with Grandpa. I love that my dad really tries to make all the family events special for his grand kids. He loves them and wants them to have fun at his house. He wants the grand kids to want to come to the parties and be with him.
JD carving the turkey. That has been his job ever since I can remember. He carves it like a dentist. I am so happy when him and his sweet family is in town. It's never the same when he is missing. I love the moments when my family is complete.
The kids. Are they really playing one another on video games via their i-touches and texting one another. Crazy cousins that love one another. Each of them hold a special piece of my heart. I honestly have the best and most precious nieces and nephews in the world. I love each of them dearly.
There is more food, more yummy goodness than we could ever consume. My Dad and Bonnie certainly know how to provide a beautiful feast. I learned from a very special person that cooking for your family is providing them with internal hugs. I believe it and believe this is one of the ways that my Dad and Bonnie show their great love for us.
Grandpa playing a game with the boys.
Braden cracks me up. He keeps us all laughing. He just went for the entire turkey leg...and yes, he ate the entire thing. I wish I would have taken pictures after everyone sat down. I loved the all boy table right behind me that Hayden sat down at with Bryson, Braden, Coby, Casen, Brigham and others. What great fun.
I totally neglected to get a picture on Thanksgiving with the love of my life. There is no way that I could do a Thanksgiving or grateful post without him in it. Luckily, Jodi had just taken pictures of us. I admit it, sometimes it just look at pictures of Thomas. I love the way he gently pulls me close, the way he protects me and the way his entire face lights up when we are together. He is the greatest blessing in my life. When I think of him, I think of the saying, "I want to live one day less than you because I cannot imagine walking thru one day of this earth life without him by my side." He is my joy, my center, my heart and my soul. Me, Thomas, Hayden and our Savior. There is no greater combination. Love, love, love this incredible man that chose me to be his wife. Like I said, I feel so incredible blessed when I sit and really count my blessings. My cup runneth over...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weeks Family

Love these cute boys that we have adopted as our own cute nephews. Sarah and Jordan have become a wonderful part of our extended family. We love them and the great people they are.

They continue to take children in their home, love them as their own and are heartbroken when the babies leave. But their hearts are so big that they feel the need to love these cute babies that are going through turmoil in their young lives.

Luckily, they were able to adopt the cute little(or big) 2 year old, Rex. He loves Aunt Jer and oh how that warms my heart. They have T.J. That is 5 months old and are hoping to adopt him, as well. Then, this little sweetheart, Leeland, is only a week old. I'd love if they were able to keep them all. It breaks my heart each time they have to let one go.

Love these babies and their parents and all the joy they bring to my life.


We have had so much fun playing games together on the iPad. I never thought I'd be a video game player but playing games with my boys is really fun. I'll admit it, Thomas and I even play some after Hayden goes to bed. It's great to cuddle next to each other and all work on a common goal.

There are moments that I sit back, listen to Hayden and Thomas strategizing and I smile. I love them so much and love even the simplest of moments with them. In fact, I think nights like is are the real joys and the cream filling in life.

Lisa and JD and family party

Thanksgiving brings lots of good times to our lives. We are able to stop and really be grateful for all the gifts in our lives. One of our greatest blessings is all of our family. On Wednesday night, we were able to get together with all of the Simonton's and Lisa & Robert and family at our house. What a wonderful night. I love hearing Hayden playing with his cousins, talking with my family and laughing and all the love that is contained in our home.

Kaylee was so cute with Talmage. He came over and pulled the headphones out of Kaylee's ears. Kaylee was a doll and let him have them and played with him. I love love love watching all the cousins interact.
Tyler, Robert and JD. I have more fond memories of these guys together than I could start to count. Robert and Lisa were so great and let me live with them during college. JD and Jodi lived with them a lot during the summers. Of course, Tyler was a little boy that I babysat and hauled around with me. I cannot believe that he is a grown man. He is loving as ever and I love reminiscing with all of them.
I love my brothers. I love JD laughing. My brothers all cry when they laugh and it makes me laugh even harder. As all of us sit around and talk and laugh, there are tears of joy streaming down our face. It is an endearing quality or quirk that I love about all of us Simonton's.
Robert, Tyler, JD, Jake, Lisa, Katie and of course stacks of pizza to feed all of the gang.
Pizza, talking, stories, catching up and joy.

While all of the adults sat and talked.... boy how the cousins all played.
Hayden is in cousin heaven..... sword fights and all.
Chad is such a good sport and played and entertained all the cousins and younger kids. Love him. Hope Hayden is as good to his younger cousins as Chad is.
Rosie and Jake.
JD and Cassie
Robert and Jodi - Thomas was going around the table taking pictures of all the couples. Jodi looked over at Robert and said, "oh no" and laughter erupted around the table. Billy Bob was offended that Jodi didn't want her picture with him. Of course, she denied it. Love this picture. Jodi cannot remember life before Bob. He loves her like one of his own kids. Robert has always been wonderful to all of us and when he married Lisa he took on all of us, as well as Lisa's siblings.
Me and Katie - Love her. Loved her since she was a baby. Loved living with her, even in her moody kindergarten years when I couldn't do anything right. I love you, Katie and you know it! I always wanted my own little girl just like her. I loved Katie coming in my bed at night and reading with her. Precious memories.
Jake and Tyler crack me up. Could these two be more alike? They both are big cuddly teddy bears. Both pretty easy going and both as loveable as can be.
Lisa has been a lifesaver to me more times than I can ever count. She is even staying next week to help me out and help me get Christmas under control. She is planning on running me to doctors and helping to finish decorating. Love her.
Josh and Stephanie
I love when my home is filled with the love of extended family. I have been blessed with so many loved ones that I cherish and adore. And, even though by 8pm, I could no longer stay awake for one more minute of fun and went in and went to bed. I was so glad that everyone was at my house so that Thomas and Hayden could stay and enjoy the gathering. Thanks Lisa and Robert and JD and Cassie for coming and giving us a fun reason to all get together and share in each others company.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My thankful heart

Thanksgiving Morning and so much is on my mind that I cannot sleep. I sure tried to but after a fiv hour nap, my mind is busily counting my blessings.

I have so much to be thankful for. I am not sure where to begin. When my life has continued to be spared by my Father in Heaven, over and over, how can I not appreciate all that life has to offer? The reality is, I shouldn't be here, so I am grateful for each and every day. I'm grateful for each glorious moment that I get with my loved ones.
I'm going to name a few blessings I am grateful for realizing that I could never possibly count all my blessings and I certainly do not want to forget anyone.
My Father in Heaven, his love for me, the multitude of tender mercies he sends and his forgiveness and mercy. I am grateful that I can kneel down and really talk to Him. I know that my words, my heart and my feelings, expressed or not, are known and felt by Him.

I am grateful that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am grateful for the guidance, support, path, way and light that it brings in my life. I know that my faith in my Father in Heaven and in my Savior came at an early age by attending church and learning about them.   I am so grateful that I can go to church on Sunday and feel their love. I have the opportunity to go and learn more about them, their love for me and the path to follow to help me return home to them when my time on earth is through.

I am grateful for the Plan of Salvation. As a mom, I have had to explain to my sweet son what would happen if mom died this year. I had to prepare him... And am so grateful that I was able to explain that this life is temporary. It was neither the beginning nor the end. We lived with our Father in Heaven and older brother, Jesus Christ, before we came here in the pre-existence. Earth is a temporary state. We all die eventually, when our time here is done. But this life is not the end. When we die, we go back with our Heavenly Parents. I was able to explain that the Savior needs people here on this earth to do his work and He also needs others to help him in the next phase of our progression. Mommy will go and do what my savior needs me to, wherever that is. I hope it continues to be here but if he needs my help in the next phase, I will still see him again and we will be together forever. What a comfort it is for this knowledge and how blessed I am to be able to pass it on to my son and comfort him.

I am grateful for my ward/church family. Their love and sacrifices for me. Their friendship, support, prayers and love. For months and months, they have selflessly brought in meals and cared for me and my family.

I am grateful for a husband that loves me. That will and does serve me, help me, comfort me and take care of me. I live for him to come home each day. I feel safe when I am with him. I don't have to be strong  because he has enough for both of us. He cherishes me always, forever and no matter what and I couldn't be more grateful. I am grateful that he holds and honors the priesthood. On numerous occasions, he has gently laid his hands on my head and called down the powers of heaven. Through this remarkable power, my life has been spared, I have been made week, my soul has been comforted and my heart calmed. What a blessing to have a husband that walks upright before God and can bless our family with the power of heaven. He is also an amazing Dad that has taken over doing homework, reading, bath time, bedtime and medicines. He has still found time to play with Hayden and have special father and sons outings to make Hayden feel special.

I am grateful for family. Those that give and give and give and give to help us out. Those that never tire that the need for their help is endless yet they step up and answer or call for help before we even ask. There are so many of them I cannot name them all. Both sides of our family and extended family that continue to help us out. Do errands. Fold laundry. Run me and Hayden to all our appointments. Pay for a house cleaner so I can heal each day in a clean home. And so many that pray for us that our physical, spiritual and temporal needs be met. And then they go out and meet them. There are no words.

My sweet son. Hayden keeps me happy. He keeps me fighting for my life. His voice has pulled me out of deep sleep. His laughter rejuvenating to my soul. He can pull me out of a seizure with the best of them. He cuddles with me. Prays for me. Serves me. Loves me. Brings more joy than I can express. I am so proud of who he is and who he is becoming. He is a walking example of Christlike love and caring. He brings deep joy to my heart.

My sister. How do I not mention her? When my mom died 26 years ago, my Father in Heaven had already put a plan in place to make sure I had someone to fulfill my needs like my mom would have. My sister is a breath of fresh air. She brings joy to my heart. I could never express enough how much I love her.

My support system. There are so many. But to Thomas, Hayden, Julie, Suzi, Joyce, Jodi and so many others. Thank you. What would my life be without your constant love and support. Your sacrifices are too numerous to count. Thank you. You make my world a better place.

I am so blessed. I have so much to be grateful for.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Count your Blessings

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I sit here with a full heart. How do I adequately express the gratitude that is in my heart? How do I express enough thanks to myna father in Heaven for the great life I have? For all the many wonderful blessings I have received? I try to express my gratitude each day. As I have done so, an amazing transformation has taken place in my heart. Anger, resentment, jealousy, hatred cannot exist in a thankful heart. The more I give thanks, the more I am blessed with, and the more gratitude I have for what I have been given.
I have thought a lot about the song "Count your blessings". The words are clear as what we need to do. When upon life's blessings you are tempest tossed. When you are discouraged thinking all is lost. Count your blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
I have taken tht challenge to heart. When I truly stop and count my blessings, actually write them out, I am in awe of what I have been blessed with. I am in awe of what The Lord has given me. I am grateful for all the many blessings that I DO have and quit focusing on the things I don't have in my life.
Aren't the scriptures, Christ's teachings, amazing? They lay out so clearly for us what will bring happiness and joy into our lives. God isn't wanting us to express our blessings for His sake, but for ours. He knows if we focus on all that we have, all that we have been given, all the tender mercies that He has sent us, that we will be better off.
We will find gratitude and the good in our lives. We will realize we have been given so many gifts that we wouldn't ever trade by our Savior. We would see the good in our lives and not envy the lives of others.
This month, I have tried to focus on my daily blessings. I'm grateful to take a breath without struggling because I have been struggling to breathe lately. Boy does it make me grateful when air comes easy. I'm grateful for great doctors. Sure, I'd rather not be sick but I'm grateful for amazing doctors to get me well. I'm grateful for the meals brought in our home so my family has a good hot meal to eat even when I cannot provide it. I'm grateful for those that drive me everywhere because I cannot at the moment. I'm grateful for all those that do for me, especially when I cannot do for myself. How can I be angry that I am sick when The Lord has met every one of my needs through others. He has brought people along to help with Hayden, meals and doctors. I amso very grateful!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Christmas Tree

As I sat in the hospital, I told Thomas I just wanted to put up and decorate the tree as soon as I got out. Now, we thought I was being admitted, but hence, a promise is a promise and Thomas delivered. The day after I got out, Thomas put up the tree.

My boy loves Christmas and having the Christmas tree up as much as his mom. He was so excited that he put the first ornament on the tree before it was even completely together.
I love my two boys. How great are they that they will do whatever they can to make me happy.
Love that Hayden is getting to be such a help to Thomas and wants to be apart of helping his dad with all that he does. However, he wasn't so sure about separating and fluffing the Christmas tree. He is not a fan of the prickling of the tree needles. I love that he looked at me and said, "Mom, this is way too much sensory processing for me. It is making me crazy." Trying to help him learn to overcome challenges, my response was, "I am sorry. The tree will be all that more precious to you that not only did you help, but that you also had to overcome challenges to enjoy the beauty." I don't think that was the response he was looking for, but he, a little on the begrudging side, did continue to help make the tree beautiful, in spite of the branches and needles making him crazy.
Oh, and the finished tree was absolutely breathtaking. After all four boxes of Disney ornaments were hung, the lights were turned on, we all stood back and took in its beauty.
A big thank you to Suzi and Julie for helping us out and helping to start the transformation on our house into a Christmas wonderland. I have absolutely LOVED sitting next to the lit up Christmas tree this week. It brings a peace to my soul and fills my heart with happiness.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


My husband has become incredible at making jewelry. He wanted to do something special for me, so for Mother's Day he created a beautiful necklace for me. I absolutely love it and have received so many compliments on everything he has made. It is one of a kind and different. I love his style and that he tries to create something special for me.

I received this beautiful piece last week for our temple anniversary. I love it. He hangs beautifully. I know that he worked and worked and worked on this to create something special for me that I would love. He worked on it every day at lunch so that he could surprise me.

These next two were ones he created and made for my nieces that we turning 9. Brooklyn wanted the turquoise and orange one and Victoria wanted the pink and green one.

He even mastered rings so that I would have one to match my latest necklace.
I love these pieces because I know how much love that they were made with. I am lucky to be married to a guy that is willing to learn new skills and try new things, all to bring a smile to my face.

Hospital Round ?

I continue to fight to get well but it seems I am on a continual up and down roller coaster of health ride. Each new treatment causes several different side effects. Each new medication, new battles to be dealt with and overcome. I have complete faith that one day the doctors will get this right and it will all work out, but for now, we learn to lean into the ride.

The week before Thanksgiving presented many challenges to overcome. I spent each day struggling to breathe. With each day came more intense struggles. By Friday, I contacted Mayo Clinic, concerned that I really wasn't breathing. The day came and went with no phone call returned which is not like them. Thomas got home and decided that I needed to breathe and nothing we were doing was working. About that time, I received a call from Mayo saying they had been in brain surgery all day and although they couldn't see me, urgent care of ER were my only two options. Bummer.

Considering my feelings for hospital stays, I opted for urgent care, hoping for some miraculous treatment and back home. After a short time in Urgent Care, a chest x-ray and phone call and I was off to ER. I guess not breathing IS a big deal to them, too, as I was rushed straight back to a room.

CT Scan, more chest x-rays, breathing treatments, lots of doctors and lots of waiting. When the nurse first came in and I was explaining that I have P.O.T.S., Autonomic neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, IVIG treatments, and other stuff, she just stared at us and said she hadn't heard of any of these conditions... as Thomas and I looked at each other, we thought we may have made a mistake by coming. Luckily, the doctor was understanding of the conditions.

Once evaluated and determined that I had a blood clot, I was moved immediately by the nurses while testing was done and routes calculated for my treatment. I can honestly say, I have never had such a fun set of nurses, techs, and team of fun people treating me. They had Thomas and I completely laughing. They were teasing me about me having more medical knowledge than them and that they had no idea what to do when alarms were sounding all over the place. I was explaining to them when to worry, when to just ignore the signals. It was one of my funner nights in ER.

Thomas and I were initially concerned with blood clots, which was the majority of the reason I agreed to go in. With a blood clotting disorder and treatments raising the likelihood of clotting, we knew the risks involved, yet were praying for divine intervention that I wouldn't get any. So, when I was diagnosed with one, Thomas offered me the sweetest priesthood blessing. He laid his hands on my head and once again invoked the power of heaven to help heal my weakened body. As the powerful priesthood blessing was offered, I felt healing inside my body. I felt that all would be okay and my heart and soul were comforted. I felt such peace that I was no longer nervous about what treatments and procedures lay in front of me.

Because of my recent history, the doctor double checked some things before going forward with breaking up the clot. Miraculously, once again, the Lord took care of me and the blood clot broke up on its own.

Against the hospital wishes, Mayo sent me home diagnosed with pneumonia, pleurisy and strict orders to wear compression stockings. I was to call Mayo first thing Monday morning with more instructions. Minor things like breathing at 83% and heart rate which normally is 40 to 60 was at 115.

The breathing issues come and go but overall are much better. I am so grateful for great doctors that care. Priesthood blessings that invoke the powers of heaven. A loving Heavenly Father that continues to watch out for me and help heal my body when I get too dangerously close to problems. A husband that loves, adores me and is my protector and comforter. Great friends that will take Hayden on a moment's notice, change their plans and come spend the night at my house so that Hayden will be comfortable.

The way I see it, I couldn't be more blessed, feel more loved or feel more taken care of. I am in awe once again how our Savior succors his people in their time of need. I definitely needed him during this latest health bump and as always, He was there for me.

Friday, November 16, 2012

FHE - Santa and the Savior

An absolutely HUGE thanks to the amazing people on Pinterest that helped me put this sensitive and critical family home evening lesson together. I had been so stressed out about how to break the news to Hayden about Santa Claus. Hayden has such Christlike faith, such trust that he believes entirely what he is taught. Which is great but he has been teased for still believing in Santa so I knew the time had come to explain it all to him. 
As I searched pintrest, I found these two amazing ladies that made me job such a breeze.
First I found this link:Symbols of Christmas from an amazing lady and copied her amazing family home evening where she held up a picture of a door and used the following descriptions and had the children guess who was at the door.
  • he sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good.
  • he has a beard and a kind face
  • he spent his life giving to others
  • he's often pictured in red and/or white clothes
  • he loves little children
  • he gives the very best gifts
  • you can never see him, but you can feel him
  • he gives us a wonderful, special warm feeling
  • he can get into our homes even if the doors are locked
  • he has special, wonderful powers
  • we want to give gifts back to him, but he doesn't need anything we could buy; he just wants us to give to other people. (My kids have been talking about giving a present to Santa.)
  • I ended with, "He encourages us to be good so we will be ready when he comes."
I then created my own version of a letter to Hayden after reading this amazing blog of mom who wrote a letter to her daughter explaining Santa Claus.  Sweet Explanation of Santa's role 


You are growing up so fast. I watch you each day and am amazed by you. I am in awe of your goodness, your Christlike faith, your sincere desire to do good. You have been blessed with a true Christlike gift to see people and treat people as the Savior would want you to. You always come home from school and tell me how you played with the new student. At the book exchange, when you went with 20 books to exchange for new ones and came home with only 2 books, I asked why and you said that at the book exchange that there were a lot of kids without books and they were sad. You went and handed the tickets you received to everyone to make sure they were able to receive a book which left you with two. You were so happy with your new books and were happy to share with others. I watched as you provided other classmates with snacks using your own money. You always make sure that no one goes without. You always notice if someone doesn't have something and want to share what you have been given. You have learned to find joy in others happiness, not just your own. 

When I think about last Christmas, my favorite moment will always be, when we pulled all of your presents out from under the tree. We told you that there were two boys that would not have Christmas and we were going to try and help out. We lined up all of your wrapped presents from mom and dad and you shook each one, guessed what was in it, and lovingly chose a gift to give up. You didn't complain. You simply said, "I hope this boy likes this gift as much as I would have." Dad and I could not have been more proud of you. You were genuinely interested in the boys' need and hoped you chose a gift they would like. You quickly jumped up and ran into the other room. Dad and I were talking to each other saying how proud we were of you. You came out of your room carrying your brand new remote control helicopter that you had just won at the raffle and were so excited about. We asked what you were doing and your response was, "Didn't you say there were two boys that didn't have Christmas? We can't give one a gift and leave the other one out." At that moment, I caught a glimpse of who you truly are in our Savior's eyes. He gave you a great gift Hayden. You have developed this amazing talent of yours at such a young age. 

Each time I think of Christmas, I think of this moment. It touched my heart so deeply. You showed genuine Christlike love for someone you did not even know. Your heart wants to help others to become happy and to feel our Savior's love. 

That's why we think it is time for you to know the secret. Time for you to understand how the true magic of Christmas happens. 

You have asked Dad and I if Santa is real. If he exists. 

Santa is bigger than any one person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us has lived. What he does is simple but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can't see or touch.

It's a big job, and it's an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in you family. You'll also need to believe in things you can't measure or even hold in your hand. I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he's filled with joy and love. 

With full hearts, people like me and Daddy, take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible. So no, there is no one Santa. 

Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. Dad and I are on his team and now you are too. You have developed enough love in your heart, enough faith in our Savior, enough kindness to be on Santa's team with Daddy and I. 

Our jobs now are bigger than ever. This is a secret that is not to be shared with anyone. They can only know when the time is right for them. But, because of the incredible person that you have become, you are ready to understand fully that Santa helps children and adults understand and grasp our Savior's love.

I am so excited for this Christmas when you, too, can help bring the magic of Christmas and Santa to life for others. And most importantly to help them remember that the true gift of Christmas is ultimately the Savior's birth and His life. Santa, the Savior and the entire Spirit of Christmas help us to remember the most important thing that Jesus taught us and that is to love one another. 

I love you, Hayden!

Love always and forever, 

Thanks to these amazing women, I was able to really express to Hayden how I feel about Christmas. Why I feel it is so important. Why Christmas spirit is a special feeling that comes when the entire world gathers together in celebrating the Savior, focusing on others instead of themselves and everyone truly tries to help others and meet their needs. It is time when the Holy Ghost is able to touch our hearts deeply, testify to us of the truthfulness of the Christmas story and show us how to really love and take care of one another.

To the amazing two women that were on Pintrest: thank you! I am so grateful for your insight of how to explain well something I cherish.

FYI: Hayden embraced it all with love and excitement. And, although he told me his heart was sad and he wanted to cry, he also felt the great responsibility he has to help others out and be a true helper to both Santa and the Savior this beautiful Christmas season!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Family Pictures 2012

Jodi is such an amazing photographer. We had our family pictures taken this past week. I can't spoil the best ones, because I am not sure what I am using on our Christmas card. But, the ones we didn't use are still priceless to me.
I am not sure what I said to Hayden but he was definitely excited about and in awe. Love that each time we surprise him, he has this perfect facial expression. Note my sweet husband's face and his undying love for me and Hayden.
Love my boy and our relationship. I adore him. I love who he is. I love the joy that he brings to my life. I love everything about him.
This is classic. If I was barefoot, minus the make up, hair in a pony tail and in either scrubs or sweats, this would be a perfect representation of our year. Thomas comes home from work and after homework, dishes, and all the responsibilities are done, he sits on the couch and pulls my feet on his lap and rubs them. What a catch. What a great guy.
And, family pictures just would not have been complete without a diet coke in the pictures. I have had one attached at my side for the past year. Love my guys, hands down, but believe me when I say there is plenty of love in my heart to include my diet cokes.
Thanks, Jodi! As always, you took some amazing shots. I am so excited to see our Christmas cards. You are incredible at capturing us. Thanks for capturing these year of our lives so well. I love you!