Halloween Night!

We did a terrible job decorating for Halloween. Usually we do the spooky spider webs on the front porch- in addition to the ones already there!- pumpkin garland on the fireplace, crafts hanging around that we’d made from Pinterest. But not this year! We went simple- carving pumpkins and having them lit on the front porch.

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In true Haley fashion, she made a very elaborate face- five eyes with fire, a nose, a mustache, and a mouth with fangs. Trey went with a really spooky face to “freak everyone out” and we made a silly face for Avery. It was a really fun family night and the kids could not have been more excited or proud to put the candle in them and let ’em shine!

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As for costumes, we went LOW budget. I sold a ton of costumes that we didn’t wear or fit and told the kids to pick one out of the closet to wear for Halloween. Trey picked SpiderMan…and so did Avery. We have both sizes so it worked out perfectly! (both bought at a garage sale for under $2 two years ago!) Haley, in true Haley fashion, went a more creative route. After thinking and being VERY concerned for weeks ahead of time, she decided on being a Book. Yes, a Book. She had a grand design plan and we set out to make it together. I laughed because she was overly tired one night and overly concerned about what she’d dress up like for Trick-or-Treating. She was crying and I just had to laugh because she was so upset about something that wasn’t going to happen for 2.5 weeks! I’m more of a “wait-til-the-day-before” kind of worrier. πŸ™‚

The book design was all hers and was better than what I was thinking in my head. She drew the letters for the Title (I didn’t even know she could do bubble letters), cut them out , and taped them on herself. She was determined for her book to have pages and came up with that part as well. My job- collect the cardboard and poster board. We have done a few projects together lately and it has been the most fun. We love that we are both creative artists and come up with really fun ideas together. (Just wait till you see her Polar biome for school!!)

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Our prayers were answered (great teachable moment) because the torential downpours stopped an hour or two before it was time to go out to collect some candy! We visited our close neighbors- our favorite stop was Mr. Will. The kids love him and he gets visits from the kids pretty often…he is our adopted Grandpa! He’s got a jar of peanuts and the kids get to go over to eat peanuts with him! So sweet. I call them the Peanut Pals. Well, he came to the door in a skeleton mask and surprised the kids. We rolled with laughter…and fright! Avery kept saying, “You a pirate, Mr. Will?” She thinks the skeletons are pirates because of the skull and cross bones flag on a pirate ship. πŸ™‚

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Next, we met up with our friends (who also had a mini-Spiderman…plus, Captain America and a Ninja Turtle. We were feeling VERY safe that night surrounded by crime fighters. We went to a trunk-or-treat. THIS is the way to do it! (at least for our kids’ age group.) The kids had fun and we didn’t have

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to hustle Avery up and down driveways trying to keep up with the faster kids. Haley’s costume was an absolute hit! Everyone was remarking at how creative it was. I laughed becasuse I loved seeing people’s faces when she told them what she was- A book. They got the, “DUH!” look. My sweet literal child, I just love her!!!! I told my friend, the Mom of the other Super heros we were with- we get the award for bringing the biggest group of heros…and the cutest! She agreed, so I’d say it was unanimous. πŸ™‚

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Now we have candy galore and the kids are thinking of ways to earn it. We have our not-so-hidden, and increasingly shrinking stash of chocolate hidden in the freezer!

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Backyard Camp Out

Fall 2013

Hayden has been wanting to have a backyard campout for a long time! But until now the kids have been too young. I’m not exactly sure how it came about, but the decision was made NOW is the time! So, we gave the kids some money and allowed them to pick out and buy their own back packs. Haley had it in her head that she wanted a pink one with flowers on it…no characters. Amazingly, a pink sleeping bag with flowers on it was found!! Walmart had one. Trey jumped at the SpiderMan sleeping bag and the kids were ecstatic about picking it out and buying it themselves…not to mention that there was enough money left over to buy Astronaut Ice

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Cream too! Could it get better? The kids slept in their sleeping bags on the floor of their rooms that night. It was so fun.

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hotdogs over the fire, pretzels, and roasted marshmallows…dinner of champions. We even had some neighbors stop by to roast a hotdog. The kids had a blast playing outside and running around. Haley was intent on setting up house in the tent. She brought pillows, games, books, and more. Trey was in and out of the tent all night…in between casting his pole in the water. (Um yeah, we are completely spoiled and LOVE our house!!!!) Avery was right in the middle of everything, as always. She ate more marshmallows than anyone.

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After telling stories by the fire, I went inside…so Avery wouldn’t be in the house alone (and so I didn’t have to sleep outside! I thought to myself, the kids might actually do it. I had no faith that they’d actually sleep outside. But, they were SO tired and as I went inside I thought they’d just pass out after a fun-filled day and actually fall asleep. Twenty minutes later, everyone was tucked snuggly in their beds. Good trial run!IMG_0197

I’m glad to have a husband that will go through all that for a fun-filled family night. Who knows, maybe we’ll turn into a camping family. Good to start in our backyard. πŸ™‚

Family Portraits

A few weeks ago we went to Jackson for the weekend to visit my parents. Of course, we had a great time…but it doesn’t even come close to comparing how good of a time the kids had. As soon as we roll into town, the kids get more energy than humanly possible. Typically (as we did this time), we got in aound 9 at night. As soon as we get there, the kids are wired like it is 9 AM.

One of the key agenda items while we were there was to get Christmas pictures for my mom’s Christmas cards. For anyone that knows my mom, you know that by Thanksgiving, she’s got her Christmas cards in the mail. They’re normally boxed up and stamped well before then. So taking a Christmas picture this early is completely normal in our family.

We accidentally left all of my camera gear at home, but we managed to make out okay. After all, I’ve always said that the camera doesn’t make the pictures. πŸ™‚

Also, on Laura’s agenda was to get individual pictures of the kids. We’ve got 3 16x20s on our living room wall of Haley and Trey. So after 2 years of Avery being in our family, I guess it’s time we get one up of her. πŸ™‚

All in all, a fantastic visit. It was nice to see my parents, although sweet, sensitive Haley had a meltdown when we left. She loves her grandparents so much. And I love to see it!

We ended the weekend with a trip back to Memphis through Starkville to watch the Dogs beat Jackson State.

 

Jamaica ‘Mon

Wow, ‘mon! What a trip! We got back last week from a fun filled vacation to Jamaica. Let me start off by giving shouts out to our parents for keeping the kids while we were away. The inlaws split the difference on keeping the kiddos. We KNOW what you’re dealing with! And we thank you!

Jamaica was a blast. We actually split the trip between 2 separate places. The first place was the blue cave castle. It’s basically a castle that was built on the cliffs that are past 7 mile beach. We were in the “penthouse”. We had a ball there. There are only about 11 rooms in the whole place, 4 of which had guests. So we got to know some really neat people during our stay there. There was a chef onsite named Teddy. He cooked some amazing meals for us. There were some standbys as well as the ‘food of the day’, which he’d recommend. The food was delicious and even included some new stuff (at least to us) like curried conch. For some reason, even the bacon he cooked at breakfast was better than any I’d ever had.

Since blue cave wasn’t all inclusive, we didn’t feel an ounce of guild venturing out to have meals at other places. We went to a little place called 3 Dives and also had dinner one night at Rick’s. That night was a little special for us since Laura and I met at a joint called Rick’s when we were back in school. And our honeymoon was SUPPOSED to be in Jamaica until Hurricane Ivan nearly wiped it off the map 2 days before we got married.

One of the things that was really cool about the blue cave was the cliffs. There were steps carved into the rock that you could both walk down and dive from. I did a couple dives from one that was 30-35 feet up. What a rush. I felt like a 6 year old girl standing up there before I jumped. I’d almost get my nerve…then step back down. I finally did it, though.

The worst thing about venturing out of the castle was the local ‘hustlers’. We went to a craft market one afternoon and told our cab driver to be back in an hour. After about 20 minutes we were done with the craft market. The market was nearly empty of tourists, but all the locals with the booths were still there. Apparently, it is the low season, and the locals are hurting for money. We felt bad for them, but Laura never felt better about herself. The vendors kept referring to her as “boss”, and were telling her that she had pretty hair, pretty teeth, pretty eyes, pretty skin, pretty clothes, pretty legs. Everything was pretty. I happen to agree. πŸ™‚

After 20 minutes or so in the craft market, we couldn’t take it anymore. We walked down the street and sat in a Burger King until it was time for our cab to pick us up.

The second half of the week was a Couples Swept Away. I’d say it is just about the exact opposite of everything we experienced at the castle. Tons of people, a bazillion different things to eat, air conditioning, lots to do and see. One thing we’ve learned is that there isn’t a lot of differences between most all inclusives. Rooms are all similar. Food is good, but is the type of food that you get when the chef has to cook for 200. There were some cool things about this one that set it apart from some of the others we’ve been to. We did a glass bottom boat ride, snorkeled on a reef, water skied, made a hat from coconut leaves, made a basked and tie dyed.

One of the BEST things about the resort was an ice cream station. All you had to do was walk up, grab a cone and make you a soft serve…ANY TIME YOU PLEASED. My record was 6 ice cream cones in one day. We even got a few of the other guests involved and turned it into a competition.

Coming back home was bittersweet. We were ready to be home…to see our kids, to sleep in our own bed. But we will definitely miss the time hanging out with just the two of us. There’s always next trip…

 

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Family Pictures

Since birthday season is well underway (Haley in March, Trey in May, Avery in July), we figured it was about time to do some family pcitures. Of course, we don’t have time to go anywhere nice. But luckily, Julie was over a while back and was able to to shoot a couple of family pics for us. From the comfort of our own bedroom. πŸ™‚

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Happy Birthday, Bo-Bo!!

Avery is definitely the third child! We incorporated a birthday party into our plans to join my parents, Grandma Dee, and the Caswells at the lake for the Fourth of July. Luckily, my amazingly over-the-top crafty friend Angelina had a Minnie Mouse party for her daughter just weeks before, so I hit the jackpot in borrowing all of her Minnie Mouse decor for Avery’s party.

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Avery loves Mickey and Minnie…mainly Mickey. She comes in to our room every morning to snuggle up and watch Mickey. She usually stays in bed watching while I start to get ready. A great plan!

The weather was great and we had a fun time spending time with family. We took rides on the boat, played with Toby (the dog), and enjoyed the fireworks in the middle of the lake. Haley and I loved getting schooled by Grandma Dee in playing Crazy 8’s!

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Avery loved the balloons and the cupcakes the most. She got tons of attention and probably didn’t notice it was her birthday because she gets tons of attention every day! I am so proud of my sweet two-year old BABY! She is the cutest thing, is so full of life, and cracks us up at every turn with her facial expressions and personality.

Avery is almost fully potty trained and is now in a big girl bed- she was the first and only Simons baby to train herself to crawl out…it is hilarious too! I can’t believe how fast she is.

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We left the lake a little early to get home to our own lake celebration! Garner Lake does a great fireworks display too so we loaded the pirate ship and set sail!

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Happy 4th of July!

Proud to be an American! Where at

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least I know I’m free!!!

Free to do what’s right. And free to do what isn’t. By my standards. Or by God’s standards.

Lord, help us this day to do what’s right by your standards. They’re the only ones that matter.

 

**special thanks to Heather Hamm for the photos!

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Happy Birthday Trey

Trey has been EXTREMLY into superheros lately. In fact, every night when we put him to bed, we lift him up and “fly” him in. He picks whether he’s going to be superman (arms straight out), batman (arms back) or spider man (one arm out shooting a web). We toss him into bed and he hits face first. And laughs with delight. I think if I tried the same I’d come up with a skinned nose and a sore back.

Last month we celebrated Trey’s birthday. And he’d have no other type of party than a superhero party. Laura did an AWESOME job on the party preparations. It all started with her great idea for birthday invitations. Of course, I lost the final version, but a draft of the invite is below. What could have been a simple gathering of friends at the park turned into a treasure hunt for cape making supplies, a cape making party and a celebration that even a superhero would envy. In fact, a “bad guy” even showed up to steal the capes. Luckily, there were some water squirters that the kids were able to use to run the bad guy off.

All in all, a great birthday celebration for a kid that’s a superhero in my book.

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Coach Daddy

One thing I’ve always had a dream of doing is coaching Trey’s T-ball team. My dad was always involved in my baseball activities. In fact, I don’t think there was ever a time that he wasn’t the coach. In fact, I literally have expressed worry to Laura in the past. Worry that I might not be able to either get off of work or be in town to coach. I’m extremely blessed to have the opportunity to be the coach of the team.

That said, this group is like herding cats! We’ve got one 3 year old and the rest are 4/5 year olds. It’s the vast majority of the kids’ first time to play ball. We literally started the first practice showing them which hand thier glove goes on and learning the difference between home plate and first base. And after just 3 practices, it was time for the first game.

Now ‘game’ is a term that you can use loosely with this age group. There are 4 innings, everyone bats, no one gets out. So essentially, all games end in a tie. Very rarely does anyone hit a ball outside of the infield. VERY rarely. As in…it’s only happened twice in the 3 games we’ve played. So, we bunch all of the kids up in the infield. And when the ball is hit (many times about 5-6 feet), there’s a mad dash to get it, a brief argument over who should get it, and a haphazard throw to a first baseman who typically isn’t paying attention. Like I said, like herding cats. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Here are a couple pictures from their first game.

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