Summer Nights-Fishing With the Kids

image Tonight started with supper on the porch.  We had hobo dinners cooked on the grill.  This was the first pic I took.  I thought, “I am going to try to get more of my face in the picture.” Well, that was the beginning of the silliness.

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Let it be known that dad started it.  Oh brother.

Then we decided to go fishing.  We ran in to put on boots or shoes because those are the rules for pretty much any pasture activity.  I doused everyone in bug spray and away we went.

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Due to the extreme drought in Oklahoma the past few years, our very large and very good fishing pond all but dried up.  Due to the subsequent flooding it has filled up again but not before Greg spent the early spring getting every fish out of the pond with a dip net (he could walk all the way across about knee deep)– and transferring them to a neighbors pond to try to save as many as possible.  We headed to the neighboring pond to start the process of trying to catch some to move back to our pond.  It’s a tough job but someone has to do it!

Riding in the back of the truck is so special! Don't worry, it was only in the pasture.

Riding in the back of the truck is so special! Don’t worry, it was only in the pasture. And Clara is laughing here, trust me.

Must find the right lure.  The prettier the better.

Must find the right lure. The prettier the better.

Passing inspection.

Passing inspection.

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Oh look, there’s a llama. (I also love the accessories she chose to wear fishing.)

Yep, this one.

Yep, this one.

I wasn't kidding about the llama.  This is the new baby.  Awwww.  Dad started a trend.

I wasn’t kidding about the llama. This is the new baby. Dad started a trend.

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Dad helping Josie.

Dad having a minute to fish with his own pole.

Dad having a minute to fish alone.

It didn't take long for someone else to need help.  Thank you daddy.

It didn’t take long for someone else to need help. Thank you daddy.

The silliness continues.

The silliness continues.

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Can you see all the minnows?

image     Back into the truck we go.

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But the fun is not over yet!  Who wants to play in the sprinkler?

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Do you remember how much work it was to hook up the hose and drag it where you wanted it? It takes team work.

image Boots go with everything.

image Especially when you are 5.

image  So the story is they wanted to make a water slide.  It was pretty slick as Josie soon found out.  Grady’s face in this pic is priceless.  She was a little shook up but no permanent damage was done.

All in all a very relaxed fun filled night.  Thankful for every one of them.  Oh, and my gladiolus are blooming 🙂

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The Scary and Exciting End to the School Year

We find ourselves at the end of another school year.  My children are another year wiser, stronger, taller, and more independent.  I am proud! I am happy-sad.  I am scared and excited.  And it’s not even about me anymore.  They are the stars.

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First day of school.

Last day of school.

Last day of school.

I am thrilled to have them home again for the summer.  I am glad that they will all three be together again throughout the day (as Josie is not in school yet).  There will be more fighting, more playing, more bonding, and more memory making.

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The passing of time gives me so many mixed emotions (reference the first paragraph!).  Thinking over the years that have passed gives me a sick, panicky feeling that I have not done enough, taught them enough, given enough of my time.  Have I missed moments that I shouldn’t have missed? I know I have forgotten things that happened that I thought would never leave my memory.

I always start out the summer with big plans.  So many activities I want to do with the kids.  So many subjects I want to teach that are not taught in school.  And I always run out of time. But we are going to do our best.  And I am going to enjoy it!!!

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The Imperfect Mother

You are expecting your first child. You hear about the beauty and fulfillment of being a mother.  You hear about the unconditional love you will have for your children.  What you don’t hear, is how it fundamentally changes you.  How you learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible.

I went through younger years as a complete believer in the gift of salvation.  I believed that I was saved because Jesus died on the cross in my place, and that I was covered by the blood of Jesus by the Grace of God.  I believed it–and was saved.  But I did not understand grace until I became a mother.

I am not a natural servant.  I know those whose spiritual gift is servanthood.  This is not me.  My gifts lie in other areas.  However, Jesus calls us all to be servants, and nothing has highlighted how lacking I am in this area any more than motherhood.

Daily, I fail.  Daily, I lose patience, self-control, peace, gentleness, and other fruits of the spirit when dealing with my small children, my daily tasks, and my schedule.  Daily, I realize how selfish I am.

Daily, my children show me grace.  They wake up each and every morning ready to love me as much as ever, despite my flaws.  They show true forgiveness and still think I am the greatest person in the world.  They accept me unconditionally and forget my grievances.  Just as God does.  I do not deserve the love of my children based on perfect parenting skills.  They give it anyway.

God deals with me in the same way.  Daily, I fail and through the blood of Jesus he gives me amazing Grace.

Being a servant is all about the attitude with which you help others.  I am working to have the heart of a servant.  I am working to serve my family with a joyful heart even when I perceive things to be unfair.  I am striving to become more selfless.  This is the path of sanctification for me.

Thank you God, Grady, Clara, Josie, and Greg for amazing Grace.

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Delete the Hackers take two!

Ok. I have tried to fix my account again with help from the site.  We will see if it works. Sorry for the spam.

Jessica

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This is Jessica/My account got hacked

Hi everyone! My account has recently been hacked so the past few posts were not me.  Sorry. I have everything reset now so we will see if that takes care of it.

 

Jess

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Response to “FYI: If your a teenage girl”

Oh wow! This blog post titled, “FYI: If you’re a teenage girl” has generated a lot of discussion.  In trying to comment on friend’s feeds, my thoughts were too many to be concise.  There have been many responses including this one, “Dear Mrs. Hall, Regarding Your FYI: If you’re a teenage girl”

Having both boys and girls, I have feelings on both sides of this argument.  I believe that with today’s social media, we have to do a huge amount of counseling to both our sons and daughters on the impact that your posts make on the perception of one’s character and sometimes one’s future (When hiring someone, I always Facebook/Google them and see what comes up.)  With regards to my son (7yr), I will be doing everything I can to guard his purity—especially online.  I believe that is what Mrs. Hall is trying to do.  She is not blaming girls for boys thoughts, she is trying to protect her sons from the images in the first place.  I don’t think she is saying that they cannot be friends in ‘real life’, she is just not going to subscribe to what they may be putting online.  If you are a parent and not familiar with social networking, I personally think it is important to learn about it.  Even if you do not allow your child to participate, their peers are going to be discussing and displaying what is going on to your child.Image

I did not understand the differences between men and women with regards to sex until after I was married.  In the same way, teen girls do not understand the male/female differences either.  They don’t understand that not only are their teen friends seeing their pics, but so are men as old as their fathers and grandfathers (and men not nearly as nice as their fathers and grandfathers). 

What so many have found offensive (and somewhat taken out of context) is the implication that girls are responsible for the lustful thoughts/actions of boys.  This is absolutely not the case.  Each is master of his/her own decisions.  ****BUT*** If I remember my dating days correctly, the way I conducted/presented myself definitely impacted the way I was treated by my companion.  So, while my actions were not to blame for someones else’s bad choices, I do believe that, had I acted differently, the outcome may have been better.  This does not mean the ‘boys’ in the equation were bad or unethical or non-christian or without respect for me.  It just means that they were boys.  And young.  And it is not not an excuse, but it is not uncouth to mention that God created men and women physiologically different, and that plays a role in behavior.

My son and daughters and I will have many, many conversations on proper conduct, attire, language, behavior, pictures etc.  One of the number one things that I already discuss with my children, ages 3, 5, 7 is to ‘choose your friends wisely’.  When the time comes, this will translate into ‘choose whom you date wisely’. 

This is a discussion for the ages, just being done in a different way than the previous generation did it.  The only way to get through parenting is with A LOT of prayer for patience, forgiveness, protection, and love for our children AND all those who surround them. 

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Remembering Mema Francie

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Many of you know that my grandma, Frances Simpson, passed away this past February.  She had battled breast cancer for a year, just finished treatments, and then suffered a hemorrhagic stroke that was unrelated to any of her cancer issues.  She lost the ability to swallow and therefore could not adequately take in nutrition.  She had a living will that stated she did not want a feeding tube.  We brought her home and cared for her until she passed away.  I was privileged to speak at both of her funerals and would like to share some my thoughts and memories with you.

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I was lucky enough to know my grandma both as a child and as an adult. We spent many nights with her when were young, my sister and I.  She always entertained us.  Having children now, I now know how much work that was.  We watched Little House on the Prairie reruns that she would tape from TV (on VHS).  We spent countless hours painting and sewing different projects.  She gave me my first sewing machine.  In the early years the projects were for entertainment purposes but as I got older, she really did teach me a lot.  I met my husband, Greg, when I was 16.  At a high school ball game, he reached over to me and hooked his finger in the belt loop of my jeans to pull me over to him and it tore.  Guess who got to fix that? When Mema met Greg, he swears up and down that she gave him the ‘evil eye’ and said, “So YOU’RE the one who ripped Jessica’s jeans!”  In the hospital, while she was in bed, I told Greg he better behave because she could still give him the ‘evil eye’. Greg and his family loved my grandma so much.  She loved them too.

Mema was the ultimate servant.  She never hesitated when the kids asked for something.  She was never too busy to drop what she was doing for them.  She always made sure that there was unsweetened tea for her grand-son-in-laws.  We never wanted for anything when she was around.  We searched and searched for pictures to put in the slide show for her funeral where she was actually looking at the camera.  Her focus was always on the other people in the picture.

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Growing up, I had a wonderful support system.  We weren’t large, there were just seven of us, but we were connected.  My mom, dad, sister, Aunt Dee, Papa Dean (dad’s dad), and Mema Frances (who my children later called Mema Francie) were at every sporting event, play, recital, assembly, etc. that was ever held.  We attended church together.  I always had “my pew” at church, filled with my family.  I love that my children now have their “pew”.  We did not all always agree or love every aspect of every part of every worship service, sermon, or Sunday school class we attended, but I did know that church was important to my family.  I knew that we were united in our belief in Jesus.  My grandma had a King James Bible, and I took it to the hospital to read out loud to her in those last days.  I laughed at my inability to read it correctly while she smiled at me.

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Mema took care of my babies one day a week.  I love that they knew her so well.  They looked forward to the days that Mema Francie stayed with them. One day Clara and I had been having a particularly trying morning.  She kept needing to be disciplined and, like a devoted parent, I kept following through.  She looked at me and said,”You know how sometimes when Mema Francie comes over here, and you leave?  I think we need to do that today.”  They would run to her as soon as they saw her.  What wonderful memories.

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I am very aware of the fact that my grandma lived 55 years before I was born.  Many have memories of my grandma from a time that I will never know.  There is a time in life when you believe your parents are always right.  It is a strange thing to one day realize that they are not perfect. It takes even longer to learn that you grandparents are not perfect.  Let me assure you, Mema was not perfect.  She was not without fears, insecurities, or regrets.  She definitely had all of those.  However, she also understood forgiveness.  She understood that she did not have to be perfect, because the one who was perfect has covered a multitude of sins.  But she was at peace with herself, her friends, and her family.

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To all of my family and friends in Georgia, I want you to know that the years she spent with us influenced us so much.  She took care of us and we were honored to care for her in her last days.  Experiencing death bed conversations is very surreal.  She could not speak well, but she did get a few things out.  She said very plainly one day, “I don’t want you to worry about me.”  The entire day before she had been saying, “I don’t want…” but couldn’t get the rest out.  She didn’t give up because it was important to her that we know this.  After we brought her home, she told Greg and I, “I will be waiting for you.” We played Gaither Vocal cd’s for her and she could sing along with the chorus even though she couldn’t speak very well.  She would squeeze my hand to the beat.

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We can’t repay our parents and grandparents for the influence they have in our lives.  It is an impossible debt to repay.  What we do, in return for their sacrifices, is repeat them for our children, who in turn do for their children, and the cycle continues.  So we roll it forward, and future generation are blessed because we were blessed.  I am a better woman, mother, and wife because of her example.

On this first mother’s day without her, I rejoice that she is with her other children and grandchildren in Heaven.  We will soon join her.

I love you Mema.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

1 Corinthians 2:9

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Grady’s first ski trip – Angelfire, NM

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We left on New Year’s Day to go to Angelfire, NM for a ski trip, and Greg and I were very excited to take Grady for his fist time! I have been wanting to take him since he was about 3 but was vetoed until this year.  Grady had a great time.  He went one day to ski school.  One of the most amazing things about the first day of skiing happened when Greg and I were riding a lift up the mountain and we hear, “Hey Mom! Hey Dad!” We look down and there is Grady with his ski school class waving like crazy to us.  He spotted us in the middle of hundreds of people bundled up in ski coats, masks, and hats.  He definitely takes after his daddy in observation skills.  I had to keep telling him to watch where he was going because he would ski and be looking anywhere but where he was headed (kind of like his dad drives!)

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Grady did well in ski school but his instructor said he got a little scared when he felt that he couldn’t stop.  The next day we were able to park at a small public parking area on the slopes, put on our skis, and ski down to the lift.  I just skied Grady down between my skis.  We headed to the top of the mountain.  I went in front and Greg went behind.  We told him to just follow my tracks and sit down if he was worried.  The first couple of hills I just snow plowed straight down.  He was doing well so I told him to follow my tracks and we were going to make some “S’s”.  The little booger just followed right along.  We skied from the very top of the mountain to the bottom and he only sat down one time, no falls.  After that he was good to go.  We skied greens, blues, moguls, frontside, backside, and everywhere in between.  He had a blast.  The third day, I could tell if I was getting too far ahead of him because I couldn’t hear him SINGING!  He was singing, “She’ll be skiing down the mountain when she comes….” to the tune of ‘She’ll be comin’ round the mountain’.  The second verse was, “She’ll be skiing on yellow skis when she comes…”  He was cracking himself and everyone else on the mountain up.

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We would ski to the pick-up that was parked on the slope to eat sandwiches for lunch.  Grady was with many other kids, cousins, and friends on the trip.  He had a blast.

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This is the view from our front porch.  It was COLD.  The coldest temps I have ever skied in .  Negative 20-25 when we left the house and it would get up to about 9 degrees (actual temps).  No wind and full sun all day though.

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Grady’s bear is making a snow angel on the bed 🙂

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Grady was as happy as mom and dad to come home to his sister’s.  We stopped at the Big Texan on the way home where he got the hat.  Owen rode all the way there and back with us and Grady had a ball with him in the back seat.  Of course, I don’t know how many people are cooler than his cousin Owen, and Owen (age 12)  just takes all the time in the world with him.  We love him for that.  It was very different riding in a vehicle with 3 boys.  I didn’t have to take anyone to the bathroom or fix hair or anything.  I will say that I cannot believe how entertaining boys find a can of Flart! I got to listen to flatulent noises for about 2 hours of the trip.  Even Greg had to take a turn with it! Oh well, at least the noises were coming from a can and not a person.  Thank goodness for small blessings!

We can’t wait to share this experience with the girls in the years to come! Thanks to aunts, memas, and mamaws for making this possible with Grady.  We love you!

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“I’m a big girl now!”

My favorite thing about Josie is her feet. They are so expressive. Look at those toes.

Well, try as I may, I could not convince Josie that she could climb over the rail of her crib.  The monkey tries to climb over everything else, but even when I showed her how to climb out of the crib, she shrugged and smiled at me and said, “No mama, my cand do it.”  So a few weeks later, I just got to the point where I told Greg, “It’s just time.  I am too nervous she is gonna decide to do it.”  So Greg turned her crib into a big girl toddler bed.  This is the first time we have been able to use the crib in this capacity.  We always had a little sibling coming along to claim the crib.
So we read 5 little monkeys as well as a couple of other books.  We put her to bed and… she stayed there.  The next morning when she woke up, she was yelling, “Maaaa-maaaaa, Gaaaa-gaaaaa” just like always.  Greg went to tell her she could get up.  She stood up and looked at him and pointed at her bed. “Fix it.”  She commanded.  Greg said, “Josie, you’re a big girl. That is a big girl bed.”  Josie shook her head and said, “No, my baby.” (She say my instead of me)  Greg said, “Oh, are you a baby?”  She said “yeth” and lay her head on his shoulder.
When he told me this story I said, “Well–put it back together!!”  And Greg, being the steady man that he is, said “No Jessica, it’s time.  She’ll be ok.”  And wouldn’t you believe it, she is.  I recall another time when I had only been a mom for about 6 months.  I had a perfect baby boy who liked to wake up about 5 times a night.  We moved him to his own room and he was not happy about it.  In the middle of the night, I had gotten up to try and calm him down.  Exhausted, after he had been crying for over an hour, I was laying on the couch crying right along with him when Greg took him from me, lay him in his bed – the same bed Josie sleeps in now – came back to the living room and took me by my hand and put me in our bed.  He didn’t say a word but I knew he meant that it was time then too.  Time for me to push myself a little to let go.  To know that Grady would be ok in his own room.  Sometimes I just need that little push or vote of confidence or whatever it is from him.  He is really good at knowing when to give it.  Grady did just fine in his own room and Josie had taken to her bed wonderfully.
Just like she wouldn’t climb out of the crib, mentally, I think the same barriers are up.  She does not leave the bed when she is put in it.  Grady and Clara had to be put back in bed numerous times a night.  Josie just gets a hug and a kiss and that is the end of it.  One more step in her (and my) growth.  Congratulations Josie!

Greg told her to pretend to sleep 🙂 She really does that with her hands though!

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The Next Step…

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Meet Your Teacher Night

Well, here we go!  My six year old is all grown up and excited to start Kindergarten.  Kindergarten is all day and full of lots of activities.  We got to meet Mrs. Truelove on Tuesday night and see Grady’s new classroom.  He got a few kids in his class that he already knows.  Between Greg and Grady we probably stopped 20 times walking out of the school to say hi to people.  There were a lot of people.  There are approximately 620 students in pre-K to 3rd grade this year.

Meet your teacher night

The Night Before the Big Day
On Wednesday night we ate family dinner at Teresa’s house.  Grady never acted nervous when talking about the next day.  On the car ride home from Mamaw’s with Greg he did ask, “Well, what if I can’t find my class?”  Greg assured him that there would be a lot of teachers that he could ask for help if he needed to, and they would be very nice.  He also asked, “What if I need to throw up?”  So he answered that question too.   It was 8:00pm when we got home, and he headed straight for his room.  On the way to his room he said, “Mom, I don’t want a book tonight.”  He gave Greg a hug and closed his bedroom door.  Fifteen minutes later Greg went into his room to check on him.  All the lights were out, he had taken a shower, brushed his teeth,  gotten his pj’s on and climbed into bed.  Greg asked him what he was doing and Grady said he’d better get to sleep so he could be ready in the morning.  I went in a laid with him.  We talked about how the morning would go.  I told him a story about ‘Grady’s first day of Kindergarten’.  I got up and went to get ready for bed.  At 9:30pm he came out of his room and told Greg, “I am too excited to sleep in my bed but I bet I could fall asleep in yours.” So Grady slept in our bed and Greg rubbed his head until he fell asleep. {Clara slept on our floor because she was not going to be left out :)}

The Big Day

Grady got up and got dressed in the clothes he had laid out.  He decided on his Thunder Shirt and red shorts.  He fixed his hair into a Mohawk.  I made him his requested breakfast of oatmeal and sausage patties with peanut butter and syrup.  I packed his lunch with a lunchable (special treat), mandarin oranges, mini Hershey bar, water, chips, and a mini brownie and prayed it would be enough food!  We got the girls up and ready to be out for the day, more on that later, and went outside to take pictures.

We hugged dad goodbye and loaded up the van.  On the way to the school Clara, Josie, and I all took turns praying for Grady.  I told him that lots of people were praying for him today and I thank you all for doing it.  Please continue. After prayers, I quizzed him the rest of the way, “What grade are you in?”  “Kindergarten.”  “Who is your teacher?” “Mrs. Truelove.” “What do you do after school?”  “Ride the bus to Mema Donna”  “What grade does Mema Donna teach?”  “5th!”  I was like, OK, OK you’ve got it.  We stopped a couple blocks from the school and went through our normal routine of kiss, hug, hug, and kiss on each palm (for him hold onto)(Side note: We started this routine when I dropped him off on his first day of daycare when he was 4.  The teacher could not convince him to un-ball his fists all day.  He was afraid he would drop my kisses.  We then had to teach him that kisses were sticky and don’t even come off if you wash your hands).  As we got closer to the entrance, I asked him if he wanted me to walk him in or drop him off.  He said, “I think you can just drop me off.”  Even though it hurt a little I did not want to undermine his confidence and bravery.  We pulled to the drop off site where there were teachers everywhere helping the kids out of the cars.  A teacher opened the van door for him.  I had the passenger window down so I could hear.  She said, “Are you excited about your day?” He nodded, smiling.  Just as I was pulling off I saw him look at her confidently and say, “Sooo, where do I go?”  I am very proud of him.

Waving Bye in front of the school.

Grady and the teacher who helped him out.

My Day

The girls and I headed to the city.  I was keeping the nursery during the celebration service for a friend of mine who had to say goodbye to her daughter way too early.  Emotion on top of an emotional day, and I am so happy that I could do something to ease the stress of this day for her and her family.  We stopped at McDonald’s for sausage biscuits.  Clara said, “Does this mean I get to unbuckle and pass out the food?”  I smiled and said yes.  She jumped right up and helped Josie arrange her food and put her straw in her drink.  This is a job that Grady has always performed.  She was sweet and helpful and I told she was a great big sister, thank you.  On the way home from the service Clara sat in Grady’s seat and Josie sat in Clara’s.  The changing of the guard.

Grady’s Report

Grady found his class just fine.  He did not throw up (although one girl in his class did/poor baby).  He did three papers, went to PE where he reports he won some races, went to music, ate everything but the brownie out of his lunch, gave his note to his teacher, went to recess and climbed all the way to the top of the dome jungle gym, got on the bus after school with Mr. Hinkley (my 7th grade basketball coach), and all in all had a seamless day.  He told me he was tired.  He said, “We didn’t even watch any movies all day!”  His favorite part was PE.  And the details continue to trickle in 🙂

In Summary

I was more emotional that I thought.  I am so proud of his independence, and it hurts at the same time.  I am excited for him this year, but the year is looking really long.  Mom is going to need more time to adjust than Grady is!  He was really excited to get up and go back the next day.  I am thankful for this opportunity to experience a first, because today is a reminder that firsts are not a guarantee.  So I will do my best to fully experience every milestone that I am blessed enough to be granted.

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