Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Evening

It's Sunday evening. Josh is at Teen Night out at the camp.  He left at 4 and it's now 6:30, roughly an hour before I wrangle our little minions in to bed. Speaking of minions. They watched "Up" and ate popcorn for dinner.  They wanted popcorn, and I didn't want to make dinner. It was a great compromise. Did you eat popcorn for dinner as a kid?  I know I did. Popcorn, waffles, and watermelon could all be considered a dinner entree in my book. I still enjoy them to this day. Ask poor Josh. We probably spent 1/6 of our grocery budget on watermelon during my pregnancies with Amberlyn, Elizabeth, and Declan. I still enjoy it all summer. Fortunately, Amberlyn and Lizzy also eat it with me!  I'm glad at least a couple of my kids appreciate it. I'm hoping Declan will be a fellow enthusiast this summer. He has just begun eating baby food like cereal, squash, and sweet potatoes.  So far he seems to like everything.

Ok, back to the movie "Up".  I love that movie.  It's not the most hilarious or exciting kids movie out there, but it is so loaded with moments that bring about wonderful discussion.  Tonight I cried a little, as I always do, when Carl is sitting alone without his wife. I talked with my older girls about death, and what happens to us when we die, but also what happens with those left behind.  I love watching Carl age with his wife, living a different kind of adventure than he had dreamed, but living a full life with the one he loved. And at the end, I love how he realized that his adventure wasn't over yet and he could have new adventures with Russell.  Tonight, with some tears, we talked about Pop-pop and Ya-ya, Josh's dad and mom.  Josh's mom passed away shortly after we were married and never got to meet her granddaughters (or Declan), and they would have adored her.  I talked to them about the life that Pop-pop and Ya-ya had together and then explained to them that when Ya-ya went to be with Jesus, God called Pop-pop to new adventures here on earth.  No matter what movie it is, Shannan picks it apart and analyzes them. Amberlyn has started to do the same. I know it's cuz their mama does it! I love finding good truths hidden in unexpected places. No, it's not the intent of the producers probably to have them in there, but none the less, most movies have something applicable to life (whether good or bad) and can bring about a satisfying conversation afterwards.

And speaking of adventure, I have to say my life has not ended up like I pictured it back when I was in college.  I had plans for my future of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. You know what?  God's plan was So. Much. BETTER.  I'm sitting here at my dining room window, watching an amazing South Dakota sunset, and listening to my 4 kids playing in the living room. I get to be a stay at home mom.  There was a time when I didn't know if that would be possible. I get to homeschool my kids.  I have an amazing husband who works hard to make this possible. I get to live in an indescribably beautiful state among an amazing people group that I had no idea I would ever meet when I was growing up. I get to serve these people and my Jesus here.  I love the friends I have made.  I chase cows out of my yard.  This is not a life that I had pictured for myself, but I can't imagine it being any better. Ok, maybe A.C. would be nice, but that's a minor detail. I'm talking the big stuff.  This summer we got to see Yellowstone, and I'm going to leave you with this picture of our family from before Declan was born.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Finding Motivation

For those of you who have met our eldest daughter, you know that we have an exceptionally bright child who is gifted across the academic board. There is little that she cannot do with minimal effort. This is both wonderful for education and a nightmare, since she is also easily distracted and takes foreeeeeever to get anything done.  A couple days ago, I seem to have finally (after 4 years of trying) found the proper motivation for her to get her math lessons done. Most other subjects she is self-motivated enough to finish them. Math has been drug out for nearly 2 hours as every little noise in the house must be investigated and every philosophical question debated while solving a single division problem.  Enter the M&M and a little competition. As you can imagine, there are endless chores for me to do with 4 young children.  Shannan and I have started to "race".  Her goal is to complete her math work (correctly) before I can finish "X" chore, whether it is folding and putting away laundry, doing dishes, etc. Whoever finishes first, wins 4 M&Ms.  This has surprisingly worked very well!  I can hardly believe it, but we have had fun and laughter amid Math and chores.  Whatever it takes, right?  Chocolate provides motivation for me, and it seems for my eldest too.  Today, this is one happy mama.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Josh and I went to Liberty University. It's hard to believe I graduated over a decade ago. Time has really flown. Back when we were there, Jerry Falwell Sr. was still the chancellor and we heard him speak on a regular basis. Whether I agreed with him on everything he said isn't the point of this, but there is something he said that has stuck with me.  He had several sermons on what he called a "BHAG", which stands for "Big Hairy Audacious Goal."  He would ask us to remember that nothing is impossible with God, so some of the crazy goals we may have, may be things He has given for us to accomplish with His help.

At this stage in life, I am a parent and not my kids' friend, but one of my biggest BHAGs is that when they grow up, I can be their friend. To that end, I desire to help create fun memories in their childhood.  Due like crazy trips and fantasies of Disneyworld are not our reality. What is though, is celebrating simple things in life, like picnics in our front yard and marshmallows toasted over a fire pit.  We have done this the past couple nights and it has brought this trio a lot of joy and laughter.  There's nothing like watching them try to eat those gooey marshmallows and then singing and praying together.  One of the best moments was tonight, when we first sat down, and Amberlyn asked if she could pray and thank God for our fire.

Another thing I try to do is take time to visit parks when we are up in the city.  Normally we are up there for either our CC homeschool group or to go grocery shopping, but I think spending some time running around is important too. Declan loved hanging out on the blanket this past weekend to watch his sisters play!

Blessings on your evening and your week!


Thursday, March 9, 2017


Good Morning!

I'm sitting here, sipping a cup of lukewarm coffee that I have reheated at least 6 times now and it has cooled yet again before I am finally getting to it.  In sitting down, I am pretending that there are not muffin crumbs covering my kitchen table and a load of laundry sitting on the chair to fold (another in the dryer), remnants of the 7 loads of laundry I washed yesterday.

This morning, shortly after Josh left for work, I felt a strong urge to pray for my children.  This is something that Josh and I usually do every night, and I do periodically throughout the day, but for whatever reason (still unknown to me) this urge was different.  I have been slowly working through a book on praying for my kids and with that has begun to arrive a new intuition when things are "off" in my house. It doesn't mean that I recognize it all the time, but this morning I did and decided to take the time while I was nursing Declan to talk with God about the little minions in my household.  I've also found that praying for my kids puts me into a different mindset when I face confrontation with them.  I'm so glad I listened to that urge and prayed. As soon as I stepped out of the room, I stepped into an hour long tantrum with one child for reasons unknown and a tearfully emotional other child, both of whom are just having one of "those" kind of days.  Starting my morning by praying for them helped me to walk through these hours with a grace that only God gives.  Patience is not in my nature, so anytime I see that attribute in my life, I know God is working!  I am so thankful that I do not walk along in this journey of motherhood. My God walks with me, and He has given me a wonderful hubby by my side as we raise our tribe of dynamic forces of nature.

One of the trials in living out where we do is the idea of a playdate, or any type of getting together with friends. We live over 80 miles from the nearest city (that would be 80 miles each way, and that is also the distance to the nearest grocery store).  Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time texting with various friends, setting up social activities and playdates for the next few weeks. I seem to go through spurts of this, times where I am better about setting up time for my kids to play with others, and other times that I prefer to be a hermit. Actually, being a hermit would be very appealing to me and probably my natural state of life. I remember telling my dad that one time, though, to which he responded that while he felt similar, God didn't call us to be hermits. He calls us to be His hands and feet!  So, here's to not being a hermit.  

Hope your morning is blessed.

~Jess & Family

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Changing Stages

I knew we would go through a lot of changes as a family, and in the past year there have been so many. This past week, we started on another journey...the journey of our eldest child and braces.  No, she doesn't have them on yet, but she will be getting them late this summer. On March 1st, we had an hour and a half consult with the orthodontist, looking at x-rays, discussing treatment plans, and lastly the financials of our new journey.  *shudder*  In all honesty, I am so thankful that we live in a country that offers relatively easy access to dental care. I had to have extensive work on my teeth, and Shannan will go through a similar journey.  With Amberlyn and Lizzy in the care of our friend Amanda, I took the opportunity to take Shannan (and Declan) out to lunch. We talked more of what is to come with her braces, but also just chatted about life. It was a really, really good afternoon for us and I enjoyed my time with her.

Here are some other pictures of life over the past couple weeks.   

This past Friday night, our church hosted a movie night.  We showed Finding Dory and had 27 people in attendance.  I made cupcakes, and jello with Swedish fish and whipped cream on it.  Amanda made cookies and provided blue Gatorade and goldfish to round out our snacks for the evening. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time and we hope to have another movie night in the future.

Wishing you a beautiful day!