New Year. Fresh Starts.

As an old year draws to a close, and while the New Year is still in its first month of life -  I always like to look back on the twelve months previous and just remember everything.  A lot can happen in just one year.  And it's so easy to forget and just keep plowing forward into the newness of the next one.

So, I like to stop and record.
Just for me.  Just for us.  Something for us to look back on and see God's hand woven into everything.

  And really, the days are long - but the years are fleeting.
Life is really made of the moments -- the day to day seemingly insignificance...
It all adds up....and before we know it, another year is wrapped up and in the books.
So, I think it's good to slow for a bit...and to remember.

So, for the sake of posterity and for the 2016 blog book that shall once again be thin and wispy because Mama is out of the habit of writing about our days...  I shall list, in bullet form, some of the significant things that went down in 2016.  It was a good year.  It was a FULL year.  And though I do tend to see the glass as half full anyway, I think it's good to count our blessings and to name our Joys.  All of life is a gift.  Everything that we have is all on loan anyway.  The Story of our lives belongs to our Creator, and I'm just thankful for the honor to be written in however He sees fit.

So, my Loves....
Here we go.  SOME of the big doin's of 2016:

~ Well, as Kev puts it:  "Plexus has been the biggest surprise of our marriage."  Ha.  Having never sold a thing in my LIFE, I have found myself with the sweetest little home business that I absolutely love.  But, as I have told your Daddy all throughout our marriage...pretty much everything I do is because of him.  And as we all walked his journey of health together...when we found something that helped him after years of struggling to get him better, sharing about this company and these products has become an organic overflow of my thankfulness.  The taking care of people part of it is in my gift mix.  That's my jam, and it brings me deep joy.  So, it's kind of a good fit for me.  Who knew....

~ The greatest gift of this past year is Kevin finally feeling better after years of struggling to figure things out.  This will always and forever be my highlight of 2016.  And I will always and forever love your Daddy deeply because of his epic fathering and husbanding - even in the midst of daily feeling yucky.  He still showed up.  He still invested.  One of the zillion reasons why I love him so.

~ Big doin's for Kev - he turned the big 4-0.  Own it, Baby.  Just enjoy the ride.

~ BOTH Kaden and Jesse got their very FIRST deer! So special.  So fun to watch and experience.

~ Kev got two deer this year.  One with his bow and one during gun season.  We have a full freezer of amazing, organic meat now....and for this, I am deeply thankful.

~ Mama's first real hunting which she is now addicted.  I hit one, and we had a glorious adventure all through the night with a tracking dog following the blood trail.  My bucket list for my 40th year is to actually put one in our freezer this next fall.  It's happening.

~ As a family, we experienced our very first Soul Fest music festival.  SO much fun.  A gift of tickets from a sweet friend.  An unexpected and unplanned family adventure.  Such a highlight.

~ The big boys had their first season of football - both summer and fall.   Completely adorbs in their big boy jerseys and shoulder pads.  So fun.

~ Piano lessons!  Kaden absolutely LOVES it and can play by ear like his Grammy.  Jesse pushes through and allows his teacher to convince him to stick it out.  I'm proud of you, sweet boy.  You are sticking with something that is hard.  You are persevering, and you are GOOD.  I love that you are not quitting, even when you want to some days.

~ Sweet London is now both potty trained AND has given up her pacifier.  Praise the good Lord above, I wondered if either of those days would EVER come.  She potty trained on her own schedule. When SHE was ready, it was instant and entire...both naps and bedtimes - DONE.  But, only when she was ready - until then, she putzed around with equal successes and fails.  And she was older than ALL of my boys when she did it.  Those who say that girls are easier, I heartily disagree.  The pacifier habit had some help when her puppy bit her favorite one in half.  Before Mama lost her courage, she snipped all of the others in half on the spot - and we never looked back.  Londy grieved it for a few days, so we made a special trip to Build a Bear like we did with all the boys.  I'm proud of you, Love.  Another season of babyhood is now shut down forever.  Bittersweet for this Mama...

~ London also got her first big girl bike with training wheels..."just like my boys."   She is fearless and wild.  She will age me early, this girl.

~ My oldest boy had his last year of life before being a teenager.  He is now sporting braces and has legs that are longer than his Daddy's.  He is quiet and funny...and has become quite a skilled hunter.  He has a tender heart for animals and the outdoors soothes him and brings him joy.  I joke that as long as he is pulling his weight, he can live with us a little longer.  So far, he was provided multiple partridge, turkey, trout, and  now a good sized he's golden.

~ Jesse conquered his fear of shooting and his fear of a gun's kick -- and as a result of pushing through his fear, he was rewarded with a deer at the age of 9, as well.  I'm proud of that boy and his tenacity.

~ This past year Ransom learned to read, and I am always amazed at the miracle of seeing my kids finally connect the dots and make letters turn into words.  I'm humbled to be able to walk that journey with each one of them.  This sweet boy also conquered his thumb sucking habit which was a pretty big deal.  This was the first thing that I remember getting victory over in my life.  I was ADDICTED to my thumb and I could not break the habit.  I was junior high - anyway - before I was able to quit.  So Mama understands the pain.

~ Ransom also conquered his fear of riding a big two wheel bike after having taken a major digger the summer previous.  For a good, solid year there was no hill riding, so I am proud of this boy for trying again.

~ Our summers are always highlighted with fun critter finds and crazy collections of living things.  This year we rescued six or seven baby turtles that were getting crushed by cars on our road.  We brought them home and made a super cool living space for them all throughout the summer before we released them back into the wild.  In our short couple of months that we had them, they grew from the size of a dime to the size of a fifty cent piece.  So much fun for the kids to experience this.

~  A beautiful black, Cayuga female duck was gifted to us.  She is darling and has mated with our little white call duck.  We shall see what the Spring brings to us or if any babies will come of it.

~ Cliff jumping in Rangeley.  Something I've wanted to try every year.  Something no one else was remotely interested in doing.  Kaden - my wisest and most cautious child expressed an interest this summer, so big Daddy and both big boys jumped multiple times.....and I stood back and realized this is probably the awakening of my boys becoming men and conquering fears and adventures that will make this mama's prayer life stronger...

~Texas Leader's Retreat for Plexus.  Something I earned.  Something fun to experience.  A redneck country girl surrounded by glitz and glam required an entire days' hunt in the woods back home afterwards.  But, it was fun, and the student in me loves the learning.

~ A puppy and a pickup.  Two things we've talked about getting for years.  Two things that have brought a lot of joy and a whole lot of headache.  Two things we've contemplated selling on a daily basis.  Two things that are still up for debate.  But, for now they are ours.....and they MOSTLY bring us joy.

~ And me stepping down from a seven year stint of waitressing just a couple of shifts a week at Anglers closes the door on this chapter of our lives.  How I have loved this sweet little job.  The people are my family, and they have treated me well all these years.  In an effort to keep life sane and in our fight to have more meals around the family table together than NOT - this is the right decision for us in this season of life right now...

Those are the highlights of 2016.
Not a whole lot of negatives to report, and for that I am deeply thankful.

Here are the lowlights of the year for this Mama...
There are FAR fewer than the highlights, thankfully.

~ I made 90 pints of jam.  My berries somehow went bad, so my boys call it "rotten jam" when they eat it.  I'm still making us eat it because of the blood, sweat, and money that went into the creation of it all. But, I'm sad and disgusted about it all.  But, we eat it anyway.  I'm THAT Mom.

~ I hardly ran a single mile last year when the year previous I ran my first Half Marathon and fell in love with everything about the sport.  This year it just didn't happen.

~ I hit a deer but didn't kill it.  A bummer on so many levels.  There's a wounded deer running wild, and it was a close shot, so my pride was bruised as well.

~ Our entire household got infested with lice.  It was epic, it was embarassing, and it was gross.  On the upside, my house got purged and was never cleaner.  There's the silver lining.  And by God's grace we got rid of it on the first go round and with natural products to boot.

~ Our three sweet call ducks got hit by a car one rainy morning.  A complete hit and run with two dying on the spot, and the other one I was certain who was braindead.  Jesse convinced us to keep him inside for a week, and in a matter of days he was up and back to normal.  I still can't believe it.  We had a little ducky funeral for the other two...lots of tears shed....but all four kids are still convinced that the love of having pets far outweighs the pain of it all.

~ I think my hardest thing for this past year was trying to get London's teeth fixed.  She freaked out in the dentist's chair, so they remain unfixed and it hurts my heart every time I look at them.  All three boys have perfect teeth - there are only two cavities between the lot of three little boys.  And here my only daughter has seven.  Apparently this can happen in a family.  Both Kev and I have solid, good teeth.  Our girl?  Not so much.  And so we withhold a ton of lollipops at church, and we pray that her second set comes in strong and solid.

So, there we have it.
Snippets of 2016 in a nutshell.
The good and beautiful FAR outweighing the bad.
And if the bad outweighed the good -- which we have had some years of that being the case, God is still good, and we still trust him.

And 2017 goals for your Mama?  I always have a bucket list brewing...
Here are just a few:
~ Read through a Bible again in a year - this time journaling prayers specifically for Kaden.
~ I want to read through at least six books that will grow me as a Mama, Wife, and Leader.
~ I want another Half Marathon under my belt.....and some day a full one.
~ I want a deer in our freezer - shot by me.
~ Debt paid OFF.
~ A Whole 30 lifestyle of eating this way more often than not.  No legalism with it, but my body feels best this way.  And Plexus plus Whole30 is kind of where the magic happens.
~ Maybe a garden plot this year?  I miss my hands in the dirt.
~ Writing more.  Blogging more.  Taking this time that I love.
~ God's will with my little Plexus business.  I love it.  It's ALL His.  He can grow it as He sees fit.
~ Homeschool success in my book is my children LOVING to learn - and character over curriculum.
~18 years of Marriage.  Good, solid years.  Always honoring Kev.  Always building into us.
~Always being a student of my children - as individuals...learning their strengths and their needs.
~ Church ministry growing.  People plugging in.  People feeling ownership.  How I LOVE that place!

Nutshell goals...
A wee little bucket list.
Here's to 2017, Dear ones!
God is good....ALL the time.  And ALL the time, God is good.

Slow.....see the sacred in the chaos.
Count the graces.  Name the Joys.

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